Joseph Yun's 2020 Front Seven Big Board


Photo by LA Times.com

Written by: Joseph Yun

Twitter: @ItsDuckinTooYun


The 2020 NFL Draft is just a few hours away now. In this edition of the big board series, we will be taking a look at some of the best overall prospects in the country that reside in the front seven. Who are some of the lesser-known and hyped front seven defenders in the class? If you missed the previous articles in the series, you can find them below.


Quarterback

Running Back

Wide Receivers

Tight Ends

Offensive Line


Note: All RAS scores are courtesy of Kent Lee Platte of Pro Football Network (@mathbomb). Blitzalytics scores are a result of a comprehensive grading system within the scouting network.


Note 2: All other charts are courtesy of mockdraftable.com


EDGE


1. Chase Young / Ohio State


- Young is by far the best EDGE prospect in this class. Plenty of digital and print ink has been spilled about his exploits; very technically sound, as is the case for most Buckeyes defensive linemen. He’s been used in stand-up and hand-in-the dirt role. Has no off-field character concerns. Jadeveon Clowney 2.0


BA Grade: 8.9

Round Grade: Second Overall Selection

RAS: N/A


2. A.J. Epenesa / Iowa


- As the RAS score indicates, Epenesa isn’t the greatest athlete we’ve ever seen. He wins on power and length but lateral agility but leaves a significant something to be desired. Still, he’s the second-best EDGE on the board. Like most Iowa linemen are, he’s fundamentally sound and is often in the same picture due to his plus instincts. Due to athletic limitations, he may project better as a 4-3 defensive end rather than stand up 3-4 outside linebacker. A less athletic Jared Allen, perhaps?

BA Grade: 7.37

Round Grade: First


3. K’Lavon Chaisson / LSU


- Chaisson is an ATHLETE. He’s very explosive laterally and off the snap rushing upfield. First step is insane. Underrated as a technician. He wore the prestigious 18 jersey this past season, and for good reason. The measurables are elite stuff and he uses every bit of his frame in everything he does, including a surprising amount of power and, of course, length. Chaisson has a 2018 torn ACL on his record but showed no ill effects from it in 2019. A little lighter Jevon Kearse if you will. Another plus is that he was constantly looking for secondary assignments.

BA Grade: 7.65

Round Grade: First


4. Zack Baun / Wisconsin


- While he isn’t as athletic as the guys above him, he’s plenty athletic for the position. Laterally, he’s adept at covering backs and tight ends. Also, he’s a fundamentally sound tackler and doesn’t miss too often. Wisconsin made it a point to make him more versatile as a linebacker in that he was used in coverage and pass rush situations equally. He shows great football IQ and has a solidly expansive repertoire of pass rush moves. Baun’s agility is surprising, and his production was immense. Physically, he compares to Odell Thurman and a little lighter A.J. Hawk.

BA Grade: 7.5

Round Grade: Second


5. Julian Okwara / Notre Dame


- Another athletic dude that can play both end and outside linebacker with no drop-off. He’s a quick twitched and bendy pass rusher with plenty of speed. However, he’s rehabbing from a broken fibula that ended his season prematurely, so who knows if he still has the athleticism. If not for the injury issues, he would’ve been much higher on this list. Okwara is very fluid in space when he’s asked, and while he’s not Isaiah Simmons (no one is), he can be a Harold Landry for a 3-4 team that needs a good amount of burst off the edge.

BA Grade: 7.5

Round Grade: Second to Third


6. Joshua Uche / Michigan


- Uche had a strong showing at the Senior Bowl, showing off his athleticism, length, pure speed, and lateral quickness. He was one of the few EDGE rushers this past season to give OT1 Tristan Wirfs issues. Uche does well to convert length to power given his size. Hand usage is above average. He’s too small to play in a pass-rushing role full time but can make an impact as a moveable chess piece. His physical traits compare to former Texas linebacker Emmanuel Acho and current Lions linebacker Jarrad Davis.

BA Grade: 6.82

Round Grade: Second


7. Curtis Weaver / Boise State


- Weaver is an underrated EDGE in a deep class. He’s not as athletic as those ranked above him, but he brings a lot of good things fundamentally. Hand usage is a really good trait of his, and he’s got a pretty solid, if not spectacular, first step off the snap; it won’t win any track meets, but it’ll surprise some folks. His physical traits compare to former BSU EDGE Shea McClellin and Takkarist McKinley.

BA Grade: 7.29

Round Grade: Third


8. Yetur Gross-Matos / Penn State


- A man without a true position. He’s an athlete with a need for some refinement in techniques. While he uses his long arms well, his versatility was a bit limited in his time at Penn State, so he’ll need some refinement. He will get drafted in the middle rounds based on his athleticism alone but needs a redshirt year to learn the finer points of EDGE play. A less refined Chandler Jones.

