NFL Draft Top 5 EDGE Rusher Rankings

With the NFL Draft rapidly approaching, over the next few days, I plan on breaking down the best and brightest talents in this year’s class. This class is full of some unique prospects. There is a plethora of depth, but there are 5 guys who really stand out to me.

1. Chase Young, Ohio State

Pro Comparison: Jadeveon Clowney

I don’t know if there is a single-player as talented as Young in this class. Young wreaked havoc on college football this year. Young is going to be an absolute ANIMAL at the next level. He’s going to be an absolute superstar. There’s not much for me to nitpick in his game so I won’t even try. Clowney is a physical specimen just like Young and I think Young is going to be that type of game wrecker at the next level.

2. Zach Baun, Wisconsin

Pro Comparison: T.J. Watt

Zach Baun is one of my favorite prospects. Baun is another high IQ linebacker who is very good with his hands to come from Wisconsin. He’s explosive and he’s put up solid numbers at Wisconsin. Baun could struggle if he doesn’t gain a little more size, but Baun has the makeup to be a very talented player at the next level. Watt was a great edge rusher from Wisconsin and Baun can continue that trend.

3. Yetur Gross Matos, Penn State

Pro Comparison: Cameron Wake

Gross Matos was one of my favorite players to watch last year. He was so good against the run, in fact, he was a lot better than Chaisson and Epenesa last year, two guys he’s often bundled with. He was a very productive edge rusher last season. He was able to be a force against the run and against the pass. He also allowed for stellar production from the guys around him. At the very least, he’s going to be an average defensive end. At best, Gross Matos could be a very productive edge rusher. The ceiling is high, but his floor isn’t low. He’s a safe prospect. He lacks the speed that guys like Chaisson and a Young have, but he makes up for it in strength and size. Wake was a productive edge rusher who’s a unique blend of size and speed is reminiscent of Gross Matos.

4. K’Lavon Chaisson, LSU

Pro Comparison: Vic Beasley

I’m not entirely sold on Chaisson. I think he’s a very good edge rusher. He’s good at disrupting the pass with good speed and good hands. Overall, Chaisson has great potential as an edge rusher. However, Chaisson has bust potential. He struggles with the run and he definitely needs to develop as a run stopper. Chaisson reminds me of Beasley because of his ability to be a productive sack producer and average in the run game.

5. Bradlee Anae, Utah

Pro Comparison: Kamalei Correa

Bradlee Anae is a unique prospect. Anae plays with a chip on his shoulder and demonstrates a lot of heart on the field. He’s a good run stopper and a good pass rusher. He’s not elite, but he’s efficient. Anae has good speed and strength. Anae does struggle with really asserting his dominance and using length to an advantage. He’s kind of the opposite of Gross Matos where Anae would be best suited at linebacker rather than at the end. Anae reminds me of Correa because if their abilities to play with lots of energy and effort and both are high character guys with versatility. 

What the New York Jets need to do to piece together an elite defense

New York Jets, Jamal Adams

The New York Jets’ defense ranked among the top half of the league and was ranked as one of the top rushing defenses in all of football last season. The defense was good but not great. With the defensive line figured out and filled with depth, C.J. Mosley returning, Avery Williamson potentially returning if he is not cut, the defense can be great. They just need to fill 2 vital holes.

Cornerback

Main Options

The Jets ideal route for filling the holes at corner would be to resign Brian Poole so the slot role is filled and then go about grabbing a lead corner in free agency. The biggest issue for the Jets is avoiding tying themselves to a contract resembling the headache they just freed themselves of in Trumaine Johnson.

The free agency class is top-heavy at corner but there is depth within the lower levels. James Bradberry and Byron Jones are reportedly being targeted by the Jets. Both guys would immediately become the Jets lead corner and fill a huge hole.

Bradberry is very underrated and has been Carolina’s top corner for the past few years. The Jets reportedly believe he is the better of the two and are willing to splurge on him. I believe Bradberry would be great but he wants to be a part of resetting the cornerback market and his contract may be too pricey.

Other Options

If the Jets miss out on the top two guys, Ronald Darby, Prince Amukamara, Jalen Mills, Chris Harris Jr., and Trae Waynes are among the guys the Jets could target. Even if the Jets get one of these guys to be their lead corner, the Jets need to grab a corner in the draft as well. By doing that the Jets would have two veteran CBs and two younger options, a draft pick and Bless Austin. This would drastically change the Jets secondary and potentially make it elite depending on the additions.

Pass Rush

John Abraham was the last elite pass rusher the Jets had. Mo Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson were both great defensive linemen but not capable of being pass rushers. The Jets drafted Jordan Jenkins a few years ago and he’s developed into a consistently good pass rusher, but he should be re-signed and used as a complementary pass rusher to a better pass rusher.

