Editor's note: NFL.com analysts Lance Zierlein and Chad Reuter will provide overviews for each position group in the 2017 NFL Draft (April 27-29 in Philadelphia), continuing today with edge defenders.
Note: Click through the tabs above to see overviews for each position.
The definition of an "edge" player continues to evolve with more teams moving their pass rushers around in order to maximize matchup advantages. With that said, I decided to leave Jonathan Allen off this list since he's more likely to play inside (he's included in the interior D-line overview) while I can see Solomon Thomas being a base defensive end, even if he moves inside to tackle on passing downs.
There are often two types of edge players in a draft -- projection prospects and production prospects. Myles Garrett has plenty of production, but he is being pushed to the top of the draft class, in large part, as a projection of what he is capable of thanks to his elite physical traits and athletic ability. Taco Charlton is almost purely a projection talent as his production hasn't quite matched his potential during his stay at Michigan.
If you are looking for production, you can find it with players like Derek Barnett and Jordan Willis. While physical traits like arm length and quick twitch are important for edge players, there are plenty of teams who covet consistent production for more than only one season. Barnett's testing numbers weren't great, but just try to keep him off of your quarterback.
Let's explore the 2017 edge class.
Teams with greatest need for edge defender
Top 5 players at the position
Note: Click on a prospect's name for a complete scouting report.
Myles Garrett, Texas A&M: Garrett has posted some impressive numbers over his three years at A&M, but he's still a projection player with a draft grade that has been pushed sky high due to his elite traits and potential more than his consistency.
Solomon Thomas, Stanford: He probably races through his meals so he can run to the field for more workouts. Thomas lacks a clearly defined position based on how he was used in college, but his motor, hand strength and ability to disrupt could make him special.
Taco Charlton, Michigan: His grade could vary greatly from room to room. He's long and flashes outstanding pro potential at times, but there have been plenty of times when he's disappeared. If that motor stays hot, he will be a problem for offenses.
Takkarist McKinley, UCLA: Scouts thought he was going to be their secret in this draft, but McKinley blew that notion up with a big season. Slippery rusher who plays a little too upright. He never takes a play off.
Derek Barnett, Tennessee: Barnett's power and expert hand usage make him a more polished fit for NFL teams than some of the players at the same position. He's not a twitchy athlete, but he's skilled and understands how to play.
Sources Tell Us
"You have to figure out where you will play him, but he won't stop. He's going to be really productive." -- AFC director of scouting on Solomon Thomas
Carl Lawson, Auburn: Lawson is strong and has some explosive get-off, but he's a face-up rusher who is fairly tight in his hips, which prevents him from being a true edge bender. I like Lawson as a strong edge setter who can impose his will as a strong-side outside linebacker in a 3-4, but I don't think he'll be the consistent rusher that some expect him to be.
Jordan Willis, Kansas State: When you turn the tape on, Willis' ability to win with his hands and motor are the first couple of things that will stick out. Still, it's shocking to find out that 36.6 percent of his tackles were for losses over the last two seasons. Pair that total with his 20 sacks during the same time frame, and you can understand why there should be more buzz surrounding him.
Boom or bust
Tim Williams, Alabama / Tyus Bowser, Houston: Truth be told, I'm high on the potential for both of these players, as this draft isn't loaded with explosive edge speed. Both Williams and Bowser are outstanding athletes, but both come with concerns. Williams had issues picking up Alabama's schemes at times and might be forced into a rush-only role as a pro. Bowser had only one season of production and it wasn't against upper-echelon competition. Odds are that one guy will make it and one guy will disappoint.
Keion Adams, Western Michigan: Adams as plenty of natural ability as a pass rusher, but he lacks size and power on the edge and there are some concerns about his character in scouting circles. All I know is that when I watched Adams, I saw a guy with good burst, loose hips to turn the corner and a wicked spin move that is still developing. Look out!