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Pass Rushers In The 1St Round


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Saw the thread posted recently about not worrying if Beasley wasn't on the board, and it got me wondering how many people on these message boards actually watch full games of the prospects and not highlight videos...no offense, because I don't expect everyone to invest the time into that, but highlight videos are just not the best way to judge a prospect's body of work. Same with stats. Pretty sure my rankings differ a lot from most people's because of that. Gregory, for example, does a much better job against the run than he does affecting the passer.

There are very few full games on YouTube (I watch via other means) but there are several videos with all the plays a prospect was featured on, and those are a decent way of judging a prospect. So this thread'll just be a fairly long read with brief descriptions of the 5 most talked about prospects being mocked to us, and my opinions of them, along with a video of a game from each of them that I feel represents them fairly.

NOTE: I don't claim to be an expert, but I don't think I'm being egotistical when I say that regarding front seven players, I'm right an awful lot more than I'm wrong. My opinions on other positions are decent but I don't consider myself nearly as good at evaluating that kind of talent. Also, I'll be operating under the assumption that Leonard Williams has no chance of making it to our pick.

Vic Beasley

I'll start with the one everyone wants. Nearly every game he's in could double as a highlight reel. Beasley is the best pass rusher in the draft. I might go so far as to say he's the best player in the draft PERIOD. He's got one of the fastest first steps I've seen in my life, an array of honed pass rushing moves ranging from dips, rips, spins, the whole shebang. And his ability to defend the run is way better than people give him credit for. I see him being easily capable of double digit sacks in his first season and every season thereafter. The biggest qualm I have - and don't get me wrong, it's pretty big - is his tackling. God, his tackling is awful sometimes. But while I'm not drinking all the Quinn Kool-Aid, if there's one thing I'm confident he can coach, it's tackling. If Beasley is there at #8, we should be running to the podium, and he's the one player in the draft I would actually be alright with trading up for. Heck, I might even encourage it. Can't miss.

Randy Gregory

Gregory is an interesting one, to say the least. When I started really focusing on certain players a couple months ago, I hated the idea of Gregory. He relies on athleticism so much that it's sometimes difficult to get a feel for what type of player he is. But lately...I've come around somewhat. I still think his getoff leaves a lot to be desired, and his hand usage is pretty mediocre to say the least. But he has a lot of length, and he plays the run significantly better than his frame would suggest. He plays with considerably more strength than anyone else I've seen his size, and if he can put on some good muscle, I feel like he has the potential - again, the potential - to be an very good DE or OLB in a 4-3. That'll depend largely on where he ends up, as I think he needs a lot of coaching but he has the tools. If we got him I do feel like our new coaching staff has the capabilities to coach him up...but I'd be lying if I said I feel like the value is there at #8. Maybe if we traded down a bit. But he has one of the highest chances of busting of any edge prospect in the draft.

Bud Dupree

Nearly the opposite of Randy Gregory, in terms of my opinion on him. I started off very, very high on Dupree. And don't get me wrong - I still think he might be the most physically talented defensive end in the draft, and he's arguably one of the most physically talented defensive ends that has EVER been in the draft. But his motor has me worried. I'll watch him shoot off the snap with a borderline elite getoff one snap, and then the next he'll walk right into the tackle and just...push. On some run plays, he'll seriously just stand up and do hardly anything when he sees the play going away from him. There are so many plays where he looks like he isn't even trying. But he flashes enough that I think a motivated Dupree would be a true terror to face. This guy has crazier measurables than Mario Williams. Think about that. When all is said and done, I'm not necessarily comfortable with him at 8...but I've certainly heard worse ideas. He has all the potential in the world.

Dante Fowler Jr

Alright, we can't have all sunshine and rainbows. If we took any of the aforementioned guys, I'd be relatively happy with it - or at the very least, I could convince myself to be, even if I didn't think the value was there. Fowler is where that optimism ends. I watched every game Fowler had this year, and I'm firmly convinced that he's not a top 5 talent like many are saying. He's not even a top 15 talent. There's an argument to be made that he isn't a first round talent. While his highlights are truly flashy, and his measurables are impressive as heck, Fowler spends most of his time looking lost. A majority of his impressive plays come off of either stunts or weird pass rushing plays from the middle linebacker position - something that won't work nearly as well in the NFL. He gets flat out bullied by a lot of OTs, including those who likely won't even be drafted in the NFL. And while he does have some potential, and I've been trying to cover my azz by saying he could be pretty good in the NFL...I'm tempted to say he just won't be. In my opinion, he'll likely be a below average starter, if even that. He just doesn't have the pass rushing moves to merit being drafted this early, and even his ability to set the edge is questionable. Of all the front seven players likely to be taken in the first round, he's my least favorite by far. Luckily, it's likely someone will take him before us and we won't even have to worry about that.

