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Ultimate NFL Draft Preview: Paye Paces Loaded Class of Edge Rushers

Packer Central on FanNation logo Packer Central on FanNation 4/28/2021 Bill Huber
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Get to know a stacked group of outside linebacker prospects with personal stories, beyond-the-box-score stats and scouting reports.

GREEN BAY, Wis. – Now that you know who might not be a consideration and why the Green Bay Packers have a long-term need, here is a look at the 2021 NFL Draft class of edge rushers/outside linebackers.

Loaded with First-Round Prospects

Kwity Paye, Michigan (6-2 1/2, 261; 33 arms; 4.57 40; DNP shuttle): Paye, a 261-pounder with superb athleticism and strength, is No. 1 in our rankings. He had a career-high 6.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles for losses in 12 games in 2019. In four games in 2020, he had two sacks and four TFLs.

His road to the NFL is unlike anyone else’s in this draft. He was born in a refugee camp in Guinea as his mom and brother fled a civil war in Liberia. As told by the Detroit Free Press:

It’s still hard for Agnes to speak about those memories. “It was a difficult, difficult time for us,” she recalled. Her escape was an arduous journey. There were no cars, and Agnes couldn’t walk on the main road in fear of being detected by armed factions. She walked for miles through bushes and forest with her bare feet and little food.

“Even during that time, you don’t think about food,” Agnes said. “All you’re thinking about is how you’re going to survive. People were getting killed. Some peoples’ kids got lost. Babies got lost. People were dropping their kids along the roadside because they were not able to carry them along anymore.”

According to Sports Info Solutions, his sack rate was 4.9 percent and his pressure rate on pure dropbacks was 25 percent. He drew three holding penalties. His missed-tackle rate was 14 percent.

According to Sports Info Solutions, his pressure rate on pure dropbacks was 29 percent, the best in the draft class. He drew zero holding penalties. His missed-tackle rate was 11 percent.

Draft Bible says: A two-and-a-half-year starter, Paye aligned in many different spots for the Wolverines front, ranging from three-technique to wide-nine. He is a special athlete with tremendous get-off and straight-line explosiveness for his size. This helps him to stress the outside shoulder of tackles from a wide alignment. Paye can convert speed to power, which could turn into a dominant move if he can get more experienced at it given his speed and strength. He plays hard, trying to make the play on every down. Improving his ability to read blockers to speed up his decision-making as a pass rusher could make him a dominant force in the passing game.

Jayson Oweh, Penn State (6-4 7/8, 257; 34 1/2 arms; 4.37 40; 4.20 shuttle): One of the best pass rushers in this year’s draft had zero sacks in 2020. Zero. Seven games, no QB takedowns. But he was fifth in the draft class in pressure rate, according to Sports Info Solutions and just look the height/length/athleticism numbers.

Oweh didn’t start playing football until his sophomore year of high school. His focus was on basketball but gave football a shot at the urging of the coach. A year later, he was a high school All-American. He had two sacks in four games in 2018 before redshirting, five sacks and two forced fumbles in 2019 and zero sacks but 6.5 tackles for losses in 2020. “There’s been a buzz about Jayson since he arrived on campus,” coach James Franklin told Onward State. “He is very athletic, he’s getting better all the time, and I think his ceiling is really high. He hasn’t played a whole lot of football so his opportunity for growth is really dramatic.”

And about those zero sacks? “It’s weird because maybe the production wasn’t there but in terms of skill-wise I was way better this past year,” he said at pro day. “It helped me to understand what I have to really hone on. I focused on trying to add an extra move. Now I can really hone in on speed to power, hone in on timing the hands better, hone in on confronting the tackle instead of running around him. That’s only going to make my game better. I’m really happy. It was bittersweet that I had zero sacks. But I just know it's going to be crazy once I know what to get to work on.”

According to Sports Info Solutions, his sack rate was 0 percent but his pressure rate on pure dropbacks was 21 percent. He drew one holding penalty. His missed-tackle rate was 10 percent.

Draft Bible says: Oweh possesses rare athleticism that is apparent in space; his first step and speed are excellent. He has the length required to keep his frame clean as a pass rusher and stack blockers in the run game. Flashing the ability to convert speed to power, Oweh has to work on making this his bread and butter. A double-hand swipe to either side works well for him, displaying decisive hands. In the run game, he wins with length, being able to disengage to either side and with athleticism as he blows up lateral runs by penetrating gaps.

