NFL Draft 400: Ranking the Top Edge Defenders for 2016

Matt Miller@nfldraftscoutNFL Draft Lead WriterApril 18, 2016

NFL Draft 400: Ranking the Top Edge Defenders for 2016

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    The 2016 NFL draft class doesn't feature two Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks at the top like last season's did with Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be excited about this year's class. With this draft set to be dominated by defensive linemen and small-school studs, not many people know as many names as they did last offseason.   

    The goal of the NFL Draft 400 series is to change that.

    The top 400 players were tracked, scouted, graded and ranked by me and my scouting assistants, Marshal Miller and Dan Bazal, along with intern Josh Temple. Together, we viewed tape of a minimum of three games per player (the same standard NFL teams use). Often, we saw every play by a prospect over the last two years. That led to the edge-defender grades, rankings and scouting reports you see here.

    Players were graded on positives and negatives, with a pro-player comparison added to match the player's style or fit in the NFL. The top 400 players will be broken down position by position for easy viewing before the release of a top-400 big board prior to the draft.

    In the case of a tie, players were ranked based on their overall grade in our top 400.

Matt Miller NFL Draft Grading Scale

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    Brett Davis/Associated Press

    At the end of each scouting report, you'll see a final grade that falls somewhere between 4.00 and 9.00. This scale comes from the teaching I received from Charley Casserly, Michael Lombardi and other former and current front-office personnel in the NFL. I tweaked it this year to be more transparent. As a result, each player received a number grade as well as a ranking.

    This applies to all positions across the board.

    Matt Miller's 2016 Draft Grading Scale
    9.00Elite—No. 1 pick
    8.00-8.99All-Pro—Rare Talent
    7.50-7.99Round 1—Pro Bowl Potential
    7.00-7.49Round 1—Top-15-Player Potential
    6.50-6.99Round 2—Rookie Impact/Future Starter
    6.00-6.49Round 3—Rookie Impact/Future Starter
    5.80-5.99Round 3-4—Future Starter
    5.70-5.79Round 4—Backup Caliber
    5.60-5.69Round 5—Backup Caliber
    5.50-5.59Round 6—Backup Caliber
    5.40-5.49Round 7—Backup Caliber
    5.00-5.39Priority Free Agent
    4.50-4.99Camp Player

24. Eric Lee, South Florida

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    STEVEN CANNON/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'3"254 lbs4.72s7.06s4.55s 


    A second-team All-Conference selection, Eric Lee received the Lee Roy Selmon award as the team's best defensive lineman while also serving as a team captain in 2015.

    A two-year starter, Lee played right defensive end for the Bulls and impressed with power and agile movements in space. Lee looks the part with a long, athletic frame and juiced-up movements. He initiates contact with extended arms and will eat up the cushion of a tackle off the snap.

    He has quick hips and will whip around the edge with a tight turn. Lee planted FSU’s Dalvin Cook in the backfield in their matchup by using a speed move to beat the left tackle and then jamming down on space to make the tackle.

    An upside player with the height, weight, speed and length to work into a rotation at outside linebacker, Lee is worth a phone call as the draft is wrapping up.


    A high-cut player with long legs, Lee doesn’t bring power with him off the snap and is often lunging into the body of a blocker. He projects as a stand-up player more than a down defensive end.

    Without the power to stack up blockers on the line, Lee will be asked to play in space—something he rarely did at USF. He’s not comfortable making zone drops into coverage and has little experience working through trash to find the ball. He’s all about upfield movement and must learn to play laterally.

    Because he lacks power, Lee is easy to block down and keep out of the play. If blockers keep a body on him, he can be neutralized due to poor hand play. He also lacks the lower body strength to anchor and fight to the ball.

    PRO COMPARISON: Zack Wagenmann, Arizona Cardinals

    FINAL GRADE: 5.00/9.00 (Priority Free Agent)

23. Eddie Yarbrough, Wyoming

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    Michael Smith/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'2 ½"259 lbs4.80s7.04s4.41s 


    A three-time First-Team All-Mountain West player, Eddie Yarbough has the athletic profile of a stand-up pass-rusher in a 3-4 defense.

    A defensive end in the Wyoming scheme, Yarbough is a natural leader on the field. He has a thick, stout build that will hold up to NFL hits. His motor is always running, and he has success on backside plays where he’s asked to chase the quarterback. Yarbrough’s agility and flexibility are above the line for his frame and won’t limit his ability to stand up and rush.

    When attacking the backfield, Yarbrough takes smart angles and is able to find a clean path to the quarterback. He has a knack for finding the ball and making splash plays. In 2015, he totaled 10.5 tackles for a loss and seven sacks.


    A slightly undersized pass-rusher, Yarbrough is coming off a 2015 sprained knee that slowed him down. Yarbrough’s frame is already maxed out, and he doesn’t look to have the ideal flexibility and burst in his hips that scouts want in an edge-rusher.

    A short-strider when attacking in space, Yarbrough doesn’t cover much ground in pursuit. He has enough pop in his hands, but his overall play power is underwhelming and will need improvement. Yarbrough has chase speed for the college level, but his actual speed is a negative on film, as it shows he’s not able to run down mobile passers from behind.

    Playing exclusively at defensive end in college, Yarbrough isn’t experienced in coverage and would need to learn to play in space.

