NFL Draft

Top 10 edge defenders of the 2023 NFL Draft:

This officially marks the halfway point of our positional draft rankings. We’ve already broken down the top running backs, linebackers, wide receivers, cornerbacks and most recently offensive tackles. So now it’s time to look at this massive group of edge defenders, which is a much better way to classify these prospects, rather than calling them 4-3 defensive ends or 3-4 outside linebackers. Due to how hybrid NFL fronts are these days anyway, I like to lump those together, although I will mention their best schematic fit a few times and talk about how versatile coaches can be in how they deploy these guys.

We have a consensus top-three overall prospect headlining this group, but I don’t believe EDGE2 is too far behind him, especially when you look at what the NFL typically values. After that, I kind of look at the class having three tiers, where the first one consists of four names, who I all have first-round grades on, then the three guys in the next group I think deserve top-50 consideration and after that, there’s at least another four I consider day-two prospect. However, even beyond that point, there are several intriguing players, who I think can have legitimate roles at the next level, with varying degrees of physical upside compared to pro-readiness.

Just to clarify – Northwestern’s Adetomiwa Adebawore, Auburn’s Colby Wooden and Michigan’s Mike Morris I have all labelled as “IDL”. That list will come out next week.

For now, let’s get into this edge class:

Will Anderson Jr


1. Will Anderson Jr., Alabama

6’4”, 245 pounds; JR


The number two defensive end recruit in 2020, Anderson had a phenomenal debut season with the Crimson Tide, racking up 52 total tackles, 10.5 of those for loss, seven sacks and a forced fumble, but he completely blew it out of the water as a sophomore, with 31(!) TFLs and 17.5 sacks, along with three passes batted down- He couldn’t quite live up to those insane numbers last year (17 TFLs and ten sacks), but did have a pick-six and made his presence felt, making him a first-team All-American and the SEC’s Defensive Player of the Year for back-to-back seasons.


+ Flashed to me more and more, as I was watching offensive prospects against Alabama for the 2021 draft already, when he was just a true freshman

+ Plays with a ton of energy and urgency – got after Kyle Trask all game long in the SEC Championship, with a couple of sacks, one including a strip

+ Has a lot of power in his lower body and consistently plays with great leverage

+ If you leave tight-ends trying to seal him on the backside, Anderson will routinely ride that guy into the scrum and negate cutback lanes, if not tackle him and the ball-carrier together

+ Will gladly accelerate into pulling guards and build up the force to create knock-back at contact

+ Displays the short-area twitch and range as a tackler to take care of both options on zone-read plays

+ Wasn’t asked to do drop into coverage a whole lot, but looks comfortable peeling off and take away throws to the flats, plus he had a very impressive on-field workout at the combine, where his change-of-direction and ability to flip his hips looked better than a bunch of the legit off-ball LBs

+ Not at all somebody who’ll take plays off or take a break on the sideline to stay fresh, as he averaged 55.6 snaps per game over these last two years


+ Has that cat-like quickness off the snap and immediately stresses the foot speed of offensive tackles in their pass sets

+ Off that, he has the flexibility to dip underneath the blocker’s reach or go through that guy if he sells out for speed and gets too tall

+ Highly advanced with his hand-usage for such a young player, creating leverage by riding them upwards or opening up the edges of the blockers’ frame by swatting them away

+ Excels at converting speed to power, while regularly lifting up the outside arms of tackles and ripping underneath it, to create a more direct angle for himself

+ Alabama had him in some tighter alignments and even some 4i/5-techniques, where he realized when tackles slid too far outside as he widened his angle, that he could attack the wrist of their inside hand and take the direct angle towards the quarterback

+ Really understands how to finish his rushes and not just force quarterbacks to move off the spot

+ Becomes a mismatch against guards when reducing or slanting inside, with his quick hands and short-area agility

+ Relentless in his effort to continue to free himself from blocks and chase around quarterbacks deep into plays

+ Gladly crashes into the shoulder of a guard and opens up a lane for one of the D-tackles or linebackers to loop around

+ Had a historically great sophomore season statistically, when he led college football with 81 pressures and had four sacks in the Mississippi State game alone, when he just went bonkers – Last season the production was down a little bit, but you routinely saw offenses roll away from Anderson and try to find ways to mostly negate his impact by play-design


– Still has some room to fill out his frame and become a more physically overwhelming player

– As good as he is at defeating the hands of blockers, he would benefit from not even letting them get on him or just dictating reps by being the one to establish first meaningful contact

– There’s definitely to diversify this pass-rush arsenal, largely relying on the burst off the ball and ability to transfer that momentum into power, along with pushing arms off himself, rather than actually setting up more detailed moves

– As great as Anderson has been for the Crimson Tide, the one skill he still needs to add is that knack for knocking the ball out of the hands of the quarterback, as he has totaled just one forced fumble through his first two seasons


First and foremost, I don’t look at Anderson as a generational type of prospect, since that’s a term that gets overused anyway. That doesn’t mean he’s not great. He’s still top-three on the my board and should in no way make it out of the first five packs. I just don’t look at his as this crazy freak athlete. Still, the burst and quicks off the ball, the leverage he plays in the run game, how good he already is with his hands and his effort are all top-tier. To me he’s a true 3-4 outside linebacker with room to take on more duties in zone coverage and has room to become a more diverse pass-rusher. He may not become a perennial All-Pro, but he will be a strong run defender day one and should deliver double-digit sacks in more years five of his rookie contract than not. Unless you’re desperate for a quarterback, I just don’t believe there’s a way you’ll regret picking him anywhere. He can be the face and leader of your defense for the next decade.



Tyree Wilson


2. Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech

6’6”, 275 pounds; RS SR


A top-500 overall recruit in 2018 for Texas A&M, Wilson was a small part of the rotation with the Aggies for two years (22 tackles, 4.5 for loss, three sacks), before transferring in-state to the Big 12. In his first season as a full-time starter with the Red Raiders, he recorded seven sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss (2021). This past season he was a second-team All-American, thanks to 61(!) tackles, 14 for loss, seven sacks, a fumble forced and recovered each.


