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2020 NFL Draft defensive position group rankings: Invictus and Chris react to each other’s rankings

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Who do Chris and Invictus have ranked as the top defenders?

NCAA Football: College Football Playoff Semifinal-Ohio State vs Clemson Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL Scouting Combine is over and the energy in the draft community is getting electric. We’re going to hear about a lot of these players going forward, so let’s talk a little bit more about where Chris and I have them ranked. The Giants are desperate for defensive help and this is a good draft to focus on. We’ll take a look at some major players that will be in consideration.

EDGE

Chris’ Top 5

  1. Chase Young (Ohio State)
  2. K’Lavon Chaisson (LSU)
  3. Julian Okwara (Notre Dame)
  4. Joshua Uche (Michigan)
  5. Bradlee Anae (Utah)

(Note: Yatur Gross-Matos would be No. 4 pending off-field issues.)

Invictus’ reaction: For your EDGE rankings, we’re quite close. Chase Young is obvious. K’Lavon Chaisson, I think, would have had a legitimate claim for EDGE2 versus Josh Allen. He is the perfect storm of explosive traits and effort/hustle. Behind him, we disagree pretty significantly. I’m quite high on Yetur Gross-Matos, who has enough juice to be a starting caliber end. Prior to the year, Okwara would’ve been near the top but he fell off HARD this year. The combine will be important for him. We agree that Joshua Uche should be high on this list. I wouldn’t be surprised if he were the Baltimore Ravens’ first round pick.

Invictus’ Top 5

  1. Chase Young (Ohio State)
  2. K’lavon Chaisson (LSU)
  3. AJ Epenesa (Iowa)
  4. Yetur Gross-Matos (Penn State)
  5. Joshua Uche (Michigan)

Chris’ Reaction: No real surprises here. I the biggest difference to from my rankings is that I have Epenesa listed as a pure defensive lineman. My definition of an “EDGE” is a player who can be on the edge in a 4-3 or 3-4 defense, and I think that in an 3-man front Epenesa is the defensive end, not a rush linebacker. But that’s really just splitting hairs. Also, I’m holding Yetur Gross-Matos off to the side until we find out more about the allegations against him. I’m not damning him, but I also can’t ignore allegations of sexual assault. That being said, I do expect him to put on a show at the Combine.

Interior Defensive Line

Chris’ Top 5

  1. Derrick Brown (Auburn)
  2. A.J. Epenesa (Iowa)
  3. Javon Kinlaw (South Carolina)
  4. Neville Gallimore (Oklahoma)
  5. Ross Blacklock (TCU)

Invictus’ reaction: At interior DL, I have the same grade on Derrick Brown that I did Quinnen Williams. I think he’s one of the four best players in this draft. I’m intrigued that you have Epenesa as an interior DL. I see him like I see an Arik Armstead, a 5-technique that can jump at 3T when needed. Javon Kinlaw is supremely underrated and compares favorably to Kawann Short. He’s a top 20 pick for me. After Brown and Kinlaw, there’s a group of four or five that are essentially interchangeable. Marlon Davidson gets underrated because he’s on the line with Derrick Brown, but he’s going to be a really good player.

Invictus’ Top 5

  1. Derrick Brown (Auburn)
  2. Javon Kinlaw (South Carolina)
  3. Justin Madubuike (Texas A&M)
  4. Marlon Davidson (Auburn)
  5. Neville Gallimore (Oklahoma)

Chris’ Reaction: Once again, I think the biggest difference is how we sort A.J. Epenesa. I have no problem with Kinlaw as DT2, he is a wrecking ball and would be the top DT in any draft class that didn’t have Derrick Brown in it. I can definitely see the argument for Madubuike and Davidson to be in there, and I think Madubuike in particular is going to impress with how he hits the bags on Saturday.

Off-Ball Linebacker

Chris’ Top 5

  1. Isaiah Simmons (Clemson)
  2. Patrick Queen (LSU)
  3. Kenneth Murray (Oklahoma)
  4. Troy Dye (Oregon)
  5. Malik Harrison (Ohio State)

Invictus’ Reaction: For the off ball linebackers, there’s a clear delineation between the top three and the rest of the crowd. I very slightly prefer Kenneth Murray due to his advanced blitzing ability, but Patrick Queen sure does look a lot like Devin White. Malik Harrison is a throw back LB that just missed the top 5 for me, but if you’re looking for a “thumper”, Harrison is it. Dye is another very good player that could sneak his way into Round 2.