    PRO COMPARISON: Lerentee McCray, Denver Broncos

    FINAL GRADE: 5.00/9.00 (Priority Free Agent)

22. Theiren Cockran, Minnesota

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'4 "247 lbs4.82s7.40s4.45s 


    A three-year starter at defensive end, Theiren Cockran shows the versatility on tape that teams want. He’s experienced as a stand-up rusher and with his hand in the dirt on the edge of the defense. Cockran’s upfield burst is that of an NFL-caliber edge-rusher, and he has the length to get in the face of quarterbacks even when taken out of sack range.

    A high-character teammate according to coaches we spoke with, Cockran is a leader on and off the field. He has the height, weight and wingspan teams want in outside rushers and brings a frame that will add more mass as he matures.

    Cockran has some stuff as a pass-rusher and will break out a swim move, a rip move and has enough hand play to get himself free from blockers on the edge. A high-motor player, he’ll give pursuit and work to make plays both near and far.


    Coming off the ball, Cockran may lack the burst to ever be an impact rusher in the NFL. He has average hip snap and lunges to close the cushion set up by offensive tackles. While moving to attack, Cockran shows heavy feet and stiff change-of-direction skills.

    Awareness and instincts when containing the edge are lacking on Cockran’s tape. He loses the edge with poor angles and without the strength to stack up blockers. He’ll get sucked inside on misdirection and can too easily be sucked into the backfield, surrendering the edge.

    A lack of overall athleticism shows up on tape, especially when it comes to backside speed. He’s a limited athlete with poor flexibility and bend around the corner.

    PRO COMPARISON: Deiontrez Mount, Tennessee Titans

    FINAL GRADE: 5.00/9.00 (Priority Free Agent)

21. Jimmy Bean, Oklahoma State

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'5"264 lbsN/AN/AN/A 


    A dynamic pass-rusher with the size and strength to play in a 4-3 or 3-4 defense, Jimmy Bean stole the show on the Oklahoma State defense when fully healthy in 2015. In eight games, he had already posted 10.5 tackles for a loss and 5.5 sacks (a career high) before tearing his ACL.

    Bean has the long arms (33 ½”) teams go for in outside rushers. He’s able to keep blockers off his frame with arm extension and knows how to use his hands to push off of blockers to spring himself around the corner. At 264 pounds, he has the size and length to play standing up or with his hand down.

    When attacking downhill, Bean shows sharp weight transfer and can win with a spin move or sidestep. He’s heavy-handed enough to swipe away at blockers. Bean’s backside chase speed is above the line, and he’ll make plays in pursuit. He’s a reliable tackler with a big wrap-up radius. He covers ground in his first three steps and will eat up a cushion.


    Due to a knee injury, Bean wasn’t able to work out for scouts this offseason. He has no testing times available for comparison. Bean also dislocated a knee in 2013 and could be a medical red flag.

    On the field, he’ll too often lose line of sight and struggle tracking the ball. At his height, that shouldn’t happen as often as it does. Bean’s big, heavy steps as a mover are another issue he must overcome. Because of these lumbering steps, he’ll lose power when trying to turn the corner and doesn’t hit the edge with acceleration.

    Coming off the snap, Bean shows average burst. His change-of-direction skills are average, and he has almost no experience playing in coverage. As a space player, Bean needs his footwork redone and his weight transfer adjusted.

    A lack of athleticism and two knee injuries could keep this productive and promising college defensive end in the latter stages of the draft.

    PRO COMPARISON: Anthony Chickillo, Pittsburgh Steelers

    FINAL GRADE: 5.40/9.00 (Round 7—Backup Caliber)

20. Romeo Okwara, Notre Dame

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'5"265 lbs4.90s7.38s4.53s 


    A 20-year-old born in Nigeria, Romeo Okwara burst onto the scene in 2015 with 13.5 tackles for loss and nine sacks. A big, long (34 ⅛”) edge-rusher, Okwara passes the eyeball test. He has a near prototype frame with a muscular build and a body that could add more mass.

    Okwara gets a big push behind his arms to seal the edge in the run game. He locks out blockers with his length and has the strength to stack the edge. He’s comfortable playing in an up or down position and can easily flip back and forth between a 3-4 and 4-3 alignment.

    As a pass-rusher, Okwara can collapse the pocket and flush the quarterback into a scramble. He had production as a clean-up tackler too, showing good wrap-up ability and strength. He’s comfortable in space and has some experience in pass drops to the flats and inside the box.

    Okwara’s a two-year starter with the athletic upside to intrigue teams late in the draft.


    Okwara was a one-year wonder at Notre Dame, registering just 3.5 sacks in three seasons before his breakout senior year.

    He’s a one-trick pony as a pass-rusher and looks to win with speed only. He doesn’t have reliable countermoves or a backup plan as a rusher. When asked to make a play in space, Okwara shows poor awareness and football IQ. He’s not decisive and will get fooled by misdirection and play action.

    Athletically, Okwara is a work in progress. He doesn’t show the hip snap or explosion needed to chew up space in his initial steps. He’s a heavy-footed mover who must learn to win with other pass-rush moves without the speed to turn the corner against NFL blockers.

    Okwara’s an average athlete with great size, length and age, which is enough for a team running a 4-3 defense to bet on him late.

    PRO COMPARISON: Cedric Reed, Buffalo Bills

    FINAL GRADE: 5.50/9.00 (Round 6—Backup Caliber)

19. Roy Robertson-Harris, UTEP

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    Andres Leighton/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'6"255 lbs4.80s7.0s4.27s 


    A three-year starter at UTEP, Roy Robertson-Harris has the length to turn heads with an NFL-ready body.

