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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / Top 10 Defensive End/Edges in the 2018 NFL Draft

Top 10 Defensive End/Edges in the 2018 NFL Draft

Top 10 Defensive Ends
Publish Date: 02/15/2018
Fact checked by: Mike Goodpaster

 

 

  1. Bradley Chubb – North Carolina State – 6’4” 275

Bradley Chubb has been one of the top pass rushers in the ACC for the last three seasons.  After a breakout sophomore season, he was named team captain as a junior and he continues to produce with 10 sacks and 21 tackles for a loss.  As a senior, he added 10 more sacks and 23 tackles for a loss.

Chubb is a phenomenal do-it-all defensive end.  He is long and lean and has the speed to rush the edge.  He is strong and has excellent flexibility in his hips which give him the building blocks to become an elite pass rusher.  At times he seems to rely on his speed and not have a pass rush move on tap when the offensive lineman stops his initial rush.  Chubb is an underrated run defender who is unselfishly executing his assignments.  In 2017 Chubb was named ACC Defensive Player of the Year and won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy given to nation’s top defensive player.

Strengths:

  • Fast
  • Long-limbed
  • Excellent Hips
  • Gets a great initial punch on defender
  • Shows discipline defending the zone read
  • Shows excellent awareness

Weaknesses:

  • Needs to use his hands better to get off blocks
  • Looks uncomfortable dropping into coverage
  • Can get sucked into blocks or pushed pass quarterback at times

 

  1. Sam Hubbard – Ohio State – 6’5” 266

Sam Hubbard has been a productive defensive end since his arrival in Columbus notching 116 tackles including 30 for a loss and 17 sacks in his three seasons with the Buckeyes.  Hubbard went three for three earning All-Big Ten every season of his collegiate career.

Hubbard is an excellent pass rusher and the complete package at his position.  He uses his hands well and has quick feet.  He can drop in coverage or stunt to the inside.  Hubbard is never out of a play and will run down ball carriers on the other side of the field.

Strengths

  • Relentless – always moving
  • Versatile – can drop into coverage or rush the passer inside or outside
  • Fast first step
  • Plays his technique soundly
  • Good hands

Weaknesses:

  • Talented defensive line and complex stunt game may have created a lot of opportunities for Hubbard
  • Consistent production, but never through the roof
  • Technically sound player but not an exceptional athlete

 

  1. Harold Landry – Boston College – 6’3” 250

Harold Landry set Boston College’s single-season sack record as a junior with 16.5 sacks that season.  He is also BC’s second all-time leading tackler.  Landry’s senior season was unfortunately cut short by injury and he was only able to muster 5 sacks on the year.

Size aside, Landry has all the makings of a stud defensive end, but he may be a better fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker.  In either situation, he will need to work on his pass rush moves.  He is great on the edge versus the run and showed an elite ability to get to the quarterback as a junior.   Landry plays with intensity but within his role in the defense, which is not an easy combination to find.

Strengths

  • Excellent speed as a pass rusher
  • Sets a great edge against outside run plays
  • Long limbs
  • Quick and agile with his footwork – flexible in his hips
  • Passionate player

Weaknesses:

  • Coming off ankle injury
  • Does not use hands well as a pass rusher
  • Had one great season
  • Lacks ideal size

 

  1. Ogbonnia Okoronkwo – Oklahoma – 6’1” 245

Ogbonnia Okoronkwo had two big seasons for the Sooners in 2016 and 2017.  As a junior in 2017, he had 71 tackles including 12 for a loss and 9 sacks.  This past season he had 75 tackles including 17 for a loss and 8 sacks.  Including his production as a reserve player, he totaled 21 sacks for his career which gives him a second all-time ranking at Oklahoma.

Okoronkwo is a bit of a tweener, who will probably find his best fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker.  He plays with intensity and uses his hips extremely well on his tackles.  He is a very good speed and agility based pass rusher which serves as a great change up to taller, longer and more powerful edge rushers.  Okoronkwo can take on and defeat blocks and holds the edge effectively.

Strengths

  • Excellent tackler
  • Defeats blocks well
  • Can hold an edge in run support
  • Quick feet, that keep moving
  • Has a lot of tools in his pass rushing repertoire

Weaknesses:

  • Undersized
  • At times a bit slow to get to the ball, almost too disciplined to his assignment
  • Seems to spend more time around piles than in them

 

  1. Rasheem Green – USC – 6’4” 280

Rasheem Green was an effective every-down player for USC who has the versatility to play defensive tackle or defensive end.  In 2016 he had 55 tackles and 6 sacks, and in 2017 he had 41 tackles including 12.5 for a loss and 10 sacks.

Green is an excellent run defender and has had success rushing the passer.  He is quick off the ball and has a great first punch to engage with the blocker.  He is a bit of a DT/DE tweener and may be most effective as an end who bumps inside in pass rush situations or as a 3-4 defensive end.

