The 27-year old Douzable was undrafted out of Central Florida back in 2008 and has spent time with six NFL teams since then. He missed all of last year with a shoulder injury, but his best season was with Jacksonville in 2011, where he earned a starting job over the last six games with his solid play.
Who is Leger Douzable?
The 6-4, 305-pound Douzable played both defensive tackle and defensive end in college, where he had seven sacks in 2006 and 2007. He was a third-team all-Conference USA selection in 2006. After going undrafted, he spent camp in 2008 with the Vikings, landing on their practice squad. Later in the year, the Giants picked him up and added him to their practice squad and then the active roster, although he was not activated for any games.
In 2009, Douzable ended up with the Rams and earned a role as a backup defensive tackle. He started one game and played 30 or more snaps three times, recording 12 tackles. He also had four QB hits and one pressure, with no missed tackles or penalties per PFF. The following season he undertook a similar role with the Jaguars. The most snaps he played in any game was 28, but he did play at least 20 in five games. He ended up with seven tackles and four pressures, but also had three missed tackles and five penalties (two on special teams and three neutral zone infractions).
2011 was a breakout season of sorts for Douzable. Entering the season, he had only ever played as an interior lineman, but they started using him in the rotation as a defensive end as well. When Matt Roth was injured with six games to go, Douzable took over at left defensive end and performed well, especially against the run. PFF had him ranked 8th in the NFL for 4-3 defensive ends in terms of run stop percentage, as he registered a career high 30 tackles, adding his first career sack, six QB hits and seven pressures (nearly all of which was in that last six games).
Last year, Douzable signed with Tennessee and appeared for them in preseason before injuring his shoulder and ended up on injured reserve. He joins the Jets with a realistic chance at making the final roster and providing some depth and versatility.
Let's look back at how he played in preseason last year, before getting hurt and then go on to discuss some of the things I've observed by watching film on him.
Week One: Seattle
Douzable played a bit in the first half and then most of the second half, primarily at left defensive end. He came out of the game on passing downs initially, but then started to move to tackle on passing downs.
- On a pass play, he got a good surge to help collapse the pocket, ultimately leading to a sack
- Moved well laterally down the line to stuff a run up the middle for no gain
- On another, he didn't beat his man, but then did a good job maintaining outside leverage against him to prevent Russell Wilson from getting downfield on a roll-out
- Cleanly beat the left guard on the inside to generate a pressure - it should have been a sack, but he missed the tackle in the pocket and Wilson scrambled for a short gain
- They started to respect his pass rushing ability a bit more after that, doubling him on the interior
- He looked to have beaten the right tackle around the corner, but slipped and fell
- He drove the right tackle back on a running play and shed the block to stop the runner for a short gain
- He beat his man on the outside, but the guard came across and cut him to prevent him getting the pressure
- Late in the game, he was thrown off balance by the initial punch of the lineman and then caught up in traffic as the runner cut back
- After that, there were two more runs where he was blocked out of the play, one as he was blocked to the inside and one as he was kicked out
This was a very impressive performance by Douzable until right at the end when he let himself down with some negative plays. That may just have been tiredness, so perhaps we should question his motor. He was stout against the run (although, frustratingly, the Seahawks kept running it to the left, away from him), making two outstanding stops and chasing down runs that went the other way, including a long scramble by Wilson. More unexpectedly, he made an impact in the pass rush, although he'd probably only be credited with one pressure.
Week Two: Tampa Bay
Again, he saw action both at left defensive end (on running downs) and defensive tackle (on passing downs). He saw more action in the first half in this one.
- Fought off the block of a tight end (Luke Stocker) to stuff a run for no gain
- Was forced inside on a Doug Martin cutback run
- Spooked his opposite number into false-starting on third and one
- Was driven out of the play on a short yardage conversion
- Dove to recover a fumble following a sack by his teammate
- Was blocked to the ground, but still helped force the back to change direction
- Held his ground well on the edge to bottle up a run for a short gain
This was an up-and-down performance by Douzable, but he was still making positive contributions, especially against the run. He was definitely contributing as part of the main rotation though. (Tennessee typically activates eight linemen for regular season games, so that each one has a backup and all eight will usually get significant reps).
Week Three: Arizona
This would have been a very interesting game to see Douzable get extended reps in, because the Cardinals offensive line was really struggling at that point, leaving extra guys in to block and still giving up pressure nearly every time. However, it wouldn't work out that way.
