2022 NFL Draft - EDGE (43 DE & 34 OLB) - Ranking & Analysis
Updated: Apr 28, 2022
Disclaimer - Pass rushers are split between 3-4 vs 4-3 schemes, but for purposes of a 4-3 front fall into 2 categories (strongside LE & weakside RE). I put ( * ) next to players that are likely Saints targets & scheme fits. I put ( + ) next to players that are scheme fits, but not necessarily players I'd target.
*George Karlaftis Purdue 6'4 275
Wow. His athleticism for his size jumps off the screen immediately. He moves really quickly for his size. Most players this big are not cat-quick. He is. He is really quick. It's enticing size-adjusted explosion, both upfield and especially laterally. Just sensational agility. It's kind of amazing to watch. He rushes best from standing up, but also played hand in the dirt. He'll likely play as a big 3-4 EDGE rusher similar to Matt Judon, but he could also play either side in a 4-3 too. He has the frame and traits to gain a few pounds and play as a 4-3 strong side DE like Cam Jordan if that's what a team needed/wanted. That's very versatile; he may be the most scheme diverse defensive lineman in this class because of that unique build, athletic traits. He's a little more oriented towards pass rush than he is in run support. He likes to win pass rush reps with quickness. Burst off the snap is really top tier. Holds ground well; on running downs, he's strong enough to anchor vs power blocking. Karlaftis has the type of size adjusted movement that will have scouts drooling. He's not a perfect prospect, and has 2 main things to improve: leverage & containment. Occasionally he'll play too high, so pro coaches will work to improve his leverage. He also could improve discipline on run plays. There are times where he'll overrun the play, but you'd rather have to reign in an "overaggressive" player than to have to do the opposite (i.e., motivate a player). Most "analysts" currently project Thibodeaux & Hutchinson going 1st & 2nd overall in the draft, and most conversations seem to put those 2 guys in a tier of their own. It's not that simple. Karlaftis may be a quieter prospect because teams want him "under the radar" & want him to fall to them. The truth is I do not see a gap between those 3 prospects. In fact Karlaftis is bigger than both; he's more athletic than Hutchinson, and he outproduced both (age adjusted) as a true FR so the pedigree and IQ are hard to ignore. Outstanding early production. As a true FR he had 54 TKL, 17 TFL, 7.5 SK, 2 PD, 2 FR, & 1 FF. Only played 2 games as SO. As JR he had 39 TKL, 10 TFL, 4.5 SK, 4 PD, 2 FF, & 2 FR. He's a relentless player who's better than his JR stats indicate. As a pro, there's pro bowl upside. He has that level of top traits (especially quickness for size). As far as pro comps, he has Matt Judon size and may play a similar role; his traits and potential impact seem closer to a girthy quick pass rusher like Brandon Graham. It's worth noting that if I didn't know the Hutchinson & Thibodeaux hype and 1st/2nd overall projections, like if I was just shown all 3 guys side by side by side, and I had no other information besides tape, I may've expected Karflaftis to be the highest graded and a top 5 pick. He flashes pro bowl potential as a pure pass rusher, could be a 3rd down nightmare, and can be moved all over the front 7.
Scout Grade - Top 10 Pick
Scout Comp - Matt Judon/Brandon Graham
*Kayvon Thibodeaux Oregon
Good angle IQ and pursuit in run support. Holds ground pretty well against strength. Rushes from either side the line, standup or hand in the dirt. Scheme versatility to play as a weakside 4-3 DE or a 3-4 EDGE rusher. High motor even against the run and occasionally when asked to drop back in coverage. Best utilized as a pass rusher. I didn't like seeing ORE dropping him into coverage because in passing situations, I think you want him going after the ball/QB. Strong arms and hands, uses length really well. Examples of bull rush show better strength than you'd expect for his size. He can utilize leverage and leg strength to compensate for weight, which 255 isn't "light" but he is a lankier frame. Athletically, in build, he reminds me of when Marcus Davenport came out of UTSA. Teams that really like him may consider him more upside, picture thin successful 3-4 pass rushers like Aldon Smith for example. Compared to say Davenport who went 13th overall, Thibodeaux is a more nuanced pass rusher and stronger against the run, so you can expect him to go top 10. I really like his motor in run support. Had 35 TKL, 14 TFL, 9 SK, 3 PD, & 1 FF as a true FR. As rsSO had 49 TKL, 12 TFL, 7 SK, & 2 FF.
Scout Grade - Top 20 Pick
Scout Comp - Danielle Hunter
*Travon Walker Georgia 6'5 275
Really nice blend of strength traits & explosion traits. A lot of prospects are either strength or speed. Walker is both with strength to be a strongside 4-3 DE & athleticism to be a 34 EDGE/LB. Natural in run support, athletic enough to tackle in space. Sort of a freak athlete. Has moments where he chased down WRs outside with ease. He's strong enough to disengage from blockers and bring the wood on tackles too. Doesn't get a ton of movement on bull rush. High effort player especially in space. He chases ball carriers all over the field. Made some plays way down the field where you'd expect safeties to be making the tackle. Looks best in run support, still very raw as a pass rusher. Holds ground at the LOS. Good nose for the football and reliable wrap up tackler. Don't let his stats fool you. This is a very high upside prospect with scheme versatility. At UGA he played in a 3 man front. His build makes him look like 4-3 DE, but he's one of the very few players with size/speed to legitimately line up nearly anywhere in your front 7 and fit nearly any scheme. He most likely will be targeted by a 3-4 D as a standup EDGE rusher who occasionally drops into coverage. What makes him unique is he's a very fluid athlete who moves more like a LB in space than DL. Walker immediately provides run D, but you see the athleticism to potentially develop as a pass rusher. He was surrounded by a lot of talent on UGA so it is harder to stick out when you have so many pro level prospects on the same defense. On a team like FSU there's no reason to think he couldn't have put up numbers like Jermaine Johnson had he been in that role. He'll need to develop more counter moves in pass rush, but you like the raw tools and competitive nature to his play in all phases of the game. Finished JR season with 33 TKL, 7.5 TFL, 6 SK, 2 PD, & 1 FR in a rotational role. May be the highest upside DL in class.
Scout Grade - Top 20 Pick
*Cameron Thomas San Diego State
Early entrant JR, traditional 4-3 DE. Thomas is long, strong and relentless. Finished JR season with 71 TKL, 20.5 TFL, 10.5 SK, & 1 FF. He wins with his length and leverage, where consistently he wins his hand-fighting and keeps blockers at a distance with long arms. Has strength to drive blockers back into the pocket on bull rush, but also exhibits quickness when his primary rush doesn't work, he aggressively counters. Very active player that can win in multiple ways. Has a great nose for the football in the run game, competitive in pursuit towards run game and pass game. Thomas doesn't lose many downs. He makes play after play and reminds me of Trey Hendrickson's tape when he came out of FIU, i.e., dominant. Even on downs where his primary move is shut down, he still has a chance on secondary effort. He's quick and strong for his size, productive. I think he could start as a strongside 4-3 DE pretty early in his career and may be just athletic enough to play weakside too. High upside, high floor. Looks like a top 20 pick if I didn't know any better. Thomas is the type of player like Max Crosby or Trey Hendrickson, where he might fall in the draft because he lacks top tier explosion, but overall I think his chance of success is higher than Aidan Hutchinson who's projected 1st overall. Most rankings show him as an early 2nd round pick, but I could see him climbing into the 1st round. Very high floor regardless of where he's picked. Probably my favorite value 43 DE in this class.
