The most important position on the defensive side of the ball is the rush defensive end, also known as EDGE defender. In the landscape of today’s NFL, the best representation of the league’s best EDGE defenders are players such as Danielle Hunter (Vikings), Khalil Mack (Bears), Demarcus Lawrence (Cowboys) and Joey Bosa (Chargers) to name a few.

Given that EDGE is a premium position, it is paramount that NFL General Managers find elite-level players at the position. The two players that stand out who are eligible for the 2020 NFL Draft are Ohio State’s Chase Young and Iowa’s A.J. Epenesa. Both players have the talent and skill-set to be top-five draft selections. However, neither are finished products.

Before we take a deep dive into the 2020 draft class, let’s take a look at my rankings for the last few draft classes:

2017

  1. Myles Garrett (Texas A&M)
  2. Derek Barnett  (Tennessee)
  3. Taco Charlton (Michigan)
  4. Solomon Thomas (Stanford)
  5. Charles Harris (Missouri)

2018

  1. Bradley Chubb (North Carolina State)
  2. Harold Landry (Boston College)
  3. Marcus Davenport (UTEP)
  4. Arden Key (LSU)
  5. Sam Hubbard (Ohio State)

2019

  1. Nick Bosa (Ohio State)
  2. Josh Allen (Kentucky)
  3. Brian Burns (Florida State)
  4. Montez Sweat (Mississippi State)
  5. Clelin Ferrell (Clemson)

Now, let’s dive into the 2020 NFL Draft Edge class.

5. Curtis Weaver (Boise State)

Height: 6’3″

Weight: 266 lbs.

Year: Junior

ESPN had Curtis Weaver as a three-star recruit coming out of St. Anthony high school in Long Beach, California. It didn’t take him long to surpass this ranking, as he was named a USA Today All-American after his freshman season in 2017.

Since arriving at Boise, Weaver has been a productive sack machine. In two seasons, Weaver has accounted for 20.5 sacks, making him 6th all-time in school history. He is explosive and has a natural bend but needs to improve against the run, as he has a tendency to get washed out.

4. Nick Coe (Auburn)

Height: 6’5″

Weight: 281 lbs.

Year: Junior

According to Rivals, Nick Coe was a four-star recruit coming out of Asheboro high school. He was able to play his way onto the field quickly and was named to the SEC all-freshman team in 2017.

He will not generate the headlines that his teammate Derrick Brown will. However, Nick Coe is an upper-echelon draft prospect as well. He is not an explosive pass-rusher with natural bend but is able to win with power, technique, and leverage. He also presents value as a plus run defender, utilizing his quickness to consistently make plays behind the line of scrimmage. A good NFL comparison for Coe would be Calais Campbell.

3. Yetur Gross-Matos (Penn State)

Height: 6’5″

Weight: 265 lbs.

Year: Junior

Yetur Gross-Matos was rated as a four-star recruit coming out of Chancellor high school, per 247Sports, ESPN, Rivals, and Scout. He is a terrific athlete that lettered in basketball and track in addition to football.

Heading into the 2019 season, expectations are sky-high for Gross-Matos. ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper has Gross-Matos ranked 6th overall on his initial 2020 big board. Gross-Matos is the complete EDGE defender as he excels as a pass-rusher and also against the run. In 2018, he accounted for 8 sacks and 20 tackles for a loss.

When the dust settles, it would not be surprising to hear Yetur Gross-Matos name called in the first ten selections of the 2020 NFL Draft.

2. A.J. Epenesa (Iowa)

Height: 6’5″

Weight: 277 lbs.

Year: Junior

A.J. Epenesa was a highly-touted five-star recruit coming out of Edwardsville high school in Glen Carbon, Illinois. Like Yetur Gross-Matos, Epenesa lettered in football, basketball, and track in high school.

What is there not to like when it comes to A.J. Epenesa’s game? He is powerful, quick, productive and plays with a non-stop motor. In addition to exhausting high levels of effort, he dominates the line of scrimmage and can overwhelm offensive tackles with pure power.

He was very productive in 2018, accounting for 10.5 sacks and 4 forced fumbles which led to him being named first-team All-Big Ten.

Overall, A.J. Epenesa is the complete edge defender and is a likely top-five selection in the 2020 NFL Draft.

1. Chase Young (Ohio State)

Height: 6’5″

Weight: 265 lbs.

Year: Junior

Chase Young, a five-star recruit of out powerhouse Dematha high school in Maryland, has superstar potential. Young is an exciting edge prospect as he has tremendous athleticism and speed to consistently burn offensive tackle. He explodes off the ball and his elite quickness allows him to chase down quarterbacks.

There is no doubt that Young will be a top-five selection in the 2020 NFL Draft. In the year 2022, Chase Young will be in the discussion of best pass-rushers in the National Football League. My colleague, Matt Valdovinos, did an intriguing and detailed write-up on Chase Young. And he, too, agrees – Young is destined to be a top 5 pick and star in the NFL.

2020 NFL Draft Edge Rankings

RankPlayerSchoolYearHeightWeight
1Chase YoungOhio StateJR6″5265 lbs.
2A.J. EpenesaIowaJR6″5277 lbs.
3Yetur Gross-MatosPenn StateJR6″5265 lbs.
4Nick CoeAuburnJR6″5281 lbs.
5Curtis WeaverBoise StateJR6″3266 lbs.
6Isaiahh LoudermilkWisconsinJR6″7306 lbs.
7Terrell LewisAlabamaSR6″5257 lbs.
8Kenny WillekesMichigan StateSR6″4260 lbs.
9Anfernee JenningsAlabamaSR6″3260 lbs.
10Khalid KareemNotre DameSR6″4265 lbs.
11Jabari ZunigaFloridaJR6″3248 lbs.
12Marlon DavidsonAuburnSR6″3279 lbs.
13Jaelen PhillipsMiamirSO6″5255 lbs.
14Julian OkwaraNotre DameSR6″5240 lbs.
15Christian RectorUSCSR6″4273 lbs.
16Kylan WilbornArizonaJR6″2248 lbs.
17Carter CoughlinMinnesotaSR6″5248 lbs.
18Joshua KaindohFlorida StateJR6″7256 lbs.
19Trevis GipsonTulsaSR6″4255 lbs.
20Alton RobinsonSyracuseSR6″4251 lbs.
21Joe GazianoNorthwesternSR6″7274 lbs.
22Reggie WalkerKansas StateSR6″0247 lbs.
23Jonathan CooperOhio StateSR6″4257 lbs.
24Keisean Lucier-SouthUCLASR6″4235 lbs.
25Trevon HillMiamiSR6″5245 lbs.
26JaQuan BaileyIowa StateSR6″2252 lbs.
27Marquiss SpencerMississippi StateSR6″4283 lbs.
28Darrell TaylorTennesseeSR6″4257 lbs.
29Michael ClemonsTexas A&MSR6″5272 lbs.
30Daelin HayesNotre DameSR6″4269 lbs.
31Kendall ColemanSyracuseSR6″3252 lbs.
32Mykal WalkerFresno StateSR6″3227 lbs.
33Kyahva TezinoSDSUSR6″0230 lbs.
34Alex HighsmithCharlotteSR6″3244 lbs.
35Carlos DavisNebraskaSR6″2265 lbs.
36Dylan JacksonStanfordSR6″6261 lbs.