    Robertson-Harris has the power in his hands to shed blockers and can swat away the hands of offensive players without issue. He has the play and assignment awareness to track the ball and won’t get fooled on the edge.

    In attacking, he displays good snap get-off in either direction and has enough poise and agility to hold up on the edge on zone plays where he must contain. Robertson-Harris has power in his haunches and will get into a blocker and drive him back with a bull rush.

    A 6’6” frame at 255 pounds, Robertson-Harris has room to add mass and strength to play as a true 4-3 defensive end.


    As is the case for most tall, long athletes, Robertson-Harris struggles with pad height and leverage. He gets standing up straight far too often and plays with a stiff back. His explosion is limited by his hip flexibility and how high he plays.

    Robertson-Harris has almost no experience in coverage and played with his hand in the dirt at UTEP. Harris looks to have the necessary athleticism to develop here, but he’s incredibly raw. Playing the run, he has the length to lock out blockers but must add play power to better withstand blockers on the move and to split/erase double-teams.

    Robertson-Harris is a raw, blank canvas, and he's talented enough as an athlete to get a long look from NFL scouts. He lacked production at UTEP (just 2.5 sacks in 2015), but his frame and movement ability do jump off the film.

    PRO COMPARISON: Travis Long, Philadelphia Eagles

    FINAL GRADE: 5.50/9.00 (Round 6—Backup Caliber)

18. Ugonna Awuruonye, Campbell

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    Photo Credit: Bennett Scarborough
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'5 "253 lbs4.98s7.59s4.59s 


    A transfer from Towson, Ugonna Awuruonye flashed on the scene with a senior season that saw him put it all together on the field.

    Awuruonye has a muscular build and ideal size for an edge-rusher. His length allows him to both stack up offensive tackles and create a cushion, but it also gives him a big wrap-up radius as a tackler. Awuruonye can be a roadblock at the point of attack and will fill running lanes without hesitation.

    On the field, he displays impressive strength and can shed blockers, collapse the line and cause his man to shuffle and panic to reset his feet. Being able to play in both a two-point and three-point stance adds value to Awuruonye’s tape.


    A small-school standout, Awuruonye hasn’t produced or played against top-tier competition. The learning curve of the NFL will be tough.

    A limited athlete on paper and on film, Awuruonye has to prove he has the burst to beat NFL blockers around the edge. His testing numbers would indicate that he does not. His ball snap is average, and his anticipation skills are below the line. When firing out of his stance, he can be sluggish and lacks the bend in his knees and hips to turn the corner. With a tight midsection, Awuruonye’s flexibility is questionable.

    Without great speed, Awuruonye has been able to beat offensive tackles with power and length, but those traits must be combined with agility for him to find space in the NFL. Given that he has no experience in coverage, his average traits athletically keep Awuruonye in the bottom rounds.

    PRO COMPARISON: Travis Long, Philadelphia Eagles

    FINAL GRADE: 5.50/9.00 (Round 6—Backup Caliber)

17. Mike Rose, North Carolina State

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    Lance King/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'2 ½"261 lbs4.67s7.47s4.46s 


    A second-team All-ACC performer in 2015, Mike Rose led the team with 15 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks. With his ideal size for a power defensive end, Rose will get long looks as a late-round 4-3 defensive end.

    A high-cut right defensive end, Rose can win with length coming out of his stance. He has enough hip flexibility to get an angle and turn the corner with power but is a one-way player only comfortable on the right side. Rose uses his length well to eat up a cushion and has the core to dip his inside shoulder and roll through the block.

    Rose has enough straight-line speed and power to turn tackles, and once he gets blockers off balance, he has the power to jam them with his hands and create separation for himself.

    More of a traditional 4-3 defensive end, Rose has value as a 6-technique rusher.


    Rose doesn’t jump off the screen as a twitchy athlete. He gets stuck in the mud with heavy feet and can be a slow operator in space. Without the hip roll to turn over the corner, he lacks suddenness to stun players with his jump.

    Despite being a shorter end, Rose struggled with pad height and a straight back in 2015. He doesn’t fire out low of his stance and struggles to get any push in his trunk. He goes right up to a standing position out of his three-point stance and doesn’t flash twitch in his first steps.

    Playing at 261 pounds, Rose looks like a 300-pounder in his steps and burst. He has to learn to play lighter or vary his rush moves to better explode and lunge at the tackle. He gives offensive linemen way too long to set up their cushion and pass sets.

    PRO COMPARISON: Derrick Shelby, Atlanta Falcons

    FINAL GRADE: 5.50/9.00 (Round 6—Backup Caliber)

16. D.J. Pettway, Alabama

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'2"265 lbs4.99s7.74s4.69s 


    An intriguing role player on a loaded Alabama defense, D.J. Pettway has the strength to affect the game as a 4-3 end or 3-4 backer.

    As a pass-rusher, Pettway has natural skills to beat offensive tackles at impact. He’s strong enough to force offensive tackles to reset their feet, and from there he can dip and drive with a bull rush.

    Pettway is most effective in the run game, where he’s able to hold off blockers trying to get to the second level while containing the edge. He’s big enough to stuff lanes and is active playing the run. His leverage and lower-body strength are ideal for a strong-side linebacker.

    Pettway is an aggressive linebacker with limited rush skills but established ability against the run. And after a limited stint at Alabama, he’s surprisingly fresh and still raw in terms of upside.


