Top Defensive Ends In 2019 Draft
PewterReport.com is listing players that would project as defensive ends in the Bucs’ 3-4 scheme in this Defensive Ends Preview. Edge rushers that played in a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme in college, but would project to outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme, will be listed in PewterReport.com’s upcoming Outside Linebacker Preview.
1. Ohio State DE Nick Bosa – Junior – 6-4, 266 – 4.79
Like his brother, Joey, Nick Bosa leaves Ohio State as the nation’s top-ranked defensive end. He will fit into a 3-4 or 4-3 system at the next level and he’s a master technician. He’s naturally gifted with size, speed and length that he takes full advantage of and possesses unreal bend with the ability to keep his hips constantly square with his target. Bosa has powerful and accurate hands that allows him to beat engagements with his initial move or his counters and he explodes off the snap with power and speed. He’s a do-it-all end who will be ready to step in a produce immediately after being taken in the Top 5.
2. Clemson DE Clelin Ferrell – Junior – 6-4, 264 – N/A
Ferrell enters the NFL Draft as a prototypical 4-3 defensive end with unreal production from his time in the NCAA. Over three years, along other NFL-level talent on Clemson’s defensive line, Ferrell finished his career with 166 total tackles, 50.5 tackles for loss, 27 sacks and five forced fumbles. Ferrell plays big with his natural size and length and makes great use of his hands and power to set a good edge and beat his blocker. Ferrell doesn’t have elite burst or bend, but converts speed to power well to produce when stopping the run or rushing the passer. He’s truly a three-down player who is projected as a late first-round pick.
3. Boston College DE Zach Allen – Senior –6-4, 281 – 5.00
What Allen lacks in natural athleticism, bend and length, he makes up for with his jump off of the snap, size, power and play recognition. He anchors well at the point of attack, sets a firm edge and his best attribute is the violent and aggressive nature with which he uses his hands. Allen seems to read plays immediately, and uses his instincts in addition to a number of rush moves to attack toward the ball and play through the whistle. Allen is versatile and polished enough to get playing time immediately in his NFL career, especially on early downs. The Bucs had a formal interview with Allen at the NFL Scouting Combine.
4. TCU DE L.J. Collier – Senior – 6-2, 283 – 4.91
Collier didn’t start a game in his first four years at TCU, red-shirting before being used mainly as a rotational reserve until his senior season when he started 10 of 11 games and earning first-team All-Big 12 honors with 42 tackles, 11.5 going for loss, and six sacks. To his credit he plays hard with decent strength and strong hands, but he’s limited at 6-foot-2 with average athleticism and lateral mobility. Collier has shown the ability to translate his power, but will likely have to continue his development at the next level if he wants to get significant snaps in the NFL. Tampa Bay had a formal interview with Collier at the NFL Scouting Combine.
5. Ohio State DL Dre’Mont Jones – Senior – 6-3, 281 – 5.12
Jones could play defensive end, but might bulk up and move inside when he reaches the NFL. He lacks the lower body power and anchoring ability to be a true factor when stopping the run, but has the athleticism, agility and mix of solid technique alongside good counter moves to be a dangerous pass rusher. He’s explosive off of the snap with powerful hands that are used with a purpose. Jones exploded his junior year, totaling 13 tackles for loss, eight sacks and an interception before a senior year that earned him first-team All Big 10 honors on the heels of 21 tackles for loss, four sacks and four forced fumbles. In a deep class at the interior defensive line, Jones is likely a second- to third-round selection.
6. Alabama DE Isaiah Buggs – Senior – 6-3, 306 – 5.15
Buggs is another college defensive end who could be making the move inside at the NFL level due to his pure strength and size. The JUCO transfer entered the Alabama program after two years in community college and immediately started all 13 games as a junior for the Crimson Tide. In 2018, he started all 15 games and led the team with 9.5 sacks while adding 13.5 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles. Buggs plays explosive off of the ball with power and agility but lacks the length that many elite prospects naturally posses. He can anchor well, but will need to adjust his hand work if he moves to the interior.
7. Arizona State DE Renell Wren – Senior – 6-5, 318 – 5.01
Wren didn’t see much of a starting role until his senior season, but he produced when he got the opportunity. He finished his senior year with 43 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and a sack. He’s a guy that has great athleticism and size, but will need to be polished when he reaches the next level, from a technical standpoint, and trusted to be taken despite lacking much college production. In college Wren was lined up at nose tackle, which likely stifled his ability to play at his full potential, and will likely see a move (at minimum) to three-technique defensive tackle spot or the five-technique defensive end position when he reaches the NFL.