+ This guy has an insane combination of length (35 and 5/8-inch arms) and power, with the want to just blow into people in front of him

+ Largely played the 5-technique in three-man fronts for TTU, along with moving out over the tight-end or sliding inside depending on the side, which didn’t necessarily lend itself to major production

+ You routinely see him drive offensive linemen backwards near the point of attack or squeeze them into the action from the backside

+ When he’s actually lined up on the outside-shoulder of tackles and presses off with that inside arm to set the edge, it’s beautiful

+ Takes tight-end assigned with blocking him as a personal vendetta, literally pan-caking some guys who try to seal him away from the action

+ Even on combo-blocks, if he attacks the chest of the guy across from him, he manages to not open up legit lanes inside of him

+ You combine that with his explosiveness in short areas and he can crash through the reach of blockers on slants, to be disruptive and get initial contact on the back

+ The fact he only registered 38 total tackles in ’21 is laughable, considering how many stops he forced, by just riding somebody into the ball-carrier and made that guy stop his feet behind the line of scrimmage – Last year that number expectedly jumped up to 61, despite only playing ten games

+ Watching last year’s game against TCU, he was single-handedly destroying run schemes and actually knock a likely top-50 pick at guard in Steve Avila back at contact on a kick-out block, in order to get the TFL


+ When Wilson sells out for the bull-rush, he can ride tackles or guards back into the quarterback’s lap in devastating fashion, especially from tilted alignments

+ You see him lift up large men and then show the quick burst to get around those guys before they can get those foot back on the ground – He straight-up trucked the Houston left tackle in 2021

+ However, what’s most impressive about him rushing the passer is his uncanny ability to re-gain his balance, even when caught in odd positions and seemingly about to fall to the turf

+ Can win around the corner with a downward chop and flatten better than many speed-based outside rushers

+ Plus, he’s so damn long that you constantly see him be able to swipe away the reach of blockers

+ For a 275-pound man, his ability to add a little shake and jump inside of tackles when rushing from wider alignments is pretty freaky

+ Truly has the versatility to rush basically anywhere from a zero- to a wide-nine technique – Frequently was reduced inside over guards on passing downs, where he displayed his incredible balance to somehow stay on his feet as he’s getting banged around

+ The Red Raiders also used him on some delayed stunts up the A-gap, where his closing burst to the QB really popped

+ Yet, he will also gladly do the dirty work and launch himself into one of the interior guys slanting across the formation, to create issues with the pocket, which enables somebody else to come free

+ Recorded a career-best 50 pressures on just 261 pass-rushing snaps, with a 22.3% pass-rush win rate


– His block-recognition is very basic and you regularly see him just bang into bodies (Once I even saw him almost follow a tight-end on a drag route, since that’s who he initially put his hands on, even though that clearly wasn’t his responsibility)

– In particular, recognizing angular blocks and anchoring against them is something he needs to learn, in order to not make the job on the second level harder

– Other than slicing through one shoulder of his man or going for the straight-up bull-rush, there’s not much of a pass-rush plan to speak of

– Simply has to do a better job of attacking one half of the blocker when he isn’t tasked with some kind of slant/stunt

– And while it helps him fight off blocks, he doesn’t utilize his length pro-actively to avoid having hands land inside his chest


I’m kind of glad that Wilson didn’t participate in the combine events, because I didn’t want to seem like a prisoner of the moment and pump him potentially the first defensive player of the board, in the way it happened with eventual top draft pick Travon Walker going to Jacksonville last year. I was much more in with him coming out of the summer, considering he was in so much more productive and I felt his impact much more regularly, despite playing a similar role as Walker did at Georgia. The violence he plays the game with combined with the alien-like physical skill-set is just crazy to watch. His ability to recognize plays, the hand-placement and how he sets up his rush-moves all need work, but you can’t teach what he brings to the table and I already saw him beat up offensive lineman I know will play for NFL teams, even if you think the Big-12 competition isn’t up-to-par. I’d have no problem with him being drafted from number five onwards. My only question is why it hasn’t totally clicked for him yet as a fifth-year senior.



Myles Murphy


3. Myles Murphy, Clemson

6’5”, 270 pounds; JR


The number one defensive end and a top-10 overall recruit in 2020, Murphy recorded 12 sacks, 25 tackles for loss and five forced fumbles through his first two years with the Tigers. This past season, he was basically right on par with his sophomore numbers (11 TFLs, 6.5 sacks, two passes batted down and 1 FF), but was recognized as first-team All-ACC for it, after being second-team the year prior.


+ Such a physical, disciplined run defender, who can re-set the line of scrimmage against drive blocks from tackles

+ You see him sort of shock blockers at contact with the force in his hands, especially at the point of attack

+ Attaches to the hip of the tackle blocking away from him on like wide zone runs and flatten once he sees an opportunity to run down the ball-carrier

+ Refuses to be sealed on the backside by tight-ends, crashing through that C-gap and chases after the ball, or even if by alignment he can’t quite gain that inside lane, at least rides those guys down the line and at times into the lap of RBs looking to cut back

+ Happily throws his body around and creates traffic, crashing into pulling linemen, slipping blocks and starting piles, to where the ball-carrier has to stop and redirect

+ Can just jolt up tight-ends/H-backs sifting across the formation

+ Realizes when there are opportunities to work across the tackle’s face and create an angle towards the ball or go underneath and force bounces out to the boundary after plays have been strung wide, to where space is running out and his teammates can clean up

+ When nobody puts a hand on Murphy early on, his short-area explosion to attack down the line and create traffic in the backfield, as offenses try to read out something and/or have a player coming across the formation pops off the screen

+ Displays great awareness for screen passes and routinely chases down the designated target


+ Heavily asked to read-and-react, rather than being allowed to shoot upfield, Yet even when his approach didn’t lend itself to getting home to the QB, Murphy consistently condensed the pocket off the edge and took away space to move around back there

+ When he was able to just attack from these wider, at times tilted alignments and explode off the snap, his get-off and ability to put tackles on skates when they had to overcommit to his speed was eye-opening

+ Has a nasty long-arm to punish blockers trying to give him ground and sit back on him

+ Plus, once he feels those guys lean into him, he can quickly swat their hands away and corner around, or take the inside path if he initially connects with the inside pec of the tackle

+ Displays a strong push-pull maneuver to open up a path for himself to get to the quarterback, along with the flexibility to come through cleanly – He did so when reduced inside on passing downs as well

+ Quick to crash through the inside shoulder with the rip if tackles overset him or if he feels them lose balance/the inside foot is lifted off the ground

+ Continues to work as a pass-rusher and eventually finds a way to get through – Has an impressive secondary burst when he seems to get into stalemates momentarily and then swats away the hands of the blocker

+ His closing burst when used as a looper across multiple gaps and that ability to curve his path towards the QB are pretty scary

+ As a contain rusher, Murphy does well to aim at the quarterback’s outside hip and not get outflanked by blind-side spin moves

+ On 687 pass-rushing snaps these last two years, along with the 14.5 sacks, Murphy had another 61 other pressures


– Overall I’d like to see Murphy be more pro-active with defeating the hands of blockers initially and taking control of snaps himself, where his freakishly small 8 and ½-inch hands may come into play

– There’s definitely room for improvement in terms of bringing his hips through contact, locking out and keeping his head up, to track the ball-carrier

– Doesn’t quite have the speed to win cleanly around the corner with third and fourth step, or hit ghost moves to great effect

– Allows athletic tackles to land punches inside his chest too regularly and force stymie his rush – Notre Dame sophomore Joe Alt was able to negate him pretty well

– His high-end reps are freaky, but they’re too few and far between


Looking at the Clemson defense as a whole, I feel like everybody’s 2021 tape was significantly better than what they put out there this past season, when they switched away from DC Brent Venables – and that’s especially true for Murphy. You still saw the talent flash and some plays that make you think he can be a top-ten pick, but you’d like to see more consistency from a three-year player. There are definitely some technical things that he needs to really work and he won’t be putting up big sack numbers with clean wins early on. Nevertheless, the explosion off the ball, the force he can unleash on blockers and how he keeps working, there’s a lot of upside. If Murphy learns how to maximize his power and then can work off that, if he takes of reps early on, he can be a problem to deal with off the edge.