BA Grade: 6.7

Round Grade: Third


9. Terrell Lewis / Alabama


- First-round talent with an undrafted free agent medical history. Dude has been hampered big time by injury and 2019 was his first full healthy season. Technique wise, he’s raw. Has all the physical traits to make an impact, but can he stay healthy?

BA Grade: N/A

Round Grade:Third

RAS: N/A


10. Bradlee Anae / Utah


- As the RAS score shows, he’s just an okay athlete. He wins most of his wars with strength and willpower more than athleticism. Lateral agility is a big minus. A constantly running motor helps, but he will get exposed if asked to drop into space. He profiles physically to Jeremiah Attachou according to mockdraftable.com

BA Grade: 7.32

Round Grade: Fourth


11. Alex Highsmith / Charlotte


- That first step. Whew buddy is it ever good. Highsmith’s very explosive off the snap and is just running constantly. He’s excellent in space as well. A really fluid athlete that can get going in a hurry. Highsmith had a great offseason that kicked off with an impressive Shrine Game week. He just blows by the tackle on every rep. Not much power; he’s primarily a speed rusher.

BA Grade: 7.08

Round Grade: Fourth


12. Jonathan Greenard / Florida


- If not for injury, he would be much higher on the list. He missed a significant chunk of 2019 and missed some time in 2018 while at Louisville. Athleticism is subpar at best. He wins with power and not much else. The medical will knock him down a round or two.

BA Grade: 7.5

Round Grade: Fifth


13. Darrell Taylor / Tennessee


- Taylor is an athlete. Extremely quick burst off the line and is twitched up to make lateral agility not an issue. He’s been rising up the boards with a good offseason after a consistently good senior season. I only wish he had one more year to really blossom under Jeremy Pruitt. Pass rush arsenal needs some development at the next level. He profiles as a 4-3 outside linebacker with some potential for 3-4 EDGE. Bigger Vic Beasley?


BA Grade: 7.18

Round Grade: Fourth

RAS Score N/A


IDL


1. Derrick Brown / Auburn


- It was close, but Brown edges out Kinlaw for the honor of IDL1. Brown is just a freak- guys his size shouldn’t move like he does. He could play 3-4 nose tackle or 4-3 defensive tackle given his movement skills. Marcus Stroud potential?

BA Grade: 8.02

Round Grade: Top 10


2. Javon Kinlaw / Texas A&M


- Kinlaw has an incredible rags to riches story that everyone should read about. He’s an incredible athlete that has an arsenal of pass rush moves to win with. Strong as an ox and is rarely beaten in single teams. I see him as a bigger Timmy Jernigan.

BA Grade: 8.05

Round Grade: Top 15

RAS Score: N/A


3. Ross Blacklock / TCU


- Blacklock was the anchor for a struggling TCU defense. He has a ton of athletic potential. Laterally quick and has a great burst off the snap. Power was slightly lacking in his game, but it’s not much of an issue. Sharrif Floyd maybe?

BA Grade: 6.85

Round Grade: First to Second


4. Neville Gallimore / Oklahoma


- The other standout defensive tackle from the Big 12 is no slouch himself. Gallimore is a strong effort player that chases down everything near him. He’s not overly long but has enough power in his game to compensate. I see him comparing to Jurrell Casey, who also doesn’t have ideal size but is a menace in the backfield using his quickness to beat blockers.

BA Grade: 7.02

Round Grade: Second to Third


5. Justin Madubuike / Texas A&M


- Madubuike may be my favorite defensive tackle in the class. He’s versatile enough to play both tackle positions in a four-man front in different looks. Very good laterally and short area bursts. He has a powerful punch to go along with a quick first step. He projects as a great athlete due to his great RAS score. He profiles similar to current Jets DT Quinnen Williams.

BA Grade: 6.8

Round Grade: Second


6. Marlon Davidson / Auburn


- Davidson was a versatile piece for the highly touted Tigers defense in that he played both end and tackle. He’s listed as a defensive tackle in this exercise due to the depth at EDGE. Not the most athletic at EDGE, so tackle might be a better fit for him long-term.

BA Grade: 7.56

Round Grade: Third


7. Leki Fotu / Utah


- Eddie Goldman? Fotu has a lot of power and underrated athleticism in his tape. While his punch is ferocious, the short area quickness needs improvement. He has the size to play a throwback Casey Hampton-type of nose tackle in the pros, even though he has experience in a four-man front.

BA Grade: 6.74

Round Grade: Fourth


8. Jordan Elliott / Missouri


- Elliott has gotten some traction and increased his stock as of late after a good 2019 effort. He’s a space eating tackle that eats up blockers for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A decent athlete but not a good one. Kind of in between in terms of power vs. speed. His physical traits match up to Devon Still.

