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:
- Myles Garrett (Texas A&M)
- Derek Barnett (Tennessee)
- Taco Charlton (Michigan)
- Solomon Thomas (Stanford)
- Charles Harris (Missouri)
- Bradley Chubb (North Carolina State)
- Harold Landry (Boston College)
- Marcus Davenport (UTEP)
- Arden Key (LSU)
- Sam Hubbard (Ohio State)
- Nick Bosa (Ohio State)
- Josh Allen (Kentucky)
- Brian Burns (Florida State)
- Montez Sweat (Mississippi State)
- Clelin Ferrell (Clemson)
Now, let’s dive into the 2020 NFL Draft Edge class.
5. Curtis Weaver (Boise State)
Weight: 266 lbs.
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)
Weight: 281 lbs.
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)
Weight: 265 lbs.
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)
Weight: 277 lbs.
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)
Weight: 265 lbs.
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
|1||Chase Young||Ohio State||JR||6″5||265 lbs.|
|2||A.J. Epenesa||Iowa||JR||6″5||277 lbs.|
|3||Yetur Gross-Matos||Penn State||JR||6″5||265 lbs.|
|4||Nick Coe||Auburn||JR||6″5||281 lbs.|
|5||Curtis Weaver||Boise State||JR||6″3||266 lbs.|
|6||Isaiahh Loudermilk||Wisconsin||JR||6″7||306 lbs.|
|7||Terrell Lewis||Alabama||SR||6″5||257 lbs.|
|8||Kenny Willekes||Michigan State||SR||6″4||260 lbs.|
|9||Anfernee Jennings||Alabama||SR||6″3||260 lbs.|
|10||Khalid Kareem||Notre Dame||SR||6″4||265 lbs.|
|11||Jabari Zuniga||Florida||JR||6″3||248 lbs.|
|12||Marlon Davidson||Auburn||SR||6″3||279 lbs.|
|13||Jaelen Phillips||Miami||rSO||6″5||255 lbs.|
|14||Julian Okwara||Notre Dame||SR||6″5||240 lbs.|
|15||Christian Rector||USC||SR||6″4||273 lbs.|
|16||Kylan Wilborn||Arizona||JR||6″2||248 lbs.|
|17||Carter Coughlin||Minnesota||SR||6″5||248 lbs.|
|18||Joshua Kaindoh||Florida State||JR||6″7||256 lbs.|
|19||Trevis Gipson||Tulsa||SR||6″4||255 lbs.|
|20||Alton Robinson||Syracuse||SR||6″4||251 lbs.|
|21||Joe Gaziano||Northwestern||SR||6″7||274 lbs.|
|22||Reggie Walker||Kansas State||SR||6″0||247 lbs.|
|23||Jonathan Cooper||Ohio State||SR||6″4||257 lbs.|
|24||Keisean Lucier-South||UCLA||SR||6″4||235 lbs.|
|25||Trevon Hill||Miami||SR||6″5||245 lbs.|
|26||JaQuan Bailey||Iowa State||SR||6″2||252 lbs.|
|27||Marquiss Spencer||Mississippi State||SR||6″4||283 lbs.|
|28||Darrell Taylor||Tennessee||SR||6″4||257 lbs.|
|29||Michael Clemons||Texas A&M||SR||6″5||272 lbs.|
|30||Daelin Hayes||Notre Dame||SR||6″4||269 lbs.|
|31||Kendall Coleman||Syracuse||SR||6″3||252 lbs.|
|32||Mykal Walker||Fresno State||SR||6″3||227 lbs.|
|33||Kyahva Tezino||SDSU||SR||6″0||230 lbs.|
|34||Alex Highsmith||Charlotte||SR||6″3||244 lbs.|
|35||Carlos Davis||Nebraska||SR||6″2||265 lbs.|
|36||Dylan Jackson||Stanford||SR||6″6||261 lbs.|