The Square Pigeon’s 2019 NFL Draft Coverage – Edge Rushers
Top 5 Edge Rushers
There is a premium in the NFL for getting to the quarterback, and this year’s class of edge rushers is really good.
I feel the need to point out that in a normal year both Brian Burns of Florida State and Jachai Polite would be in the top 5.
Also, Clelin Ferrell from Clemson missed on this list, but he might get snuck in with the defensive line list.
1) Nick Bosa Ohio State
The younger brother of Los Angeles Chargers star, Joey Bosa, looks to add to the family legacy which also includes their father John Bosa (a former Dolphins 1st round draft pick). In 2017, Bosa became a solid contributor to the Buckeyes, but an injury forced him to miss most of the 2018 season.
Despite missing most of this season, Bosa still put together enough film to solidify himself as a top 5 overall pick. He posted four sacks through the first four games. Offensive tackles look silly trying to stop him. Bosa uses his hands with multiple attacks to keep them off balance. Plus, his quick burst off the line will put the fear in quarterbacks as soon as they snap the ball.
Bosa is a pass rushing specialist who is constantly disruptive in the backfield; however, his ability as a run stopper is pretty low. His burst and hand work helps him get to the quarterback in a hurry, but his lack of lateral looseness keeps him from generating proper change of direction which limits his range as a tackler.
2) Montez Sweat Mississippi State
There has been a lot of talk about Nick Bosa being the best defender in this class, but Montez Sweat is not far behind him. The second-team All-American is an amazing athlete who put up a 4.41 in the 40 at the combine. The past two seasons, he has 30 tackles for a loss and 22.5 sacks.
Sweat is a constant disruptive force. It seems like he is always turned up to 11. He uses his hands pretty good to off blockers. His burst off the snap is amazing, but he holds the edge on running plays and doesn’t over pursue. If you want to see him dominate a quality opponent, watch Sweat against Kansas State. There are several plays that Dalton Risner, a top tackle in this class, just looks bad against Sweat.
Even though he can hit a high top speed, it is mostly straight line running. His burst off the line doesn’t translate to acceleration off of cuts. He also plays a little too upright. At 6’6” blockers can easily stand him up if he can’t beat them with speed.
3) Rashan Gary Michigan
I know Rashan Gary isn’t really an edge rusher, but I included him here because he is more of a pass rushing defensive end. Last season, he only managed three and a half sacks, but he should have had many more based on his ability.
Gary may have lacked production statistically, but he lived in the backfield. Blockers could not simply remove him from the play. He attacks with multiple rushing attacks, and on running plays, he will work his way down the line to bring down the ball carrier.
If he can figure out the best us of his hands, he might be unstoppable as a pass rusher. Right now, they are barely getting by. He really needs to improve them to improve his pass rushing ability for the next level. His balance as a run stopper will immediately get him into the starting lineup.
4) Josh Allen Kentucky
Coming into watching film, I thought Josh Allen would be my top player in the draft based on what I had already seen. The first team All-American certainly put up the numbers for the consideration. Allen finished his senior season with 17 sacks, 88 tackles, and 21.5 tackles for a loss.
He can blow up any play at any time. No one in this year’s class can match his speed rush, and he easily defeats lower quality offensive tackles. His large number of tackles comes from his range and awareness. He can both chase the ball carrier down the line or pick up tackles in pass coverage.
While he blows up any play, Allen gets taken out of the game too often. Tackles who manage to get their hands on Allen generally take him out of the play. On running plays, he is often stood up and pushed back. He might start his career playing on passing downs until he can learn to get off blocks better.
5) Jaylon Ferguson Louisiana Tech
Jaylon Ferguson managed to nab a third team All-American spot while playing at Louisiana Tech. 17.5 sacks, which led the nation, should have been enough to get him to at least a second-team spot. The level of competition probably hurt his chance, but he did record a combined 11 tackles and three sacks against his toughest opponents (Mississippi State and Louisiana State).
I honestly haven’t watched a Louisiana Tech game since 1999 when I watched them in Doak Campbell Stadium during my freshman year of college. Going in with fresh eyes, Ferguson pops off the screen. He gets off double teams as good as anyone this year. His burst off the ball greatly helps this.
Of course, the great unknown revolves around who he played in college. As I stated earlier, he played well against is best opponents, but the majority of his games were against teams with lower talent levels.