Jon Ledyard’s Senior Bowl EDGE Rusher Observations

[dt_divider style=”thick” /]Here’s an array of notes and observations I’ve made about the edge defenders at the 2017 Senior Bowl through two days of practices.

Haason Reddick might be the best edge defender out here. He got a chance to go to work today in one-on-ones and was impressive, from inside counters to speed rushes and swim moves. He’s the most explosive athlete of the edge group by far, and has also been the best inside linebacker here, albeit amidst an unimpressive group. He was terrific in coverage today, displaying the ability to mirror tight ends and running backs in space with outstanding agility and execution. He’s making himself loads of money in Mobile thanks to a strong showing.

Derek Rivers is the best run defending edge on the North team, and perhaps at the entire event. He’s consistently clean in his block down, step-down reads, squeezing the line of scrimmage to defend against a kick or wrap on the edge. He doesn’t lose contain, tracking down De’Veon Smith to the boundary for no gain on an extremely athletic play in space. Rivers wins first contact and is rarely moved at the point of attack, staying low and leveraged consistently. He’s a very technically sound player, but I think his upside as a pass rusher is sky-high. He’s already shown speed-to-power moves and the ability to dip and rip the edge. His transitions from move-to-move just need to be a little cleaner, as does his inconsistent first step. I think he’s close to a lock to be off the board by the end of the third round.

Dawuane Smoot is constantly threatening the edge because of his explosive first step, and he’s shown that he has the ability to counter if a tackle over sets to take the corner away. I wish his game had more of a power element, as bull rushes are easily stymied even when Smoot wins leverage. He’s had a good week of practice, albeit better on Tuesday, and should be positioning himself to be a strong day two pick.

Vince Biegel has no plan of attack in his rushes, and has probably been stoned more than any other edge here. He’s a decent athlete, but he doesn’t really have a go-to move and his speed-to-power game isn’t what it should be. He finally hit a nice inside spin counter move against Julie’n Davenport today, but that was the first time Biegel has gone to a secondary move all week.

Tarell Basham and Jordan Willis aren’t that dissimilar, but Willis is just more refined. Both players know how to vary their rush speed and pace up the arc to lull offensive tackles to sleep, but neither have the bend or flexibility to win the edge consistently. Willis is too tight in his hips, and although his first step is solid, he’s very reliant on inside moves if he’s going to win one-on-one. His hands are better than Basham’s right now, but both guys need to rely heavily on power moves and rips / swats on the corner to be able to produce at the next level.

Daeshon Hall has been consistently winning with inside moves this week, which are impressive, but much easier to accomplish during one-on-one periods than in games. There’s a lot of space to counter back into as an edge rusher working one-on-one, but Hall has been explosive with swims and spins inside, winning several reps cleanly over Justin Senior, Antonio Garcia, and Conor McDermott. Hall’s lack of twitch and athleticism are on display when he tries to corner however, leading to him getting washed upfield and even buried on one play by McDermott.

Ryan Anderson and Tyus Bowser have received the fewest pass rush opportunities of any of the edge guys here, as both have been in coverage drills far more often. Anderson finally got an opportunity to play off the edge today, but the results weren’t favorable, as he was handled in one-on-ones and unproductive in the 11-on-11 periods. Bowser had fewer opportunities, but was far more explosive

Keionta Davis is the worst edge rusher here, and I don’t think it’s particularly close. I’m not sure he does anything well enough to play edge in the NFL and he should consider bulking up and moving inside. Tanoh Kpassagnon is better than I thought coming into the week (I thought he was borderline undraftable), but he still lacks a plan of attack and doesn’t have the bend to take advantage of his first step. Carroll Phillips is more athletic than I thought he would be, but is totally unrefined as a pass rusher and is constantly getting coached up for not executing his assignment in the run game. He and Kpassagnon have probably been pulled aside by coaches more than any other edge defenders here.

Follow Jon on Twitter @LedyardNFLDraft. Check out more of his work here, including his preliminary 2017 NFL Draft EDGE rankings, and his ongoing work on Contextualizing NFL Sack Production.

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