1. Jaelan Phillips, Miami | 6'5/260
Comp - Jason Pierre-Paul
A former heralded five-star prospect who was listed as the third overall recruit in the country from the 2017 prep class. The Redlands, CA native chose to stay in southern California and attend UCLA where he had a fairly nondescript tenure with the Bruins, appearing in 10 games, recording 41 tackles, 8.0 TFL and 4.5 sacks over his two seasons in Pasadena.
His 2018 was cut short after just four games due to a scooter accident that resulted in a wrist injury as well as a series of concussions that ended his season after just four games. In fact, Phillips even announced his retirement which lasted for a few months before changing his mind and enrolling at Miami. He was forced to sit out the 2019 season with Miami due to being a transfer.
By any standard Phillips had an incredible 2020, racking up 45 tackles, 15.5 TFL, 8.0 sacks, 42 pressures on 284 pass rush snaps and 28 stops while being honored as a second team AP All-American. In 20 career games played, Phillips has accounted for 23 ½ TFL and 12.5 sacks. The Hurricanes' standout finished his career with a bang, posting 26 tackles, 6.5 sacks and 20 pressures over the last four games of 2020.
He dazzled at his pro day workout, as Phillips ran an amazing 4.56 second 40-yard dash at 260 pounds, a mark that ranks in the top 98th percentile when measured against all historic combine edge rushers. His short shuttle run of 4.13 seconds eclipsed all 2020 combine defensive linemen and a 3-Cone drill time of 7.01 was also considered an elite time. Toss in a 36” vertical and 21 bench reps and you’ve got the recipe for a superb RAS of 9.53.
Natural pass rusher who dips the shoulder and has incredible bend around the outside. Fast enough to weaponize his speed against opposing tackles, with the agility to cleanly cross the face of blockers on the inside if they cheat to the perimeter. Looks the part physically, can plow a blocker over when needed. HC Manny Diaz moved him all over the line. Has the stature of a structurally large person, is built to be an edge rusher.
He Isn’t stuck on one move, can win with power or finesse. Multiple salvos to fire at opposing tackles and the athleticism to create favorable rush angles. Slick and elusive on the rush. Does a really nice job utilizing blazing speed and keeping hands off him so he can turn the corner. Is not just married to the edge, just as deadly making moves to the inside as outside. Sets up his moves well, has a plan when he rushes. Has the balance and technique to long-arm tackles and turn the corner on them. Quick to get into the frame of the pass blocker and then break out one of his moves.
Here’s one particular play where Phillips beats Virginia Tech tackle Luke Tenuta (#69) around the outside on a short chop/rip for the devastating sack.
Here’s a good example of how Phillips can set the edge on run plays, as he drives UNC RT #7- backwards into the ball carrier before escaping the block and slowing Williams down so the rest of his teammates can swarm him.
Philips is the archetype of how an edge rusher should be molded and has the five-star athletic pedigree with a 9.53 RAS score. The only real question about him in my mind is the concussions, which is something beyond anyone's control. Provided his medicals check out, Phillips is my number one edge player in the 2021 NFL Draft class.
2. Kwity Paye, Michigan | 6’2/262
Comp: Everson Griffen
A former refugee from Guinea, Paye and his family migrated to the United States shortly after he was born and settled in the Rhode Island area. A gifted and versatile athlete, he also excelled at track & field where he was on the state champion 4x100 meter relay team in addition to winning the state long jump championship. On offense, he lined up at running back rushing 44 times for 651 yards and 13 touchdowns as a senior. On defense he played linebacker where the Bishop Hendricken HS standout racked up 65 tackles, 12 TFL and 4.5 sacks as a senior.
Paye won the 2016 Rhode Island Gatorade Player of the Year Award and was invited to the Under Armour All-American Bowl. Despite the accolades, he only capped out as a three-star prospect and the 29th best defensive end. It's a common tale for prospects in the northeast who get ,devalued by scouting services because the competition he faced in the ocean state was pretty light compared to his contemporaries from California Texas, Florida and Ohio.
The Providence native played sparingly as a true freshman, logging only 50 snaps while learning a new position and adjusting to the rigors of the collegiate game. He started four games as a true sophomore in 2018 registering 28 tackles, 2.0 sacks, 18 pressures and 19 stops in 380 reps. Named honorable mention All-Big Ten, as DC Don Brown raved about Paye’s athleticism saying he was excited to have him as a part of his defense that allowed just 17.4 points per game in 2018 and 19.5 PPG in 2019.
2019 was his first season as a full time starter and he thrived with the increased reps, posting 50 tackles, 6.5 sacks, 12.5 TFL, 37 pressures and 31 stops amidst 638 snaps. Paye earned a PFF overall defense grade of 80.9 while being recognized as a second-team All-Big Ten caliber performer for his standout season. He was only able to play in four games in 2020, missing two games from the truncated season due to injury. He was highly productive when he was able to suit up, recording 16 tackles, 2.0 sacks, 22 pressures and 13 stops while earning exemplary grades in pass rush with 87.1 and overall defensive rating with 86.3 according to PFF.