Shane Ray

This guy. Oh man, this guy. I'd like to say I have no idea how he's suddenly fallen out of favor with the majority of people and evaluators - a lot of people don't even mention him now - but I already know. He didn't run at the combine. To that, I say - so what? Just you wait until he runs that 4.4 on his Pro Day. Shane Ray has somehow went from a borderline top 5 prospect to underrated, with some having him fall out of the top 10 entirely in mocks. But don't sleep on Ray. He's just shy of Beasley in terms of pass rushing prowess, and it could be argued that his ceiling is higher. He has a terrific getoff, some decent pass rushing moves that'll develop more with time, and he also has the most heart and motor of any top pass rushing prospect this draft. He's a leader and a warrior on the field, and I have no doubt that with our coaches - not only Quinn, whose specialty is DL, but Richard Smith, and even the LB savant Ulbrich - he could be transformed into an elite pass rusher. The biggest thing I worry about with Ray is his ability to set the edge and defend the run. And don't get me wrong...it's bad. Terrible. I don't know if it's what he was asked to do, but there were times where teams would run right at his side, several times in a row, and he would immediately break inside and not even try to set the edge. But as a pass rusher, there are few more intriguing prospects.

All in all? I won't straight up rank these players. I think that should be up to you, as readers. But I'd love to hear where you agree, disagree, and whether or not you learned anything. All in all, the pass rushers this draft are truly enticing...I can't help being excited for the draft. We're in for a fun offseason, that's for sure!

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Love Ray as a pure pass rushing demon. However I'm hearing more and more good things about beasely that it's hard to not rate a guy who is clearly talented and is making it blatantly clear he wants to be here pre draft. So give me either one and I'm ok as either will definetily give us a pass rush potential we haven't seen since abe

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Really nice analysis. You really put some thought on here. I think you're right - It should be Beasley or Ray. Or then trade down for some hidden prospect that Quinn and co. have fallen in love with.

I can't think that with Hageman already on the roster, we want another project that needs to be coached up. And Quinn is especially not going after a player with no motor/heart on every play (Dupree).

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To me, Beasleys tape is far and away the best out of that group. And thats what I rely on the most. And his insane combine just validated his athleticism. He is my #1 guy as is the case for the majority of posters.

I like Shane Ray as a straight up pass rusher. The two things that i don't like are that I believe that he has some stiffness to him which will limit him to strictly rushing the passer (not necessarily a bad thing). And he is a bit undersized and not that strong against the run. I think he has the best 1st step out of all the pass rushers though.

I agree with everything you said about Randy Gregory. He has the length and could turn into a special pass rusher, but his tape is not great. He will definitely need a lot of coaching

Fowler is similar to Gregory in that he will take a lot of coaching up. I think he plays soft. He definitely shows speed and explosiveness despite a not so great combine. But he doesn't have any pass rush moves.

I think Dupree is starting to get overrated because of his combine. Yeah it was one of the best ever, but his instincts are not that impressive to me. I actually like Owamagbe Odighizuwa better than Dupree.

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Glad you pointed that out about Dupree. Said the same thing in that thread in the Draft forum. A lot of his sacks and pressures we unblocked. That 4.56 speed does not show up on the tape. Just because he ran it doesn't mean it's there on the field. The guy is a good player, but is a workout warrior too.

All one has to do is actually watch his games.

Beasley is far and away the best one. Ray and Fowler are equal in my eyes, but different players. Gregory is underrated at this point and I wouldn't be mad taking him. Dupree better be a trade down.

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Says nearly every game Beasley has played in is a highlight reel, I went back and watched the Clemson vs Georgia game from last year and was extremely unimpressed with him in that game. Im sure I'll get flamed for saying that but it wasn't even his lack of sacks (think he had one on an intentional grounding), it was lack of pressure and lack of persuit on running/screen plays. Look forward to watching more game film on him vs just a highlight reel.

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The problem I see is how likely is it that Beasely will get to us in the draft? if mariotta is getting picked AFTER us especially, it seems that several teams will want to get beasely before we do. what do you think?

