If the defensive end or edge rusher position was a new tech gadget, you’d have to get to the store right when it happens to buy one. This is a very top heavy class, especially for 4-3 defenses. You can get an outstanding edge rusher capable of double digit sack seasons in the first three rounds, but good luck getting anybody decent off the edge after that point.
The Eagles may have released Connor Barwin, but they still have Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry, Marcus Smith, Stephen Means and new addition Chris Long at defensive end. They also have last year’s 7th round draft pick Alex McCalister coming off IR and ready to compete for a spot this year.
The Eagles really don’t need to take a defensive end, but Jim Schwartz’s defense is built around a dominant pass rush. In his 5 years as head coach of the Detroit Lions his team drafted a defensive linemen in the first round 3 times and a corner in the first two rounds just once. His Lions drafted Nick Fairley in the first round a year after taking Ndamkong Suh in the top 5.
Coaches may not make draft picks, but a good front office is aware of how their coaching staff values certain positions and it wouldn’t shock me at all to see the Eagles take a defensive end, which isn’t a need at all, before they take a cornerback in this draft.
Defensive End Rankings
1) Myles Garrett/Texas A&M- Garrett is the number one prospect in this draft and he will go number one overall. He’s a 6’5, 270 pound defensive end who has the look and athleticism of an NBA power forward. He’s quick, explosive, powerful and has an array of pass-rush moves. It makes sense that he went to Texas A&M because he is the best edge rusher prospect since Von Miller and will probably have similar production as Miller has had right away.
2) Derek Barnett/Tennessee- If I had to give out a most valuable player award in college football, Barnett would be it. The Tennessee defense lived and died off of his pressure and he was able to get into the backfield in a variety of ways. He’s quick enough to beat you inside, explosive enough to beat you off the edge and powerful enough to just push you back into the pile.
3) Solomon Thomas/Stanford- A bit of a combo linemen as he can play inside and outside. In Philly, he would be a base defensive end and a interior rush on sub-packages and he would dominate in both roles. He’s playing weight is about 280 and he is incredibly quick at that size. He’s also technically sound and has very active hands.
4) Charles Harris/Missouri- Powerful, agile and raw are the best ways to describe Charles Harris. He didn’t start playing football until his junior year of high school and he has a boxing background. That means he is far from a finished product and he isn’t going to back down from anybody. I loved watching this kid on tape. He has a great spin move already, he has violent hands and he chases every single play down. I’m really excited to see what this kid is going to look like 5 years from now.
5) Taco Charlton/Michigan- He’s not as high on a lot of scout’s boards because he isn’t a great athlete, but at nearly 6’6, 280 he moves extremely well for his size and he has length for days.
6) Jordan Willis/Kansas State- A pure speed rusher with really quick feet. I wouldn’t love him in every scheme, but his game is perfect in a Jim Schwartz defense lining up out wide and playing in space.
7) Derek Rivers/Youngstown State- Good all around edge prospect. He’s strong, has good speed off the snap, is quick in space and has a ton of moves. Despite coming from a FCS school, he’s one of the most polished prospects in this draft. His learning curve will be really short.
8) Carl Lawson/Auburn- Reminded me a lot of Brandon Graham on tape. Possesses good speed but his power is where he wins the most. If he doesn’t get the inside/outside leverage he will frequently push his man back and completely disrupt the pocket.
9) Tarell Basham/Ohio- A pure speed rusher with good size(6’4, 270)’ His get-off after the snap will overwhelm a lot of quality offensive tackles at the next level. It certainly got the best of future NFL starting tackle Taylor Moton on several snaps.
10) Tak McKinley/UCLA- Great explosion off the snap, but something he relies on too much. Not great quickness in space and not enough power to push his man back or shed his blocker. He’s going to be a liability in the run game, but I love his fit in a wide-9 scheme more than I would in most schemes.
11) Tim Williams/Alabama- Not the lineman you build around, but a nice complimentary piece because he’s quick and has excellent closing speed. That’s how he wins because he lacks strength to do much with a bull rush or his hands. He still was very productive in college because he played with a physical front and that’s the type of role he needs to find in the NFL.
12) Trey Hendrickson/Florida Atlantic- Ideal nickel edge rusher. Not a ton of power and can’t set the edge against the run, but he’s really quick off the edge and chases every play down. Was used at times in college to spy the more athletic quarterbacks so that gives you an idea of how fast he is for a defensive end.
13) Deatrich Wise/Arkansas- He’s your plan B in the draft if you really want Taco Charlton. Wise is powerful, but moves pretty well for a near-280 pound defensive end. He wins with power and length, but will surprise you with how quickly he moves in space. Can be a base and sub-package end.