You want your team to draft an edge rusher in the 2019 NFL Draft. It's an important part of an incredible defensive line group that's not just top heavy but awesomely deep as you get outside of Round 1, into Day 2 and middle of the draft.
Nick Bosa, Clelin Ferrell, and Josh Allen are the headliners bound to land in the top half of the first round, and there's a fun group of edge rushers after them with alpha pass rusher potential.
This is the sixth installment in a position-by-position breakdown of the rankings of prospects you need to know in the 2019 NFL Draft.
*Important note: These rankings are subject to change somewhat after the combine.
No. 1 edge rushers
1. Nick Bosa, Ohio State
2. Clelin Ferrell, Clemson
3. Zach Allen, Boston College
4. Josh Allen, Kentucky
5. Jachai Polite, Florida
6. Montez Sweat, Mississippi State
Bosa is the second coming of his brother, and he might be more impactful converting speed to power. He can win in a myriad of ways and has NFL defensive end height, girth, and length. Ferrell is still ascending as a pass rusher and showcased more calculated hand use down the stretch in 2018. He's super long, athletic, and can tightly bend the corner.
Zach Allen is a end-tackle hybrid with flashes of outstanding bend to the quarterback for his size and good hand work. He's very powerful too. Josh Allen might erupt at the combine at 6-foot-5 and 260-ish pounds, and he's a ferocious, edge bender. His lack of efficient hand work concerns me slightly. He should be able to win on athleticism and hustle alone in the NFL, because he truly is a rare mover, but he'll need to get better beating offensive linemen with his hands to live up to the hype.
Polite is a smaller, Jerry Hughes type pass rusher. He flies efficiently around the corner, and has a handful of pass-rushing moves in his arsenal. He needs to get stronger against the run.
Sweat is impossibly long at 6-6 with nearly 36-inch arms. Insane. He has a frame that could comfortably carry more weight, a scary thought for offensive linemen, because he's already a powerful, high-motor player. No, he's not going to dip low around the edge, but he has a lot of Danielle Hunter to his physical profile and overall game.
High-end No. 2s
7. Oshane Ximines, Old Dominion
8. Brian Burns, Florida State
9. L.J. Collier, TCU
10. Carl Granderson, Wyoming
11. Charles Omenihu, Texas
12. Anthony Nelson, Iowa
Ximines is a loose-hipped, hand-use master with the ability to get underneath taller tackles and drive them backward. At times, he stalls out in his rush and doesn't go to a counter move, but his initial moves are outstanding. Good burst too. Burns is a lanky edge rusher with All-Pro caliber bend/dip skills and a nice inside crossover off his speed rush. At the pro level, he has to not only gain weight but play with more aggression around the corner.
Collier is a stocky but decently long edge rusher at 6-2 and 280 pounds with nearly 35-inch arms. Unique measurements. He knows his long arms are his friends, and he utilizes them to his advantage on essentially every snap, keeping blockers off his frame. There's a good amount of fluidity in his hips and ankles too, so he can flatten to the quarterback. Granderson is a high-energy, heavy-handed defensive end who can look stiff at times but is simply just more jagged (or twitchy) in his movements than a glider on the field. He uses his hands very well.
Omenihu and Nelson are similar "big" ends with immense length, power, and a fair amount of athleticism. Omenihu blossomed in a more attacking role in 2018, and Nelson has a small collection of pass-rushing moves he goes to often that work for him on most occasions.
Valuable role-players/serviceable backups
13. Jaylon Ferguson, Louisiana Tech
14. Joe Jackson, Miami
15. Christian Miller, Alabama
16. Chase Winovich, Michigan
17. Justin Hollins, Oregon
18. D'Andre Walker, Georgia
19. Darryl Johnson, North Carolina A&T
20. Jalen Jelks, Oregon
Ferguson is a tough evaluation, because he's the NCAA's all-time sack leader. I just didn't see consistent explosiveness, bend, or hand use in his game, and without those, it's extremely difficult to win on the edge in the NFL. Jackson is another "big" end with heavy hands who can be stiff and get stagnant with his hands.
Miller was a rotational player on Alabama's loaded defense. I respect how he made the most of his appearances. He has long arms and a thinner lower half. He's a classic example of how vital hand work is for edge rushers. He almost always initiates contact with a fantastic one-arm straight arm and it gives him a steady base to counter. He can feel if the blocker is getting off balance in any direction, or he can simply bull rush into the quarterback.
Winovich flashes serious bend and a nice swipe move. There are no concerns with his motor either. Hollins needs to add around 10 pounds to his 6-5 frame. If he does that, we're talking about someone with double-digit sack potential. His speedy hands match his explosiveness off the snap, and he certainly can flatten the edge en route to the quarterback. Walker is a well-built stand-up linebacker type who needs to diversify his pass-rush move arsenal and play with more burst.
Johnson is a super-sleeper of this group from North Carolina A&T. Tall and slender with high-end explosiveness and somewhat frequent snaps demonstrating stellar pass-rushing moves but very limited power, he's a situational guy early in his career as he builds mass in the weight room.
Jelks is a tweener who produced well on the inside but doesn't have the frame for it in the NFL. As a senior, he played on the edge more often, and while he's a twitchy athlete, he's not exactly bendy around the corner. His inside move is tremendous and will help him collapse the pocket in the pros.
Projects worth a roster spot
21. John Cominsky, Charleston
22. Ben Banogu, TCU
23. Maxx Crosby, Eastern Michigan
24. Austin Bryant, Clemson
25. Jabril Frazier, Boise State
26. Jordan Brailford, Oklahoma State
27. Malik Reed, Nevada
28. Titus Davis, Central Florida
Cominsky is a tall, powerful athlete with outstanding size. Will his pass-rushing moves be impactful against NFL tackles? Banogu did everything for TCU. Some teams could see him as an off-ball linebacker who blitzes in some instances. There's not a lot of pass-rushing polish or bend to his game. He's awesome on stunts and sets a strong edge.
Crosby is a long, angular, and at times, explosive edge rusher in need of much more power. Decent hand work too. Bryant sets a sturdy edge but is more of a "SAM" linebacker than a pure edge rusher. He's a towering presence, doesn't play low, and is stiff around the corner. He doesn't have a pass-rush plan on most of his snaps on the outside.
The last four -- Fraizer, Brailford, Reed, and Davis -- are all outside linebacker types in the 6-1 / 6-3 range and all 240-ish pounds with NFL-caliber athleticism. Reed's the most natural pass-rusher but the least imposing physically. Brailford was frequently utilized as a blitzer at Oklahoma State in 2018, and Frazier and Davis are versatile but unspectacular with position-specific skills.