Folks, there comes a point in time in every franchise’s history where a general manager reaches for a player in the NFL Draft that has no business going in that spot due to the position he plays. You see it all the time with quarterbacks. You occasionally see it with edge rushers and offensive lineman. I’m here right now to stake my claim that there isn’t a single edge rusher in the 2021 NFL Draft worth taking in the top 15.
For starters, there is not a consensus number one edge rushing prospect in this draft. Now while that doesn’t necessarily mean that there can’t be elite edge rushers in a given draft, in this particular instance it’s because every single one of them has some pretty big question marks.
In my estimation, there are five players in the edge rushing class who have the potential to be taken in the first round: Gregory Rousseau, Kwity Paye, Jaelan Phillips, Azeez Ojulari, and Jayson Oweh.
Here’s a quick blurb on each of them based on the film I’ve watched on them:
- Rousseau easily has the highest ceiling of the class but is incredibly raw. If he goes to a team that doesn’t refine him and help him learn how to use his strength then he could very easily end up as a bust. He is the “Aaron Judge” of this draft class in the sense that he will either hit a home run or strike out. He will either be a Hall of Fame caliber pass rusher or he will be out of the league before his rookie contract expires.
- Oweh also falls into this category of having a high ceiling. With that being said, he lacks the production that Rousseau had in college. He had zero sacks last season for Penn State.
- Phillips is a technician who has some durability concerns and isn’t as athletic as other members in this class. There are also questions on how much he loves the game as he retired during college due to injury concerns only to come back last season.
- Paye is raw due to the scheme that Michigan had him playing in. He is great on the outside but Michigan constantly moved him inside. He is athletic and has incredibly good burst but didn’t have consistent sack production in college.
- Ojulari is undersized and has great motor but I’d wager that he will have a really difficult time putting his hand in the dirt at the next level.
My point is that there are a lot of pros and cons with each of these players. When your team has the eleventh overall pick, you want to minimize risk as much as possible. In a draft where it’s possible that five quarterbacks are taken in the top ten, a top skill position player is going to drop right in your lap. You can’t waste this opportunity on a player who is incredibly risky and quite frankly one who isn’t a top eleven player in this draft.
While Dave Gettleman says that he doesn’t reach for players in order to fill needs, that has already been determined false when he passed on Edge Rusher Josh Allen to draft Daniel Jones. Reaching on guys in order to fill a need is how you end up with the likes of Eli Apple, Ereck Flowers, and unfortunately Daniel Jones. It simply can’t happen again. The Giants can not take an edge rusher with the eleventh overall pick.