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2019 NFL Combine Scouting Preview/Ranking: DE (non-EDGE)

Air Date:
February 24, 2019

For the weeks leading up to the NFL Combine event (late Feb.), I go through preview tape of all the prospects attending/invited and give a quick reaction grade and a few sentences on what I’m seeing – a quick guide, of sorts, of what we’re focusing on watching at the event.

It’s a quick eye-test reaction, and grading/scouting typed in pencil. The NFL Combine measurables can/do change things radically for some of the prospects…there’s always a nice (or disappointing) surprise or ten.

After the 2019 NFL Combine results are in, we can load all the results into our computer scouting models to marry up with our performance analytics -- and then start our detailed studies on the top prospects and computer-model sleepers at each position.

Every day for the two weeks leading up to the 2019 NFL Combine we will release another positional preview of the prospects, ranked by our early grades applied.

Today’s group: DE prospects (not EDGE DEs)

Tomorrow’s planned group: OLB prospects (not EDGE DEs)

2019 NFL Combine Scouting Preview/Ranking: DE (non-EDGE)

DE John Cominsky, Charleston (6’5”/285) *Preview Scouting Grade: D-

I don’t get it. A low-level college DE, with an NFL body and athleticism, had 2.5 sacks last season and 6.5 sacks for a career high. What are we supposed to do with that? Cominsky was at the Senior Bowl, but I don’t even really remember anything about his time there. I don’t see that anything great for the NFL is happening here.

DE Kevin Givens, Penn State (6’1”/285) *Preview Scouting Grade: D

Has a nice build. A little small for a DT, which is what he played for PSU…too slow for a 3-4 DE. Givens might have a hard time finding his spot in the NFL. He’s a bit too slow and stiff to my eye, and that’s as an undersized DT. If added weight he’s be in trouble even more with his foot speed.

DE Charles Omenihu, Texas (6’5”/274) *Preview Scouting Grade: D+/C-

Has the size, but the speed/athleticism is more ‘OK’ for him off the edge. He might be fine as a 3-4 DE, or a little too small for it…or, as a 4-3 DE, be a bit too slow. He might be in a no man’s land of trying to find his place in the NFL…a ‘tweener’ without a real home.

DE Jonathan Ledbetter, Georgia (6’4”/277) *Preview Scouting Grade: C-/C

Ledbetter looks like a really good athlete as a 4-3 DE quick feet, nice size. However, then you look and see 4.5 sacks in 36 games at Georgia and wonder ‘what happened?’ Everything is here but production. We need to see if the Combine helps or hurts him, because his college production isn’t helping.

DE Anthony Nelson, Iowa (6’6”/271) *Preview Scouting Grade: C-/C

Not that fast of foot but is strong with long arms/big reach. He makes plays. He gets past blockers with power and using his hands/arms to move people out of the way. His foot-speed may be too much of an issue to overcome but he has some tools to be a decent/good 3-4 DE. If he tests poorly at the Combine, he’s going to fall to a ‘D’ grade prospect quickly.

DE L.J. Collier, TCU (6’2”/272) *Preview Scouting Grade: C+

Tough one to scout. Watching him at the Senior Bowl, he’d look amazing one play and then struggle the next play or drill. At the first practice, he was one of the best/most captivating DLs of the day…at the third (of 3) practice he was a ghost and getting blocked out of everything.

I think Collier looks great as an undersized, speedy DT…which translates to so-so 3-4 DE prospect. Some see him as a DE, some at DT. He’s showed something…something worth drafting in the NFL, but at what position and how effective – we’ll see. He’s a perplexing, but interesting prospect.

DE Zach Allen, Boston College (6’5”/285) *Preview Scouting Grade: C+

Like a poor man’s Carl Nassib…not super-athletic, but athletic enough and just uses great technique and effort to make plays. Easy to overlook, like Nassib was, but then you see in a few years he’s a highly productive pro DE. He’s not as gifted as Nassib, but Allen’s pretty solid.

DE Isaiah Buggs, Alabama (6’3”/294) *Preview Scouting Grade: C+

Looks like a clone of Jonathan Allen, only a bit quicker. Looks like he’ll be seen as a 3-4 DE prospect, but could be grabbed as a 4-3 DT as well…a pretty nimble 4-3 DT. He looks like a solid player but also benefited from the stacked Alabama defense. Saw a little too many times where it seemed like he was loafing. Not as high-energy/effort as you’d like, on tape. Might crank it up for the next level like some Alabama DLs do (because Alabama toys with weaker opponents most of the college season). Solid player, not sure how high his ceiling is.

DE Rashan Gary, Michigan (6’3”/280) *Preview Scouting Grade: C+/B-

He’s going to be a 3-4 DE in the NFL, and probably an OK one but I see some red flags here. The Combine might flush some of the problems out – like, he looks top heavy/thinner bottom half…and NFL scouts don’t like that. The reason…concerns about his leg drive ability. He’s quick enough for sure, but he may have a weak vertical and broad jump (or not) to further the lower body concerns.

On tape, I see a guy spilling out his energy to get to the QB but didn’t show many moves…just tries to outrun or push a blocker back, but when better blockers have him he runs out of steam quickly and is easy to contain. If Gary was a force of nature, he should’ve had more than 3.5 sacks in 2018 or 5.5 in 2017.

Size and speed are there, but the rest is up for debate.

DE Dre’Mont Jones, Ohio State (6’3”/283) *Preview Scouting Grade: C+/B-

His preview tape can be deceiving because (what I saw) he was playing 4-3 DT…and he’s a very quick DT at 283 pounds – big dude that can move. I don’t know that he’ll be a 4-3 DT in the NFL at that size. He might be a 3-4 DE…and he’d be OK there, but I didn’t see any ‘wow’ ability in him. He just looks like a legit NFL athlete – add 10-pounds and have an interesting DT on your hands. Drop 10 pounds and add more muscle and he might be a heckuva 3-4 DE for the pros. There is upside here…and risk.

DE Joe Jackson, Miami, Fla. (6’5”/258) *Preview Scouting Grade: B/B+

I have always liked his game from the first time I previewed him in summer 2018. I thought he might be better than Nick Bosa as a 4-3 DE, but the more I look…I can’t go there. Jackson is good/promising but Bosa has more chance to be special.

Jackson is a natural-looking 4-3 DE pass rusher. He has good technique for getting to the backfield and nice reach. He’s an NFL starter, but the Combine will tell us if ‘good’ or ‘great’ is on the table.

DE Nick Bosa, Ohio State (6’4”/263) *Preview Scouting Grade: A

Better than brother Joey in every way. I bet he comes in faster and more agile at the NFL Combine. On tape, Nick is far superior to Joey. His brother, Joey, just tries to sack the QB every play from the weak-side. Nick is a menace against left tackles and double teams and gets to ballcarriers, not just/only chases QBs. He’s a guaranteed ROI player for the 2019 NFL Draft.

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About R.C. Fischer

R.C. Fischer is an NFL Draft analyst for College Football Metrics, and a football projections analyst and writer for Fantasy Football Metrics. 

Learn more about RC and the College Football Metrics system >>