The 2019 draft class was full of top-level defensive end talent. Now with the draft complete, I cover which of the rookie defensive ends will have the biggest fantasy impact.
I will be covering the top defensive ends from the 2019 draft. Covering the top five does not even do it justice. There are multiple players ranging from the first round all the way to the fourth round that project as possible starters. Here I will cover the top five at the position, all of which should have solid fantasy relevance.
1) Nick Bosa- San Francisco 49ers
College Stats: 29 Games, 77 tackles (47 solo), 29 tackles for a loss, 17.5 sacks, two passes defended, two forced fumbles and a touchdown.
Nick Bosa is the best defensive end in this draft, and maybe the best in many drafts to come. He has elite level pass rush moves with excellent hand usage. Bosa uses a high motor and great drive to get behind the line of scrimmage. He also landed in a sweet spot as well. The 49ers were one of the worst teams in the pass rush department but employ one of the best defensive tackles in the game in DeForest Buckner. Buckner is a great driving force up the middle and made the leap last year as many figured he would.
In the offseason the 49ers traded for Dee Ford who also had a career year last year with Kansas City coming up with 13 sacks and seven forced fumbles. Adding Bosa should make this a stout defensive line without a single player you can hone in on and double every snap. Bosa is a demon off the edge as seen in these highlights:
— Rob Lowder (@Rob_Lowder) April 26, 2019
With Bosa added to this line, he very well may lead the team in sacks for his rookie season. Even if he falls short of that the team as it stands now should vastly improve in that category.
2) Clelin Ferrell- Oakland Raiders
College Stats: 44 Games, 166 tackles (84 solo), 50.5 tackles for a loss, 27 sacks, five passes defended, five forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and a touchdown.
Clelin Ferrell has not gotten enough love from the fantasy or actual NFL community. He has been said to be one of the bigger reaches in the draft going #4 overall. Let’s sit back and think about this situation though. Ferrell has a great NFL ready frame at 6’4 and 264 Lbs. with an 82 3/8 inch wingspan and 10 1/2 inch hands. The Raiders were devoid of any real pass rushing presence as Arden Key is the other starting end and has yet to come into his own.
Raider Nation got a beast! He did this to the #11 player in the draft in the most important game of the year! pic.twitter.com/ltqm3pyP7H
— Dr. Clemson (@mikemcmannmd) May 2, 2019
That play alone should garner Ferrell more respect. The man he just dominated in that clip was Jonah Williams, the #11 overall pick and best blocker in this draft. Ferrell was part of one of the greatest defensive lines that college football has seen in a long time. Not only that, but he was also the best edge rusher on that team. That line consisted of three first round picks, Christian Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence, and Ferrell himself and a fourth round pick in Austin Bryant. With all this talent in 2018 he still racked up 20 tackles for a loss and 11 sacks with three forced fumbles. He should be able to eat on a regular basis while also alleviating pressure off of Arden Key.
3) Brian Burns- Carolina Panthers
College Stats: 33 Games, 123 tackles (71 solo), 38.5 tackles for a loss, 23 sacks, seven passes defended, seven forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
Brian Burns fits perfectly into what coach Ron Rivera likes to do. Coach Rivera does not like to commit to a certain type of base defense. Instead he likes to rotate and use more of a hybrid base defense. To run this defense he used to employ Julius Peppers who easily transitioned from 3-4 outside linebacker to 4-3 defensive end from snap to snap. Julius Peppers has now retired and the Panthers drafted Brian Burns to be his replacement.
Brian Burns has great speed on the edge having run a 4.53 second 40 yard dash at the combine. He has an explosive first step and a beautiful spin move with superb bend as you can see here:
Every sack by Brian Burns in 2018 pic.twitter.com/8ar6fyCS6K
— Billy Marshall (@BillyM_91) April 19, 2019
Burns weighed in at 249 Lbs. at the combine which is close to 10 pounds heavier than his game weight during his college career.This however is the weight that Coach Rivera probably wants him to remain at so he can slide from defensive end to linebacker with problem. Burns should start right away as Peppers’ replacement and could see double-digit sack numbers.
4) Montez Sweat- Washington Redskins
College Stats: 27 Games, 105 tackles (50 solo), 30.5 tackles for a loss, 23.5 sacks, one forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
The Redskins may have the steal of the draft trading back into the first round and selecting Montez Sweat 26th overall. Sweat is easily a top 10 or 15 talent. At the combine he measured up at 6’6 and 260 Lbs. and was able to run a 4.41 second 40 yard dash which is freakish for a man his size. Sweat has long arms and a good punch at the point of attack to create separation with his blockers as seen here:
— Redskins Runn21 (@swayrunn21) May 1, 2019
The Redskins have Ryan Kerrigan at one outside linebacker position but lost running mate Preston Smith in free agency. With the Redskins trading back into the first round it looks like Kerrigan found his new running mate. Sweat should come in right away and start opposite Kerrigan and form a solid pass rushing duo.
5) Josh Allen- Jacksonville Jaguars
College Stats: 42 Games, 220 tackles (121 solo), 42 tackles for a loss, 31.5 sacks, eight passes defended, one interception, 11 forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
Had Josh Allen landed in position where he instantly sees meaningful snaps he probably lands at #2 on this list. Josh Allen is a great talent and showed that while playing in the SEC. In his final season with Kentucky he led all power conference players in sacks with 17 to go along with 21.5 tackles for a loss and five forced fumbles. Allen is the complete package when it comes to edge rusher. He has a wide array of moves with very active hands which he uses swatting at the football. What may be most impressive is his play recognition and speed burst as you can really take notice here:
Potential Packers’ Draft Prospect👇🏼
Josh Allen – OLB/Edge (Kentucky)
— IKE Packers (@IKE_Packers) December 5, 2018
The Jaguars landing spot may not be perfect for Allen right now but could be in the near future. Right now the Jaguars employ defensive end stud Calais Campbell and young pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue. Ngakoue is on the final year of his rookie deal and is looking for a massive extension. Though he has been a great pass rusher his run defense leaves a bit to be desired. This could lead to the Jaguars making the decision not to extend Ngakoue, leading to a holdout or eventual trade. If neither of those instances pan out then he most likely hits free agency in 2020. Either way Allen will see the field this season and should be a starter for next season.
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