10. Chase Winovich
Winovich switched positions during his career at Michigan. He was originally a tight-end but became to an edge rusher during his junior season. After three years at the position, Winovich established himself as one of the best edge players in all of college football. He’s a much better defender against the run than he is at getting after the passer, which can be seen in his 43 career tackles for loss and only 18.5 sacks, but he can still be a high-quality rotational option in the NFL. Winovich would be a solid pick for any team in the middle rounds.
9. Brian Burns
After an explosive freshman campaign followed by a mediocre sophomore season, Burns bounced back in his junior year, recording 15.5 tackles for loss, ten sacks and three forced fumbles. He’s a fantastic athlete with a terrific motor and an above-average pass rushing skillset. However, the most glaring issue with him is his size. At 6’5″, 231 pounds it’s tough seeing him as an every-down edge rusher at the NFL level.
8. Oshane Ximines
Ximines is a small-school player that put up ridiculous numbers at the college level. In four seasons, he had 51 tackles for loss, 32.5 sacks, 12 passes defended and 11 forced fumbles. Ximines is not the most physically gifted on this list. In fact, he’s probably last in that area among these players. However, he’s a straight workhouse at getting after the passer and is very technically sound. There are questions regarding how high his ceiling is at the next level, but his work ethic along with his skill as a pass rusher should make him a quality rotational edge option at the very least.
7. Jaylon Ferguson
Ferguson is another small school product from Louisiana Tech that put up unparalleled college production. In four years he had 187 combined tackles, 67.5 tackles for loss and 45 sacks on his way to becoming Lousiana Tech’s all-time leader in sacks. That was enough to put him on NFL teams radar, but it was his performance at the Senior Bowl that has him shooting up draft boards. There’s a realistic chance Ferguson is now a first-round pick, but if he’s sitting there in the second round, he would be a steal for Atlanta.
6. Rashan Gary
Gary is an impressive prospect in terms of his size, speed, and athleticism. If you only watched his highlight tape, you might think he is a candidate to go #1 overall in the draft. However, is overall production at Michigan was nothing more than pedestrian, and he’s not in the same category of pure pass rushers as the three players in front of him. That said, Gary’s physical attributes will give him the opportunity to blossom into an elite defensive player in the right system.
5. Josh Allen
Many people may not know this, but it was Kentucky’s Josh Allen that won SEC Defensive Player of the year. And he did it by abusing everybody in his path. Allen had 88 combined tackles, 21.5 of them for loss and an absurd 17 sacks in 2018. At 6’5, 230 pounds he is undoubtedly best suited as a 3-4 outside linebacker, but his overall talent makes him a fit in any scheme.
4. Jachai Polite
Talk about a break out season. Polite went from playing in seven games last year and recording two sacks to starting in 13 games and racking up 19.5 tackles for loss, 11 sacks and six forced fumbles in 2018. He’s a little shorter than the premier prospects at the position, but obviously, that has not stopped him from being extremely productive. Polite is a natural pass rusher with a knack for sacking the quarterbacks and making plays. There’s a good chance he is available when the Falcons select with the 14th overall pick.
3. Clelin Ferrell
As far as college production goes, few can compare to that of Clelin Ferrell. In his final three seasons at Clemson, he had 50.5 tackles for loss, 27 sacks, and five forced fumbles. There are some concerns about whether he is as athletic as some of the other top prospects at his position, but he would be a valuable addition to the Atlanta defensive line in the middle of the first-round, if available.
2. Montez Sweat
Sweat’s a player that is going to be a riser as this process continues, and his rise began during the Reese’s Senior Bowl, where he was able to show off some of his ridiculous athleticism during drills. If God created an athlete, Sweat might be the perfect specimen. At 6’6″, 245 pounds with an 86.75 inch wingspan, Sweat ran the fastest time out of all the defensive lineman and linebackers at the Senior Bowl. His time would have even finished ninth out of the seventeen defensive backs that were there. He’s slightly undersized for the NFL at his position, but that’s about the only flaw on his resumé and one that can be fixed. The Falcons should be drooling over a prospect like Sweat given their inability to rush the passer, but I’d be surprised if he fell outside the top ten. That doesn’t mean Thomas Dimitroff couldn’t pull some strings to make it happen.
1. Nick Bosa
There’s no disputing this; Nick Bosa is the most NFL-ready player to enter the draft. It’s almost been a foregone conclusion since the end of last year after he recorded a ridiculous 16 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks that he would be the #1 overall selection in this draft. Bosa would be a dream fit for the Falcons pass rush, but there is no way Atlanta finds a way to move up and snag him.