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. 

New York Giants: Two LSU Defensive Prospects That Make Sense In A Trade-Down Scenario

The New York Giants hold the fourth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. For now… And maybe forever. But the opportunity still exists for New York to trade back and grab extra draft capital. General manager Dave Gettleman stated in February that the Giants are “open for business.” He admitted that the team is open to trading down from fourth overall but he also indicated that they do not want to trade down too far.

Gettleman does not want to trade back and compromise the talent-level of his first selection in exchange for additional picks. He only wants to trade back if he can ensure himself a top-tier prospect. But there are two LSU defensive prospects available in the later parts of the first-round that could be home-run selections for the New York Giants if they do decide to trade down.

Patrick Queen, LB, LSU:

If the Giants do not take Isaiah Simmons at fourth overall, why not take the next best thing? Simmons is not the only linebacker in this class who excels in coverage- Patrick Queen out of LSU does, too. Benjamin Solak of The Draft Network described Queen as: “A highly adept zone cover defender who overlaps short zones with ease and makes high-quality plays accordingly.”

Patrick Queen is an athletic inside linebacker, considered by most to be the second-best in this class. He ran a 4.5s 40-yard-dash at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine to go along with his impressive 18 bench press reps. Queen might be a bit undersized at 6 feet tall and 229 pounds. But he more than makes up for his size with his intensity.

Patrick Queen has a high motor that never seems to turn off. He racked up 85 total tackles in 2019 including 3 sacks and 12 tackles for loss. He also added an interception against top-tier quarterback prospect Tua Tagovailoa of Alabama:

If New York selected Patrick Queen it would have to be after the first twenty-or-so picks. So they would have to be trading down pretty far to make Queen an option. There is a chance he slides into the second round but that is highly unlikely. A trade for Patrick Queen that makes sense: acquiring the ninth and twentieth overall selections from Jacksonville in exchange for fourth overall. The Giants would be moving back five spots, still able to draft an offensive tackle at ninth overall. Queen would then be a strong option at the twentieth overall selection.

K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU:

There is another Louisiana State product that could make sense if the Giants trade down. Dave Gettleman made it clear this week that the Giants are “not in position” to acquire a “25-sacks-a-year guys.” But he also pointed out that “we haven’t gone through the draft yet” and assured that the Giants “will just keep building it.”

Enter K’Lavon Chaisson: a 20-year-old athletic specimen out of LSU. He did not run the 40-yard-dash at this year’s NFL Scouting Combine, but if he did he would have ranked amongst the fastest at his position. Chaisson made life difficult for opposing offensive tackles in the SEC with his explosive burst off the edge and quickness to get to the quarterback. He stands tall at 6 feet 3 inches and weighs in at 254 pounds with lanky 32 and 1/4 inch arms.

Most draft analysts regard K’Lavon as the second-best edge rusher in this draft class behind only Chase Young. The Giants desperately need a stud, primary pass-rusher off the edge and if they trade down, K’Lavon Chaisson could be that prospect. The LSU edge rusher put his athleticism to good use, dominating the competition for 6.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss en route to a National Championship.

K’Lavon Chaisson is projected to be a mid-first-round draft pick. He has been commonly mocked around the fifteenth or sixteenth overall selection so New York would have to trade back pretty far for Chaisson to become an option.

How can the New York Giants upgrade their secondary?

New York Jets, Logan Ryan, Tennessee Titans

The New York Giants pass defense was well documented as being one of the worst in the league last season.  The Giants secondary gave up more than 4,200 passing yards on the season (28th overall) and 7.1 yards per pass attempt (29th overall).  New York must upgrade their pass defense, but according to ESPN’s Jordan Raanan, those upgrades will not come from spending big in the cornerback market in free agency.

How will the New York Giants improve their pass defense?

Much of the headaches in the pass defense could be attributed to the lack of experience in the secondary.  Only three of the cornerbacks that saw impactful snap counts for the Giants defense last season had any playing time before last season.  Only one, Janoris Jenkins, started more than ten games heading into 2019. 

Many believe that the New York Giants may look at the top of the 2020 NFL Draft to help upgrade the cornerback position, but is adding more inexperience a good move?  Maybe. Ohio State’s Jeffrey Okudah seems to have the talent. However, adding a veteran presence to replace Janoris Jenkins looks to be the better move for New York.

