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If the first player off the board isn’t a quarterback, it’s because some team fell in love with Myles Garrett the way many NFL draft analysts and college football fans have.

March 24, 2017

A premium has been placed on edge rushers for decades, but rarely have they been as coveted as they are now, and this draft class has a stockpile of standouts. We’ve combined defensive ends and pass-rushing outside linebackers into one group here, because the difference between 4–3 and 3–4 edge defenders is as narrow as ever.

Rank Player School Measurables
1 Myles Garrett Texas A&M 6' 4", 272 lbs.
2 Solomon Thomas Stanford 6' 2", 273 lbs.
3 Derek Barnett Tennessee 6' 3", 259 lbs.
4 Tim Williams Alabama 6' 3", 244 lbs.
5 Takkarist McKinley UCLA 6' 2", 250 lbs.
6 ​​Taco Charlton Michigan 6' 5", 277 lbs.
7 Charles Harris Missouri 6' 3", 253 lbs.
8 Carl Lawson Auburn 6' 2", 261 lbs.
9 T.J. Watt Wisconsin 6' 4", 252 lbs.
10 Derek Rivers Youngstown State 6' 4", 248 lbs.
11 Tarell Basham Ohio 6' 4", 269 lbs.
12 Tyus Bowser Houston 6' 3", 247 lbs.
13 Ryan Anderson​ Alabama 6' 2", 253 lbs.
14 Jordan Willis Kansas State 6' 4", 255 lbs.
15 DeMarcus Walker​ Florida State 6' 4", 280 lbs.
2017 NFL Mock Draft 9.0: The first three rounds should be dominated by defense

The 2017 edge group is comparable to the wide receivers in that there will be an abundance of talent waiting to be found even into Rounds 3, 4 and 5. Of course, most of the headlines will be written about the top prospects here, namely Garrett. He long has been locked in as the draft’s top prospect, and he proved why with a jaw-dropping combine performance. It should not take him long to be an impact playmaker off the edge at the next level.

Thomas, Williams, Barnett and McKinley all look for now as if they could crack the top 15, too. Thomas, for one, has been generating top-10 buzz. He can work off the edge but also has the power to create mismatches as an interior rusher.

Teams seeking out pure pass rushers could do worse than to pick through this group. Harris, Charlton, Watt, Rivers, and Bowser all are capable of developing into double-digit sack players, before much time passes. Anderson might be there, as well, though he offers value beyond specialist roles.