A group of high-impact talent primed to light up the showcase event, the pool of edge prospects set to take the stage in Mobile for the Senior Bowl is an enticing one. We here at Draft Network will have you covered from every angle starting in a few weeks’ time live from the Senior Bowl. With less than a month until pads begin to crack during Senior Bowl practices, here is a deep dive into a loaded group of edge threats to keep an eye on.
Adetomiwa Adebawore, Northwestern
An inside-out versatile rusher, Adebawore has the chance to rise significantly in Mobile. At 280 pounds, he has no issue aligning at 3-tech on early downs as an athletic run defender, only to jump outside the tackle and rush on long down and distances. He totaled more than 60 pressures in the last two seasons combined.
Andre Carter II, Army
There may not be a prospect with a bigger spotlight than Carter, who will become the highest player drafted out of West Point since RB Glenn Davis went second overall back in 1947. A big man at 6-foot-7, there are some flexibility concerns about his ability to threaten the edge consistently with such a massive frame, but standout performances in one-on-one drills should solidify his stock as a day-two talent.
YaYa Diaby, Louisville
Turn on his tape against Florida State early in the year or his most recent performance against Cincinnati in Louisville’s bowl game and you see the potential that Diaby possesses. Extremely athletic and explosive off the edge, he’ll be a nightmare to holster for tackles all week long. His powerful lower half consistently allows him to hold the point of attack in the run, and plow through bodies in pass pro.
Isaiah Foskey, Notre Dame
Despite being the all-time sack leader in Notre Dame’s prestigious history, concerns remain about where exactly he’ll find his niche along the defensive front at the next level. But his effort, power, and explosiveness should allow him to wreak havoc from the start of his career. A guy that also isn’t afraid to stick his face in the mud on special teams, he leads by example and will be an immediate boost to a locker room in need of a voice to rally around.
Where caution arises is his ability to threaten the edge against higher-level talents, and in turn, how that could limit his effectiveness at the NFL level. At 260 pounds, he needs improvement in deconstructing blocks that will allow him to wrangle down ball carriers at the line of scrimmage, but those are all expected nuances to sand down as rookies make their way into the NFL. He isn’t scheme-specific, either, as his skill set should allow him to succeed within a defense that deploys both even (four-man) or odd (three-man) fronts, increasing his value.
Ali Gaye, LSU
Long and lean, Gaye looks the part before he ever straps up. He won’t be the most explosive rusher in Mobile but his length allows him to stack and shed with consistency and clog up passing lanes when isn’t able to win a rep. He’s got all the tools to become a legit sack artist on Sundays and a good week of work at the Senior Bowl will see him rise after his production has dropped in each of the last three seasons.
Derick Hall, Auburn
One of the most disruptive edge talents in the country this year, Hall could be one of the best rushers from this class five years down the line. He’s improved as he’s earned more snaps, his athleticism pops off the screen, and he’s got spring-loaded hands that allow him to jolt opposing lineman back at contact.
Nick Hampton, Appalachian State
I expect Hampton to be a riser from the week considering his ability to use his length to his advantage. He comes off the line of scrimmage a little high for my liking, which exposes his chest to opposing linemen, but he carries plenty of power in his frame to work through blockers and into the quarterback’s lap. He amassed 21 sacks in the last two seasons combined.
Zach Harrison, Ohio State
There were times during his career in Columbus in which Harrison looked like a top-15 pick. Then there were times when you scratch your head as far as where he’ll find his niche at the next level. At 270 pounds, Harrison’s power is comparable to a man of much larger stature, and his quick-twitch in his lower half is that of a man much smaller. He’s a unique blend of size and speed that I expect to have a heck of a week at the Senior Bowl.
Zach Harrison (9) was excellent against Michigan.
Multiple pressures & batted passes at the LOS — he looked overpowering at times. Stock up game for him. pic.twitter.com/Nxd9vJBfeZ
— Ryan Fowler (@_RyanFowler_) November 27, 2022
K.J. Henry, Clemson
Behind names like Bryan Bresee, Myles Murphy, and Trenton Simpson, Henry has flown under the radar a little bit within a loaded Clemson front seven. A former five-star recruit, he will excel as a run defender from the moment he steps onto NFL turf and will provide fresh legs as a rotational pass-rusher at the start of his career.
