Check out the edge rushers to keep an eye on during the 2021 college season. So far this class is looking pretty strong and deep.
Nick Bonitto – Oklahoma
He is a bit undersized at 6’3 240, but he is very athletic and quick. Explosive. Bonitto has some versatility. He can be lined up at different positions. He does struggle against the run. Bonitto has problems disengaging from blockers. Obviously he needs to add some weight. His frame looks like he could add another 10 pounds. He shows good coverage skills on film. His motor runs 100%. Length is a little bit of an issue for him. He still could also improve his hand usage and technique overall. Tackling also still needs some work.
Kingsley Enagbare – South Carolina
Good athlete with good size. 6’4 but with good length and a large wingspan. Kingsley possesses an explosive first step. Lots of upside as a rusher. Despite his size and length he still struggles in the run game and ends up on the ground far too often. Needs to add strength. He does not look comfortable dropping in coverage. The current gamecock shows very bendy ankles on film. He still needs a lot of technique work. Enagbare is a low floor high ceiling player who make take a couple years at the NFL level to develop. Could be one of the top edge rushers drafted.
Ali Gaye – LSU
Gaye is big with long arms. A JUCO transfer that may not be known by most. He showed a lot of pass rush potential in 2020. Has big time riser potential for the draft. He needs to improve against the run. Gaye’s motor runs all the time. His speed is average, but possesses explosiveness. Technique, especially his hand usage needs improvement.
Zack Harrison – Ohio State
He is long and big at 6’6 265 with a large wingspan. Brings elite physical and athletic upside to the field. 2021 will be his first year as a starter. One of the most explosive players off the snap. Already shows the ability to convert speed to power. He still needs to improve against the run. With only having one year as a starter there is some rawness to his game. Still needs to add more to his pass rush repertoire. The current buckeye doesn’t play as hard when it comes to defending the run, seems uninterested. He could really raise his stock this year if he even comes close to his potential. Harrison probably still ends up in the first round just based on his potential.
Drake Jackson – USC
He came to USC as a defensive end, then got moved to outside linebacker. He dropped weight and looks good at the lower weight. Jackson now has the versatility to play either spot. Good athlete, who played around 255 last year. The current trojan is quick and explosive. One of his biggest weaknesses is his tackling. He needs to improve there. Still needs work on converting speed to power. Also could stand to develop his pass rush moves outside of his spin move.
George Karlaftis – Purdue
Karlaftis is big and strong at 6’4 and around 275. Power rusher who can play on the inside or outside. Motor runs 150%. Shows good explosiveness, although his straight line speed is average. Lots of production. He can be a little stiff and could play better in the run game for his size and strength. Has injuries in 2020 that need to be checked on. He could be a similar player to Za’Darius Smith.
Myjai Sanders – Cincinnati
Tall, explosive rusher with average length and wingspan. Sanders broke out in 2020. Does a good job of getting his hands up and disrupting passing lanes. Good overall athlete, but does show some stiffness in his hips. He has shown good bend coming around the corner. On film he has shown a lot of development in his pass rush moves, he has shown the ability to string moves together. Has shown on film that he still needs to add strength. His pad level does get high and he needs work on that. Can be deceived with miss direction plays. If he he improves his consistency he can really move up boards.
Kayvon Thibodeaux – Oregon
Elite recruit coming out of high school who had an immediate impact as a freshman. Elite athlete, fast, explosive and bendy. Also has long arms and a large wingspan. Massive upside as a rusher. He is already a really good run defender unlike a lot of other pass rushers you see in college. Thibodeaux plays with a lot of power. He has the frame to add another 10 pounds. His motor runs constantly. His pass rush plan is lacking and looks like he is unsure of how to attack blockers. Still needs development on his pass rush moves. Entering the season the probable #1 rusher of the class.
Zion Tupuola-fetui – Washington
He had 7 sacks in three games in 2020. Ended up tearing his Achilles and missed the rest of the season. Injury needs to be checked on when he comes out. Big with strong hands. Dropped weight in 2020 and looked faster and more athletic. Has shown versatility, can play on the outside or inside. He showed good explosiveness and agility in 2020. Tupuola-Fetui shows a lot of power on film. He also has good length. Strong motor that is always running. Already showing good skills in the run game. Overall athleticism though is only average for an edge rusher. Shows stiffness in space and probably isn’t a player you want dropping in coverage.