Shaq Lawson
Shaq Lawson dominated the combine (Brian Spurlock/Getty Images)

The pass-rushing column will consist of defensive ends in the 4-3 and outside linebackers in the 3-4. Some players fit one scheme a whole lot better than the other but versatility is just as important because of the percentage of use the sub packages are coming into play into today’s NFL. The one thing I challenge teams today is to know your scheme and draft accordingly, something Bill Belichick always does.

Is The Hype Warranted?

The two highly sought after players in this group are Joey Bosa and Noah Spence. Bosa I have a really tough time figuring out for various reasons. He is a really dominant player against the run but his sack numbers weren’t outstanding this season (5). Not to mention his supporting cast is outstanding. His combine numbers were disappointing to say the least (4.89 40 time) and looked rather awkward dropping into coverage. Maybe he is Jared Allen or maybe he’s Brian Robison. I think Bosa is gritty football player I just don’t believe he is a top 10 talent. Spence on the other hand is a former Buckeye who got kicked off the team for multiple incidents of ecstasy. Spence later found a home at Eastern Kentucky and had double digit sack numbers in 2015. The problem I had is he didn’t test nearly as well as I anticipated running a 4.80 in the 40 yard dash not showing the same explosion I saw during an impressive senior bowl week. After watching the drills he looked more like a late first early 2nd round talent. Combined with his off the field issues should push him even further down draft boards.

Joey Bosa remains a mystery to me ((Brian Spurlock/Getty Images))

The Shaq Attack:

The guy that really impressed me was Clemson’s Shaq Lawson. Lawson’s a guy who wins with power rather than twitchy pass rushing speed similar to Brian Orakpo and Terrell Suggs. I was practically encouraged by his 40 yard dash time along with his 10 yard split being much better than expected (4.70 40 time). His run defense is also superior similar to the way Courtney Upshaw affects the run game. Lawson cemented his first round status once he looked so fluid in the coverage drills. The 270 pound linebacker remains my top rated guy for his scheme versatility as well.


The other edge rusher who had a huge combine was Emmanuel Ogbah. The Okie State pass rusher looks like the second coming of Ziggy Ansah. Both players were extremely raw coming into the draft but have that twitchy, bending pass rushing ability. I think Ogbah is a much better fit in a 4-3 system for that very reason. Just think of the kind of player Robert Quinn would be in the two different systems. His statistics would vary greatly. Ogbah was a top performer in the 40 yard dash as well as the vertical and broad jump. Once he cleans up his game his consistency issues should improve as well. Ogbah probably jumped into the top 10 after his combine.

The One Year Wonder:

Kevin Dodd is another top player from Clemson except Dodd is more of a one year wonder. Dodd had a huge impact in this years national title game sacking Jake Coker three times. I would compare Dodd to a slight step down from Carlos Dunlap. Like Dunlap there will be some patience that is required with developing Dodd. The Junior from Clemson ran a 4.86 40 yard dash and did not participate in coverage drills showing he is a pure 4-3 guy.

Take A Flier:

There are a few developmental players who caught my attention as well. Carl Nassib, the brother of quarterback Ryan Nassib, had huge sack production this past year at Penn State (15.5 sacks in 2015). The problem is Nassib was a one year starter at Penn State and the true definition of a one year wonder who originally walked onto the team. Shawn Oakman is a freak at 6’7” but has limited production combined with some off the field issues makes him a true boom or bust prospect. Both players should be considered 4-3 defensive ends only

The other two are perfect 3-4 outside linebackers in Victor Ochi and Yannick Ngakoue. Ochi was one of my standouts at the East-West game while Ngakoue was by far the best is dropping into coverage during the drills.

*Dadi Nicolas (Virginia Tech) and Charles Tapper (Oklahoma) were guys who stood out as well. Both figure to be undersized defensive ends that are situational pass rushers. Both players are big time run liabilities.

Edger Rusher Rankings:

  1. Shaq Lawson (Clemson)
  2. Joey Bosa (Ohio State)
  3. Shalique Calhoun (Michigan State)
  4. Bronson Kaufusi (BYU)
  5. Carl Nassib (Penn Sate)