2019 NFL Draft prospect rankings: Edge rushers

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Here, theScore's Mike Alessandrini and Dan Wilkins break down the top prospects in the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft with position-by-position rankings and an overall top 50 big board.

Top 50
QB | RB | WR | TE | OT | iOL
EDGE | DL | LB | CB | S

Edge defenders

1. Nick Bosa

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School: Ohio State
Height: 6-4
Weight: 266 lbs

Strengths

  • Ideal combination of size, strength, and athleticism for an every-down role on the edge
  • Explosive first step to get upfield and to close on the quarterback
  • Advanced hand usage makes for seamless efforts to disengage from blocks
  • Speed and bend to consistently win around the edge
  • Counters threat on the outside with effective inside move
  • Converts speed to power well with bull rush
  • Balance shows on ability to work through contact and stay off the ground
  • Strong hand work allows for readjustment and another move when initially stopped
  • Stout run defender setting the edge, knifing into the backfield, or closing the back side

Weaknesses

  • Missed most of junior season with a core muscle injury
  • Athletic scores didn't match explosiveness and change-of-direction skills shown on tape
  • Lacks sack and tackle production of typical elite prospects at the position

Bottom line

A consensus top prospect in this class, Bosa is the type of blue-chip player who can transform a defensive front. He enters the NFL as a polished three-down force on the edge - much like his brother, Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa. He has no shortage of ways to beat his opponent as both a pass-rusher and a run defender. Aside from the relative lack of collegiate production, it's difficult to take issue with much of anything in his game. His pro potential was evident from the time he arrived at Ohio State and he should quickly establish himself as a Pro Bowl regular.

2. Brian Burns

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School: Florida State
Height: 6-5
Weight: 249 lbs

Strengths

  • Tall with long arms used to set edge
  • Excellent pursuit speed
  • Quick-twitch athlete, explodes off the snap
  • Powerful, sudden hands
  • Uses a plethora of effective pass-rush moves and counters
  • Incredibly flexible, runs the arc and changes direction with ease
  • Productive collegiate career, dominated elite offensive tackles
  • Very good athlete for position
  • Lethal bend/rip and inside spin
  • Excellent body control through contact on rushes

Weaknesses

  • Thin frame, should add weight for NFL
  • Can be overpowered in run defense
  • Doesn't convert speed to power

Bottom line

Burns is arguably the best pure pass-rusher in this year's class, which will place him high on a number of teams' draft boards. The lanky defender profiles as a solid fit in both 4-3 and 3-4 defenses, but will likely be asked to add some weight and strength to secure an every-down role early in his career. There are concerns, but Burns is a developed edge rusher who possesses elite athleticism, excellent bend through contact, and solid collegiate production.

3. Josh Allen

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School: Kentucky
Height: 6-5
Weight: 259 lbs

Strengths

  • Incredible versatile, can play multiple positions in various schemes
  • Experience dropping into zone coverage
  • Extremely productive pass-rusher this past season
  • Maintains top speed through rush
  • Excellent gap penetrator
  • Unstoppable bend/rip and chop moves
  • Explosive off the line
  • Rarely misses tackles, is always around the ball
  • Great change-of-direction skills for size
  • Very flexible with loose hips to get around the edge

Weaknesses

  • Lacks pass-rush counters if first moves fail
  • Average power at point of attack, some trouble sealing the edge
  • Lacks bull-rush and speed-to-power moves
  • Not a game-changing defender until final collegiate campaign

Bottom line

Allen exploded onto the scene in 2018, developing his game and soaring up draft boards in the process. The name of his game is versatility - he's a productive run defender and pass-rusher and can even play an Anthony Barr role as an outside linebacker in a 4-3 defense. Allen is a fluid athlete and a legitimate sack threat on every passing down. Despite just one year of elite production, he's one of the safer picks in this year's class.

