Four Edge Defenders Bears Could Consider Eighth Overall

While watching cutups of the Edge group in this draft for this article it became clear to me how unimpressive this class is. It is not a good year to be in the market for an Edge player or in the Bears case several. Free Agency is fairly devoid of talent at the Edge group too. The Bears did well to resign Sam Acho who had a good year as a backup and getting Aaron Lynch as there is not much else available.

Now that is not to say there is no talent at all. It just will have to come early in the draft. In this list of five, I believe the Bears need to draft one of these guys even if they have to reach on their value at the spot they draft them in. And away we go.

Bradley Chubb:

NCAA Football: North Carolina State at Florida State

Chubb is clearly the number one option in this draft as far as Edge Rushers are concerned. However, even though Chubb is the number one choice even he has a bit of a caveat to him as he kind of profiles more as a 4-3 End than a 3-4 standup Outside Linebacker. That said the Bears would thank the football Gods and gladly pull the trigger if he fell to them at the 8th overall choice. It’s highly unlikely but possible. There’s also the possibility that the Bears trade up for him as Pace has traded up in the first round the last two seasons with the Bears.

I will mention one thing that bears mentioning, however, and that’s that Chubb does fall short of the 3 cone time mark that generally identifies the top pass rushers. He ran a concerning 7.37. The average time for Defensive Ends is 7.23. Outside Linebackers which he’ll be playing in Chicago if he was picked by the Bears time at 7.1 on average. The really elite guys generally run under 7.0. So for those that feel Ryan Pace is someone who pays attention to the measurables there is no way he overlooks the top measurable for determining success for pass rushers when drafting a pass rusher.

On this play, you can see how quick off the snap Chubb is for a 275-pound man. His get off was so phenomenal the guard who knew where the play was going pre-snap could not get there in time to prevent Chubb getting into the backfield and tackling the Running Back for a loss.

On this play, he shows his quickness to the inside beating the Tight End off the snap. Even though the Tight End knows the snap count and he does not.

He’s not quite the finished product and probably why he’s a little overloved is because this is such a weak class of Edge Defenders. Here he has his quickness go against him as he gets washed out of the play by the Tight End and completely out of position to make the play.

On this next play, he shows you his max effort and relentlessness on the field. Chubb is not only talented but driven to make plays even when he’s initially blocked. You can see he never gives up on this play as he makes his way all the way to the other side of the field to finish off the Running Back for a loss on the play.

On this snap, you just see the pure speed and quickness and a nice punch to start it off which jolts the Tackle and then just turns on the Jets and runs around the blocker to get the very elusive Lamar Jackson.

Chubb also plays with great awareness and has very good instincts to go along with his game. He can cover a little too. Here you see him pick up the back right away instead of just pining his ears back. Even though the play went against N.C. State for a big play and a near Touchdown Chubb still did his job here.

One of the knocks Chubb has is his bull rush is lacking. Something with proper coaching and lots of work in the weight room should rectify. Here, you see him try to bull rush the Tackle and initially gets a push but once the Tackle anchors that’s the end of the rush.

Finally, on this play, he straight beats the Tackle who actually holds him but the pressure forces the ball out of Jackson’s hands sooner than he would have liked and forces the ball on a bad decision that turned into a deflection that was returned for the game-sealing pick 6.

Conclusion: Chubb is unquestionably the most all-around Edge Defender. Some people have even pigeonholed him as a 4-3 End but there is no doubt he can and has played in a 2 point stance. He would fit in fabulously in the Bears hybrid 3-4 scheme. I could even see him paying a lot of 3-technique when the Bears play in their under-front look and probably as the 5-Technique as well. His positionally versatility is something coveted by this regime. Physically he is all you can ask for with a 9.38 RAS (Relative Athletic Score) Ranking him 26th in this draft class. He’s not just athletic but clearly instinctive and intelligent and doesn’t just think about rushing the QB. He’ll drop into coverage, contain the Edge, and defend the run. He also has a few moves although he can add even more to his game. With his work ethic, there is no doubt that will be the case. Not sure what his ceiling will project to, but I do know without a doubt he’ll be a good football player in the NFL and a fixture of some lucky teams defense on one side of the edge.

