Versatility is the name of the game in the modern NFL, and with his 2023 NFL Draft scouting report, Oregon DT Brandon Dorlus brings more than most. What’s the book on Dorlus, and where does he settle in this cycle?
Brandon Dorlus NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Defensive Lineman
- School: Oregon
- Current Year: Seniors
- Height/Weight: 6’3″, 290 pounds
There’s a reason for the recruiting rankings system, and there’s a reason for every player’s star label. But as is the case with all human processes, this one too, is imperfect. If you need more proof, look at Dorlus in the 2019 class.
Dorlus was a mere three-star recruit from Deerfield Beach High School, despite accruing 11 sacks and 27 tackles for loss in his final season. He first committed to the Virginia Tech Hokies in August 2018, but decommitted later that year when Oregon showed interest.
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Dorlus ended up signing with the Ducks and immediately began to out-perform his recruiting ranking. He was a steady rotational member through his first two seasons and broke out as a high-level defensive piece in 2021, with seven tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks.
In 2022, Dorlus matched and exceeded the previous year’s production, with nine tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. He earned All-Pac-12 honors both years and effectively established a presence on the 2023 NFL Draft stage.
Brandon Dorlus Scouting Report
For two seasons on end, Dorlus was quietly one of the Pac-12’s most productive defensive linemen. Now, he’ll look to carry that production on to the professional level.
Dorlus stands around 6’3″, 290 pounds, sporting a dense, compact frame with excellent proportional length. He’s lighter than the average interior defender, but his unique frame allows him exciting alignment versatility. He can play as a stand-up rusher, or with his hand in the dirt from 2i-tech to 5-tech.
Within this mold, Dorlus is an explosive athlete who gears up with little strain outside the tackles. He can accelerate quickly and channel momentum into contact, and he brings eye-catching flashes of near-elite linear closing burst in the backfield. The Oregon DT can overwhelm QBs with sudden long-strider explosiveness, opening his strides to compound acceleration in pursuit.
Along with his linear explosiveness, Dorlus brings superb lateral agility. His lateral burst of the line can be very hard to match, as he can quickly sidestep blockers off the snap and gain angle advantages. He also has the lateral freedom to feign working across-face and counter back outside, closing reps with rips and ankle flexion.
Dorlus’ overall change-of-direction profile isn’t quite elite, but he flashes great foot speed and has the lateral twitch to shake through gaps while sustaining acceleration upfield. With more control in his game, there’s reason to believe Dorlus can unearth more potential.
Dorlus’ combination of high-end explosiveness, proportional length, and density amounts to exceptional raw power capacity. He flashes rare knock-back power at initial contact with his hands. Even when improperly loaded, the Oregon DT can displace tackles with raw power and aggression. He’s also flashed the ability to maximize output with full extensions and successive hip rotations, stacking power exertions upfield.
Despite his lighter frame, Dorlus has enough strength to pry through gaps on the move and surge into the backfield. The Oregon DT quickly rips down anchors and splices past blockers on the edge, with the strength to quickly stack and shed tight ends outside. On the inside as well, he’s shown to violently latch off the snap and use his power and lower body strength to drive lateral blockers back.
On his best reps, Dorlus’ natural leverage acquisition allows him to fully channel his strength and power. Dorlus can acquire leverage and align himself midway through reps to stall displacement and anchor with his length. Especially in run defense, he’s proficient at lowering his pads, getting under his opponents, and attaining superior leverage.
Dorlus does work as a run defender, but as you might expect from one of the Pac-12’s most productive pressure generators, his pass-rushing upside is just as exciting. We’ve established that Dorlus is explosive, powerful, and agile. He’s also a consistently combative rusher who can manipulate blockers and stack moves in rapid succession.
Before anything else, Dorlus has shown he can extend inside the torso and attack the outside shoulder with power from outside. He can then stack rip moves and wrench his way into the pocket.
Additionally, with his violent hands, he can quickly levy outside swims against tackles and rip his way into space. On stunts, Dorlus uses his length to keep himself clean and pry his way into pursuit paths, where he can then activate his closing burst.
Going further, Dorlus can use a stutter-double-swipe combo inside to displace guards, as well as a cross-chop club. He can also levy a cross-chop rip outside and counter to the B-gap. To that end, Dorlus effectively plows blockers off their spot with powerful long arms, then diverts course — leading off rushes with his near-elite power capacity.
