While explosive, high scoring offenses are currently all the rage in the NFL, there is still an imperative need for incredibly strong and physical athletes that can consistently knock down the quarterback. Although the days of violent hits and brutal sacks are no longer a condoned part of professional football, these controversial limitations have noticeably increased the need for pass rushers that are just as strategically cerebral as they are fearlessly physical. As a result, intangibles and relentless stamina are essential for a defensive end to be considered a coveted prospect that can come in and contribute to an NFL team right away. With an intriguing draft class of potent pass rushers, NFL teams will have to be innovative and somewhat gutsy when it comes to selecting a prospect that is both versatile and intelligent enough to blossom into a starting edge rusher on a consistent basis.
10. Marcell Frazier, Missouri
Although many believe that Marcell Frazier’s development was hurt because of the loss defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski to Miami, he has the tenacity and motor to be a reliable pass rusher in the NFL. While needs to work on being dominant on a more consistent basis, he has the physical tools needed to be an intriguing acquisition sometime during the second day of the draft.
9. Duke Ejiofor, Wake Forest
A constant threat to blow up plays behind the line of scrimmage (16.5 tackles for a loss), Duke Ejiofor is both sizeable and quick enough to be a constant nuisance as an edge rusher. Although he needs to improve his motor and consistency, Ejiofor clearly has the necessary abilities to be a potent pass rusher in the NFL.
8. Rasheem Green, USC
Fantastic at batting down passes (four passes broken up) and relentless when finding ways to get to the quarterback (10 sacks), Rasheem Green has great instincts and impressive play recognition abilities. Although he is not particularly quick, Green is clearly intelligent enough to find the holes in any opposing offensive lines he will have to face at the next level.
7. Sam Hubbard, Ohio State
Highly versatile yet lacking in consistency, Sam Hubbard has the skill set of a first rounder but lacks the tenacity needed to live up to his natural talents. However, with the proper tutelage of a patient team, Hubbard could go from being a potential bust to one of the best pass rushers in the NFL.
6. Austin Bryant, Clemson
A dynamic speed rusher for one of the best defenses in the country in 2017, Austin Bryant has a great motor and tremendous speed. If he can prove to NFL scouts that his final season was not a fluke, he could quickly rise up draft boards to become a coveted first-round selection before the start of the draft.
5. Arden Key, LSU
An elite athlete that never quits when it comes to rushing the passer, Arden Key is a physical specimen that has the elite abilities of a future NFL starter. However, Key does come with some off the field concerns, something that may result in him slipping down some teams draft boards. However, Key clearly loves the game of football and has been dedicated to perfecting his craft on his own time. Against formidable SEC offensive lines, Key was a deadly speed rusher that regularly put pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
4. Harold Landry, Boston College
Although he does come with some injury concerns, Harold Landry is an excellent pass rusher that possesses elite speed and fierceness when healthy. While he needs to work on his run stopping abilities to be considered a first-round talent, he has the athleticism and tenacity to become a phenomenal pass rusher in the NFL.
3. Clelin Ferrell, Clemson
A very intriguing prospect that can consistently pursue and take down scrambling quarterbacks, Clelin Ferrell possess off the charts speed and athleticism. In terms of production, Ferrell was able to amass elite numbers when making plays behind the line of the scrimmage (18 tackles for a loss) and was relentless when bringing down opposing quarterbacks (9.5 sacks).
2. Marcus Davenport, UTSA
Simply put, Marcus Davenport is a monster that may be the most physically imposing defensive end prospect going into the draft. With 17.5 sacks for a loss and four passes batted down, Davenport possesses a rare combination of physicality and intelligence when reading the eyes of the quarterback. While some may knock him for playing at a non-power five conference school, Davenport has all of the ability and instincts to be a consummate edge rusher in the NFL.
1. Bradley Chubb, NC State
73 tackles with 25 of those hits being behind the line of the scrimmage….let that sink in for a moment. While this type of production is worthy of first-round consideration alone, it was watching Bradley Chubb dominate practically every offensive line that he faced in college that could allow him to be a transcendent talent in the pros. With an exceptional combination of strength and speed, Chubb should not only be able to start right away but could very well earn both Defensive Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year honors by the end of the season.