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Ravens Will Have 'Boom Or Bust' Edge Rushers to Pick From in Draft

Left: EDGE Jaelan Phillips; Right: EDGE Kwity Paye
Left: EDGE Jaelan Phillips; Right: EDGE Kwity Paye

With four outside linebackers as pending free agents, the Ravens have a lot of moving pieces at the position.

But one thing the Ravens can count on, regardless of who or how many edge defenders they lose, is that there will be plenty of talented pass rushers available early in the draft. The trick for any team will be picking the right one.

"I do think any of the pass rushers you look at all come with some concern that gives you a little bit of a boom-bust question mark there," ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. said this week.

Here are some of the prospects Kiper pointed to as late first-round or early second-round edge rushers:

Kwity Paye, Michigan

He has ideal size for the Ravens' system at 6-foot-4, 272 pounds, has freakish athletic tools and versatility to play defensive end or stand-up outside linebacker. However, he didn't post eye-popping production (6.5 sacks as a junior and two sacks in four games as a senior). It just may take a little more time for him to fully develop. "He should test tremendously well. I love the intensity he plays with," Kiper said.

Gregory Rousseau, Miami

Standing in at 6-foot-7, Rousseau's length immediately jumps out. So did his freshman production with 15.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss. But after opting out of his sophomore year, the tape is limited and he is now more of a projection. Rousseau doesn't show great burst off the snap but uses his hands well and closes quickly with that long frame.

Jaelan Phillips, Miami

Another big-bodied Miami defender, Phillips stepped in for Rousseau in 2020 and picked up where he left off with eight sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss in 10 games. He shows a strong all-around game in pass rush and run defense and stands in at 6-foot-5, 266 pounds. There are question marks, however, after concussions led the former No. 1-overall high school recruit and UCLA Bruin to medically retire for a year before returning, and starring, at Miami.

"I'm not as high on Gregory Rousseau as some people are. I actually like Phillips better, but Rousseau may [be drafted] a little ahead of him," Kiper said.

Zaven Collins, Tulsa

Collins is more of a tweener between inside and outside linebacker than a pure edge, but that versatility can also make him more desirable. In just eight games, he had four sacks and four interceptions, including two returned for touchdowns. He's very big for an off-ball linebacker at 6-foot-4, 260 pounds, yet fast and excellent in coverage. That combination is rare for his position.

"He was making tackles all over the field, getting into the backfield. He wasn't a sack artist, but he was a rangy guy," Kiper said.

Azeez Ojulari, Georgia

Ojulari checks just about every box except size, and he uses that to his advantage. At 6-foot-3, 240 pounds, Ojulari doesn't have the size of some of the other edge defenders in this group, but still plays with plenty of power and explosion. His flashes run defense potential, but at his core, Ojulari is a pass rush specialist somewhat in the mold of Yannick Ngakoue. He dominated his competition as an edge rusher, including some of his most talented foes.

Jayson Oweh, Penn State

With 6-foot-5, 252-pound length and bulk and plenty of explosiveness, Oweh is one of the most intriguing prospects in the class. The head-scratcher is that despite those great traits, he didn't log a single sack in seven games last season and posted just seven sacks over his three seasons.

Joe Tryon, Washington

Another 2020 opt-out, Tryon will enter the draft with a resume featuring a strong sophomore season in which he posted 41 tackles, 12.5 for loss and eight sacks. He has great size at 6-foot-4, 251 pounds, scheme versatility, and a well-rounded attack. Tryon plays with a lot physicality and effort. However, he has had just one full season as a college starter.

Joseph Ossai, Texas

Ossai is another polished pass rusher at 6-foot-4, 250 pounds with many tools in his belt and can line up in a variety of spots. A Nigerian immigrant who found football late, Ossai became a well-liked and respected leader at Texas.

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