Cody’s Scouting Report: Edge Rushers

Oct 8, 2016; College Station, TX, USA; Tennessee Volunteers defensive end Derek Barnett (9) in action during the game against the Texas A&M Aggies at Kyle Field. The Aggies defeat the Volunteers 45-38 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 8, 2016; College Station, TX, USA; Tennessee Volunteers defensive end Derek Barnett (9) in action during the game against the Texas A&M Aggies at Kyle Field. The Aggies defeat the Volunteers 45-38 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

Talking about the edge defenders in the 2017 NFL draft class.

Behind the quarterback, pass rusher is the next most important position on the football field. While the Titans are not in need for an immediate starter, there is a need for depth at the position. After Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo, there isn’t much there. Kevin Dodd was drafted in the second-round last year, but thanks to injury we’re not sure exactly what he’s about yet. Luckily, this year’s draft class is deep at the position and the Titans have a good amount of draft capital. The Titans could elect to pull the trigger on a guy early or wait until later rounds and still find a quality player.

For this post, I watched scouting tapes, not highlight videos. Credit goes to Draft Breakdown on Youtube, if you would like to check them out for yourselves, I would recommend watching more than one game of the player as well. Below is a list of players who could end up in Titans blue, and what to expect from them if that turns out to be the case.

First Wave

Derek Barnett: The thing that most impresses me about Barnett is how he uses his hands – great technique. What he lacks in athleticism he more than makes up for in technique. He is explosive off the line and he does a consistent job getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks. He has a smooth shoulder dip move and flexible hips to bend the edge. I believe this guy has a very high floor, which makes him one of the safer picks in this draft. With Barnett, you know what you’re getting: a good pass rusher who will need time to develop into the coverage aspect of the NFL and he will have to get adjusted to standing up off the line, which is a big difference than lining up in front of the opposing tackle. Games watched: vs Alabama, vs Nebraska, and vs Georgia.

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Solomon Thomas: Thomas has all around athleticism, but his power is the biggest trait of that. He has violent hands and he uses his power to drive blockers back or to move them out of his way. I believe he has a little bit of J.J. Watt to him in the aspect he can line up anywhere along the defensive line: in the 4-3 package, he could play either defensive end or defensive tackle, in the 3-4 he could play as a standing up pass rusher, or I believe he could even line up as a 5 tech across from Jurrell Casey. I think that his floor is probably lower than Barnett as I have the small question of will he be able to manhandle NFL linemen like he does collegiate linemen. On the other side of it. his ceiling should be much higher than Barnett’s with his natural athleticism and potentially improved hand technique.

Haason Redick: The thing that really stuck out to me about Reddick was his effort. He gave maximum effort on every play. His size does hurt him, as you can tell he is smaller than the people playing around him, but his athleticism makes up for that. The thing everyone loves about Reddick is his versatility; he can line up inside or outside. He was a walk on cornerback at Temple before switching to the pass rusher position and his natural coverage ability is impressive, considering that’s the thing most linebackers struggle with most coming out of college. He does need to work on his tackling, but practicing with Derrick Henry every day should fix that pretty quick. If the Titans came away from the draft with Reddick, he would fill multiple needs: depth at the pass rusher position, depth as an inside linebacker, and finally someone who can match up with the tight ends and running backs on the opposite side. Games watched: vs Memphis, vs Cincinnati, and vs USF.

Taco Charlton: The thing I really liked about Taco was the variety of weapons he has when rushing the quarterback. He has a swim move, a spin move, and plants a foot and changes direction. He uses these moves in many ways, which could make him hard to defend. Would like for him to locate the ball faster and make quicker decisions. He has good hip flexibility to bend the edge, and has also shown power in driving defenders backwards. Like Reddick, he also needs to work on his tackling, but I believe that is a quick fix. Games watched: vs Ohio State, vs Penn State, and vs Florida State.

Charles Harris: Harris is athletic and extremely quick off the ball. He has a good build to him and nice hip flexibly. Has some experience manning up with running backs and dropping into coverage. He can play on either side of the field.  He’s good at hand fighting and has a nice spin move. I would like to see him play lower with more leverage, and I would also like to see more power in stopping the run game. Games watched: vs LSU, vs Florida, and vs Vanderbilt.

Takkarist Mckinley: McKinley has a raw skill set, but he is very athletic. He wins his matchups with a combination of speed and power. He has good eyes and plays the run well also. McKinley can rush from multiple spots on the field. He doesn’t have the natural bend like some of the other guys on this list and he needs to improve his hand fighting. He does have a high motor and he plays with a lot of effort. In Tennessee, he would have time to develop his craft. Games watched: vs Arizona State, vs Stanford, and vs Utah.

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  • Second Wave

    DeMarcus Walker: I was extremely impressed with Walker’s on field awareness. It was crystal clear that this guy spends a lot of time in the film room studying and that he is a natural student of the game. Teams just couldn’t fool him. He sniffed out the screen passes, he knew where the ball was on play actions, if he realized he couldn’t get to the quarterback he was quick to get his hands up, or he read the quarterback’s eyes and got to the flat quickly to get the running back. Like Thomas mentioned before, I believe he could line up at multiple positions depending on the defense being ran. Walker doesn’t have the athleticism Thomas boasts, but he has a nice swim move and he is a powerful tackler. Would like for him to play lower with better leverage. Games watched: vs Clemson, vs Ole Miss, and vs Florida.

    Josh Carraway: Carraway has some natural athletic ability and long arms, but I think he should add 10-15 lbs. to his slender frame. He has a quick first step and flexible hips. He needs to get off his blocks quicker (hand fighting), show more power in the run game, and be more decisive. He does do a nice job of locating the football and he has the physical traits teams look for, but he will need time to develop. With the Titans, he could do that playing in a rotational role with Dodd, Morgan, and Orakpo. Games watched: vs Arkansas and vs Oklahoma.

    Carl Lawson: Lawson is a very powerful man. He has a nice bull rush he uses to drive linemen back into the quarterback’s lap. He plays with nice effort, but I would like to see more explosion off the ball. Lawson can play on either side of the ball, standing up or with a hand in the dirt. He needs to get off his blocks faster and, like some of these other guys, he needs help with his hips. He does use his eyes well to find the ball. I believe this could be a mid-round pick with potential upside. Games watched: vs Alabama, vs Clemson, and vs Texas A&M.

    Daeshon Hall: Hall is the guy who played across from Myles Garret (not on this list because the Titans won’t have a shot at him). Hall is good with his hands and fast off the ball, but he’s not an athletic, twitchy guy. He doesn’t have the hip flexibility to bend the edge and he needs to clean up his tackling a bit. Drafting this guy should be strictly for depth purposes, and I have a fifth round grade on him. Games Watched: vs Tennessee, vs South Carolina, and vs Prairie View.

    You may notice I only watched three games per player (except Carraway, could only find two). Most experts will tell you three games are all you need to develop an opinion about a player, but three games are the bare minimum you need. This isn’t the first time I’ve watched tape on some of these guys. A few months ago, I did a scouting report on Youtube you can watch here. Players like Myles Garrett and others that will go in round two I left off. This is a list for you Titans fans, so you will have an idea of what you’re getting on draft day if the team calls one of these names. The draft is less than a month away and these take hours to do, but I will definitely get wide receivers and cornerbacks in. Hopefully I’ll have time to do tight ends and linebackers too. I’ll do as many position groups as I have time for.

    For more tidbits follow me on Twitter @11_on_11.