The New York Jets may unfortunately already be looking ahead to the 2020 NFL Draft. And if so, here are three edge rushers the team could look to target.
The New York Jets have consistently failed to choose the right edge rushers in the past few drafts. Selecting Leonard Williams fifth overall in the 2015 draft seemed like a great idea but did not work, and he was just traded to the New York Giants for more picks.
Besides he wasn’t exactly a true edge rusher either.
Fortunately for the Jets, the 2020 NFL Draft is deep at the edge rusher position. Some of the talents this year come from schools that traditionally do not generate top pass rushers.
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As the NFL develops into more of a passing league, having elite talents to rush the quarterback is invaluable. Some of the best defensive players this year in the NFL are edge rushers such as Khalil Mack, J.J. Watt, Joey Bosa, and Calais Campbell.
Nick Bosa is a rookie from Ohio State drafted second overall by the 49ers and is having one of the best seasons for a player his age, making a run for the Defensive Player of the Year.
With all the success edge rushers are bringing teams, it is essential to look at this list of the three best edge rushers in the 2020 draft.
Next: 3. A.J. Epenesa
3. A.J. Epenesa, Iowa
Coming into the season, A.J. Epenesa was a consensus top-two defensive end prospect in the country. He has totaled 3.5 sacks for the year, which is excellent for most people but not enough for Espenesa to live up to his expectations.
Iowa is one of the elite defensive teams in the country, partly due to the dominance of the star defensive end. His 10.5 sacks in 2018 put him on notice and he has not looked back since. Epenesa’s combined quickness and power off the edge makes him stand out.
If Iowa were better as a team, NFL executives would regard Epenesa much higher. One key stat to notice about Iowa is that they are ranked 19 in the country, at the time of writing, but have the sixth-best defense in the nation. The anchor of the defense was Josey Jewell but this year it’s Epenesa.
The talent level of Epenesa cannot be questioned, but the dropoff between the sack numbers this year and last year might concern NFL scouts. A crucial part of the star defender’s game is his tackling with 21 already on the year, which cannot be emphasized enough in the NFL.
Any team that is looking for a defensive end to add to an already solid defense should add Epenesa. That said, Epenesa might have to slim down a little to play a true edge rusher role with the Jets.
His current build projects him as more of a 4-3 defensive end/interior rusher but if he drops a few pounds, he has the quickness to play off the edge in a 3-4.
Even if he is not the player a team should base a franchise around, the value to a good pass rusher and sure tackler is enormous for teams at the next level to see.
Next: 2. Yetur Gross-Matos
2. Yetur Gross-Matos, Penn State
Penn State has two great pass rushers in Yetur Gross-Matos and Shaka Toney leaving everyone to guess who would be the better prospect heading into the new season. Gross-Matos certainly pulled away, showing he is a top-two edge rusher in the upcoming draft class.
The star edge rusher is tied for sixth in the Big Ten with 5.5 sacks and has accumulated 26 sacks on the season. It is the domination at the line of scrimmage that has scouts so high on Gross-Matos.
In big games against Michigan and Iowa, he has shown up and dominated some of the best offensive linemen in the country.
The main question with Gross-Matos coming into the season was the speed, but he certainly quieted all doubters by consistently beating offensive linemen to the spot most snaps.
The amount of quarterback pressure he generates is invaluable even though sometimes it might not end in a sack, so it doesn’t show up on the stat sheet.
The consistent performances and attitude on the field make Gross-Matos one of the highly looked to prospects in the draft. He has extra motivation with family tragedy, which furthers his drive to play every single snap for his dad and brother, who were everything to him.
It is a gift for any team to have Gross-Matos fall into their lap and they should take full advantage of the edge he can bring to the organization that drafts him.
The only reason he is not number one is that the top-ranked edge rusher might be one of the most dominant to ever play at Ohio State.
Next: 1. Chase Young
1. Chase Young, Ohio State
Chase Young is one of the most dominant edge rushers college football has ever seen. He was a prospect last year, but everyone’s attention was deservingly on Nick Bosa, who earned it. Young looks even better than Bosa leading the Big Ten with 13.5 sacks on the young season.
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The dominant edge rusher showed out in the most important games of the season accounting for four sacks against No. 13 Wisconsin and 0.5 sacks against No. 25 Michigan State. The four-sack performance tied the team record for the most in a single game.
Coming into the year, Young was among the top candidates for the top pick and he only justified his value to the NFL world. The combination of power and speed overwhelms even the best offensive lineman in the country, as demonstrated against Wisconsin.
Young’s technique differentiates himself from the other edge rushers, because of how it compares to an NFL player in his third year. The stand out pass rusher could change a franchise as his former teammate Nick Bosa did to the now 7-0 San Francisco 49ers.
There is no doubt Young has earned his spot among the Ohio State greats. The dominance of Young makes him deserving of the top-ranked edge rusher in the draft and possibly the number one overall pick when all is set and done.