College Football

Power Ranking the Top 10 Pass-Rushers in 2015 Recruiting Class

Tyler DonohueNational Recruiting AnalystJune 25, 2014

Power Ranking the Top 10 Pass-Rushers in 2015 Recruiting Class

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    Florida DE Byron Cowart wreaks havoc off the edge.
    Florida DE Byron Cowart wreaks havoc off the edge.Credit: 247Sports

    Collegiate offensive schemes continue to put more of an emphasis on the aerial attack than ever before, making elite pass-rushers an increasingly valuable commodity. Defenders who can burst off the edge or bulldoze up the middle while collapsing the pocket are available across America in the 2015 recruiting class.

    There are several players destined to give quarterbacks nightmares and make offensive linemen look silly at the next level. We rank the most impressive pass-rushers among this latest crop of prospects, placing a premium on both technique and raw skill.

10. DE Keisean Lucier-South (Orange, California)

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    School: Orange Lutheran High School

    Size: 6'5", 225 pounds

    247Sports Composite Ranking: No. 2 weak-side defensive end

    College Status: Uncommitted (offers include Notre Dame, UCLA, Michigan, Texas and USC)

    Pass-Rushing Resume

    Keisean Lucier-South made significant strides during his junior season, finishing with a team-high 10 sacks. He added 38 tackles in 2013.

     

    How He Does Damage

    An incredibly high "ceiling" lands Lucier-South on this list. His slender physique and raw technique have a long way to go from a developmental standpoint, which serves as a scary thought for future opponents.

    He is speedy along the edge and uses long strides to close in on the quarterback. Lucier-South's impressive wingspan allows him to disrupt the pocket, even if he doesn't pick up a sack.

9. LB Jeffery Holland (Jacksonville, Florida)

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    School: Trinity Christian Academy

    Size: 6'2", 230 pounds

    247Sports Composite Ranking: No. 4 outside linebacker

    College Status: Uncommitted (offers include Auburn, Florida, Alabama, Ohio State and Miami)

    Pass-Rushing Resume

    Jeffery Holland was a force off the edge during a state championship run. He totaled 12.5 sacks, per MaxPreps, finishing the season with 45 tackles.

     

    How He Does Damage

    This long-bodied defender doesn't hesitate at any point once he dissects what the offense is sending his way. He possesses a powerful lower body that enables him to drive through larger opponents in pursuit of the quarterback.

    Holland outmaneuvers offensive linemen with top-end agility and closes on the ball in a hurry. Opposing coaches must account for him every time he lines up in the box.

8. LB Malik Jefferson (Mesquite, Texas)

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    School: Poteet High School

    Size: 6'2", 225 pounds

    247Sports Composite Ranking: No. 1 outside linebacker

    College Status: Uncommitted (offers include Texas A&M, Baylor, Alabama, Oklahoma and Texas)

    Pass-Rushing Resume

    Malik Jefferson, an all-around menace at linebacker, posted a career-high 12 sacks in 2013. He's tallied 188 tackles and 19 sacks during the past two seasons.

     

    How He Does Damage

    Jefferson can flip a switch once he finds a crack in protection, storming through with explosive straight-line speed. He maintains outstanding pad level during his approach and keeps his shoulders square upon contact.

    Defenses can disguise a blitz and turn him loose through any gap, especially as Jefferson adds to his physical frame. He delivers devastating hits, creating opportunities for forced fumbles when he approaches from a passer's blind side.

7. DT Breiden Fehoko (Honolulu, Hawaii)

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    School: Farrington High School

    Size: 6'3", 290 pounds

    247Sports composite rankings: No. 8 defensive tackle

    College Status: Committed to Texas Tech

    Pass-Rushing Resume

    Breiden Fehoko dominated throughout the 2013 season, securing 24.5 sacks. His head-turning effort also featured 103 tackles.

     

    How He Does Damage

    Fehoko is a unique talent who can bring a steady pass rush up the middle. He gains leverage early, locates the ball and discards his opponent.

    He flashes outstanding speed for a player approaching 300 pounds and features a ferocious punch. There will be an opportunity for him to play early and often as a Red Raider.

6. DE Byron Cowart (Seffner, Florida)

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    School: Armwood High School

    Size: 6'4", 250 pounds

    247Sports Composite Ranking: No. 2 strong-side defensive end

    Pass-Rushing Resume

    Byron Cowart collected 13 sacks during his junior season, tallying 72 tackles. He returned two fumbles for touchdowns.

