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2019 NFL Draft Colts prospects | Top 5 Defensive Ends

Breaking down the Top-5 defensive ends in the draft

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Texas Christian Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Colts run a 4-3 Tampa-2 Defensive Scheme. Personnel-wise, this scheme targets:

  • 2 Safeties that can cover deep down the field
  • 3 corners playing zone
  • An athletic WILL linebacker that can cover Tight Ends and has sideline-to-sideline speed
  • A MIKE linebacker that quarterbacks your defense
  • A run-stopping thumper at your SAM spot.
  • A 0-tech, tends to be your biggest linemen and demands double teams
  • A 3-tech, which tends to take advantage of the 1v1s he gets thanks to the 0-tech
  • Pass rushing Defensive Ends.

Since this class is so deep at Defensive End, I wanted to take a look at the Top-5 prospects to see what makes them successful and what we need to do to get them in a Colts uniform.

Nick Bosa, DE Ohio State University:

Nick Bosa, little brother of Joey Bosa, is widely considered the unanimous number one overall pick. He has the prototypical size at 6’4’’ and 260 pounds to go along with insane hand placement and technique. His pure pass-rushing skills are pristine and he seems to be continually developing as his sack number increased each season (5.0, 8.5) and his junior year he was in line to get 16 sacks (4.0 in 3 games) until he suffered a core injury versus TCU on Sept. 14th.

His timetable seemed to be around 12 weeks, but his dad alluded that it might take longer because “There are timeframes for injuries, and then timeframes for an elite pass rusher. It’s not about rehabbing so you can be back on the used car lot or be a mechanic. When is he able to be safe and play at the same level?”. For that reason, Nick Bosa dropped out of school and began to dedicate himself full-time to his recovery, preparation for the Combine, and the NFL Draft as a whole.

Some questioned his dedication and love of football, as Tim Tebow went on air saying “For me, what I would do? I would wait, I would get healthy, and if my team was in the playoff, I’m going to compete with my team”. All in all, Nick Bosa is a well-rounded player that can rush the passer and get into the backfield (average of 15.6 TFL per year, considering projected TFL junior year), so he will have no problem going early in the first round.

Realistically, for Bosa to slide to the Colts there would have to be unforeseen health concerns, and so far he seems to be on schedule for a full recovery and participating in the draft. Therefore, the Colts would probably have to mortgage the house to move up far enough to take him. According to the Jimmy Johnson Valuation Model, the Colts would have to trade the 26th, 34th, 59th, and a first and second next year (25th and 57th considering the colts are ranked #7 in “Way too early power rankings” by ESPN). And while 2 firsts and 3 seconds resemble an abundant amount, consider the Colts got 1 first and 3 seconds and they only moved down 3 spots. The Cardinals would be moving down 25.

Rashan Gary, DE Michigan

Coming out of high school, Rashan Gary was ranked higher than anyone else on this list. However, he was unable to put all the tools together. At 6’5’’ and about 280 pounds, Gary seems to have the measurements of an inside lineman, but his freak athleticism makes him a talented outside force. His sack numbers (0.5, 5.5, 3.5) and TFL (5.0, 11.5, 6.5) are not outstanding, and his film show flashes of the player he could be, but as of now, he is wildly inconsistent. As is his draft status.

Most agree that he will be a top 15 pick just because of the fact that he could be lethal if he is able to maximize his talent. As of now, Gary, in my opinion, seems to be on the lower end of the spectrum, around the 8-12 range (however, some people have him going as high as #4 to the Raiders). For the 10th overall pick, the Colts would have to trade a similar amount as to what they would have to do for Bosa, except they would get a fourth rounder back. It would look something like: 10th, and 105th for 26th, 34th, 90th, and a future 2nd.

Another “hypothetical” would be trading 26th and a future 1st for the 10th overall pick. This would fall in line with the Texans-Browns trade in 2017 where the Browns gave up the 12th overall pick for the 25th and a future first (4th). Unlike trading for Bosa, I wouldn’t seriously consider this swap due to the fact that Gary is a riskier selection who has a higher chance of busting.

