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Top Five 2016 NFL Draft Prospects- Defensive End

Updated on February 5, 2016

These 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.

Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State

1. Joey Bosa, Ohio State

Bio: Joey Bosa has been a dominant pass rusher ever since he stepped on the field for the Buckeyes. As a freshman, he recorded 7.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss. The next year, Bosa led the Big Ten with 21 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks and was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. The next year, he was named the Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year. Bosa decided to forgo his senior year and enter the NFL draft.

Strengths: Has an NFL ready frame. Good muscular definition and flexibility to go along with a confident and competitive attitude. Solid upfield burst off the snap. Has booming power in his hands. Uses arm extension and forward lean with ease. Generates speed-­to-­power bullrush and plays off of that with a punch and pull technique that pulls tackles on their toes. Focuses pass rush attack on outside shoulder of tackle. Active hands can completely wipe out a tackle’s weak hands allowing him to attack the edge. Usually gets hands on defender first. Able to stack and slide along line of scrimmage in pursuit of ball­ carrier. Strong core and able to rag­ doll tight ends who aren’t committed to block. Good burst to the ball. Looks fluid and nimble when dropping into coverage. Has the talent and traits to be used more aggressively than he was at Ohio State. Grew as a run defender as a junior. Football is in his blood with his father and uncle both being first round picks by Miami in the late 80's. Motor will never be an issue.

Weaknesses: Contact oriented in his pass rush and needs to learn to leverage himself around the edge. Forward lean can cause him to fly past the ball carrier when defenders shove him. Lack of play strength when he’s attacked on his edge. Struggles to fight back when being washed down by down blocks. Will end up on the ground more times than expected. Instincts are work in progress. Needs to trust is eyes. Struggles to bring down larger backs. Will run around blocks rater than shed them. Not very sudden or twitchy. Heavy feet and it takes time to accelerate up to speed on misdirection plays. More attention by offenses brought much fewer sacks in 2015. Flagged for offsides 10 times over last two years, including three times in Ohio State's loss to Michigan State.

Projected Round: 1

Possible landing spot: Tennessee Titans

DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon
DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon

2. DeForest Buckner, Oregon

Bio: In his four years with the Ducks, DeForest Buckner has been a monster off the edge. As a senior, he led the PAC-12 with 10.5 sacks and was named the PAC-12 Defensive Player of the Year.

Strengths: Impressive physique. Has natural strength and power in his hands and improved on them this year. Plays with effort and will continue working hands and feet to improve his positioning. Excelled as pass rusher in 2015. Generated top ­end production by combining his power and superb athletic traits. Improved his pad level as rusher creating dominating pocket push that he was able to earn more sacks and knockdowns. Rare tackle production for defensive lineman with 163 over the last two seasons. Long arms and good play speed allow him maximum field coverage to tackle. Flexible upper body. Can play both defensive end spots. Has size and athleticism for any scheme. Quick off the snap and difficult to stop in run game.

Weaknesses: Plays too tall after the snap. Pad level so high that it impacts ability to stop and change direction with necessary body control. Needs to bend more when penetrating in order to avoid cut back blocks. Will need to play with wider base to take on blockers on next level. Has habit of turning shoulders and getting knocked out of position rather than taking on blocks head on. Average snap anticipation. Struggles to convert speed to power. Inconsistent tackler in space. Loses balance when trying to time hits.

Projected Round: 1

Possible landing spot: San Francisco 49ers

Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson

3. Shaq Lawson, Clemson

Bio: After putting up 21sacks in two seasons as a reserve on a loaded Clemson defensive line, Shaq Lawson finally got a chance to start in 2015. He finished the year near the top of the nation 25.5 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks and helped the Tigers to an undefeated regular season, and ACC title, and a national championship game appearance.

Strengths: Built like a SUV. Clemson played him at both defensive end and outside linebacker. Scheme versatile and will likely appeal to both 3­-4 and 4-­3 defenses. Very powerful at the point of attack. Able to punch, extend arms and control the line of scrimmage. Able to shock and shed blockers and has the hand quickness to stagger attempted blocks. Strength allows him to play at both sides of the line. Finished second in the nation in quarterback pressures for defensive linemen with 17. Comes off ball low and with forward lean into his rush. Has frame to handle a double team. Has plus instincts and feel for the game. Toughness is never a question.