     

    How He Does Damage

    Cowart, clocked at 4.60 seconds in the 40-yard dash, is a tough matchup for any offensive lineman. He's built like a tank and doesn't need to rely on his speed to break through into the pocket, though it certainly helps.

    Still developing as a pure pass-rusher, he plays like a linebacker cutting across the field. His potential will increase once he develops an array of moves.

5. DT Rasheem Green (Gardena, California)

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    School: Junipero Serra High School

    Size: 6'5", 275 pounds

    247Sports Composite Ranking: No. 3 defensive tackle

    College Status: Uncommitted (offers include USC, UCLA, Stanford, Oklahoma and Oregon)

    Pass-Rushing Resume

    Rasheem Green earned Mission League Lineman MVP honors as a junior, tallying a team-high 14 sacks per MaxPreps. He secured 57 tackles.

     

    How He Does Damage

    Green uses brute force to bully opponents, relentlessly driving them into the backfield. He lines up at defensive end in the Cavaliers' 3-4 front and handles the responsibility well, attacking with ferocity and setting the edge.

    His knee balance is outstanding and shows he's athletic enough to handle duties as a 3-technique at the next level. Green has the makings of a penetrating interior presence as he transitions into college.

4. DE Natrez Patrick (Atlanta, Georgia)

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    School: Mays High School

    Size: 6'3', 220 pounds

    247Sports Composite Rankings: No. 7 weak-side defensive end

    College Status: Committed to Georgia

    Pass-Rushing Resume

    Natrez Patrick enjoyed a breakout campaign last fall, finishing the season with 17 sacks. He recorded 83 total tackles. 

     

    How He Does Damage

    At this point, Patrick's game is based almost entirely on speed. There are several times when he reaches the quarterback untouched, but that clearly won't be the case when he steps onto the field as an SEC defender.

    His length and quickness are ideal for a pure pass-rusher who knows how to finish in the pocket. Added weight and improved technique will raise the bar for his potential.

3. DE Jashon Cornell (Saint Paul, Minnesota)

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    School: Cretin Derham Hall

    Size: 6'4", 260 pounds

    247Sports Composite Ranking: No. 3 weak-side defensive end

    College Status: Uncommitted (offers include Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and Notre Dame)

    Pass-Rushing Resume

    Jashon Cornell has been a consistent tormentor of quarterbacks during his high school career. He followed up a 14-sack sophomore campaign with 15 sacks in 2013.

     

    How He Does Damage

    Freakishly athletic for a player carrying his amount of weight, Cornell overwhelms opponents with a blend of strength and burst. He fires a brutally effective punch off the snap and uses swift footwork to shoot into the offensive backfield.

    Cornell moves very well laterally, allowing him to outwork the offensive front while finding space. He has tremendous reach and uses it to corral quarterbacks who are attempting to elude him outside the pocket.

2. DE CeCe Jefferson (Glen Saint Mary, Florida)

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    School: Baker County Senior High School

    Size: 6'2", 250 pounds

    247Sports Composite Ranking: No. 1 strong-side defensive end

    College Status: Uncommitted (offers include Florida, Florida State, Alabama, Auburn and USC)

    Pass-Rushing Resume

    CeCe Jefferson led a playoff charge with 17.5 sacks and 68 tackles as a junior, per MaxPreps. He totaled 15 sacks in 2012.

     

    How He Does Damage

    Jefferson is an absolute bulldog in the trenches. He beats blockers to the ball with tenacious bull-rushing skills but also implements a slew of finesse moves that highlight his athleticism.

    His skill set should allow him to be a versatile defensive cog at the next level, where he can do damage along the interior or off the offensive tackle's outside shoulder.

1. DE Josh Sweat (Chesapeake, Virginia)

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    School: Oscar Smith High School

    Size: 6'5', 237 pounds

    247Sports Composite Rankings: No. 1 weak-side defensive end

    College Status: Uncommitted (offers include Virginia Tech, Tennessee, Florida State and Georgia)

    Pass-Rushing Resume

    Josh Sweat joined forces with top-ranked 2014 defensive tackle Andrew Brown as a junior to destroy offensive game plans. He totaled 22 sacks and 94 tackles.

     

    How He Does Damage

    It simply isn't fair for offensive tackles that players like Sweat exist. The ranger defender has superior size and matches it with sustained downfield speed.

    Sweat implements a mix of effective moves that enable him to disengage from blocks early in a play's progression. Once he has the quarterback lined up in his cross-hairs, it's a done deal.

     

    Recruit information and ratings courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise noted.

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