Top 10 2020 College DE Prospects (Updated 4/18/20)


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(Just click on the names to get the complete profiles)

Chase Young

Elite size, length and athleticism created loads of production and a vaulted pro projection, but Young’s set of disruptive properties have yet to be fully weaponized. He’s fairly basic as a pass rusher, with just a couple of go-to moves and an occasional inside counter, and yet he still managed 16.5 sacks in 2019. He has the traits to overwhelm many of the tackles he faces, and it won’t take long for teams to add a bull-rush, a rip-and-run and a stab counter into his repertoire. He plays a little upright at the point of attack, and his ball awareness is below average, but those concerns aren’t enough to counterbalance his range and agility as a run defender. Young possesses superior traits and the ability to wreck and alter offensive game-plans as a perennial All-Pro

 

Yetur Gross-Matos

Ascending 4-3 defensive end who should go from good size to imposing frame as he fills out his power-forward body type. He isn’t overly twitchy but impressive length, fluidity and short-area athleticism allow him consistent work-arounds against opposing blockers. He’s average at the point of attack by NFL standards, but that should change with additional strength work and more efficient hand usage. The rush toolbox is only halfway full, but it’s just a matter of time before his spin move and a speed-to-power charge become part of a diversified attack. Gross-Matos should be an early starter, but when the power and skill catch up with the athleticism, look for him to become one of the more productive defenders in the league

 

K'Lavon Chaisson

Possessing an impressive diversity of moldable pass-rushing ingredients and moves, Chaisson has begun putting the recipe together to become a game-altering pass rusher. While some long-limbed rushers lack the bend and leverage to maximize their length, his fluidity and agility allow him to dip, corner, change direction and close in tight quarters or with extended range. He’s not a physical run defender and might be a liability early in his career against power. Chaisson’s stock has gained momentum with his surging performance matching the elite athletic qualities. It adds up to an increasingly confident projection as an impact pass-rusher with Pro-Bowl potential

 

Andrew Epenesa

The size and production should force all evaluators to dial their focus in on what he’s best at rather than any perceived areas of concern. He has average instincts against the run and is a step slow to shed, but he’s strong at the point and he does his job. Epenesa won’t just out-run tackles to the edge, but he’s a skilled rusher whose diversity of attack, skilled hands and unique bull-rushing instincts could help him deliver his college sack production in the pros. He can play end in a 4-3 or 3-4 and could leap from good to great with additional work on technique and explosiveness

 

Marlon Davidson

Four-year starter who posted elevated production against the run and pass as a senior. Davidson has been durable and his play consistent, but he fails to really stand out in the shadow of teammate Derrick Brown. The team who drafts him will need to determine how best to utilize him because despite his build, he’s most effective when playing outside the tackle. He’s athletic enough to work as a base 4-3 end with sub-rush talent, but getting over the hump from good backup to starter might take time

 

Darrell Taylor

Powerful edge defender for 3-4 or 4-3 fronts with five-star traits, but three-star skill level at this point. He has the strength and leverage to anchor and stand his ground at the point of attack, but he needs to transform from a set-it-and-forget-it roadblock into a shed-and-tackle playmaker. His rush lacks instincts and counters, but he has shown the ability to explode and bend the edge sharply, which will get the attention of NFL evaluators. The toolbox has plenty in it, but additional development as a pass rusher might be the difference between functional backup or dangerous starter

 

Jabari Zuniga

With Zuniga, you either buy into the flashes or you don’t. He’s an explosive athlete who has been splashing and flashing since his freshman season but failed to fully reach the promise his traits and explosiveness implied. A monstrous start to 2019 was truncated due to a high ankle sprain. He’s disruptive in the gaps but is not stout enough at the point of attack. He has edge-rushing ability but could find stardom as a reduced rusher in sub-packages, where he’s craftier and more capable of exploiting athletic mismatches. His boogeyman qualities could spring themselves upon unsuspecting offenses relatively early in his career, but his grade is based on projection over production

 

Terrell Lewis

The evaluation requires both projection and a small leap of faith due to durability concerns after he missed most of two full seasons. He needs to fill out his long, athletic build with more girth and muscle to help set stronger edges and hold his ground against downhill rushing attacks. He’s played in just 26 games, so he’s less technically sound than most Alabama defenders at this stage, but he was still productive and showed growth as a player in-season. With more coaching and development as a rusher, he should be able to pair traits with skill to become a future NFL starter, provided his health issues are in the past.

 

James Lynch

Lynch is a Round Rock, Texas, native who turned down USC to play for head coach Matt Rhule at Baylor. The two-time All-District Defensive Lineman of the Year played in 11 games as a reserve his true freshman year with the Bears, recording 20 tackles, five for loss, and three sacks. He stepped into a starting role the following season, starting all 13 games and garnering second-team All-Big 12 notice by leading his squad with nine tackles for loss and five sacks (40 total tackles, two pass breakups, one blocked kick). Lynch was named first-team Associated Press All-American and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year for his play as a junior. He led the Bears with 19.5 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks, both numbers ranking in the top 10 nationally, while also breaking up five passes, causing three fumbles and blocking two kicks in 14 starts

 

Jason Strowbridge

Strowbridge will give opponents a physical challenge with good length, toughness and hand usage at the point of attack, but he lacks the suddenness and short-area directional change to be a consistent disruptor. While he’s not a plus pass rusher, he definitely flashed at the Senior Bowl and has upside as a reduced rusher in an even front on passing downs. He will need to drop the pad level to improve as an edge-setter, but he appears to offer the necessary physical tools and demeanor to become a rotational 3-4 five-technique or 4-3 base end with eventual-starter potential.

 

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