- Douzable came into the game halfway through the first quarter at defensive tackle on third down. The left guard blocked him initially but then went over to help the right tackle and the center (Lyle Sendlein) came across to block Douzable, who just bounced off him and got after the QB. He got his hands on the quarterback and pulled him to ground but he still got the throw off. This was apparently where his shoulder injury occurred.
Douzable would end up playing just one snap, although he did generate a pressure on that play.
Let's summarize my observations into categories:
As noted, the Jaguars realized in 2011 how athletic Douzable was for a defensive tackle and started employing him in a run stopping defensive end role. Clearly Tennessee seemed content to persevere with him in a dual role that seems to make the most of his strengths.
While athletic for a defensive tackle, Douzable lacks the classic edge rusher speed. However, he's good at shedding blocks and can create a surge with a bullrush when playing end. As a defensive tackle, his quickness is more of an asset, but he's equally capable of collapsing the pocket. He might not be that productive himself when on the inside, but he certainly can cause problems for the line, which could make someone else's job easier.
You'll mostly see Douzable using his strength to try and generate pressure via a leverage advantage. Don't expect to see him make a spin move or anything exotic like that very often. His hand fighting technique seems pretty effective and we all know that Karl Dunbar preaches those techniques and likes his players to be effective at shedding blocks in that way.
Standing his ground
I didn't see Douzable driven off the line very often. In fact, when he's at defensive end, that often means he gets blocked by a tight end, whereby he usually has a significant strength advantage. He does blow up a lot of plays with penetration.
He didn't play any goal line defense in any of the three preseason games, but has played there in the past. His versatility will come in handy there because he could play any of the four outside spots on a six-man line.
Douzable does come mainly from a 4-3 background, which might set him back in terms of learning the playbook, although maybe the Jets gave him some light reading to fill the gaps while he was waiting to be signed. The Jets hybrid system will have multiple roles within it that Douzable will be familiar with and capable of playing. If he doesn't fit in a 3-4 (and he probably would be an ideal 3-4 DE anyway), then that doesn't matter because they don't play a basic 3-4 very often.
I didn't see Douzable out of position too often and he seems to read plays pretty well. I saw him react well to get his hand up to bat a pass down in 2011 and there was another play where Wilson ran a naked bootleg and he was pretty much the only guy on the line to realize (although he was unable to do anything about it).
As noted above, Douzable did bat down a pass in 2011, but that is the only one of his career so far. Like many guys who rely on hand-fighting to get off block, he perhaps lets himself down in that area. There was also one play where he was blocked initially and tried to spin, with the pass whistling right past his ear for a completion that probably wouldn't have been possible if he just dropped off and put his hands up.
Douzable's athleticism is pretty evident, although he's a bit of a tweener, so he's either a very athletic defensive tackle or a big defensive end with limited athleticism, depending where you put him. He is particularly good for an interior lineman in terms of pursuit.
Douzable did play 61 of 72 snaps in one of the 2011 starts, and graded out well, so maybe his motor isn't that bad, despite my concerns above. It could just be that he was more gassed than usual due to it being the first preseason game.
Douzable is pretty demonstrative when he makes a play, but not over the top. I didn't see any obvious signs of bad attitude or anything like that from him, aside from one play where everyone was fighting for a fumble and he dived into the pile and got flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Douzable is a player I was impressed by back in 2011 when I charted several Jaguars games. Whenever a team signs a guy off the street in late-July, you're left wondering why he would still be available, but hopefully this is one of those situations where the Jets have picked up a potential diamond in the rough. Concerns over his injury may have scared some teams off. Tennessee were always unlikely to bring him back because they have pretty good young depth on the line (two deep at all four positions), so he might just have fallen through the cracks after suffering the injury just as he was starting to turn heads.
You may wonder why the Jets didn't sign him when they worked him out a month or so ago, but I can perhaps answer that one. Had they signed him then, he would potentially count towards the calculation of UFA compensatory picks due to the Jets in next year's draft. However, by waiting until the free agent signing period had expired, he no longer needs to be accounted for in that formula.
Judging by his preseason performance last year, he was primed to play a significant rotational role with the Titans, a team with a solid defensive line, so he clearly has plenty left in the tank. As noted, perhaps his motor could be a concern, but that wouldn't be a big deal if he was to be used in a rotational capacity.