If the rumors are true and the Giants won’t spend big on the cornerback market in free agency, who does that leave?  It most certainly rules out Byron Jones, assuming he doesn’t get an extension from Dallas. Jones will be one of the most highly sought free agents on the market and will likely get paid as such.  

Chris Harris, Jr., Logan Ryan, Bradley Roby, and Jimmy Smith are all free agents that made at or above $10 million per year on average.  However, is $10 million the bar for the Giants? Also, was their performance or age going to impact their number? I wouldn’t rule these names out like I would with Jones, but they may be just outside where New York is willing to go for the position.

So, who could the Giants target in free agency?

Former first-round selection for the Minnesota Vikings, Trae Waynes found himself not having an excellent coverage year in 2019.  His speed is his top trait, and he consistently has been good as a run defender. Unfortunately, his coverage ability has not been as consistent.  He shows flashes, but in the last four seasons has given up 16 touchdowns.

Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Darqueze Dennard is another intriguing name for New York to keep an eye on.  He’s a solid cornerback, particularly in the slot, but has not been the most durable. With only one full season in the last six, health should undoubtedly be a concern for the Giants.  

I am sure the Giants would love to take Byron Jones away from a divisional rival and excel.  However, if the cost is an issue, there may be another option. Enter former Eagle Ronald Darby. Darby had an extremely forgetful 2019 season, posting an abysmal 45.9 grade with PFF.  He has battled injuries throughout his career and was put on injured reserve in December for a hip injury. Before 2019, Darby had been a very reliable starter, when healthy. Could he return to that form?

What is the Giants answer at improving the pass defense?

All of these options are risky.  Spend less money on inconsistent talent or durability concerns.  This has been the gamble that has hurt the New York Giants in other recent free agency moves.  The best way to help an inexperienced pass defense is to upgrade the pass rush. It’s been the story for the Giants all along, and that will not change.  

Yannick Ngakoue, Shaquil Barrett, and Kyle Van Noy could all be and should be considerations for the Giants.  The Chase Young dream is unlikely. Isaiah Simmons is versatile and talented, but will that translate to a consistent threat in disrupting the quarterback?  Trading back and somehow taking a K’Lavon Chaisson, AJ Epenesa, or any of the other next tier rookie edge defenders is an option. Whatever the case, if the Giants want to improve the pass defense without spending big in free agency, the best way to do that is to spend big in getting to the quarterback.

New York Jets: Mock Draft Scenarios

New York Jets, Sam Darnold

With the NFL Draft rapidly approaching (weird to realize that the Super Bowl is only a week away), speculation is running rampant across every NFL team on who will pick who, including the New York Jets. Much is already known about the Jets’ immediate/most dire needs that will be addressed in free agency AS WELL as the draft, so let’s take a look at the current speculation surrounding the New York Jets draft picks.

ESPN Mock Draft

Mel Kiper Jr. sees the Jets going for Jedrick Wills Jr. of the Alabama Crimson Tide with the 11th pick in the first round. He addresses a very obvious need as an offensive tackle, but the biggest slight against him is his inexperience at left tackle. But, known for his strength in run defense, and showing drastic improvement in pass protection, the Jets may have to trade up to get their hands on Wills. Other mock drafts have Wills going 9th overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars, and some as high as 6th to the Los Angeles Chargers.

NFL Mock Draft

The NFL Network has the Jets selecting LSU’s K’Lavon Chaisson at 11. It adds some depth to an already strong defense. Clocking 6.5 sacks last season, 94 combined (forced and solo) tackles, and a forced fumble, he could be the choice the Jets go with if they decide to trade Jamal Adams.

New mock drafts will be rolling out every week from every possible entertainment source. The closer we get to the draft, the more likely these draft picks will be who the team goes with. We’ll see what happens in the coming months/weeks, especially when we get to free agency.

New York Giants Draft prospects in the National Title Game

New York Giants, Kristian Fulton

The College Football National Championship is finally here, and New York Giants fans should be paying close attention.  LSU and Clemson are set to square off, and both are loaded with NFL caliber players.  Many of which are in positions of need for Big Blue.  The Giants scouts will have their eyes on Monday nights game, and you should, too. 

Who will the Giants be watching in Monday’s National Championship?

Isaiah Simmons – LB/S, Clemson

Isaiah Simmons needs no introduction.  He has been linked to the New York Giants for some time now.  Truthfully, he would be the only player Monday that would make sense with the 4th pick.  Simmons is an athletic freak that can wear many hats in the defense.  That versatility seems to be something new head coach Joe Judge will be highly intrigued by. 

