One of my favorite EDGE players this year is LJ Collier from TCU (pictured above) You won’t find him on this list of EDGE guys we should be looking at because after reading a lot about Collier, the consensus is he will move inside to DT as his primary role, despite playing EDGE throughout college. But he is very multiple in that he can play outside in sub packages very effectively too. He is a CLE type player (and fits the Dorsey model) through and through with a motor that doesn’t quit and shows explosion off the line and serious hand strength. Blue collar dude.
He’s a really intriguing upside guy, likely in play from Round 3 (if a team really targets him) down to Round 4 or 5 where he’s more likely to go. Originally was considered an UDFA player, but he really blew the doors off people at the Senior Bowl. His film is pretty good and he tested off the charts on his Pro Day so he just keeps confirming what the scout’s are seeing…dude can play in the NFL for sure.
I bring him up because he is the poster child for what’s challenging about this year’s crop of EDGE players. There are about 4 elite EDGE guys that are going to be long gone by the late 1st Round. A couple are going to be instant Pro Bowlers and have astonishing athletic skills. Montez Sweat is a player I covet more than most in the draft…he’s in my top 5 favorite players for sure. He’s an animal. Pure football player, has Myles Garrett type athletic ability and explosion.
All of this is reflected in his stats for the two years he was at Miss State. It was as if he landed on earth from an Alien planet all of the sudden (he did absolutely nothing at Michigan State and transferred) and because a prolific pass rusher. He put up 30.5 TFL’s and 23.5 Sacks in two freakin seasons!! I would absolutely give up next year’s first and a second to move up and take him. Instead, the damn Raiders are probably going to nab him. This is also why I just pretend to be a GM.
Sorry for that Man Crush diversion, but my point is after those first four guys, the quality at EDGE nose dives drastically. There is almost zero players I am interested in from the bottom of Round 1 to the middle of Round 3. One guy that you will see below is Joe Jackson, and I had him originally slotted as a 5th Rounder, but he’s more likely to go somewhere in the late 2nd to middle of the 4th. His profile and film has started to get a lot of buzz and he’s a fairly complete player. But damn, after that I’m completely uninterested and now I’m digging through the Pro Day data to find bargain basement UDFA players that have some athleticism showing through their Pro Day scores! That’s pathetic! Most of the mid-round players are 3-4 scheme guys anyway and Dorsey wants length too. That profile of 6-4+ and 275+ lbs is not plentiful in this EDGE class.
Olivier Vernon was a fantastic addition to the team and represents kind of a poor man’s Montez Sweat, but lacks the length Dorsey loves. He’s proven in terms of Sacks and QB pressures and can play multiple positions, so it will be interesting to see how much time he spends at EDGE versus LB versus 5-Tech in Steve Wilkes defense. Having him opposite Garrett is going to make a huge difference.
But much like the rest of our Defense, this position needs quality depth badly. And make no mistake, our lack of quality depth at DT will also impact the play at EDGE. We have been using outside players on the inside and I think that has been a miscast big time. It has not produced good results playing guys out of their best role. Here is what our roster looks like right now with new additions in Free Agency:
As tempting as it would be to trade Ogbah, I wonder what his impact would be if we were using him to his strengths. Looking at his stats over 3 seasons, he does not get a lot of tackles, or Sacks, or TFL’s or QB Hits/Pressure. Only in his first season when he played some OLB did he produce 16 QB hits. So what the hell is he contributing??? I simply am not knowledgeable enough to tell you. Is he just not starter caliber? Could we unlock some production as the players around him are upgraded? Shit man, right now I lean towards let’s get the 5th Round pick and try another guy!
Bottom line for me is that we should add a player for depth if we can grab one of the few real gems in the mid rounds, or if someone drops unexpectedly. Collier would be fantastic in the 3rd Round in my mind and if you wanted Joe Jackson you’d probably need to act in the 2nd Round. Buddy Boy will definitely be on the lookout for a skilled player that can help us right away and represent much higher quality depth.