Azeez Ojulari, Georgia (6-2 1/4, 249; 34 1/2 arms, 4.61 40; 4.34 shuttle): Ojulari is the grandson of a Nigerian prince and renowned musician. When Ojulari was 11, his famous grandfather told him something. “Azeez, you are quiet. You are going somewhere. You are going to be somebody.”

He was right. Ojulari suffered a torn ACL late in his senior season of high school, redshirted in 2018, and burst onto the scene with 5.5 sacks in 2019. He was more impactful in 2020 with 8.5 sacks, 12.5 tackles for losses and four forced fumbles in 11 games in 2020.

“As soon as Azeez came back I knew he would be something special,” inside linebacker Quay Walker told Online Athens. “Azeez is a very humble guy, doesn’t say too much and just works. Yes sir, no sir and just keeps his head forward and is willing to work no matter what it is. I still expect to see bigger things from Azeez.”

According to Sports Info Solutions, his sack rate was 4.9 percent and his pressure rate on pure dropbacks was 25 percent, second-best in the draft class. He drew three holding penalties. His missed-tackle rate was 14 percent.

Draft Bible says: During his career at Georgia, Ojulari showed that he is a 3-4 outside linebacker who can win on an outside track. He has great hands to keep his frame clean from punches while attacking and bending around the tackle's outside shoulder. His first step is explosive, but he leaves some speed on the table with his next ones. When he establishes a half-man relationship, he can chop the outside hand and bend a tight corner to sack the quarterback. Ojulari needs to set a harder edge and can get washed by combo blocks or strong blockers. In space he is serviceable. but teams will want him going after the passer given his skillet.

Gregory Rousseau, Miami (6-6 5/8, 266; 34 3/8 arms; 4.67 40; 4.53 shuttle): Paired with the Packers’ Jonathan Garvin in 2019, Rousseau had 15.5 sacks, 19.5 tackles for losses and two forced fumbles. Having redshirted after two games in 2018 due to a fractured ankle and opting out of 2020 – his mom is a COVID nurse – he enters the NFL with just 15 collegiate games under his belt.

“Greg Rousseau, he’s one of those freak of natures,” former Hurricanes defensive end Joe Jackson, now with the Cleveland Browns, told the Palm Beach Post in 2018. “He’s got the height, the get-off, the speed. He’s got everything. His first step is maybe at least two yards, so he’s got everything. So, when he gets that first step, he’s already most likely beating the tackle and he just picks up everything quick. He knows the plays and he just picks up everything quick. So, he’s very impressive.”

Rousseau was a three-star recruit who chose Miami because of defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. Diaz coached Mario Williams into a top draft pick and NFL star. “Honestly, when I was getting recruited, I had a couple of offers from like Indiana, USC, NC State, those were like offers for me to play like receiver or safety,” he told 247 Sports. “And then I got offered by LSU, they were like you can come here and play outside linebacker or defensive end, and I’m like, ‘Man, that’s a pretty good idea.’ And then Coach Diaz from Miami offered me. And he really liked me, when he offered me he sat me down and wrote down a plan for me, ‘we have a position the viper, you’re going to drop back 25 percent of the time, you’re going to rush 75 percent of the time.’ Even though I played a little of it in high school, I was never serious about it, so he really just told me like man that’s your future there, you can make a lot of money playing d-end. So I stuck with it, and he was right 100 percent.”

According to Sports Info Solutions, his sack rate in 2019 was 5.8 percent and his pressure rate on pure dropbacks was 19 percent. He drew four holding penalties. His missed-tackle rate was 10 percent.

Draft Bible says: Rousseau is an extremely long edge defender who wins through blockers at extension with his hands rather than with speed and bend. He is a solid run defender and a solid athlete. As a player that is young, new to the position and still filling out his frame, he is very raw and will need a multi-year development plan before he can reach his very high ceiling. Rousseau projects as a developmental pass rusher who could possibly be dominant by his second or third year in the league as he has unblockable written all over him due to his power and length if he can learn how to convert speed to power.

Joe Tryon, Washington (6-5, 259; 34 arms; 4.65 40; 4.36 shuttle): Trying had a breakout 2019 season with eight sacks and 12.5 tackles for losses. He opted out of 2020.

