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Top Five 2019 NFL Draft Prospects- Defensive End

Updated on March 3, 2019

These guys will look to become the future pass rushers of an NFL franchise. Today I rank the top five defensive end prospects in the upcoming NFL Draft.

1. Nick Bosa- Ohio State

Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State
Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State

Bio: A top five recruit in the country, Nick Bosa played in all 13 games as a true freshman with 29 tackles and five sacks. As a sophomore, he was named the Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year and a first team All-Big Ten selection with34 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, and eight sacks despite starting only four of 14 games. In just three games in 2018, he registered 14 tackles, six tackles for loss, four sacks, a forced fumble, and a touchdown.

Strengths: Stacked frame with "Mr. Universe" level of muscle definition. Strong legs throughout. Comes out stance with low pads and powerful leg drive to force through the blocker's edge. Rare play strength to power through double team blocks. Able to speed up strong first punch. Has the core and hand strength to read and react to play. Can get into frame and discard man on the edge. Main focus is away the ball, not the blocker. Won't stay attached to his blocker very long. Hands are always moving and never linger. Hard for tackles to land punches and mirror. Uses handwork and forward lean to slip around the edge. Can change techniques mid rush when need. Flexible ankles to dip around the corner to get to the quarterback. Has experience in sub packages from early in his career. NFL bloodlines. Older brother Joey is a first round pick and Pro Bowl defensive end for the Los Angeles Chargers and his father John and uncle Eric Kumerow were both first round picks by the Miami Dolphins.

Weaknesses: Not as naturally flexible as big brother Joey. Tightly packed around his hips. Upfield rush can feel rigid at times. Counter moves utilize effort over skill. Legs are too straight through contact. Capable of bending, but doesn't play with solid anchor against kick outs and down blocks. Low overall tackle production. Needs to dislodge from contact earlier. Average lateral pull when tackling. Heavy feet and slow change of direction speed omit tackling radius. Needs to locate the ball more quickly. Played in only three games as a junior due to a groin injury.

Pro Comparison: Cameron Wake

Projected Round: 1

Possible Landing Spot: Arizona Cardinals

2. Josh Allen- Kentucky

Josh Allen, DE, Kentucky
Josh Allen, DE, Kentucky

Bio: A New Jersey native who played most of his high school football in Alabama, Josh Allen chose to stay in the south and attend Kentucky. As a redshirt freshman, he registered 62 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, and a team high seven sacks while also leading the SEC with four forced fumbles. In 2017 he led the team with 9.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks. The following year, he won the Bednarik and Nagurski awards as one of the best defenders in college football and named first-team All-American and first team All-SEC while leading the Wildcats with 88 tackles, tied for sixth nationally with 21.5 tackles for loss and ranked second in the nation in both sacks and forced fumbles.

Strengths: Elite size, speed, and explosiveness with enough room to get stronger. Has the skills and athleticism to physically challenge tackles. Talented enough to drop in coverage or attack the ball carrier. Firs step with quickness and burst will force the edge. Long interior slide to access his counter move. Impressive hand fighting. Opens the edge with precise chop with his inside hand. Maintains top speed around the corner. Finds the ball to strip it once he gets around the edge. Has the skills and traits to become a strong edge setter. Engulfing size and speed to track down running backs. Smooth enough in zone coverage. Able to keep with most tight ends in man coverage.

Weaknesses: Must be able to jab tight ends at the line. Hands must be better in a lot of areas. Latches rather than hits with his hands. Doesn't always use his size the way he should. Slow awareness and reaction to misdirection. Not disciplines on contain assignments. Wonders insides, causing him to be sealed off from the play. One way pursuit and struggles to change direction. Rush approach needs more variety. Lacks sharp hip turn and upper body turn to get over the edge. His mid rush needs to incorporate a counter attack.

Pro Comparison: Clay Matthews

Projected Round: 1

Possible Landing Spot: San Francisco 49ers

3. Rashan Gary- Michigan

Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan
Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan

Bio: The two time New Jersey Defensive Player of the Year, Rashan Gary was the nation's top recruit in 2016. He played all 13 games as a reserve his freshman season, making 27 tackles, five for losses, and a sack. His potential really began to shine in 2017, when he earned first team All-Big Ten honors with 66 tackles, 12 for loss, and six sacks in 13 starts. Gary was a first team pick again as a junior with 44 tackles, seven for loss, and 3.5 sacks in 12 games.

Strengths: Great combination of height, weight, and speed. Active and strong. All the skills to set the edge. Forceful first step at the point of attack. Sturdy base gives him good balance through contact. A disruptive force when he stay low to the ground. Above average pursuit speed, capable of making tackles downfield. Bursts out of a 3 point stance with a mission. Easily switches from speed to power. Uses long arm to bull rush and collapse the pocket on the quarterback. Strong enough to overpower tackles in the late stages of a rush. Good lateral quickness on stunts.

