Was not a disruptive presence behind the line in run defense
Probably won't ever have big sack production in the NFL
Summary: Hand was the No. 1 recruit in the nation oming out of high school, and he ended up at one of the top football academies in Alabama. Going to a team loaded with NFL talent along the defensive line, it took some time for Hand to work his way on the field. He was more of a rotational player prior to his senior year. As a sophomore in 2015, he totaled 16 tackles with three sacks and 6.5 tackles for a loss. In 2016, Hand had 21 tackles, 3.5 tackles for a loss and two sacks with Jonathan Allen and Dalvin Tomlinson being the lead interior defenders for the Crimson Tide. As a senior, Hand totaled 27 tackles with 3.5 tackles for a loss and three sacks.
Hand was playing well at the Senior Bowl, before an injury knocked him out early. He was showing the skill set that made him such a sought after recruit with his size, speed, strength and athleticism. Team sources said that Hand was impressive in the team meetings not only for his character, but his football IQ. Hand was singled out for praise by Texans defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel during the Senior Bowl game.
In the ground game, Hand is tough at the point of attack. He uses his natural strength and good technique to hold his ground at the line of scrimmage. Hand does a nice job of preventing linemen from getting a push and maintaining his gap integrity. Hand is able to disengage from blocks and flow down the line to help get in on tackles. While Hand is not a big backfield penetrator to rack up tackles for a loss, he is sound to hold his ground and stuff runs.
In the pass rush, Hand has good quickness and movement skills. He can rush versus tackles and guards with a nice first step with speed to fire his gaps. Hand uses his strength and hand usage to get a push while bull rushing. While he doesn't have a lot of sacks, he does help to put pressure on the quarterback. In the NFL, Hand will probably never be a player that produces a big sack total.
Hand projects to the NFL as a five-technique defensive end in a 3-4 defense. In a 4-3 defense, he could play end on run downs and move inside for the sub package, or he could gain weight to be a full-time defensive tackle. Being a five-technique in 3-4 would be Hand's best fit.
Some team sources think that Hand could be one of the top five-technique prospects for the 2018 NFL Draft. Other sources weren't enthusiastic about Hand and thought he was just a guy. Still with his athletic skill set, technique and intangibles, Hand could go on the second day of the 2018 NFL Draft.
Player Comparison: Allen Bailey. Hand reminds me of Bailey, and they have a lot of similarities. Bailey (6-3, 288) is almost identical in size to Hand, and Bailey showed athleticism, quickness, and movement skills when he was in college in Miami. Bailey was a third-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, and Hand should also be a second-day pick in his draft class. As a pro, Bailey has been a reliable, but unspectacular, five-technique for Kansas City. I could see Hand being a similar player in the NFL.
NFL Matches: New England, New York Jets, Tennessee, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Denver, Oakland, Detroit, Buffalo and Atlanta
There are a lot of teams that could target Hand in the early rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft. New England could use more young talent in its defensive front seven. Hand would be a good fit for the Patriots, because they like to play 3-4 and 4-3 sets. He could be a five-technique or tackle for New England. Staying in the AFC East, Hurst could be in play for the Jets, as they have two second-round picks and a high third-rounder. The Jets traded away Sheldon Richardson, and Muhammad Wilkerson's future with the team is uncertain. If they move on from Wilkerson, Hand could interest them to pair with Leonard Williams.
The Titans could be in need of a five-technique if DaQuan Jones isn't re-signed. Pittsburgh and Denver both run 3-4 schemes, and they each could use some five-technique depth.
Oakland badly needs more defensive line talent. Hand could be a fit for the Raiders to give them more sturdy defensive end play.
The Lions need more talent at end and tackle. Hand could be a fit in Detroit as a run-down end and pass-down tackle. Buffalo could use an interior defender to replace Marcel Dareus, and Hand could fit the Bills' defensive scheme. Atlanta also could use more interior defensive line talent, and Hand could be a nice value for the Falcons on Day 2 of the 2018 NFL Drat. Hand could play end on run downs and move inside to rush in passing situations with Takk McKinley and Vic Beasely rushing off the edge.