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  • Writer's pictureTravis Tyler

2021 NFL Draft- Defensive ends

Gregory Rousseau, JR, Miami

Rousseau was thought to be DE1 in this class before the 2020 season, however, he opted out of the 2020 season and others may have closed the gap. He still has just about all the desired traits teams want from a defensive end, but it depends how well he now compares to others who have shown improvement since he last played.

Jaelan Phillips, SR, Miami

Phillips directly benefitted from Rousseau sitting out the year. With Rousseau's gone, it was Phillips who took his starting role. The UCLA transfer took full advantage with (stats) and may now become a first round pick. He's a better pass rusher than run defender right now, but the gap isn't severe. There may be some questions about his passion for football from past incidents, but Phillips is an excellent player and could contribute right away.

Kwity Paye, SR, Michigan

Paye has an interesting story and is getting 1st round appeal due to his unique athletic abilities at his size. He measured slightly smaller than he was listed in college but is a possible top 10 pick. He puts up explosive numbers in tests and you can see the burst when watching him on the field. Alll thst is coveted by NFL teams and puts him in the conversation for DE1 in this draft.

Patrick Jones, SR, Pittsburgh

Jones was part of a Pittsburgh d-line that caused nightmares for ACC quarterbacks. The Panthers had four d-linemen that may end up in the league (and that was with DT Jaylyn Twyman opting out). Jones is a speed pass rusher with the size and athleticism to develop into a starting defensive end. He's a likely Day 2 selection, like many of his teammates.

Rashad Weaver, SR, Pittsburgh

Weaver is one of those aforementioned teammates; rising u draft boards with a great 2020 season. When I watched him play, he was actually the one who stood out most to me. He gets up field well on a pass rush and seems more balanced between stopping the run and getting the QB than most of his teammates. He's probably a rotational guy at the next level, but I really like his potential.

Carlos Basham Jr, SR, Wake Forest

Basham could've snuck into the first round last year and may still do so. He had potential to be rated even higher but his team did not have a great season. Basham has drawn comparisons to Lions DE Trey Flowers, who has been a Pro Bowler and among the league's lead pass-rushers. In a similar vain, Basham has the ability to play on the edge as a pass-rusher and can slide inside to the 3-technique to give his team an advantage in clear passing situations. Expect Basham to come off the board early on Day 2.

Elerson Smith, SR, Northern Iowa

Smith is one of the more intriguing small-school prospects in this draft. Like most of the FCS prospects this year, he opted out of the 2020 season after the FCS decided to move its season to the spring during COVID. Watching Senior Bowl practices, you could clearly see the athleticism and bend off the edge, and his 6'6" size is incredibly appealing for a pass-rusher. He's a little skinny for his frame and doesn't have the flexibility to slide inside for now. He also doesn't have a deep repetoire of pass -rush moves. Teams can overlook some of that if they think he can unlock his potential-- making him a solid prospect for early Day 3.

Daelin Hayes, SR, Notre Dame

Hayes is a dominant power pass-rusher. He has a thick base and long arms. He can also do it form both two and three-point stances. Hayes also has the flexibilty to move inside to DT on passing down and get penetration up the middle. He isn't getting the attention he deserves and will likely go later than he should. I have him as a Day 2 player but you'll likely hear his name early on Day 3.

Justus Reed, SR, Virginia Tech

Reed transferred to VA Tech after three great seasons at Youngstown State--including a 13 sack season with 19 TFL in 2019. After moving up a level in competition, Reed held his own. He started 10 of the Hokies' 11 games and had 6.5 sacks. Reed is clearly a productive player, but he did spend seven years in college, so he's older than your typical prospect, and has a bit of an injury history. As a potential rotational pass-rusher, I can see a team taking a late-round flier on him.

Jayson Oweh, R-SO, Penn State

Oweh is another player in this class with tantalizing athleticism. However, it is all based on potential so far. Oweh did not have a single sack in 2020, but his speed has caused him to become a potential first round prospect, according to some reports. He projects as a 4-3 defensive end and will get drafted early.

