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NFL Draft 2020: Any edge rushers in the draft class a good fit for the Cowboys?

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Could the Cowboys look for edge rush help in the 2020 NFL Draft?

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

[In this NFL Draft series, we will spotlight several positions of interest for the Dallas Cowboys. Scouring the landscape of draft gurus, we will put together mini scouting reports and weigh the pros and cons of many available prospects to find the right fit for the Dallas Cowboys come April 2020.]

Previously profiled:

SAFETIES

CORNERBACKS

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

WIDE RECEIVERS

TIGHT ENDS

Now, let’s shift our focus back to the defensive side again and look at this year’s edge rushers. The Cowboys have DeMarcus Lawrence locked up for a while but the same cannot be said for Robert Quinn, the team’s sack-leader in 2019. The front office has been vocal about the desire to keep Quinn but the market will ultimately decide that. The Cowboys also have Michael Bennett and Kerry Hyder set to hit free agency too. All in all, there is a lot of work to be done and the Cowboys might want to consider spending a pick or two.

Let’s first look at the big picture for the top names in this year’s edge rushing class.

EDGE RUSHER SCHOOL CBS RANK PROJ. RD TCKL TFL SCK FF PD
CHASE YOUNG OHIO STATE 1 1 98 40.5 30.5 9 8
A.J. EPENESA IOWA 12 1 101 36 26.5 9 7
K'LAVON CHAISSON LSU 14 1 92 19 9.5 1 4
YETUR GROSS-MATOS PENN STATE 19 1-2 111 36.5 18.5 2 0
TERRELL LEWIS ALABAMA 38 2 47 13.5 7 0 3
CURTIS WEAVER BOISE STATE 39 2 128 47.5 34 3 6
JULIAN OKWARA NOTRE DAME 40 2 79 24 15.5 4 1
ZACK BAUN WISCONSIN 45 2 152 30.5 15 3 4
JOSH UCHE MICHIGAN 66 2-3 52 19.5 15.5 3 2
JONATHAN GREENARD FLORIDA 77 3 123 38.5 19.5 4 7
JABARI ZUNIGA FLORIDA 85 3 116 33 18.5 1 0
BRADLEE ANAE UTAH 90 3-4 131 40 29.5 5 3
DARRELL TAYLOR TENNESSEE 96 3-4 118 26.5 19.5 6 7
KHALID KAREEM NOTRE DAME 99 3-4 108 26 13 4 8

A.J. EPENESA, IOWA

13 GP, 49 TCKL, 14 TFL, 11.5 SACK, 4 FF, 3 PBU (2019)

A.J. Epenesa is a pretty complete defensive end prospect. He has the NFL build with the desirable length at the position. He has already developed a devastating bull-rush move though he needs much more than that to win consistently at the NFL level. Epenesa doesn’t have the bend or burst you want but he extends well and destroys gaps routinely with his heavy mitts. He does have a few technical refinements to make but his balanced skill set will win you over.

A.J. EPENESA
JR-IOWA 6'6 280 LBS PROJ. RD: 1
Strengths Weaknesses
Exceptional length, impressive power, heavy-hands, good timing, devastating bull-rusher, developed counter moves, great extension, good speed-power ratio, gap destroyer Lacks burst & bend, lateral mobility is less than desired, won't play well in space, needs to work on recognition to not lose outside leverage, needs to work on pad-level

K’LAVON CHAISSON, LSU

13 GP, 60 TCKL, 13.5 TFL, 6.5 SACK, 1 FF, 2 PBU (2019)

K’Lavon Chaisson would be the perfect twitchy fit for a more versatile defensive scheme that the Cowboys want to implement under Mike Nolan. He can seem effortless with his ability to move, there are NFL traits all throughout his game. He’s speedy, explosive, and very athletic. Chaisson was very productive this past season after missing all but one game in 2018 with a torn ACL. His lack of refinement in many key areas is a direct result of him missing so much time. Still, this is an ascending player that could flourish as a pass rusher at the next level.

K'LAVON CHAISSON
JR-LSU 6'4 250 LBS PROJ. RD: 1
Strengths Weaknesses
Great & thick build, outstanding mobility, springy & loose, supreme flexibility & bend, first-step explosive, great closing burst, shoots gaps in two & three-point stance, unrelenting motor, athletic & fluid Production lacking due to ACL tear in 2018, needs to develop as pass rusher, vision needs improvement, still developing timing of pass rush moves, needs to add bulk & functional strength

YETUR GROSS-MATOS, PENN STATE

11 GP, 40 TCKL, 14.5 TFL, 9 SACK (2019)

Nobody is going to beat out Yetur Gross-Matos in terms of effort or motor. He doesn’t know the word ‘quit’. His motor is relentless and you can easily fall in love with a guy who gives you A+ effort while possessing A+ athleticism. Gross-Matos is a freakishly talented edge defender, which makes him versatile in terms of how he is deployed. Like many thinly-build pass rushers, he will have to gain some strength in the weight room but this guy makes incredibly difficult tackles. Yetur Gross-Matos has the tools to become an absolute monster in the NFL with the right coaching.