8. Texas DE Charles Omenihu – Senior – 6-5, 280 – 4.92
Omenihu was one of my favorite players that I got to speak to at this year’s Senior Bowl. He’s humble, hard working and his production speaks for itself as he led Texas with 18 tackles for loss and nine sacks in his senior season. Omenihu is a towering presence with long limbs and great size that’s ready for the NFL level. He’s best when taking advantage of his jump off the snap and attacking with his hands or using his strength to effectively anchor at the point of attack. His lateral movement and pass rush attempts do lack fluidity and can be stiff, but he’s shown flashes when attacking the edge. He’s versatile and has pro-ready strength, look for a team to get great value on the chance he falls to the third round or fourth round.
9. Iowa DE Anthony Nelson – Junior – 6-7, 271 – 4.82
Nelson was voted third-team All-Conference after a junior season where he totaled 45 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks in 13 starts. At 6-foot-7, 271 pounds his size is nothing of question, but he struggles when translating that size to play strength and leverage. He’s got a decent power rush and has good counters when engaged by his offensive counterpart but lacks the explosiveness and agility to be a real factor off of the edge. He’s huge and plays through the whistle, moving much better when attacking the inside shoulder of offensive tackles and finishes tackles effectively. Look for Nelson to be a base 4-3 end taken on Day 3.
10. Charleston DE John Cominsky – Senior – 6-5, 286 – 4.69
Cominsky stood out at Charleston, earning first-team All-League honors as a junior and Mountain East Defensive Player of the Year honors in his senior season, but that’s also against small school production. He fits the bill from a size perspective with the body of a traditional edge guy or 3-4 end, but transitioning from a QB to defensive end has left him behind the curve from a technical standpoint. His athletic metrics are off the charts for his position, running a 4.69 second 40-yard dash, accompanied by a 33.5-inch vertical and a 116-inch broad jump, but he lacks much of a plan in his pass rush and lacks most things when talking about his technique. Cominsky’s footwork, hand usage, balance and functional strength will all be things to work on at the next level, but he also added over 60 pounds in his time in Charleston, so hard work is nothing new to Cominsky. He’s a project, but he’s surely an athletic project on Day 3.
Best Of The Rest
11. Clemson DE Austin Bryant – Senior – 6-4, 271 – N/A
Another talented defensive line prospect out of Clemson, Bryant enters draft season as a projected Day 3 pick. He’s big with length, but will need to improve his functional strength at the next level to avoid getting forced out of the play by NFL offensive tackles. He’s primarily a pass rusher who uses his length, long strides and initial punch to reach the edge, but lacks the leverage, pad level and power to be as effective when playing the run.
12. Eastern Michigan DE Maxx Crosby – Junior – 6-5, 255 – 4.66
Crosby is an interesting prospect. He’s got great height and length, good hands and has long strides to close space quickly when rushing. Crosby had great production in college, earning All-MAC honors his sophomore year with 16.5 tackles for loss and 11 sacks before earning first-team All-MAC honors again with 19 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks. He shows promise but is in severe need of weight gain to add strength and fill out when he gets to the NFL.
13. Miami DE Joe Jackson – Junior – 6-4, 275 – N/A
Jackson produced steadily throughout his three year at Miami. He’s a stout, strong prospect who projects as a mid- to late-round pick as a base 4-3 defensive end. He’s got good power to anchor at the point of attack and use in his pass rushing, but likely lacks the agility, bend and flexibility to be a true disruption off of the edge. He doesn’t have great instinct but he has the natural ability to finish when he reaches the pocket and has the talent to play, and possibly start, at the NFL level.
14. Georgia DE Jonathan Ledbetter – Senior – 6-4, 280 – 5.14
Ledbetter has got good natural size and functional strength, but falls a little small to be a solid presence on the interior defensive line and lacks the speed and bend to be dangerous off of the edge. He’s got technical skill with a strong punch and good hands but will have to develop a better pass-rush or he’ll be limited to early downs where he plays his best attacking the gap. The Bucs had a formal interview with Ledbetter at the NFL Scouting Combine and he could be a late-round pick by Tampa Bay.
15. Florida DE CeCe Jefferson – Senior – 6-1, 266 – 5.02
Skilled rusher who played well at Florida who has the odds stacked against him for playing at the NFL level. At just 6-foot-1, 266 pounds he’s traditional short and stocky for a defensive end, and he didn’t particularly stand out when transitioning to 3-4 end. He’s got a powerful first punch, but that’s his best trait. He may be able to develop a better rush technique, but he’s best when attacking the ball carrier and he’s limited by his size and average athleticism.