Will Houston DT Logan Hall Move into First Round?
NFL Draft - Georgia's defensive line has dominated this year's NFL draft coverage, and rightfully so. Jordan Davis, Devonte Wyatt, and Travon Walker are all going to be first-round picks and are considered the consensus top three interior defensive linemen in the class, if we count Walker as a pseudo-interior player. Hell, some people are already getting their top-10 slots for next year ready in preparation for Jalen Carter. The Bulldogs' three-headed monster of 2022 prospects are not the only stud defensive linemen donning red jerseys in this year's class, though. Houston's Logan Hall, a 6-foot-6, 283-pounder with an attitude, is every bit as deserving of first-round talk as the trio of national champions.
Hall's path to becoming the player he is today is a unique one. Coming out of high school, Hall was a three-star edge recruit who weighed 225 pounds. Hall started to pack on weight with each passing year, eventually hitting the 260 range by the time he took a starting job as a junior in 2020. Hall beefed up again for his senior campaign, up near the 280-pound mark, and transitioned more to being an interior player and heavy strong-side end rather than the edge rusher he came to campus as.
What's fascinating about Hall is not just the transition itself, but how comfortable he has already become as an interior player. Interior work happens more quickly, is more violent, and is littered with different stimuli than edge defenders are used to. It can be a tough transition, but Hall is already as nasty and attuned to the position as anyone else in the class. With only a few years of experience, Hall has been able to blend technique and awareness with explosive athleticism and an unrelenting ass-kicker's mentality.
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Let's start with some of the athletic traits that enable Hall to be a playmaker up front.
Hall is aligned just outside the right guard (77) in this clip. Houston stunts their entire front opposite of Cincinnati's offensive line flow, allowing Hall to slip behind the guard. While the stunt does part of the work to free Hall in this scenario, he still needs the raw explosiveness to get out of his stance, side step, and fire into the backfield without getting hemmed up. Hall does just that, but what's more impressive is how he instantly kicks into high gear and covers ground to bring down Desmond Ridder on the perimeter. Had Hall not made such a ridiculous play in space, Ridder would have likely picked up 10 or so yards on that designed run.
Here are Hall's quickness and flexibility on display once again, this time against a fellow draft prospect, Memphis Tigers right guard Dylan Parham. To be clear, both players had their fair share of wins against each other in this game, but Hall (92) takes this rep handily. Hall's ability to fire off the ball across Parham's face and turn his shoulder instantly to soften the punch is one thing, but to dead stop and bend back around Parham towards the ballcarrier to help on the tackle is absurd flexibility and body control for a big man. Hall took away the inside gap with his initial explosion, then squeezed the outside gap with that stop and turn. That is how a good defensive lineman helps change the math up front.
Hall also generally plays with good technique and relatively impressive pad level for his size, both of which are made better by his balance and heavy hands. Hall has a way of always coming to equilibrium and remaining in the mix, no matter where he gets engaged from or what kind of assignment he is being asked to execute.
Hall is up against Parham again. On this play, the right tackle is also working to Hall so that he and Parham can combo up to the linebacker. Hall just does not let that happen. Rather than fly off the ball into Parham, Hall immediately looks to get under Parham, gaining the leverage and throwing a two-hand punch that halts Parham's ability to climb whatsoever. What's fascinating is that Hall also feels the right tackle working to him and quickly responds by turning his shoulders, allowing him to squeeze into the gap as well as reducing the target area with which the right tackle can work. In turn, the tackle whiffs on Hall and gets no movement, giving Hall the opportunity to spin back around and meet the running back.
In this example, Hall is on the other side of the front and slides outside the left guard right at the snap. Hall gets double-teamed again, but this time on a counter concept wherein the double team wants to fully clear him out of the way, not just combo off of him. Hall recognizes it right away and takes to a knee, a common strategy for taking on double teams as it provides an anchor point against the first blocker and gives the second nothing to strike. That alone is a job well done by Hall seeing as he created traffic for the pullers coming around, but it doesn't stop there. Hall then showcases incredible balance and explosion to spring right up off the ground and pounce at the running back, almost single-handedly shutting down this run.
As a run defender, Hall will be ready to go right away. He is smart, tough, and more than athletic enough to handle any scenario or assignment effectively. Hall can be a rock just the same as he can be a playmaker.
When it comes to rushing the passer, Hall's profile is a little murkier, though still quite promising. The primary concern is that Hall's natural height issues come up more frequently in passing situations. He tends to play higher and it can lead to some issues with allowing offensive linemen to get under him. It is not a frequent issue per se, but those kinds of reps do show up on film and may limit Hall early on.
That being said, Hall's previously mentioned balance tends to make up for his leverage issues. Hall, mostly a power rusher, can remain balanced and continue trudging forward despite initially losing out on the pad level battle. He has a rare ability to recover and somehow flip the momentum of the rep back on the offensive lineman to drive them into the quarterback. It is rare for such a tall interior defensive linemen to be able to do so, but players such as Calais Campbell and Arik Armstead have found ways to make it work in the NFL, and Hall shows shades of being that kind of player.
Hall is over Tulsa's left guard (73) in this clip. The left guard takes an aggressive approach to the rep, setting forward at Hall rather than backwards. It is a nice changeup for offensive linemen, especially when they land the strike as cleanly as they intend to. The left guard gets a decent strike on Hall here, but it just does not matter. Hall eats the punch like it's nothing and keeps his legs churning to bulldoze straight over the guard. A lot of guys would end up on the dirt themselves after that, but Hall miraculously finds his footing (as per usual for him) and crushes the quarterback. NFL offensive linemen will surely give Hall more of a fight than that, but he is working with a great baseline of strength and balance, and has already proven he can develop at the position and potentially grow even craftier in these scenarios.
Hall is also just relentless as a pass-rusher. Well, Hall is relentless in all that he does, but it serves him well when rushing the passer. For this rep, Hall is aligned over the center (which is something Houston only tried much of on clear passing downs) and ends up looping around the left tackle (72). It is a testament to Hall's flexibility that he can run such a tight corner and quickly drop his pads to shoot into the tackle, but that alone does not win him the rep. It's Hall's unrelenting, borderline-reckless hand-fighting and scrapping that eventually free him to find the quarterback, who did Hall a bit of a favor by drifting towards his direction. When paired with his rare balance and power, that kind of unrelenting mentality could allow Hall to blossom into a pressure machine.
Hall is not a perfect prospect by any means. For one, it's not hard to imagine how his leverage issues could become more prevalent in the NFL. Pro linemen are better, smarter, and stronger than their collegiate counterparts, and may very well be able to expose Hall that way, at least early on. Additionally, Hall is a bit light for a defensive tackle, likely playing around the 275- to 280-pound range before bulking up a tad for the NFL combine. He is definitely an odd body type for the position, and sometimes that is all it takes to limit a player at the pro level.
Hall has some special traits that will let him break the mold, though. It is no easy task to find defensive linemen with Hall's balance, power, and savvy, especially in a player still sort of fresh to the position. Teams looking for their own Campbell or Armstead should be ready to sprint to the podium in the event that Hall falls to them. Maybe Hall hears his name called at the end of the first round, perhaps at the top of the second, but whoever sends in the card for him is getting a titan up front.