Lukas Van Ness


4. Lukas Van Ness, Iowa

6’5”, 265 pounds; RS SO


Just outside the top-1000 overall recruits in 2020, Van Ness redshirted his first year at Iowa, before taking over as an instant impact player for the Hawkeyes over the following two seasons, racking up 19 sacks and 15 tackles for loss- Last season he was recognized as second-team All-Big Ten for his efforts and his name has been rising throughout the pre-draft process.


+ Has great length and moves freakishly well for his size, with a six-pack around 275 pounds

+ This kid plays like a bulldog foaming at the mouth, with that antsy ankle twitch as he’s waiting for the ball to be snapped

+ Regularly lands his hands inside the chest of the tackle on run-downs and locks out, to keep them right there at the spot and not allow movement on drive blocks

+ Whilst tussling with blockers, you see him squeeze down lanes and somehow find his way to the ball

+ Once he’s taken care of his original assignment, he can then rip through or yank them to the side to get in on the action

+ There are snaps on tape, where Van Ness is lined up in the A-gap and holds a combo between the center and the guard coming in on angle right there in place, dropping the backside knee and anchoring like a 300+ pounder

+ You see him slip through when combo-blocked by the tackle and tight-end on multiple occasions

+ Constantly chases after the ball, even when it gets outside the numbers and gets involved on some tackles 10+ yards downfield

+ Was regularly lined up inside on passing downs but also at times in short-yardage, because of his explosiveness off the ball allowing him to challenge guys up the field and then the quick-twitch he has to get around them – Iowa put him in the A-gap late against Michigan whilst being down by two touchdowns for example, because of the havoc he could create penetrating into the backfield


+ Van Ness’ natural power frequently challenges tackles in their pass-sets when he digs into the frame and makes them walk backwards

+ When he comes up out of four-point stances especially, how low he initiates contact and can roll his hips to create that momentum is pretty nuts

+ You see him run the loop at times whilst long-arming the tackle and basically circling around them, without being taken off track at all

+ Has some eye-opening reps, where he converts speed to power and puts tackles on skates if not place them on their butts on his way to the quarterback

+ Off that, by riding guys past the QB, he can open up a direct path for himself, as well as give a little stutter-step and knife inside of blockers to great effect

+ The natural force this guy presents makes him a great asset as a set-up man on different twists and games up front

+ Regularly fights off blocks late and has the secondary burst to run down scrambling quarterbacks

+ His ability to take a couple of steps, plant hard off the outside foot and falling off into the hook zones is pretty darn impressive

+ Recorded 46 total pressures across 271 pass-rush snaps as a second-year player, working against a pretty strong slate of tackles in the Big Ten

+ At the combine, he ran a 4.58 in the 40 at 272 pounds, Moved around way too smoothly for his size, and showed some real snap in his hands, He was also behind only Eastern Michigan’s Jose Ramirez among edge defenders in the three-cone (7.02) and short-shuttle (4.32), to showcase his lateral agility


– Looks like a big kid out there too often, where he ends up on the turf – Needs to play with his eyes more so

– Van Ness is a very good run-defender because of his ability to own his space, but he’s not actively reading and countering the first steps of blockers

– Has to do a better job of rushing half the man and timing up his hand-swipes for some clean wins around the edge

– His pass-rush arsenal is super narrow right now and he starts so many reps by just going all-out for the two-hand bullrush instead of setting up stuff throughout games

– Played 50+ snap in just one career game and we’ll need to see if he can bring it quite the same way with a larger workload


For anybody familiar with how the Iowa program hands out playing time, understanding that seniors are awarded starts, the fact that Van Ness never was part of the eleven out there for the first snap isn’t an issue, since he did play the most altogether and was clearly the “dude” up front. The natural leverage he plays with and the power he can unleash on blockers is rare. Now, he’s far from a finished product, lacking any finesse or planning to his rushes, while having room to improve in terms of pro-actively responding to run concepts. If he learns to attack half the man more regularly, the production will come at the next level. I also believe he has the body to put on 20 pounds or so and become a very effective base D-end in a 3-4 system, with alignment versatility on obvious passing downs.



B.J. Ojulari


5. B.J. Ojulari, LSU

6’3”, 245 pounds; JR


A top-100 overall recruit in 2020, the brother of now-Giant outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari flashed as a true freshman, before really jumping onto the scene in year two, recording 54 tackles, 12 for loss and seven sacks. Even though B.J.’s numbers were slightly down last year (8.5 TFLs and 5.5 sacks), the SEC recognized him as first-team all-conference, in part because he also had a fumble forced and recovered each.


+ Saw a similarly diverse usage as another comparable player profile in Jaguars first-round pick K’Lavon Chaisson did at LSU

+ Brings tremendously long arms at 34 and ¼ inches, to keep blockers away from his frame

+ Has clearly worked on his balance/sturdiness to not get blown out of his space against combos with the tight-end and just being caught in traffic

+ I like his leverage coming out of a three-point stance and you rarely see tight-ends create vertical push against him

+ Can take that one step underneath tackles who set too wide on him on outside zone and similar concepts and follow through with those lanky limbs, to flash in the B-gap

+ Tightly attaches to the hip of the tackle zone-blocking away from him whilst keeping his shoulders square to redirect if necessary, as well as potentially slipping the TE sifting across the formation

+ Packs a sudden dip of the outside shoulder to slip pullers who try to kick him out, in order to create traffic in the backfield

+ Displays the agility to shuffle with the mesh point on zone read plays and then quick burst to corral the quarterback pulling the ball

+ Realizes when facing play-action, so he can quickly swat away the hands of the tackle and dip underneath

+ Was frequently dropped out into the flats or hooks, where he displays active eyes and sees crossers coming his way, At times he also matched RBs coming out of the backfield and


+ The most technically advanced pass-rusher in this class, with pretty much all the clubs in his bag and the mindfulness to find what fits and how to stack them moves on top of each other

+ Takes those long strides up the arc and really bend low to the ground, to give a small area to strike at for tackles

+ Packs a wicked ghost move, where he can really drop his shoulders and slip underneath the reach of tackles, at times also as a follow-up move to actually win the corner, as blockers are about to get him past the point he can flatten

+ Yet while he can threaten with his speed, he understands how to pace his rushes accordingly

+ Has some legit wiggle, combined with the length to create issues for tackles by being able to go either way

+ Last season he was able to string together stutters, jab-steps, cross-overs and more together, to keep the guy across from him guessing

+ When he uses the long-arm, barely anybody can beat his reach, plus the he’s so quick to get to his second hand-combat

+ A few times you see him stab at the inside shoulder of tackles and follow through with the outside arm to open up a path for him up the B-gap or win cleanly on up-and-unders – Put a nasty one of those on UCLA left tackle Sean Rhyan, to beat him for his only sack surrendered in two years