I think the pass rushers are largely so close that legitimately any of the ones listed could get picked before him. Not that they're likely to do so, just that they feasibly could. Fowler is consensus top 5 (not including my own opinion obviously), Gregory is thought by many to be the best and highest potential, Dupree has measurables unlike any pass rusher in the draft (way better than Clowney even), and when Ray runs his 4.4 he could shoot up draft boards easily. Any of the two main QBs could go, Danny Shelton could go, Kevin White and/or Amari Cooper could go, Leonard Williams could (will) go, Scherff and/or other OL could go to one of the teams needing OL, Trae Waynes/Marcus Peters could go. It's likely he'll be gone, but with how loaded the pass rusher class (and top 10 in general) of this draft is, it's hard to say.

Glad you pointed that out about Dupree. Said the same thing in that thread in the Draft forum. A lot of his sacks and pressures we unblocked. That 4.56 speed does not show up on the tape. Just because he ran it doesn't mean it's there on the field. The guy is a good player, but is a workout warrior too.

I'd argue Dupree's speed shows up, just rarely. I'm very wary of him.

I think Dupree is starting to get overrated because of his combine. Yeah it was one of the best ever, but his instincts are not that impressive to me. I actually like Owamagbe Odighizuwa better than Dupree.

I was really, really tempted to put Diggy up, but he's not being mentioned as a top 15 pick at all and "top 5" is a lot easier to say. I do like him marginally better than Dupree, a decent bit better than Fowler, and right around as much as Gregory (though Gregory has better potential). Other pass rushers I thought about writing on included Preston Smith (already did a big write up), Eli Harold (gonna be a stud), and Arik Armstead (overrated but has been mentioned). Haven't really seen anyone else ever mentioned or worthy of first round status, though I do like a lot of other pass rushers.

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Using history as a guide maybe 2 or 1 will work out in the NFL. I hope we get the 1.

Not necessarily. Last time a draft was this stacked at pass rusher was 2011, which featured elite players like Von Miller, Marcell Dareus, Aldon Smith, JJ Watt, Robert Quinn, and Ryan Kerrigan in the top 16. Only non-elite in the top 16 was Nick Fairley, who was a DT and still a solid player in his own right. But I agree in that i could see two of the five I mentioned busting. At least one.

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The more I think about the more I worry. We may have to trade up.. I hate it but we cannot screw around another year. Get Beasley or Ray.

I still believe that Fowler will be a nice pro. He'll be coached well and will have a clear mission. With that he can be a great player.

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Saw the thread posted recently about not worrying if Beasley was on the board, and it got me wondering how many people on these message boards actually watch full games of the prospects and not highlight videos...no offense, because I don't expect everyone to invest the time into that, but highlight videos are just not the best way to judge a prospect's body of work. Same with stats. Pretty sure my rankings differ a lot from most people's because of that. Gregory, for example, does a much better job against the run than he does affecting the passer.

There are very few full games on YouTube (I watch via other means) but there are several videos with all the plays a prospect was featured on, and those are a decent way of judging a prospect. So this thread'll just be a fairly long read with brief descriptions of the 5 most talked about prospects being mocked to us, and my opinions of them, along with a video of a game from each of them that I feel represents them fairly.

NOTE: I don't claim to be an expert, but I don't think I'm being egotistical when I say that regarding front seven players, I'm right an awful lot more than I'm wrong. My opinions on other positions are decent but I don't consider myself nearly as good at evaluating that kind of talent. Also, I'll be operating under the assumption that Leonard Williams has no chance of making it to our pick.

Vic Beasley

I'll start with the one everyone wants. Nearly every game he's in could double as a highlight reel. Beasley is the best pass rusher in the draft. I might go so far as to say he's the best player in the draft PERIOD. He's got one of the fastest first steps I've seen in my life, an array of honed pass rushing moves ranging from dips, rips, spins, the whole shebang. And his ability to defend the run is way better than people give him credit for. I see him being easily capable of double digit sacks in his first season and every season thereafter. The biggest qualm I have - and don't get me wrong, it's pretty big - is his tackling. God, his tackling is awful sometimes. But while I'm not drinking all the Quinn Kool-Aid, if there's one thing I'm confident he can coach, it's tackling. If Beasley is there at #8, we should be running to the podium, and he's the one player in the draft I would actually be alright with trading up for. Heck, I might even encourage it. Can't miss.

