2021 NFL draft preview: EDGE Rankings with NFL Comparisons
As we get closer to the 2021 NFL draft we will go through position previews to identify how these players will be utilized in the NFL. Do not worry as much about the ranking and exact player compared to, but rather think of how that player is going to be used based on that style of play, and player.
Each player will fit differently depending on their landing spot in deployment. The question is how they should be used best. Below are the top 10 edge rushers in the 2021 NFL draft.
10. Joe Tryon, Washington
NFL Comparison for Joe Tryon: Uchenna Nwosu
Joe Tryon is a versatile player who lined up on the line of scrimmage, but also off of the ball, dropping into space. He is rocked up and knows how to play the run as well as blitz off of the edge when he gets a free lane. His issue is that he does not have much of a pass rush plan, and most of his pressure gets schemed open.
In the NFL Tryon would be best utilized in a SAM role similar to what the LA Chargers have been doing with Uchenna Nwosu.
9. Payton Turner, Houston
NFL Comparison for Payton Turner: Sam Hubbard
Payton Turner has the size to rush from the interior on passing downs but has the burst and agility to bend under the reach of an offensive lineman as well as a counter with hesitation steps. Turner is not someone who be utilized in space and is best to contribute in a 4-3 scheme where he can keep his hands in the dirt. He is not refined with his hands but has the size, athleticism, and inside/outside versatility that will play in the NFL.
8. Carlos Basham, Wake Forest
NFL Comparison for Carlos Basham: Shaq Lawson
Similar to Shaq Lawson, Carlson Basham is a refined player who has the size, but does not win with power consistently enough to utilize his size. They can use their length to their advantage but are more meticulous in how they win. It took Lawson some time, but he has found a home in the NFL as a perfect complementary rusher who can get in on three downs due to run defense. Basham should find a role in a similar manner in the NFL.
7. Gregory Rousseau, Miami
NFL Comparison for Gregory Rousseau: Jason Pierre-Paul
On one hand, you cannot teach the size that Gregory Rousseau has. On the other, most of his work came in cleanup duty, and his athleticism does not match a player who likes he should be on an NFL field. Rousseau posted a 7.5 3-cone at 266 pounds. Historically, JPP is the only edge rusher who has that size, and that high of a 3-cone time to make any sort of noise in the NFL.
If he can put it all together, he has JPP upside, but the downside is that he is unathletic and will be over-drafted due to one year of production.
6. Joseph Ossai, Texas
NFL Comparison For Joseph Ossai: Leonard Floyd
We wrote up Joseph Ossai in a draft profile and talked about how compares well to Leonard Floyd due to his athletic ceiling, but an inability to play in one-on-one hand fighting situations against lineman. Both can drop into coverage and defend the run well though, and sacks can come from that.
5. Rashad Weaver, Pitt
NFL Comparison for Rashad Weaver: Derek Barnett
Weaver is so high because his floor is so high. He is going to be a starting edge rusher in the NFL. The ceiling may never be 10-sack high, as he is not explosive, and overly dominant in athleticism. However, nobody fights with their hands better, nobody has more counters, and for his lack of burst, his agility is perfectly fine to dip and bend the edge to complete sacks. With Derek Barnett, you get 5-6 sacks every year, and that should be what Weaver brings.
4. Jaelan Phillips, Miami
NFL Comparison for Jaelan Phillips: Whitney Mercilus
Phillips may have the highest ceiling of the class but is a bit limited due to the medical questions that forced him to retire from football before transferring. His hand usage is strong, and he is explosive with the adequate bend. If he can stay healthy and put it all together, the Mercilus comparison should be right on, as he becomes a well-respected rusher.
3. Jayson Oweh, Penn State
NFL Comparison for Jayson Oweh: Danielle Hunter
The only reason Phillips does not have the highest ceiling in the group is that Oweh does. Like Danielle Hunter, he did not produce on the stat sheet. However, also like Hunter, he has the rare combination of elite athletic traits. Check out their comparison below.
Hunter was in the right spot to learn, but if Oweh can put all of his traits together, he will a 10 sack star for years to come.
2. Azeez Ojulari, Georgia
NFL Comparison for Azeez Ojulari: Takk McKinley
Ojulari has the strongest statistical profile, but questions come with his size and athleticism. He is a bit compact but compensates that with long arms. His biggest question is agility, though. With a 7.27 3-cone at his pro day, and a lack of substantial burst, his ceiling may be lower than some may think.
In fact, when you are looking at elite pass rushers over the past few years, only Yannick Ngaouke and ZaDarius Smith pop up as players with 3-cones higher than Ojualri.
Ojulari has a higher floor because of his length, pass rush moves and run defense, but his ceiling may not be an elite sack chaser.
1. Kwity Paye, Michigan
NFL comparison for Kwity Paye: Jerry Hughes
Many were expecting a breakout from Paye in 2020, but the COVID shortened season made that hard. Still, he produced more than Oweh and has more athleticism than Ojulari. He is a bit compact in his height as well, but he has bursts of brilliance where he sees his full athleticism on display.
Jerry Hughes was a first-round pick who had to change teams before putting it together and breaking out. Paye may not burst onto the scene as a rookie, but the results should pay off for a safe player with a high ceiling.