+ Looks more like a wide receiver when he plants off the outside foot on stunts and loops across the formation, where he’ll flash up the QB’s face in a hurry

+ Racked up 103 combined pressures over his past two seasons (701 pass-rushing snaps) with the Tigers, according to PFF


– Lacks the frame to really set the tone and own his space at the point of attack against drive blocks in the run game, too often offering space by going around his man when facing powerful run blockers

– Away from the action, he gets too close to his blocker and loses vision of the backfield at times, allowing runners to cut all the way back and defeat contain that way

– Once blockers are able to get a tight grip on him, Ojulari doesn’t have the violent hands to knock the arms away and disengage

– Does show a promising long-arm, but is still learning how to effectively convert speed to power, lacking that thump at contact to really make an impact

– You see him get guided past the quarterback or his rush stall when he takes a more direct angle, as tackles are able to cut off his path


Ojulari a bendy, undersized pass-rusher in his brother Azeez of, who has that lanky kind of build but has learned to play above his weight-class. The one thing I worry about – he’s a 3-4 outside linebacker only and if you make him this hybrid defender, with no defined role early on – like similar players have been treated in the past – that may hold up his development. Either way, he should be an effective designated pass-rusher right away, because of how far advanced he already is at setting up and executing a variety of moves in effective fashion. He may never be dominant at the point of attack in the run game, but he’s gotten a lot better at defending his space and can create negative plays in that regard. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Ojulari turned into the second-most productive edge rusher from this draft. And he should absolutely be a first-round pick.



Nolan Smith


6. Nolan Smith, Georgia

6’3”, 235 pounds; SR


The number one overall recruit in the 2019 class, ahead of even Kayvon Thibodeaux, Smith was a rotational player over his first two seasons with the Bulldogs, recording 39 tackles total and 2.5 sacks in each of them, before taking over a starting spot in ’21 for that dominant Georgia defense. He racked up 53 total tackles, eight of those for loss, 4.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and an interception. A torn pec limited Smith to just eight games this past season, yet he still recorded seven TFLs and three sacks across those, and helped set up his team for winning back-to-back national championships.


+ Plays the game with a team-first mindset, an incredible level of toughness and the admiration of all his teammates

+ Displays great speed out of his stance, to where at times when he’s left unblocked on the backside of RPOs and quarterbacks try to throw the backside bubble alert, he can almost bat down the pass

+ Maximizes his length and transitions his weight into blocks, when trying to set the edge

+ Very good ab grabbing cloth and pulling guys off himself after fitting his hands initially

+ Can toss TEs to the outside and step right into the C-gap to wrap up ball-carriers on off-tackle runs

+ Georgia put an extra defender outside of Smith at times, where he was in like a 7-/8-alignment, yet was able to point the inside foot horizontally and slant across the tackle’s face almost cleanly, to track down the back running the other way, covering an insane amount of grass in a couple of steps

+ Doesn’t shy away from taking the direct angle and crashing into pulling guards, who have nearly 100 pounds of weight on him at times, where it can actually be those guys taking the worse of the collision

+ Such a hyper-active player overall, who tries to find ways to affect plays and being involved on 53 total tackles in 2021 across 499 snaps is indicative of that – His effort and speed in pursuit are excellent


+ Has elite acceleration off the ball with great snap anticipation in designated passing situations

+ Packs a nice two-handed side-swipe, to defeat the hands of tackles and flatten towards the quarterback

+ Has shown he can win inside and out, at times tilting his rush on purpose, to give himself that two-way go, plus then he can hit those sudden shoulder dips to reduce the surface area for blockers

+ The same thing I mentioned with slants towards the B-gap, how much ground he covers laterally with that one step to slice inside on up-and-unders really stands out at times

+ Shows the quick change-of-direction to get back to his contain responsibility, after initially trying to find a path inside as a rusher

+ Displays that reactionary suddenness to take the B-gap when he realizes it’s open, at times when the O-line is busy with selling the run-fake

+ While the sample size was obviously a lot smaller for Smith, his 18.6% pressure-per-rush was actually the best of his career (19 on 102 pass-rush snaps) and PFF awarded him with a pass-rush win rate of 25.5%

+ Shows good patience as a zone-dropper and seems to understand where his eyes should be, and has a couple of snaps where he carries the tight-end towards the safety

+ Put up the second-fastest 40 time among edge defenders in combine history (4.39), with an insane 1.52 ten-yard split


– His size measurables are all in the bottom-17th percentile, playing at a slender 235 pounds (especially at the core and hips), with arms below 33 inches and just nine-inch hands

– Could still do a better job of getting his base pointed towards where the ball is coming from and shifting his weight into the blocker

– Too narrow in his two-point stances and necessitates a slight step backwards when trying to get off the ball

– Lacks a little bit of that power element, to take advantage of tackles getting tall and onto their heels, by converting his speed into force

– Overall his pass-rush toolbox could still expand, heavily relying on his speed to win around the edge and not showing reliable counters off it


This is one of the best pure football players in this entire draft. When you come to Georgia, you’re not going to blow away people with insane sack production, because you rarely are allowed to just line up wide and attack up the field. I don’t believe he’s going to be a legit alpha pass-rusher, but he’ll give you everything he has throwing his body around in traffic, he’ll make some key plays when peeled off in coverage and he’s going to be a leader for your defense vocally as well as by example. I’m interested to see if he can become more impactful when he does transition to power, because going forward and laterally, he can certainly stress tackles, but it’s that threat of being able to go through those guys that he hasn’t really shown yet.



Will McDonald IV


7. Will McDonald IV, Iowa State

6’4”, 240 pounds; RS SR


One of the top-1000 overall recruits in 2018, McDonald only saw action in three games as a true freshman, before putting up six tackles for loss and sacks each as a rotational second-year player. He became a key cog for the Cyclones D and over the following two years, he put up basically identical numbers, with 26 combined tackles for loss and 23 sacks combined along with seven forced fumbles, making him a first-team All-Big 12 selection in both. This past season, he dropped down to 7.5 TFLs and five sacks, along with a fumble forced and recovered, as well as a career-high four passes batted down. Understanding that his impact goes beyond the numbers he repeated those first-team all-conference honors.


