NFL Draft 2019: Midseason look at top DE
About midway through the college football season is a great time to take stock of defensive ends who will be eligible for the NFL Draft. Here are two players whose stock is up, steady and down.
Recruiting: After playing at Stone Mountain (Ga.) Stephenson, Sweat played at Michigan State before transferring to junior college at Wesson (Miss.) Copiah-Lincoln and eventually ending up at Mississippi State.
Stats: Sweat has totaled 24 tackles so far this season with 10 stops for loss and 7.5 sacks, both team highs. He also has five quarterback hurries and a forced fumble.
Farrell’s take: I moved Sweat back to defensive end here because he could be the great hybrid in this class, an athletic kid who makes his living as an end but could easily stand up at the next level, but he’s also such a great natural pass rusher. Sweat was a tall, filled-out defensive end out of high school who was a three-star but has developed into an athletic freak who has NFL scouts very interested. Last season put him squarely on the radar.
Recruiting: Jelks committed to Oregon over about a dozen other offers before his senior season started. Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, Tennessee and Wisconsin were some of his other offers. Some schools liked Jelks as an offensive tackle and others preferred him at defensive end.
Stats: Jelks has 31 tackles in six games this season with four for loss and 2.5 sacks. He’s forced a fumble and recovered one as well.
Farrell’s take: Jelks was a low three-star coming out of high school because we questioned his explosiveness and work off contact despite his excellent frame and good size. Now he’s shown that first step we wanted to see and uses his length and size very well. NFL scouts are noticing his jump in production and ability from his sophomore year until now and that he’s gained the consistency that they want.
Stats: Playing in only three games so far this season because of an abdominal injury, Bosa has recorded 14 tackles, six for loss including four sacks. He’s forced a fumble and recovered two fumbles.
Farrell’s take: Bosa was drawing comparisons to his brother, Joey, before his ACL injury in November of his senior season. Some said he would be even better. We had him ranked higher than Joey out of high school, but we whiffed on Joey being a five-star, so there’s that. Nick was as athletic and physical as his brother and loved to hit. We knew he’d be special, and he’s emerged as one of the best defensive ends in the country and is my No. 1 overall for the draft right now despite his injury. He’s a freak of nature.
Recruiting: While it came down to Clemson, South Carolina and Virginia Tech, the Tigers were always thought to be his leader and he ultimately committed to Dabo Swinney's program during the summer before his senior season.
Stats: Ferrell has 22 tackles including team-highs in both tackles for loss (eight) and sacks (six). He has also forced a fumble and added five quarterback hurries.
Farrell’s take: Many felt that this past season would be Ferrell’s breakout year at Clemson, and it appears it was as he was in the offensive backfield often. I always liked his athletic upside, although he was a bit stiff at times, but I questioned his aggressiveness. It has been interesting watch him mature and come into his own in that area. His ceiling is very high for the NFL and keeps rising. He’s playing up to his lofty ranking and having another great year to keep his status, a top-10 pick or so, intact.
Stats: Allen is third on the Eagles with 37 tackles including 10.5 stops for loss and six sacks, both team highs. He’s added five quarterback hurries and two forced fumbles.
Farrell’s take: Allen was a three-star prospect with good size and length but who played weak competition and wasn’t the explosive player you see now. He’s become one of the more well-rounded defensive linemen in the country and leads a very underrated defense. Allen is also high on the radar of NFL scouts but I think his athleticism and lack of ability to change direction has hurt his stock a bit and dropped him from the first round to the second.
Recruiting: Jackson committed to Miami at a junior day event along with high school teammate Cedrick Wright. His other close friend, Dionte Mullins, had already been a Miami pledge. Jackson said playing with his “brothers” in college was an important consideration.
Stats: So far this season, Jackson has totaled 27 tackles with nine stops for loss and he’s tied for the team lead with five sacks. Jackson also has an interception, two forced fumbles and five quarterback hurries.
Farrell’s take: Jackson was deciding between tight end and defensive end in high school and was a tough eval because he didn’t really dominate at either. However, based on his frame, build and explosive ability, we liked him enough to have him right outside our Rivals100. He had a high ceiling and is developing into the prospect many felt he could be as the NFL is noticing. However, he hasn’t had a great year and has slid when it comes to defensive end rankings for the draft.