Strengths

  • Effective run defender
  • Versatile – can bump down to tackle
  • Quick off the ball
  • Gets a great initial punch

Weaknesses:

  • Was frequently driven back against top offensive line talent in Notre Dame game
  • Can get caught up in blocks and have trouble disengaging
  • Not as fast as you’d like a defensive end to be or as big as you’d like a defensive tackle to be

 

  1. Marcus Davenport – UT-San Antonio – 6’6” 255

Marcus Davenport has his best season as a senior for the Roadrunners, totaling 17.5 tackles for a loss and 8.5 sacks.  This comes after a junior performance where he had 10 tackles for a loss and 6.5 sacks.  Davenport holds school records for tackles for a loss and sacks and was All-Conference USA as a senior.

Davenport has elite size and plays with great effort and understanding of his role within the defense.  He was easily the best player on his team and would not be someone the opposing offensive coordinator would have lost sight of.  Davenport is strong against the run and had some success rushing the passer, but will be limited in this area if he can’t improve his hip flexibility and knee bend.  He might be a better pass rusher from the inside.

Strengths:

  • Gets a break initial punch
  • Strong run defender
  • Excellent size – long arms
  • Relentless, great effort

Weaknesses:

  • Not super productive as a pass rusher
  • Stiff hips – plays high
  • Struggles to disengage from blocks

 

  1. Arden Key – LSU – 6’6” 265

Arden Key’s best year was his 2016 where he had 11 sacks.  This past season was his least impressive statistically with only 33 tackles and 4 sacks on the season.

Key has many question marks from his up and down production to his decision to spend time away from the team last spring.  He also has health concerns having undergone shoulder surgery last spring and battling a finger injury this season.  Key is a freak athlete who should an incredible ability to rush the passer as a sophomore.  He can get pushed around in the run game, so his best fit may be as a pass rush specialist.  He played from a two-point position and would be comfortable as a 3-4 outside linebacker.  At his best, he has a quick first step and the agility to make inside pass rush moves.

Strengths

  • Physical Monster
  • Quick first step
  • Long arms gets great extension when he strikes

Weaknesses:

  • Often tries to win pass rush with speed without striking and getting separation
  • Commitment to football questioned
  • Not as strong against the run as he should be
  • Played his worst ball at the end of his career

 

  1. Dorance Armstrong – Kansas – 6’4” 241

Dorance Armstrong had an incredible sophomore season in 2016 tallying 56 tackles including 20 for a loss and 10 sacks.  Unfortunately, he was not able to follow that up with an equally impressive campaign in 2017.  This past season he had 63 tackles with 9.5 for a loss and a mere 2 sacks.

Armstrong is incredibly physically gifted.  He is tall, long and athletic.  He does a great job of getting off the ball and engaging with the blocker.  If he can develop his pass rush skills, he could be a major contributor at the next level.  Armstrong shows discipline defending the zone read, but struggles to shake off blockers when defending the run.

Strengths

  • Tall and long
  • Great first step
  • Uses his feet well
  • Gets a great punch

Weaknesses:

  • His 2017 performance took a set back from his 2016 break out year
  • Needs to develop his pass rush moves
  • Lateral speed not great
  • Can struggle against the run

 

  1. Jeff Holland – Auburn – 6’1” 249

Jeff Holland is coming off his most productive college season having tallied 45 tackles, 12.5 tackles for a loss, and 9.5 sacks in 2017.  Before this season he was not a major factor for the Auburn defense.

Holland lacks ideal size for a defensive end but makes up for it with quick feet and relentless pursuit of the quarterback.  He is a skilled pass rusher but needs to learn to use his hands not just his feet to get off of blocks.  He plays well against the run and can effectively disengage run blockers.

Strengths

  • Quick feet
  • Flexible hips
  • Shows discipline in run game

Weaknesses:

  • Short for the position
  • Gets sucked up in blocks – does not use his hands effectively
  • Does not counter well if original pass rush move is ineffective

 

  1. Da’Shawn Hand – Bama – 6’4” 280

Da’Shawn Hand is most effective as a run defender.  He had 71 career tackles and 14.5 sacks in his time at Alabama.

Hand holds the edge well in the run game.  He has some pass rush ability but is limited in that area.  He is most likely to be an early down or short yardage player in the NFL.  He could be a good fit as a 3-4 defensive end and has enough size that he could bump inside situationally in a 4-3 defense.

Strengths

  • Strong against the run, does not get pushed around
  • Can set the edge against the run
  • Understands his role in Bama defense, not a selfish player

Weaknesses:

  • Limited pass rush ability means he is not a every down player
  • Does not have a great first step – takes time to get going
  • Can hold a gap, but does not do a great job of using his hands to disengage from blockers

 

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