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NFL Draft: Breaking Down Big Ten Edge Rushers at the Senior Bowl

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NFL Draft: Breaking Down Big Ten Edge Rushers at the Senior Bowl

2020-01-23 13:59:341 Oct 2018 01:53 AM EST

 

-by Daniel Mogollon, Staff Writer; Image: Wisconsin linebacker Zach Baun. (Image Source: Dan Sanger/Getty Images)

Here’s a snapshot of the four edge rushers from the Big Ten who have accepted an invitation to Saturday’s Senior Bowl:

Top Prospect:

OLB Zach Baun, Wisconsin (6’2 ½”/240)

Hand: 9 5/8”; Arm: 32 1/8”; Wingspan: 78”

An underachiever early on in his career, Baun really broke out in 2019 with a fabulous senior season as an edge rusher for the Badgers. A little light in the pants, Baun makes up for it with elite athleticism. He’s a top-notch pass rusher with a quick first step and the ability sift through traffic in the trenches. Baun is also capable of dropping back in coverage and could be a 3-4 WILL. Considered by many to be the top B1G prospect in Mobile, he has a chance to sneak into the first round.     

2019 Stats: 71 tackles, 19.5 TFL, 12.5 sacks, 1 INT, 3 PD, 2 FF

High Ceiling:

EDGE Josh Uche, Michigan (6’1 3/8”/241)

Hand: 9 ½”; Arm: 33 ¼”; Wingspan: 79 7/8”

Not a full-time player at Michigan, Uche made a name for himself with his production on passing downs as an edge rusher. He was the Wolverines best pass rusher over the past two seasons. Uche’s versatility made him a valuable asset and he projects is a standup outside linebacker at the next level. Uche has an impressive wingspan with the athleticism to play in space, get after the quarterback, as well as drop in coverage. He’s also flashed his power at Senior Bowl practices.

2019 Stats: 35 tackles, 11.5 TFL, 8.5 sacks, 2 PD, 2 FF

High Floor:

EDGE Kenny Willekes, Michigan State (6’3 ¾”/252)

Hand: 9 ¾”; Arm: 31 ¼”; Wingspan: 78 ¼”

While he’s listed as an edge defender by the Senior Bowl, Willekes appears to be a pure defensive end, who was as productive as any player outside of Chase Young with his hand on the ground in the Big Ten over the past two seasons. His production is first-round worthy. I’m not sure if he’s going to be a double-digit sack guy in the NFL, but scouts have to love his motor and work ethic. Willekes brings a combination of toughness and explosiveness that will make him a contributor.

2019 Stats: 78 tackles, 16 TFL, 10.5 sacks, 2 FR, 2 FF

Underrated:

DE Carter Coughlin, Minnesota (6’3 ¼”/234)

Hand: 9 ¼”; Arm: 31 ¼”; Wingspan: 76 ¼”

The Minnesota defender seems to be the consensus fourth among the Big Ten’s four edge defenders in Mobile. Maybe because he’s not coming off his best season numbers wise, as Coughlin produced more sacks as a sophomore (6.5 sacks) and a junior, when he led the Gophers with 9.5 sacks, 15 TFL, and four forced fumbles. The questions regarding his ability to play on the edge are his lack of size and strength. But his athleticism, explosiveness, quickness, and lateral agility make him intriguing.

2019 Stats: 49 tackles, 9.5 TFL, 4.5 sacks, 4 PD, 2 FF

Daniel Mogollon is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America. He is also a voter for the Thorpe, Maxwell, Bednarik, and the Rotary Lombardi Awards, as well as the Latino Sports MVP Awards. You can reach him via email: danmogollon@gmail.com.                       

 
 

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