With the 2018 NFL season on the horizon, a number of talented players are still playing under rookie contracts. Now is the time to make some future loot! With that in mind, NFL Network analysts LaDainian Tomlinson, Willie McGinest and David Carr examined the positions they respectively manned during their playing days to identify youngsters poised for a breakout campaign.
Today, Willie McGinest lists, in alphabetical order, young pass rushers to watch in 2018.
Derek Barnett, DE, Philadelphia Eagles
2018 projection: 8.5 sacks.
I've been a fan of Barnett since he was drafted in 2017 and was happy to see him become an impact player for the Eagles in Year 1. He plays with great leverage, has strong hands and isn't a one-dimensional bull rusher. He's part of a loaded defensive line that includes the likes of Fletcher Cox, Michael Bennett, Brandon Graham and Chris Long, among others, giving Barnett ample opportunity to get to the passer with his athleticism. A potential starter on the right side, I expect Barnett to be more productive in 2018 after recording five sacks as a rookie.
Bradley Chubb, OLB, Denver Broncos
2018 projection: Eight sacks.
Chubb is a guy I watched closely in this year's draft process. He has exceptional hands and nice lean. His arsenal is already plentiful coming into his rookie campaign and will only improve as he develops. Not to mention, Chubb will line up opposite Von Miller, which certainly never hurts and will allow him a lot of one-on-one opportunities. Miller, along with the team's new pass-rush coach DeMarcus Ware, will refine the rookie's skill set from Day 1. Chubb's in the perfect position to succeed early and often.
Myles Garrett, DE, Cleveland Browns
2018 projection: 12-plus sacks.
I don't think there's a player at Garrett's position who has his combination of size (6-foot-4, 272 pounds), strength, speed, explosiveness and athleticism. He can lean and bend like a linebacker in a defensive end's body. He uses his hands extremely well -- he has solid swipe and up-and-under moves. Garrett still recorded seven sacks in an injury-riddled, 11-game rookie campaign. If the 2017 No. 1 overall draft pick can stay healthy and plays a full season, I expect him to have a tremendous year as he gets more experience.
Takkarist McKinley, DE, Atlanta Falcons
2018 projection: 10 sacks.
The one thing that struck me when I first saw McKinley play was his explosiveness off the edge. The 6-2, 250-pound defensive end has a great motor and plays with good leverage. Primarily a speed-to-power guy, McKinley's numbers will improve if he adds more moves to his arsenal -- including long arm, up-and-under and slap techniques. I think he recognizes this is an area where he needs to improve and wants to learn. If he does incorporate new moves to his game, which already includes impressive explosiveness and effort, McKinley could be one of the best pass rushers in the league.
Yannick Ngakoue, DE, Jacksonville Jaguars
2018 projection: 12-plus sacks.
He has had an impressive two seasons already (20 total sacks), but is still raw. Ngakoue, though immensely talented, still has a lot of moves and techniques that he can add to his repertoire. He is explosive, athletic, cat-quick and has great instincts, but I'd like to see him use his hands more. He's a smaller defensive end (6-2, 246) so opponents want to grab him. He can keep those blockers off of him if he learns more hand techniques. Once he learns how to better use his leverage and things of that nature, he'll be more consistent and could become a great pass rusher for years to come. Even with 12 sacks in 2017, he is just scratching the surface of his potential.