Tryon was lightly recruited initially, but his stardom didn’t surprise his former coach. “He was probably the most athletic kid I’ve ever coached in high school in 20 years. Just a freak of nature, so to speak,” Hazen High School football coach Chris Bennett, who joined the program before Tryon’s senior season in 2016, told the Seattle Times. “When we first got here I was like, ‘He’s going to make a great offensive tackle for us.’ Then he ran down the field a couple times and I’m like, ‘Oh my God. We can’t play him on the offensive line. He’s just too special.’”

According to Sports Info Solutions, his sack rate was 2.9 percent and his pressure rate on pure dropbacks was 16 percent. He drew five holding penalties. His missed-tackle rate was a woeful 20 percent.

Draft Bible says: On tape, he flashes promising power-rush potential that could get even better if he improved basics in terms of hand placement. He is most effective rushing on the inside against guards as he is a better athlete than them and can use his hands to his advantage. When rushing from the outside, he has a difficult time establishing a half-man relationship and winning around the outside shoulder, which is why most of his production comes on inside moves or when he is unblocked. In the run game, he has a long way to go.

Jaelan Phillips, Miami (6-5 1/2, 260; 33 1/4 arms; 4.57 40; 4.18 shuttle): Late in the 2018 season while at UCLA, Phillips – the No. 3 overall recruit in the Class of 2017 – retired. He dropped out of UCLA and enrolled in a junior college to study music production.

He missed six games as a freshman in 2017 due to ankle injuries and a concussion. In January 2018, he crashed his moped and suffered a broken wrist that required multiple surgeries. He played in four games that season before another concussion led to his decision to step away from the game. In January 2019, former UCLA coach Jim Mora Jr. called Phillips about playing again.

"It was almost like I had gone through a really bad breakup and I was trying to move on, and [I was] going to dedicate my life to music, but football kept coming back to me," Phillips told ESPN.com. "I didn't know what to do with myself. That was my whole identity. I didn't really feel like myself. I wasn't the Jaelan Phillips that everybody knew, and so when Jim Mora hit me up, it was almost like, 'This is a little bit of a sign. Maybe I should pursue this again.'"

Phillips transferred to Miami. He had to sit out the 2019 season, which helped him go from 225 pounds back to his playing weight. Back on the field in 2020, he piled up eight sacks, 15.5 tackles for losses and four forced fumbles.

According to Sports Info Solutions, his sack rate was 3 percent and his pressure rate on pure dropbacks was 13 percent. He drew one holding penalty. His missed-tackle rate was 13 percent.

Draft Bible says: Phillips’ get-off is average, but he is able to threaten tackles at time outside with his burst. He bends the corner without carrying too much speed as he struggles to stay clean up the arc due to his inconsistent hands. A good run defender, he can get greedy and occasionally be too aggressive. Phillips lacks strength, which is apparent as he is unable to extend consistently; adding this aspect to his game would help him immensely. Phillips projects as a future starting outside linebacker in a 3-4 who has the length to be a defensive end in a 4-3 if he can get stronger.

Payton Turner, Houston (6-5 1/2, 268; 35 3/8 arms; DNP 40; 4.31 shuttle): Playing just five games, Turner had five sacks and 10.5 tackles for losses as a senior. He broke up 11 passes in four seasons. His lone forced fumble came in 2020.

Turner missed most of his senior season at Westside High School in Houston with a torn ACL and arrived on campus at 235. He packed on a lot of weight. "I'll go into the kitchen pantry and grab a couple of Rice Krispies and lay in bed and watch some 'Blacklist,'" Turner told the Houston Chronicle.

Turner had a great pro day, which he boasted about with a highlight clip of him chasing down BYU receiver Max Milne. He can thank his mom, a former Division I basketball player, for that. “Both of my parents have motivated me and pushed me my whole life to be the best player I can be,” Turner told The Daily Cougar. “I started with sports when I was really young and haven’t stopped, whether it’s football or basketball.”

According to Sports Info Solutions, his sack rate was 5.4 percent – No. 1 in the draft class – and his pressure rate on pure dropbacks was 18 percent. He drew one hold. His missed-tackle rate was just 4 percent.

Draft Bible says: Turner offers exciting length with 35-inch arms at defensive end. He is an impressive athlete at his size with a quick get-off and lateral agility. Turner plays hard, making plays thanks to his effort alone. From the inside, he is a strong power rusher, managing to keep his pads low and outreaching guards. His hands are quick and active, throwing multiple counters at times. On an outside track, he stresses tackles with his get-off and has enough play strength and ankle flexibility to flatten his path to the quarterback when his rip move hits. As a run defender, Turner struggles with high pads.