Invictus’ Top 5

  1. Isaiah Simmons (Clemson)
  2. Kenneth Murray (Oklahoma)
  3. Patrick Queen (LSU)
  4. Zack Baun (Wisconsin)
  5. Jordyn Brooks (Texas Tech)

Chris Reaction: I’ll admit, I probably should have Baun in my top 5 and I’ll probably make that change after his Combine workout. But a lot of me still thinks of him as an EDGE (12.5 sacks as a senior will do that), and I’m very interested to see how he handles the transition to more of an off-ball linebacker role. Jordyn Brooks is intriguing as hell. You don’t normally see Texas Tech defenders ranked highly, but he’s got skills. And his experience playing in the Big 12 could be a real selling point for some defenses as he has range and plenty of experience playing against the wide-open spread offenses we’re seeing influence offense in the NFL.

Cornerback

Chris’ Top 5

  1. Jeffrey Okudah (Ohio State)
  2. Kristian Fulton (LSU)
  3. C.J. Henderson (Florida)
  4. Damon Arnette (Ohio State)
  5. A.J. Terell (Clemson)

Invictus’ reaction: Jeffery Okudah has the same grade for me as Jalen Ramsey and would be just as game changing of a pick for the New York Giants. The gulf between him and the rest of the field is as large as any other gap in other positions. Kristian Fulton is a polished and smooth mover that should be a late first round pick. After that, take your pick. I’m a fan of Damon Arnette and he suffers from Marlon Davidson syndrome in that there’s a really good player but they play with a transcendental one. Still think the CB from Alabama is a bit more technically refined. AJ Terrell used to be in my top 5, but I made the mistake of watching the national championship and watching him get absolutely obliterated by LSU. This isn’t a great CB class but there is a sneaky amount of depth there.

Invictus’ Top 5

  1. Jeffery Okudah (Ohio State)
  2. Kristian Fulton (LSU)
  3. Trevon Diggs (Alabama)
  4. Noah Igbinoghene
  5. CJ Henderson

Chris’ Reaction: I have a feeling Arnette will be dropping out of my top five and Igbinoghene will be rising into it after the Combine is over. Also, I have a feeling that Henderson will be rising up draft boards too. I’m glad to see Invictus has him in his Top-5. My only issue with Diggs is that I feel he might be more scheme restricted than the other corners as a pure “Cover 3” corner. Of course, we have seen defenses based in the Cover 3 be very successful over the last decade, so maybe that’s not a bad thing.

Safety

Chris’ Top 5

  1. Grant Delpit (LSU)
  2. Xavier McKinney (Alabama)
  3. Antoine Winfield Jr. (Minnesota)
  4. Ashtyn Davis (Cal)
  5. K’Von Wallace (Clemson)

Invictus’ reaction: Finally, moving to the safeties, you couldn’t get more different than the top two guys - Grant Delpit and Xavier McKinney. McKinney is such a solid tackler and he’s got phenomenal instincts whereas his range isn’t quite elite. Delpit is NOT a great tackler but you put on some of his film (especially in 2018) and you get blown away by some insane range that he has. Both have the right attitude to play as a hard hitting safety. I’m glad you placed Winfield at this spot, he’s such an intelligent player as is Ashtyn Davis. There’s a clear second tier and then after that, take your pick.

Invictus’ Top 5

  1. Grant Delpit (LSU)
  2. Xavier McKinney (Alabama)
  3. Antoine Winfield Jr (Minnesota)
  4. Ashtyn Davis (Cal)
  5. Kyle Dugger (Lenoir-Rhyne)

Chris’ reaction: The only real difference here is in our fifth spot. Personally, I have Duggar as a “STAR” or “Buffalo Nickel” and not a pure safety. I’m sure he has the athleticism and ability to play a pure safety role, but I think his size and skill-set can fit as a modern safety/linebacker hybrid. And for the record, he’s my No. 1 “STAR.”

Maybe I’ve just been reading too much about the 3-3-3 defense, but I think that is a role we are going to see more of in the coming years.