All this speaks to Dorlus’ destructive potential and the vastness of his pass-rushing arsenal, but he’s not just a bull in a china shop. Dorlus flashes his hands and baits blockers into extending early then swipes and deconstructs. He’s also able to get skinny and vehemently swim through gaps. Dorlus can also offset blockers with his initial rushing angles, using his lateral agility as a boon.
Dorlus is a high-motor rusher who consistently fights through contact and churns his legs, proactively using his length to make QBs uncomfortable. But his bend also allows him to finish reps.
The Oregon DT flashes impressive ankle flexion when reaching the apex from the edge. With this flexion, Dorlus can tightly swivel around blocks and enter pursuit, as well as open his strides and compound his acceleration around the apex while reducing his surface area.
It tracks that, in pursuit, Dorlus is a high-energy defender who constantly fights to obstruct the ball carrier. Even when on the ground, he’ll reach and use his length to redirect players. On the chase, his length, burst, and wingspan make it difficult to evade his reach in the backfield, and he flashes great inner instincts against the run.
The Oregon DT maintains positioning and clubs through congestion to swallow up runners.
Dorlus’ Areas for Improvement
While Dorlus has exceptional explosiveness and lateral agility for an interior defender, each trait may be a step down from elite. The Oregon DT doesn’t have an elite first step and often benefits with room to open his strides and load power.
Additionally, with his relatively high-cut frame, Dorlus experiences slight delays when changing direction in open space. He isn’t always able to sink his hips and pinch tight angles, at times playing stiff and upright.
Dorlus’ high-cut frame causes issues with flexibility and leverage at times as well. He sometimes struggles to flip his hips quickly when patrolling gaps in run defense and can’t always roll his hips past blockers upfield, after displacing with initial pass-rushing moves.
At times, Dorlus works himself too far upright at contact, negating his base and limiting his ability to drive power through blocks. In a similar vein, he could benefit from better alignment at times, to fully load his base behind power exertions and maximize output.
Overall, Dorlus struggles to manage leverage and alignment through successive pass-rushing moves, and he’s much more natural acquiring leverage as a pass rusher from three and four-point stances inside.
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Moving on, while Dorlus brings violent and combative hands, he can still further refine his ability in this phase. His hand placement could be more precise and targeted when rushing laterally. The Oregon DT isn’t always able to properly align through contact working slanted paths.
Similarly, Dorlus doesn’t always engage his hands when working laterally from NASCAR packages, allowing blockers to stall him by impacting his frame. Occasionally, he appears uncoordinated as a rusher and can seek more consistent synergy between his upper and lower body than him.
In run defense, Dorlus doesn’t have the mass to consistently hold his ground against double-teams and can be easily displaced if overmatched off the snap. Additionally, he sometimes loses his balance invading gaps off the snap and gives too much surface area to attacking blockers.
In space, Dorlus visibly lacks elite pursuit speed and is a bit of a lumbering mover. When tasked with reads on the edge, he sometimes misdiagnoses tackling angles and plays himself out of position. He’s also late to recognize plays and flushed out by misdirections more often than desired.
Current Draft Projection for Oregon DT Brandon Dorlus
On my board, Dorlus grades safely in the Day 2 range and could challenge for early-to-mid Day 2 draft billing based on scheme. He brings a unique brand of versatility among the 2023 NFL Draft defensive line prospects. And in a modern NFL, where versatility up front is coveted, Dorlus may be in high demand.
Dorlus can play anywhere from 2i to 7-tech outside the tackle, and in a proper role, that versatility is indulged at the next level. His blend of explosiveness, length, agility, and flexibility allows him to move all across the front, and that ability translates to exciting situational flexibility.
Having said all this, Dorlus can still become more precise as a pass rusher, and especially as a standup EDGE, he struggles to maintain his leverage and efficiency through reps. That’s why, right now, Dorlus might be best suited to play between 3 and 5-tech, with his hand in the dirt, so he can more easily acquire leverage and get under his opponent’s pads.
None of this is to imply that Dorlus is a complete project, however. He already has a working arsenal of hand moves, and his physical profile — along with his hot motor and urgency as a defender — amounts to a very exciting projection. Dorlus can work 1-on-1, explode downhill from NASCAR looks, or stunt across-face and create turmoil within blocking schemes.
Dorlus may more often generate pressure than sacks, but his ability to be the “nail” to his teammate’s “hammer” could be invaluable in the NFL. He can be a scheme, alignment, and package-versatile starter with impact potential and three-down utility.