Scout Grade - 1st Round
Aidan Hutchinson (+) Michigan
Relentless high effort strength rusher. Burst off the snap is good due to timing and instincts more so than pure burst. He's more savvy than he is pure athlete. More of a strength athlete than a bursty one at least. He could play weakside or strong side. I think his best bet is to keep adding strength and play strong side in a 4-3. Think Cam Jordan type DE. Michigan rushed him from both sides, some stand up some hand in the dirt. It's possible some teams see him as a 3-4 OLB because he was effective rushing from standup. Had a great SR year with 62 TKL, 16.5 TFL, 14 SK, 3 PD, & 2 FF. He even gave some really good LTs fits like Charles Petit-Frere (who's likely a 1st/2nd round pick from Ohio State). That performance alone makes his pro potential evident. He anchors pretty well and doesn't get moved off of his spot. I see more pass rush ability than run support stylistically, however you like his anchor on run D. One risk with Hutchinson is he's somewhat of a 1 year wonder. He had virtually no production as a FR & JR, but a decent SO season with 69 TKL, 10 TFL, 3.5 SK, & 3 FF. I'd want to know more about those empty years. Compared to Kayvon Thibodeaux from ORE who was effective immediately as a true FR. That could be why Kayvon goes 1st. Hutchinson also isn't the type of athlete you're used to seeing get picked top 5 or top 10. Guys in that range are usually athletic freaks; he's effective, but more from relentlessness than athleticism. It can work but I'd still be reluctant picking him too high because I worry about his ceiling. His upside comp as a pass rusher could be a player like Jared Allen (who was a late draft pick). He is not a liability-free prospect like the top 5 rankings will have you believe. In run support versus good teams like Michigan State, he got absolutely torched for multiple long TDs. It was all from lack of range/athletic profile. Those problems with containment in run support worry me especially considering people talk about him like a top 5 or even 1st overall pick. My eyes don't show me that type of athlete or well-rounded prospect. He looks like a 1st round pass rusher but I'd be more comfortable picking him around pick 20, not necessarily top 5 or top 10.
Scout Grade - 1st Round
Arnold Ebiketie Penn State 6'3 256
Penn State is becoming known for front 7 athletes. Ebiketie fits the mold. He's extremely explosive and should contribute to a 3-4 front as a blitzing OLB/EDGE defender. There are examples of him getting overpowered and put on the turf by stronger blockers, however the very next play he'll blow by the lineman with a single swim move and close distance to the QB in an instant. He's a very rangy athlete that's hard to bet against. I like his activity against the run too where he looks above average in nose for the ball. Ebiketie led the country in pressures on the QB. That's what his role will be as a pro too. Adding strength may help him, but for his size he is strong and overall it's not a liability. He converts speed to power okay but mainly will kill teams with speed. The main room for improvement areas are IQ in run support and strength. He's generally effective in most phases of the game, but there are some examples of missed reads on RPO. As far as strength, speed and two way potential game, he's got 1st round athletic traits. I expect a 3-4 D to target him early, like top 25 pick, and I could see a team like Buffalo Bills liking him a lot as a long term Jerry Hughes protégé and replacement.
Scout Grade - Late 1st Round
David Ojabo Michigan 6'5 250
A 3-4 OLB who has the frame to also develop into a weakside 4-3 DE. He plays high, isn't overtly strong, but has legit speed and length. He has long arms and utilizes them well to block the eyes of the QB on passing lanes, to force fumbles and to bring down ball carriers. He is not a very creative pass rusher at this point, and seems more like a developmental high upside prospect. At the college level, he has many moments where he wins with his athleticism around the edge, but I do worry about how he'll translate to facing pro athletes (early in his career at least) because he's so reliant on athletic traits instead of technique. I'd like to see him disengage from blocks better, improve leverage & develop counter moves. Could be relegated to 3rd down pass rush duty early in his career until he develops into a more full time player. As a pass rusher, there are some great flashes of speed around the edge, but he's not yet refined. Great production for a good team can't be ignored. Ojabo had 35 TKL, 12 TFL, 11 SK, 3 PD, 5 FF, & 1 FR. I see athletic traits and raw tools, even eye popping production (11 SK & 5 FF especially), but I don't see the overall impact in all phases of the game or refinement that I'd personally look for in a 1st round pick. He likely goes 1st round to a 34 D because his speed/length is so alluring, however teams may be more comfortable if he fell to early round 2.
Scout Grade - Early 2nd Round
Drake Jackson USC
3-4 OLB standup pass rusher who plays stronger than his size. Has potential and frame to also be a potential weakside DE in a 4-3. He's not a mauler but he is a physical, very competitive defender. Uses his hands well and plays with high IQ. On most plays he makes the correct read even when offenses tried trick plays and reverses. He's well rounded prospect who looks effective in space vs the run where he's a reliable tackler, as well as effective in generating occasional pressure. He's athletic for his size with length and surprising strength. Really when I turned on his tape I expected to see a bursty speed rusher because of his build, but he's more well-rounded; he's really a strength player who looks best in run support which is the opposite of what you might expect by just looking at him. Some of his best plays were 'off the stat sheet' stuff like spinning into & eating multiple blockers...like sacrificing himself so teammates could make the play. Selfless high IQ player that provides more value than his stats indicate. I think he's still learning nuance of pass rush, where on some plays he gets tangled and "stuck" on long armed tackles. He still provides great effort, but you'd like to see better counter moves and hand usage in order to disengage from length. You want to see faster "karate arms" in order to counter length better. In run support, he's really outstanding. High effort, doesn't concede ground, good instincts and nose for the football, can navigate through traffic. As a prospect he provides run support and long term pass rush upside because there's enough length and athleticism to like his raw tools. You like the pedigree too where his best season (at a good program in USC) was as a FR where he had 46 TKL, 11.5 TFL, 5.5 SK, & 1 FF. As a JR had 37 TKL, 8 TFL, & 5 SK w/ 1 FF, 1 FR, 1 INT, 1 PD. He seems like a safer, high floor pick - more so than many others at his position at least. Because of that he could climb into the late 1st round because good teams may be more risk averse and more open to getting immediate contributor that makes people around him better. Picture a team like the Steelers or Patriots for example. Other good fits would be teams like the Jets, Falcons, Jaguars in the early 2nd round.