Harold Landry:

1 Landry

When 100% healthy Landry is the best pure pass rusher in this draft. Arden Key may have something to say about that but we’ll get to that a little bit later on. No one can bend the edge and shorten their path to the Quarterback in this draft class better than him. Anyone who watches his 2016 tape will not say different. He had 22 tackles for loss, 16.5 sacks, and forced an astounding 7 fumbles. However, He struggled with an ankle injury throughout the 2017 season limiting him to 9 games. It clearly affected his performance and his production. In spite of that, he put up decent numbers (38 stops, 8.5 TFLs, 5 sacks, 2 PBUs). It is extremely debilitating for a pass rushers first step as he can’t drive off that ankle and it totally screws up the entire rush plan before it even begins. Just a tremendous advantage to the offensive lineman if he doesn’t have to worry about getting jumped on with a real quick first step.

He appears to be close to 100% recovered going by his combine performance where his RAS was an elite 9.37. He also scored very high in the 3 cone drill. Elite level as a matter of fact. The highest time ever recorded at the combine since this test was introduced in 1988 was by Von Miller and Bruce Irvin at 6.70. Landry was not far off at 6.88. Keep in mind the average time for an Outside linebacker is 7.1 seconds and a Defensive End (which he played at Boston College) is 7.23.

Here you see his versatility as he drops into coverage a skill Vic Fangio requires of all his Outside Linebackers. He goes in a backpedal and shows off those fluid hips of his. The Quarterback has to pull it down and run with it due to great coverage including Landry’s. As Deshone Kizer runs Landry drives and closes fast on him and actually gets in on the play and makes the tackle looking like a DB coming off zone coverage.

On this play, Landry comes out with a speed rush and as the Tackle gets ready to lay his hands on him Landry dips at the end and the Tackle has no punch and has his hands on top of Landry’s shoulder pads offering little resistance to his path to the Quarterback allowing him to flatten out and get a quicker more efficient route to the Quarterback. Unfortunately for him, Kizer got rid of the ball just in time to avoid the sack and even got a short gain to his player in the flat.

This next play just shows you how much respect Landry gets as a playmaker. On this plays he goes heads up with likely first-round prospect Mike McGlinchey who he beats inside but then here comes Quenton Nelson to take him inside and then you see the Running Back help double him. The real kicker is the run isn’t even going to his side yet he received a triple team from two first rounders and a Running back in a Harry Heistand coached line.

Landry isn’t the perfect prospect and this play shows you that. Landry goes into a speed rush and never squares his shoulders toward the Quarterback and gets a clear path to the Quarterback. Instead, the Tackle gets shown a nice target as he exposes his back to him and uses it to hit Landry’s back and drive him to the turf.

There are some who mistakenly feel Landry can’t hold contain due to his size. This is not a sexy clip but it does show his ability to stay disciplined and hold contain while others make plays.

On the next three plays, you can see there is something amiss from Landry physically as he is physically dominated by a double team by McGlinchy and Nelson on video one. You can see he has no interest in planting his leg and kind of absorbs the contact by skipping and eventually getting pushed down to the ground in a most rude fashion as Nelson is known to do. Then he gets in the backfield and is in position to make a play on Kizer but does not show the lateral quickness he is famous for when Kizer cuts to the outside and then does not have the foot quickness to close laterally to make the tackle. In the third video, you can just see by the way he’s moving somethings not right. He moves as if his cortisone shots have worn off and is limping noticeably.

In this next clip against Clemson in 2016, you can just see a different athlete as he was dominant against a very good Clemson Offensive Line. On play one, he uses his quickness to get to Watson who gets rid of it just before a sack. Landry shows a good punch and uses the player’s jersey to grab and tug him out of the way. Something he is famous for doing using his strong hands to discard and shed blockers.

On this next clip you can see the start and stop ability he didn’t have on the previous play against Kizer where he just ran by him. Here, the equally elusive Watson tries to juke him but Landry stays with it mirroring his movements and eventually gets there along with the Safety to get Watson down on the option keeper.

In this clip, you see Landry use an inside counter off of his speed rush. You see the Tackle get out on his slide step trying to block his speed rush and then Landry simply gets a hold of his jersey and tosses him aside and flattens out to Watson who is forced to throw it a hair too soon on the pressure for the incompletion in the end zone likely preventing a Touchdown here.

Here, you see the Right Tackle attempt a cut block as Landry is about to blow past him after not being able to put his hands on Landry but Landry dips down and gets low and knocks the Tackle to the ground and continue on his path to Watson for the sack-fumble showing the bendability to shorten his path to the Quarterback. A trait the elite pass rushers all have.

On this next play, he shows yet another inside counter to play off his speed rush turning the Left Tackle and flattening out to Watson who gets rid of the ball before Landry can get to him for a nice back shoulder touchdown.