Simmons spent much of his season playing LB, S, and even CB for the Tigers en route to Monday nights game.  He has excellent range, elite quickness off the snap in pass rush, and the man can tackle!  Simmons has very good man coverage skills, which would be a blessing to this defense.  The Giants taking Simmons would be met with rousing appreciation from a fan base that has been wanting a game-changing linebacker for years.

Kristian Fulton – CB, LSU

Another potential first-rounder for the Giants, but only if they trade back from 4 or he has a mind-blowing combine. Fulton is about everything you’d want in a man cover cornerback — he can get physical at the line of scrimmage in press coverage and can remain in an opposing receivers hip pocket.  Excellent ball skills and can be very explosive when closing down distance while playing off coverage.

Some things to watch with Fulton is he has not been the best tackler, so the run game is far from a strength of his.  It also should be noted that he does have a failed drug test in 2017 that may come up as a red flag.

Grant Delpit – S, LSU

Safety is not something I expect the Giants to address early in the draft, which likely means Delpit’s chances of suiting up in the blue are very slim.  However, his talents are worth watching.  

The 2019 Thorpe Award winner is likely to be the highest-drafted safety in April, and that comes with good reason.  Like Simmons, he’s a versatile player that can play single high or in the box. Delpit has great size and length, can play man or zone coverage, and has incredible instincts that show up in his ability to take the ball away.

K’Lavon Chaisson – Edge, LSU

Chaisson is one of my favorite prospects in the draft.  If the Giants do what I think they should do and that’s trade back, look for Chaisson to have a legitimate chance to be a 1st round selection for New York.  

K’Lavon is more of a stand-up pass rusher that brings outstanding speed to the defense, which helps him in containment.  He often looks to win with pure speed and will need to continue to develop his skillset of pass rush moves, but if you watched the Tigers game against Oklahoma, you’d see how much of a difference-maker Chaisson can be.  The athletic pass rusher was coming off of a torn ACL in 2018, but considering Chaisson chased down one of the fastest WR prospects in the draft, CeeDee Lamb, I would say it’s just fine. 

Lloyd Cushenberry, LSU & Tremayne Anchrum, Clemson – OL

What? I can’t be the only one that will be watching offensive linemen in the National Championship Game, can I?  It is no secret that the Giants have to address the offensive line in the draft. They may look for stop gaps in Free Agency, but getting younger across the line is going to be crucial.

Many will wonder what happens with Jon Halapio going forward after undergoing surgery on a ruptured Achilles in Week 17.  Has his play and injury history kept him from coming back to the organization in 2020?  If so, Cushenberry could be that answer. Cush will be one of the few interior offensive linemen that can also play center, and that versatility could be attractive to the Giants. He’s still raw and won’t be an early-round pick, but given how thin the interior OL class is, he could be a top 100 pick. 

Tremayne Anchrum is another intriguing prospect.  Anchrum is an offensive tackle that many believe would be better suited for a move inside. Tremayne could prove himself a late-round tackle prospect with a good showing against the LSU pass rush.  His balance leaves a lot to be desired, and his length needs improvement to be an NFL tackle, but he has solid athleticism and vision that makes him a potential project.

Tee Higgins, Clemson & Justin Jefferson, LSU – WR

Monday nights National Championship game will be loaded at the skill position on both sides of the ball.  These offenses have all the potential to light up the scoreboard, and Higgins and Jefferson are two massive reasons why.  Both receivers have tremendous height with Higgins listed at 6’4” and Jefferson only an inch shorter at 6’3”.  

Tee may be a slightly more polished receiver than Jefferson, but not by much.  Higgins’ ability to burst off the line of scrimmage is pretty impressive for a bigger receiver. Despite this, he could use a little more physicality in press coverage at the line.  He is fearless with an incredible catch radius, showing off his basketball background when high pointing the football in contested coverage.  

Justin Jefferson has a similar toughness while going for catches when contact is inevitable.  He is creative in his routes, finding open space in zone coverage. He also can beat the defense deep with his speed on posts and fly routes.  Jefferson has what it takes to be another great LSU receiver in the NFL, but will need to work on creating separation against man coverage and cleaning up his technique off the line.  It’s no secret that the New York Giants have found elite receiving talent from LSU… could they do it again with Jefferson?