Top EDGE defenders in the 2021 NFL Draft by Darrell D. Lane

Top EDGE defenders in the 2021 NFL Draft by Darrell D. Lane

NFL Draft

Top EDGE defenders in the 2021 NFL Draft

 Darrell D. Lane

Previously I have gone through my top running backs, wide receivers, offensive tackles, interior defensive linemen and interior offensive linemen in the 2021 NFL draft. Now it is time to release my big board for the top 27 edge defenders (4-3 defensive ends and 3-4 outside linebackers) in this upcoming draft. I also thought it would be a fun exercise to show some clips of traits that make my top 5 edge defenders special.

  1. Kwity Paye, Michigan

Paye is a game wrecker. His 2 sacks this past year do not pop out to you like the top tier edge defenders normally do, but stats can mislead. The Michigan standout is extremely disruptive in both the pass and run game. Paye’s power is impressive when you watch him. The former Wolverine does not give up ground in the run game despite only weighing 272 pounds. Paye will throw aside offensive tackles in the pass game routinely (Number 19 is Paye). He has good quickness, solid bend around the edge and great power upon initial contact.  

  1. Jaelan Phillips, Miami

Phillips had a breakout campaign this past year finishing third in the ACC with 8 sacks. The former Hurricane is a fantastic athlete. He has the elite speed, burst and explosiveness you look for out of an edge player. Even with all of Phillips athletic ability he has raw power too. Phillips physically dominates the oppositions offensive linemen in the run and pass game. A special trait Phillips has is his hustle. It does not matter if he is being cut blocked or if the play is being ran away from him. He always pursues the ball carrier and makes tackles (Number 15 is Phillips). The most intriguing thing about Phillips as a prospect is his potential. Right now, he just dominates with athleticism and relentlessness. Once he starts learning the more nuanced aspects of the edge position the sky is the limit.

  1. Gregory Rousseau, Miami

Rousseau is a bit of an unknown, given the fact he opted out of playing this past year. The Miami product has great size standing at 6-7. Rousseau’s length allows him to disrupt the QB’s vision in the pass game (Number 15 is Rousseau). He has position versatility to play across the defensive line. Rousseau is difficult to block one on one and has the speed to blow past slower footed offensive linemen.

  1. Jayson Oweh, Penn State

Oweh is one of the most athletic specimens in this draft class standing at 6’5, 252 pounds. He has great burst, speed and explosiveness off the edge. He has solid bend around the edge as well. The former Nittany Lion can bull rush or use his rip move to get to the QB. I love how willing Oweh is at throwing his body around in the run game against pulling guards. Oweh also has good play strength and can hold his ground when facing double teams (Number 28 is Oweh).

  1. Cameron Sample, Tulane

Sample is one of my favorite edge defenders to watch in this draft class. He has solid bend and quick hands with his pass rush. Sample always forces the QB to move off his spot in the pocket (Number 5 is Sample). Sample can dip his shoulder and get pressure off the edge and push offensive tackles back with his pure power. The Tulane product can play multiple positions. You can use Sample as a 3-4 outside linebacker, 4-3 defensive end or even as a 4-3 defensive tackle. The comfort Sample has playing in space and dropping back into coverage will serve him well too.

  1. Rashad Weaver, Pittsburgh
  2. Carlos Basham Jr, Wake Forest
  3. Dayo Odeyingbo, Vanderbilt
  4. Patrick Turner, Houston
  5. William Bradley-King, Baylor
  6. Quincy Roche, Miami
  7. Joe Tyron, Washington
  8. Azeez Ojulari, Georgia
  9. Joseph Ossai, Texas
  10. Patrick Jones, Pittsburgh
  11. Jordan Smith, UAB
  12. Patrick Johnson, Tulane
  13. Ronnie Perkins, Oklahoma
  14. Daelin Hayes, Notre Dame
  15. Malik Herring, Georgia
  16. Adetokunbo Ogundeji, Notre Dame
  17. Tarron Jackson, Costal Carolina
  18. Wyatt Hubert, Kansas State
  19. Shaka Toney, Penn State
  20. Chris Rumph II, Duke
  21. Victor Dimukeje, Duke
  22. Hamilcar Rashed Jr, Oregon State

*all stats are from