Browns, NFL Draft

An early glance at the edge rusher class in the 2018 NFL Draft

Jeremy Brevard, USA TODAY Sports

The 2017 season is over for the Cleveland Browns, meaning the Browns are in the midst of one of the more important offseasons in team history since 1999. After a 0-16 season, there is a lot of work to do, but the Browns have a lot of assets to address these numerous needs. One of their biggest assets is the draft pick load they own in the 2018 NFL Draft, including the first and fourth overall pick.

Here at WFNY, we started to take an early glance at the 2018 NFL Draft, knowing the importance that the draft holds for this organization. In particular, WFNY’s Joe Gilbert and Jake Burns have taken an initial look at each position’s class for the 2018 NFL Draft. The duo have gone through most of the offense and has now started to move to the defensive side of the ball. This week the two will take a look at the 2018 edge rusher class.

So with that being said, he is Joe Gilbert’s and Jake Burns’ top five edge rushers and overall thoughts on the 2018 class.

2018 NFL Draft Early Glance Series: Running backWide ReceiverTight EndOffensive TackleOffensive Guard/CenterInterior Defensive Line

Joe Gilbert’s Top 5 Edge RusherJake Burns’ Top 5 Edge Rusher
1. Bradley Chubb, N.C. State1. Bradley Chubb, N.C. State
2. Arden Key, LSU2. Clelin Ferrell, Clemson
3. Clelin Ferrell, Clemson3. Arden Key, LSU
4. Marcus Davenport, UTSA4. Harold Landry, Boston College
5. Harold Landry, Boston College5. Marcus Davenport, UTSA


Best of the Rest: Austin Bryant (Clemson), Rasheem Green (USC), Sam Hubbard (Ohio State), Duke Ejiofor (Wake Forest), Ogbonnia Okoronkwo (Oklahoma), Josh Sweat (Florida State), and Dorance Armstrong (Kansas)

Which edge rusher do you feel stronger about than most people?

Joe: I feel stronger about Duke Ejiofor of Wake Forest more than most people. He just missed being in my top five edge rushers. Ejiofor is a player who is a tough player to block. He has good arm length and uses his arms well to get away from blockers. His footwork and pass rushing repertoire is pretty advanced for a player his age. He is not the most exceptional athlete or physical specimen, but he uses his technique to win battles consistently.

Jake: Arden Key is a guy I view as an elite pass rusher who is every bit as good as the top two names. Key battled some injuries this year and was only able to play in eight games, but in those games, his presence was felt. He is a big, long athlete who can speed rush and really get after the quarterback at an elite level. His pre-draft process will be very important.

Who is your No. 1 edge rusher in the class and why do you believe he is the best edge rusher?

Joe: Bradley Chubb of N.C. State is my No. 1 edge rusher in the class. Chubb has almost everything a team wants in an edge rusher. At 6-foot-4, 275 pounds, he is an explosive athlete with the ability to cover ground quickly and gain quick advantages over blockers. He has great hands to help him control blockers and disengage at a moments notice. He is a strong player at the point of attack, allowing him to be not only a dangerous pass rusher but also a strong run defender.

Jake: Just like Joe I enjoy Bradley Chubb’s all-around game. He is big enough to play defensive tackle but moves like an outside linebacker off the edge. He can get after the quarterback with a mixture of speed and power moves, and he can control his gap or edge to maintain the run game better than anyone else in this class.

What are your thoughts on the overall edge rusher class? How would you rate the class?

Joe: This class is really deep. It is pretty similar to last season’s class, but without a generational talent like Myles Garrett. But, there is an elite talent in Bradley Chubb, who is probably just a step or two below Garrett. The class will likely see at least five edge rushers taken in the first round and quite a few in the first two days of the draft. The class has a nice array of talents and skill sets to help fill a wide variety of needs teams may have on their roster.

Jake: The class, in general, is deep enough to feel good about getting quality talent in the middle rounds. More college programs are breeding pass rush specialists, and this class has plenty of them. The top end talent, Chubb, is good enough to anchor an NFL defensive line, and the next six names can all be immediate impact players. This isn’t the best defensive end class we have seen, but the group is deep enough.

Who has the best single skill set and what is that skill set?

Joe: The best single skill set in the edge rusher class is Bradley Chubb’s hands. He has powerful hands that control blockers. Chubb showcases his strength in those hands, throwing blockers aside or stunning them with an initial punch. His hands allow him to disengage from blocks at any time he wants. He can use an array of hand moves to gain separation from a block. His hands are his best assets, helping him in pass rush and run defense situations.

Jake: I agree with Joe on this one, but for the conversation at hand, Harold Landry’s ability to stay low when turning the corner is going to give NFL tackles headaches. He is a bit small for the position compared to others, but his ability to stay low when turning the corner is unmatched. He can almost stay sprinting while dipping around bigger tackles for edge pressures constantly. Much of his success in the NFL will be rushing the passer, and his single skill set here is one that makes him worth drafting.

Who is a sleeper edge rusher who you are keeping an eye on?

Joe: Marcus Davenport of UTSA is a sleeper now, but he will be a household name as the draft process goes on. He stands at 6-foot-7, 255 pounds. At that size, he runs like someone much smaller than him. But, his best asset is his power. He can really overpower and stun blockers, pushing them back into the backfield. He is a raw talent who has some work to do, but he has so much upside.

Jake: I am going to, unfortunately, echo Joe again. Davenport is extremely gifted and his film is full of “WOW” moments against the competition. How that will translate is something to consider, but the talent and raw ability is obviously there. Another name to consider is Florida State’s Josh Sweat. Now, injuries have hurt his production somewhat, but he is a freakish athlete who will test really well at the combine. As he grows more comfortable in his body, he could be a guy who really produces well at the NFL level. 

What is the impact of this edge rusher class to the Browns?

Joe: The Browns are set in the starting lineup with Myles Garrett and Emmanuel Ogbah at their edge positions. But, the team could use some depth on the line because the defense did struggle a little when the two starters were not on the field. Luckily, the 2018 NFL Draft has a pretty deep class of edge rushers. So, I could see the Browns using one of their many Day 2 picks to pick an edge rusher who has fallen.

Jake: Yes, Day 2 will be when we most likely see the Browns target a defensive end. I would not be shocked if they used an early pick on Bradley Chubb, but I do not expect it. The Browns need to improve the second rotation group up front that was anchored by Carl Nassib and Nate Orchard. I expect them to use one or two picks in this department as you can never have enough talented pass rushers.


Bradley Chubb Highlights

Clelin Ferrell Highlights

Arden Key Highlights

Harold Landry Highlights

Marcus Davenport Closing Speed