Randy Gregory

Gregory is an interesting one, to say the least. When I started really focusing on certain players a couple months ago, I hated the idea of Gregory. He relies on athleticism so much that it's sometimes difficult to get a feel for what type of player he is. But lately...I've come around somewhat. I still think his getoff leaves a lot to be desired, and his hand usage is pretty mediocre to say the least. But he has a lot of length, and he plays the run significantly better than his frame would suggest. He plays with considerably more strength than anyone else I've seen his size, and if he can put on some good muscle, I feel like he has the potential - again, the potential - to be an very good DE or OLB in a 4-3. That'll depend largely on where he ends up, as I think he needs a lot of coaching but he has the tools. If we got him I do feel like our new coaching staff has the capabilities to coach him up...but I'd be lying if I said I feel like the value is there at #8. Maybe if we traded down a bit. But he has one of the highest chances of busting of any edge prospect in the draft.

Bud Dupree

Nearly the opposite of Randy Gregory, in terms of my opinion on him. I started off very, very high on Dupree. And don't get me wrong - I still think he might be the most physically talented defensive end in the draft, and he's arguably one of the most physically talented defensive ends that has EVER been in the draft. But his motor has me worried. I'll watch him shoot off the snap with a borderline elite getoff one snap, and then the next he'll walk right into the tackle and just...push. On some run plays, he'll seriously just stand up and do hardly anything when he sees the play going away from him. There are so many plays where he looks like he isn't even trying. But he flashes enough that I think a motivated Dupree would be a true terror to face. This guy has crazier measurables than Mario Williams. Think about that. When all is said and done, I'm not necessarily comfortable with him at 8...but I've certainly heard worse ideas. He has all the potential in the world.

Dante Fowler Jr

Alright, we can't have all sunshine and rainbows. If we took any of the aforementioned guys, I'd be relatively happy with it - or at the very least, I could convince myself to be, even if I didn't think the value was there. Fowler is where that optimism ends. I watched every game Fowler had this year, and I'm firmly convinced that he's not a top 5 talent like many are saying. He's not even a top 15 talent. There's an argument to be made that he isn't a first round talent. While his highlights are truly flashy, and his measurables are impressive as heck, Fowler spends most of his time looking lost. A majority of his impressive plays come off of either stunts or weird pass rushing plays from the middle linebacker position - something that won't work nearly as well in the NFL. He gets flat out bullied by a lot of OTs, including those who likely won't even be drafted in the NFL. And while he does have some potential, and I've been trying to cover my azz by saying he could be pretty good in the NFL...I'm tempted to say he just won't be. In my opinion, he'll likely be a below average starter, if even that. He just doesn't have the pass rushing moves to merit being drafted this early, and even his ability to set the edge is questionable. Of all the front seven players likely to be taken in the first round, he's my least favorite by far. Luckily, it's likely someone will take him before us and we won't even have to worry about that.

Shane Ray

This guy. Oh man, this guy. I'd like to say I have no idea how he's suddenly fallen out of favor with the majority of people and evaluators - a lot of people don't even mention him now - but I already know. He didn't run at the combine. To that, I say - so what? Just you wait until he runs that 4.4 on his Pro Day. Shane Ray has somehow went from a borderline top 5 prospect to underrated, with some having him fall out of the top 10 entirely in mocks. But don't sleep on Ray. He's just shy of Beasley in terms of pass rushing prowess, and it could be argued that his ceiling is higher. He has a terrific getoff, some decent pass rushing moves that'll develop more with time, and he also has the most heart and motor of any top pass rushing prospect this draft. He's a leader and a warrior on the field, and I have no doubt that with our coaches - not only Quinn, whose specialty is DL, but Richard Smith, and even the LB savant Ulbrich - he could be transformed into an elite pass rusher. The biggest thing I worry about with Ray is his ability to set the edge and defend the run. And don't get me wrong...it's bad. Terrible. I don't know if it's what he was asked to do, but there were times where teams would run right at his side, several times in a row, and he would immediately break inside and not even try to set the edge. But as a pass rusher, there are few more intriguing prospects.

All in all? I won't straight up rank these players. I think that should be up to you, as readers. But I'd love to hear where you agree, disagree, and whether or not you learned anything. All in all, the pass rushers this draft are truly enticing...I can't help being excited for the draft. We're in for a fun offseason, that's for sure!

Leonard Williams is also considered a pass rush so that's 6 out of 8 spots if it went all pass rush which would be a record.

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Ray or Beasley have been who I've wanted all along.

I'm honestly coming around to the idea of us trading up to #3 or #4 just to get in front of the Skins/Jets/Bears. I'm really nervous both guys will be gone by #8 otherwise and we'll be stuck settling for Gregory or Dupree.

I really think either guy would be worth it.

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