After an extended break from positional rankings (thanks to my anthropology of touring culture class whatever that is) I’m back with my breakdown for the draft’s top defensive ends. Arguably the most talented position in the draft, outside of the top slot experts have been all over the place with their rankings and reasonably so. This class has mixture of pure pass rushers, run stuffers, and all around studs so it really comes down to preference and need. Here are my top 5 defensive ends for the 2017 NFL Draft.
5. Taco Charlton, Michigan: I’ve seen taco go anywhere from top 5 to the start of the second round so picking his draft position is tough. Charlton will provide next to nothing when facing the run but any team looking at to draft him is only concerned with his top flight pass rushing ability. He’s not the best athlete and his numbers at the combine were a little disappointing but the tapes still there. Taco fires off the ball with a low pad level and great lean letting him out leverage stronger tackles. He’s improved his technique every year and has impressive number of moves off the line. He’ll be taken day one but don’t expect to see much of him outside of 3rd down or 2nd and longs during his rookie campaign
4. Charles Harris, Missouri: Harris gets pushed around at times, and top flight tackles can beat him with strength but when he’s on there’s not much you can do to keep him from the quarterback. Harris is one of the fastest players off the ball and has great recognition for someone who only started playing at the end of their high school career. His speed is his number one weapon and on his best days he can blow by tackles without getting touched. He’s a bit of a project but the potential is there and if he develops right he could be one of the top rushers in the NFL.
3. Derek Barnett, Tennessee: Barnett like Charlton has been all over the first round but I think he’s a top 15 talent. Unlike the first two players on this list Barnett is much more than just an edge rusher. He’s best when pursuing quarterbacks but he can cause havoc in the backfield during runs and isn’t afraid to hold his place and stuff a gap. He’s not an elite run defender by any means but he’s more than capable enough to stay on the field all 3 downs. He could be a top 10 DE in the league but even if he isn’t he has a very high floor and should at worst be a quality starter.
2. Solomon Thomas, Stanford: Most years Thomas has the talent to be the number one overall pick, but that’s not this year. He’s still a top 5 player with strengths all across the board. He’s slightly more skilled as a pass rusher but still projects as an elite run defender. Teams have also fallen in love with his work ethic, intelligence, and character since starting the pre draft interviews. He has all pro potential, the only thing that could really mess up his development is being thrown in a toxic franchise (don’t ruin this man’s life San Francisco, please). Look for Solomon to be one of the top defenders on his team immediately next season.
1. Myles Garrett, Texas A&M: He kept getting compared to wolverine throughout his combine workout and while wolverine is awesome here’s a better comparison: The Hulk. Garrett stands at a frightening 6’5” 270 lbs. Which is far from the diminutive 5’3” wolverine. He is also lightning fast off the ball and around the edge, but he can opt to use power against weaker opponents in many situations. Another huge takeaway from the combine was his insane leaping ability, which should lead to a number of swatted passes at the line. Garrett is far and away the top prospect and only a team as downtrodden, pathetic, and laughable as the Browns would actually consider passing on this superhuman for a quarterback who goes through progressions at a fifth grade level. Also huge shout out to the NFL for being softer than puppy shit and making it illegal to jump over the offensive line to block field goals, Garrett would have racked up about a million before his career’s over.