clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

NFL Draft Rankings: Top 10 edge defenders (with pro comparisons)

New, comments

Who should the Eagles target?

Big Ten Football Championship - Ohio State v Wisconsin Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Slightly lower down the list of Eagles needs is a boost to their edge defender group. While the Eagles have some decent players like Brandon Graham and some young players to be hopeful about in Derek Barnett and Josh Sweat, a team can never have too many impact edge defenders. Here is how the 2020 NFL Draft class stacks up.

10. Jabari Zuniga, Florida

Jabari Zuniga has a lot to offer as a versatile defender who can play inside and out of a defensive line. Zuniga is a. Decent athlete who does a good job setting the edge and defending the run. Zuniga can slide inside and wreak havoc as a sub-package defender.

NFL Comparison: Olivier Vernon

9. Jonathan Greenard, Florida

Jonathan Greenard was a high profile transfer when he left Louisville for Florida. Greenard’s biggest con nerd mostly revolve around a colorful injury history. On the field, Greenard is a high motor player with good athleticism and every down capability. If he can stay healthy, Greenard has upside and immediate ability to jump into a rotation.

NFL Comparison: Derrick Morgan

8. Terrell Lewis, Alabama

Terrell Lewis basically lost two seasons to injury but his intrigue is obvious upon watching him. The 6’5”, 260 pound defender has excellent athleticism and pops off the tape as an explosive defender who, at his best, can dominate anyone in front of his. His lack of polish will mean he will require some patience and injury history incurs some risk. However, hitting on Lewis would be a big hit.

NFL Comparison: Kareem Martin

7. Julian Okwara, Notre Dame

Julian Okwara was extremely productive for the Irish over the last two years before a broken leg prematurely ended his college career. Okwara is a quick twitch, explosive rusher who was constantly behind the line of scrimmage. He is not a polished player and his lack of bulk made him susceptible to be pushed around if he wasn’t able to win with speed. If Okwara can return from injury, he will be an interesting developmental rusher.

NFL Comparison: Aaron Lynch

6. Zack Baun, Wisconsin

Baun has been a favorite of mine for a while now. The versatile defender will get looks as an off-ball linebacker as well as an edge threat. Baun is a bit smaller for true defensive end, but his speed, bend and technique made him a monster at Wisconsin. Baun is likely a movable chess piece for defensive coordinators in the NFL.

NFL Comparison: Anthony Barr

5. K’Lavon Chaisson, LSU

A few months ago, K’Lavon Chaisson would have been written off as a pure athlete that lacked functional tools to be a consistent defender. However, Chaisson rapidly improved during the season and turned it on for the last few games to help LSU to a championship. Chaisson’s upside is sky high and teams willing to take a chance on his trajectory could be hugely rewarded.

NFL Comparison: Danielle Hunter

4. Curtis Weaver, Boise State

Curtis Weaver may not be the biggest or best athlete, but his 23 sacks over the last two years are hard to argue with. Weaver is a strong, high motor player who does a great job disrupting on a down-to-down basis. He is a technically gifted player who has great on field awareness. Weaver might be “maxed out”, but his immediate impact will be valuable to any NFL defense.

NFL Comparison: Trent Cole

3. Yetur Gross-Matos, Penn State

Gross-Matos’ production over the least two years should draw a lot of attention. Gross Matos is a true power rusher who bulldozed offensive lineman across college football. He is still improving as a technical football player, but there is a lot to work with in terms of his length, strength and tenacity.

NFL Comparison: Chandler Jones

2. AJ Epenesa, Iowa

AJ Epenesa was an all-state basketball player and discus thrower before he got to Iowa. The long, powerful defender was truly too much for offenses from the moment he stepped on the field. Even as a rotational player his first two years, Epenesa was a disruptive defender. His junior year, he really took off as he bullied offensive linemen the whole season. Epenesa’s size and raw strength make him hard to handle and his technical proficiency makes him even more dangerous. The crazy thing to think about is Epenesa could probably add more size to his ridiculous frame and play basically anywhere on a defensive line.

NFL Comparison: Carlos Dunlap

1. Chase Young, Ohio State

Who else? Chase Young was favored to be the first overall pick in August and the only thing he’s done since then is get better. Young is a special athlete with great size and it translated into two years of elite production. Young is a technically gifted pass rusher and his raw power makes him a destructive force against the run. His only big knocks is he has a tendency to lose plays from time to time. Also he was wearing down late in the season, but that is partially to how much he was used in the OSU defense. In an NFL defensive line rotation, Young will immediately be a difference maker a la Myles Garrett or Nick Bosa.

NFL Comparison: Julius Peppers