Has nice size for an end and a thick frame. Has a decent first step and enough burst to challenge the edge when he lines up outside. His first step allows him to get penetration and shoot gaps when he's inside. Has enough speed and burst to beat the guard to his outside shoulder when working in the 3-technique. His first step allows him to get leverage and some push as an interior pass rusher. Will slap down the tackle's hands at times, and can use the swim move to beat the blocker. Does a nice job making stops in the backfield once he gets penetration because he does a good job breaking down. Works well on stunts and will close and deliver hit on the quarterback. Comfortable dropping into coverage on zone blitzes. Shows some ability to stack and shed at the point of attack. Can work laterally down the line to make stops in pursuit. Plays with a good motor, and is a solid special teams player because he can block field goals.
Lacks ideal size to play either end or tackle. Doesn't do a great job holding up against the run when you run at him. Doesn't really know how to dip the shoulder or bend when coming off the edge in order to turn the corner. Even when he can set up the tackle with his speed on the edge, lacks the closing burst on the ball to finish the play. Doesn't use many moves to beat the blocker, and tends to rely on his burst and motor mostly. Not super fluid when he drops into coverage as he struggles to flip his hips.
Francis played inside for Rutgers, playing the role of the undersized tackle that Eric Foster once played at Rutgers. He projects probably better to playing end in the NFL, but he could get reps inside on third downs for some teams. He's a pretty solid athlete, although he's never really a dominant force on the field. But he's a player that with a good motor and decent quickness, makes plays and has a future in a rotation somewhere in the NFL. He was suspended for his entire sophomore year after being charged with armed robbery with a fake air pistol, but those charges were dropped, but the suspension remained. He went to Rutgers with high expectations, but his suspension landed him in the doghouse until he emerged as a senior to have a productive year.
2011 GAMES WATCHED:
(10/8) vs. Pittsburgh: 3 sacks, 2 TFL, 1 PD
(12/30) vs. Iowa St: 0.5 TFLs, 1 PD, 1 blocked FG; 1 penalty (offsides)
2011: 13 GP/13 GS, 64 tackles, 13 TFLs, 6.5 sacks, 1 INT, 5 PDs, 0 FF, 1 FR, 3 blocked kicks
Francis is a good piece to have in a rotation. The question really is how much will he impact there. He's the type of player that you want playing left end on running situations, but can also kick inside on passing downs to play some tackle. That brings versatility, and coupled with his motor and decent quickness he can be effective in those roles. He's not a great run stopper, as most of what he does there relies on his ability to be disruptive. He'll have to improve at the point of attack, but he has the potential to do so. He'll never be a great edge pass rusher, but the type of guy that could potentially contribute 2 or 3 sacks off the bench in a rotation. He's a bit of a tweener, and he's the type of guy that could put on another 15-20 pounds and bulk to play permanently inside as a 3-technique type of defensive tackle. But even if he does that, he'll probably just be a backup there. For a 4-3 team, I think he'll find a role as a No. 4 end that sort of reminds me of Chauncey Davis, but when Davis was at his best in 2008. Like Davis, he won't have great production in the NFL, but coaches will like him because he's a high motor guy, willing to play multiple roles, and can contribute on special teams.
Francis is probably a better fit in the Falcons old scheme, where they had use for a player of his skillset once with Chauncey Davis. With Mike Nolan taking over, Francis doesn't really fit as much because he doesn't have the ideal frame to work inside, but also lacks the burst to really think he's going to be an impact player on the edge either. He could compete for a reserve role, and maybe if he could land a practice squad position as a rookie a few years down the line he might be able to better develop into a role. But unless the team fell in love with his special teams ability, he'd be a longshot to actually make and stick on the roster. The Falcons could potentially be better off moving him to tight end and hoping to develop him as a blocker. He played tight end coming out of high school before Rutgers converted him permanently to the defensive side of the ball.
For a 4-3 team looking for a nice rotational player, Francis should make a solid sixth or seventh round pick because of his ability to contribute as a role player.
1-pathetic, 2-poor, 3-weak, 4-below average, 5-average, 6-above average, 7-good, 8-very good, 9-excellent, 10-elite
Pass Rush: 5.5
Point of Attack: 5.0
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.