Stocky, square build that generates power on par with a three-tech, which is a spot he could eventually see time at in the NFL. Ace run defender, doesn’t over-pursue, stays in his gaps, cautious not to overcommit. Plays with low pad level and excellent leverage thanks to his muscular density and spring. Willing combatant who almost always wins first contact. Balanced when sliding laterally while maintaining a strong base to engage blockers and not lose contain. Versatile moveset in the run game, physical at point of attack.
This is a pretty great tape of Paye in action. He tortures Minnesota LT Sam Schlueter in both the pass and run game here. As he drives Schlueter 10 yards into the backfield to blow up one particular running play in a stunning display of power:
Doesn’t have a lot of moves on the pass rush, he will utilize a push/pull and bull rush, but his fundamentals are sharp. instead Paye relies on his powerful overall physical package and a strong, aggressive set of hands. Sudden, vicious punch and hand swipe are really the bread and butter of how he wins in the pass rush. 26.5% pass rush win rate is a huge number and one of the top such marks in the class and bolsters his 87.1 overall pass rush grade from PFF. He’s a workhorse that shows up every down. Here Paye violently slaps away the hands of Indiana RT Matthew Bedford as he forces a quick throw from QB Michael Penix Jr.
Sometimes doesn’t rush with a plan, will try one move and kind of get stuck on it as opposed to work through secondary options. Takes short steps on the rush, not a strider like Phillips. Tireless worker who makes up for lack of development with sheer will and genetic gifts. Awarded the number one sport in Bruce Feldman’s coveted Freaks List article. Team captain, high character guy. Three-time Academic All-Big Ten award winner and 2020 Senior CLASS Award Finalist.
Measured 6’2/261 at his pro day even though he is billed at 6’4/272 on Michigan’s own website, so that’s a number to put in the back of your mind for the next time you hear a dubious height/weight listing coming from UM. Regardless, his 4.52 second 40-yard dash was in the 97th percentile of all defensive ends since 1987 while his amazing 36 reps on the bench press was a number in the top 99 percentile. His vertical of 36” and broad jump of 118” were both well above average totals, while his 4.52 shuttle run was a bit disappointing, rating in the 25th percentile. A quad injury robbed us of his ability to perform a 3-Cone drill, but back in July of 2020 he reportedly ran a 6.37 second 3-Cone which would have ranked as the highest combine time ever recorded by a defensive end, spanning 1,032 athletes. As a whole, Paye delivered and then some on his reputation as a workout warrior, recording a 9.33 RAS.
Paye is a finished product from a run stopping perspective and a gifted athlete with a muscular frame and unnatural speed for his size. He is unpolished from a pass rushing point of view, but has all the physical and hard work attributes needed to fine tune that aspect of his game. He is one of the top 3 edge rushers in the 2021 class.
3. Gregory Rousseau, Miami | 6’6/266
Comp: Arik Armstead
Rousseau is a former three-star wide receiver/safety recruit with a basketball background whose elongated frame, 11-inch hand and 83” wingspan give him natural advantages as an edge rusher with 2018 being the first season he ever lined up on the defensive line. Unfortunately, his true freshman season was cut short when Rousseau sustained an ankle injury after 17 snaps vs. Savannah State, costing him the remainder of his freshman season.
The Coconut Creek, FL native broke out in 2019, registering 54 tackles, 19.5 TFL, 15.5 sacks, 46 hurries and 40 stops while earning a 76.2 overall defensive grade according to PFF. He received first team All-ACC recognition while being named the ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year and a Freshman All-American. Finished second in the nation in sacks and ninth in tackles for loss.
Rousseau lined up everywhere from nose tackle to the edge, playing 74 of his 529 snaps in the A-Gap. HC Manny Diaz smartly positioned him to take advantage of less athletic interior linemen that the abnormally long Rousseau could victimize in passing situations. He likely won’t have that luxury at the NFL level, as he will predominantly be lined up against hulking right tackles.
A long, lean frame allows Rousseau to play with good leverage despite not being particularly thick. Doesn’t have a deep bag of pass rushing moves to draw from. Basically wins with hustle, length and athleticism. Does a good job of keeping opposing linemen’s hands off of him while jabbing blockers and keeping them at bay with his freaky long arms. He frequently employs a hand-swipe type move to get a step before closing strong with his long strides.
The following is a good example of how Rousseau’s long limbs can give interior lineman ulcers, as he bulls his way past Florida State OL #59 Brady Scott on the first snap to force an incompletion. The next play he deploys his aforementioned hand-swipe to gain the advantage and blow past Scott again and trip up Alex Hornibrook.
Covers distance rapidly once disengaged and on the hunt. When he gets an edge on an interior lineman, Rousseau rarely gets chased down and cut off. Pass rushing Technique from the edge is unrefined and he often plays with a high pad level. A lot of his sack production was concentrated to three games against Florida State, Duke and Pitt, with nine of his 15.5 sacks coming against those foes.