    His play on the field is promising, but the off-field issues may scare teams away completely. Along with two other teammates, Pettway was charged with second-degree robbery in February 2013 after being accused of assaulting two students and stealing their credit cards, among other things. Eventually granted youthful offender status, Pettway was off the team and spent a season at East Mississippi Community College before being allowed back at Alabama once the charges were no longer pending.

    A pure rotational player, Pettway made one start in college. His size and build leave Pettway as a ‘tweener among NFL teams, and he may be viewed as purely rotational there. That’s not a negative for every team, but traditional defenses may not have a role for him.

    Pettway’s athleticism on extended plays can be exposed. He’s not quick or fluid when chasing the ball and brings little value as a chase tackler. With low top speed and limited agility, he’s a one-move rusher who has to get upfield in his first few steps.

    PRO COMPARISON: Alex Okafor, Arizona Cardinals

    FINAL GRADE: 5.60/9.00 (Round 5—Backup Caliber)

15. Stephen Weatherly, Vanderbilt

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    Frederick Breedon/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'4"267 lbs4.61s7.074.42


    A junior entry into the NFL draft, Stephen Weatherly has the frame, length (34 ½-inch arms) and production (9.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks) to catch the eye of NFL teams in the middle rounds of the draft.

    Weatherly has the versatility to fit a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme and has experience playing up or down on the edge. He’s a thick, muscular bruiser with eye-popping length. On the hoof, Weatherly looks the part. His speed and agility are above the line, too, giving him a shot to make plays early as a sub-package rusher.

    Moving downhill, Weatherly builds momentum well and can win with spin moves, stunts and delayed pressures. When asked to contain the edge, he can establish his position with length and hold anchor. He has active eyes in the backfield and sees the entire field well.


    Athletically, there are tools missing from Weatherly’s game. He doesn’t show the unlocked, loose, twitchy hips that edge-rushers need to dominate in the NFL. That limited burst affects his overall game as he cannot generate an explosive first step. When he’s asked to bend the edge, it’s a long, labored movement.

    Weatherly struggles to fight through traffic in the run game and hasn’t yet learned to use his length to keep blockers off his frame. When the ball is run away from his side, Weatherly does little more than hold contain, as he can’t catch backs in pursuit. Weatherly must improve his awareness to better see and feel blockers in the run game.

    PRO COMPARISON: Corey Lemonier, San Francisco 49ers

    FINAL GRADE: 5.60/9.00 (Round 5—Backup Caliber)

14. Ron Thompson, Syracuse

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'3"253 lbs4.92s7.46s4.50s 


    A junior entry into the 2016 draft after Syracuse fired head coach Scott Shafer, Ron Thompson was a third-team All-ACC player in 2014 with seven sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss.

    Versatility is a positive for Thompson, who played inside as a pass-rushing defensive tackle in 2014. He's comfortable playing inside, on or outside the tackle. Thompson is an intelligent player against the run and pass and actually has some experience in zone coverage in the flats and box.

    Working against an offensive tackle, Thompson has quick, active hands to swat, slap and go up to bat down balls. In quarterback pursuit, he makes extended plays thanks to his motor and closing speed. When he flips the switch, his closing burst is impressive.

    Thompson is an instinctive, aware player who sees the field and makes reads well on the go. If a team buys in to his upside on the edge, he could flash as a sub-package rusher.


    Thompson didn't pass the eyeball test at the combine, coming in with poor numbers across the board, short arms (32 ¼") and a 4.92-second 40-yard dash.

    A tight player throughout his hips and core, Thompson struggles to transfer his weight when breaking down in space and is slow to transition. His top-end speed is well below the line for an outside rusher, and on film Thompson struggles with acceleration.

    When asked to disengage from linemen, both in the run and the pass, Thompson struggles. He's not a smooth mover in space either, making himself a target to be knocked off balance and pinned on the ground.

    PRO COMPARISON: David Bass, Tennessee Titans

    FINAL GRADE: 5.60/9.00 (Round 5—Backup Caliber)

13. Tyrone Holmes, Montana

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    Patrick Record/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'2 ¼"253 lbs4.59s7.00s4.30s 


    Tyrone Holmes is a late riser up the board following a tremendous pro-day workout and buzz from team scouts, and his tape is a fun viewing thanks to his burst and speed as an edge-rusher. The FCS Defensive Player of the Year, Holmes has the resume to catch the eye of scouts.

    Holmes looks the part on the hoof with a thick frame and ideal 3-4 outside linebacker size. His speed is up to par, and he shows the ability to catch the ball on backside plays. He'll lunge to eat up the cushion of a blocker and is a high-effort player getting into and around the backfield.

    Holmes builds momentum downhill and is hard for offensive linemen to counter thanks to his active, heavy hands. He's always working to release from blockers and has enough shake in his shoulders and hips to create doubt in the mind of a tackle.

    It's hard to not be impressed by Holmes' production at the FCS level. He posted 18 sacks, 87 tackles and 21.5 tackles for loss in 2015.


    Holmes was productive at Montana, but he also did not face many NFL-caliber blockers. He played well during East-West Shrine practices against second-tier draft prospects.

    Athletically, Holmes has likely met his ceiling. There isn't room for his frame to grow, and he's limited in terms of versatility. A square runner, Holmes plays high and without flexibility in his hips and core. He's a clunky runner who too often shows heavy feet. To beat NFL tackles, Holmes must work on developing secondary rush moves.

    Holmes' lateral agility is limited, and against top-flight competition, he'll struggle to contain the edge. Speedy running backs and even mobile quarterbacks can get by him on the corner—partially due to poor speed/flexibility and partially due to poor pursuit angles. His same trait limitations keep Holmes from being an impact in coverage.