Carlos Basham, Wake Forest (6-3 1/4, 274; 32 7/8 arms; 4.59 40; 4.32 shuttle): A cousin of Dallas Cowboys defensive end Tarell Basham and former MLB pitcher Al Holland, Basham is considered a potential first-round pick. He had 4.5 sacks and 10 tackles for losses in 2018, 11 sacks, 18 TFLs and three forced fumbles in 2019 and five sacks and 5.5 TFLs in seven games in 2020.

"Once he got to college, I knew he had the drive to want to go to the NFL, but I never thought we'd be here," his mother told Roanoke.com recently. "Anything he puts his mind to, he does it. He said he wanted to go to the NFL and he did."

He goes by “Boogie,” a nickname given to him when he was 3 because he loved to dance. “My mom raised and watched me when I was a baby. And she would just be holding me up and I would just be dancing and she was like, ‘He’s Boogie,'” Basham said on Glenn Clark Radio. “That’s when everybody started calling me Boogie so I just had to go with it.”

According to Sports Info Solutions, his sack rate was 2.5 percent and his pressure rate on pure dropbacks was 14 percent. He drew one holding penalty, down from the staggering seven in 2018. His missed-tackle rate was 15 percent.

Draft Bible says: “Boogie” had a productive career for Wake Forest, amassing 20.5 sacks and 173 tackles in four seasons. He lines up anywhere from 3-technique to wide-9. Basham pairs quick hands and lateral agility to win on inside moves. He recognizes oversets quickly and capitalizes. At 281 pounds, Basham is a fluid athlete who can even perform spin moves. He plays hard until the whistle blows making hustle plays. In run defense, Basham is very aggressive, attacking gaps and using his play strength to penetrate the backfield.

Talent Continues with Day 2 Edge Prospects

Joseph Ossai, Texas (6-3 3/4, 256; 33 7/8 arms; 4.62 40; DNP shuttle): At pro day, Ossai was asked about former NFL star pass rusher Osi Umenyiora.

“I have no idea who that is,” Ossai said.

You’ll have to forgive him. Ossai was born in Nigeria. His mom won a visa lottery in 2007 for an opportunity to move to the United States. She was one of about 50,000 winners out of 20 million applicants. They arrived in Houston on Christmas Eve 2009 when Ossai was 9.

“We stayed at a Motel 6 for two or three days, and we just thought the world of it,” Ossai told HookEm.com. “Wow, look at this. Air conditioning, fridge, TV, cable, Cartoon Network, wow! Yeah, it was really cool.” He didn’t see his first football game until he was 10. Bullied initially, he started playing football in seventh grade. The coach had one simple instruction. Go get the quarterback. “He goes, ‘Man you’re really good at this. Remind me to put you here again tomorrow.’ That’s how me playing D-line started,” Ossai said. He learned as he went. “It was all new to me and I learned the rules of football as I played,” Ossai said in a Longhorn profile from UT. “Over the years of playing, whenever someone would do something and the ref would throw a flag and I’d say, 'You can’t do that? I didn’t know you couldn’t do that,” and that’s how I’ve learned."

Ossai had five sacks and 13.5 TFLs in 2019 and five sacks, 16 TFLs and three forced fumbles in just nine games in 2020. According to Sports Info Solutions, his sack rate was 1.7 percent and his pressure rate on pure dropbacks was 11 percent. He drew three holding penalties. His missed-tackle rate was 10 percent.

Draft Bible says: Playing his first two seasons at off-ball linebacker, Ossai transitioned to a rush linebacker role in 2020. He has long arms and legs in what makes up a lanky body composition. Ossai gets off the ball well and stresses blockers with his burst. His athleticism makes him dangerous on stunts where he gets through the inside in a hurry. Ossai uses his length to stab tackles, keeping them at bay before defeating their hands. In the run game, he plays with tremendous effort in pursuit. With his length, he can control blocks.

Rashad Weaver, Pittsburgh (6-4 3/8, 259; 33 1/2 arms; 4.86 40; 4.26 shuttle): Weaver is coming off two banner seasons with 6.5 sacks, 14 tackles for losses, two forced fumbles and four passes defensed in 2018 and 7.5 sacks, 14.5 TFLs, three forced fumbles and two passes defensed in 2019. In between, he missed the 2019 season with a torn ACL. The injury delayed his arrival in the NFL by a year. During rehab, the training staff called him a “sicko” and a “glutton for punishment.”