Scout Grade - Early 2nd Round
Scout Comp - Montez Sweat
Nik Bonitto Oklahoma
Very unique versatile prospect who could play a myriad of potential roles. He's a LB build with real pass rush potential from outstanding burst and short area speed. We've see similar undersized pass rushers like Chris Rumph, Zach Baun, & Josh Uche (none of which really developed) but what makes Bonitto unique among that style of undersized pass rusher/linebacker build is he looks really natural in backpedal and in coverage to make his chances at offball success a little higher. Guys like Baun and Uche flashed the traits to possibly develop offball, but a player like Bonitto flashed higher athletic upside/ability. That gives him possibility to be a full time 3-4 OLB. He has really great pursuit. He can struggle against pure strength but you like that he's constantly trying counter moves and relentless in effort. As the game goes on and blockers tire, he really could become valuable because he looks as fast in the 4th quarter as he does in the 1st. High IQ player who reads the field well. He's a well rounded player who definitely doesn't fit into a traditional positional box, yet the combination of effort, athleticism (speed, burst), IQ, and versatility to be able to cover or pass rush is really what sets him apart from previous players who might've looked similar in stature & style. Because of his uniqueness, he could fall to 2nd or 3rd round, but there's enough here to warrant a late 1st round pick as a chess piece that you could move all across your defense. I was extremely close to grading him as a late 1st, but simply lack of success from similar prospects makes me slightly reluctant so early 2nd is more comfortable. Lots of 3rd down value right out the box. He's also one of the most athletic pass rushers in this class from a pure speed perspective. He'll need to develop in run support but on tape alone, forgetting about "measurables" for a second, Bonitto could've been 3 spots higher even ahead of Ojabo & Jackson. Had 39 TKL, 15 TFL, 7 SK, 1 PD, 2 FR, & 1 FF as a JR.
Scout Grade - Early 2nd Round
*Josh Paschal Kentucky
52 tackles and 5 sacks as a SR. Strong physical form tackler who powers into the backfield on run stops. Not as much pass rush production as you'd like to see but good developmental prospect as a strong side 4-3 DE. What's weird is my 1st instinct of the prospect is "this is a talented, strong player." His stats don't match what your eyes see. Could be some upside, could be off field issues. Need more tape, and more info. Would've thought I was looking at a 2nd/3rd round prospect based on "eye test." Ok, so I'm back to Paschal (11 days later, update 1/19/22). I watched more game by game, and increased Paschal's grade. He is relentless, and extremely high effort. His movement for his size is really enticing too. He's a similar prospect to Travon Walker from UGA in many ways. Both are 2 of the highest effort players at their position in this class, yet would be deceiving if you just looked at the stat sheet. Paschal looks like his defense's leader, and makes a lot of "off the stat sheet" plays versus both the run and pass. He'll eat blockers, he'll contain the edge, he'll chase down ball carriers to the opposite side of the field, and he'll look for people to hit. He has the athleticism & physicality, especially for his size, to immediately contribute in run support (from myriad positions & schemes too like 4-3 strong side DE or 3 tech DT, maybe even a 3-4 DE) and flashes upside as a high effort bull rusher on 3rd downs. Paschal may be a quiet player as we approach the draft, because I think teams want him "off the radar" however there's enough here to warrant an early 2nd round pick. I expect he'll go much higher than most projections (which initially showed him projected as a 4th to 6th round pick).
Scout Grade - Early 2nd Round
*Sam Williams Ole Miss
Whoa. He has some flashes of uber range. Ole Miss lined up in a 3 man front and Williams played DE. He's built more like a weakside 4-3 DE, but he has a physical strong side style game. For a 5th year SR, Williams has some upside. He played well for 3 seasons for Ole Miss as a JR, SR, & 5th yr rsSR. As a JR had 38 TKL, 9.5 TFL, 6 SK, 1 INT, & 1 FF. As a SR had 39 TKL, 8 TFL, 4 SK, & 1 FF. As a rsSR had 57 TKL, 15 TFL, 12.5 SK, 4 FF, 1 FR, 1 PD. When you consider Williams production is near top of class, but he was the only guy to do it against SEC competition, teams will take note. The fact he did it 'out of position' from a 3 man front is even more impressive. Believe it or not, despite the production, Williams left a lot on the field. Generally I liked his effort as a pass rusher, but he's a patient player. He's rarely the 1st off the snap, and he's not an overtly explosive presence. He wins more with strength and pursuit. Despite the flashes of good pursuit, there are moments that appear "lazy." He plays high and doesn't always look on balance. He has a natural IQ where he reads most plays correctly, quickly. For every "lazy" looking play, there will be a flash of great pursuit like chasing ball carriers to the sideline or not giving up on pass rush. Williams looks like a potential starting NFL DE. He's someone you hope goes to a really good coaching staff because despite the good production in the SEC, there's still upside beyond what was shown as a 5th yr SR. He's the type of prospect who will likely run a good 40 yard dash and climb draft boards. You wish there was a little more explosion or edge "bending" speed, but overall as an athlete, he has a nice combination of strength/speed. I could see teams picking him as high as 2nd round and as low as 4th. He's the type of player who years down the road, people may wonder how he fell. At the NFL level, I expect he'll play in a 4 man front. There's high ceiling here to be a good run defender and near 10 sack production from strength/pursuit.
Scout Grade - 2nd/3rd Round
Jermaine Johnson (+) Florida State/Georgia 6'5 262
Hand in the dirt 4-3 DE. Good player in run support. High IQ run defense and makes a ton of stops at the LOS. Not very bursty off the snap in pass rush, but was highly productive. Production is a result of effort more so than athletic traits. He's stronger than you'd think and can eat blocks in the run game. Doesn't get a ton of movement on bull rush, but has strong hands and uses his arms well. Reliable player, who reads the field well. Johnson is really a handful on run downs. On so many plays he required double teams. At the pro level his sack production will likely come late in games once he's had time to wear down blockers, and I'm not sure that his athleticism is the type where you'd expect him to maintain his sack production at the pro level, however there's still immediate rotational value here. Most outlets talk about Johnson as a combine warrior type guy who will measure exceptionally well, but I don't necessarily see that on tape. He looks like a good athlete, but not necessarily any one great attribute. He has good stamina and high effort throughout the entire game. Finished SR season with an outstanding 70 TKL, 17.5 TFL, 11.5 SK, 2 FF, & 1 FR. He's not the type of athlete I expect to be a double digit sack player, but you can plug and play him into a lineup early and get instant run D. There will be high effort sacks too. Might be slightly overrated based on combine type measurables. Most discuss him as a 1st rounder, but he looks more like a 2nd/3rd round guy.