Josh Kaindoh, JR, Florida State

Kaindoh's appealing traits are his length and athletic potential. His college career flew under the radar because it only included 10 starts, but many are starting to see him as a potentially special player. He needs to learn how to use his strengths and add more power to unlock his greatest potential. Some team will give him a shot based on potential alone.

Chauncey Golston, SR, Iowa

First team All-Big Ten player with 5.5 sacks in just 8 games in 2020. Known more for being a stout DE than pass-rusher, Golston showed improvement in the latter in 2020. That should raise his stock some going into this draft. He was a 6th or 7th round guy before. Now, I can see him as high as round 4.

Wyatt Hubert, SR, Kansas State

Hubert is one of those guys who has a never ending motor. He's always around the ball and has good instincts. despite not being overly quick. Hubert earned 1st-team All Big-12 the past two seasons and finished his career with the 8th most sacks in school history. He's a rotational player at the next level and should be taken sometime on Saturday.

Earnest Brown IV, SR, Northwestern

You may not recognize the name, but Brown is a solid player from a team that finished 2nd in a good conference. He has similar size to Basham but is not as explosive. He spent most of his time at Northwestern as a backup, which may have hurt his draft stock. Early in the offseason, I saw him mocked in the late first round by some, but lately he's been projected to come off the board during the late rounds.

Ronnie Perkins, SR, Oklahoma

Perkins played mostly defensive end for the Sooners but may fall more into the Hybrid DE/OLB category. He's great at coming off the edge and diagnosing plays in the backfield and was one of the team's top pass-rushers. At 6'2 1/2 253 lbs, he's undersized for an NFL defensive end and probably fits better in a 3-4 defense. Could be a solid fit for teams like the Steelers or Ravens. Projections currently have him in the 2nd and 3rd rounds.

Malcolm Koonce, SR, Buffalo

Koonce's measurables are similar to Perkins', and he could be a good late round pick for a team that doesn't get Perkins. ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. even had Koonce as a second round prospect in a recent projection. That's much higher than I can see him going and higher most insiders have him. He earned first team all-MAC twice since becoming a starter as a junior in 2019, managing nine sacks that year and 5 in just 6 games in 2020. Koonce will be a rotational player at the next level and has good potential as a late round player.

Payton Turner, SR, Houston

Turner's offseason and Senior Bowl performance have rightfully given him more attention. He's 6'5" 270 with the potential to become a starter in the NFL. He needs to develop a little more as a pass rusher, but he had a productive college career with 115 tackles and 25 tackles for loss. If he can become a better pass-rusher, Turner will be a great Day 2 selection, and it's easy to see why he's liked so much.

Victor Dimukeje, SR, Duke

Dimukeje is known for pass rushing, whether it's with a hand in the dirt or as a rushing linebacker. He started every game of his career at Duke at had 21.5 sacks. He doesn't have the length or contain the run too well, which will go against him in evaluations. The team that drafts him will need to be patient an help him develop more nuances into his game. Can be a good player, just raw. 5th or 6th round.

Jonathan Cooper, SR, Ohio State

Not a Chase Young-level player but productive enough. He's not as athletic or long as you want in a d-end and has some stiffness as well. Positively, he's smart and quick and doesn't overrun plays or get thrown off balance. Holds his own at the line of scrimmage. Can underestimate opponents and get stuck on blocks. Pass-rush specialist for Day 3.

Dayo Odeyingbo, SR, Vanderbilt

125 tackles with 12 sacks in his career. Has the desired length and power of NFL defensive ends. Knack for blowing up plays in the backfield and 5th most career TFL in program history Great promise with position versatility. Unfortunately recovering from a recent Achilles injury or else his stock would be much higher. Still think someone takes him in 2nd-4th rounds.

Cameron Sample, SR, Tulane

Sample is a two-year starter who caught people's eyes at the Senior Bowl. He played a little bit of both DE and DT at Tulane but appears primed to be a bigger defensive end at the next level. Usually that would be more apt for a three man defensive line, but I think he can do well in most schemes as long as the coach realizes how to use him correctly. Expect him off the board in the middle rounds.

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