Many of his sacks are of the secondary nature when the QB steps up to avoid pressure and ends up in his path. Here is a good example of that against Virginia, where Rousseau (#15) opportunistically cleans up two sacks where others caused the initial pressure.
His hips are a little tight and his get off is inhibited by looping strides. Better in run support when he’s able to anchor and drive as opposed to winning with burst off the line. A little mechanical in his body movements, as his poor change of direction ability shows up in transitions time and time again.
Rousseau ran an exceptional 4.68 40-yard dash, confirming the straight line closing speed he flashes on tape. The rest of his tests were pretty nondescript, posting a 30” vertical jump, 9’7 broad jump, 4.45 second shuttle and 7.50 second 3-Cone drill. He rounded out his workout by pressing out 21 bench reps for a composite RAS of 6.80. While Rousseau’s proportions are long for the position and his straight line sprinting ability is noteworthy, his measurables and agility don’t stand out.
A middling workout isn’t enough to give pause on it’s own. But you also must consider how Rousseau only has one year of football experience at the EDGE position, and showed a lack of pass rushing acumen beyond the basics. For a player that is being ranked highly based largely on collegiate experience sets back his developmental clock from a NFL team’s perspective, he will likely need a year to get acclimated to the speed of the game and hone fundamentals of the position.
4. Azeez Ojulari, Georgia | 6’2/249
Comp: Joey Porter
Ojulari is a former four-star recruit who was rated as the 10th best weak-side defensive end from the 2018 class according to 247Sports. He spurned several other Power Five offers from schools like Auburn, Notre Dame, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida and Clemson to stay close to home and attend Georgia. The Murrieta, GA product also lettered in basketball and played in the Army All-American Bowl.
He redshirted as a freshman before starting 13 games in 2019 racking up 31 tackles, 38 pressures, 18 stops and 4.5 sacks and receiving a respectable 78.0 PFF defensive grade as a true sophomore. However Ojulari really emerged in 2020, posting 36 tackles, 12.5 TFL, 8.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and 37 pressures in 375 snaps and being named All-SEC by both the coaches and AP. He increased his pressure rate drastically, recording essentially the same amount of pressures as in 2019, only he logged 113 less snaps. His remarkable pass rushing acumen led to PFF awarding him with an incredible 91.7 pass rush grade for 2020.
As his signature move, Ojulari likes to use his inside hand to jab and brace his arm against the tackle while he uses his outside arm to chop down on the blockers arm and escape from his grasp to pursue the quarterback. He also will run a savvy push/pull when he senses a lineman is overcompensating for his speed and wants to throw a change of pace his way. Ojulari will toss in a bull rush on occasion, but his identity is centered around his speed and fast-twitch traits on the outside, not so much his prodigious power.
Ojulari is talented enough to take games over with his pass rushing ability. Here he is using Auburn LT Alec Jackson as a turnstile, consistently creating pressure from the outside while racking up four hurries, four stops and a sack against the Tigers.
His lack of heft shows up in the run game often, as he doesn’t explode out of his stance with power and punch with the requisite force to stagger opposing linemen. Here is an example of how Ojulari can get swallowed up by SEC behemoths like Alabama OT Alex Leatherwood (#70) who takes Ojulari (#13) for a ride on the first play. He then gets overpowered by a Tennessee lineman as the running back jaunts through his vacated gap.
Ojulari can get bulldozed by talented offensive linemen at times but also isn’t afraid to stick his nose in the fray and mix it up to make a play. Escapes from blocks well thanks to tremendous upper body strength. Has good enough coverage ability to handle 3-4 responsibilities in the passing game and the motor to chase down plays laterally and from behind.
His pro day had high points and some low points. Weighing in at 6’2/249, Ojulari was a little shorter and a little heavier than his listed 6’3/240). A 4.63 second 40-yard dash was a successful time, his 127-inch broad jump was about as good as you can ask for and he pumped out a solid 26 reps on the bench press. The knocks are that his vertical jump measured only 30” which lands him in the 20th percentile, and his 7.27 3-Cone drill was below average. Overall, his 8.19 RAS is a strong mark but isn’t quite on par with some of the athletic freaks in this year's EDGE class.
Ojulari is a twitchy outside speed rusher with the requisite bend, hands and get off to challenge SEC caliber tackles on the margins. His long arm/club combo created havoc in the college ranks, but he will have to work in a few more moves at the next level. He’s an adequate run defender, if not somewhat restricted by his size from being a more intimidating run stopping presence on the edge. But that’s not why you’d be drafting him, as Ojulari’s calling card is the ability to bring heat from the edge, a task he is more than suited for.
5. Jayson Oweh, Penn State | 6’5/257
Comp: Marcus Davenport
Oweh is another member of Bruce Feldman’s annual Freaks List and was actually a basketball player until someone smartly pulled him out of practice and put a tackling dummy in front of him as a junior in high school and the rest is history. He quickly achieved four-star status and was rated as the 76th best overall prospect from the 2018 recruiting class according to 247Sports.
