While most of the draft talk has been centered on quarterbacks, edge prospect Bradley Chubb is intent on nullifying the effectiveness of all NFL signal callers.
“If a team doesn’t have a quarterback, they don’t really have anything,” said Chubb while addressing reporters at the league’s combine in February. “So my job is to get after one of the best players on the field, one of the highest paid players on the field. It changes the dynamic of the game.”
In a draft where an early run on passers is almost guaranteed, Chubb could go as high as No. 2 to the New York Giants. If he doesn’t go to New York’s NFC representative, then he’ll be on the board when New York’s AFC representative goes on the clock a pick later.
“As a pass rusher, he has a good get-off, but he is an outstanding technician with his hands,” said NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah, who ranked Chubb his No. 2 overall prospect. “He wins with rip moves, swipe moves and a powerful bull rush. He can bend and wrap the edge. Chubb's motor never stops. His ability to finish is outstanding and it's reflected in his production.”
The 6’4”, 269-pound Chubb could have played in the NFL last year, but he came back for his senior season at NC State and led the ACC with 26 tackles for loss and 10 sacks. A first team All-ACC performer, Chubb won the Bronco Nagurski Trophy as the nation’s best defensive player and the Ted Hendricks Award as the nation’s top defensive end.
After setting Pack records for sacks (26) and tackles for loss (60), Chubb will bring his relentless motor to the Sundays next fall. Not a speed demon, the 6’4”, 269-pound Chubb can play down in a three-point stance or stand up at outside linebacker.
Chubb likely will be joined in the first round by The University of Texas at San Antonio’s Marcus Davenport, a long-limbed late bloomer who increased his sack total in each of his four seasons for the Roadrunners. The former basketball player will need to refine his game, but he is seen as an ascending talent after leaving USTA with school records for sacks (22) and tackles for loss (38).
Boston College’s Harold Landry could be a wild card in the opening round. The 6’3”, 252-pound Landry had a scintillating junior campaign, pacing the FBS in sacks (16.5) and forced fumbles (7) and adding 22 tackles for loss while earning All-American honors. But Landry, who possesses rare acceleration, battled injuries his senior season and finished with five sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss in eight contests. Not terribly big or known for his play against the run, Landry can get home in a hurry.
Owning six selections in the draft, the Jets have a 69-pick gap between their first-round selection and their third-rounder. There will be surprises along the way, but it will be interesting to see what edge performers are available when the team goes back on the clock in the middle of the draft.
How will teams view LSU defender Arden Key? He was a force in 2016, racking up 11 sacks and collecting 14.5 tackles for loss. Then Key, who has played in both 4-3 and 3-4 schemes, experienced a year to forget.
“He broke the LSU single-season sack record as a sophomore. His junior year has been a train wreck,” said NFLDraftScout.com’s Dane Brugler. “He took a leave of absence from the team in the spring, had a shoulder injury and was dinged up most of his junior season. What he did as a sophomore, throw on that 2016 tape, that speed to capture the edge, skim the corner and flatten the quarterback. Not a lot of guys have that ability.”
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Who else has the ability to flatten the quarterback AND might be available in Rounds 3-5? Here are a few names…
Lorenzo Carter, Georgia: The 6’6”, 250-pound Carter is very athletic and would have to slip to still be on the board in Round 3. But Carter had 14 sacks in 54 career games in addition to 165 tackles and 20.5 tackles for loss.
John Sweat, Florida State: A prized recruit out of high school, Sweat was a three-year starter for the Seminoles and totaled 14.5 sacks and 29 tackles for loss in 37 games.
Uchenna Nwosu, USC: Filling out throughout his collegiate career, Nwosu blossomed last season at outside linebacker with 9.5 sacks, 11.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage and 20 pass defenses. A fascinating story, Nwosu started playing football as a sophomore in high school and last year shared 2017 USC team MVP honors with Sam Darnold.
Dorance Armstrong, Kansas: The 6’4”, 257-pound Armstrong broke out as a sophomore with 10 sacks and 20 tackles for loss. He wasn’t able to come close to duplicating those numbers last season, but many scouts believe Armstrong will benefit from making a transition from collegiate defensive end to pro outside linebacker.
Duke Ejiofor (EDGE-eh-for), Wake Forest: A son of Nigerian immigrants, Ejiofor paced the Demon Deacons with 6.5 sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss last season. The three-year starter, who has powerful hands in addition to a non-stop motor, finished third in school annals with 23.5 sacks.
Kemoko Turay, Rutgers: A local product who excelled during Senior Bowl practices could be intriguing to many teams. The Newark, NJ native had 7.5 sacks as a freshman and then battled injuries before appearing in 12 games his senior campaign. Turay, who immigrated with his family from Guinea at the age of three, only played two years of high school football and led the state of New Jersey with 19 sacks as a senior at Barringer HS.
Jeff Holland, Auburn: An early entry, the 6’2”, 249-pound Holland filled the stat sheet his junior campaign with 10 sacks, 13 tackles for loss and four forced fumbles. After training in martial arts, Holland bowed after impactful plays and the celebration was referred to as “Sensei Mud.”