2017 NFL Draft: Edge Rushers

Full Ratings available here:


Edge Rushers

I’m including defensive ends and outside linebackers here. I’ll try to note in the comments where they will likely play.

Myles Garrett: Yes, he really is that good. Faced near constant double-teams. Comparable to Jadeveon Clowney in terms of raw talent. Clowney had a little more force against the run, while Garrett is a better pass rusher. Garrett is far and away the most likely Hall-of-Fame player from this class. I’ll be stunned if he doesn’t go first overall, which is where he belongs.

Solomon Thomas: He’s tremendously talented, but fit is a concern. He’s not a pure pass rusher, and he doesn’t quite have the size you want to stuff the run. Still, I don’t want to overthink this. He’s an excellent football player with great film. He’ll find a spot to play no matter where he ends up. Given the positional value of edge rushers and the lack of elite quarterbacks in this draft, I can understand why he’s the favorite to go second overall. FYI, while SackSEER loves Garrett and has him first overall, it has Thomas fifth among pass rushers. Again, he’s not a pure edge rusher.

Haason Redick: I’ve seen him listed as a defensive end and as an inside linebacker, so that should give you some sense to his versatility. I have him as an outside linebacker, but who knows where he’ll end up. He’s coming off a monster senior year. He’s best when attacking the line of scrimmage, but has the athleticism to drop into coverage. He’s a player I’d like to see end up the Giants given their need for linebackers.

Takkarist McKinley: Undersized, without great agility. Perhaps the best pure speed rush in the draft, but little else. Some teams can afford such a one-trick pony without weakening their defense, but most cannot, so McKinley better find the right fit. I wouldn’t like to see him end up in NY.

Charles Harris: Showed way more explosion on film than at the combine. So much so that I’m not sure what to think of him. The combine numbers suggest he’s a marginal athlete that will struggle to stay on the field in the pros. The film says he can create negative yardage plays against both the run and the pass in the NFL. The general trend in the NFL is to value athleticism over film. I hate ignoring what I’ve seen, but I think I’d have to pass on Harris unless he fell in the draft.

Tim Williams: Almost universally compared to Bruce Irvin. Excellent athleticism. Scouts are concerned about potential off-field issues. My issue is that we have very little data on his ability to play the run. Also, he isn’t as explosive as Irvin was, so I think if he’s going to be a pass-rush specialist, he’ll need to develop his game. I’m not a huge fan of Williams, off-field issues aside.

Jordan Willis: Great production. Great combine. Looks awkward on film because there are a lot of instances where he gets close to the ball, but is just short of making the play. I see a great pro and wouldn’t be shocked if he snuck into the first round or went very early in the second. Just a great mix of speed and power. He’d look great in green, hint, hint.

Carl Lawson: I have no faith that he’ll be able to withstand the physicality of the NFL. He had numerous injuries at LSU. If he can stay health, you’re looking at a very strong linebacker with a great initial burst. If he can stay on the field, he’s a potential first-round talent, but that’s a big if given his history. I think I’d look elsewhere.

T.J. Watt: Draft T.J. Watt. He won’t be nearly as effective against the run as his brother, but he’s a more natural pass rusher. He can blitz or drop back into coverage. He’s still learning the position and might need to spend some time on the sideline while he’s learning it, but the long term potential is enormous. SackSEER loves him two, putting him behind only Myles Garrett.

Ryan Anderson: Limited athletically, but made the most of his skills. You see him making play after play on film. Lacks great speed or quickness, but makes up for it with great effort and solid power. I’ll note it was unusually hard to get him off balance. That, combined with great recognition, led him to be in the right position to make a play far more often than would be expected. It’s a cliché, but he’s a great football player, if not a great athlete.

Tyus Bowser: Another SackSEER favorite. Explosive on film. Great reaction time against the pass, with very long arms. Can knock the ball down at the line of scrimmage, and even pick up a few interceptions. A bit too small to play on the line, so will need to develop better coverage skills. Either that, or be a pure pass rush specialist. It’s an open question how much he can bulk up while maintaining his burst. If he can add 15-20 pounds and stay explosive, he’ll end up being a steal.

Dawuane Smoot: Two years ago he dominated single-blocking. This year offenses keyed on him and he struggled. He gives a solid effort, but the overall talent is lacking. I don’t see much upside potential here and wouldn’t grab him in the first three rounds.

DeMarcus Walker: Dude’s production far exceeded his athletic gifts. He’s going to get drafted, but it’s hard to see him making an impact in the NFL. Not a player I’d grab in the first three rounds.

Derek Rivers: I’d be shocked if he fell out the second round. He suffered a bit in my numbers because the competition he faced at Youngstown State was weak and he probably should have been more productive. However, his talent is enormous and he should be able to get to the quarterback. Notably weak against the run, which is something he’ll need to work on with the coaching staff. Even so, I’d love to see him in NY. Actually, he gets an even higher grade than that: I’d hate if he ended up on the Patriots.

Duke Riley: A pure weakside linebacker. He only started for one year and is still a bit raw. Great field coverage. Might need some time to adjust to the NFL, despite playing at LSU. I expect him to be a quality performer by his third season.

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