As a true freshman he preserved his redshirt by playing 65 snaps and totaling 2.0 sacks in four lopsided games against lower-rung teams. In 2019, Oweh played in 13 games, starting one while registering 332 snaps, 5.0 sacks, 31 pressures, 21 tackles and two forced fumbles as a passing down specialist behind PSU star DE Yetur Gross-Matos.
He broke out in 2020, starting all seven games he appeared in, logging 347 snaps, 38 tackles, 6.5 TFL, 21 stops and 20 pressures while being named as a first-team All-Big Ten performer by the league’s coaches. There is a big caveat to his fine season, however. You will notice I did not list his 2020 sack total. The reason for that omission is he didn’t have any. Now, Oweh drastically improved his skills combatting the rush, increasing his PFF run defense grade from 59.5 to 89.7 from 2019-2020, so he has value besides his ability to bring heat on the passer. However you’d like to see him bag at least one QB heading in his final season before entering the NFL Draft.
Explosive athlete who moves fluidly in all facets of the game and though he isn’t a powerhouse, he generates considerable functional strength. Has the athleticism and lateral agility to make plays in space, and the motor to chase them down. Prototypical fast-twitch edge prospect whose burst and explosiveness helps him to get on tackles quickly and turn the corner. Here’s a nice highlight reel that showcases his skills:
Length helps on the pass rush and run support, but his slim frame allows him to get overtaken by opposing blockers when they get hands on him. Has all the traits to be a dominant pass rusher, speed, get off, power and bend. Needs to cash in on his sack opportunities, but was still disruptive with an 18.4% pass rush win rate and 20 total pressures.
Better when shedding and playing angles in the run game than stonewalling giant linemen and clogging run lanes. Isn’t going to intimidate with power and can have trouble diagnosing misdirection plays, but he’s incredibly active and must be accounted for on every rep. Despite not having ideal heft, Oweh is more than willing to set the edge and slip off of blocks. His run defense skill should show up right away in the NFL.
Could use work on his hand fighting and suddenness of his punch off the snap to help and keep blockers from getting a firm grip on him to stifle his ferocity on the rush. Needs to develop secondary pass rush moves to compliment his chop/rip and long-arm techniques. Not technically proficient but has the biological tools to develop into a devastating pocket collapser if he can avoid letting larger OL’s get into his chest.
Ohio State LT Thayer Munford was the one tackle who consistently stifled Oweh’s pass rush and controlled him in the run game.
His pro day workout was a certifiable spectacle, measuring in at 6’5/257 and running one of the fastest edge rusher 40-yard dashes in history with a 4.37 second 40-time. He scored in the top 90th percentile in every single speed and jump metric, recording a 39.5” vertical jump, 11’2-inch broad jump, 4.20 shuttle and 6.90 3-Cone drill. His overall RAS of 9.93 is one of the very best in the entire draft and ranks second to only La Tech DE Milton Williams (9.96) for edge rusher RAS.
Oweh’s evaluation is a classic case of projection versus production. He is a downright scary athlete who has the kind of physiological horsepower most players can only dream about. However he has only played football since he was a junior in high school and recorded just 744 collegiate snaps while posting zero sacks in his last season. If a team is willing to give him a year or two to adjust to the NFL game flow, Oweh could develop into a cornerstone edge player.
6. Joseph Ossai, Texas | 6’3/256
Comp: Derek Barnett
Born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria, Ossai received one of 50,000 green cards the U.S. government gives away around the world each year. He arrived 10 years old with his seven other family members in Houston, TX on Christmas Eve, 2009. A lifelong soccer fan, Ossai made the transition to football in seventh grade when he wanted to be a wide receiver in addition to playing basketball in high school. He was rated as the 12th best weak-side defensive end and 18th overall recruit in Texas from the 2018 prep cycle according to 247Sports.
He played right away as a true freshman in 2018, appearing in 14 games and starting Texas’ Sugar Bowl victory over Georgia, recording 51 snaps, eight tackles, two stops and a quarterback hurry in the game. Broke out as an off-ball linebacker in 2019, rolling up a team-high 90 tackles, 62 solo tackles, 13.5 TFL and five sacks.
While his 2019 was a success by any measure, he lined up off-ball in coverage on 430 snaps as opposed to 272 snaps where he started on the line of scrimmage. He transitioned to edge in 2020 when Ossai took his play up a notch by registering 54 tackles, 5.0 sacks, three forced fumbles, two PBU, 33 pressures and 36 stops in just nine games. He earned a PFF pass rush grade of 80.5 and run defense grade of 81.1 while receiving first team All-Big 12 and All-American accolades from ESPN and USA Today.
Explosive get off when he’s standing up helps him get the upper hand on tackles off the snap. Ossai doesn’t create the same torque off the edge when starting from a three-point stance, possibly from him playing off ball for so long. Might just be a comfort level thing.