    PRO COMPARISON: Shaquil Barrett, Denver Broncos

    FINAL GRADE: 5.60/9.00 (Round 5—Backup Caliber)

12. Alex McCalister, Florida

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    Rob Foldy/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'6"239 lbs4.80s7.01s4.00s 


    With 12.5 sacks in the last two seasons at Florida, Alex McCalister proved himself as a quality sub-package rusher with 3-4 outside linebacker upside. Teams must weigh the off-field issues versus the on-field performance with the former Gator, but there is a lot to like.

    McCalister has excellent length (36-inch arms) and uses his long limbs to keep linemen off his frame. He's a rangy and explosive player when he moves laterally and can make plays against the run as a chase defender. McCalister uses his length well to kick out blockers and will contain the edge with a free arm to make tackles. He has the recovery speed to gamble and get back into position.

    As a pass-rusher, McCalister has ideal measurables with long limbs and quick hips. McCalister turns the corner with tight, quick feet and doesn't have wasted steps or space in his turns. A natural athlete with a high ceiling, McCalister has the tools to get on the field immediately as a nickel pass-rusher.


    When McCalister was on the field, he was promising, but due to injuries and suspensions, he wasn't often seen.

    McCalister only played in six games as a redshirt freshman due to injury and then only played in nine games as a redshirt junior due to a foot injury. During the 2015 season, McCalister was suspended for violating program policy. At the end of the season, the Gainesville Sun reported head coach Jim McElwain had dismissed McCalister from the team for violating team rules, and shortly after that report, he declared for the draft.

    On the field, McCalister will have to fill out a very thin frame to see action on first and second downs against NFL competition. His lack of bulk and strength puts him both at the point of attack and in space, where his change-of-direction ability is hindered by long legs.

    A lack of explosion out of his stance will limit McCalister's ability to generate separation in the NFL. Learning to lower his pads, and adding some lower-body strength, could quickly fix this.

    PRO COMPARISON: Quanterus Smith, Jacksonville Jaguars

    FINAL GRADE: 5.70/9.00 (Round 4—Backup Caliber)

11. Matt Judon, Grand Valley State

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'3"275 lbs4.73s7.67s4.52s 


    Matt Judon has size, athleticism and production to match what NFL scouts want on the edge. He totaled 20 sacks in 2015 with 23.5 tackles for a loss and three forced fumbles while earning the Gene Upshaw Trophy as the best lineman in Division II football.

    Built like an ideal NFL 4-3 defensive end, Judon has a jacked physique with an explosive first step coming out of a three-point stance. He has the arm length to be a factor on backside plays and is solid at reaching a blocker to keep him off his frame when containing the edge.

    Judon has excellent hand use and shows developed skills to swipe and slap away blocks. He'll stack-and-shed at the line of scrimmage and can be a true backfield disruptor. He keeps his eyes up through the play and does a great job reading and reacting to action.

    A bit of a gamble due to his lack of experience against top competition, Judon has the traits to be an early contributor as a 4-3 weak- or strong-side end.


    Injuries were an issue for Judon in college. He tore an ACL in 2013 and missed the East-West Game with a knee issue.

    The other obvious issue is the level of competition. Grand Valley is a heck of a program, but Judon beat up on non-NFL talent and missed his chance to compete against legit NFLers when he sat out the East-West Game. Traits project well to the NFL, but Judon's production may not carry over.

    A hard upfield push by Judon will run him out of the play too often. This allows quarterbacks to climb the pocket and escape his reach. Judon has average flexibility and fluidity, with questionable change-of-direction skills. Judon doesn't show the twitchiness to dip a shoulder or really bend at the corner.

    PRO COMPARISON: Owamagbe Odighizuwa, New York Giants

    FINAL GRADE: 5.75/9.00 (Round 4—Backup Caliber)

10. Victor Ochi, Stony Brook

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    L.G. Patterson/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'1"246 lbs4.86s7.24s4.40s 


    A dominant performer in the CAA, Victor Ochi wowed scouts at the East-West Shrine Game. With 24 sacks in his last two seasons, Ochi has the traits and production to get a look from NFL teams. Ochi lived in the backfield his last two years of college. He has an aggressive style coming out of the snap and will own the edge with a relentless motor. When he jams back blockers at the point of attack, he gets more power and more snap than you expect from a small frame.

    When rushing the passer, Ochi shows off varied moves. He can work a spin move, a hand slap, a shoulder dip or a head fake and finish them all off with tackles. Thanks to his explosive first step, Ochi keeps tackles on their heels and is able to counter with the moves listed above.

    Coming off the edge, Ochi plays with leverage and bend and has the quick turn on the corner to squeeze the backfield and flush the pocket.


    A short player with questionable speed on film, Ochi took a hit to his stock with times in the high 4.8s at the combine.

    He lacks the prototypical length and size for edge rushers, and while Ochi was able to turn the corner with ease on small-school tackles, his lack of change-of-direction ability will cause teams to worry about his transition to the pros.

    Ochi doesn't have the read-and-react skills you want when eyeing the backfield. He can be erratic when asked to read and chase. Relying on open-field speed to make plays doesn't work when you have high 4.8 quicks. Because of this, Ochi was rarely effective on backside runs and offers little in pursuit.

    Teams will look at Ochi as a situational rusher who must be worked up in coverage, but there is enough here to get production early on.

