The 2016 class of edge rushers has some quality in the first round, but a sharp decline in talent after that. Last year's draft featured a much more exciting group of edge rushers with first-round grades.
While most consider Ohio State's Joey Bosa the easy winner as the top edge rusher in the draft, something tells me that there will be teams who have Georgia's Leonard Floyd ahead of Bosa based on scheme fit and a projection of Floyd's upside. The race to see who is drafted first between Clemson defensive ends Shaq Lawson and Kevin Dodd should be an interesting one.
Eastern Kentucky's Noah Spence, who began his career at Ohio State, has a background that includes being banned from the Big Ten for failed drug tests. Oklahoma State DE Emmanuel Ogbah's makes lots of plays. Georgia's Jordan Jenkins might not get drafted until the third round, but he's as NFL-ready as any of the "tough-guy" edge setters in this year's class.
Let's explore the 2016 edge-defender class.
Teams with greatest need
Top 8 players at the position
1. Joey Bosa: Combines excellent hands and forward lean for quick wins around the edge. Bosa will need to make sure he plays with better balance as a pro and he'll have to find some workable counter moves to add to his rushing arsenal.
2. Leonard Floyd: Floyd is painfully thin and will struggle to match up with the strength of NFL players, but he is rangy in space, plays with a good motor and has traits as a pass rusher that would be a mistake to ignore.
3. Kevin Dodd: His lack of college snaps could preclude him from being "pro ready", but his instincts and football intelligence should expedite the learning process.
4. Shaq Lawson: The Lawson is built like a full-grown man and combines his instincts, toughness and power to fill up a stat sheet and set an early tone.
5. Noah Spence: It might take Spence a year or two to get used to the speed of the game, but he should become a starter early in his career.
6. Emmanuel Ogbah: Ogbah's power will serve him well against the run, but he will have to become more skilled as a pass rusher.
7. Kamalei Correa: NFL teams will be attracted by his quick-twitch athleticism and moldable traits as a pass rusher.
8. Kyle Fackrell: When it comes to the length and athleticism teams will look for off the edge, Fackrell will be one of the poster boys.
Sources Tell Us
"I think all that hype headed into the year hurt him some because he's not a superman off the edge. But he's a good player. He's athletic with good hands and every pass rusher starts to add to what they do in the pros. If he dedicates himself to the game, he's going to be one of the safest guys in the draft." -- NFC director of personnel on Ohio State's Joey Bosa
Noah Spence: Spence has a great story of redemption and posted impressive production last season, but I don't see a special edge rusher when I watch him. I see some of the traits, but I didn't see the edge bender I was expecting to see. I think he can be a productive NFL starter and part of a good defense, but I don't see him as a game-changing edge rusher.
Roy Robertson-Harris: Robertson has just a single season of production to hang his hat on, but that's because the light finally came on. The UTEP defensive end has outstanding size, length and athletic traits. He can play with a hand in the ground or standing up. I see an ascending talent who will outplay his draft slotting as a pro.
Boom or bust
Carl Nassib: Nassib's size and length have NFL scouts salivating, but does his overall play have them feeling the same way? The former walk-on was ultra-productive in 2015 and you have to love the fact that he made it to this point after former Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien questioned his talent as a collegiate player when Nassib was first starting out. He has a pedestrian lower body and isn't as strong as he needs to be, so we'll see if those long levers end up helping him become a plus pass rusher or just a one-year wonder from the Big Ten.
Stephen Weatherly: He has a really intriguing combination of arm length and closing burst off the edge. His get-off was inconsistent, but his 4.61-second 40-yard dash tells you that there is something there to work with here. His production at Vanderbilt was pretty good, but nothing special; however, with his range, closing burst and arm length, he has a chance to become a decent NFL starter as a 3-4 OLB or 4-3 DE.