Where Bradley Chubb ranks among the recent edge-rushers who were top-6 picks
Sizing up the star NC State pass-rusher against Clowney, Mack, Fowler, Bosa, and Garrett
With less than a week to go until the draft begins, it seems likely that Chubb won't make it past the Colts, holders of the No. 6 overall selection.
How does Chubb stack up to the five other highly regarded edge-rushers who were picked inside the top 6 over the past five years?
6. Dante Fowler
Fowler had some of the heaviest hands I've ever scouted for an outside pass-rusher. His hands were hay makers against large offensive tackles and were likely a main reason why he was selected No. 3 overall in the 2015 draft. He left a lot to be desired athletically, as his film didn't show a bendy speed-rusher but a pure power rusher with impressive burst off the snap. After a knee injury before his first season started, Fowler had a nondescript debut season in the NFL with just four sacks and 32 tackles in all 16 games. Last year, with loads of talent around him, he looked more than a former top pick with eight sacks and two forced fumbles. Per Pro Football Focus, he registered 37 pressures on 333 pass-rush snaps in 2017 after 39 on 367 pass-rush snaps in 2016. Both numbers are respectable but neither are a rate that put him near the top of 4-3 defensive ends in that category.
5. Jadeveon Clowney
I liked Clowney as a prospect. I really did. Do I think the hype surrounding him got out of control? Absolutely. The anointed high-school recruits who show signs in college of living up to their five-star status seem to get overrated during the pre-draft process. Watching Clowney at South Carolina without thinking of him as the next Bruce Smith from the start showed a big, somewhat lanky edge-rusher with an electric first-step and the ability to convert speed to power on the edge. He didn't have pass-rushing moves besides an inside crossover and was a menace against the run. For the most part, that's the type of player he's been in the NFL since he's been healthy. Clowney is a freak linear athlete but not a low-dip-around-the-corner outside-rusher who utilizes a variety of counter moves to get to the quarterback. He's cranked up to top gear all the time and his edge-setting ability is elite. The vast majority of the time in the NFL, the pass-rushers who mainly rely on their athletic gifts to rush the passer aren't consistent. Clowney's suddenness and strength are so upper-echelon, he's one of the rare few who can almost solely lean on his physical prowess to win often at the pro level. Per PFF, he registered 64 pressures on 487 pass-rushing snaps in 2017, a considerable pressure-rate jump from 41 on 342 pass-rush snaps in 2016 and 30 on 300 pass-rush snaps in 2015.
4. Bradley Chubb
Chubb gets the spot ahead of Clowney simply because he was a comparable athlete -- behind the difference in the 40-yard dash, the former NC State star had a very comparable combine at a similar height and weight -- and was much further ahead of Clowney regarding his ability to use his hands to disrupt the backfield. It just makes him more difficult to block. Chubb isn't Von Miller around the corner -- disclaimer: no one is -- but has enough burst and quickness to beat slower offensive tackles to the outside on occasion. If the blocker's kick slide is fundamentally sound, Chubb instantly morphs into a technician and deploys one of the many maneuvers in his arsenal to create a leverage or angle advantage. Like Clowney, he's a sturdy edge-setter too and can shed blocks on outside runs on a regular basis. For more perspective on the type of player Chubb is to me ... . Big, strong, powerful, versatile.
3. Khalil Mack
Mack was simply more polished, more athletic overall, and more multi-dimensional than Clowney when the two entered the NFL in the famous 2014 draft. While he's been a hand-in-the-dirt defensive end during his time with the Raiders, Mack was primarily a stand-up SAM linebacker at Buffalo, so he had more coverage duties and attacked run plays from a different pre-snap alignment than Clowney or Chubb. His explosiveness was obvious, and he bent the edge well. When met at the pass-rushing apex by offensive tackles, he usually flashed his long arms and was very physical with his counter moves en route to the quarterback. Like Chubb, Mack could win in more ways than one on the edge and was a super-strong and keenly aware run-defender. He's been a dominant player since the moment he stepped on an NFL field, and last year, he was credited with a ridiculous 96 quarterback pressures on 498 pass-rush snaps by PFF.
2. Myles Garrett
Garrett was more raw than Mack and Chubb, but his athletic superiority places him a tick ahead of the Raiders' defensive cornerstone. At his age -- 21 years old when he was made the No. 1 overall pick last year -- Garrett had glimpses of hand use in college, yet mainly won with out-of-this-world burst, speed, and bend around the corner. At his size -- 6-foot-4 and 272 pounds -- he should not have been nearly as fast out of the gate as he was at Texas A&M, and he definitely shouldn't have been able to dip around the edge like he did frequently. Also, he often used a remarkable spin move as a counter to go along with a Clowney-like crossover to the inside if the offensive tackle over-set in pass-protection. According to PFF, he had 37 pressures on just 290 pass-rushing snaps during an injury-riddled rookie year and used his shedding ability, size, and inherent strength to routinely make plays near the line of scrimmage against the run. At the ripe age of 22 this year, expect Garrett to have an enormous impact for the Browns.
1. Joey Bosa
Bosa was the most advanced edge-rusher I've ever scouted, and he was a tremendous athlete. That was the abridged book on Bosa. His hands were heavy and extremely active. He was like a black-belt in karate at the point of attack, which usually led to him creating pressure on the quarterback. Bosa could win with pure juice around the corner and an impressive dip as well. He dropped into coverage comfortably too. Against the run, he used his hands to consistently shed blocks and was plenty strong enough to set a strong edge. I really saw no flaws in his game as an outside pass-rusher. In 2016, he amassed a ridiculous 59 quarterback pressures on only 341 pass-rush snaps. Last year, Bosa swiftly moved into superstar territory. He had 75 pressures on 491 pass-rush snaps, per PFF.
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