+ Offers more of a lanky build, but was heavily used as a 4i-/5-technique and plays strong for the fact he constantly gave up size

+ Putting him head-up on guards/tackles, McDonald really shoots those hands inside the chest of the guy across from him and is able to stay locked in place, keeping his pads square to the line of scrimmage

+ When he’s able to lock out with those 35-inch arms, there’s not much blockers can do to get into his frame anymore

+ Very active with his hands to work off blocks, force pullers responsible for somebody else to initiate contact with him and just create hold-ups in the backfield

+ Has the flexibility to reduce his surface area and create issues on slants, being able to flatten down the line and track down the ball-carrier going the other way

+ Shocks pullers trying to kick him out by suddenly jumping inside and dipping the opposite shoulder, to avoid it altogether

+ Not content with being kept away from the action on the backside of run schemes, trying to side-step kickout/seal blocks

+ Regularly corrals quarterbacks keeping the ball or just kicking into high gear to chase things down, getting involved on way more tackles than he probably should

+ Showed off his explosiveness at the combine, with an 11-foot broad jump (98th percentage)


+ Pro-active, versatile pass-rusher, who works his speed and features the flexibility to dip underneath tackles as he curves his path

+ When allowed to rush from wide alignments, the ability to bend and turn the corner on guys who think they can just take their normal vertical sets, was able to really shine

+ Off that, he challenges tackles with working cross-face covering good ground laterally and keeping himself free with the high-swim

+ Can also add some hesitation and transition to power, in order to make it tough for opponents to judge what is coming

+ His length and ability to run the arc at an angle don’t allow tackles to rest even if they’re slightly past the QB, as you see McDonald circle around and swipe at the ball from behind on multiple occasions (five FFs in ’21)

+ Flashes a super-dynamic spin move, where he clears the hip of tackles in one motion and uses the ice-pick to land on the back of that guy, plus he understands the depth of the pocket well generally and when to go underneath

+ Won’t stop throwing moves at blockers and features an impressive secondary burst as the quarterback begins to scramble or he just finds a different angle, to work his move on

+ Was used on some inside stunts, where his burst and power to work through one shoulder of guards/centers sliding over his way made him pretty effective

+ How the Cyclones utilized McDonald didn’t really lend itself to big sack production, as offenses were able to slide the guard towards him, being aligned shaded inside the tackle

+ Yet he racked up 70 total pressures across 533 pass-rush snaps combined over the past two seasons, with a 92.1 PFF grade in true pass set situations


– At his build, you could certainly define McDonald as a tweener, who may not quite have the speed to consistently win around the edge, but with the height/girth combination isn’t a natural fit inside

– Needs to do a better job of keeping his frame clean and the outside arm free as a run-defender

– Undisciplined with his run-fits in general, where he may have the freedom to knife inside of blocks, but he then allows the blocker to ride him sideways way off his landmarks

– Seems to predetermine his moves to an extent, where he doesn’t take advantage of where tackles leave themselves vulnerable and plays off that

– Could still become more fluid in linking his upper and lower body and transitioning into secondary moves


McDonald was clearly playing out of position for Iowa State, yet was able to be a major impact player for them across the past three seasons. His combination of length and bend is the best in the class and once he’s allowed to rush from some wider alignments, I believe he can become an even more productive pass-rusher, because he has several clubs in his bags already. Pulling them off a little more smoothly and becoming better at tailoring his plan to who he’s facing are the areas he can still get better at. What he really needs to work on however is firming up his base and showing he can set a physical edge in the run game, whilst keeping the outside arm free in order to take care of his contain assignments. Because of that, he may be a rotational pass-rusher early on, but I would have no problem with him being selected with one of final picks of the first round.



Keion White


8. Keion White, Georgia Tech

6’4”, 280 pounds; RS SR


Just a two-star recruit at tight-end for Old Dominion back in 2017, White spent year on the offensive side of the ball before converting to the defensive line. In his one season at D-end with the Monarchs, he put up 62 total tackles, 19 of those for loss, 3.5 sacks and ones across the board for INT, fumbles forced and recovered. He nearly lost two full seasons after that, due to COVID cancelling ODU’s year and then after transferring to Georgia Tech, he missed the first eight of 12 games in 2021 with an offseason injury. In ’22 he put up 54 tackles, 14 for loss and a career-best 7.5 sacks.


+ Even without having seen White at full health for two years, Bruce Feldman put White at number 20 of his “Freaks List”, with 21 MPH of GPS-tracked time, along with some other impressive testing numbers

+ Would be a freakish mover for a true edge, but has the natural strength and plenty of experience lining up inside

+ With nearly 34-inch arms, he has the length and power to lock out and keep vision through blockers in the run game, plus then he has the ankle flexibility to circle around the guy in front of him, when he has a chance to get a hand on the ball-carrier

+ You see White get banged from the side by the angular man of combo blocks and somehow maintain his balance, to not get uprooted from his area

+ Has some plays against the run, where he can penetrate and just blown things up blindly, as well as completely cave in the backside when guys just try to seal him off

+ Georgia Tech would slant him across the tackle’s face and he would be able to track down the ball-carrier going away from him on wide zone at times

+ Not somebody you can expect to create movement against on kick-out or sift blocks, at best ending in stalemates and mostly he slips off those

+ You see White pull blockers off himself late and get involved on tackles frequently

+ Features some ridiculous change-of-direction, which shows up against bootlegs, reverses, etc.

+ If you leave him unblocked as the read-man on invert veer for example, with how quickly White can blow up the mesh point, there are times where neither option is able to really accelerate once they commit to having the ball


+ When he can rush from wide alignment and has that runway off the ball, you can see the acceleration he has up the arc

+ Offers impressive flexibility in his lower half, to drop his knees and ankles, in order to corner his rushes, plus even when he starts to stumble at times, he can continue on that arc

+ It’s pretty crazy at times when White is long-arming a tackle and it seems he’s about to go past the QB, but somehow he’s able to circle back around with his feet way outside of his frame and he finds a way to get there

+ Flashes a rapid spin move to free himself off contact late, at times after bouncing around bodies

+ Delivers significant knock-back when banging into linemen who try to give him ground and you see some flashes, when he does convert speed-power-power that really pop off the screen

+ When you cut down the length White has to cover, slanting into the A-gap, he can blow through one shoulder of the guard or center and create pressure right up the QB’s face in a hurry

+ White’s skill-set can be used to set up front game, where he can crash across gaps on stunts, where he pulls bodies with him and frees the lane for a guy from the other side or the second level to loop around

+ Recorded 30 hurries and four more QB hits along with his 7.5 sacks last season across 276 pass-rushing snaps

+ The Yellowjackets peeled him off the edge as a hook or flat dropper every once in a while, even though he doesn’t seem super comfortable with it right now, just because he didn’t really do it at Old Dominion


– At this point certainly lacks an awareness for run schemes and needs to learn countering the first steps of the O-line

– Too often you see blockers be able to get the outside foot around him and seal him on outside zone or reach-block on perimeter-oriented plays, as well as him trying to jump inside and allowing opportunities to get out to the edge

– Has to work on his hand-placement when trying to free himself of the reach of blockers and dictate rushes

– Doesn’t currently rush with a legit plan or sets up his moves accordingly, winning largely based on his natural talent and not threatening blockers laterally

– Will already turn 25 right around the end of the 2023 NFL regular season and it has yet to really click for him


You just don’t see many 280+ pound humans move at the pace White can. The size-speed-power combination is off the charts and some flashes of that natural talent are blinding. Unfortunately, considering he’s currently projected to potentially go late in the first round to a contender, he may end up celebrating his 25th birthday as his team makes the playoffs and he’s still looked at as more of a project, who can’t be a major contributor at that stage. The ability to diagnose plays and pro-actively use his hands to take control display aren’t there yet. That doesn’t mean at all that he won’t get there one day – you just need to know what you’re investing into. The potential is right up there with anybody outside the top-three for me at least and I think he actually be best suited playing head-up or inside the tackle on early downs, where he can doesn’t have to worry about as much going on around him, in favor of just crashing into blockers and create problems.



