NFL Analysis


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Marshawn Kneeland 2024 NFL Draft: Combine Results, Scouting Report For Dallas cowboys DE

Western Michigan defensive end Marshawn Kneeland
American offensive lineman Javon Foster of Missouri (75) battles National edge Marshawn Kneeland of Western Michigan (99) during the second half of the 2024 Senior Bowl football game at Hancock Whitney Stadium on Feb. 3, 2024. (Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports)

The 2024 NFL Draft is getting close, making it an excellent time to highlight some of the class' best players with scouting reports. Each report will include strengths, weaknesses and background information. 

Here's our report on Marshawn Kneeland.

Marshawn Kneeland'S 2024 NFL COMBINE RESULTS

  • Height: 6-foot-3
  • Weight: 267
  • 40-yard dash: 4.75
  • 10-yard split: 1.65
  • Vertical jump: 35 1/2"
  • Broad jump: 9-foot-11
  • 20-yard shuttle: 4.18

Marshawn Kneeland 2024 NFL DRAFT SCOUTING REPORT


  • A sturdy defensive end with strong athletic testing measurables and outstanding arm length with a great mix of mass and length 
  • The foundation of his game was short-stroke strength and movement power, Some snaps he shocked OL on contact
  • Explosive off the ball with 6-10-inch hand-arm strength to jar offensive tackles and short-area quickness to play off contact
  • His edge pass rush is built on speed-to-power conversion with strong, heavy hands that drove back offensive tackles into the pocket 
  • Length, mass and first-step explosiveness off the ball resulted in a higher-level power profile as a pass rusher 
  • Part of his speed-to-power profile was a strong one-arm stab on the tackle's inside shoulder that drove him back into the pocket 
  • Has alignment versatility with significant snaps at standup Joker behind the defensive line with a runway to generate velocity
  • Showed flashes of attacking half a man from the Joker alignment, clearing the outside edge and pressuring the quarterback 
  • Displays natural power through his body by playing off contact with great balance, short-area twitch and explosiveness
  • Used arm length effectively to extend and lock out the offensive tackle while keeping his lower half clean to make plays in the run game 
  • Consistently dominated tight ends in the run game, controlling them with short-stroke power and squaring up to make plays 
  • Flashed accelerating speed to make plays from the back side and stretched out his stride to show range in pursuit 
  • Outstanding playing personality, he's relentlessly competitive with a revved-up motor snap after snap


  • Much more of a straight-line linear athlete than a flexible bendy athlete, Can be a little stiff changing direction
  • Lacks the kind of higher-end flexibility scouts like to see, leading to questions about flattening his rush path and closing with a burst 
  • Needs to develop more tools in the pass-rush toolbox beyond speed-to-power conversion because he has a limited arsenal 
  • At times got stuck as an edge rusher when speed-to-power was stopped early in the down and did not play off contact 
  • Needs to develop better and more hand usage as a run defender because he can’t always rely on power to win at the next level
  • Will need to be taught and coached in the subtleties and nuances of hand usage to better maximize his traits

Nevada Wolf Pack quarterback Nate Cox (16) is sacked by Western Michigan Broncos defensive linemen Marshawn Kneeland (94) and Ralph Holley (8) in the first half of the 2021 Quick Lane Bowl at Ford Field. (Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)


Kneeland, with his size, mass and arm length, has a textbook power profile as you project and transition him to the next level. Those power-generation traits almost always translate effectively to the NFL.

Kneeland plays a strong man’s game with powerful, heavy hands in the run game to shock tackles and tight ends, and a forceful speed-to-power conversion as an edge pass rusher. Along with Jared Verse, Kneeland has the most explosive speed-to-power conversion of any pass rusher in the draft class. In addition, Kneeland was deployed as a standup Joker at times to take advantage of the longer runway to generate velocity as an inside pass rusher.

Kneeland is more stiff than flexible as an athlete, although he consistently showed short-area quickness and burst, and he must develop a broader arsenal of pass rush moves and counters to become a higher-level rusher at the next level. However, there is no question his substantial power profile, with his short-stroke, compact heavy hands, is a strong starting point. His alignment versatility is another piece in the transition puzzle that NFL defensive coordinators can work with.

Is there a Za’Darius Smith comparison to be made in terms of his alignment on the defensive front? Smith is deployed as an edge defender and inside pass rusher in passing down and distance situations and at times a standup Joker also in passing situations.

The more I watched Kneeland the more I started to see Khalil Mack coming out of Buffalo, and based on tape I thought Mack was the best pass rush prospect in the 2014 draft, which included Jadeveon Clowney.

I sense that Kneeland can transition to the NFL as a defensive end in four-man fronts, and at 267 pounds with 34½-inch arms, he can do that. He can also transition as a standup outside linebacker in five-man fronts and even move inside at times in four-man and five-man fronts, plus his versatility as a standup Joker.


Kneeland played five seasons at Western Michigan after coming out of high school in Michigan as an unheralded two-star recruit who played tight end. Kneeland started 35 games in college, finishing with 12.5 quarterback sacks and 28 tackles for a loss.

Kneeland lined up on both sides of the defensive line in Western Michigan’s defensive front, but there were snaps in which he lined up inside as a 3-technique-4i, and there were many snaps in which he was deployed as a standup Joker in the middle of the defense. He lined up off the ball for almost 100 snaps in 2023. There were snaps predominantly on third down in which Kneeland was deployed as a spy vs. mobile quarterbacks. 

Kneeland showed an effective inside spin move and a cross-face counter vs. Eastern Michigan for a pair of sacks. All of Kneeland’s power traits were there vs. Power 5 schools and Mississippi State. The higher level of competition did not result in a decline in his traits execution.