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2018 NFL Draft: Defensive end/EDGE alternatives on Day 2 and Day 3

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Let’s look for some interesting EDGE players beyond Round 1

Rose Bowl Game - Oklahoma v Georgia
Lorenzo Carter
Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

If the New York Giants stay at No. 2 in the 2018 NFL Draft, or drop down a couple of spots, and select an EDGE player that is going to be Bradley Chubb of North Carolina State.

NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said during a recent conference call that “ the depth of the edge rusher class is lacking.”

Still, there are some intriguing players. Let’s identify some of them.

Day 2

I am looking for guys who have the ability to at least occasionally put a hand in the ground and rush from a 4-3 defensive end position. That is what the Giants have in Olivier Vernon and Kareem Martin, and what they will need in the hybrid scheme that will be orchestrated by James Bettcher.

I’m sure there will be arguments over whether a couple of the players below are Day 2 or Day 3 type prospects. Regardless, all are probably names to keep in mind.

Lorenzo Carter

At 6-foot-4¾ and 250 pounds, Carter is the kind of versatile EDGE player who might fit what the Giants are looking for.

In his prospect profile of Carter, Chris made it apparent he would support a Day 2 selection by the Giants:

Given his versatility, athleticism, and talent -- as well as their own glaring need -- the Giants should be keenly interested in Carter. He could be a particularly strong fit in Bettcher’s “multiple” and aggressive defense. That defense should allow him to take full advantage of his impressive and varied physical tools, as well as give the Giants both the speed rusher and second level coverage they have lacked since the days of Osi Umenyiora and Michael Boley.

In his 2018 NFL Draft Guide, Dane Brugler says:

Carter was a do-everything SAM linebacker in the Bulldogs’ 3-4 scheme, putting his hand on the ground, standing up wide and lining up all over the formation. Despite his experience over gaps and as a traditional defensive end, he is at his best in space where he can run and utilize his rangy athleticism. Carter has the long-strides, natural bend and length to pressure the edges, but he didn’t make enough backfield plays at Georgia and is better suited as a part-time rusher. Too often on tape, he was pushed around and caught up in the wash and the biggest improvement he must make for the pro level is his ability to take on blockers and shed while tracking the football. Overall, Carter has enticing athleticism, length and versatility to play an outside linebacker role in any NFL scheme, but he needs to get stronger and develop his diagnose skills to land and secure a starting job – freaky athleticism and length will have him overdrafted, maybe as early as the first round.

Uchenna Nwosu

At USC, Nwosu played both standing up on the outside and with his hand in the ground.

Brugler says “Nwosu has budding instincts and enough athleticism for the next level, but his lack of size/length/strength limit his NFL role, projecting best standing up in a 3-4 scheme where he can play in space, keep himself clean and find passing lanes.”

Pro Football Focus says:

Nwosu is a perfect fit for teams that utilize a true 3-4 outside linebacker. He’s a capable underneath zone defender whose athleticism can be used as a weapon on blitzes/stunts. As a pure pass-rusher, he’s nothing special, often getting by on little more than his athleticism. It’s encouraging the strides he’s already made from early in his career though.

Day 3

Kemoko Turay

It is hard to know how NFL teams will see this group of EDGE players. Turay might come off the board Day 2, maybe even before Nwosu based on how teams grade him. at 6-foot-4½, 253 pounds, Turay has the size and speed (4.65 40-yard dash) to be a 3-4 EDGE player. He is a bit of a projection, though, having played 4-3 defensive end at Rutgers.

Inside the Pylon calls him “a guy who presents very good athletic ability and can be a good fit in a defensive scheme that can use a strong long armed OLB that can set the edge in the run.”

Brugler’s evaluation is a bit different, as he says “Turay is still very young in football years and will need to prove his worth as a NFL run defender, but his speed rush and athletic twitch are the type of foundation traits NFL teams desire in a promising pass rusher.”

Josh Sweat

‘Invictus’ gave Sweat to the Giants in Round 2 of his 5-round mock draft. He wrote:

He’s a long, explosive pass-rusher with good speed to power, short area quickness and violent, long hands that allow him to disengage with blockers and wrap up quarterbacks and running backs. He comes with a big “if” and that’s his knee, with a severe injury in HS and a meniscal tear in 2016. Big upside here.

Chris is also a fan of Sweat’s:

Sweat is not yet the sum of his parts, but like Danielle Hunter of the Vikings, the parts he has suggest a remarkably high ceiling once he unlocks his full potential. The biggest hurdle for him could be learning how to time the snap so he isn’t the last player moving.

Given James Bettcher’s emphasis on speed, the Giants could use an explosive rusher -- something they lack unless a surprising drop in weight brings about a different style of play from Jason Pierre-Paul or Vernon. If the team is comfortable with Sweat’s medical evaluation, he could be an intriguing piece for the Giants’ new defense.