Here you see Landry use a two-hand punch and when the Tackle counters by applying forward weight to avoid getting pushed back Landry uses that momentum and grabs him by the clavicle pads and pulls him forward and off balance and then flattens his path to the Quarterback and almost gets there for yet another sack-fumble but he does manage to get a square hit on Watson forcing a deflection in the air and one that could easily have been picked off.

Finally, Landry shows his discipline and instincts along with the ability to not just chase down Watson, but have the awareness to get a grab on the Tight End eliminating the pass option on the option play and allowing himself the time to get to Watson and bring him down.

Conclusion: While Chubb is the best all-around Edge Defender Landry is by far the most polished pass rusher in this draft class. He hasn’t even developed a large repertoire of pass rushing moves and counters yet and definitely figures to do under sounder pro coaching. He isn’t perfect. He’s a bit undersized and may have issues with the rush at times when facing the better Tackles in the league, however, he does have an excellent familiarity with how to use leverage and being shorter may aid him in countering size as he already shows the ability to use blockers size against them with his pass rush.

He shows a little loaf in his game at times so there is either an effort issue or a conditioning one. It’s not overly obvious and doesn’t happen consistently as he generally gives good effort especially when there’s play to be made but it shows up a little on plays away from him where if he hustled over he would have been able to make a play here or there downfield but instead goes for some extra yardage because of his lack of hustle.

He does show a plan of attack when approaching pass rushing and has instincts to recognize what defenses are trying to do and doesn’t take long to diagnose between run and pass. He uses his hands very well too often discarding would be blockers in ragdoll fashion in spite of them being much bigger than he is. He also shows a penchant for forcing turnovers. Not just sacking Quarterbacks but separating them from the ball.

He also tested well at the combine and scored the highest time among Edge Defenders in the 3-cone which is the single biggest indicator of success at any position as far as drills are concerned at identifying success as a pass rusher with an elite 6.88 score well below the average for Outside linebackers and Defensive Ends as I mentioned earlier. Some say 8th overall would be a reach for Landry but given all the tape when healthy and the workout indicators I completely disagree with that. It would appear to be a good bet that Landry will be an elite level pass rusher at the next level which in the NFL is worth its weight in gold.

Arden Key:

1 arden key

If Landry is the best pure Pass Rusher in the draft Key has to be a close second. He was at around the 7.1 average 3 cone threshold I’ve been writing about as an indicator to success for a Pass Rusher scoring just over at six one-hundredths of a second at 7.16 and 8th best of all the Edge Rushers in this class. That was a bit surprising but not as off as Chubb who is about 20 pounds heavier than Key. Now he did score well in 2 other short area quickness drills with the short shuttle (20 yards) Scoring 4th best with a 4.25 time just behind Kylie Fitts (4.19), Landry (4.19), and Dorance Armstrong (4.23). So his physical traits translate to the next level as far as successful Pass Rushers go.

He was disruptive right from the get-go. As a freshman, he started the final 9 games for LSU accumulating 41 tackles, 6.5 TFL’s, 5 sacks, and a team-high 9 QB Hurries. He did not disappoint in his Sophomore season. He racked up 12 sacks, 14.5 TFLs, 56 stops and had 3 FF. His junior season was a rough one personally and physically. The later likely contributing heavily to his production drop off after recovering from Shoulder surgery and dealt with a nagging finger injury throughout the season. He had just 8 starts and accumulated 4 sacks, 33 tackles, 5.5 TFLs and Forced a Fumble. Much like Landry, you have to take his 16′ tape into account as much if not more so then his 2017 one as a true indicator of what he can do at the next level.

Here, Key shows his quickness and speed getting to the Running back just as he gets the handoff and spins him down to the ground for a huge loss.

On this play, Key shows his quick first step and speed around the corner. Also shows a little ability to hand fight as he chops the blockers hand down ala Martial Arts style and pressures the Quarterback forcing him out of the pocket.

Here Key shows he is not just a pass rusher. He is willing to take on the big boys and stop the run. Here he takes on the big pulling Guard, sheds him and makes the tackle on the Quarterback on the delay QB sneak.

On this next play, Key shows his relentless effort. Initially, he’s blocked but instead of accepting that he was stopped and shutting it down he spins off the block and chases down the QB who rolls out to his left and forces the incompletion.

In this video clip Key shows of his dip and rip move against the Right Tackle. He get in to contribute to the sack.