Weaknesses: Below average flexibility. Average athlete for an edge rusher. Not a natural hip bender and will have to focus on keeping pad level lower to unlock his potential. Shows obvious signs of fatigue as game wears on. At times, is too content to lean on blocks when play isn’t run to his side rather than working to make his ay to the ball carrier. Will have snaps where he seems more concerned with imposing his will rather than diagnosing the play. Doesn’t have the bend or upper body flexion to be edge turner as pass rusher. Effort sacks will diminish in pros and will need to become more determined pass rusher.

Projected Round: 1

Possible landing spot: Jacksonville Jaguars

Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State
Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State

4. Emmanuel Ogbah, Oklahoma State

Bio: After his family moved to the U.S. from Nigeria, Emmanuel Ogbah blossomed into a dominant athlete and earned an athletic scholarship to Oklahoma State. After playing sparingly as a redshirt freshman, he was a force, winning the Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year with 17 tackles for loss and 11 sacks. The next year, he was named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year after recording 17.5 tackles for loss and a conference high 13 sacks.

Strengths: Thick, powerful frame. Came into school undersized but has grown into his frame with weight work. Able to absorb hits and play through it. Tough for linemen to redirect and is too much for tight ends. Possesses some of the strongest hands you will find in college football from a defensive end. Able to brush away a weak punch with ease. Flashes unusual ability to trim the edge with power over speed. Uses power and a late rip move to win around corner. Perfect bull rusher. Has power to win at the point of attack and capture the neutral zone while posting consistent production. Has posted a full sack or more in 16 of his last 21 games. Can play just about any position on the defensive line.

Weaknesses: Displays some stiffness in his hips and is not a dynamic athlete. Inconsistent awareness. Reaction time can be quick, but awareness of developing plays needs improvement. Short ­circuits his point of attack power when he turns his shoulders and gets washed down. Limited stride length hurts upfield burst. Typical speed rusher. Unable to burn the edges with quickness. Needs to disengage more quickly from bull rushes. Could stand to step up his motor and pursuit effort. Struggled against Ole Miss tackles Laremy Tunsil and Fahn Cooper in the team's Sugar Bowl loss.

Projected Round: 1-2

Possible landing spot: Cincinnati Bengals

Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson
Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson

5. Kevin Dodd, Clemson

Bio: While not as highly-touted as fellow defensive end Shaq Lawson, Kevin Dodd garnered just as much respect by the end of 2015. In his only year as a starter, he finished second behind Lawson with 23.5 tackles for loss and 11 sacks. Even though Clemson lost the National Championship against Alabama, Dodd had an impressive game with five tackles for loss and three sacks.

Strengths: Relentless competitor with NFL ­ready body. Refuses to give offensive linemen a play off. Not content to be around a play and wants in on the action. Won't lay down on blocks. Never drops eyes from ball and is able to unhinge from blocks quickly to make a play when the ball enters his radius. Extremely instinctive and well coached. Snuffs out screens, bootlegs, and shovel passes every game. Takes his contain responsibility very seriously. Insane production spike from 2014 to this season. Athletic up field burst with desired bend and hip flexion to corner the edge. Has length and leverage to become an effective speed-­to­-power rusher. Tape shows a player who played his best football as the year went on.

Weaknesses: Has just one year of full-­time experience under his belt and was able to feast on some below average tackles in the ACC. Handwork is still a work in progress. Too willing to take on blocks with a lowered helmet or allowing blocks into his frame rather than controlling the play with his natural hand strength. Uses same hand swipe at the top of his rush and would benefit from greater diversity of pass rush techniques. Still learning to consistently unleash his top play speed. Gets in a hurry to attack in space quarterbacks and running backs, lunging after them rather than striking from a balanced base.

Projected Round: 1-2

Possible landing spot: New York Giants

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    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      2 years ago from Oklahoma

      Love your draft overviews.


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