    PRO COMPARISON: Jacquies Smith, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    FINAL GRADE: 5.75/9.00 (Round 4—Backup Caliber)

9. James Cowser, Southern Utah

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    L.G. Patterson/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'3"248 lbs4.73s6.80s4.31s 


    A super productive pass-rusher at Southern Utah, James Cowser had 24.5 sacks in the last two seasons beating up on Big Sky Conference competition.

    Cowser is a natural backfield disruptor. He's consistent in generating pressure to collapse the pocket and has the strength to separate from blockers and get into the backfield with power moves. When taking on the run, Cowser will stack-and-shed with power. He takes smart, crisp angles to the ball-carrier while ducking into the backfield and on outside chase plays.

    A long body with great length, Cowser has the heavy hands you want on the edge. He flashes pass-rush moves and can win with a swipe-and-rip, a spin move or a shoulder dip-and-drive. Cowser's technique and production will get him long looks on Day 2 of the draft.


    A limited athlete in terms of twitch and explosion, Cowser can be heavy-footed on the move. He has poor long speed and isn't a major impact on chase plays. If he can't establish himself at the first level, he'll lose the snap. A lack of overall twitch and flexibility leaves him with limited change-of-direction skills.

    Already 25 years old, Cowser's age will be discussed at length in draft rooms. On top of that, his body is arguably better suited to playing weak-side linebacker than serving in a role as a rushing linebacker. That fits well with his lack of explosion and flashy, twitchy plays.

    Cowser's strength is functional, but it rarely overwhelms or allows him to win the down. With late reaction time on outside runs and play action, Cowser was more inconsistent than dominant against the better competition he faced. Despite amazing production, teams must focus on whom he beat and how he beat them to generate sacks and tackles for loss. Many of Cowser's sacks were uncontested plays.

    PRO COMPARISON: Kyle Emanuel, San Diego Chargers

    FINAL GRADE: 5.99/9.00 (Round 3-4—Backup Caliber)

8. Aaron Wallace, UCLA

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'3"240 lbs4.57s7.35s4.27s 


    The son of former second-round pick Aaron Wallace Sr., the younger Aaron made a name for himself in 2015 as the UCLA coaching staff asked him to play a bigger role for the Bruins. He answered with 12.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks.

    A natural mover with plus athleticism, Wallace will wow you on the hoof. He has speed to chase and is quick exploding off the edge as a rusher. His catch-up speed is impressive working off the backside, as it allows him to threaten mobile passers. Wallace has a tight bend on the corner and explodes into his turn. It's a natural, quick, tight bend when he's rushing the passer.

    When met by the hands of a blocker, Wallace fights and has the power to reset their feet. He can hold his own in contain. A true upside prospect, if teams can tap in to what Wallace showed in the second half of 2015, he could be special.


    A lack of experience is a major question mark. If Wallace is a Day 2 prospect, why wasn't he on the field at UCLA until late 2015? Wallace's lack of sustained production will be a question mark.

    That lack of experience caused problems for Wallace on the field. He was late to react and is clearly still learning to anticipate plays. The flow of the game was lost on him at times. Because of this, teams shouldn't expect a large role for Wallace in his first season.

    Wallace's indecision against the run showed up often, and it will be a limitation until he learns to use his hands to disengage. He's not very effective when bigger interior linemen get out on a pull and locate him. Learning to rip or swim blockers with his hands and not rely on speed will be an early project for his coaches.

    A true speed-rusher in a class that lacks them, Wallace has value, but he must learn a fuller complement of moves before he can be asked to take on NFL offensive tackles.

    PRO COMPARISON: Dee Ford, Kansas City Chiefs

    FINAL GRADE: 6.00/9.00 (Round 3—Future Starter)

7. Jordan Jenkins, Georgia

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'2 ½"261 lbs4.67s7.47s4.46s 


    A starter as a true freshman at Georgia right out of high school, Jordan Jenkins had big expectations placed on his shoulders. He would respond with solid, consistent play at outside linebacker while fighting off injuries that limited his 2015 season.

    Jenkins was a team captain in 2015, highlighting his leadership skills. As an athlete, he has a big frame and shows the closing speed to get on the ball in a hurry. He starts and restarts with speed and has the first-step burst to stun blockers. When Jenkins gets a blocker backpedaling, he counters with a cross-step that gets blockers off balance. He can be very effective on twists and stunts and shows great timing coming off the edge.

    Jenkins has been effective in the run game and will give chase all over the field. His motor runs hot and never stops. He's fluid, quick and decisive on the go. With position versatility, Jenkins can help both 4-3 and 3-4 teams. Even in pass coverage, Jenkins has the hips to drop into the flats and read the ball.


    Jenkins battled through groin and hip injuries in 2015 and never truly dominated in college. His best season (2013) saw him notch five sacks and 12 tackles for loss, but his production decreased in the last two years of play.

    Jenkins will get stuck between being a 4-3 outside linebacker and may even be talked about as a 3-4 inside linebacker depending on the scheme needs. Because he's more of a 'tweener, it could negatively impact his stock.

    Disengaging from blockers is where Jenkins has trouble. He plays with poor leverage and struggles to maintain his position on edge-contain assignments. For a 261-pound linebacker, he gets moved around too easily and often ends up on the ground. Inconsistent explosion, average playmaking and a lack of "wow" plays move Jenkins down to late Day 2.

    PRO COMPARISON: Courtney Upshaw, Atlanta Falcons

    FINAL GRADE: 6.25/9.00 (Round 3—Future Starter)

6. Yannick Ngakoue, Maryland

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    L.G. Patterson/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'2"252 lbs4.75s7.35s4.50s 


    A surprise entry into the 2016 NFL draft, Ngakoue totaled 13.5 sacks in 2015 and saw the right opportunity to play on Sundays.

