by J.T. Toth
Photo courtesy of Sports Illustrated.
As this year comes to a close, Draft 412 will take a look at the 2023 and 2024 draft classes by position. The following is a current “Best Of” list for both offense and defense, taking a look back at the top players from last year’s draft party and ahead to the coming NFL selection process in April.
From Draft 412 to you…Happy Holidays and get your mock drafts ready!!
The NFL wants a high performance young starting quarterback on offense and a violent, non-stop pass rush to get after your opponent's signal caller. Every team is looking for the next T.J. Watt, Myles Garrett and Maxx Crosby. This year, the draft saw a record number of edge rushers selected and this is only the beginning.
The 2023 NFL Draft had 32 edge rushers selected and here are the best of last year’s selections:
1- Tampa Bay - YaYa Diaby
Diaby is tied for the rookie lead in sacks with Rams' defensive tackle Kobie Turner with 6.5. He was a 3rd round pick of the Buccaneers who added Calijah Kancey to the defensive line as well. Listed as a weak side linebacker, the 6’4” 270 lbs. edge rusher from Louisville has made plays all year long for the Buccaneers.
2- Los Angeles Rams - Byron Young
The Buccaneers weren’t the only team adding rookie depth to their defense in 2023. The Rams have 2 of the top 3 rookie sack leaders in football. Kobie Turner has 6.5 and Byron Young, a 3rd round draft pick out of Tennessee, has 6 sacks. Young has also collected 56 tackles, 2 forced fumbles and 15 quarterback hits for the Rams this season.
3- Houston - Will Anderson, Jr.
Anderson, the 3rd overall pick in the draft by the Texans has proven that the pick was justified. He has 5 sacks to go along with 42 tackles and is always in the backfield for Houston. His 19 quarterback hits lead all rookies and he looks as though he is going to be a future pro bowler.
As we move from the 2023 draft to the 2024 NFL Draft, here is Draft 412’s Top Ten edge rush prospects:
1- Jared Verse - Florida State
Verse is a virtual lock for the first round and could climb into the top 10. He does everything right when coming off the edge and has the bend and flexibility to be a handful all game long. He should be the first edge rusher off the board.
2- Laiatu Latu - UCLA
He had the best season of any of the edge rushers in 2023, with 13 sacks and 21.5 tackles for a loss. He will need to answer a lot of questions at the combine about his “retirement” and his past injuries. He has the potential to be a top 15 pick in this draft and could press Jared Verse for 1st overall edge rusher selected.
3- J.T. Tuimoloau - Ohio State
People forget that Tuimoloau is 6’4” and 270 lbs. and plays with the athleticism of a safety or a linebacker. He can be a game changer in the right situation and his versatility will keep him in the late 1st round to early 2nd round range.
4- Dallas Turner - Alabama
Turner is the most complete edge rusher in this class. He has the ability to cover running backs and tight ends and can also put up double digit sacks in each season. His versatility of lining up as an edge rush or a cover linebacker will go a long way come draft day.
5- Chop Robinson- Penn State
Robinson does not produce with the same consistency as the other top prospects in this class. He tends to take some plays off and hasn't produced the big numbers as others at the position, but he has the skill set and ability to be a starter in the NFL and he won’t make it out of day 2 of the draft.
6- Bralen Trice - Washington
Trice is a player that every NFL team wants. He is a hustler who never gives up on a play. His football IQ is not as NFL-ready as some of the others, but his motor will get him selected most likely late in day 2.
7- Jonah Elliss - Utah
Elliss is a game changer who could be a lot higher on this board come March. He sustained a season ending injury for Utah and will need to prove to medical staff that he is 100%. If he is, he is a pure pass rusher with a ton of explosion off the snap. Draft Nation wouldn’t be shocked to see him go as high as late 1st after combine and testing.
8- Adisa Isaac- Penn State
Isaac is another prospect who has flourished since coming back from a season ending injury and his draft stock is looking up. Depending on how fast the edge rushers get selected, Isaac could go late on day 2.
9- Chris Braswell- Alabama
Braswell could very easily be the most explosive and athletic prospect at the edge rusher position. He’s just a bit raw and may be one of those players who “cash in” at the combine with freak athletic ability.
10- Darius Robinson - Missouri
He is a fast riser who has lined up all over the defensive line for Missouri and performed well. His versatility will be a calling card as the league turns their eyes to the mid-rounds of the draft. He plays with high energy and will be a favorite of some lucky defensive coordinator.