NFL Mock Draft: Ranking the top edge rushers

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April 17th, 2021

We’re charging headlong towards the 2021 NFL Draft, which kicks off on April 29th. It’s always fascinating to see hundreds of the country’s top college players find out their next destinations, and we’ll have a few articles this week devoted to specific position groups. 

This time around, we’ll focus on edge rushers (defensive ends and/or outside linebackers). Here are the top five prospects to watch!

5. Ronnie Perkins, Oklahoma

Perkins missed several games to start the 2020 season due to a suspension, so there are some character concerns here. However, he’s shown himself to be a difference-maker when he’s on the field. 

Perkins had 5.5 sacks in six games this season and was a freshman All-American several years ago. If he’s matured and put his off-the-field issues behind him, Perkins could provide valuable depth off the edge.

4. Azeez Ojulari, Georgia

Ojulari suited up for the Bulldogs in 10 games last season and made the most of his opportunities, sacking quarterbacks 8.5 times. He also had three sacks and two forced fumbles against an overmatched Cincinnati offensive unit to end the season in the Peach Bowl.

If there’s any concern here, it’s that Ojulari is a bit on the smaller side (6-foot-3, 240 pounds) and may not dominate opposing linemen at the NFL level. However, his game tape is strong, and he’s shown he has a nose for the football.

3. Jayson Oweh, Penn State

Oweh’s stock soared following his performance at a recent pro day. The defensive end ran a 4.36 40-yard dash, jumped 39.5 inches, and stopped the shuttle timer in 4.21 seconds. None of these are typos. 

He started just one year for the Nittany Lions, so Oweh may be a bit raw. But if he can enhance his skills to match his athleticism, look out.

2. Kwity Paye, Michigan

Paye’s picture is next to the term “freak athlete” in an NFL terminology dictionary. 

He weighs 260 pounds, yet ran a 4.52 40-yard dash. That explosiveness helped Paye record 11.5 sacks in 28 games for the Wolverines, and his size may allow defensive coordinators to move him inside in certain situations as well.

1. Jaelan Phillips, Miami 

Between his skill set and his story, it’s tough not to root for Jaelan Phillips. He signed with UCLA in 2017, but was forced off the field due to concussions. 

But Phillips subsequently transferred to Miami, got cleared medically, and showed off many different ways to get into the backfield during the 2020 season. 

His versatility and size will make him a coveted asset in the upcoming draft.