    A natural athlete, Ngakoue is slippery and plays with zip in space. He shows the balance and agility to avoid blocks and not get chipped at the second level. Ngakoue is versatile, showing the fluidity to play in a two- or three-point stance with comfort in both alignments. He shows excellent ability to collapse the edge and limit the quarterback's ability to climb in the pocket and found production on these plays.

    A flashy player in terms of closing speed, Ngakoue can be a bully when he spots a quarterback with a clean lane to the passer. On top of his pass-rushing skills, he has experience dropping into flat zones and playing in space as a coverage linebacker.


    Short with short arms (32 ½"), Ngakoue won't be well liked by teams valuing length on the edge.

    Ngakoue can be very inconsistent with his burst and explosion out of the gate. His ability to anticipate the snap is iffy and leads to slow plays off the line. Despite his quickness, Ngakoue doesn't have burst and twitch in his hips and tested poorly in explosive events at the combine.

    Fixing Ngakoue's effort on run plays will be discussed. He's not a great effort player on backside runs and can get lazy with his technique. When he lets his eyes wander, Ngakoue can take himself out of the play and miss paths to the ball.

    A productive pass-rusher at Maryland, Ngakoue has moved up the board over the last three months, with final film study showing a talented first-year player with the upside to be special if NFL coaches can keep his motor running.

    PRO COMPARISON: Jarvis Jones, Pittsburgh Steelers

    FINAL GRADE: 6.40/9.00 (Round 2-3—Future Starter)

5. Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'4"251 lbs4.82s6.97s4.25s 


    A player considered a potential top-50 pick for the 2015 NFL draft, Shilique Calhoun returned to college for a shot at a Big Ten championship—and he got it. Now as a senior, he's ready for the NFL.

    Calhoun has excellent length and a great play radius. He's able to stack up the edge and has the speed to run down the ball from behind. A team captain with 42 career starts, Calhoun is a heady, natural player on the edge both standing up and playing down.

    The pass-rushing moves to create separation are there from Calhoun. He's able to push and pull blockers and sets them up for countermoves. When locked up, Calhoun has a nice swipe move to free himself from hands.

    Showing top-tier explosion, Calhoun is balanced and fluid in space. He's a smooth finisher with the awareness to contain the edge and patience to sniff out screen plays.


    Calhoun's 2015 season was solid, but he failed to improve over his 2014 season. Teams will question if he's topped out as a player.

    A long gait limits Calhoun's flexibility and burst. He lacks the top gear to run around the edge and chase fast quarterbacks. The long legs you see from Calhoun keep his hips from snapping tight and create a long, looping turn.

    Calhoun plays high right out of his stance and can be walked back by low-quality linemen when he gets stood up. Long, skinny legs prevent Calhoun from having the power to split a double-team or hold anchor. Playing left defensive end, he was also matched up against college right tackles, of which few were NFL quality.

    PRO COMPARISON: Mario Addison, Carolina Panthers

    FINAL GRADE: 6.55/9.00 (Round 2—Future Starter)

4. Emmanuel Ogbah, Oklahoma State

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    Gregory Payan/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'4"273 lbs4.63s7.26s4.59s 


    An explosive athlete, Emmanuel Ogbah dominated the NFL Scouting Combine, finishing as a top performer among defensive linemen in the 40-yard dash, vertical jump (35.5") and broad jump (121") and bringing in respectable times in the three-cone and short shuttle drills.

    A junior, Ogbah won the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year award after notching 17.5 tackles for loss and 13 sacks. Ogbah leaves Stillwater, Oklahoma, with pro-level size and build, with the muscle tone and bulk to play 4-3 defensive end.

    When Ogbah is locked in, he can dominate. His athleticism was too much for Big 12 offensive tackles, and he showed the ability to vary his pass-rush moves. He's strong enough to win with power and push but agile enough to bend the edge.

    Ogbah is a tackler, showing a violent wrap-up move that doesn't get broken by big backs. He's a strong edge-setter and is able to maintain his edge without giving up ground. He's patient against the run and doesn't panic when the ball comes his way.


    Ogbah's biggest game—the 2016 Sugar Bowl—saw him shut down by Ole Miss tackles Laremy Tunsil and Fahn Cooper. Ogbah's impact was so limited against Tunsil on the right side of the defense that coaches flipped him to the left side, only to be blanked by Cooper.

    The quickness shown at the combine is not on film. Ogbah is not explosive off the snap and often gives up his burst by playing high out of his stance. He takes a long, wide turn when going around the corner and doesn't have explosive hips.

    Ogbah can be slow in pursuit and has very little impact on backside and chase plays. He has a lazy, slow style of play throughout games and takes far too many plays off. When he's locked in, he can dominate, but his style of play never matched the numbers he put up at the combine.

    PRO COMPARISON: Kony Ealy, Carolina Panthers

    FINAL GRADE: 6.75/9.00 (Round 2—Future Starter)

3. Leonard Floyd, Georgia

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    John Raoux/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'6"244 lbs4.60s7.18s4.32s 


    A fantastic athlete with the triangle numbers (height/weight/40 time) to wow scouts, Leonard Floyd is generating talk as a top-10 pick in the upcoming draft.