Savvy pass rusher who varies his tempo to disrupt opposing linemen’s timing. Strong hands and a stiff punch bolster his long-arm technique while his flexibility and bend allow Ossai to turn the corner on the outside and crash the pocket. Watch him discard TCU RT Andrew Coker on this edge rush and drill the quarterback:
Incredible motor, constantly chasing plays from backside. Maximum effort player who is absolutely relentless when going after the ball carrier. Could manage his transitions from pass-to-run better. It’s kind of a two-fold issue, as his play recognition needs to be quicker and he needs to avoid giving up his gap too easily in rushing situations by getting run upfield. Still he’s got the size and willingness to set the edge and is most effective shooting through gaps as opposed to driving opposing linemen backwards into the running lanes. Here Ossai shoves away the RT and unleashes one of the most aggressive form tackles you’re ever going to see:
He measured at 6’3 ½” and 256 pounds on his pro day, recording some fantastic testing performances. Ossai’s 4.63 40-yard dash was in the top-95 percentile, as were his 10 and 20-yard splits. His sky-high vertical jump of 41.5 is one-inch away from the highest mark at the entire 2020 NFL Scouting Combine and his broad jump of 10’11” ranks in the 99th percentile. The only dings against Ossai’s workout are that he benched 19 reps, which is a little less than average, and he didn’t run the Shuttle or 3-Cone. Still, his RAS of 9.5 shows the kind of special raw athleticism the Longhorns edge rusher possesses.
I rate Ossai as one of the six upper echelon edge rushers who I feel set themselves apart from the rest of the 2021 class.
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7. Joe Tryon, Washington | 6'5/259
Comp: Robert Quinn
A three-sport standout, Tryon (HT/WR) was rated as a three-star recruit and the 48th best outside linebacker in the 2017 prep cycle. The hometown Renton, WA product was more of a regional prospect as opposed to a nationwide phenom, originally committing to Washington State in August 2016 before jumping ship soon after UW extended an offer to him in January 2017.
He redshirted as a freshman before playing 238 snaps getting his feet wet in 2018, posting 20 tackles, nine pressures, 13 stops and 1.0 sack as a part timer. It was his performance in 2019 that caught scouts’ attention, as Tryon was a renowned havoc creator for the stout Huskies defense, registering 41 tackles, 8.0 sacks, 12.5 TFL, 41 pressures and 25 stops while posting a solid 15.9% pass rush win rate according to PFF. He received second team All-Pac-12 recognition and was named to multiple preseason All-America lists.
Tryon takes varied routes to the quarterback, uses loose hips to disguise his rush path and break suddenly. He uses a stiff club-arm to free himself when challenging on the edge and allow him to utilize his closing speed. Aggressive burst off the line can catch opposing linemen flat-footed, enhancing his prodigious bull rush. Versatile enough to take what is given to him and rush inside or outside.
Hands are always moving, very active in trying to escape blocks and to facilitate his dip and rip maneuver. Surprising agility and feel for space when dropping into coverage. His effort shows up every snap, makes plays down the field on the regular.
Big enough to hold the edge in the run game and quick enough first step to consistently get the jump on slower linemen. Watch this two-play sequence as Tryon (#9) hip tosses converging Oregon right tackle Calvin Throckmorton (#54), locates the ball carrier and makes the touchdown saving tackle. On the next play he pushes the tight end all the way into the backfield shutting off the running backs outside lane and forcing him to cut back into his awaiting teammates for the TFL:
He’s clearly strong enough to hold the point of attack and disrupt the design flow of offensive running plays. To further emphasize Tryon’s textbook form and technique, this next three-play clip gives you a couple of examples. First he uses his long arms to stand up surefire 2021 First-Round pick Penei Sewell before shedding him to make the stop. Next he gets a head of steam before shoving the Oregon State LT and blowing past him, before Tryon again uses his iron grip to control Utah TE Cole Fotheringham before rag dolling him and making the tackle. A trend I saw repeated on tape time and again - don’t try to block Joe Tryon with a tight end:
Frenzied rushing approach can lead to him getting ridden outside his preferred line to the quarterback. Has a long and athletic body so his pad level can get a little high, allowing opposing tackles to get their hands into his chest. His 2020 opt out may have hurt his ability to contribute right away considering he has only one year of starting experience. Plenty of flashes, but rarely put all of his talent on display for a full game.
His pro day workout showing did nothing to diminish his promising draft profile, running a 4.67 second 40-yard dash which was in the 91st percentile of historical combine edge rushers. Other strong marks were a 35” vertical jump, 4.36 short shuttle, 7.18 3-Cone, 1.61 10-yard split and 22 bench press reps. All told, Tryon’s 9.43 RAS ranks in the top-10 of 2021’s defensive end crop. He has high end potential but is raw and needs to finally put his talents together for a prolonged stretch of dominance.