Scout Grade - 2nd/3rd Round
Kingsley Enagbare South Carolina 6'4 265
Long, strong athleticism. Great balance for his height and nimble feet. Physical player. Good against the run. Makes some 'wow' run stops. Athletic tools to make you think there's pass rush upside. Needs to develop more effective counter moves and pursuit. Get low and attack. Needs better ball pursuit in pass rush. On too many downs he gets stuck hand fighting with the blocker, where you'd like to see him pursuing the ball. I'm not talking an issue of winning/losing a down either. It's more like a lack of natural pass rush IQ. For example, when you watch pass rushers like Nick Bosa, part of what makes him a pest is he relentlessly attacks and his intention is clearly a desire to get to the QB. On many of Enagbare's plays, there's almost an impression that he thinks his role is to hand fight with the blocker. It's hard to explain, but easy to see. It's tonal. Like mentality, makeup. Athletically he really looks the part of a 3-4 LB, but game by game, I don't like him as a pass rusher. He does have the athleticism and ability to contribute as a run defender though. His range of outcomes could be anywhere from rotational to full time starter. I just think people may be overestimating his pass rush potential. Typically players don't just learn how to attack. That trait of being a "natural" pass rusher isn't something that can always be developed. Really great pass rushers usually show that ability early. It's not something they all of a sudden develop or learn. It happens (Danielle Hunter for example) but not enough to be the expectation. Enagbare will likely be overdrafted based on traits and could go as high as round 2 or 3. Based on tape alone, I'd be much more comfortable on him by round 4. He's not a bad player. I just think there may be limitations that are being overlooked, or upside that's being overstated. When that happens it doesn't always mean bust, but it usually means disappointing. That said, his version of "disappointing" could be a 60 TKL & 3 SK player as a pro and valuable rotational run defender. If teams pick him early like 2nd round (which is where he's projected by most), fans and personnel might be hoping/expecting a potential double digit sack player. He might have those traits, but I don't see it in his actual game. His size would make you think potential 4-3 DE, but he lacks the anchor against strength to really be a hand in the dirt player. He's more of a nimble player built for space and should play in a 3-4 alignment. His best attributes are good use of hands/length which allow him to make 'second effort' plays, and pursuit. The worrying attribute is ability to read the play. He shows IQ in many phases like angle IQ on tackles and nose for the football, but there are far too many plays where he's one of the last ones to recognize the play. I'd like to see him diagnose quicker, more consistently. Hard player to grade because there are as many concerning flashes as there are good flashes. Most people will think I'm nuts, but tape reminds me of a Kasim Edebali when he came out of BC. Because of draft capital, I expect Enagbare gets more opportunity than Edebali did, but on tape alone they're similar players.
Scout Grade - 3rd/4th Round
Scout Comp - Kasim Edebali
Zachary Carter (+) Florida
3 year starter who improved year after year for the Gators. As a SO had 28 TKL, 4.5 TFL, 4.5 SK, 2 PD, 1 FF. As a JR had 35 TKL, 9 TFL, 5 SK, 2 PD, 1 FR, 1 TD. As a SR had 31 TKL, 11.5 TFL, 7.5 SK, 2 PD, 1 FF. Carter is built like a monster and the type of guy you want "1st off the bus." He is big, compact, muscular and definitely not a sloppy 285. He's built similar to Boogie Basham from last year's class. What surprises you most for his build is his agility. Carter flashes legit burst traits for his size and flashes good speed counter moves. He has strong hands and a strong enough lower half to where he doesn't get pushed off of his spot, but it's not the type of strength that is utilized towards consistent bull rush. In fact he relies most on his agility, despite his build and natural strength. Teams that like him will hope to teach him how to use his strength more. There are a lot of moments where you want to see him attempting to win with strength. Some people picture him as a 4-3 DT, but I think he's most likely a strongside 43 DE or possibly even DE in a 3 man front. His versatile build/traits could push him up draft boards because he can fit nearly any scheme or defense. You wish there was a little more production in his tackle numbers, but he's the type of player being picked on tools and potential. He has potential because his top flashes are really top tier and look like an early 2nd round pick. It's just not consistent. As a pass rusher his best moments are when he bends the edge. Carter is the type of prospect who has the tools to develop into a starter, but he's a project. Currently, he's a rotational player who'll give upside in both run support and pass rush. I could see him having Tanoh Kpassagnon type impact. When Kpassagnon came out of Villanova, he was a similar prospect with versatile tools and requisite athleticism to play inside/out. He never developed into a dominant starter, but he provides great rotational depth. Carter may do the same, albeit with a tad more upside to develop into a starting DE. For his size, you would expect more exhibition of strength. For a guy who's big and strong, Carter still has to learn to play big and strong.
Scout Grade - 3rd/4th Round
Nolan Smith Georgia
Early entrant as a JR. Averaged about 25 TKL & 2.5 SK as FR & SO, than as a JR had 53 TKL, 8 TFL, 4.5 SK, 1 INT, 3 FF, 1 FR, 1 PD. Smith is a rangy speed athlete who detaches from blockers well. As a pass rusher he was better than he his stats indicate. As far as athletic traits, Smith has 2nd or 3rd round type speed. He covers a lot of ground quickly, and plays pretty physical especially when arriving to the ball carrier. He could improve his physicality as a pass rusher where you'd like to see heavier hands and a little more nasty relentlessness. He has the tools to be disruptive pass rusher with a little bit of sideline to sideline potential as a run and chase LB in the run game. He's not a thumper and he can get eliminated by strength/size but overall you don't see him getting moved off of his spot or losing ground. His anchor is surprisingly strong. UGA rushed him from both sides of the ball and from both stand up and hand in the dirt. As a pro he'll be moved to a more traditional LB role, and has versatility to play in a 34 or 43. I think 34 OLB might fit his skill set a little better, but he's got potential for a variety of roles. Primarily his best chances will be in a 34 as a pass rusher. A lot of his pass rush was stunts to the middle, but almost always it looked like his best shot would've been to use his speed to bend the edge. It's almost like he's unaware of just how athletic he is. This is someone with a pretty high athletic ceiling despite draft grades/rankings. Most outlets show him as a late round pick like between rounds 5 and 7, but I expect him to measure really well at combine drills and move up in the draft. His traits are closer to a 4th round pick, possibly even end of 3rd round. He was mainly used as a pass rusher, but when asked to drop into coverage I liked his speed and see potential. Even as a run stopper, he flashed physicality and willingness to attack despite heaps of bodies in his way. He's a high upside prospect with athleticism and potential to contribute in all 3 phases: pass rush, run support and coverage. Because of that I expect him to climb.
Scout Grade - 3rd/4th Round
Adam Anderson Georgia
Very lanky EDGE rusher who played rotational role for UGA. As a JR had 13 TKL, 5.5 TFL, 5.5 SK, 1 FF, 1 FR. Improved SR year with 32 TKL, 5.5 TFL, 5.5 SK, 1 PD. Anderson fits the mold of a UGA defender which was predicated on speed and physicality. Anderson has top tier speed traits as a pass rusher with explosion around the edge and ability to be disruptive on passing downs. He's a bit one dimensional, but you see flashes in space to develop into other facets of the game like coverage. He's not a refined player. Most reps that he won were based on pure speed and looked more like a track meet than football. There weren't many examples of great technique or counter moves, but than again when you're this fast and rangy, it makes sense to take what the defense gives you. He's stronger than his thin build would indicate, but still he'll want to add mass as a pro. There's not a ton of tape available because Anderson was used in a rotational role. As a pro, he's an upside developmental designated pass rusher who has some value early as a pass rusher. He likely goes to a 3-4 that needs someone with a quick 1st step and length. He was a top 5 star recruit, so you'd like for him to have developed into a starter instead of just situational pass rusher. Because he never developed plus add in the assault charge vs a female (which he pled guilty too), and he's someone that could fall in the draft. There's definite upside here which by round 4 and after, teams will start to find enticing. He has 2nd/3rd round traits.