Dylan Horton, TCU
The Big 12 isn’t known for defense, but you’ll see a ton of Horned Frogs logos on your TV come draft weekend. A transfer from New Mexico where he spent the first two years of his career, Horton was fantastic on the edge for Sonny Dykes’ group this fall, totaling 48 pressures and 10 sacks including three against Michigan in the CFP semifinal. He won’t blow you away with size or possess any crazy intangibles that others have in the class, but he just flat-out gets after the passer in a variety of ways that’ll make any defensive coordinator happy. He deserves more attention.
Thomas Incoom, Central Michigan
It didn’t matter who Incoom faced this fall, offensive lines didn’t stand a shot. His six pressures and as many QB hurries against Penn State showcased his potential against the best competition on the Chippewas schedule, and he’s a small school talent (a lot like DeAngelo Malone last year) who I expect to generate some buzz moving towards the combine.
DJ Johnson, Oregon
Turn on Johnson’s tape against BYU and enjoy. The production didn’t jump off the page, but his potential remains through the roof as he continues to polish his pass-rush repertoire. He’s one of the most explosive pass rushers in the class that could be a steal in the upcoming draft.
Isaiah Land, Florida A&M
After recording nearly 20 sacks last season, Land has progressed into one of the more electric FCS prospects on either side of the ball. His play strength and weight remain a long-term project, but the Rattlers’ premier defender has all the clubs in the bag to open eyes in Mobile. He amassed three or more pressures in every game but one this fall.
Eku Leota, Auburn
His season ended early due to injury, but Leota was on pace to smash his former career highs in all pass-rushing categories. He’s got extremely quick feet that allow him to change directions on a whim and a strong upper half that allows him to work through contact. A former transfer from Northwestern, he recorded nearly 100 pressures in his collegiate career.
Will McDonald IV, Iowa State
A long and lanky pass-rusher, McDonald IV should showcase himself extremely well in 1-on-1 opportunities. Teams have doubled and tripled him this fall after amassing 13 sacks in 2021, and more talent around him during the game portion of the week should see him wreak havoc. He’s extremely light at 235 but I expect an NFL club to beef him up a little bit without losing too much twitch down the line.
Isaiah McGuire, Missouri
Consistency is the name of the game for McGuire whose 2022 numbers are eerily to the output he had in 2021. He carries 275 pounds extremely well and his length has been a massive plus when talking with league evaluators.
Tavius Robinson, Ole Miss
Quick hands with inside-out versatility? Sign me up. 2022 was his breakout party and he’s just now begun to scratch the surface of the player he can be moving forward recording 40 pressures and eight sacks. He finished the year with two sacks in back-to-back games against Mississippi State and Texas Tech and will enter Mobile as someone with a jetpack attached to his stock.
Keion White, Georgia Tech
At nearly 290 pounds, White is an extremely interesting case study when identifying where he fits best along the defensive front. He aligned primarily outside the tackle this fall but has the strength and anchor to slide inside if need be. He’s one of the most athletically gifted players in the class, and his ability to turn and carry a running back 20 yards downfield against Virginia was downright silly. Expect to hear his name called on day two, but a great week in Mobile on top of his high testing measurables could see him rise even further.
Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech
One of the nation’s premier pass-rushers, I expect Wilson to put on a Jermaine Johnson-like Senior Bowl performance in a few weeks. Last year, Johnson was overwhelmingly dominant in practice, left the event early, and solidified himself as a day-one pick. For Wilson, an NFL-ready athlete that looks every bit the part of a legit sack artist on Sundays, Mobile should shine a massive spotlight on his impressive game and etch his status as a top-15 selection. He has All-Pro potential.
Byron Young, Tennessee
With four sacks against LSU, two against Kentucky, and two more to round out the year against Clemson, Young is a name that could become the topic of conversation at the Senior Bowl. He has the flexibility to twist and lower his inside shoulder, has no issue with hand counters from linemen, and is rarely beaten to the football as a guy that plays with three lungs. He’s got some work to do in identifying a pass-rush plan, but the fundamental tools are there for him to be a nice addition to a rotation.