NFL Draft 2017 - Edge Defenders

Let's begin today by looking at this year's crop of edge defenders. This list is not intended to be exhaustive, so please share analysis, commentary and gifs of your favorite prospects in the comments section.

Jets Needs: Edge Defenders

This is another obvious need area for the Jets. While they have drafted the promising Jordan Jenkins and Lorenzo Mauldin in the mid-rounds over the past couple of years and were high on some of their other youngsters, the Jets lack that elite game-changer off the edge.

Players like Deion Barnes and Mike Catapano failed to live up to the hype, once again forcing the Jets to liberally employ the likes of Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson off the edge.

Once again there's a lot of potential stars available early on, but also some quality sleepers available in the later rounds. With players like Corey Lemonier and Josh Martin currently occupying the back-up roles, there's definitely scope for a couple of rookies to come in and take a role.

Note: For the purposes of balancing out these articles, I'm going to cover Jonathan Allen, Solomon Thomas, Tanoh Kpassagnon and DeMarcus Walker when I look at interior linemen tomorrow. All four can and will contribute off the edge but will likely also play inside. In similar fashion, I'll be treating Haason Reddick as a linebacker even though he can also play on the edge.

First round prospects

The top edge prospect is Myles Garrett from Texas A&M but he'll likely be gone by the time the Jets pick at six. Only an unexpected run on quarterbacks is likely to prevent that and he most likely goes to Cleveland with the first pick.

There's a group of four other edge defenders that seem to be viewed as likely first round picks, although experts seem divided in terms of which order they'll go in.

Those four are Missouri's Charles Harris, Tennessee's Derek Barnett, UCLA's Takk McKinley and Taco Charlton from Michigan. Most of these will probably be available in the bottom half of the first round and it's unlikely any would be options at six.

Harris impressed with a developed pass rushing approach and came off the right side standing up most of the time, so would seem to be a rush linebacker in the making. He's pretty solid against the run, but needs to show he's comfortable in space:


McKinley played a similar role at UCLA and was also solid against the run. He's solidified his stock by posting solid numbers for speed, strength and length at the combine. Charlton and Barnett both ran slow 40 times in pre-draft testing, but both were extremely productive rushing the passer last year. Barnett's 37 combined sacks and hits led the nation (nobody else had 30) and he displays a sharp spin move:


Charlton is an excellent technician and, as you can see, despite the slow 40-yard dash, the rest of his athletic numbers are solid.

Non-first rounders

Some of the names that have been considered as potential first round picks but will likely fall into day two include Wisconsin's TJ Watt and Alabama's Tim Williams, whose stock seem to have gone in opposite directions.

Williams is an interesting projection because he was mostly used in a pass rush specialist role at Alabama. That doesn't mean he can't play the run, just that they had other options to play that role. In fact, when he did play the run, he impressed with how he held up, but just didn't do it very often. He was once considered a possibility for the Jets at six, but poor agility numbers at the combine seem to have cooled interest in him.

Watt, the brother of Houston's JJ Watt, posted tremendous numbers at the combine and had excellent production during the season, although he's relatively new to the position so he needs some seasoning. Watt is also good against the run and dropped into coverage regularly, although most of the time that was just dropping into a shallow zone as the Badgers often rushed their inside backers and dropped the edge rushers.

Auburn's Carl Lawson and Houston Tyus Bowser are expected to be selected on day two. Lawson had excellent production in college and has good strength to hold up on the strong side. However, he has pretty short arms. Bowser is more of an all-round linebacker type who dropped into coverage a lot, with mixed results. He has excellent measurables and pass rushing ability but missed time after reportedly suffering an injury in a fight with a teammate.

There's a slew of highly productive mid-round prospects from lesser known schools. These include Tarell Basham from Ohio, Kansas State's Jordan Willis, Youngstown State's Derek Rivers and Trey Hendrickson from FAU.

Hendrickson impresses with his motor, Basham with his ability to get off blocks and Willis with his raw athleticism. All three should deserve a long look due to their pass rushing production, albeit perhaps not always against top competition.

Rivers allayed level-of-competition concerns with a good combine performance and, crucially, an excellent performance at the Senior Bowl - although in this year's weak tackle class, perhaps that isn't sufficient to suggest he'll be able to generate the same kind of production against NFL starters:


One more potential mid-round pick could be Deatrich Wise from Arkansas. He's a player with a slower 40-time like Barnett or Charlton, but uses his excellent length to generate some solid production. He was the outstanding player at the East West Shrine Game and could follow in the footsteps of former teammate Trey Flowers as an overlooked prospect that could make an impact in the pros.

Finally, two players who were over-shadowed by teammates who are top prospects are Alabama's Ryan Anderson and Texas A&M's Daeshon Hall. Anderson has good instincts and is capable of dropping into coverage, while Hall has excellent length, although his production dropped off in the second half of the season.

Late round sleepers

In the late rounds, Utah's Hunter Dimick could be a good option. He posted 38 bench press reps at his pro day and outstanding pressure numbers during the season. He also has a knack for batting down passes, but his short arms will likely prevent him from going before the late rounds.

Washington's Joe Mathis has held a late-round grade for most of the year and is coming off an injury, but he looked like an elite defender for the first half of the 2016 season. It's not a big sample size of elite play but Washington seemed to miss him when he was out and he could be a similar difference maker for a team like the Jets.


Finally, although he lacks size, Ejuan Price was one of the most fun pass rushers to watch this season. While it's doubtful he'll be able to rock the ripped Incredible Hulk shorts at the pro level, he's like a bowling ball coming off the edge and has an athletic profile similar to that of Darryl Tapp.


Let's have your views in the comments! Who is overrated, who is underrated and who did we not mention that interests you?