Felix Anudike-Uzomah


9. Felix Anudike-Uzomah, Kansas State

6’3”, 255 pounds; JR


A lowly recruited three-star guy in the 2020 class, Anudike-Uzomah said himself that he only had like five sacks during his entire high school career. He barely even saw the field as a true freshman, before stepping into a prominent role in 2021, when he was a first-team All-Big 12 selection, with 14.5 tackles for loss, 11 sacks and six forced fumbles. His numbers dipped slightly as a junior (11, 8.5 and two), but he still had me great moments and was recognized for it as the Big 12’s Defensive Player of the Year, thanks in part due to his play in some K-State biggest games, on their way to a conference championship,


+ When he plays half the man in the run game and just focuses on setting a physical edge, there’s not much ground he’ll surrender, if not actively takes it away

+ Has those strong triceps, which allow him to lock out and gain vision on the ball-carrier

+ You put him on the backside of run plays and guys try to hinge-block or just seal him on the backside, Felix will ride his blocker into the pile and negate any cutback lanes

+ Yet, he’s become better at recognizing when the play is designed to go away from him and there’s an opportunity to rip through their reach of tackles and going over the top of those blocks altogether

+ When caught on the wrong side of the blocks due to alignment, with somebody blocking down on him, he can at least ride that guy against his will regularly and forcing the ball-carrier to bubble to wider around them

+ Happily wrong-shoulders pulling guards and creates traffic in the backfield when given a chance

+ You can reduce this guy inside and he played in some three-man lines, where his quick hands and explosive style can create issues in an aggressive, gap-slanting style

+ Had an absolute monster game against TCU in 2021, when he recorded four sacks, including a strip near the goal-line and mid-way through the fourth quarter, to seal the win (He also stopped the scrambling QB on a couple of extra occasions)

+ And generally, due to playing a bunch of five-technique, he saw true double-teams with regularity and especially later in games, when he had made his presence felt offenses made it a priority to have four hands on him


+ Brings an explosive burst upfield and a relentless motor as a pass-rusher, while trying to find a direct path towards the quarterback routinely

+ Got better at maximizing his power in 2022 – Does well to stab at the chest of and lift up offensive linemen, routinely taking them off balance and dictating reps, where if the quarterback tries to step up, he’s often there to wrap up

+ Off the long-arm, once he feels tackles leaning into him, he can follow through by bringing the opposite arm over the top and take the inside lane

+ However, he also displays some impressive flexibility and balance to dip around the corner and get his hips pointed at the quarterback, whilst tackles hook him and he can’t really keep his feet underneath himself

+ Pairs that up with a little jab inside at times, in order to create a softer corner for himself and packs a pretty sudden shoulder-dip to go under the punch of tackles

+ If you show him the hands early, Felix will swipe them to the side and force guys to lean into him with their body, plus then he has the body-control to circle around them

+ Has some reps where he has the outside edge on the tackle and as the back is trying to chip or help, he just runs through those guys in his path

+ Does not shy away from crashing into the shoulder of guards, in order to set interior linemen on loops around him and of course his ability to curve his path, he can execute those stunts across multiple gaps himself

+ Already received a 89.9 pass-rush grade from PFF in 2021, before receiving more attention from offensive coordinator this past season, yet still recording 46 total pressures across 388 pass-rush snaps


– Too often is a tad bit late off the ball and just launches himself into the guy across from him regardless of the play

– Has to do a better job of keeping the outside arm free and taking care of his contain responsibilities

– Can be caught off guard by some misdirection plays and overall his block-recognition has room for improvement

– While the ability to bend is on display regularly, he doesn’t actually corner/flatten his rushes adequately yet with his cleats pushing off the ground and he needs to learn to play under more control, not landing on the turf as regularly

– Going against NFL linemen, he’ll need to become more effective with setting up pass-rush moves and at least threatening to win cleanly with his hands, instead of always trying to start with power


Anudike-Uzomah has some of the most intriguing, but also sometimes frustrating tape among any defensive player in this draft. When he buries his hands inside the chest of blockers and leverages himself accordingly, he has great moments of run-defense, with the ability to create some negative plays when he’s just asked to win the gap, but he also ends up on the wrong side of blocks because he doesn’t counter the first step(s) of the guy across from him accordingly. I do appreciate the fact he doesn’t allow himself to get too far off his pass-rush lanes and his combination of flexibility plus power is pretty nuts. However, there is so much room upwards with pulling off moves cleanly and becoming more productive at the next level. So you’re investing into a guy with impressive tools and can be a problem-creator already to some degree, but needs molding to become an every-down player at the next level.



Tuli Tuipulotu


10. Tuli Tuipulotu, USC

6’4”, 275 pounds; JR


A top-500 overall recruit in 2020, Tuli already flashed in five games as a true freshman, before becoming a first-team All-Pac-12 selection in 2021, when he recorded 48 total tackles, 7.5 of those for loss, 5.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and batted passes each, along with a scoop-and-score. This past season he took off even more so, earning him the title of Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year and a first-team All-American nod, for racking up 22(!) TFLs, 13.5 sacks, three passes batted down and two forced fumbles.


+ Has a lot of power in his arms and a really sturdy base, to lock out and control the point of attack against solo-blocks in the run game

+ Plus, then he can throw guys to the side, to get initial contact ball-carrier as he passes by

+ Clear mismatch against tight-ends one-on-one, as he regularly rides them into the pile

+ Can produce some negative plays by slanting inside and swatting away through the reach of blockers on zone runs towards him

+ You also see him create some create some havoc slithering across the face of linemen and squeezing plays down from the backside

+ Packs that sudden dip of the shoulder to get underneath the reach of blockers and create an angle to chase after plays when he’s away from the action

+ His pursuit from when lined up in the B-gap and run down the back on wide zone outside the opposite hash is pretty awesome to watch

+ Shed a little bit of weight coming into 2022 and played more on the edge, but also become a movable piece for the Trojans, where he be lined up off the ball and knife through gaps on early downs, to disrupt the backfield

+ Was bailed out as a hook dropper a few times by the Trojans, where he tracks the eyes of the quarterback and takes away stick routes by tight-ends


+ Displays some impressive burst off the ball in obvious passing situations and can throw an array of moves at the guy across from him

+ Way too smooth/fluid for a man his size to link his upper and lower half, to where he rarely allows blockers to clutch inside his frame as a rusher, whether it’s dipping underneath their reach or keeping his arms extended through contact

+ Packs a forceful rip move and can ride linemen into the depth of the pocket

+ Yet, he can also get around them when he goes for a eurostep-like footwork, jabbing towards the middle of the tackle, taking a wide step with the outside foot and pulling the inside hip through

+ His long arms create some issues for blockers, trying to get into his frame, as he can keep guys at distance and lift their arms up

+ Does well to time up those up-and-under moves, as he sees the tackle overset and goes for the punch with the outside hand, while attacking the inside one simultaneously

