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O'HARA'S DRAFT PREVIEW: 5 edge rushers that could interest Lions

Nothing has changed since edge rusher Chase Young of Ohio State declared in his Combine interview on February 27 that he is the best player in the 2020 draft.

In the eyes of most analysts who rate the draft prospects, it was true then, and it's true today.

"I definitely think I'm the best player in the draft," Young said then. "I showed it on my tape. You can go to every game. I think I showed it."

Young showed it on the field in his three-year career with the Buckeyes, and it's recorded on video for scouts to view and analyze.

He is projected to be drafted second overall by the Washington Redskins – one spot ahead of the Detroit Lions at No. 3, and one pick after the Cincinnati Bengals take LSU quarterback Joe Burrow with the first pick.

Young did not take part in any Combine drills, and the NFL cancelled all visits and workouts with players on March 13 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ohio State's Pro Day, scheduled for March 25, was canceled.

In fairness to Young, he did not offer the comment about being the best player in the draft. It was a response to a question of whether he regarded himself the top prospect, even though Burrow was likely to be the first player drafted.

Quarterbacks are the No. 1 draft priority, and edge rushers are No. 2 because of their potential to disrupt the passing game.

Young is not without faults. He has to learn to use his hands better and not rely so heavily on speed and quickness.

That's not something that will cause Young's draft stock to drop. He is by far the top edge rusher in a 2020 class that has depth, but not an abundance of elite pass rushers.

Following is a breakdown of where the Lions stand at edge rusher and and how the 2020 class shapes up, with a look at five prospects and a sleeper who could fit the Lions at some level.

Lions' edge draft status: It's a priority for a team that had 28 sacks in 2019.

Lions depth chart:

Edge prospects:

1. Chase Young, Ohio State.

6-5, 264. No Combine or Pro Day workout.

Stats: 3 years, 38 games, 30 sacks, with 27 in 26 games last two seasons.

Breakdown: Top-rated 2020 prospect overall. A disruptive player coming off the edge or lining up inside on some occasions. Stats include 35 tackles for loss last two seasons.

Where he could fit Lions: Day One starter who'd take some pressure off Flowers on the other side and make players around him better. This is a no-doubt pick – if he's on the board.

2. A.J. Epenesa, Iowa.

6-5, 275. 5.04 Combine 40.

Stats: 3 years, 39 games, 26.5 sacks, with 22 last two seasons combined.

Breakdown: Stock slipped slightly with average Combine performance but did not overshadow closeout of 2019 season: 8 sacks, 4 forced fumbles in the last 5 games.

Where he could fit Lions: Likely to be on the board around No. 20 or lower, which means the Lions would have to have acquired an extra pick to get him.

3. K'Lavon Chaisson, LSU.

6-3, 254. No Combine workout.

Stats: 3 years, 26 games, 19 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks.

Breakdown: Played one game in 2018 because of a season-ending injury in the opener. In 2019: 13 starts, career highs of 6.5 sacks, 13.5 tackles for loss. Respected high-character leader on national championship team.

How he could fit Lions: Standup outside linebacker as a pass rusher for LSU, projected as NFL edge rusher. Could be on the board with players of similar value in the second round or lower.

4. Yetur Gross-Matos, Penn State.

6-5, 266. No Combine workout.

Stats: 3 years, broke out last 2 seasons with 35 tackles for loss, 17.5 sacks.

Breakdown: Played defensive end in Penn State's scheme and moved inside in some passing situations. Built to be an edge rusher and produced like one.

How he could fit Lions: Like Chaisson and others, he could be under consideration in the second round to add to the Lions' rotation. Versatility adds value.

View photos of Mike O'Hara's top 5 edge rusher draft prospects that could interest the Lions.

5. Josh Uche, Michigan.

6-1, 245. No Combine workout.

Stats: 4 years, 39 games. 19.5 tackles, 15 sacks last two seasons combined.

Background: Most of his production was his last twos seasons. When asked to name the toughest pass rusher he faced, Alabama offensive tackle Jedrick Wills bypassed the SEC stars he battled and named Uche.

High praise.

How he could fit Lions: An ascending player who might be under-sized could fit a role.

Sleeper: Marlon Davidson, Auburn.

6-3, 303. 5.04 Combine 40.

Stats: 4 years, 51 career starts, 29.5 tackles for loss, 17 sacks.

Breakdown: Got to Auburn as a ready-made starter on the defensive line. Started all 13 games as a freshman, teamed with tackle Derrick Brown to give Auburn future pros.

How he could fit the Lions: Size and speed do not add up to make him a pure pass rusher, but playing outside at Auburn and with the tools to move inside give him flexibility. A very tough, determined competitor.

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