Scout Grade - 3rd/4th Round
Deangelo Malone Western Kentucky
Malone was an uber productive 5 year small school starter and tweener off the EDGE. As a SO had 60 TKL, 9 TFL, 6 SK, 1 INT, 2 PD, 2 FF. As a JR had 99 TKL, 20.5 TFL, 11 SK, 1 FR, 1 TD. As a SR had 71 TKL, 10.5 TFL, 6 SK, 1 PD, 2 FF. As a 5th yr rsSR had 94 TKL, 17.5 TFL, 8 SK, 4 PD, 4 FF. So Malone's production is off the charts and top of the class. He's just built so thin that as a pro, he'll be forced to move to LB. When you lead the country though, it shouldn't be overlooked. The guy was everywhere for W KY. He's a tough, explosive player who gives equal effort versus the run and pass. He has a high IQ and reads each play well. On a consistent basis, I liked how he read the field. He can get overpowered by strength in the run game, but he's physical and high effort. He's athletic enough to have sideline to sideline range in run support but also have value as a pure pass rusher. He wins with explosion and IQ. He'll mainly be a designated pass rusher, but there is upside to develop into a full time starting OLB in a 34 if he shows he's capable in pass coverage. There aren't many examples of him covering to get a pulse on potential, but athletically, he has the tools so you like the baseline. The part of his game that surprised me is the number of run stops he was involved in. He made some run stops where I really thought he'd been eliminated from the play, but somehow via second effort he'd find the football. His run defense is more "sideline to sideline" than it is "noise navigator" however, he's not a single dimensional player like many other edge rushers. Malone should measure well on combine drills and I could see him climbing draft boards. As a prospect he reminds me of Chris Rumph II from Duke last year who went 4th round. Malone likely goes in similar range, if not slightly higher. Some outlets show him as late as 6th round, but it's hard to imagine someone this productive falling outside of round 4. So far the undersized DE types who move to OLB as pros, haven't fared the best. Guys like Josh Uche, Chris Rumph, & Zach Baun have all struggled to make the conversion. So teams might be hesitant. It begs to reason that someone will make that conversion successfully at some point. When that happens, it's likely to be a guy like Malone who was productive in multiple phases as well as a pro level athlete. Even if he doesn't transition to full time player, he still offers situational pass rush value for your rotation.
Scout Grade - 4th Round
Myjai Sanders Cincinnati
Sanders is a long player who looks the part of an athletic weakside 4-3 DE 'at 1st glance' but it takes a lot of tape to see him make plays. Most of the top edge rushers will make their presence known early in the tape. Sanders you could watch entire halves of football without seeing him impact the game in a meaningful way. There are some bad IQ moments where he'll get caught hand-fighting with his blocker as the play happens around him. He could improve his balance and might benefit from adding weight. He can win with speed and length, and fights hard on 2nd effort, but overall I don't see a strong enough or productive enough player to make me think "starter" as an NFL edge rusher. I see the upside and tools, but he seems like a project who's a rotational player at this point. The one thing he has that can't be taught is burst. There is adequate explosion. I worry about the pass rush IQ not being natural though. On a few too many plays, he's a hair late in diagnosing the best angle to pursue. Sanders contributed as a SO, JR, & SR. As a SR had 41 TKL, 7.5 TFL, & 2.5 SK. As a JR had 31 TKL, 10.5 TFL, & 7 SK. Had 5 PD in each season which might entice some 34 fronts.
Scout Grade - 4th Round
*Tyreke Smith Ohio State
Not much production, was used in a rotational role. Best yr as a SR had 25 TKL, 5 TFL, 3 SK. Smith is the type of player who's best moments look like a pro (athletically), but there's simply not enough of them. Has a player who's produced this little at the college level ever developed into a great pro, or even a starter? Maybe it's happened, but it's rare and not the expectation. Despite lack of production, if you watch Smith's best games like versus Penn State, you do see athletic tools. He's naturally strong and long. For teams that miss on Trevon Walker out of UGA, they might look to Smith as a consolation. He's similar athletically, in that he looks best in space. For his size, he moves really well and has enough range to chase ball carriers to the sideline. He's athletic enough to nearly bend the edge as a pass rusher and he's strong enough to anchor vs power blocking. At this point he is an ATH though. For a late round upside option for a 34 EDGE defender, he's worth a developmental pick. He has athletic tools that can't be taught. Ohio State is a deep team, but you'd liked to have seen him win a starting job. There have been backup players from Ohio State DL like Jalyn Holmes that have played better as pros than collegiate, and in Holmes case it was because he was behind the Bosa brothers. Even Holmes though had near starting level production. In Smith's case, my eyes tell me 'upside' but my brain definitely worries about a 25 TKL peak. I could see teams picking Smith as high as 4th round because of his athletic upside, but you'd feel more comfortable from a risk standpoint after round 5. Very unique prospect. Looks good in flashes, but why so few flashes?
Scout Grade - 5th Round
rsJR with a lot of production over all 4 years. As a JR had 37 TKL, 16 TFL, 6.5 SK, 1 INT, 4 PD. As a rsJR had 51 TKL, 13.5 TFL, 5.5 SK, 1 INT, 1 FF, 3 PD, & 1 TD. Even as a FR had 25 TKL, 6.5 TFL, 4.5 SK. Wells is one of the few EDGE defenders who has pass rush production as well as coverage production with PDs and INTs. He's a very high IQ player who can affect the game in nearly every phase. He's not a bursty athlete, but he has flashes of decent range. I think he has a lot of coverage upside for a LB in a zone defense. Colorado lined him up in a lot of ways, mostly hand in the dirt DE, but he played both sides of the formation and was asked to do a lot of different roles, even occasionally dropping into coverage. He's most likely a 34 OLB but there's some scheme versatility here; he wouldn't be completely out of place as a SAM in a 43. Wells is really physical and although he doesn't appear like an uber athlete at 1st glance, the more I watched him, the more surprising examples of athleticism I'd see. He's rangy. It's not so much from athleticism as much as it is from efficiency. He has a firm grasp of his athletic traits and stays contained within what he can do. It sounds simple, but that's a rare trait. As far as pro comps, Wells has a little bit of Rob Ninkovich to his game. Once you factor his size, production and how well rounded the production, he's got starting NFL LB upside despite being projected as a late round pick (PFF projects him round 6 and other outlets don't have him even listed as a prospect). There's very little highlights or game film available, but from the limited games available, I like the flashes. The plays he made in coverage, despite not being asked to do it a lot, shouldn't be overlooked. At worst he's a potential 3rd down chess piece and at best he's a potential long-term starter. As a pro I expect he'll have a more well rounded role, compared to at Colorado where he was primarily asked to rush the passer. Actually, in that regard I could see him becoming a better pro than he was a collegiate. His game is well rounded. His skill set is well rounded. He has some strength and has some speed. There's no one trait that sticks out as elite, but unlike other prospects where I might say the same, the thing that makes Wells a little different, is he's not bad at any particular trait either. For a late round guy, that's high floor.