Before games, he wrist “1st Round” on his taped wrists. “I wrote it where I could see it, where my teammates could see it, where the opponent could see it. You can see it in pictures. I hope they’ve seen it on TV. I hope everybody’s seen it,” Weaver told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “If you have goals in silence, nobody knows you didn’t reach them, so it’s not as big of a deal. I made sure everyone knew.” He trained with the same knife-wielding trainer as Pitt legend Aaron Donald.

According to Sports Info Solutions, his sack rate was 2.6 percent and his pressure rate on pure dropbacks was 18 percent. He drew four holding penalties. His missed-tackle rate was 15 percent.

Draft Bible says: He has great size and length with the ability to potentially carry more weight. Weaver uses his long arms and the pop in his hands to attack the chest of the blocker and walk him to the quarterback’s lap. When tackles have their hands low, he does well to knock them away quickly and decisively. His get-off is not explosive, but he does well to use his length and hands to stay clean on his speed tracks.

Quincy Roche, Miami (6-2 5/8, 245; 32 1/4 arms; 4.68 40; 4.50 shuttle): At Temple in 2019, Roche was the ACC Defensive Player of the Year with 13 sacks, 19 tackles for losses and six passes defensed. Having earned his degree, he transferred to Miami for the 2020 season. He contributed 4.5 sacks, 14.5 TFLs and two forced fumbles.

As a 200-pounder in high school, Roche’s only scholarship offers were from Temple, Appalachian State, Toledo, Furman and Monmouth. That’s served as fuel. “I’m a player that is always going to have a chip on my shoulder,” Roche said on the Inside The NFL Prospects podcast. “I have always been the underdog. I was always overlooked and to this day I feel that same way. I wake up every day with a chip on my shoulder and I’m OK with that.”

Being underrecruited was the least of his challenges.

As a kid, Roche struggled with Tourette syndrome, a nervous system disorder involving repetitive movements or unwanted sounds. One of his brothers, Tommy, died from kidney disease. “Growing up with Tourette’s syndrome can make it harder. But as you get older, you learn how to deal with it,” Roche told The Baltimore Sun. He added: “I love being around my family. Tommy drives me. I knew how he felt about me and what I wanted to accomplish.”

According to Sports Info Solutions, his sack rate was 1.5 percent and his pressure rate on pure dropbacks was 13 percent. He drew two holding penalties. His missed-tackle rate was 17 percent.

Draft Bible says: After a stellar career at Temple, logging 26 sacks in three years of starting for the Owls, Roche decided to take his talents to South Beach and join the Miami Hurricanes. In the ACC, he continued doing what he does: sacking the quarterback. Roche is surprisingly powerful for his size and plays with great leverage to get underneath blockers' pads consistently. The redshirt senior possesses an array of pass-rushing moves that he executes well thanks to his quick hands.

Day 3 Prospects

Patrick Jones II, Pittsburgh (6-4 1/4, 261; 32 7/8 arms; DNP testing/hamstring): Jones was a consensus All-American in 2020 with nine sacks, 13 tackles for losses and three passes defensed. In 48 career games, he recorded 22 sacks and five forced fumbles.

Jones’ path to the draft started in Japan. The son of a Naval IT chief, Jones grew up mostly overeas. When he was in sixth grade, the teacher at his Misawa, Japan, elementary school asked the kids to write down what they wanted to be when they grew up. When Jones wrote down NFL player, the teacher sent it back because it “wasn’t possible.” Said his mom, Angela, in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s fantastic story: “Look at what someone said you couldn’t do, and now look at where you are right now. That’s why I framed it. I wanted it to be his motivation.” His first time on a football team was at Nile C. Kinnick High School, the Navy’s high school in Yokosuka. He was 5-foot-9 and 150 pounds and played on the JV team. In 2012, he climbed Mount Fuji. Jones finished high school in the United States.

Jones led the nation with seven sacks through the first five weeks of the season, a byproduct of offseason work with renowned pass-rushing coach Chuck Smith. “I just try to focus on my craft every day. When I come here, I don’t take it like a joke,” Jones told the Post-Gazette. “I think that’s how you should always take the game. Because if you take the game like that, that’s going to help you get a bigger paycheck when it’s time.”

