All throughout the draft process this year we’ve been hearing about the talent along the defensive line. Let’s take a look at my top-5 Edge rushers in this year’s draft as we enter combine week.
1. Nick Bosa, Ohio State
I feel like some people have forgotten how good Nick Bosa is. The younger brother of Joey Bosa, Nick is a dominant force on the defensive line, he is truly a can’t miss prospect. He has ideal size, length, and athleticism to be a top-5 pick on paper, but what really makes him his money, is his tape. The first thing I noticed about Bosa was his insane get-off; he explodes off the line of scrimmage and is either parallel to, or past the offensive tackle by his third step. He has fantastic bend in his ankles so he can corner around the offensive lineman. He is violent in his hand usage in order to keep his pads clear. He has a vast arsenal of pass rush moves, ranging from a bull rush, or a cross-chop, to an inside swim or a push-pull. Match all of that with a relentless motor and incredible play strength and you got yourself a truly transcendent talent.
2. Brian Burns, Florida State
I’ve seen a lot of people have Josh Allen from Kentucky as their second ranked Edge prospect, but in my opinion, Brian Burns has the number 2 spot on lock. Burns is a smart pass rusher who knows how to use his strengths to his advantage. Burns is explosive off the line of scrimmage, but he makes his money in his 2nd and 3rd steps. The amount of ground he covers is truly incredible; if the offensive tackle isn’t prepared, he’ll be grasping for air in a heartbeat. Burns has impressive flexibility when cornering around the edge. He has shown some good pass rush moves in his repertoire; he has shown club-rip moves, swat moves and push-pull moves. The real strength of his pass rush ability comes from his counters. Burns has the ability to break off his outside rush and counter back inside, he has a potent inside spin that has left offensive tackles wondering what went wrong. I fully expect Burns to continue his path and succeed at the NFL level.
3. Josh Allen, Kentucky
Here’s the fan favorite. Josh Allen really improved his draft stock over the 2018 season. His 2017 tape was far less than impressive. Allen has a good mix of burst, bend and length to make an impact in the NFL. Allen has good explosiveness off of the line of scrimmage; he accelerates through the arc and wins with speed most of the time. He really improved his flexibility from 2017; he couldn’t bend whatsoever in 2017, came back to school and now it’s one of his strengths. Allen showed good ability to bend around the corner and drop his shoulders to dip under the offensive tackle. Allen has a strong swat move to get the tackle’s hands off of him and get to the QB. One underrated part of Allen’s game is his coverage ability. Allen had several plays in coverage where he was able to break up a pass and mirror his match-up. Josh Allen has all the tools necessary to make an impact in the NFL.
4. Jachai Polite, Florida
If you can’t tell by now, I like Edge rushers who can bend, and Jachai Polite can do just that. Polite is an explosive edge rusher who wins consistently with speed . Polite’s get off isn’t as good as it could be, as he false steps on occasion, which slows him down. After that first step, however, it’s game over. Polite has the ability to still run around the offensive tackle, even with the false step. His speed up the arc is incredible and truly impressive. Polite has good bend and can dip down to avoid the offensive tackle. His ability to have such a potent speed rush allows him to use his counters very effectively. He has a lightning quick inside spin that has left offensive linemen in the dust. Polite has a relentless motor to pair with his speed, he has had many tackles 20+ yards downfield where he chased the ball carrier down. Pair Polite with someone like Harold Landry and you have yourself a deadly pair of Edge rushers.
5. Clelin Ferrell, Clemson
Ferrell is one of the more polished edge rushers in terms of technique. As 1/3 of the famous Clemson defensive linemen, Ferrell is probably the best of the 3. Ferrell has a knack for jumping the snap, his get off is incredible at times. Ferrell uses his length to his advantage and has a strong ability to shed blockers and rush the QB. He has a loaded arsenal of pass rush moves, and can use a long arm, rip, inside swim or cross-chop whenever he wants. He has flashed the ability to dip the shoulder and have some ankle bend, but that is not his calling-card. Ferrell has great timing when using counters; he reads the offensive lineman and sets up his counters nicely. Although he might not have the most upside in this class, his skills can surely translate to the NFL.