Scout Grade - 5th Round
Boye Mafe Minnesota
SR had 34 TKL, 10 TFL, 7 SK, 1 FF. As a JR had 27 TKL, 5.5 TFL, 4.5 SK, 2 PD & 2 FF. Mafe is the type of athleticism where he might measure well in a 40 yard dash, but you wish it was oriented a little more towards short area explosion. Despite his size, he's likely best utilized at the pro level as a 34 OLB. His best rushes come from a standup. Mafe has pro level agility and athletic upside to bend the edge. He's not a naturally high IQ defender, but he's someone that'll be picked on athletic traits and upside. He's a very one dimensional player and likely rotational defender that will be used on 3rd downs and pass rush situations only. He's not a strong player and you see that lack of strength in run support where he's eliminated a little too easily from the play. He navigates traffic well but you'd like to see him impact the game with other traits than 'just speed.' He's someone that if he develops counter moves and strength, could develop into a starter. He just has a long way to go. As far as upside for a mid rounder, there are some top tier speed rush traits. He's just very raw and not a very physical player at this point. He's a finesse pass rusher that if he doesn't win with speed, can be easily eliminated from the play. Because of the athleticism Mafe will likely be overdrafted. He could go as high as 2nd/3rd round, but probably belongs more in round 5 range. Had he shown more in run support, I'd be higher on him. He's possible liability against the run and I'm not sure that changes because he doesn't naturally have a nose for the football. As a late round pass rush only prospect, he's got some upside to get sacks. He plays football like he's new to the game though which I don't like.
Scout Grade - 5th Round
*Isaiah Thomas Oklahoma
2 year starter who produced well for the Sooners. As a JR had 31 TKL, 12 TFL, 7.5 SK, 1 FF, 2 FR, 2 PD. As a SR had 38 TKL, 10.5 TFL, 7 SK, 3 FF, 1 FR, 3 PD. Thomas was mainly a hand in the dirt rusher. He has some fantastic high effort run and chase plays downfield. Overall the defense he's coming from played fast and physical so I like the culture of the program. Thomas is not very refined, nor is he overtly explosive or strong. Most of his plays were result of high effort and IQ. Even on a lot of his run stops, the blocker practically still had him engaged, but he'd find a way to put himself in position to still make a stop. He's not the type of prospect who projects to be a big time sack artist as a pro, but he is well rounded, high effort and high IQ enough to gain some rotational consideration as early as rounds 5 or 6. As an athlete, he's a little more strength than speed oriented, but frankly he's not exceptional at either. He's the type of prospect that I wouldn't be surprised if he went undrafted because there's no one athletic trait that sticks out. Nearly every single play that he made was a result of high effort though so I do think teams that need an injection of attitude could benefit from him on day 3. He likely doesn't have starter upside, but I don't think he hurts your rotation. The one thing I'd suggest for improvement is I want to see Thomas trust his instincts better. There were some examples where he'd beat his man, get in the backfield, and there'd be an ever so slight hesitation before attacking the ball carrier. On some plays that resulted in him barely missing the tackle. He had quite a few plays like this where he probably could've added to his stat sheet had he simply 'attack instead of think.' People talk about speed in terms of forty yard dash or 10 yard splits, but rarely do they talk about "play speed." Thomas isn't fast in the 1st type, and he's above average in the 2nd type. If he could become elite in that 2nd type, I see a lot more plays that could've been made, plays that he was close enough to making, to where there's some upside.
Scout Grade - 6th/7th Round
Michael Clemons (+)
Contributed all 4 years. In his 1st 3 seasons averaged about 20 TKL & 4 TFL. As a 5th year rsSR he got himself in draft talks with 32 TKL, 11 TFL, 7 SK, 2 PD, 1 FF, 1 FR, 1 TD. So Clemons is a 1 year wonder at this point. The production at his size versus SEC blockers has to be a factor in his favor. A&M lined him up mainly in the interior but as a pro it's possible teams will ask him to add weight to stay on the inside. Clemons is somewhat of a "tweener" where he's got DT game but in a DE body. Clemons didn't start but when he played, he looked effective in run support and even flashed some pass rush upside. He's a strong player who anchors well against power. He has some high effort moments in space. He scrapes well and is not an easy player to move off of his spot. I think he offers some good upside as a rotational run defender and flexible inside/out DL. He has just enough burst in short space to give some interior pass rush upside. The "lack of starting" reps may not hurt him as much as others because he was behind players like DeMarvin Leal (who's considered a 1st round talent). Clemons will have to watch his penalties. You like his ambition to want to time the snap exactly, but it resulted in a few offsides penalties. He's an aggressive player that probably would've started in a different depth situation. He's not someone that projects to be an NFL starter, but he's got decent upside as a rotational inside/out defender with upside against pass and run. He could go as late as 7th round, but versatility could push him as high as round 5.
Scout Grade - 6th Round
Amaré Barno Virginia Tech
Lanky 2 year player that wins with speed. As a JR in 11 games had 43 TKL, 16 TFL, 6.5 SK, 2 FF, 2 PD, 1 FR. As a rsJR in 10 games slightly regressed with 35 TKL, 5.5 TFL, 3.5 SK, 1 FF & 1 PD. Barno is built more like a safety than he is like a pass rusher. He's very long and more physical than you might think. Barno is a long strider with more long speed than short area burst. He's too thin to project to be a hand in the dirt defensive lineman, so expect 34 fronts to target Barno as an upside developmental pass rushing OLB. That means he'll have to develop in other facets of the game i.e., off the ball like coverage and run support. Barno is extremely rangy and covers a lot of ground quickly. He's also pretty physical. The challenge for Barno is he can be eliminated by strength a tad too easily. He really needs clean looks and is best in space. I like the potential athletically to develop, but he's a 34 long term project that really lacks the frame you look for in NFL front 7. The game is changing, and Barno is definitely rangy enough to develop into a pro but he really needs to add strength in order to have a shot. At this point, he's rotational prospect. I'd have liked him to have more of a nose for the football in run support, but as far as tape I do like some of the traits. He had some "wow" run and chase displays of range, and he wasn't a liability in space. Although not asked to do it much, he showed flashes of potential in coverage on the few reps I saw him cover. He's an ATH at this point, but on athletic tools alone has 4th or 5th round traits. He reminds me a little bit of Charles Snowden from last year's class. Thin frame players like this normally fall on draft day. Snowden for example last year went from potential 4th or 5th round pick in pre-draft to undrafted on draft day. I do think Barno has more athletic upside and gets drafted, but it's likely a day 3 pick like 5th or 6th round.