YETUR GROSS-MATOS
JR-PENN ST. 6'5 264 LBS PROJ. RD: 1-2
Strengths Weaknesses
Freakish athleticism, never out of the play, relentless pursuit, lots of sack & TFL production due to effort alone, can manipulate body & make plays, can't attack his perimeter, versatility to play OLB or DE Severely lean build, hips & legs too thin for NFL, needs to improve play strength, needs to add more ingredients, technical work ahead as he relies heavily on up-field burst & motor too much, needs to learn counters

TERRELL LEWIS, ALABAMA

10 GP, 31 TCKL, 11.5 TFL, 6 SACK, 1 PBU (2019)

Terrell Lewis looks like the prototypical NFL edge rusher with a muscular build and length in his extremities. He has a few injury concerns to clear up as he missed some time but there is little doubt that he can become an explosive NFL pass rusher. Lewis will need to clean up technical errors but he’s got plenty to work with including power, length, and he knows how to win with leverage. All of the above will be especially beneficial for him in the pros.

TERRELL LEWIS
JR-ALABAMA 6'5 258 LBS PROJ. RD: 2
Strengths Weaknesses
Looks of NFL DE, muscular, long limbed, good flexibility, violent rusher, well-versed in stunts, true disruptor, high-intensity, good length & powerful hands, great hand placement, explosive rusher Needs pass rush plan, too frantic right now, must learn how to win with technique, tendency to late-step in latter portion of games, needs conditioning, some injury concerns

CURTIS WEAVER, BOISE STATE

14 GP, 52 TCKL, 19.5 TFL, 13.5 SACK, 3 PBU, 1 INT, 1 FF (2019)

Curtis Weaver is built very thick but he still possesses a great first step. He has some explosiveness that meshes well with his upper body strength and power. He does a nice job of making himself slippery for blockers but he still has a lot of room to grow. Weaver is not going to wow you with athleticism but his effort to succeed is incredible and he’s been very productive.

CURTIS WEAVER
JR-BOISE ST. 6'3 265 LBS PROJ. RD: 2
Strengths Weaknesses
Thick, powerful base, strong anchor, initial burst in step, explosive off ball, natural disruptor, great in leverage & proper usage, disengages easily w/ punch, explosive upper body power, smart & slippery Bend is less than ideal, doesn't flip hips & turn corner w/ consistency, flashes but can't be trusted snap-to-snap, gets pushed out of play, must develop pass rush moves & counters, lacks hip & ankle fluidity

ZACK BAUN, WISCONSIN

14 GP, 75 TCKL, 19.5 TFL, 12.5 SACK, 2 PBU, 2 FF, 1 PICK-SIX INT (2019)

Zack Baun is all about the hustle game and being a balanced defender. His tape shows a dynamic edge rusher but also a guy that can help in run support. Baun is over-productive and possesses the bend and closing speed most teams will love. He does have a lot to clean up as his over-aggressiveness gets him turned around on occasion, he also doesn’t have the fluidity in his lower body. It’s hard to argue against his production though and that’s what will get him early consideration.

ZACK BAUN
SR-WISC. 6'3 240 LBS PROJ. RD: 2
Strengths Weaknesses
Hustle & effort unquestionable, high-character, sufficient as rusher & in run support, hands deliver pop, great pursuit, dynamic edge athlete, elite wiggle & bend, effective 3-down player, good special teams value Perimeter shows weaknesses, must develop pass rush moves, hand placement is poor at times, loses football in mis-direction, poor tackle angles, may only fit 3-4 OLB, struggles w/ longer tackles on edge

JULIAN OKWARA, NOTRE DAME

9 GP, 19 TCKL, 7 TFL, 5 SACK, 2 FF (2019)

Julian Okwara is another guy with the build of a prototypical rush end in the NFL. He does a good job of recognizing his gifts and using them sufficiently. His long limbs create a large tackle-radius but he doesn’t always make the tackle, which is a bummer. To his credit, he is very crafty in creating penetration. Though his length is great, his frame could use some added bulk before he takes on the punishment at the next level.

JULIAN OKWARA
SR-N. DAME 6'4 248 LBS PROJ. RD: 3
Strengths Weaknesses
Great NFL frame w/ length, bendy, shifty at point of attack, solid in run def, good penetrator, big tackle radius, plays small around edge & flattens QB, terrific crasher in subs, good balance & power Needs to add mass & bulk for 4-3 teams, lack of weight in base shows, can be displaced at times, over-commits to penetration hurts him, poor tackler, needs to drop hips, novice in hand usage

BRADLEE ANAE, UTAH

12 GP, 41 TCKL, 14 TFL, 13 SACK, 1 FF (2019)

Since the Senior Bowl, Bradlee Anae has been on the rise. Another high-character, high-motor guy that never stops attacking, Anae is also very balanced in run defense and has a little polish as a pass rusher, too. He is still developing his attack plan and will need to learn a few more tricks of the trade. At the same time, his burst, speed, awareness, and versatility will get him on the field rather early.

BRADLEE ANAE
SR-UTAH 6'3 257 LBS PROJ. RD: 3
Strengths Weaknesses
Most versatile DE in class, consistent edge setter, equally effective up or down as rusher, great get-off, burst, & speed, super-tough, relentless motor & attacker, high-IQ on & off field, great hustle "Try hard" label, not overly athletic, loses control & balance on occasion, tends to lose leverage, gets fooled on mis-directions & boots, has great counter move but fails to use it consistently