    Floyd is a long athlete with a huge playmaking radius. He's a natural athlete who moves effortlessly through space with easy change-of-direction skills. Floyd is explosive and ultra flexible off the edge, showing the first-step speed to beat offensive tackles around the corner. Floyd has the hips to make 90-degree turns and then explode at full speed on the edge.

    A versatile position player, Floyd is comfortable standing up in space. He's been used dropping into coverage and shows the feet to make plays in the flats. Floyd is also an athlete against the run with quick scraping skills and the tools to run laterally and make plays on the sideline.

    He is a heady player with excellent awareness and instincts. Floyd locates the ball and closes quickly in all three levels of play.


    Floyd's profile is more about what he can be than what he was at Georgia. He never had more than 6.5 sacks in any season—and he achieved that total his freshman year.

    Limited strength will need addressed in Floyd's rookie season. He lacks the sand in his lower body to hold up on rushing downs and may be limited to situational rushing duties at first. Because he's a long player, Floyd doesn't have coiled-up strength when popping linemen back.

    If Floyd can get off blocks, he'll make plays in the NFL, but that's a gigantic concern if teams view him as a 4-3 defensive end. He's more natural moving in space as a 3-4 outside linebacker but cannot avoid playing close to the tackle as a pro pass-rusher and must add strength and power technique.

    PRO COMPARISON: Manny Lawson, Buffalo Bills

    FINAL GRADE: 6.99/9.00 (Round 2—Future Starter)

2. Shaq Lawson, Clemson

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    Bob Leverone/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'3"269 lbs4.7s7.16s4.21s 


    It's tough to imagine a better coming-out party than the one Shaq Lawson had in his first season as a starter in 2015. The junior crushed opponents, notching 25.5 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks. Those numbers were good enough to be named a consensus All-American. In three seasons, Clemson coaches credited Lawson with an amazing 46.5 tackles for loss.

    A hard-charging right defensive end, Lawson was able to beat left tackles with speed and power, switching between the two easily to set up and counter blockers. Lawson is able to get the push with his arms to jam back the shoulders of blockers and then uses a strong rip to create separation to rush.

    When playing the run, Lawson was asked to line up as a 5-technique and performed well at the point of attack thanks to his power and bulk. He's able to lock out linemen by extending his arms and reads the ball well on the go. His ability to shed blocks should convince teams he can play immediately on every down.

    Lawson fires off low and hard out of his stance, showing the first-step power to eat up a cushion. He's at his best when power rushing but follows up with enough agility to shake blockers. As far as defensive ends go, he's the best run defender in the class.


    A big guy with short arms (32 ¾"), teams have worried about Lawson's thick frame and lack of flexibility in his hips and core. It's also been mentioned that Lawson had just one year of starter tape and may have benefited from the talent (Kevin Dodd, D.J. Reader) around him.

    Where do you play him? Teams are torn on if he's a 3-4 end, 3-4 'backer or 4-3 end. For some, that versatility is a positive. For others, it's a question mark. Without elite bend in his hips and core, Lawson may be best suited as a 4-3 end who kicks inside on third downs.

    Lawson's bulk is a strength and weakness, as it limits his bend around the corner. He won't be squeezing the edge as a pass-rusher and must rely on upfield movement to create sacks. In the NFL, Lawson projects as more of a penetrator and disruptor than sack artist.

    PRO COMPARISON: Charles Johnson, Carolina Panthers

    FINAL GRADE: 7.00/9.00 (Round 1—Rookie Starter)

1. Noah Spence, Eastern Kentucky

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    Gregory Payan/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'2"251 lbs4.7s7.21s4.35s 


    The top edge-rusher in the 2016 draft class, Noah Spence was a decorated pass-rusher at Ohio State before off-field issues landed him at Eastern Kentucky. A standout season in Richmond, Kentucky, and a great week of Senior Bowl practices has Spence back in the running to be a first-round pick.

    Focusing on what he does as a player and athlete, Spence is special. He has a nose for the ball and goes hunting with great success. Playing both in a two-point and three-point stance at right defensive end for EKU and Ohio State, Spence showed he's a comfortable athlete in space. He has elite edge bend, follows through with zip in his feet and consistently wins off the snap. Spence exposed the top senior offensive tackles in the draft class during Senior Bowl practices with his speed and bend skills.

    He will use a rip-and-swim move to eliminate the hands of a blocker and knows how to get his inside shoulder down to run through a block. Spence has a quick whip around the line and comes with his eyes up, ready to find the ball.

    The off-field issues will be mentioned when teams evaluate Spence, but his accountability will too. He entered rehab after his dismissal from the Big Ten and volunteered to be drug-tested while with the Colonels. Spence has been drug-tested multiple times since he left Ohio State and hasn't had a positive test.


    The negatives with Spence are well known. He was suspended once at Ohio State and then permanently banned from the Big Ten after his second positive drug test for MDMA.. He then landed at EKU, where he was cited for public intoxication and second-degree disorderly conduct after he threw a beer bottle on the street.

    On the field, Spence doesn't play with great power and lacks the length (33-inch arms) teams will want from bigger 3-4 outside linebackers. The long speed Spence put on the track in Indianapolis will also be a concern, as there were already whispers that his game tape didn't show great speed.

    Improving his hand use and building play power will be a key for Spence as a three-down player. He currently projects as a linebacker against the run and wouldn't want to be lined up over the tackle in obvious rushing situations. A true pass-rusher, Spence has almost no experience in coverage.

    PRO COMPARISON: Joey Porter, formerly Pittsburgh Steelers

    FINAL GRADE: 7.10/9.00 (Round 1—Rookie Starter)


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