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2020 NFL Draft Prospects Part 6: Defensive Tackle and Edge Rusher

The final part of this 6-part series concludes with a look at the 2020 NFL Draft Interior Defensive Line (DT) Prospects and Pass Rush Prospects (DE and OLB).

Summary of Needs

The Packers could use a 3-4 DE and OLB depth. The Bears need OLB depth and a 3-4 DE depth. The Vikings need to replace Everson Griffen and Stephen Weatherly and will look for a DE on day 1 or day 2. The Lions added some DTs (Danny Shelton, Nick Williams) and get D’Shawn Hand back healthy. However, Detroit needs a pass rusher opposite Trey Flowers and will look on day 1 (Chase Young if he falls) or early day 2.

Defensive Tackle

TIER 1

There are two guarantee first round defensive tackles in Derrick Brown (Auburn) and Javon Kinlaw are the top DTs in this draft.

Derrick Brown is a penetrator with great strength for run defense with great production as disruptor for the Tigers. Brown’s combine left a lot to be desire but he is still athletic enough to be a 3 down DT with pass rush skills and strong run defense skills. Brown is 6’5 318 and will be an instant starter and possible difference maker. Brown is powerful with a great motor and good hands.He should be a top 10 pick but could slip to 12.

Javon Kinlaw is another productive SEC DT from South Carolina. Kinlaw is a little more athletic with strong pass rush but a little less of in run defense skills than Brown. Kinlaw is 6’5 318 pounds. Kinlaw is a one-gap guy with great burst but needs to digest run plays better. Kinlaw was battling an injury at combine so has a few risks. He should still go in the pick 8-20 range.

TIER 2

Justin Madubuike (Texas A&M), Ross Blalock (TCU), Neville Gallimore (Oklahome) is the next group of DTS. They could go late day 1 or in Round 2.

Madubuike is 6’3 304 pounds that can penetrate. He has good quickness and hands but must provide a little more effort with better pad level. He should be a 3 tech but could play 3-4 DE as well.

Ross Blalock is 6’4 305 pounds from TCU. Blalock is strong, powerful with a great motor. He can anchor in run defense and penetrate. His red flag is a 2018 achilles injury but he bounced back in 2019. Blalock will make a team very happy needing a pass rush DT with run d skills.

Gallimore is 6’2 304 pounds from Oklahoma. Gallimore is another great gap penetrator but needs more work on run defense than the others. He gives great effort but has plenty of strength and ability to diagnose the run.

TIER 3

Raekwon Davis (Alabama), Davon Hamilton (Ohio State), Marlon Davison (Auburn), Leki Fotu (Utah), Larrell Murchison (NC State) and Jordan Elliot (Missouri) is the third tier. Davis, Hamilton and Davidson could all go in Round 2 or early Round 3. Fotu is a big nose tackle from Utah. Murchsion and Elliout have development potential.

Defensive End and OLB Pass Rush

TIER 1

Chase Young is in a class by himself. He will be a top 3 pick for sure and probably 2nd overall. Young is 6’5 265 pounds from Ohio State with great motor, power, speed and pass rush moves. He is a game changer and will bolster any teams’ pass rush he joins. Detroit would love to have him fall to 3.

TIER 2

K’Lavon Chaisson (LSU), Yetur Gross-Matos (Penn State), AJ Espenesa (Iowa), Zach Baun (Wisconsin OLB) is the next tier of pass rushers.

Chaisson is 6’4 250 with good speed and strength at point of attack. He can get around tackles with speed or power. He tore his ACL in 2018 but recovered for 2019. Chaisson should still be the second DE off the board.

Yetur-Gross Matos is 6’5 264 pounds with great measurables. He is long with room to grow but plenty of power and speed. His production should have been a little more at Penn State but he was a good pass rusher. He needs to process the run game a little better but should be a solid first round pick for a pass rush needy team.

AJ Espenesa is a power base-end from Iowa. Espenese is 6’6 280 with great strength and run defense ability. He had a slow start in 2019 but turned it on during the end of the season. His lateral movement needs work but has good enough speed and power to get consistent pressure while not sacrificing run defense.

Zach Baun is an OLB pass rush prospect. Baun is 6’3 240 pounds with a productive career at Wisconsin. Baun is versatile with some coverage and run defense skills but should be a solid JACK LB in this league. He broke his foot twice and failed a drug test but should be a Round 2 pick.

TIER 3

Julian Okwara (Notre Dame), Curtis Weaver (Boise State), Jonathan Greenard (Florida), Joshua Uche (Michigan), Terrell Lewis (Alabama), Bradlee Annae (Utah), Alex Highsmith (Charlotte), Darrell Taylor (Tennessee), Khalid Kareem (Notre Dame) are all solid day 2 prospects.

Julian Okwara is brother to Lions pass rusher Romeo Okwara with a better skill set. He has good burst but needs more strength for run defense. A broken leg caused him to drop to Round 2 discussion.

Curtis Weaver is a pass rush specialist that needs major work in run defense. He should be a day 2 pick but only used on passing downs.

Greenard is 6’4 262 pounds from Florida. Greenard has good strength and pass rush skills. He needs more run defense work and a little more burst. He should be a solid starter eventually though.

Uche is 6’1 240 pound Wolverine. Uche fits more a JACK role and doesn’t have much playing time. He was productive with solid speed and can still set the edge when needed.

Lewis is 6’5 258 pounds from Alabama. He is versatile with good length but needs to see the run defense fits a little better. He comes from a good pedigree at Alabama and should be a solid day 2 selection.

Summary

Plenty of good defensive tackles and pass rushers in this draft for defensive line needy teams. Should be a very fun draft to watch despite the COVID-19 format. Enjoy the 3 days of hope with new potential on each team.  The draft starts at 8 PM on Thursday Night April 23 on ABC/ESPN. They will have people from NFL Network to contribute to the broadcast. Round 2-3 starts on 7 PM on Friday April 24 and Round 4-7 starts at Noon on Saturday. Enjoy!