Clelin Ferrell, DE Clemson

While Dexter Lawrence and Christian Wilkins are great players, Ferrell is probably the highlight of the 3 ultra-talented Clemson Defensive Linemen. His size, 6’5’’ and 260 pounds, along with his strength and long arms, have enabled him to produce at a high level (3-year stats: 27.0 sacks, 50 TFL, 166 total tackles). He has the makings of a Ballard prototype, although some areas of his game, like stunting, which the Colts run quite often, seem to require refinement.

It is also important to bring up that some of his stats, especially sacks, are somewhat inflated because of the fact that he played with 2 other first-round picks. This permitted him to enjoy more 1v1 matchups and there were times when his go-to move, lowering the shoulder and utilizing his left arm to create distance between him and the lineman, would fail and he would be left stalling around. In many of these cases, either Wilkins or Lawrence would create pressure on the quarterback and Ferrell would just wrap up the fleeing passer. I think Ferrell goes a little bit after Gary, in the 10-15 range, and the Colts would have to use up a similar amount of draft capital to obtain him.

Montez Sweat, DE Mississippi State:

If Deebo Samuel won Senior Bowl MVP, then Montez Sweat won the runner- up. Many had pegged Sweat as a late first-rounder going in the early twenties, but after a strong Senior Bowl, Sweat looks to be taken in mid first round.

Before we look more into Montez Sweat the player, I wanted to look back at his story. In high school, he was a large, rangy Tight End, that didn’t produce great numbers but still got a plethora of scholarship offers. In the end, he converted to Defensive End and enrolled in Michigan State University, where he struggled to find minutes and seemed to be buried down the depth chart. He dropped out and went to a Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Mississippi where he solidified himself as one of the top JUCO prospects in the country and eventually decided to join the nearby Mississippi State Bulldogs.

Because he only played one game his freshman year, and I won’t consider the JUCO stats, we only have two years of material on Montez Sweat. Two years of dominating college football’s hardest conference. In these two years, he compiles 20 sacks, 30 tackles for a loss (2nd in the country in this span), and 105 total tackles.

Montez Sweat does have a few negatives, as draft experts think that he gets off the line of scrimmage a little too tall and it affects his bend, plus his height (6’6’’) doesn’t seem to match his weight (240 pounds) and some analysts want him to gain some lower level strength. Nonetheless, I think his insane athleticism, along with his work ethic, will allow him to test well in the Combine and his story will certainly stand out during the interviews.

Brian Burns, DE Florida State

To be truthful, I had a bit of a dilemma on whether to select Jachai Polite or Brian Burns because they both seem to be in the Colts range and they have similar production. Polite had a better year, all stats considered, and many scouts are raving about his potential. That being said, I tend to gravitate towards players that have a track record of consistency, and Burns had a steady sack (8.5, 4.5, 10.0) and TFL (9.5, 13.5, 15.5) production in his three years at FSU while Polite was less uniform in sacks (2.0, 2.0, 11.0) and TFL (3.5, 5.5, 19.5).

When using your first round pick the ideal player would have a high floor and a high ceiling so they can come in and compete immediately but also improve with time. Burns can do just that. He also reminds me of another player in this draft class, Montez Sweat, in that his height and weight are almost identical and they both have very similarly explosive ways to play. Thanks to his instincts, he often seems to know where the ball is going and constantly avoids getting beaten by play-action or sweeps, Burns would fit right into the Colts 4-3 scheme where he is enabled to just get after it and not worry about reads too much.

Honorable mentions:

Jachai Polite DE, Florida

Jaylon Ferguson, DE Louisian Tech

Chase Winovich, DE Michigan

Charles Omenihu, DE Texas

Oshane Ximines, DE Old Dominion


This class is very deep with talented defensive players who could have a considerable impact at the next level. They all have great capabilities, each unique in their own way, whether it’s their athleticism, their technique or their motor, and we should be happy to have any of them wearing the white and blue. Overall, I think the best course of action, would be to stay put and either hope one of the higher ranked players slides down or take someone like Brian Burns at 26.


Which group to look at next?

This poll is closed

  • 49%
    Wide Receiver
    (324 votes)
  • 25%
    Corner Back
    (165 votes)
  • 8%
    (53 votes)
  • 2%
    Tight End
    (19 votes)
  • 0%
    (1 vote)
  • 5%
    Offensive Tackles
    (33 votes)
  • 8%
    (53 votes)
  • 1%
    Running Back
    (12 votes)
660 votes total Vote Now