In 2020, according to Sports Info Solutions, his sack rate was 2.7 percent and his pressure rate on pure dropbacks was 12 percent. He drew four holding penalties. His missed-tackle rate was 5 percent, a big improvement over 19 percent in 2019.

Draft Bible says: Jones is most accustomed to rushing from a two-point stance and has some length to stab the chest of tackles. His effort is great as he plays to the whistle. As a pass rusher, he mostly wins on inside moves as he does not have the bend and burst to win around the outside shoulder.

Ellerson Smith, Northern Iowa (6-6 1/4, 252; 34 arms; 4.75 40; 4.39 shuttle): Smith was a first-team FCS All-American in 2019 by leading the Missouri Valley Conference with 14 sacks, 21.5 tackles for losses and five forced fumbles. With COVID pushing the 2020 season to Spring 2021, Smith opted out to focus on the NFL.

“It has been an amazing transformation,” said Bryce Paup, UNI’s defensive line coach and a former Packers star. “Especially since I got back in the fall of 2018. When I first got here he looked like a deer in headlights. … This year he actually decided he wanted to be good. He comes up and watches film with me every day. He took it upon himself to get better. You can try to make them want it, but until they want it ... they may be OK, but they never will be great.”

A two-star recruit as a 190-pound senior from Minneapolis, Smith capped his collegiate career at the Senior Bowl. His pro day included a ridiculous 41.5-inch vertical jump.

Draft Bible says: A Senior Bowl standout, Smith is really long and possesses good athleticism. On tape, he flashes some power which is not consistent as he is still filling out his frame. His hands are quick although not yet decisive and he flashes the ability to get off the ball explosively. Smith is unable to bend at steeper angles as he lacks flexibility in his lower body. He needs to develop and anchor in the run game as he is a liability there at the moment, although he has some good reps from time to time thanks to his length. Smith projects as a developmental pass rusher who needs to have his traits developed into a more complete player.

Chris Rumph, Duke (6-2 7/8, 244; 33 3/4 arms; DNP testing/hamstring): How under the radar was Rumph coming out of Buchholz High School in Gainesville, Fla.? Not even the Florida Gators, where his father was an assistant coach, recruited him.

That was a mistake. In three seasons at Duke, he recorded 17.5 sacks and 34 tackles for losses. In 11 games in 2020, Rumph tallied eight sacks, 12.5 TFLs and one forced fumble.

With his father understanding the violence of the game, Rumph didn’t start playing football until high school. “When I was growing up, the rule that [my dad] had was that I wasn’t allowed to play football until high school,” Rumph told The Duke Chronicle. “Even when I got to high school, I was more of a basketball and baseball player. I just started playing football because I got tired of baseball, I just kind of didn’t want to play.” His father’s experience was critical because Rumph wasn’t exactly a big kid as a junior, which is when recruiting reaches its climax. “My junior year, I was like 170 [pounds] as a matter of fact. It was really important for him to help me work on my technique because that’s what got me to be loose and not get caught up in all those trench wars. Growing up, he was always there helping me, and I appreciate him greatly.”

According to Sports Info Solutions, his sack rate was 3.7 percent and his pressure rate on pure dropbacks was 21 percent. He drew three holding penalties. His missed-tackle rate was 12 percent.

Draft Bible says: Blessed with outstanding twitch and flexibility, Duke lined Rumph up everywhere to take advantage of his athletic profile. He was even used as an off-ball rusher who worked A-B gaps to take advantage of his flexibility. Rumph’s first step is notable, quickly threatening the outside track with regularity. He has flexible ankles and hips that he uses to turn and run, leaving opposing offensive linemen in the dust. There is clear value here with the juice that he brings on obvious passing downs, but his ability to find a role on base downs will determine if he can stick.

Malcolm Koonce, Buffalo (6-2 1/4, 249; 33 3/8 arms; DNP testing/foot): Koonce had 17 sacks, 21 tackles for losses and four forced fumbles during his final three seasons. In six games in 2020, he had five sacks and 6.5 TFLs.

Growing up, Koonce and football weren’t exactly BFFs. “When I first started playing football, I low-key hated it,” Koonce told The Buffalo News with a laugh. “My dad was a real passionate guy so it was kind of like coming home with the coach after a game. But then I had a close friend I grew up with, who got me into the sport, and then I fell in love with it.” Football’s for tough guys. Rugby is for tougher guys. He started playing in eighth grade. “The first contact I had to go into, I thought I was going to crumble into pieces. I had to get used to it, but once I got my feet wet, I thought, ‘I like this.’”