BA Grade: 6.63

Round Grade: Fourth


LB


1. Isaiah Simmons / Clemson


- The do-it-all defensive weapon is projected to go within the top ten with good reason. He can be played all over the field. He has freaky athleticism. Bigger Derwin James?


BA Grade: 8.01

Round Grade: Top Ten


2. Kenneth Murray / Oklahoma


- Murray is the definition of a modern day linebacker. He’s a great athlete that can go sideline-to-sideline in a hurry. Lateral agility is a major plus, and so is the explosion in his first step. In Oklahoma’s scheme, he lined up as an ILB but is projected as a dude who can play both inside and outside. Fundamentally sound (albeit with some hiccups in terms of tackling), Murray has been consistently linked in the latter stages of the first round. A less instinctive Luke Keuchly? His physical traits most resemble the late Thomas Howard.

BA Grade: 7.55

Round Grade: First to Second


3. Malik Harrison / Ohio State


- Plus instincts and gap discipline for Harrison. He knows his role and sticks to it. A solid athlete for the inside linebacker position, he also has quickness if lined up on the outside. Short area agility while he’s dropping back is a moderate issue because of some stiff hips. I noticed he’s lightning quick in diagnose attempts, so an enterprising offensive coordinator can fool him with countermeasures. Very good strength at the point of attack. Alec Ogletree? Harrison has three down ability but will likely make his bones at special teams before starting initially.

BA Grade: 7.68

Round Grade: Second to Third


4. Patrick Queen / LSU


- Talk about saving your best performance for last. Queen had to sit and wait for a while before he broke out as a junior in 2019. He’s an elite athlete as demonstrated with the RAS scores. However, his size is an issue, even by today’s standards of smaller linebackers. He’s not quite as good as his predecessor (Devin White), but in terms of football IQ and instincts, he’s somewhat in the ballpark. Due to size, he will need to go to a team that has a solid front to keep the blocks off him. Inexperience is an expected issue, so he’ll need to continue on the track he is on. I see a bit of Eric Kendricks and Devin Bush in his game.

BA Grade: 7.68

Round Grade: First to Second


5. Willie Gay, Jr / Mississippi State


- He has all the makings of a pretty good athlete based on the RAS. However, his tape shows he can be a little mechanical at times (like he’s trying to out think the opponent instead of just playing). Sound tackler who hits hard, WGJ played inside and has plus athleticism for the role. One has to wonder if he can truly unleash himself as a hybrid inside/outside type. Strength is a plus. Off field issues galore; he reportedly punched the starting quarterback in a bowl practice. Darron Lee?

BA Grade: 6.88

Round Grade: Third


6. Jordyn Brooks / Texas Tech


- He’s an impact linebacker that plays every rep like it's his last. Brooks is an athletic playmaker who possesses very good run instincts and is improving in the pass game. He’s also demonstrated elite production and can be a very sound tackler who will run and chase with the best of them. Lateral agility is a huge plus. Brooks has been rocketing up the boards lately with a good offseason, so he’ll be a Day Two pick. I saw a lot of Zach Brown in his film. Similar athleticism and improving instincts to be a Day One starter if things break out.

BA Grade: 7.88

Round Grade: Third

RAS: N/A


7. Davion Taylor / Colorado


- Taylor is an undersized track star who’s very raw fundamentally. He compares traits wise to Deion Jones without the instincts. There are bits and pieces of his game to love such as his athleticism, but the rest is a bit shaky. I wish he had one more year to develop under Mel Tucker. He could be on a Wesley Woodyard track.

BA Grade: 7.25

Round Grade: Fourth


8. Troy Dye / Oregon


- A great athlete with a fraught medical history- he played through a broken thumb and torn meniscus. He has sideline-to-sideline coverage ability but not the frame to hold up long-term. He has toothpicks for legs and will need to add some weight to his current frame. He’s effective blitzing off the edge, so that may be his role for the foreseeable future. He gets fooled by play action a lot and is what you’d call a “janitor” type of linebacker (aka who cleans up the mess instead of initiating it).


BA Grade: 6.92

Round Grade: Fourth to Fifth

RAS: N/A


9. Akeem Davis-Gaither / Appalachian State


- He is undersized a bit with very good instincts and plus athleticism. First step quickness is pretty good. He was used as a pass rusher in volume in college, but doesn’t have the instincts for that type of role yet. Currently projects as a two down linebacker with some special teams in his future until he can develop in the weight room.

BA Grade: 6.78

Round Grade: Fifth

RAS: N/A


10. Logan Wilson / Wyoming


- Wilson is a tackling machine, racking up over 400 in his career for the Cowboys. He isn’t the best athlete laterally speaking, but has plus instincts to make up for it. Generally in the picture but can get exposed in coverage by even average athletes. He’s a pure inside linebacker like Sean Lee or Barrett Ruud. Has a similar athletic profile to Kendall Beckwith.

BA Grade: 6.7

Round Grade: Fifth to Sixth

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