Sunday, April 23, 2017

2017 EDGE Rankings

1) Myles Garrett, Texas A&M Aggies
Career Stats: 141 tackles, 31 sacks, 47 TFL
Height: 6'4          Weight: 272
40 Yard Dash: 4.64 Seconds
Bench: 33 reps

In most years, there is a debate as to who the best player in the NFL Draft is. This is not one of those years. Myles Garrett is the clear cut best player in the draft. A once in a generation talent, the Texas A&M product is better than Jadeveon Clowney when he declared in 2014. Garrett’s explosiveness jumps off the screen when he is torching left tackles and blowing up plays in the backfield. The combine came and he tore it up. His 40 yard dash, broad jump, bench press and vertical were all in the tops for his position. Of course there has to be one knock on Garrett because he is not without flaws. He had 12 sacks in his three years against SEC teams. This statistic is a little skewed because so many of these SEC teams aren’t running dropback pro style offenses. The quarterbacks are not throwing the ball from the pocket more than 30 times a game. The likelihood of Garrett getting a sack against teams that mainly run the ball is slim but his tackles for loss makes up for the “lack” of sacks against those teams. 47 TFL in three years is a pretty remarkable number. Garrett will be a perennial pro bowl player because of his athletic nature, ability to swat down passes at the line and edge bend around tackles. I just want to see more him bring it every single play, but like I said he is not without flaws. The Browns should not overthink this and grab the single best player in the draft with the number one overall pick.

Stat to Know - 141: Number of tackles Garrett had in his three seasons. He isn't just a one trick pony, he can do it all.

2) Derek Rivers, Youngstown State Penguins
Career Stats: 173 tackles, 37.5 sacks, 56.5 TFL
Height: 6'4          Weight: 248
40 Yard Dash: 4.61 Seconds
Bench: 30 reps

The Youngstown State product is quite the intriguing player. Yes, he is a small school prospect that dominated much of the FCS, but he did play against big time FBS schools. Even in the lower divisions, when you are a name brand and well known player, coaches will target you and devise their game plans to stay away from you. That was quite hard to do with Rivers. He always found a way to disrupt the game. Some of the negatives on his game are a direct result from him not disengaging blockers quick enough. He tends to get locked on with players and can’t get rid of them. This affects his ability to disrupt more of the run game because he loses sight of the ball carrier. Although he does have issues against longer and leaner offensive tackles, his get off is fantastic. He fires off the ball and shoots his hands into the pads of the tackle. By doing this, he can create a gap in the offensive line that gives him a two way rush option. The quarterback pressures he creates are always nice but if he could turn more of those into sacks, his stock would be sky high. He finds ways to get his hands on the quarterback but will sometimes just miss out on bringing him down. The flipside of that is that he is rushing the passer to make rush decisions. So this forces them to make errant passes or not be able to step into his throw. This can then give his defensive backs opportunities to make plays on the ball. With that said, Rivers affects the game on all fronts. I believe he would be more successful in a 3-4 rush linebacker position. The getoff he has when he is in a two point stance is better than with his hand in the dirt because he gets off the ball quicker and with more ferocity. Once Rivers can build up his strength and technique, he could be a deadly edge rusher.

Stat to Know - 19.5: Number of tackles for loss Rivers had in his last season.

3) Jordan Willis, Kansas State Wildcats
Career Stats: 113 tackles, 25.5 sacks, 39.5 TFL
Height: 6'4          Weight: 255
40 Yard Dash: 4.53 Seconds
Bench: 24 reps