According to Sports Info Solutions, his sack rate was 3.2 percent and his pressure rate on pure dropbacks was 15 percent. He drew zero holding penalties. His missed-tackle rate was 12 percent.

Draft Bible says: Arguably the premier small-school pass rusher in the 2021 draft class, Koonce has the traits that will have teams running odd-man fronts and swooning at the possibilities. Boasting fantastic speed and flexibility, Koonce is a dynamic speed rusher who is able to consistently threaten the outside track. He is able to defeat offensive linemen with explosiveness and foot quickness, dropping his pad level and running without little wasted momentum. This type of athlete can deal out a lot of stress, especially against limited athletes at the offensive tackle position. Koonce is a mound of clay who is still far from a finished product.

Charles Snowden, Virginia (6-6 3/8, 243; 35 arms; DNP testing/ankle): Over his final three seasons, Snowden had 13.5 sacks, 28.5 tackles for losses and a whopping 16 passes defensed. In eight games in 2020, he tallied six sacks and 10 TFLs. He missed the final couple games with a broken ankle that prevented him from working at pro day.

With his height, it’s no surprise Snowden’s first love was basketball. As a high school junior, Snowden attended the team’s opening game. It was then he decided to try to play for the first time since grade school. “I was at the first football game and we had the new stadium and all of our friends came out. I was in the stands and I just...I caught the football fever. Seeing all my friends out there on the field having a good time..." Snowden told WUSA. He played in the final seven games of that season and starred as a pass rusher and receiver as a senior. “I don’t know where the limit is with him,” coach Bronco Mendenhall said following a breakout game in 2018. “The size, the range, the speed but also the type of person, those type of people, they maximize their abilities. It’ll be fun to watch.”

According to Sports Info Solutions, his sack rate was 5.3 percent and his pressure rate on pure dropbacks was 13 percent while playing 100 percent of his snaps from a two-point stance. He drew three holding penalties in 2020 and nine the past three years. His missed-tackle rate was 12 percent.

Draft Bible says: A pterodactyl on the defensive side of the football, Snowden started 35 consecutive games at outside linebacker in Virginia’s base 3-4 alignment. Snowden is a unique body type to project. What is even more unique is how well he moves for a player his size. While one might expect slow transitions from a high-legged athlete, Snowden shows out of the ordinary movement skills for a player of his stature. In space, he covers a lot of ground with astounding flexibility. He is a matchup eliminator offensively who can be used to erase big-time tight ends in the passing game in man coverage.

Janarius Robinson, Florida State (6-5 3/8, 263; 35 1/4 arms; 4.69 40; 4.46 shuttle): Robinson had three sacks, nine tackles for losses and two forced fumbles in 2019 and three sacks and seven TFLs in nine games in 2020.

Robinson’s childhood home was destroyed by Hurricane Michael in 2018. “It was very weird because it just really looked like someone dropped a nuclear bomb on us,” Robinson told The Ledger. “Everything is destroyed. From buildings to schools to houses. Churches. If you didn’t know where you was, you wouldn’t know because nothing looks the same.” It was finally rebuilt two years later. Those challenges will make his arrival in the NFL sweeter. "It's gonna be very emotional, not just for me but for my family,” he said at pro day. “With this being a dream of mine since I was a little kid, to see it come true and be blessed with the opportunity in front of me, it will be very emotional and a happy time for me and my family and close friends and loved ones.”

Sports Info Solutions didn’t have data available from its “Rookie Playbook.” Pro Football Focus credited him with a pressure rate of 13.6 in 2020 and missing 24 tackles in his career.

Draft Bible says: When he is able to extend his long arms, he is tough to block as he outreaches anyone and even pushes over slow-footed blockers. Robinson has the play strength to dip his shoulder on an outside track. He makes oversetting tackles pay with an inside swim move and delivers a hard hit when he gets to a ball-carrier. An average athlete, Robinson is unable to threaten the outside shoulder of tackles on a consistent basis. Robinson often arrives without a plan and is unable to adapt, causing him to get stuck on blocks. Stiff ankles prevent him from turning tight corners. In the run game, he needs to develop his hand usage and deconstruct blocks.

