NFL Scouting Combine

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2019 Combine Preview: Edge rusher

The Detroit Lions racked up 43.0 sacks this past season, their most since 2010. 14 Lions players recorded at least one sack, matching the most since 16 different Lions had one in the 1990 season. Detroit was one of three teams in the NFL to have five players produce a multi-sack game in 2018.

The Lions were obviously able to pressure the quarterback at times this season, but teams can never have too many pass rushers, and this year’s NFL Draft is full of some potentially really good ones.

The Lions also have to account for Ziggy Ansah being an unrestricted free agent and Romeo Okwara (7.0 sacks) being a restricted free agent.

Outside linebacker Eli Harold (4.0), who primarily backed up pass rusher Devon Kennard, is also an unrestricted free agent.

The Lions could potentially be on the lookout this offseason for more players who can rush the passer. Here’s a look at some of the edge rushers who will try to make a good impression at next week’s NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis:

NICK BOSA

School: Ohio State

Ht/Wt: 6-4, 263

Best trait: He’s a game wrecker. He possess speed, power and a variety of pass rush moves. He’s considered by most analysts to be the most complete edge rusher in this class, and could go No. 1 overall.

Concern: A core muscle injury suffered Week 3 forced him to miss the rest of this past year as he decided to prepare for the draft instead of return to Ohio State late in the year. The medical evaluations will obviously be important to make sure he’s 100 percent.

Skinny: There are a lot of comparisons to his older brother Joey, who’s become one of the best pass rushers in the NFL. The two have a similar build and playing style, and the younger Bosa should be able to come in and make an impact right away just like his brother did.

View photos of pass rushers that will participate at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine.

JOSH ALLEN

School: Kentucky

Ht/Wt: 6-5, 245

Best trait: Production. He was tied for sixth nationally with 21.5 tackles for loss and ranked second in sacks (17) and forced fumbles (5). He’s also good against the run, and athletic enough to drop in coverage.

Concern: He wins with speed and athleticism, not power. Depending on what teams ask him to do, he could stand to add some more muscle to his frame.

Skinny: Allen won the Bednarik Award and the Nagurski Trophy for being one of the top defenders in college football. He’s tall, long and fast, and can be a plug and play player in a multiple defense.

RASHAN GARY

School: Michigan

Ht/Wt: 6-4, 280

Best trait: Athleticism. He has the potential to really impress teams with his physical traits at the Combine. He has a terrific blend of size, speed, explosiveness and power.

Concern: Why didn’t all those terrific physical traits translate into more production at Michigan? He had seven tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks in 12 games this past season.

Skinny: He’s a powerful rusher who needs to develop his pass rushing repertoire in the NFL. He relied on his strength and power at the college level, and won’t always be able to do that in the NFL. All the raw tools are there, he just needs some seasoning.

CLELIN FERRELL

School: Clemson

Ht/Wt: 6-4, 265

Best trait: Complete player. He checks off a lot of the boxes in terms of size, traits and production. Ferrell recorded 11.5 sacks and was also good against the run for the Tigers this past season.

Concern: He’s probably not going to test as well as some of the others at the Combine, as some analysts have questions about his pure athleticism, but there’s no questioning his production and results at Clemson.

Skinny: The first-team All-ACC selection and winner of the Ted Hendricks Award (best defensive end in college football) racked up 53 tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks and three forced fumbles in 15 starts for the National Champion Tigers in 2018. He’s a winner.

MONTEZ SWEAT

School: Mississippi State

Ht/Wt: 6-6, 252

Best trait: Versatility. Sweat was a handful to block at the Senior Bowl because of his combination of length, speed and power. The former tight end turned pass rusher looks like he might also have the ability to play in space.

Concern: His tall frame can make him play too high at times. Playing with better pad level will likely be a focus for him early on.

Skinny: Sweat recorded 10.5 sacks as a junior and followed that up with 11.5 this past season to go along with 14 tackles for loss. He was productive in the SEC, and was one of the better performers at the Senior Bowl. A good week at the Combine could cement his status as one of the best pass rushers in this draft.

JACHAI POLITE

School: Florida

Ht/Wt: 6-2, 242

Best trait: Speed. He is a pure speed rusher off the edge. He led the Gators with 17.5 tackles for loss and 11 sacks. He led the nation with six forced fumbles.

Concern: He’s undersized. Polite might have to add some muscle and weight to be an every down outside linebacker in the NFL.

Skinny: Explosive and productive player who projects to be a 3-4 pass rusher at the NFL level.

BRIAN BURNS

School: Florida State

Ht/Wt: 6-5, 227

Best trait: Explosiveness. He has elite speed and get-off at the line of scrimmage that allows him to win on the edge. Burns recorded 15.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks for the Seminoles last season.

Concern: He lacks ideal NFL size and play strength. How does his game change if or when he adds weight?

Skinny: He’s a speed player off the edge, and might have the athleticism to be a hybrid linebacker-type player. He’s an interesting prospect teams will do their homework on.

ZACH ALLEN

School: Boston College

Ht/Wt: 6-4, 280

Best trait: Motor. Allen shows relentless effort to get to the passer and ball carriers. Has a good football IQ to go along with NFL size. He had double-digit tackles for loss in three straight seasons, and recorded 100 total tackles as a junior.

Concern: His arms are on the short side, and he seems to be more of an effort player than one with pure athletic traits.

Skinny: A productive college player who probably won’t impress teams with his athletic traits at the Combine, but watch his tape and he’s a player teams love to have on the roster because of the effort and production.

OSHANE XIMINES

School: Old Dominion

Ht/Wt: 6-3, 241

Best trait: Refined pass rusher. Ximines already has a nice repertoire of pass rush moves coming into the league. He had 18.5 tackles for loss and 12 sacks last season. He forced four fumbles in each of the last two seasons for the Monarchs.

Concern: He will have to improve his strength and ability to hold the edge in the run game.

Skinny: He doesn’t have elite size or athletic traits, but he finds a way to get to the passer because of his refined pass rushing skills. He showed flashes of that at the Senior Bowl.

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