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NFL Draft PRR 2024: Edge Defenders

In today's NFL, pass rushing and run stopping off the edges are more important than ever. As offensive schemes move to outside designed run plays and play actions with sprints & bootlegs, holding and disrupting the edge is paramount. For teams in need of game-wreckers flying from the outside, this class is filled with them.


Today, we'll cover 12 guys who win in different ways, with some names much lower than consensus. As we wrap up the PRR series, I'll remind everyone this is how I think they'll perform throughout their careers, not just where they are currently at in their development. With that in mind, let's take a look at the future nightmares for NFL QBs!


Photo: Gerald Herbert/AP Photo

 

12. Bralen Trice - Washington

What They Do Well

What Could Limit Them

Good strength, gets extension from blockers with his length and leverage

Not a great athlete, would miss outside run plays due to a lack of lateral speed

Nice run defender, clogs haps well and takes away run lanes with his press

Doesn't bend well, misses a good amount of sacks by not running the hoop

Explosive get off in pass rush, gets blockers off their landmarks consistently

Gets lazy in pass rush if his first move doesn't work, just spins in place

Trice has the strength and length to play at the next level. He has a really good punch-and-lock in run fit, and has good get-off for pass rush. On the flip side, he lacks explosiveness or finesse at the contact point, his pass rush pool is limited, and he just relies on his strength way too much. To me, he's a big development piece who could be good with the right coaching.

 

Pro Comp: Romeo Okwara


11. Xavier Thomas - Clemson

What They Do Well

What Could Limit Them

Sound player all around, plays in control and keeps integrity in run and pass

Not a great athlete, relies on technique to be a factor

Deadly speed rush when he uses it, forces tackles to open the gate

Will knife inside for no reason at times, gives up the edge as a result

When he uses his hands in run fit, he can hold his gap and shed blocks easily

Uses counter moves, but they aren't effective since he doesn't finish them

Athleticism shows up on tape, constantly chasing down plays from tough angles

Age and injury concerns are legit, would have committed earlier if not for COVID

Xavier does everything well; he holds gap integrity in run defense, has a good set of pass rush moves, and is a good athlete, he just isn't overly great at anything except his speed rush. He may have too many things to work on to be a true game changer, but I like him as a rotational piece early who could become a starter. I will need to see if his age and foot injuries are a factor in his development.

 

Pro Comp: Ogbonnia Okoronkwo


10. Gabriel Murphy - UCLA

What They Do Well

What Could Limit Them

Solid pass rusher, has a calm process and immediately counters if he gets beat

Lackluster at the point of contact in the run game, gets driven off the LOS

Squeezes down the line well and closes space quickly, eliminates cutback lanes

Despite good footwork, he will get them tangled up in pass rush

Impressive footwork when he keeps moving, in sync with his hands

Has a tendency to play with high pads at times

Versatile, was used all along the defensive front, can drop into coverage


When Gabriel's feet don't stop, he's a hell of a player. He can win any pass rush and beat any blocker to find the ball, has good handwork and a great mix of strength and speed to help him be versatile. He struggles against the run and loses pass rushes mainly because his feet stop, needs to continue to improve his footwork and be the hammer, not the nail.

 

Pro Comp: Darrell Taylor


9. Javon Solomon - Troy

What They Do Well

What Could Limit Them

Twitchy and explosive, springs off the snap with speed and power

Needs to add more pass rush moves at the next level, just swiping won't work

Solid run defender, takes away gaps and flows well with the OL

Will attack a full man from time to time, rarely has a chance when he does this

Never stops working his hands, constantly fighting to win the rep

On the smaller side, just under 6'1 and weighs under 250 pounds

Doesn't have the most extensive pass rush pool, but excels at what he does use


Javon has some of the most explosive reps on tape; he bursts out of his stance and immediately works his hands against his man, his hand swipe is deadly, and he played all along Troy's defensive front. I'm not sure if he'll be able to succeed at his size, but there have been a few guys with his profile who have found some success.

 

Pro Comp: Yannick Ngakoue


8. Marshawn Kneeland - Western Michigan

What They Do Well

What Could Limit Them

Some of the best "hands" in this class, accurate and strong strikes win him reps

Does have a tendency to play with high pads, beats himself before the rep starts

Super fluid despite a bigger frame, bends effectively in pass rush

Plays far off the ball, not sure if it was scheme related, but didn't help himself

Great flow in the run, eliminates gaps and cutback lanes with his lateral speed

Balance could be a concern, was on the ground a good amount for a larger edge

Always brings a counter move in his pass rush, usually a nasty side swipe


Kneeland has a ton of tools and athleticism to be able to make a splash at the next level. His hand violence, quick get-off, and smoothness when defending is a nice combo to work with. He needs to fix the fundamentals of his game when it comes to credit-carding the LOS, playing with lower pads, and have better contact balance, but that should be fixed in the NFL.

 

Pro Comp: Brandon Graham


Photo: Ashley Huss/Western Michigan Athletics


7. Dallas Turner - Alabama

What They Do Well

What Could Limit Them

Great lower half power, nasty long arm in the run and pass game

False steps a ton, doesn't fire out in the run game either, just waits for blockers

Doesn't side swipe often, but is effective when he does, has decent hand speed

Lack of pass rush pool, just tries to power through blockers

Relentless pursuit to the ball if he thinks he can make a play, hammer mentality

Gives up in pass rush if he gets locked up, no fight to get off blocks

Stupid athletic and incredibly long arms, posted an 8.86 RAS and an 83" wingspan


I was shocked that I didn't like Turner's tape. Dallas relies way too much on his strength and doesn't attack linemen at the block point, he has a minimal pass rush pool and won't fight off blocks for long. On the flip side, he has a ton of strength and speed, as well as a great foundation with his lower half power. Hopefully, someone can unlock his technique at the next level.