The Jets can go about filling that hole in a few ways. Free agency is an option, Dante Fowler Jr. and Markus Golden are two guys the Jets have been tied to and both would be great additions. In the draft, there are a few guys I have grown fond of in the pre-draft process. Bradlee Anae, Josh Uche, Kenny Wilekes, Curtis Weaver and Jonathan Greenard are all very talented pass rushers who could be available for the Jets on Days 2 and 3. Any of those guys would be great additions to the Jets and could be capable of becoming elite pass rushers. The Jets need to form an elite pass-rushing tandem, maybe even a trio. The overall goal needs to be an establishment of pass rush and finally getting playmakers at the edge.

The Jets need to get a few more “dawgs” and if they do that then the Jets will have an elite defense that can help lead this team to playoff contention.

New York Giants Full 7 Round Mock Draft

New York Giants, Kaden Smith

The New York Giants once again find themselves picking in the Top 10 in the NFL Draft for the third year in a row.  For Giants fans, the practice of wondering which of the more elite-level talent in this pool of players will suit up for Big Blue.  

With a coaching staff starting to take shape, things begin to get a little more clear on the types of players that could be sought after.  Here is an early look at what the New York Giants could do with their 7 rounds in April’s 2020 NFL Draft.

Round 1 – Pick 4

Isaiah Simmons, LB/S Clemson

Versatility has been a word Giants fans have seen a lot since the hiring of Joe Judge.  Big Blue Nation has been clamoring for a game-changing linebacker for years and may finally get its wish.  

Isaiah Simmons is that answer for the New York Giants.  We have seen how game-changing sideline to sideline defenders can be.  Simmons is built like a linebacker but has the athleticism you’d see in a defensive back.  A guy that can play at nearly any level of the defense, Isaiah Simmons is a true 3-down hybrid that will force opposing offenses to take notice.

Round 2 – Pick 36

Mekhi Becton, OT Louisville

Many believe offensive tackle is where the Giants could and should go in April, but the defensive talent is too good for them to pass up.  Mekhi Becton may not be one of the top tackles in the class, but he has the length, flexibility, and strength to be an immediate NFL starter.  

Round 4 – Pick 100

Bradlee Anae, EDGE Utah

This is where I think the New York Giants will have to have some fortune.  Not having their 3rd round pick that they gave up in the Leonard Williams trade could be missed.  They are scheduled to, and will likely receive a 3rd round compensatory pick due to the departure of Landon Collins, but for now, let’s keep that off the table. 

Bradlee Anae is a name we may begin to see more of as the draft process carries on.  The Giants having the chance to take him with the 100th pick in the draft seems unlikely.  In the very slim chance he is available, they should have that pick at the moment the clock starts.

New York has got to address the pass rush this offseason.  It is absolutely something they could do in free agency, but Anne is a prospect that would be worth taking regardless.  He tied a Utah record with 29.5 career sacks, notching 12.5 in his senior season. He has strength and good footwork off the edge.  What makes him impressive is his evolving skillset of pass rush moves, making him a young artist at the position.

Round 5 – Pick 132

Michael Pittman Jr., WR USC

Considering the lack of experience and injuries at the receiving position, continuing to build weapons for Daniel Jones is important.  One upgrade I think that would be beneficial is a red zone target that could compliment this receiving group. 

Michael Pittman Jr. does not have the speed or burst off the line you’d want in a WR, but he makes up for it.  At 6’4” and roughly 220 lbs, Pittman has the size and hands to go up and get the football. He can be physical and isn’t afraid of contact, which shows up in his crossing routes.  Apart from his red-zone presence one area that Pittman could really benefit the New York Giants is in his run blocking ability. Pittman and Sterling Shepard leading the way for Barkley? Yes, please.

Round 6 – Pick 163

Patrick Queen, LB LSU

Still no official word on whether or not Queen has declared for the NFL Draft, but if he does, someone may get a sleeper.  The New York Giants need linebackers that can cover, and Patrick Queen can do just that. This season, he allowed only 165 total yards in 355 coverage snaps, according to PFF.  Queen can not only cover the field, but he rarely misses tackles. Something the G-Men could really benefit from.

Round 7 – Pick 195

Antonio Gibson, WR Memphis

Hear me out.  Gibson is an explosive player that can also generate yards with power and contact.  He’s a weapon that may benefit from a move to running back. This is where that popular New York Giant word comes into play yet again. Versatility.  Antonio can line up at WR, RB and can even return kicks. This is the kind of weapon you take a chance on with these late-round picks.

Round 7 – Pick 215

Jaron Bryant, CB Fresno State

If you’re still with me, thank you.  Your passion to read into the 7th round of a mock draft in January matches mine.  You have a sense of what the New York Giants need to address this offseason, and a lot of that is in the defense.  Jaron Bryant may be able to help and again… he’s versatile! He has a great physical frame but could benefit to add a bit of muscle.  Bryant is a solid tackler but lacks the speed you’d like to see in a true cover corner. This could all mean a transition to safety in the NFL.