The argument could be made that no player on the defensive side of the ball was more integral to the Hurricanes’ success than RJ McIntosh. The junior defensive tackle from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, was named the defensive MVP at the team’s end of the season award banquet. Tied for the team lead in tackles for loss and accompanied by two sacks, McIntosh was a destructive force for the Hurricanes in 2017.
Many within Miami’s fanbase urged McIntosh, along with college roommate and close friend, Kendrick Norton, to return to the Coral Gables’ campus for one more season, improving the chances that the Hurricanes compete for another ACC title in 2018. Opting to forgo his senior year, McIntosh was projected by some draft analyst as a top 50 prospect, with the highest grade among any 2018 draft eligible Hurricane.
Measurables and Path to the Draft
Weight: 286 pounds
Arm Length: 33⅞ inches
Hand Size: 9⅜ inches
High School: Cardinal Gibbons High School
Hometown: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Best Game Film: Notre Dame 2017
Lethal First Step
Among McIntosh’s many skills is his first step quickness off the ball. There have been occasions during games where McIntosh, as the ball is being snapped, without delay swims over the guard and is a step away from taking the handoff from the quarterback. Since speed is not a quality that can be taught, it’s foreseeable to see McIntosh replicate those type of performances in the NFL.
A Repertoire of Pass Rushing Maneuvers
While we highlighted his speed, McIntosh does employ other moves to get by blockers and force pressure on the quarterback. No one will mistake his spin move for that of Dwight Freeney, though it does allow him to elude the swarming arms of blockers in his path. As previously mentioned, McIntosh employs an effective swim move to get behind guards in pass rushing situations. Swiping hands down appears as smooth as any coach could ask for in game film while simultaneously forcing blockers to try and recover quickly after the snap of the ball.
RJ McIntosh's path to the 2018 NFL Draft pic.twitter.com/jfQ5WMjtpx— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) April 3, 2018
2.5 sacks in 2017 and 2016 may not be indicative of an elite pass rusher, yet his 12.5 tackles for loss and nine-and-a-half tackles for loss in 2016 point to Mcintosh making plays at or behind the line of scrimmage. But that’s not the whole story. With the athletes that line up at quarterback, there are more occasions of defensive tackles having to chase QBs around to their help. With McIntosh’s speed and agility to cover ground, he provides a unique weapon in containing scrambles by quarterbacks who get happy feet within the pocket.
Excellent Use of Hands
Mcintosh will use his hands to wall blockers off, swipe, stab, club or swim by them depending on what the play calls for. He has great intuition when it comes to employing his hands on given occasion. McIntosh also does an excellent job of placing his hands in an advantageous position where he can counter off his initial move as well as reaching and getting hands on a runner.
Can Be Bullied in the Run Game
While McIntosh has great speed, hand placement and counters, there is a tendency for him to get engulfed in run-blocking. He struggles to hold his ground, sometimes being taken off his feet and, in instances where blockers get into his body, he’s unable to separate, becoming checkmated on the play.
“Athletic defensive tackle with the speed and quickness to make impact plays, but the lack of core strength to give up big plays against the run. McIntosh has developmental potential to work with and should take a big step forward once he learns to work his hands as a pass rusher. While he has disruptive potential, he has to get his play strength to a functional level in order to hold up as an every-down player. While teams will likely view him as a defensive tackle, McIntosh could fit as a base 4-3 end with the ability to reduce inside on passing downs.”
Lance Zierlein NFL.com
“Slippery, long defensive tackle, defensive end hybrid. Best on the inside using his more slender frame, arm-over move and burst to beat larger, less mobile guards. Can jump outside to set a strong edge if needed. Will be great value pick in middle rounds.”
CBS Sports Staff
“McIntosh is another player who saw a steep upward trend in his college career. The true junior tips the scales well south of 300 pounds and his play style is closer to that of a defensive end playing inside than a true under tackle. Still, he earned the fifth-highest pass-rushing grade of any interior player in this draft class this past season at Miami.”
Mike Renner Pro Football Focus
“Should have stayed in. He needs to keep growing into his frame and get a lot stronger. You don’t want to come out until you know you’re ready to do battle against grown men and I don’t think he’s there yet.”
AFC Director of Scouting
“McIntosh is a raw player who will have to use speed and quickness to be an effective interior defensive lineman at the next level. He has the potential to add muscle mass and lower-body thickness, and he’ll have to if he expects to see legitimate playing time. He has all of the short-area burst that teams want to see but will be overwhelmed by power at the line of scrimmage if he can’t beef up.”
Matt Miller Bleacher Report
“McIntosh created havoc on one of the most consistent bases of anyone in this class. His tape against the Wisconsin offensive line in Miami’s bowl game though is concerning as was the lowest-graded game of his career, against top caliber offensive linemen.”
Mike Renner Pro Football Focus
DT RJ McIntosh will ruin plays with his get-off into gaps/arm over moves... Has a sneaky quickness to his game off the ball.. pic.twitter.com/AOxX4g8Emr— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) January 27, 2018
The Final Wave
Soon after the season, it was clear that McIntosh had one of the higher grades for any Miami Hurricane player eligible for the 2018 NFL Draft. Yet, in a matter of months, it appears that the Cardinal Gibbons High School alum tumbled down the rankings. The reasoning ranged from inconsistency on film, youth, and scouts just being unenthused by his game film. To the dismay of those fans, McIntosh felt that it was in his best interest to leave for the NFL.
Draft Projection: Third-Fifth round
Good Luck Big 80!