Last updated 23 February 2021
|3||Carlos Basham Jr||Wake Forest|
|8||Jayson Oweh||Penn State|
|11||Hamilcar Rashed||Oregon State|
|12||Patrick Jones II||Pitt|
|16||Shaka Toney||Penn State|
|18||Elerson Smith||Northern Iowa|
|21||Joshua Kaindoh||Florida State|
|22||Chris Rumph II||Duke|
|23||Adetokunbo Ogundeji||Notre Dame|
|24||Daelin Hayes||Notre Dame|
It’s probably worth starting by saying that there’s no Joey Bosa-type prospect within this group. They all have something they need to continue to work on, albeit there is some good depth of potential future starters and the top 3 or 4 guys on this list could come in from week one if you’re willing to give them time to grow on the job.
Gregory Rousseau has the size and athleticism to be an absolute beast and he will surely interest a number of teams early in the draft, but his relative lack of experience – despite the incredible production he’s shown in that limited time – will be the main question mark that surrounds him.
Kwity Paye has moved ahead of Rousseau as EDGE1 on the basis of his 2020 performances despite the shortened season and both he and Zaven Collins are purer pass rushers, as is Rousseau’s Miami teammate Jaelen Phillips.
I’ve got Carlos Basham as my EDGE3 based on his potential versatility – he’s got the size to kick inside on passing downs and is also good against the run. People seem to buzz about several others in this group but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Basham turns out to be the most consistent performer as a rookie.
You might also see Joseph Ossai, Jayson Oweh and Azeez Ouljari taken in round one – they all are pure speed rushers with high levels of athleticism, but they’ll need to develop their rush moves if they’re going to out-do the best offensive tackles in the NFL.
Everyone from #9 to #19 on his list will have eyes on being drafted on day two – I’m just not buying the Joe Tryon in round one hype. The guys down as far as Rashad Weaver at #13 have shown enough on tape to deserve to go in round 2 or the top half of round three and go straight into someone’s defensive line rotation.
UAB’s Jordan Smith, the guy I’ve got at #17, is another small school prospect who showed up incredibly well at the Senior Bowl. At over 6’6 and 255lbs he’s a tall, rangy, athletic player who you’d think will have a high ceiling – with the right coaching he has all the tools to be really disruptive.
There’ll be plenty for NFL teams to work with if they’re looking to draft an edge rusher in the 4th or 5th rounds too. The Notre Dame pair of Ogundeji and Hayes both had good seasons in 2020 and their run to the College Football Playoffs will have garnered them some more national attention.
Another who will have scouts scrabbling to watch more tape on him will be Elerson Smith of Northern Iowa. Smith performed well during Senior Bowl week and being a small school prospect means teams may well not have lots of knowledge of his skill set just now.