Tommy B watch your back. Big Ben hope you have some left over ice. Andrew? You may just be down on your “luck”. This years NFL Draft is stacked with pass rushers and I mean STACKED. There is a possibility that 11 prospects could be taken in the first round on Thursday April 27. Let’s check out some of the top players that could be chasing down QB’s for the next 10+ years.
1. Myles Garret, Texas A&M – Similar to Jadeveon Clowney in the way that he is a physical freak. Garrett ran a 4.64 time, faster than that of potential first round cornerback Teez Tabor. Garrett is most impressive on the pass rush and has good play recognition. Watching his tape it seems that if the play goes away from him he gives up and doesn’t scrape across the line even though he can definitely catch up to people with 4.6 speed but, he is the type of player you do want to run away from. At the point of attack, Garrett is as dangerous as anyone and can battle with the best of them. He can be over aggressive at times but on straight quarterback rushes you can bet your savings he is going to get there. Garrett has been pegged as the number 1 pick to the Cleveland Browns for sometime know and I don’t expect that to change for this athletic freak of nature.
2. Solomon Thomas, Stanford – Thomas’s stock has risen and risen since his season at Stanford ended. It’s always a good thing when you start getting compared to defensive tackle Aaron Donald. The problem with both of them coming out of school is that they weren’t big enough. Thomas is bigger than Donald but doesn’t have the length to play end or the weight to play tackle. No matter the case the guy is a beast. Thomas isn’t as quick as Garret but he uses his strength to overpower lineman to get to the QB. I think Thomas is better in the run game off the edge than Garret but once he gets inside, he can be double teamed out of the way pretty easily. The size of Thomas can’t be ignored but with his combination of hustle and strength, he will surely be a force in the NFL.
3. Derek Barnett, Tennessee – Yes the guy that broke Reggie White’s sack record at Tennessee with 33 sacks in 3 seasons. Barnett isn’t the fastest, strongest, or biggest but he is a great pass rusher. Barnett Consistently gets a good jump off the ball and doesn’t give up on plays and after watching game tape of Myles Garrett versus Alabama and Derek Barnett versus Alabama, I am pretty confident in saying Barnett was more impressive against the Crimson Tide. He doesn’t really have the elite pass rush move but gets to the QB with his jump off the ball which teams are concerned he is too dependent on. I think the production speaks for itself. If Barnett was able to get off the ball quickly for his 3 years for the Vols I think he can continue to do so at the NFL level.
4. Haassan Reddick, Temple – Reddick burst on the scene at the NFL combine with a blazing 4.52 40 yard dash, 36.5 inch vertical, and 133 inch broad jump. Reddick plays with that 4.5 speed off the edge and hustles on every play. The problem with Reddick is that he only had one year of 10+ sacks and can be pushed around in the run game. Reddick at times played middle linebacker at Temple and I think he would be a great 3-4 OLB because of his speed, pass rushing ability, and experience in coverage. If Reddick gets a little stronger and becomes a stickler in the run game he may be able to become one of the best players to come out of this draft.
5. Jonathan Allen, Alabama – Allen isn’t the best pass rusher in this draft but he is a pretty damn good one. The reason Allen is up so high in my ranking is because of his versatility and motor. Allen can play across the defensive line but at 6’3″ 286 he may be best suited as a 4-3 defensive tackle. Allen doesn’t have the speed that most of these prospects have off the edge but inside he is a matchup nightmare. If Allen gets matched up with a guard, good luck. Allen has great fundamentals and high IQ for the game. A true football player. It can be hard to determine how valuable he is because of the defense he played on. Alabama had so many great players it was hard for teams to plan for everyone. Expect Allen to fall slightly in the draft because he reportedly has arthritis in both shoulders that could affect his future but no matter what Allen looks poised to make an impact.
Honorable Mentions: Carl Lawson (Auburn), Charles Harris (Missouri), Takkarist McKinnley (UCLA), Tim Williams (Alabama), Taco Charlton (Michigan), T.J. Watt (Wisconsin)
*Stay tuned for the mock draft!*