On this play, he shows his excellent handwork once again as he simply grabs the Tackles wrists and throws his arms to the side and out of his path and continues on to the Quarterback for yet another pressure against one of the most physical Offensive Lines in college football. It was so lightning quick I had to watch it 3 to 4 times before I actually saw how he did that. I would not be a bit surprised if he had some formal martial arts training.

Here’s one of Key playing off ball Linebacker and closing on Scarbrough on the swing pass. Key is a very versatile player you can do a variety of things with, not just have him rushing the passer.

Conclusion: Key was on the fast track to being a sure-fire first round pick until this past season. However, injuries and cryptic off-field concerns where he took a leave of absence for personal reasons have kind of curtailed him from that path. It now looks like he’s going to be a second rounder instead. He could be a great value pick so long as his leave of absence that was never really specified wasn’t anything that could be recurring. He has the measureables and the football character it would appear to be a successful pass rusher in the NFL and that is one of the most valuable things a football team can have and that’s 4-5 seasons of cheap Quarterback terrorizing offense disrupting labor. It allows you to overspend in the Free Agent Market to fill immediate veteran needs and keep valuable depth in place to be able to sustain injury.

Lorenzo Carter:

Lorenzo Carter
Georgia outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter (7) during the BulldogsÕ game against Mississippi State at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga., on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (Photo by Perry McIntyre Jr.)

When the smoke clears and all is said and done Carter may end up being the best Edge Defender of all of them from this class. He has that kind of ability. Both as a football player and as an athlete. In a lot of ways, he’s a better prospect than Leonard Floyd was coming out of college. As you can see from the Pic above he’s a thick well put together player right now. Floyd looked and still looks like a power forward in the NBA rather than an Edge Rusher in the NFL. So it appears he can hold up better to the physicality of the game at his position knocking heads with 300 plus pound behemoths on a regular basis.

Getting back to the athlete part his RAS score was an astounding 10.0 on a scale of 0.00 to 10.0. So he has elite athleticism and it shows up on the field of play to as I’ll show you later in some cutups. This allowed Kirby Smart to use him in a variety of ways. It’s one of the biggest reasons his pressure stats were not at an elite level just as Floyd’s weren’t. He used him a lot off the ball both attack the Line of scrimmage and various gaps as well as dropping back in coverage and even man to man as well of the Edge. Carter shows amazing speed and quickness on the field and strength and he can pressure the Quarterback or set the Edge in the run game. He shows a tenacious never quit motor as well as tremendous natural instincts.

It’s my humble opinion he’s way too undervalued by media and the draftnik community on social media as well as fans. I feel just as I do with Landry that if the Bears picked him where they currently sit in the first round it would be a justified and fair value pick. I picked the Notre Dame video as it has one of the most talented and well coached Offensive Lines in the country and he dominated in this game. At times it seemed as if there were two or three of him on the field. I could very well have posted every snap and highlighted something positive he did on the play.

On this snap, he shows you his power and his toughness. As he approaches the backfield it’s clear he recognizes a run right off the bat as he breaks down preparing to stop it. On this play Highly regarded Left Guard prospect, Quenton Nelson known for his physicality get jolted back and redirected to the right side of carter by his long arms and powerfully big hands and makes the play for a loss on the run.

On the next clip, Carter gets off to an explosive start in his pass rush and engages with the Tight End Durham Smythe regarded as one of the best blocking Tight Ends in this class if not the best. He uses his length to keep Smythe’s hands away from his frame and drives him back into the Quarterback using his explosive strength. Just as he arrives he discards Smythe and gets a hit on the Quarterback just after he releases the pass causing an overthrow and incompletion downfield.

Here, Notre Dame makes the tragic mistake of leaving Carter unblocked as they roll the Quarterback to his side for a quick hitter. What they apparently don’t realize is carter is extremely fast and as you can see he gets to the Quarterback in a flash using his length to disrupt the Quarterbacks launch point and alter the arm angle causing an incompletion.

On this play, he walks up to the line from the Sam position off the ball and takes on Smythe and pushing him to his outside shoulder setting the Edge and forcing the play inside. As he does that he discards Smythe ragdoll style and leaps on the Quarterback like a predatorial African big cat and just before the Quarterback goes down to the turf, Carter rips the ball out for a fumble and near takeaway for the Bulldogs.

In this next cutup, Carter doesn’t do anything fancy except his job. He takes on the Tight End who tries to cut him but he avoids the cut using his cat-like quickness and moves to the outside forcing the play inside and then he bounces back inside rudely pushing the Tight End back down to the turf while his interior linemen clean up the play.

