If you saw what Von Miller and company did to Cam Newton and his offense in the Super Bowl, you know how critical having a pass rush is. In fact, 9 of the top 10 teams in sacks in 2015 made the postseason. It’s a simple formula: pressure the quarterback successfully and you win games. So NFL teams are always looking for the next pass rusher. The problem is, explosive pass rushing prospects tend to be the most hit or miss rookies there are. Some develop into double digit sack production while others flame out barely seeing the field. Drafting a pass rusher early is always a high risk, high reward proposition. Here’s the top 10 in this year’s class:
1. Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
He might not have the explosive edge speed to be an elite pass rusher but he’s as polished as it gets with a variety of moves to provide pressure. He’s the most complete edge player in the draft and while he may not threaten Michael Strahan’s single season record, he’ll provide steady and consistent pressure for years.
2. Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
Possibly the most explosive edge rusher in the draft. Many believe he’s the best in the draft at that chore. He’s also powerful and well rounded. His combine was excellent.
3. Noah Spence, DE, Eastern Kentucky
While he’s proven he can get to the quarterback consistently, off the field concerns combined with a poor combine have lead to doubts about how translatable to the NFL his abilities are. He was productive in college, though, and his motor is excellent.
4. Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State
Plays with power more than speed and his write up is similar to Lawson’s. A very productive college player that gets to the quarterback.
5. Kevin Dodd, DE, Lawson
Relentless player with excellent instincts. He has that X factor you need as a pass rusher. Some think he’s better than his teammate Lawson. Only drawback is he runs to contact which slows down his pass rush at times. It will be harder to effectively bull rush tackles at the next level.
6. Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia
Long and lean at 6’6″. His speed and ranginess gives him scary potential off the edge.
7. Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State
Good speed and athleticism. Finished with 10.5 sacks this past season.
8. Carl Nassib, DE, Penn State
At 6’7″ he’s an imposing frame. Hard worker that relies on instincts. He’s raw and has a limited ceiling according to scouts, but always seems to make the most of his abilities. Had 15.5 sacks last season. Based on his production it’s surprising he doesn’t rank higher.
9. Kamalei Correa, DE, Boise State
Has that explosive edge ability teams look for. Finished with 19 sacks over his last two seasons in college.
10. DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon
Not really a pass rusher per se, more of a 3-4 end with the flexibility to move inside on passing downs. While he’s not a traditional edge player, he’s such a physical freak and beast that he qualifies guy that could consistently get to the quarterback with the right development.