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Making the case: Defensive ends, edge rushers who could be Giants

The Giants could be looking at a pass rusher in the first round of the draft. Which one would you pick?

NCAA Football: Kansas at Kansas State Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

When the 23rd pick of the 2017 NFL Draft finally comes, the New York Giants could be facing a scenario where there isn’t an offensive player on the board who presents value. Given the depth and strength of this draft, it is very possible that they could be choosing between defenders in the first round.

Starters Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul are entrenched at defensive end, but they played a ridiculous percentage of snaps last year. Making matters worse, the Giants’ reserve defensive ends never proved capable of giving the coaches confidence that they an step up and take a significant portion of that load. The Giants could look at their depth chart and big board and decide that they need to get a pass rusher they can count on.

Defensive Ends

Taco Charlton (DE, Michigan)

Reasons To Draft Him -- Charlton looks like Jerry Reese ordered him from a catalog. 6’6”, long arms, ideal weight which he carries well and plus athleticism makes him a prototypical Giants’ defensive end. Charlton is not yet a finished product and only has one year as a base 4-3 defensive end, so he has upside. He also converted the highest percentage of rushes into sacks of any pass rusher in college last year.

Reasons To Pass -- Charlton still has a lot of work to do on the mental aspect of his position. He needs to learn how to use his tools, develop a more diverse pass rushing arsenal, and consistently play with better technique. Charlton also needs to get stronger to deal with blockers in the run game.

What Dan Kadar says — “In a 4-3, he could use his leverage and hand use to get below blockers, which is surprising considering he’s just under 6’6. He likes to use a spin move to varying degrees of success. He’s not going to be a pass rusher who wins with his speed and burst.”

NOTE: For those who don’t know, Kadar writes at SB Nation’s Mocking The Draft. The comments on each edge rusher come from his edge rusher rankings.

Jordan Willis (DE, Kansas State)

Reasons To Draft Him -- Willis is one of the most explosive pass rushers in the draft, and tested on par (or better than) many premier rushers in this and previous drafts. He was productive at Kansas State, and has the potential to be an impact player at the next level in a scheme that will turn him loose.

Reasons To Pass -- Balance might be an issue, and possibly an over-reliance on an arm-over (swim) move. Kansas State’s scheme asked him to read tackles and play contain first, rather than using his prodigious athleticism to explode into the backfield. Teams have to ask if that should, or even can, be coached out of him.

Kadar says — “Willis is a pure 4-3 end prospect who was rarely used at Kansas State to drop in coverage. Instead, he was asked to play a lot of snaps and rely on his length and quickness to get up field. He can extend his arms against blockers and drive them backward and also has the ability to quickly read a play and make a move. Willis really plays with a high motor, too.”

But what if the Giants want to get a player who is a bit more versatile? Steve Spagnuolo runs a “multiple” defense that freely uses subpackages and different alignments from his base 4-3 Under look. Perhaps the Giants might want a player who can line up in and play different positions depending on the down, distance, and package.

What used to be “Tweeners” are now the versatile “EDGE” players.

EDGE Players

T.J. Watt (DE/OLB, Wisconsin)

Reasons To Draft Him -- Watt is just dripping with upside. Despite only playing defense for 18 months he became a feared pass rusher. He plays with a relentless motor and effort, and is a very good athlete.

Reasons To Pass -- Watt only played defense for 18 months because he has had three surgeries on his knees going back to 2013. His medical report will require a close examination.

Kadar says — “Being the brother of an All-Pro means you can’t fly under the radar, but the younger Watt didn’t really make a name for himself until the 2016 season when he had 63 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss, and 11.5 sacks. He played outside linebacker in Wisconsin’s 3-4 defense, but he has the size to move down and play 4-3 end if needed. Watt knows how to use his length to keep blockers out of his pads, and he has athleticism to be used on twists to the inside.”

Tyus Bowser (DE/OLB, Houston)

Reasons To Draft Him -- Bowser is an explosive and fluid athlete, and like Watt, has impressive potential. Houston’s scheme used him in coverage — he looks comfortable in space — as well as a pass rusher (2 and 3 point stances) so he can be a joker in Spagnuolo’s blitz-heavy scheme. Despite leading his team in sacks, Bowser was probably under-utalized as a pass rusher, so he might only be scratching the surface of what he can do.

Reasons To Pass -- Bowser is a good player, but his tape isn’t particularly exciting considering his athletic ability. He can also get lost in deeper zone drops, and occasionally loses track of the play.

Kadar says — “Bowser is a great athlete who just happens to be playing linebacker. There he relies on that athletic ability to rush the edge and close in a hurried and violent fashion. Houston was also able to use Bowser to drop in coverage and play the run at the edge.”

Poll

Which pass rusher would you pick?

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    Defensive End - Taco Charlton (Michigan)
    (452 votes)
  • 34%
    Defensive End - Jordan Willis (Kansas State)
    (622 votes)
  • 21%
    EDGE - T.J. Watt (Wisconsin)
    (378 votes)
  • 18%
    EDGE - Tyus Bowser (Houston)
    (337 votes)
1789 votes total Vote Now

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