Senior Mid Major EDGE Watch List

2015-2017 Prodigy Pass-Rushers
May 13, 2017
Senior Power 5 EDGE Watch List
May 15, 2017

Senior Mid Major EDGE Watch List

Justis Mosqueda

It’s watch list season. That means it’s time to start #grinding #tape.

Let’s save some time here.

Last year, there were 22 pass-rushers who were drafted in the first five rounds in the draft who measured in between 230 and 280 pounds. These are the players you’d consider as best fits as 3-4 outside linebackers and 4-3 defensive ends.

This is where they came from:

  • 15 of the 22 (68 percent) played in the Power 5
  • 3 of the 22 (14 percent) played in the Group of 5
  • 4 of the 22 (18 percent) played in any division lower than FBS

We’ll have a piece on a Power 5 watch list soon

How do we narrow down all of FBS football into the 20ish pass-rushers who have a chance to actually get drafted with a significant draft pick in 2017? You look at the NFL’s trends.

Of the 18 FBS pass-rushers drafted in the first five rounds of the 2017 draft, 14 of them (78 percent) registered at least five sacks (per ESPN, which rounds up sack totals) in the 2015 season. Basically, if you want any shot to get drafted, you need to record at least five sacks in the season before you’re eligible for the draft.

These are the exceptions:

  • Solomon Thomas (3.5 sacks in 2015)-freak athlete who played nose tackle at a power school
  • Takkarist McKinley (3.5 sacks in 2015)-held down by injury, elite 40-yard dash and played at a power school
  • T.J. Watt (0 sacks in 2015)-transitioned from offense, freak athlete and played at a power school
  • Carl Lawson (1 sack in 2015)-held down by injury, elite 40-yard dash and played at a power school

Those aren’t players you need to dig for. Those players will come to you. I promise.

It’s also worth noting that of the 22 pass-rushers drafted from any division in the first five rounds, 18 of them (82 percent) ran better than a 4.80-second 40-yard dash.

These are the exceptions:

  • Derek Barnett (4.88-second 40-yard dash) SEC
  • Charles Harris (4.82-second 40-yard dash) SEC
  • Taco Charlton (4.92-second 40-yard dash) Big 10
  • Deatrich Wise Jr. (4.92-second 40-yard dash) SEC

The NFL drafts:

  1. Players who post at least back-to-back five-sack seasons
  2. Players who post a sub-4.80-second 40-yard dash

If you’re trying to find mid-major pass-rushers (like Houston’s Tyus Bowser, Ohio’s Tarell Basham or Florida Atlantic’s Trey Hendricks from this past draft), then you can narrow down the list a lot by looking at past production. (We don’t know their 40-yard dashes yet.)

You can cut the list to nine if you simply filter out players:

  • who weigh 230 pounds or lighter
  • who weigh 280 pounds or more
  • who recorded fewer than five sacks (I used ESPN for all of this, they round up)

(It would have been 12, but the sample included off the ball linebackers like North Texas’ Joshua Wheeler, South Florida’s Auggie Sanchez and Memphis’ Genard Avery. We’re not trying to dig for off the ball linebackers. Ever.)

Here are the players who make the “watch list” in order by 2016 sack yardage:

Ja’Von Rolland-Jones, Arkansas State

  • 14 sacks and -71 sack yards in 2016
  • Listed at 6015, 231 pounds and a 4.74-second 40-yard dash by NFL Draft Scout (which I think is the best measurement estimator online)
  • Listed as a 0* 6’2″, 205-pound recruit out of Mesquite, Texas by 247 Sports
  • Was a medical redshirt in 2013 for an undisclosed injury
  • 2014 Sun Belt Conference Second-Teamer, 2015 First-Teamer, 2016 First-Teamer and the Player of the Year
  • 29 sacks and 44 tackles for a loss in his career