Weaknesses: Production as a pass rusher doesn't translate given his skills and talent. Only 10.5 sacks in three full seasons. Rush attack is pretty basic for someone at this level. Long arm bull rush is really his only move. Hasn't learned to use hands as a pass rushing weapon. Lacks typical hip bend to get around the edge. Runs himself around the pocket rather than working back inside. Plays fast but has little to no control. Lacks awareness and reaction on misdirection and counter runs. Loses his pad level on inside twists. Doesn't regain balance enough to tackle in the open field.

Pro Comparison: Everson Griffen

Projected Round: 1

Possible Landing Spot: New York Jets

4. Clelin Ferrell- Clemson

Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson
Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson

Bio: After redshirting in 2015, Clelin Ferrell stood out the following fall sharing the team's defensive rookie of the year award with Dexter Lawrence after posting 50 tackles, 12.5 for loss, and six sacks. His sophomore season was even more impressive as he was named first team All-American and first team All-ACC and a finalist for the Ted Hendricks Award as the nation's top defensive end with 63 tackles, 18 for loss, 9.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles. As a junior he did win the Ted Hendricks award after racking 53 tackles, 19.5 for loss, 11.5 sacks, four pass breakups, and three forced fumbles. Has overcome a lot of adversity in his young life. His father passed away his freshman year of high school and tore his ACL as a senior.

Strengths: Prototype frame with wide shoulders and long arms. Had 36.5 tackles for loss and 21 sacks over the last two years. Phenomenal snap timing and is always the first one off the ball. Slippery and able to get small into spaces to disrupt the play. Keeps long arms in front of him. Has the skills to hit and control tackles frame when setting the edge. Plays tough and loads his body into blockers. Talented hands for quick block shedding wins. Should be a solid power rusher in the NFL. Skilled enough to turn early holes in pass protection into sacks. Finds blockers inside or outside hand when attacking the punch. Wide enough base to drive through redirects to collapse the pocket. Low, smooth spin move can be a dangerous move in the NFL. Knows how to redirect tight ends off routes.

Weaknesses: Below average agility and dexterity in the open field. Inside move are very awkward looking. Doesn't always sustain burst at the top of routes. Hands and feet aren't always on the same page. Average closing acceleration to the ball carrier. Loses rush speed in the latter half of games. Hands can linger and lack surprise. Struggles to regain weight and go off script to locate quarterbacks climbing the pocket. Limited lateral quickness to change direction in space. Knee bend could be better. Questionable anchor against inside blocks. Slow to disengage once a tackle gets in his frame. Average at best open field tackling ability.

Pro Comparison: Chandler Jones

Projected Round: 1

Possible Landing Spot: Detroit Lions

5. Montez Sweat, Mississippi State

Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State
Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State

Bio: After being suspended from Michigan State and attending junior college, Montez Sweat signed with Mississippi State. In his first season with the Bulldogs, he led the SEC with 10.5 sacks and was named first team All-SEC. The following year, he was second team All-American after compiling 53 tackles, 14 for loss, and a team-high 11.5 sacks.

Strengths: Long frame with room to grow. Shocking power in his punch. Creates leverage with first strike. Better upper body strength than what his skinny frame would suggest. Able to press and get free from blockers. Long strides cover a lot of ground in upfield rush. Untapped upfield burst creates momentum to the edge. Knows how to use his length to his advantage. Flails hands during rush to confuse tackles. Long arms get into blockers frame and can move them side to side. Slick hips to get around the top of tackles. Decent effectiveness on inside counters. Length to close in on scrambling quarterbacks help bolster his sack total.

Weaknesses: Upfield rush attack can be rough and called in. Needs to play more smooth on transitions. Hands have to be faster and more aggressive for the NFL game. Struggles to free the edge with chops and swipes. Limited at converting speed to power. Lean lower body lacks power. Lateral slides are very labored. Tall center of gravity limits his change of direction quickness. Has issues regaining balance to tackle in the open field. Has to answer for his departure from Michigan State after he was suspended for undisclosed reasons.

Pro Comparison: Danielle Hunter

Projected Round: 1

Possible Landing Spot: Seattle Seahawks

Other Notable Prospects

Zach Allen- Boston College

  • Country strong, lacks burst

Jaylon Ferguson- Louisiana Tech

  • Long limbed, weak against top talent

Oshane Ximines- Old Dominion

  • Quick off the snap, too easily eliminated in the run fame

Joe Jackson- Miami

  • Imposing frame, more quick than fast

Anthony Nelson- Iowa

  • Rare height for the position, lacks explosiveness

Austin Bryant- Clemson

  • Good first step, lacks strength

Chase Winovich- Michigan

  • Compact frame, shorter than ideal

Jalen Jelks- Oregon

  • Impressive wing span, lean legs

People's Poll

Which defensive end will have the most success in the NFL?

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