Scout Grade - 6th/7th Round
Dominique Robinson (+)
Only one year starter. As a SR had 28 TKL, 8.5 TFL, 4.5 SK. Robinson has pro length and looks like the type of athlete who'll run a good 40 for his height. He's also got a nice blend of strength traits and speed traits. He's not overly disruptive as either but you see potential for both. He didn't start and was mainly used in pass rush situations. He's versatile, upside developmental type prospect. You see some athletic tools, but if his primary rush strategy doesn't work, he doesn't have many effective examples of countering. He does have length and uses his arms well. Above average effort as well. He looks like a rotational player with scheme versatility. I could see him being a weakside 43 DE or a 34 OLB. More likely the latter. He'll be used predominantly as a pass rusher. Considering he's coming from a small school, you would like to have seen more production considering the level of competition. Overall, he's the type of player who has tools, but lacks creativity. I think he'll measure well and could see a DL coach liking the potential. He was a little more disruptive than his stats indicate but I'm not sure he has the "killer instinct" you look for out a professional DE. He also didn't affect the run game in any meaningful ways. He's a low IQ run defender at this point. Out of all the late round EDGE options, at least Robinson has the requisite pro level athletic traits. On that alone, he should hear his name called late. For teams that like Kingsley Engabare, but miss him, Robsinson will be the consolation.
Scout Grade - 6th/7th Round
4 year rotational player who's best year was as a SR with 30 TKL, 4.5 TFL, 3 SK. Otomewo is a 34 DE or possible 43 interior rusher. Despite his height and length, he has some wiggle and flashed decent sideline to sideline speed on a few of his best run stops. He's not refined as a pass rusher and relies on persistence to make plays vs the pass. He's a strength player with a good anchor in run support and that will primarily be his role. He has NFL size and strength and could be a good consolation pick for teams that like but miss on Zachary Carter from UF. Otomewo is a poorman's version of that type of prospect. He's not the type of player who will fill the stat sheet but that wasn't his role either. Even against his hardest competition, like Ohio State where he was against their LT Charles Petit-Frere (a likely 2nd round pick in this class), he won some reps in a "wowing" fashion. There was one play in particular where he ragdolled him with just pure upper body/arm strength. That play alone caught my attention. He's not super disruptive or productive, but he has value as an anchor in run support. There were some run stops where he caught up to the ball carrier, that you like too. At his height, he'll need to learn to play with leverage better. On the reps he lost, he normally was way too high. He's strong enough and long enough to warrant a late round pick. If he developed into a starting 34 DE it wouldn't surprise me. If he's out of the league in 2 years it wouldn't surprise me either. He flashed enough both good and bad for either to be possible.
Scout Grade - 7th Round
*Cade Hall San Jose State 6'3 270
26 TKL & 10 SK as a JR. 40 TKL & 4 SK as a SR. Team leader who helped turn around a program from no wins to division leaders. Father was pro player and mother was pro body builder. No highlights available and only 1 game vs Colorado State. Production and strength are intriguing for potential 43 DE, but from the limited tape available, he doesn't wow you as an athlete. He has a strong enough anchor to keep containment in run support, but Hall lacks the explosion you look for at the pro level. In a 5 yard split, he has a couple moments that show decent 'pop' but overall he's on the slow side especially straightline speed. Even so, he's more of a strength oriented defender who has a little bit of wiggle laterally. He plays hard and has a high IQ as a pass rusher and run defender. For a late round prospect, there's rotational upside. On the pro level, he's the type of player who might benefit from adding 15 pounds and trying to compete as a 3 technique DT in a 43 or a 34 DE. The one thing you like is Hall does not get pushed off of his spot. On many plays, he withstood double teams and held ground. The lack of length could cause Hall to go undrafted. I think the production and anchor vs the run could have teams take a look late on day 3.
Scout Grade - 7th Round/UDFA
Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa (+)
As a 5th yr rsSR had 26 TKL, 6.5 TFL, 2.5 SK, 1 FF, 1 FR. Similar rotational type statistical production as a JR & SR. Thick player who's likely a 34 DE. Has pro level size adjusted burst to warrant a late round pick. He flashed above average athleticism for his size and is surprisingly agile. I hated his lack of effort of some downs. Nothing chronic, but has some embarrassing low effort plays where he gave up before the play was over. He looks like a rotational 34 DE who'll be picked on athletic tools more so than tape. He has some pass rush upside to create pressure, and even has some starter traits, but I don't see enough IQ or effort to where I'd want to target him. Had too many plays where it looks like he just quits mid play. He also doesn't utilize his strength enough and relies too heavily on his agility. He's someone who looks like he could be good, but there's not enough plays that make me believe that he will be. He's an ATH at this point. On athletic traits alone, he looks like a 4th or 5th round athlete. As a player, he's a udfa. He reminds me of Josiah Bronson from Washington last year who went undrafted and didn't 'make it' pro. The athleticism is evident, but he had more plays that are upsetting than impressive. One of the laziest players I've watched in this class, regardless of position. If you want someone who'll stand around and watch while his teammates make plays, he's your guy.
Scout Grade - UDFA
Kyron Johnson (+)
Undersized 34 OLB or possible 43 WIL with solid production over last 3 seasons. Best season was 5th yr rsSR with 63 TKL, 8.5 TFL, 6.5 SK, 4 FF, 2 FR, 1 PD. Similar production as JR and SR. Despite his stature, KU lined him up hand in the dirt on most plays. As a pro, he'll be moved off the ball. Overall I like Johnson's physicality but he really looks like a DE in a LB body. Because he's such a tweener, I could see him going undrafted. There were a few too many big runs to the outside where he didn't keep containment. The one thing you really like about Johnson is his physicality. Because of that, he has special teams upside. At no point watching him did I think "starter" but there are some draftable traits, mainly his physicality. If I had to describe his game in one word: chippy. Looking at his size on paper, I would've expected more liability from strength/size, but that's not the case on tape. In fact, he's got surprising anchor and strength. He really doesn't get ragdolled. It's actually shocking how strong he is at the point of attack for his size. What's more of a liability is the lack of explosion laterally. There were run stops to the outside that I wanted to see him make that he didn't from just lack of range. I also don't see enough agility to make a potential conversion to LB as overtly promising. Johnson is physical and instinctive enough to develop into a quality special teamer, and currently he's a good run defender, but I'm not sure how he fits into a pro front 7. He scrapes well and has a nose for the football in run support. His best shot will be on early run downs. I don't know if he has the athletic makeup to have potential in coverage. Because of that it's hard to see how he fits. For a team that's bad versus the run, he's not a bad developmental option at the end of day 3.
Scout Grade - UDFA
Jeffrey Gunter (+) Coastal Carolina 6'4 260
4 year small school player with some mean moments and good flashes. Not enough strength or speed especially when hand fighting. When asked to pure bull rush he can get some push and when arriving with tackles he even brings some power, but overall there's too many times I want to see him exerting more strength or speed or effort or something. Way more plays missed than made. Not someone I would target especially with lack of dominance on small level. Gunter did contribute all 4 years and produced best as a SO & JR but he's not the type of athlete who looks like an NFL starter. As a SO had 49 TKL, 14 TFL, 5 SK, 2 PD, 1 FF. As a JR had 58 TKL, 12.5 TFL, 6.5 SK, 1 INT, 1 PD, & 6 FF. As a SR had 36 TKL, 8.5 TFL, 5.5 SK, 1 PD, 1 FR, & 2 FF. Gunter looks like a 3-4 rotational player at best.