4. Clelin Ferrell

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School: Clemson
Height: 6-4
Weight: 264 lbs

Strengths

  • Productive edge rusher with ideal length and bulk for the position
  • Incredible hand usage on inside swipes/swims leads to quick wins off the line
  • Combines explosive get-off and rip move to win on the outside
  • Spin move provides another inside counter off outside rush
  • Powerful bull-rush move to push opponent back in the pocket
  • Makes great use of length with effective long-arm move
  • Stout run defender who uses strength and length to set a great edge

Weaknesses

  • Lacks elite athletic traits desired in top edge prospects
  • Lacks bend and flexibility for outside speed rush
  • Won't fit a defense if forced to stand up and work in space

Bottom line

Athleticism is the main factor working against Ferrell, as he lacks the speed and quick-twitch traits of elite prospects at the position. Beyond that, though, there's so much to like. The Clemson product is an elite edge-setter in the run game and already boasts an extensive arsenal of pass-rush moves. A prototypical base end, his well-rounded game and advanced approach to getting after the quarterback will give him the opportunity to make questions about his athleticism seem silly.

5. Jachai Polite

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School: Florida
Height: 6-3
Weight: 258 lbs

Strengths

  • Excellent get-off for immediate advantageous position
  • Uses speed, bend, and flexibility to run the arc and flatten to the quarterback
  • Hand usage and dip move make it difficult for tacklers to get hands on him
  • Counters outside move with impressive inside spin
  • Maintains balance through contact to continue on rush path
  • Quickness to work through traffic, make plays in the running game
  • High-effort player, makes tackles all over the field

Weaknesses

  • Athletic testing scores don't match tape
  • Doesn't convert speed into power rushes
  • Needs to improve strength to contribute as NFL-level run defender
  • Rumblings of poor combine interviews impacting draft stock

Bottom line

Polite is one of the more difficult evaluations in the class; unfortunately, he hasn't done much to back up his play at Florida. After some extremely underwhelming combine numbers and reports of poor interviews with teams, his stock appears to be falling. But all we can do is go by what we see, and there's too much good tape to ignore. Polite's ability to win around the edge and counter back inside with a lethal spin move will give offensive tackles nightmares. He could well end up the steal of the draft if he slides deep into Day 2 or beyond.

6. Chase Winovich

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School: Michigan
Height: 6-3
Weight: 256 lbs

Strengths

  • Great hand usage to keep opponents from landing punch
  • Wins on the outside with speed off the ball, rip move, and decent bend
  • Lateral quickness and swipe move make for efficient inside counter
  • Nasty push-pull move to disengage and create path to the QB
  • Finds ways to disengage when initial move is stopped
  • Good edge-setter who can locate the ball, stack, and shed to make a play
  • Impressive pursuit speed to close on QBs and chase down run plays as backside end
  • Relentless defender with non-stop motor

Weaknesses

  • Lacks ideal size and length for an every-down edge role
  • Not an overly explosive athlete
  • Could struggle in space if playing as a 3-4 outside linebacker
  • Will be 24-year-old rookie

Bottom line

Winovich is widely considered to be the second-best Michigan edge prospect behind Rashan Gary. Given his size and athletic scores, he'll almost certainly be drafted as such. But he enters the NFL as the far more polished of the two pass-rush prospects. Phenomenal hand usage gives Winovich an impressive repertoire of rush moves and he's a far better run defender than expected for his size. His polish and relentless motor should mitigate any concern about his production translating to the professional level.

7. Rashan Gary

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School: Michigan
Height: 6-4
Weight: 277 lbs

Strengths

  • Elite athleticism and movement skills for position and size
  • Versatility to line up on the edge or as interior rusher
  • Strong run defender with a number of tackles for loss
  • Long arms to extend and drive offensive linemen forward
  • Natural strength, converts speed to power well
  • Strong and effective hand usage
  • Very quick first step off the line

Weaknesses

  • Not yet developed as a pass-rusher
  • Inconsistent tape, doesn't always put elite traits together
  • Doesn't do enough when unblocked
  • Not a read-and-react defender

Bottom line

Gary is perhaps the biggest boom-or-bust prospect in this year's draft class. His freak athleticism and flashes of dominance illustrate his immense ceiling, but his inconsistent play and lack of pass-rush production are certainly alarming. Regardless, Gary will be an interesting player to monitor and we guarantee a number of defensive coaches see a mold of clay with limitless potential in this defensive lineman.