8. Carlos Basham, Wake Forest | 6’3/274
Comp: Emmanuel Ogbah
Wake Forest was the only Power Five school to offer “Boogie” Basham a scholarship, joining just Cincinnati and Old Dominion as the only FBS programs to target him. A fairly nondescript three-star prospect, he was rated as the 97th best weakside defensive end and 49th overall recruit in Virginia from the 2016 prep class.
Basham enrolled at a wiry 6’4/225 pounds and took 2016 as a redshirt year so he could pack on some weight in preparation for his role on the edge. 60 pounds later and Basham has had a storied career with the Demon Deacons as a beefy defensive end/three-tech hybrid. Unlike many of the inexperienced edge defenders in this class that have just one year of starting experience, Boogie has 2,294 snaps of collegiate football under his belt. In that four year span, he accumulated 152 pressures, 100 hurries, 101 stops, 173 tackles, 34.5 TFL and 20.5 sacks.
He's A little slow to challenge consistently on the outside with speed rushes and his frame isn’t built for bend. Powerful upper and lower body enhance his unusually brisk for his size get off that he uses to setup inside/outside pass rush moves. Length and aggressive hands help to keep distance and escape blockers. Wins with Light feet and agility that allow him to cross-up linemen sitting on his outside moves. Deceptively agile for his size and often wins with technique. Here’s a great clip of Basham working over a few ACC tackles with his pass rushing prowess:
At one point had the longest active streak in FBS with 23 consecutive games with a tackle for loss. His best season was 2019, looked a little sluggish and lacked explosiveness in 2020. Not quite the dominant run defender you’d expect him to be at 285 pounds. Has strength to hold point of attack and plug gaps, but doesn’t have the same playmaking sense that he does as a pass rusher, posting just a 62.4 run-stop grade and a 3.9% run-stop rate according to PFF.
Showed up to his pro day lean and mean, tipping the scales at 6’3/274 and running an exceptional 4.64 40-yard dash which ranked in the top 95 percentile and a 4.25 short shuttle that was worthy of being in the top 90 percentile. His broad jump of 10’2” was certifiably explosive while his 34” vertical was well above average. His 20 bench reps stood out as being sub-par, but it doesn’t diminish the incredible 9.54 RAS posted by Boogie at his pro day workout.
Basham has the size, athleticism and agility to develop into a workmanlike three-tech/edge defender.
9. Ronnie Perkins, Oklahoma | 6'2/253
Comp: Mario Addison
Perkins was a highly sought-after four-star prospect who was rated as the fifth best weakside DE and 57th overall recruit from the 2018 recruiting class. He wasted no time making an impact, starting seven of the last eight games of his first season on campus, recording 37 tackles, 18 pressures, 19 stops and 5.0 sacks over 521 snaps while receiving freshman All-American recognition from ESPN.
His game continued to ascend in 2019 when he saw 41 more snaps than the previous year, but increased his production to 38 tackles, 31 pressures, 30 stops, 13.5 TFL and 6.0 sacks, earning a 74.1 overall defensive grade from PFF and second team All-Big 12 recognition.
Despite missing his first five contests of 2020 due to a drug related suspension, Perkins was again named second team All-Big 12. He improved production across the board, posting 32 pressures, 20 tackles, 16 stops and 5.5 sacks in 300 less snaps than he played in 2019. He earned a pristine 90.4 overall defensive grade and was the heart and soul of Oklahoma’s Big 12 champions’ defense when he was in the lineup.
Though he’s not afraid to bow-up and plays bigger than his listed weight, he is not an edge setter and doesn’t play with enough leverage due to smaller stature. Better at evading run blocks as opposed to stonewalling them. His lateral pursuit ability is next level ready and he is likely best viewed as a standup OLB in the NFL.
Put together some dominant games this season, leaning on a chop/rip and push pull combo of pass rush moves in addition to him switching up his rushing angles quite effectively. Can burn slower tackles with his legitimate speed off the edge and has a strong closing burst when he smells blood. Quick off the line and is a constant disruptive presence in opposing backfields. Here he is lighting up a very good Oklahoma State offensive line in both run and pass defense during the Bedlam Game last year:
Perkins still needs to develop a wider array of pass rush countermeasures and is noticeably undersized for edge position in the NFL. Stiff hips with little bend limits outside effectiveness. He will lose responsibility on RPO plays at times due to reckless play style. NFL caliber tackles gave Perkins trouble, as he struggled to match their physicality.
Perkins fell short in his pro day workout, measuring 6-foot-2, 253 pounds and running a respectable 4.78 second 40-yard dash that ranked in the top 75 percentile. His vertical jump of 32” was about average, as was his 9’7-inch broad jump. He did not take part in the bench press or 3-Cone drill, which are minor red flags, but when he posted a 4.78 short shuttle that ranked in the bottom 9 percentile of all edge defenders, it was a blaring siren that Perkins might not be physically blessed enough to handle the rigors of the edge position at the next level. His overall 4.73 RAS is well below the score of the top ranked edge rushers and will certainly cost him on draft day.