A viscous edge rusher, Jordan Willis is one of the top edge rushers in this years draft. An important trait of edge rushers is the ability to bend the edge and Willis, at 255 pounds, can dip and duck under a left or right tackle with relative ease. But he has the strength to fire off the ball and give the tackle one good shot and blow him back off the line, getting him off balance. Then Willis can go wherever he wants. Even if he can’t get there for the sack, he does whatever he can to disrupt the timing of the quarterback. Whether it’s pushing the blocker into the throwing lane or sticking his hands up to knock down a pass or just getting a piece of the quarterback’s throwing arm. All of that helps the defense. I love how quickly he can react when he sees something. In the 2016 Stanford game, the right tackle goes to crash down on Willis and crash him to give the play time to develop but Willis doesn’t give him that. He swims outside the tackle and starts chasing down a much fast Christian McCaffrey. The Stanford running back does get away but he was forced to go away from the play. It’s those little plays that can ultimately affect the outcome of the game. Overall though, his awareness can be quite crappy. A few times during games, you can see Willis straight up guesses where the play is going and is flat out wrong. But there is so much natural talent that it is hard not to want to take a flyer on him and coach him up into a true edge player. His body allows him to get to that 45 degree angle that you want to see to get around offensive tackles. Plus, how could you not love that four point stance?

Stat to Know - 31.5: Number of tackles for loss in the previous two seasons.

4) Charles Harris, Missouri Tigers
Career Stats: 136 tackles, 18 sacks, 34.5 TFL
Height: 6'3         Weight: 253
40 Yard Dash: 4.82 Seconds
Bench: 21 reps

Charles Harris is that boom or bust player for me. There is some incredible upside and talent but there are quite a few qualms I have. The first is the burst off the line. Time and time again I watch him as one of the last defensive linemen firing off the ball, even in the first quarter. Then you have those instances when he shoots off the ball and manages to blow by the blocker and drills the quarterback. Where is the consistency? Next, he gets tossed around quite a bit on running plays. With ease the offensive lineman has his way with Harris and turns him to create gaps in the line. Then the running back blows by. Harris is at his best when he can get skinny and penetrate. This allows him to affect the run game, but that happens very seldomly. Pretty often he is the last person to the ball on running plays or plays down the field, which is quite frustrating. Pass rushing is a talent, run defense is mainly effort. So I just want to see more effort out of him on that front but his ability as a pass rusher is easy to see. When he does fire off the ball, in pass rush situations, he can fight the blocker's hands off, bend the edge and close in on the quarterback in a hurry. On 3 and longs, he finally fires off the ball and because he is so slow during the game on every other play, his get off catches offensive linemen off guard. I love how Harris absolutely hammers the crap out of the quarterback when he gets there. Planting his helmet into their chest and driving them into the ground. This is sometimes frowned upon when playing Tom Brady but you have to make it hurt. This is a contact sport. Harris is very frustrating to watch for me. So much talent but where is the consistency and fire from him on every play?

Stat to Know - 7.47: Number in seconds of his 3 cone drill. One of the worst times at the combine for his position.

5) Takkarist McKinley, UCLA Bruins
Career Stats: 99 tackles, 16 sacks, 28 TFL
Height: 6'2          Weight: 250
40 Yard Dash: 4.59 Seconds
Bench: 24 reps

Every prospect always has something about them that stands out while watching the film. For Takkarist McKinley, it’s his non stop motor. Football is a game of passion and desire and as long as you have some talent, you can go a long way. The former Bruin is like the energizer bunny and with that motor, you can best believe he finds different ways to be disruptive. When you do have a high motor player, they always wear down offensive linemen. Then late in ball games, when you need a disruptive play, Takk can make it. He is that player that chases plays down the field to make sure not a single yard isn’t earned by the offense. If he is part of a rotation in the beginning stages of his career, McKinley could be lethal. With his great closing speed and athletic ability, he could be great at rotating in on pass rush downs until he gains enough NFL experience to become a full time rush end in a 3-4 defense. He is still quite raw though, especially since he has not played a lot of high level football due to his poor grades coming out of high school. He was committed to the University of California but had to go to a community college and then eventually transferred to UCLA. He worked his ass of to get to where he is today and it shows what kind of worker bee attitude this kid has. His technique is quite sloppy and allows bigger offensive linemen to body him and keep him contained. You also don’t quite see the edge bend out of him that you want in a pass rusher but Takk makes up for that in other areas and could be a really good player in a few years.

Stat to Know - 4.59: Takk’s forty yard dash was the third fastest for DL at this past combine.

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