It’s finally time to look at the defensive side of the ball for this years draft. To start, I’ll break down the drafts top 5 defensive ends. Defensive end has a lot of top talent this year and as many as 4 players could be taken in the first round. The position is very deep this year as well, with many specialty rushers that could make an NFL impact that received later round grades.
- Joey Bosa: Bosa is a top 5 talent coming out of Ohio State and it would not be shocking if he’s taken first overall. His numbers were not as impressive this year although he did see way more attention from blocking schemes this year. He did however show great improvement in the run game this year. He has always been a great pass rusher but this year he really focused on being able to effect the game in more ways and he did. He also dropped back into coverage this year and although he was raw he did have good instincts and shows potential. Bosa’s biggest concern is that he will not be able to become versatile in the NFL. Most teams do not believe he can drop back into coverage in the NFL and that is required for defensive ends in today’s game but from his tape this year he could become reliable within a couple years. Bosa will be a top 5 pick and should be able to make an instant impact next season.
- Shaq Lawson: Lawson was the leader of National Championship runner ups Clemson this year. He has produced all season and has shown toughness while playing through a knee injury. He is a power player that has a unique quickness to him. Lawson powers through lineman easily because of how quick his hands and first steps are. Lawson has leverage to begin almost every play and uses his lower body to power past tackles and get into the backfield and when lineman do manage to catch him he can get blocks off of him with phenomenal hands. Lawson is more well rounded than the other prospects at defensive ends this year. His biggest problem is getting to the inside on runs, but with NFL coaching that problem can be easily fixed. Lawson is an instant impact player at the NFL level and he brings very few question marks with him heading into the draft process.
- DeForest Buckner: Coming out of Oregon, Buckner is massive, listed at 6’7” and 290 lbs. Buckner is a great run defender and has shown that he can be a force rushing the passer. He has great strength speed and size. He can keep offensive lineman off of him with his long arms, and has the ability to beat most tackles with speed or strength. He also has the ability to slide into the interior line and he can immediately fit into any defensive scheme. Buckner’s biggest problem is not even his fault. He is coming in with the reputation Oregon carries into the NFL and that is not a good thing especially with recent defensive picks from the school. He did not play in an NFL scheme so that will be tough for him to get accustomed to but he has shown the ability to stop the run and rush the passer which their former players have not. He is a top 10 talent and if he can pick up on the NFL schemes quickly there will be little doubt about his talent.
- Emmanuel Ogbah: I have absolutely loved watching Ogbah this season. He is involved in so many plays, which is not easy at defensive end, and disrupts things early. He is a great run stopper but his speed off the edge could be game changing while rushing the passer. He had a sack every game except 2 and has played very well against NFL talent. Ogbah has a knack for the ball and can cause fumbles at a high rate. He also comes in with a solid frame making him tough to move when teams run to his side. His biggest problem will be his versatility. He does not offer much when asked to drop into coverage and he is not big enough to slide into the interior. If he joins a team with good linebackers he can excel at defensive end while he works on the rest of his game. Ogbah is a first round talent and although he might not be a 3 down player to start he has the potential and he will play early for whatever team takes him.
- Jonathan Bullard: Coming out of Florida, Bullard is the last end that has earned a first round grade. Bullard looked like a man among boys using pure strength to win almost every matchup. He is extremely explosive off the snap and does not budge when offensive lineman try to push back. Because of this he does a great job of setting the edge in rushing plays and rarely loses outside contain. Bullard also does a great job of using his arms to cover up passing lanes for quarterbacks. He is not much of a pass rusher and lacks good speed. Because of that he doesn’t have the potential that the higher rated defensive ends have but he can slide to the interior line on passing downs to cover up his deficiencies. He will be a great 2 down player and if he can perform well at defensive tackle during passing downs he will become a very good starter for an NFL team.