+ Added a wicked cross-chop to his arsenal for 2022, where he flicks his hip around to flatten to the quarterback effectively

+ Flashes a pretty rapid spin move, that seems to surprise blockers when he pulls it out

+ Along with his 13.5 sacks last year, Tuli racked up 43 other pressures across 404 pass-rushing snaps

+ In 2022, you saw him rush from different kinds of alignments, at times blitzing from off-the-ball and creating issues for interior blocker


– Lacks the flat-out speed to consistently run guys down as the unblocked edge defender, unless plays are strung out

– While he has a lot of different things he can throw at blockers, he doesn’t seem to really set up his moves or string them together in a very effective way quite yet

– Had an absurdly high 31.4% tackle miss rate last season, just not initiating contact with a large enough surface area and driving ball-carriers to the ground

– Labelled as an IDL by some, but had just 63 total snaps inside the tackle according to PFF, and he doesn’t quite have the speed around the corner to really threaten OTs that way consistently

– There are too many reps altogether, where he allows tackles to square him up, he gets tall and can’t find a second maneuver to come free


This is a very interesting player profile. I always thought Tuli being listed as IDL just because of his weight was odd, but he isn’t a true EDGE either. He’s simply this disruptive player all over the front, who can be a real thorn in the sight of opposing offenses. Now, while the get-off is impressive for a man his size is impressive, the second and third step aren’t quite there to win the corner, but he uses his hands as weapons and can keep blockers off balance with different step-sequencing. The missed tackles are something he desperately needs to work improve upon. I look at him almost like a Za’Darius Smith and the chess piece he’s become on passing downs, where you can move him all over the formation, find mismatches and let him create problems.



Just missed the cut:


Derick Hall


Derick Hall, Auburn

6’3”, 250 pounds; SR


A four-star recruit in 2019, Hall worked his way into the starting lineup leading up to his junior year, when he put up career-highs in tackles for loss (12.5), sacks (nine) and forced fumbles (two), making him a second-team All-SEC selection. Last year he put up nearly the exact same stat line, along with one interception and fumble recovery each, and ascended to first-team all-conference, despite playing on a 5-7 Auburn team.


+ Good thickness and muscle throughout his frame, along with 34 and ½-inch arms

+ Does well to lean into and lock out blockers at the point of attack – You rarely see him get moved off his landmarks

+ Seems to consistently be in control when tight-ends are asked to solo-block him, where you see him press of guys like Georgia’s Darnell Washington

+ Goes right behind the back of tackles blocking away from him and chases down zone runs the other way with ferocious pursuit

+ Is looking to dip inside of sift blocks and make an impact when designed to be kept from the action

+ Displays the short-area burst to track down mobile quarterbacks pulling the ball or mid-point as the read-man on speed option and still make the tackle on the back

+ Provides the powerful strides to drive ball-carriers backwards as a tackler in tight areas and helps make sure there are no more yards after contact when he arrives there

+ You also see him shuffle along from the backside of zone-read or RPO looks, where he has burst to run down the tight-ends coming across for slide routes and stuff like that

+ Was asked to peel off and drop to the flats or hook zones a few times, he was an effectively tackler when offenses flipped the ball out to the back that way


+ When he gets a good jump on the ball, Hall looks like he’s shot out of a cannon a few times, which he pairs it up with a forceful rip

+ Can power through the outside shoulder at an angle to shorten the arc and at least condense the edge even against powerful OTs

+ This past season, I thought he got a lot more effective at converting speed-to-power from those wide alignments and riding tackles into the space of quarterbacks, by rolling his hips through contact

+ Will also press through the inside shoulder to either get a wrap on quarterbacks or flush them off their spot, to enable his teammates to clean up

+ If you present the hands to Hall prematurely, he will work those and somehow knock them away, before attacking your frame instead

+ Continues to work the hands and fight off blocks, with the speed to hunt down quarterbacks escaping the pocket

+ Auburn used some packages on longer downs, where Hall lined up at MIKE backer, to rush him from different angles

+ Has earned 80.0-plus pass-rushing grades in each of the past three seasons from PFF, with 90 pressures across 659 rush opportunities over the last two combined


– Possesses the length and explosiveness to be impact pass-rushers, but he needs to add some more moves to his toolbox, varying his steps and pacing his rushes a little more, in order to create softer angles for himself

– In particular slants/stunts and rushing from different angles, he allows blockers to square him up and doesn’t pro-actively attack their edges, in order to really challenge those guys

– Simply has to find reliable counters off pure speed-rushes and the long-arm, where a little stiffness in the hips shows up

– Could do a better job of getting his head out of traffic when shooting inside or having a tight-end work towards him

– He may have been provided that freedom to peak and cheat inside on blocks due to the speed on their second level, but some NFL coaches will chew him out for not staying in position to keep his contain all the time


I thought Hall really missed an opportunity down in Mobile to separate himself from a couple of other guys in the Senior Bowl edge group. He couldn’t really dictate rushes and allowed guys to mirror him on spin moves, due to not threatening upfield aggressively enough. With that being said, that way a pretty strong collection of tackles, now that I’ve finished and published my breakdown of that class, and if you go back to the tape, you find several stretches of him being in control of matchups. My worry is going up against more complete and technically advanced OTs, his repertoire of moves is a little too straight-line and predictable right no. If he can become more diverse in that regard and play with vision on the ball through blocks in run-defense, he can be a long-time starter at outside linebacker for an odd-front defense. I expect him to ultimately be a top-50 pick.



Isaiah Foskey, Notre Dame

6’5”, 265 pounds; SR


A four-star recruit in 2019, Foskey barely saw the field as a freshman, before flashing in year two as a rotational player (5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks). In 2021, he recorded 52 tackles, 10 sacks and six(!) forced fumbles as a full-time starter for the first time. This past season, he bettered his numbers to 13.5 TFLs and 10.5 sacks, making him a second-team All-American.


+  Versatile, hard-nosed run defender, who regularly shoots his hands at the numbers of the guy across from him and forces the pads of big offensive tackles to pop back, thanks to the shock in his hands

+ Plays with the active hands near the point of attack to work off blocks and get initial contact on the ball-carrier

+ On front-side drive blocks in particular, he ends up making some tackles on the back cutting up the A-gap, by quickly pulling the tackle to the side

+ When matched up with tight-ends on the front-side of wide zone, he can string out those plays whilst staying square to the blocker and being able to come off for the tackle when it’s time

+ You see Foskey get involved on a lot more plays than he probably should, jumping to the opposite side of blocks and getting the wrap – continues to work and chase after the ball, even if it’s out of the picture

+ Shows no hesitation accelerating into a pulling guard, with the anchor strength to keep that lane plugged and force the ball-carrier to bounce or look for cutbacks

+ Has plenty of experience as an off-ball linebacker going back to 2021, taking on linemen in the hole, shedding and wrapping up running backs on early downs

+ Put up numbers in the 90th percentile for edge defenders in the 40-yard dash (4.58) and broad jump (10’5”), and his speed in pursuit for a 260+ pound athlete is freaky