It’s hard to complain about Perkins’s production at the collegiate level, but when you peel back the layers you see that his lack of athleticism and size are going to pigeonhole him into most likely playing OLB, which I don’t feel is where his strength lies. Still, despite the warning signs saying Perkins is a risky bet, I still can’t shake the feeling that his football savvy can translate to the NFL despite relatively average physical traits.
10. Quincy Roche, Miami | 6'3/243
Comp: Yannick Ngakoue
A run-of-the-mill three-star recruit, Roche worked his way up through the Group of Five ranks at Temple, lording over the AAC for three seasons, tallying 137 tackles, seven PBU, 26.5 sacks, 139 pressures, four batted balls and 89 stops. He was named 2019 AAC Defensive Player of the Year, earning a near perfect 93.5 defensive grade from PFF before deciding he had nothing left to prove at the lower level and grad-transferred to Miami for his shot at the big time.
The Randallstown, Maryland native handled the Power Five transition seamlessly, recording 45 tackles, 14.5 TFL (3rd in ACC), 4.5 sacks, 36 pressures and 28 stops in addition to an excellent 87.7 pass rush grade from PFF. He also had a notable string of practices during Senior Bowl week, drawing praise from multiple outlets, while racking up a strong 63% win rate and earning a +3.5 grade from PFF for his performance in 1-on-1 drills. Here is a Senior Bowl practice clip where Roche goes around Alabama LT Alex Leatherwood with ease:
His pro day showed essentially what we knew Roche to be, an undersized, overachiever with straight line speed. His 4.68 40-yard dash rates in the 90th percentile. A 32.5” vertical jump and 23 bench press reps are respectable, if unspectacular, marks. However he specifically stayed away from the broad jump, shuttle and 3-Cone drills, which raises my eyebrow. Though not awe-inspiring, Roche’s 7.32 RAS is still a commendable score.
Roche is a technically proficient and instinctual rusher who possesses pretty average physical traits and is light for the edge position. His dizzying array of pass rush moves proves he’s a student of the game. A sharp pair of hands make it tough for opposing lineman to get a firm grasp of him and paves the way for his very effective grip & rip tactic. Does a great job of sifting through trash and moving laterally down the line. Here are a few clips of Roche showing shutting down the run at Miami:
The bottom line is Roche has succeeded at every level thus far. From the AAC, to Miami, to the Senior Bowl, Roche has stood out as a fundamentally sound, every down playmaker who is a tireless worker. His on-field production is as good as anyone in the class, but he lacks the high end freak-ish gifts of the players ahead of him on this list. Regardless, I still see Roche as a player who can be a dependable member of an NFL defensive rotation.
11. Rashad Weaver, Pitt | 6'4/259
Comp: Preston Smith
Weaver arrived on campus at Pitt in 2016 when he redshirted before starting the last five games of 2017, registering 28 tackles, six TFLs and 3.0 sacks. Racked up 14 TFLs, 6.5 sacks and four PBU in 2018 before missing all of 2019 with a knee injury.
The Ft. Lauderdale, FL product came back better than ever in 2020, earning first-team All-ACC and consensus All-American honors. He increased his sack count from 6.5 to 7.5 sacks while also creating more fumbles and quarterback pressures than he did in 2018 despite playing 138 less snaps. Posted a 50 percent win rate at Senior Bowl practices and +3.5 grade for his performance in the 1-on-1 drills.
He isn’t going to blind you with his quickness off the snap or speed off the edge, but he’s aggressive, strong and gets the most out of his ability by working tirelessly to polish his technique. A sturdy frame helps him hold up in the run game and take on double teams, but he isn’t a great athlete. His size and strength will translate to the NFL but his overall speed and agility on the pass rush are less than average. He plays with a pad level that is far too high while benefiting from the presence of Patrick Jones II on the opposite side of the line.
Here he is eating BC RT Tyler Vrabel’s (#78) lunch on a pass rush rep and has the presence of mind to go right after the football, effectively stealing it right from QB Phil Jurkovec’s grasp and running the other way with it. An extremely heady play from Weaver when BC was driving and looking to score.
His 4.88 40-yard dash was about average but both his short shuttle of 4.26 and 3-Cone of 6.97 seconds were elite times. Weaver’s 20 bench reps were a little light for the position and his 32” vertical jump was merely decent, leading to a solid RAS of 7.36. Though Weaver isn’t going to bowl anyone over with his burst off the line, he has good size and an advanced feel for the nuances of the edge position.
12. Jordan Smith, UAB | 6’6/255
Comp: Arden Key
Smith originally signed with Florida, spending a little over a year in Gainesville until he transferred to Butler Community College following a suspension from the Gators. He rebuilt his value at Butler CC before transferring to UAB in 2019 where he promptly racked up 52 tackles, 17.5 TFL and 10.0 sacks en route to being named second team All-C-USA.
He garnered first team All-C-USA recognition last year while generating an incredible 50 pressures in 246 pass rush snaps to go with 42 tackles, 4.5 sacks and a 91.4 pass rush grade according to PFF.
