clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

2016 NFL Draft: The Top 5 EDGE defenders

New, comments

The Eagles might be interested in a pass rusher.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Edge disruption is one of the more valuable things in the NFL. Not only is a presence on the edge of a defensive line important to disrupting offenses, but the type of player who can consistently make plays from the perimeter is incredibly rare in the league. Unfortunately, this is not a great draft if a team is in desperate need of adding a dynamic, game changing type of defender. This class is very top heavy in that regard, so if a team desperately needs a player who can spearhead a pass rush, they better hope they're picking high.

  1. Joey Bosa, Ohio State: Bosa's hype has been on a roller coaster over the last calendar year. He went from getting (irresponsible) JJ Watt comparisons to people questioning whether or not he is the top player in this class at his position. The truth is that even though Bosa is not an all world athlete or elite pass rusher, he is an incredibly complete and reliable player. He has great playing strength and possesses a very high motor to compliment. That, paired with his great size make him an asset in run defense and causing disruption in the pass game. He may never become a consistent double digit sack type of player, but he will be a movable piece on a defense and a stalwart for over a decade.

  2. Shaq Lawson, Clemson: For the second year in a row, Clemson produces a stud pass rushing prospect. Lawson is an immensely gifted athlete with explosive ability and great playing strength. Lawson has great size, but he tends to play a little too high from time to time, mitigating his strength. He is a lot more raw and inconsistent than Bosa, but his peaks are arguably much better. With the right coaching, Lawson has the chance to take the league by storm.

  3. Noah Spence, EKU: The Ohio State transfer's fall from grace over the last few weeks has been interesting to watch to say the least. After an incredibly productive college career and a great showing on the All Star circuit, Spence had poor showings at the Combine and at his pro day that made people forget about him altogether. While his testing numbers do give me pause, I still want to take a leap of faith with his ability because of what I see on tape with him. He is a hyper-flexible edge rusher with excellent burst, anticipation and a wide array of pass rushing moves. He is a bit undersized right now and his numbers are not great, but neither were Trent Cole's coming out of Cincinnati and I think their games are incredibly similar.

  4. Emmanuel Ogbah, Oklahoma State: While Spence failed to show out for his testing, Ogbah had massively impressive numbers at the combine. The former Poke has great size, arm length and strength on the field. He is incredibly raw, as he is relatively new to the sport, but his flashes are incredibly enticing. While I would not bet on him high in the first round, his upside is something to absolutely take a bet on early on the second day.

  5. Deforest Buckner, Oregon: Buckner is a weird player because at 6-7 and over 290 pounds, it is hard to know where to put him in a defense. Many talk about him playing EDGE in the NFL, but I feel he is best suited as a two gapping type of player. He is a strong player, who uses his length well and has a high motor, but he plays with poor leverage and is not explosive, even for his size. I think he is a very solid prospect who will be a valuable player in the NFL, but it is hard to see him be a top tier player and he is seemingly maxed out as a prospect.

This class really shows its weakness with the group of edge defenders. There are some guys later in the draft who are intriguing like Charles Tapper, Victor Ochi and Kamalei Correa, but outside of the top three of four players at the position, it is hard to see a player emerging as a bonafide star.