8. Montez Sweat

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School: Mississippi State
Height: 6-6
Weight: 260 lbs

Strengths

  • Explosive athlete, great straight-line speed
  • Great size, long arms
  • Excellent run defender, made a number of tackles for loss
  • Very productive over last two seasons
  • Efficient tackler with wide wingspan
  • Consistently sets the edge
  • Explodes off the snap

Weaknesses

  • Tight hips restrict lateral movement and fluidity in space
  • Lacks some play strength, doesn't win with bull rush
  • Hand usage and pass-rush plan need improvement, relies mostly on speed
  • Not a flexible or bend/rip pass-rusher
  • Tall defender who often doesn't play with ideal leverage

Bottom line

Sweat possesses a number of rare traits for an edge defender, but his overall game requires a bit of fine-tuning before he can make a legitimate NFL impact. The speed and production are there, but the 2018 All-American likely only profiles as a weak-side defensive end in a 4-3 defense due to his tightness in space. Still, Sweat's upside is among the highest at his position.

9. Zach Allen

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School: Boston College
Height: 6-4
Weight: 281 lbs

Strengths

  • Positionally versatile with size and strength for several defensive-front spots
  • Extensive arsenal of pass-rush moves deployed with strong hands and technique
  • Quick off the ball, wins inside with swipe or swim
  • Uses strong rip move and works through contact to beat opponents on the outside
  • Drives opponents into the backfield with powerful bull rush
  • Knack for batting passes down at the line
  • Uses strength and length to set the edge
  • Ball-locating and shedding abilities lead to high-level production in the running game
  • Good short-area quickness for size

Weaknesses

  • Subpar athleticism for an edge defender
  • Bend and flexibility aren't part of pass-rushing game
  • Lacks desired pursuit speed to finish plays

Bottom line

Allen is one of the most interesting prospects in this group. The lack of athleticism and bend may see him fly under the radar behind twitchier prospects, but ignoring him would be a mistake. A fantastic run defender with plenty of rush moves at his disposal, Allen plays with far more lateral quickness than would be expected for his size. He fits as a big 4-3 end who rotates inside on passing downs or as a five-technique player in odd fronts.

10. Christian Miller

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School: Alabama
Height: 6-3
Weight: 245 lbs

Strengths

  • Extremely violent hands, nasty chop and swat
  • Consistently forced pressure on quarterbacks in 2018
  • Adequate bend and flexibility to run the arc
  • Sudden punch wins battles in run defense
  • Long arms used to stack defenders
  • Good pursuit speed, fluid in space
  • Uses multiple pass-rush moves effectively
  • Very good special teams player

Weaknesses

  • Undersized, should fill out frame for NFL
  • Lacks strong anchor at point of attack
  • One-year starter
  • Doesn't convert speed to power
  • Average get-off once ball is snapped

Bottom line

Miller is a solid prospect who ideally fits as a 3-4 outside linebacker. The former Crimson Tide standout isn't a top-tier athlete by NFL standards, but he combinates devastating hands and a complete pass-rush arsenal and could garner looks on Day 2 of the draft. Miller must add strength to his game, however, to secure an every-down role in the pros.

11. Anthony Nelson

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School: Iowa
Height: 6-7
Weight: 271 lbs

Strengths

  • Frame, strength, and length to line up at several different spots
  • Explosiveness off the snap, active hands to keep himself clean outside
  • Pushes the pocket with powerful bull rush and counters with push-pull technique
  • Flashes a nasty long arm as part of power arsenal
  • Change of direction shows with ability to flatten to QB at top of outside rush
  • Uses length to control positioning and stacks, sheds to make plays in running game

Weaknesses

  • Lacks flexibility desired in top-flight edge rushers
  • Needs to develop inside counter move

Bottom line

Nelson is an outstanding reminder that bend isn't the only way to win the edge. With speed off the ball, strength and hand usage through his rush, and an ability to change direction at the top, the Iowa standout can be a problem for offensive tackles on the outside. Adding an inside counter to his arsenal could lead to some major pass-rush production in the NFL, complementing an already well-established skill set in the run game.