Had a solid showing at Senior Bowl practices, posting a 67% win rate in 1-on-1’s while earning a +3.0 grade from Pro Football Focus. Here he torches 2021 top-10 tackle prospect, Cincinnati LT James Hudson around the edge in the Senior Bowl game:
He has a long, rangy frame and utilizes a swift burst with tree-like limbs to keep blockers off him and threaten offenses on the edge. Smith sometimes gets swallowed up by larger lineman and struggles to escape when engaged. Plays high at times which allows tackles to get into his pads, and gets pushed around in run support due to lack of overall play strength.
Unusually flexible for his size, he chews up ground with long, loping strides while still displaying advanced change of direction ability. Could eventually be a reliable passing down specialist with more refinement, as his athleticism is pro-worthy. Smith has the developmental traits and length that can be molded by a patient organization.
13. Dayo Odeyingbo, Vanderbilt | 6'5/285
Comp: Jerry Tillery
Odeyingbo joins his older brother, Cincinnati Bengals IDL Dare, as Vanderbilt defensive linemen making the jump to the NFL. The four-star prospect accrued 126 tackles, 12.0 sacks, 85 pressures and 71 stops over his four year career. He was named second team All-SEC in 2020 after posting 8.0 TFL, 5.5 sacks and 32 tackles in eight games and departs as the fifth leading player in Vandy history with 31.0 tackles for loss.
He looks like a prototypical developmental project with tantalizing physical tools that needs more coaching up before he can be a consistent contributor. Has the type of edge defender body that teams covet, with arms measuring an elastic-man like 35.25-inches. His pass rush approach is a bit scattershot and could use some polishing up in preparation for the NFL.
Odeyingbo possesses a quicker first step than anticipated given his size while also brandishing the speed to challenge on the outside when called upon. Versatile enough to line up outside the tackles or at three-tech if needed. Here is a great series showing Odeyingbo lined up from nose tackle, to three-tech, to five, and how he can still get penetration no matter where he is rushing from:
Oyedingbo’s three-down potential, superior physical gifts and supernatural length had him shooting up draft boards before he suffered an achilles tear in late January and will be forced to miss the 2021 season. As such, he hasn’t been able to provide any testing marks and will not be able to do so until well after the draft has concluded. With the obvious ability he flashes on tape, it’s a shame he couldn’t have put on the kind of eye popping workout he’s capable of as he likely would have rocketed up draft boards.
14. Cameron Sample, Tulane | 6’3/267
Comp: Kentavius Street
For a Group of Five program, Tulane had a pair of exceptional pass rushing bookends in Patrick Johnson and Cameron Sample. Though a three-year starter for the Green Wave, Sample had been flying under the radar as a prospect heading into 2020, steadily improving each year, but not really putting it all together yet. He excelled last year as a senior, racking up 52 tackles, 5.0 sacks, 48 pressures and 31 stops as an every down player who recorded 711 snaps during the shortened season.
He opened a lot of eyes at the Senior Bowl practices when he posted a stellar 78% win rate in 1-on-1’s, earning an elite +8.0 rating from PFF for his performance which was the highest 1-on-1 grade PFF awarded to any edge defender at this year’s Senior Bowl. If his practice dominance wasn’t enough, Sample was named Defensive MVP of the Senior Bowl game itself.
His strong postseason evaluation process continued into his pro day, as Sample tested above average in almost all of the drills he performed, finishing with a credible 7.46 RAS. Here’s a clip of Sample bringing it during the Senior Bowl:
Sample is a speed-oriented edge rusher who is big enough to move inside when called upon, but flashes enough burst to threaten tackles on the outside. His first step and unusual agility for his size are probably his best attributes on the rush, while he needs to work on developing a couple of secondary pass rush options since he relies primarily on a fairly stock and trade bull rush. He greatly improved in his pass rush acumen since stepping on campus three years ago, posting a sensational 22.6% pass rush win rate and 90.4 pass rush grade according to PFF.
Though he played well this year at the G5 level where he was a physically superior physical specimen, Sample also carried his strong regular season into the Senior Bowl showcase where he continued to play at a high level against some of the best collegiate players in the nation. If he can put on functional weight, I could easily see Sample sliding inside and holding down a three-tech spot given his skill set.
15. Patrick Jones II, Pitt | 6'4/261
16. Payton Turner, Houston | 6'5/270
17. Chris Rumph III, Duke | 6'3/235
18. Hamilcar Rashed Jr. Iowa State | 6'3/254
19. Adetokunbo Ogundeji, Notre Dame | 6'4/256
20. Elerson Smith, Northern Iowa | 6'7/262
21. Janarius Robinson, Florida State | 6'5/263
22. Tarron Jackson, CCU | 6'3/260
23. Shaka Toney, Penn State | 6'4/242
24. Jonathan Cooper, Ohio State | 6'3/254
25. Daelin Hayes, Notre Dame | 6'4/261