Jonathan Cooper, Ohio State (6-2 5/8, 253; 32 1/8 arms; 4.70 40; 4.31 shuttle): In 45 games and 25 starts spread over five seasons with his hometown school, Cooper recorded 10 sacks and 15 tackles for losses. After missing most of the 2019 season with an ankle injury, he played in eight games in 2020 and had 3.5 tackles for losses (all sacks) and the only forced fumble of his career.

Cooper was born nine weeks premature and spent his first two months in a hospital. “His chest was completely caved in,” his mom, Jessica Moorman, told the Columbus Dispatch. “They said he wasn’t going to recover very well and would have some difficulties growing up.” Those difficulties included having heart surgery when he was 14. His choices were wearing a pacemaker, an easier procedure but one that would have ended his football career. So, he chose to have surgery – two, actually, totaling 19 hours.

“I wasn’t going for that, obviously, so I told them whatever they can do, to fix it, do it,” Cooper told SI.com. “Since then, I’ve gotten check-ups and I ended up playing, actually, the end of that freshman basketball season, and ever since then I’ve been great.”

According to Sports Info Solutions, his sack rate was 1.8 percent and his pressure rate on pure dropbacks was 18 percent. He drew one holding penalties. His missed-tackle rate was 7 percent.

Draft Bible says: Cooper plays with a high motor, allowing him to make effort plays late in reps and has fluid hips as well as the ability to move laterally. Getting to the inside of oversetting tackles is his best move as a pass rusher. In the run game, he makes plays on outside runs with his aforementioned lateral range. Cooper is impressive dropping into space, showing the ability to gain depth with his backpedal, make open-field tackles and even carry running backs in man coverage.

William Bradley-King, Baylor (6-3 1/2, 252; 33 1/2 arms; 4.75 40; 4.29 shuttle): Playing at Arkansas State, which was his only FBS offer, Bradley-King had 14.5 sacks, 23 tackles for losses and five forced fumbles in 2018 and 2019. Having earned his degree, he transferred to Baylor for 2020 and had 3.5 sacks, 5.5 TFLs, one forced fumble and four passes defensed in 2020.

Not the biggest and not the fastest, Bradley-King wins on technique. He’s so skilled that his nickname is the “Technician.” As he told the Waco Tribune: “I’ve just always been my biggest critic and I take pride in my craft and trying to be a technician. So, I made that my screen name to hold myself accountable to it.”

According to Sports Info Solutions, his sack rate was 1.1 percent and his pressure rate on pure dropbacks was 14 percent. He drew two holding penalties in 2020 and seven over the past three seasons. His missed-tackle rate was 12 percent.

Draft Bible says: Bradley-King is a productive run defender with power and intelligence to disrupt the ground game of an offense. He possesses active hands as a pass rusher, but is unable to keep his frame clean causing him to have to disengage repeatedly. From a wide alignment, Bradley-King is able to attack blockers’ chests and drive them into the pocket, but does not have a counter to get to the passer. Unable to threaten the outside shoulder, he relies on his hands to win as a pass rusher.

Joshua Kaindoh, Florida State (6-5 3/4, 260; 34 1/2 arms; 4.65 40; 4.43 shuttle): Kaindoh recorded eight sacks and 16.5 tackles for losses in 36 career games. After missing most of the 2019 season due to a legu injury, the former five-star recruit had zero sacks, three TFLs, two passes defensed and one interception in eight games in 2020. It wasn’t exactly a smashing season but it was a smashing comeback.

“When we finish fall camp, we have a symbolic rock that every player signs, that every coach signs and we get a chance to choose a guy who’s demonstrated throughout camp the proper mindset and the proper approach in all aspects,” FSU coach Mike Norvell explained. “This year, Josh Kaindoh was the guy that broke the rock.” Said Kaindoh: “I was definitely worried I was going to miss the rock. I had never swung a hammer like that; I’ve never swung a hammer that big.”

According to Sports Info Solutions, his sack rate was 0 percent and his pressure rate on pure dropbacks was 10 percent. He drew one hold. His missed-tackle rate was 19 percent.

Draft Bible says: Kaindoh looks the part at 6-foot-6, 265 pounds with long arms. He possesses exciting athletic traits including his explosive get-off and play strength. With that get-off, he is able to stress the outside shoulder of tackles on speed tracks, having enough ankle flexibility to flatten back to the passer. Kaindoh flashes power-rush ability, but has to play at extension more frequently. As a run defender, he makes hustle plays in pursuit and at times is able to reset the line of scrimmage with his power.

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