+ Has a lot of experience dropping out into the flats from edge alignments, but also sinking down the seams as a middle backer


+ Has some serious juice off the ball and uses his hands as real weapons, attacking the frame of blockers

+ Two-hand swipes and chop-downs in particular work well for him to swat down the reach of tackles

+ Watching back the Cincinnati game from ’21, those OTs didn’t have the foot quickness to deal with his speed and were caught leaning into him up the arc

+ If guys expose their chest against Foskey, he will attack it and test their ability to anchor

+ Packs an effective long-arm and then off that, he’s quick at swiping down the outside hand of the tackle, once that guys tries to reach out/lean into him

+ Even when tackles have him squared up and the initial move doesn’t land properly, Foskey provides the continuous leg-drive to keep riding them into the QB’s space

+ Was routinely used as an add-on rusher from off-ball alignments, on control rushers and as a quasi-spy

+ I even saw him line up in the B-gap and wrap all the way around the opposite edge a couple of times in 2021

+ Racked up 65 total pressures across his 595 pass-rushing snaps combined over the last two seasons


– Too often gets his head stuck in the chest of blockers and doesn’t have vision on the ball-carrier – You’d like to see him keep one arm free more regularly

– In general, he plays too tall and limits his ability to own his space in the run game

– Once his angle on the initial outside rush is cut off, Foskey doesn’t have the quick reactionary skills at this point, to still give tackles trouble, other than trying ride them backwards

– Way too many of his rushes he allows tackles to square him up and get him to settle for bull-rushes, showing some ankle tightness and not being able to give a little shake, in order to create an angle and reduce the near-shoulder to the blocker

– More of a spot-dropper at this point, not showing the peripheral vision to attach to targets eventually – at least for teams considering playing him more off the ball


Foskey certainly lost plenty of shine as a prospect this past season, looking at what he was looked at compared to the summer. I’m not sure if that’s totally fair, because his numbers all-around were actually slightly better, other than just not creating the turnovers he did the year prior. I was never in on him as a first-rounder, but I do think a guy with that kind of speed, length and force in his hands is very intriguing. He didn’t take advantage of his chance to stand out among a rather underwhelming EDGE group at the Senior Bowl. His ability to convert speed-to-power stood out a couple of times early on, but other than that it was pretty quiet for him and he really had to fight for his space in the run game. With that being said, I love his tenacity and he already excels at using the momentum he creates to break the anchor of pretty strong tackles. Where I’m intrigued with him is how much more flexible he can become in the lower half to run the hoop more efficiently, to make him a more viable speed-rusher. I’m fine with Foskey as a mid-day two selection.



Nick Herbig, Wisconsin

6’2”, 235 pounds; JR


A top-150 overall recruit in 2020, Herbig immediately showed off his talents as a rotational player for the Badgers and was a key cog for that unit these past two years. Over the course of those 24 games, he combined for 108 tackles, 30(!) of those for loss, 20 sacks, four passes defensed and four forced fumbles, earning himself first-team All-Big Ten accolades in the latter one.


+ Works hard to disengage from blocks with super-active hands

+ Quickly recognizes when tight-ends lunge into him and he can pull them forward to free himself from those blocks

+ This guy is not somebody who you can leave unblocked on the backside of run plays and it may vary with assignments tasked, but having a fly sweep fake try to bind him typically led to TFLs

+ Rapidly crashes through the inside shoulder of blockers trying to seal him on the backside of zone run scheme or rips through the reach of blockers and creates an angle towards the ball for himself

+ There are multiple instances on his tape, where he rides somebody along and caves in one side on run concepts

+ Takes his contain responsibilities seriously, shuffling inside to minimize the lane when initially unoccupied with square shoulders, if he needs to redirect for QB pulls or misdirection plays

+ Can cover some pretty good ground and seems light on his feet floating out to the flats or bail out to take away a quick slant

+ In particular, his back-pedal looks more well-trained than most guys primarily playing on the edge, while you also see the ability to drop and change directions with relative ease


+ For an undersized edge player, he showed a natural feel for setting up offensive linemen and getting to opposing quarterbacks

+ Does well to anticipate/react to when tackles lean into him working around the arc

+ Has some shake to him to work tackles who tend to stop their feet as they see him hesitate, and flashes a fluid spin move

+ Last season, I thought he was able to stab at the inside pec of tackles and open up that direct lane to the QB in passing situations more regularly

+ You see Herbig incorporate some fake stabs and show the hands, to force tackles to load up their punch, and then he able to time up his ensuing swipes

+ You see strong ankles and flexibility in the lower half to circle back around after slightly overrunning the arc towards the quarterback and still is able to get home

+ Showcases the explosiveness to kill guards not sliding over with him as he shoots inside on T-E twists off planting with that first outside step

+ Provides tremendous effort as a pass-rusher and you see him chase quarterbacks across the field

+ Earned a 92.4 grade by PFF in true pass-rush situations and had a 23.9% win rate


– Will face the same type of concerns as some of these prior Wisconsin EDGE/LB hybrids, with sub-par length at only 31 and ¼-inch arms

– Lacks the shock in his hands to consistently stop the momentum of tackles drive-blocking on him at the point of attack

– Doesn’t bring much of a power element as a pass-rusher and you see when guys are able to cut off his angle, he has kind of a tough time to finding a different path to affect the passer, while lacking the length to keep his frame clean

– For teams projecting him as a primary off-ball player, his 46 career snaps in man-coverage (according to PFF) lead to a lack of clarity about what he can do in that area

– Misses too many tackles, where he ends up clutching air, because his eyes are looking down at the turf and he dives forward


This another one of those Wisconsin edge defenders in the undersized, hybrid mold. Nerbig dropped into coverage nearly as much as he rushed the passer in 2021, despite earning a 91.4 pass-rushing grade from PFF, before the Badgers coaching staff realized they needed to take advantage of the pressure he can provide more regularly this past season. He’s hyper-active with his hands and pursues the ball with great effort, while showing great understanding for how to set up and the skills to defeat tackles with different rush maneuvers. With the lack of length and power to his rushers, I worry about teams wanting to convert to an off-ball role on early downs and him taking a similar path to Zack Baun (Saints) a few years ago. However, I think he can be a effective player on the edge – and he won’t even be 22 years old when week one kicks off.




The next few names:

K.J. Henry (Clemson), Byron Young (Tennessee), Andre Carter II (Army), Isaiah McGuire (Missouri), Nick Hampton (Appalachian State), Yaya Diaby (Louisville), Zach Harrison (Ohio State), Jose Ramirez (Eastern Michigan) & Dylan Horton (TCU)



6 thoughts on “Top 10 edge defenders of the 2023 NFL Draft:

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  2. Pingback: Top 10 interior offensive linemen of the 2023 NFL Draft: | Defy Life

  3. Pingback: Top 10 interior defensive linemen of the 2023 NFL Draft: | Halil's Real Footballtalk

  4. Pingback: Top 10 interior defensive linemen of the 2023 NFL Draft: | Defy Life

  5. Pingback: Top 10 tight-ends of the 2023 NFL Draft: | Defy Life

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