 

Pro Comp: Baron Browning


6. Jared Verse - Florida State

What They Do Well

What Could Limit Them

Ridiculously strong, his best move is his bull rush, puts linemen flat on their back

Slow get off at times, doesn't seem to be focused every play either

When his hand strike is fast and accurate, he wins the rep almost always

Minimal gap integrity, freelances a good amount, especially vs the run

Has a great swim/punch move, chops arms down easily

Looked out of shape in 2023, hands on hips a lot, not getting in stance either

Fantastic athletic profile, posted a 9.60 RAS


Jared's athleticism is off the charts for his size, and he's incredibly strong, but man, there is a lot left to be desired from his tape. He needs to get himself into NFL shape in the draft process, and get smarter when it comes to football IQ. If he works on those things and improves in the run game, there's no doubt he can be a really good player.

 

Pro Comp: Athletic Clelin Ferrell 


5. Austin Booker - Kansas

What They Do Well

What Could Limit Them

Awesome handwork, constantly fights off blocks and feels out the run

Even he has decent run defense, he isn't aggressive, just waits for blocks

Uses a variety of moves, swim/punch is his best, has a good speed chop and inside counter as well

False steps a good amount and plays with high pads, needs to bend and have a more efficient get off

Decent run defender, does well against base blocks and finds the ball

Slow plays his blocker a lot, needs to mix in more speed rushes

Constantly running to the ball, incredibly hustle and motor


Booker isn't being talked about enough. He does a lot of NFL-type things well when it comes to hand fighting and body control. He also has a high motor and a deep pass rush set to complement his play style. He does need to improve somewhat against the run, and he needs to get more aggressive and attack his blockers rather than waiting for the play to commit. Outside of that, I think he'll be a steal.

 

Pro Comp: Slower Haason Reddick


Photo: Evert Nelson/The Capital-Journal


4. Adisa Isaac - Penn State

What They Do Well

What Could Limit Them

Squeezes down the line really well, seemed like he was always in the backfield when he wasn't blocked

Gets undisciplined at times, screams upfield for no reason and leave gaps wide open

Great at fighting off blocks, rarely gives up if he gets beat at first

Could bend around the edge a bit more, gets off track when running the hoop

Good pass rush pool, bull rushes well, dips and rips effectively, has a nice hand swipe too

Lower body strength is missing some juice, needs to play with more pop

Violent hands throughout every rep, constantly working them too


Adisa is a well-rounded edge. He plays effectively against the run and pass, has a good pass rush move-set and can bench guys off of him in the run. He also has pretty decent gap integrity, he just needs to not scream upfield as much as he does and continue to trust his athletic ability to squeeze down the line. He's a really solid prospect who will be a starter in the NFL.

 

Pro Comp: David Ojabo


3. Darius Robinson - Missouri

What They Do Well

What Could Limit Them

A ton of strength and understands leverage well, presses off blockers and maintains his gap

Didn't get many true edge opportunities given the scheme he played in

Dawg in the run game, clogs running lanes and forces RBs to bounce around

Needs a better counter move rather than spinning off blocks

Efficient pass rush, will win the edge from an inside tech often

Doesn't attack half a man as well as you'd like, needs to work the edge more

Great positional versatility with his size and in-game experience


Darius surprised me a ton. He has a lot of juice and nuance to his game that few DL have in this class. He has the inside/outside versatility, as well as violent hands and great leverage. He will need to improve his pass rushing off the edge and get better at bending around the corner, other than that he looks awesome.

 

Pro Comp: Cam Jordan


Photo: Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire


2. Chop Robinson - Penn State

What They Do Well

What Could Limit Them

Insanely fast get off, explodes off the snap and flies to the ball

Stays on run blocks too long, doesn't really work to fight off them

Bends around and turns the corner at a high level, great flexibility

Will take himself out of a play from getting too far upfield at times

Constantly working his hands to get off blocks in the pass game

Loses his balance in run game from trying to run through blockers

Drives linemen back in the run game, stops them at the point of contact


I love Chop's game (and he has a great nickname for a pass rusher). He's so twitchy and loaded, can use most pass rush moves and succeed, and he has great length and leverage. He needs to get better at bending and flowing with blocks rather than just running until he gets to the ball, also has some shoddy tackling. Other than that, I think he has all the tools necessary to be a day 1 starter.

 

Pro Comp: Josh Sweat


1. Laiatu Latu - UCLA

What They Do Well

What Could Limit Them

Best pass rusher in this class, incredibly polished handwork and process

Has some balance issues, will easily lose his footing if hit from the side

Unreal bend, gets low & parallel with the ground without losing speed or power

Tendency to counter back to the QB too late in his up-field rush

High level run defender, always seemed to either find the ball or force it to a free defender

Has a questionable neck injury that had him briefly retire from football a few years back

Played all over UCLA's front, uber-athletic and has good strength


Latu is one of my favorite edge prospects I've ever scouted. He does a lot of little things well and is refined to a pro level. He needs to get better control of his balance and take on tough blocks better, but that will be fixed at the next level. Great power, speed, get off, and hand violence will make him a day 1 starter and long time dominator off the edge.

 

Pro Comp: Jaelan Phillips


Photo: Ric Tapia

 

Final Notes:


With this edge class being loaded, there are some good prospects who were cut from the list. Mohamed Kamara, Jalen Green, and Jonah Elliss are a few among them. Jalyx Hunt is also a super interesting prospect, as he converted from playing defensive back to edge rusher throughout his college career.


Join me on Wednesday and Friday as we wrap up PRR for the year, with the best QBs in this class, as well as a list of "my guys"!

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