Here’s yet another example of Carter setting the edge. Carter does not simply set the edge forcing the play inside he actually sets himself up to be in position to bounce back inside and make the play should his teammates get blocked and are not able to themselves. Carter has the ability to stop all outside running plays on his own at times.

Carter disrupts yet another pass with a quick rush on the outside. He even beats the double team as the help blocker can’t even get to him quick enough to stop him from getting a hand on the Quarterback and knocking him to the turf. He does get his hands to high and will have to watch that in the pros as it will sure be called a roughing the Quarterback penalty. He also shows his handwork here by taking the Right Tackles arms and throwing them to the side all in one motion without stopping the momentum of his path to the Quarterback. Just otherworldly athleticism, technique, and strength all rolled up into one package.

On this next cut up it’s rather lengthy as I post a six-play sequence to give you an idea of just how disruptive he is on nearly every single play. Carter is not a player you can just forget about. He is a player Offensive Coordinators will have to game plan for on gameday. A.) Once again you see the speed and violence on display as he gets to Notre Dame Quarterback Malik Zaire in a millisecond before he can step into the throw and leaves it short while absorbing a violent hit that stuns the signal caller. B.) On this play, he drops back into coverage and nearly gets the interception off the bobble as he gets there in his usual fast fashion. C.) On this play, he actually gets stopped as the Notre Dame Right Tackle anchors and stops Carter’s bullrush attempt. D.) On this snap Carter once again shows how fast he can get to a Quarterback as he rushes right in the face of Zaire and puts up his long arms causing a near errant throw. E.) Here he shows his Quickness to the inside as he stops the momentum of the back and puts on the brakes and gets in on the tackle for a loss. F.) And on this play, he sprints upfield so fast he gives the Running back zero chance to get to him and separates the ball from Zaire for a takeaway. A six-play sequence where on only one play he did not disrupt in a significant way. Even on the play where he was actually blocked, it looked as if though he was about to regroup and throw another pass rushing move to get free. Keep in mind, this was one of the more talented and well-coached blocking units in all of college football he was doing this against.

Here, you see carter drop into an of ball look as he clearly is assigned in coverage. he goes to cover the Wide Receiver when he recognizes it’s a quick pass to the back and the Wide Receiver goes to block him. He then holds his ground to read the play, stacks and sheds the block attempt and gets in on the tackle. Not only physically gifted but smart and instinctive.

Here he takes on another large physical lineman and considered by many to be the best Tackle in the draft Mike McGlinchey. First, he takes on a chip from the back then both get into an epic hand fight and when it’s time Carter slaps McGlinchey’s hands off of him and sprints towards Zaire who he forces into a back foot throw incomplete out of bounds downfield.

And finally, He is at the right place at the right time as he falls on a game-clinching fumble caused by his teammate Davin Bellamy after an upfield rush off the edge.

Conclusion: Carter is basically Leonard Floyd part 2 but with a better frame and mass and even better athleticism. This is why if Floyd was worth trading up for and drafting in the top ten Carter is certainly worthy of being picked with the 8th overall choice in my opinion. Anyone who watched this video would have a hard time convincing me otherwise as he was a nightmare for the Fighting Irish and their well-coached linemen and secondary lockers under the tutelage of current Bears Offensive Line coach Harry Heistand. if the Bears ask him his opinion about carter I have zero doubt he’d say he was worthy of the 8th overall pick having seen this magnificent athlete up close and personal.

Wrap Up: After the Bears attacked free Agency with a clear purpose to execute their vision of surrounding Mitch Trubisky with Experienced pass catchers (Yet young enough to grow along with him and the team) to help this offense score a sufficient amount of points to win games in the NFL, Pass Rusher along the Edge then became their biggest and most obvious need. Free Agency did not provide the firepower to get them up to speed on filling that need so it is clear that the draft will have to be the way to go to add quality Quarterback terrorizing talent. It’s a serious enough situation to where the Bears may have to reach a little bit to fill that need. One of these four prospects should help achieve that goal be it in the first or second round.

I think all are worthy of the eight overall pick with perhaps Key being the biggest reach and highest risk among them. One thing is certain and that’s the Bears will have to improve on their amount of pressures where they ranked in the bottom ten in the league and has been probably their biggest reason for not getting enough takeaways (particularly interceptions) to compete with the leagues best. All four will fit the profile and all four have the ability to impact both the run and the passing game. It’s not a question of if but when they’ll draft one and good money is on sooner rather than later.

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