There are plenty of good edge defenders in this year’s draft class. They have gained importance as the game has become more pass oriented.
Last year, the Cleveland Browns took a pass rushing defensive end with the No. 1 overall pick. It has been floated out there that they may do it again this year. It is more likely that they will take a quarterback, but it is at least a serious consideration.
Here are the top five edge defenders as well as an underrated, overrated and a sleeper prospect.
#1 – Bradley Chubb, North Carolina State
Chubb has emerged as a sure top 10 and most likely top-five pick. His name has come in the discussion for the top pick. He has elite skills to go with NFL-ready size and speed. He uses his hands well to shed blockers and can play the left or right side of the line.
#2 – Harold Landry, Boston College
Landry was considered the best edge defender and best pass rusher in this class prior to last season. He didn’t disappoint, but also saw Chubb pass him on the draft board. He is limited in his full skill set. At this point, he is pretty much just a sprinter taking off around the edge at the snap. Give it a few years, but he has star pass rusher written all over him.
#3 – Marcus Davenport, Texas-San Antonio
Davenport could be the first player ever from the University of Texas-San Antonio (UTSA) to be selected in the first round. He has an impressive combination of size and speed. He has the versatility to play a rush linebacker spot in a 3-4 scheme, a defensive end in base 4-3 scheme and slide inside in passing situations.
#4 – Lorenzo Carter, Georgia
Carter is long, thick and fast. He really shined at the combine by posting a 4.5 40-yard dash time, 36-inch vertical jump and 130-inch broad jump. He played a lot of different roles at Georgia but didn’t really exert himself as a high-impact playmaker. Last season was his best for the Bulldogs.
#5 – Arden Key, LSU
Key is a very long and lean pass rusher. He is very explosive off the line of scrimmage and times the snap really well. He will likely be most successful as a standup, rushing outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. He has the All-Pro ability but struggles to disengage when the offensive lineman gets his hands on him.
Underrated – Ade Aruna, Tulane
Aruna has the measurables and skills to be a very good starter in the NFL. He measured 6-feet-6-inches tall and 262-pounds at the combine while running a 4.6 40-yard dash. He has the ability to play with a hand-in-the-dirt as a defensive end in a 4-3 scheme or as a rushing linebacker in a 3-4 scheme.
Overrated – Da’shawn Hand, Alabama
The hand looks the part, but the production wasn’t there. He also struggled to find playing time as a senior. He has a tendency to take plays off and struggles to shed blockers. He may be best utilized as a defensive end in a 3-4 scheme or inside in a 4-3 scheme.
Sleeper – Joe Ostman, Central Michigan
Ostman is so far off the radar he wasn’t invited to the combine. He does not have the measurables to get a good look from teams, but he has an unteachable motor and work ethic. He goes 100-miles-per-hour from the snap to the whistle and knows no other way to play. He has enough quickness to get around the corner.
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