Scout Grade - UDFA
DIDN'T DECLARE EARLY (Next year's class, grades may change in accordance with future performance) ---
Zion Tupuola-Fetui Washington
Extremely talented physical player with good angle IQ, burst off the snap, speed & instincts...who's way too injured too often. Dominant in 5 games played. Not a question of talent but health. 5 games he played over the last 2 years, he reeked havoc. He plays too high and could get better leverage, on the plays he loses that's usually why. Overall he's someone I'd take a chance on anytime 4th round or after. He flashed enough top tier ability to be worth the chance of rehabbing him back to health.
Scout Grade - 3rd/4th Round
Ali Gaye LSU
Certainly looks the part of an NFL 4-3 DE speed rusher. He's lean muscle with a good blend of power and speed. Didn't put it together in production as a JR. As a SR looked like he was starting to come along with 19 tackles and 2.5 sacks in 4 games, but that's all he played on the season. If you're looking for upside, he fits the definition. There's some "try hard" play here with even a game winning forced fumble and good plays in key moments, however there are moments where he a clear path at the ball carrier or QB where it takes a second mentally for him to attack. Not a natural killer instinct. Too many moments where he'll get himself in position and you're yelling "get him." Angle IQ in tackling needs work. You can tell he's strong though because so many of his tackles are like one handed or just using his arms. Rarely do you see him time a hit perfectly and really put his body into a tackle. In that sense, he's the complete opposite of a prospect as Josh Pascal from KY. One could argue that's an indication of top tier strength too. Need more 2021 tape. Hopefully something becomes available come draft time. Gaye appears to have the athletic traits of a 2nd or 3rd rounder with the instincts of someone new to the game.
Scout Grade - 4th Round
Mitchell Agude UCLA
3-4 LB with 55 TKL & 2 SK as a SR. He flashes pro level athleticism as a rotational pass rusher and maybe even a starter in a 3-4, but he's not someone that immediately 'jumps off the tape.' Frankly, I watched a couple games, and there were such long stretches where he was quiet and not noteworthy enough to warrant continued game by game assessment. Here's where it gets complicated though. UCLA lined him up as a hand in the dirt 3-4 DE. Typically that kind of lineman is 275 pounds at the very least...and up to 315. Playing out of position can really skew value. Look at a prospect like Gardner Minshew for example, who looked average in an ECU system for 2 years, but once he transferred and played in a system/role that fit his game, he catapulted in both production and efficiency. Agude could have a similar outcome when transitioning pro. Even out of position, you see that he has a nose for the football in run support, he's a good wrap up tackler, he's a physical hitter, and he's actually a nice blend of strength and speed for a mid to late round player. His best plays were tackles where he'd chase bubble screens from the opposite side of the field, and I love that he'd still try to get a lick on the ball carrier even if teammates had already arrived (i.e., some great assisted tackles). In my father's words, "cleaning 'em up." He's a reliable 'stick to his assignment' type player, where he generally fulfills his role in edge containment. On plays where he doesn't contain the edge, he's usually stuck hand fighting with his blocker instead of keeping his eyes on the ball. So IQ is average, but has potential because there are both good and bad flashes. He's very strong for his size. I mean at 245 pounds, he did not look out of place as a 3-4 DE. I can't remember any 3-4 DEs being this light. So what UCLA asked of him is nearly unprecedented. He's much better in run support than he is as a pass rusher. He scrapes through traffic really well. That may be his best attribute, along with ball carrier pursuit. His athletic traits show great strength and even some sideline to sideline range. Has potential to develop into a better pass rusher as a pro than he was as a collegiate, but not enough counter moves, refinement, & production to warrant too high of a pick. He's likely day 3 player, however some teams may picture him better once he's in a better role (3-4 LB) so production may improve as a pro. Still, based on what we have, which is a few games, watching him play "out of position" (in his case, "not in an ideal position" might be more appropriate) he's an upside prospect who'll be picked on raw tools & what you 'imagine he can do' versus what he's already done/actual production/tape. Not an easy player to grade. His potential range of outcomes are much wider than most. I could see teams picking him as high as round 3 or 4 based on traits alone (athleticism & run stopping ability), but I'm slightly lower than that. By round 5 or after the risk/reward becomes more enticing. Normally you expect DEs like this to convert to 3-4 OLB, but his skill set might make for an interesting 3-4 ILB. Interior 3-4 LBs have to be bigger, physical, downhill players. Agude has the size, strength, downhill game, experience vs lineman, ability to scrape, pursuit and range to make me think that actually may be his best role as a pro. It's also worth noting that only a couple of the LBs fit that mold in this class (Leo Chanel, Darrian Beavers). It's possible, if Agude and Beavers swapped places, that Agude would've performed similarly had he been a MLB on a team like Cincinatti.
Scout Grade - 5th/6th Round
Xavier Thomas Clemson
Flashes some explosion and power, but currently he's a set of raw tools. Not enough production when you consider his traits. Didn't get much better between FR & SR seasons. Special Teams potential. Need more tape to fully assess. Only had a couple minute highlight reel so very limited info available. May adjust grade as more film becomes available.
Trajan Jeffcoat Missouri
Not a creative rusher. Physical tools seem like they're there to be a rotational rusher or possibly even a strong side 4-3 DE1, but his hand usage is really elementary. Good pass rushers are constantly hand fighting, and I don't see him using his hands at all. He doesn't offer enough counter moves on most downs. Flashes a nice spin move. Mizzou would rush him and use him like a standup 3-4 OLB too much, but he may belong hand in the dirt & could convert to a full time strong side 4-3 DE as a pro. Needs work. Has draftable athletic tools like size adjusted acceleration with decent power but his production took a hit due to team use. They dropped him into coverage quite a bit. Rotational potential as a late round developmental pick. He has a nose for the football in space. Makes some high effort plays downfield that take you by surprise like chasing ball carriers into safety territory. Overall I want to see him exerting more power, be more emphatic on bull rush. He's pretty high motor and an above average athlete, but 32 TKL & 3.5 SK doesn't match those tools. Really should've returned to Mizzou for his SR season to continue developing. This is the type of player who if he'd come back with a more productive SR season, could've moved up to 3rd or 4th round. As it stands, he seems more like a day 3 pick, between 5th to 7th round.
Scout Grade - 6th/7th Round
Colby Wooden Auburn
Strong, long DE who may be declaring early after putting up 57 tackles and 5 sacks as a rsSO. Not much tape available. Highlights look average, but need more game film to assess. Initial instinct is he could gain weight and play 3-4 DE. May not have enough juice to be 4-3 DE despite having a strong side 4-3 build.
Ochaun Mathis TCU
46 tackles and 9 sacks as a Jr, than slight dip to 45 tackles and 4 sacks as a SR. Physical, arrives with attitude and looks to be violent hitter. Doesn't have much power or speed but enough physicality to warrant a late round pick. Special teams player early with 3-4 OLB rotational potential after some development. Need more tape to make complete assessment. First impressions are that he doesn't have enough natural instincts i.e., "nose for the ball." Angle IQ is good and physicality when he gets there is good, but he doesn't get to the ball before teammates on plays where it looked like he could've/should've.
Zach Harrison Ohio State 6'6 268
Brenton Cox Jr. Florida
Isaiah Foskey Notre Dame