Early scouting for the 2021 NFL Draft shows a raw and unproven group of edge rushers.
The edge rusher position is one of the most important in all of football. In the modern NFL, any position that impacts the passing game in a major way is incredibly important. Every NFL team is looking for more and more edge rushers who can attack the quarterback and will try to acquire them in any way that they can.
Unfortunately for these teams, the 2021 NFL Draft is not exactly loaded with impact talent at the edge rusher position. It is obviously still extremely early in the process so this can change in a big way next April, but as of right now, I am less than impressed by this group as a whole.
Miami’s Gregory Rousseau is considered by most to be the top edge rusher in the 2021 NFL Draft class. Rousseau undoubtedly has big-time athletic upside and put up big production in 2019 (15.5 sacks), but he is awfully thin to be playing up front at the next level and his lack of power is evident at times already. Also, Rousseau relies heavily on his physical traits and currently shows a limited pass-rush repertoire.
By the time the 2021 NFL Draft rolls around, Rousseau may establish himself as a legitimate top 10 prospect. However, he does have some work to do before we can feel confident about putting him that high.
Carlos Basham Jr. is another interesting guy who could enter the first-round conversation. He is a smart and disciplined player who shows a solid overall skill-set against the run and in the pass rush. There is a lot to like about Basham’s game, but his overall athleticism is limited. Will his limited athleticism and explosion on the edge hole him back at the next level? Hard to say for sure, but it does likely limit his upside.
There is certainly some interesting unproven edge rusher talent in the 2021 NFL Draft class. Guys like Kwity Paye, Aidan Hutchinson and Jayson Oweh stand out as high upside players who simply have not proven enough to get too excited yet.
If Rousseau has a dominant season and fills out his frame a bit while one of the high upside guys explodes into a top-tier prospect, this edge rusher class could quickly look much better. However, based on what we have seen so far, it is not one of the stronger position groups in the class.