Bunmi Rotimi, Old Dominion

  • 7 sacks and -69 (nice) sack yards in 2016
  • Listed at 6035, 277 pounds and a 4.94-second 40-yard dash by NFL Draft Scout
  • Listed as a 0* 6’2″, 270-pound recruit out of Alexandria, Virginia by 247 Sports (walk-on)
  • Was a 2013 redshirt
  • Converted from defensive tackle to defensive end in 2016
  • 13.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for a loss in his career

Joe Ostman, Central Michigan

  • 8 sacks and -65 sack yards in 2016
  • Listed at 6025, 250 pounds and a 4.89-second 40-yard dash by NFL Draft Scout
  • Listed as a 2* 6’2″, 220-pound recruit out of Saint Ignance, Michigan by 247 Sports
  • Was a 2015 medical redshirt for a high ankle sprain
  • 2014 All-Mac Third-Teamer, 2016 Second-Teamer
  • 13 sacks and 26 tackles for a loss in his career

Jesse Brubaker, Tulsa

  • 6 sacks for -50 sack yards in 2016
  • Listed at 6025, 270 pounds and a 4.92-second 40-yard dash by NFL Draft Scout
  • Listed as a 3* 6’3″, 238-pound tight end recruit out of Wylie, Texas by 247 Sports (former SMU commit)
  • Four-year starter
  • Was a 2014 medical redshirt for a freak orbital bone fracture
  • 8.5 sacks and 22.5 tackles for a loss in his career

Garrett Hughes, New Mexico

  • 7 sacks for -43 yards in 2016
  • Listed at 6005, 262 pounds and a 5.07-second 40-yard dash by NFL Draft Scout
  • Listed as a 3* 6’3″, 245-pound recruit out of Cornona, California by 247 sports (failed to qualify for California in the same class that Takkarist McKinley did, attempted to get in the Golden Bears’ next class, couldn’t, and early enrolled at New Mexico)
  • 2016 All-Mountain West Second-Teamer (actually plays more defensive tackle than defensive end)
  • 8.5 sacks and 13 tackles for a loss in his career

Antonius “Tee” Sims, Appalachian State

  • 7 sacks for -40 yards in 2016
  • Listed at 6021, 260 pounds and a 4.93-second 40-yard dash by NFL Draft Scout
  • Listed as a 2* 6’3″, 250-pound recruit out of Covington, Georgia (by way of the Georgia Military Academy) on 247 Sports (actually played running back in his first year at the Georgia Military Academy)
  • Was a 2015 medical redshirt for a leg injury
  • 7 sacks and 14.5 tackles for a loss in his career (13 sacks and 35.5 tackles for a loss if you count his Georgia Military Academy numbers)

Xavier Thigpen, Southern Miss

  • 5 sacks for -31 yards in 2016
  • Listed at 6052, 240 pounds and a 4.86-second 40-yard dash by NFL Draft Scout
  • Unlisted as a recruit by 247 Sports
  • 2013 redshirt
  • Threw discus and played basketball in high school
  • 10.5 sacks and 18 tackles for a loss in his career

Finesse Middleton, South Alabama

  • 5 sacks for -30 yards in 2016
  • Listed at 6’1″ and 250 pounds by school site (unlisted on NFL Draft Scout)
  • Listed as a 3* 6’0″, 255-pound recruit from Gadsden, Alabama by 247 Sports (originally a Louisville signing and a former Ole Miss commit)
  • Missed junior season of high school with a foot injury (played defensive tackle in high school)
  • Double-majored on the way to a grad transfer from Louisville after playing three games in three years
  • 2013 redshirt
  • 4.5 sacks and 8.5 tackles for a loss in his career

Marcus Davenport, UTSA

  • 7 sacks for -23 yards in 2016
  • Listed at 6052, 232 pounds and a 4.77-second 40-yard dash by NFL Draft Scout
  • Listed as a 2* 6’5″, 190-pound recruit out of San Antonio by 247 Sports (former UNLV commit)
  • 2016 All-C-USA Second-Teamer

Measurements via NFL Draft Scout or school websites

Recruiting rankings via 247 Sports

Stats via ESPN, Sports Reference or school websites