Summer Scouting: Top 5 Edge Rushers

The college football season is just around the corner. With that in mind Rory Daniels’ brings you his top 5 draft eligible prospects at each position ahead of kickoff. We also include an FCS prospect to watch courtesy of resident small school expert Rebecca Rennie.

1. Kayvon Thibodeaux

Thibodeaux heads into the 2022 draft cycle as many draftniks number one prospect. A tantalizing combination of length and power he burst onto the scene as a freshman logging 9 sacks for Oregon. Quick twitch and high motor, he often shows great bend to lower the shoulder and slip blockers. Having added some bulk the sky really is the limit for a prospect talked about in the same way the likes of the Bosa brothers and Myles Garrett were coming out.

Best Trait: Bending the edge

2. Drake Jackson

USC edge rusher Drake Jackson’s game is a work in progress. He continues to transition from a heavier base end to a more ‘twitchy’ edge rusher. Having dropped 20lbs during last year’s offseason he saw many more snaps from a stood-up, outside ‘backer role. He was still impactful but may look to reintroduce some of the power moves he had in his freshman year. If he can find a happy medium, he will be a solid all round prospect.

Best Trait: Locating ball-carriers

3. George Karlaftis

NFL teams searching for a hulking, base end to set the edge on their defensive line need look no further than Purdue and George Karlaftis. With only 2 sacks in 2020 his game does lack some twitch but he makes up for it with effort. Karlaftis has a high-motor and strong hands. While it takes him slightly longer to work himself loose, he will never give up on a play and is physical in the run game. Think, Sam Hubbard for the Bengals, he is going to be a strong starter but has he already reached his ceiling? This season will be a good indicator.

Best Trait: Power rush

4. Myjai Sanders

If you are looking for a direct contrast to Karlaftis then Cincinnati’s Myjai Sanders offers an interesting juxtaposition. He is more of a long, lean and loose outside edge defender. Sanders will kill you with speed. With great initial burst you don’t want to see Sanders free in the backfield. His closing speed is frightening and he is a strong wrap up tackler. He will need to alter his game to incorporate more power if he is to thrive at the next level. That will be an important development scouts hope to see this year.

Best Trait: Closing speed

5. Tyreke Smith

Photo Credit: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Ohio State are well known for their edge rushing production line. However, picking the next one isn’t as clear cut as previous years. It will be a stocked room in 2021 with the returning Zach Harrison and electric freshmen Jack Sawyer and JT Tuimoloau. My pick is the fairly unheralded Tyreke Smith. He should get the chance to be a starter from the off and build on his 4 career sacks to date. He flashed throughout the Buckeyes tilt against Clemson last year and that makes me believe the best is yet to come.

Best Trait: Violent hands

FCS Prospect to Watch: DJ Coleman

Photo Credit:
Rebecca Rennie: A toolsy edge rusher with developmental potential, Coleman stands out immediately on film. With ideal length and room to add more bulk, he flashes the potential that could be there with more consistency and refinement. There’s no question that the Gamecocks defender is very raw in terms of his form leverage, rush technique and finishing. He needs to learn how to more effectively apply himself at the point of attack, set up his rushes, timing and combinations. Run defence is a work-in-progress, as is learning to disengage once established on blocks.
Despite that, he wins frequently to cause problems in the backfield and compile good production. Last season, Coleman totalled 54 tackles, 12 TFLs, 9 sacks and 13 QB hurries. The 2021 2nd team All-American (STATS) gets a lot of wins through being more physically gifted than those around him. He can be slippery through gaps and occasionally creates pressure while splitting double teams. The energy rep-to-rep is great, aiding his dangerous closing speed and stride length. There is work required, but the upside is enticing.
Best Trait: The untapped potential of the physical gifts
Mock Draft

Rory-Joe Daniels

Cfb contributor

formerly writing for the inside zone, rory will be breaking down college tape and keeping you up-to-date with all things CFB for the touchdown. an avid bengals fan, you can also find some of rory’s work at