12. Jaylon Ferguson

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School: Louisiana Tech
Height: 6-5
Weight: 271 lbs

Strengths

  • Very productive college career, led NCAA in sacks last season
  • Good size and frame
  • Stout at point of attack with strength to create leverage vs. linemen
  • Devastating rip move
  • Among the best in this class at converting speed to power
  • Strong and quick hands rushing the passer

Weaknesses

  • Tested poorly athletically, especially in agility drills
  • Lacks experience against top-tier competition in college
  • Can be swallowed by offensive tackles if first move fails
  • Very stiff when changing direction
  • Lacks bends, often rushes upright

Bottom line

Ferguson put up eye-popping numbers at Louisiana Tech, but he's an unrefined pass-rusher who may lack the athleticism and movement skills to develop into a Pro Bowl defender. There are certainly things to love about his game, though; the defensive end excelled on all three downs in college and could be a solid mid-round selection.

13. Oshane Ximines

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School: Old Dominion
Height: 6-4
Weight: 253 lbs

Strengths

  • Good technique and power with hands
  • Uses swipe move to win as pass-rusher both outside and inside
  • Counters speed to the outside with change of direction and inside move at top of rush
  • Converts speed to power for effective bull rush
  • Quickness and hand usage allow for splash plays against the run

Weaknesses

  • Average athleticism
  • Production came against lower-level competition
  • Size and base strength will make anchoring against the run difficult
  • Coverage and ability in space for a 3-4 edge role involves major projection

Bottom line

Ximines is an extremely interesting developmental edge prospect. The jump from FCS to the NFL will be steep, and a tendency to get washed out against the run will limit his initial early-down value. But his hand usage and ability to convert speed to power give him plenty of upside as a situational pass-rusher.

14. L.J. Collier

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School: TCU
Height: 6-2
Weight: 283 lbs

Strengths

  • Fantastic strength at point of attack
  • Converts speed to power for nasty bull rush
  • Stout run defender who sets the edge and locates the ball to make a play
  • Strong hands, flashes potential for high-level usage in pass rush
  • Length allows him to get into opponents' chests and control position
  • Frame and skill set will provide position versatility across defensive front

Weaknesses

  • Lacks explosiveness and short-area quickness
  • Must make more consistent use of hands and length
  • Limited pass-rush arsenal, relies too heavily on bull rush
  • Lacks speed and flexibility to bend the edge

Bottom line

Collier will be drafted much higher than most expect, and it's not hard to see why. Though he doesn't bring the kind of edge speed most look for in today's NFL, his physicality and hand usage give him plenty of potential as a power rusher. Teams will be eager to get their hands on those traits with plans of unlocking that upside, and his ability as a run defender will give him a role as he develops.

15. Justin Hollins

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School: Oregon
Height: 6-5
Weight: 248 lbs

Strengths

  • Tall with long arms
  • Very athletic defender
  • Blazing speed
  • Quick first step off the line
  • Experienced using pass-rush counters
  • Flexible edge defender who can rip and run the arc smoothly
  • Adept moving in space and in short areas
  • Excellent change-of-direction skills

Weaknesses

  • Must add strength and weight to frame
  • Plays wild at times, resulting in missed tackles on poor angles
  • Lacks hand power to stack and shed blocks
  • Not yet an effective run defender
  • Not overly physical

Bottom line

Hollins is the classic athletic edge defender that gets selected on Day 3 but he possesses considerable upside as an NFL prospect. He's not ready to contribute against the run, but he profiles as a weak-side nickel rusher who can put his hands down and attack the quarterback with speed. He's certainly a sleeper prospect in a solid class.

Other notable prospects

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Ben Banogu (TCU)
D'Andre Walker (Georgia)
Maxx Crosby (Eastern Michigan)
Joe Jackson (Miami)
Malik Reed (Nevada)

Top 50
QB | RB | WR | TE | OT | iOL
EDGE | DL | LB | CB | S

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2019 NFL Draft prospect rankings: Edge rushers
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