Howdy folks! After my initial article this season on runningbacks and tight ends, I return to more familiar territory for me: The Front Seven. Let me tell you, this Draft class was loaded with talent, and I wanted to go more than 8-deep, but because I didn’t want this to be too long, I stuck with the 8 I see as having the most impact this season. Yes, they are all first rounders, but after all, teams are built in the trenches, so it only makes sense that the draft was loaded with talented pass rushers, edge setters, and solid tacklers. Most of these names will not surprise you, but, if I am in dynasty leagues, I would be all over most of these names, as most will make immediate impacts on the field and in fantasy due to their intangibles and ability to make plays, via the sack or stuffing the run.
Nick Bosa (1-2/S.F.)- Not as fluid as his older brother, Joey, Nick brings a much needed pass rush threat to a defense that was appalling all-around last season. Bosa is quick of blocks and pursues very well, leading to high tackle for loss and a decent sack clip. Switching gears quickly should enable him to pursue and bring down the ballcarrier. He plays with a high motor and is hard to stop. Easy to see him being front-runner for Defensive Rookie of the Year Awards.
Clelin Ferrell (1-4/OAK)- Oakland was dead last in sacks last season. Ferrell is first off the ball, and although he was a reach at 4, is a phenomenal fit for the Raiders defensive scheme and immediately upgrades their DE core. With a good power rush, staying low, with powerful, violent hands, he will be hard for guards to deal with and he will force the issue in the backfield. He will need to work on shedding tacklers and avoiding angled guards, but has all the ingredients to post 5-6 sacks with a decent tackle for loss total his rookie season.
Rashan Gary (1-12/GB)- A powerful run defender, with good speed, in the Packers 3-4 base defense, Gary was a must for the Pack considering the uncertainty of Muhammad Wilkerson’s return. Although, with his skillset, Gary could also see time at outside linebacker. Playing with speed and power out of a solid base enables him to pursue the ballcarrier, and he still has still not fully tapped into his potential as a pass rusher. If he could learn to use his hands as a pass rush tool, he could be the Pack’s answer at one of the DE positions for the next decade and oozes with potential.
Devin White (1-5/T.B.)- In Todd Bowles 3-4 defense, White will step in and play inside linebacker, but he is underestimated as a pass rusher. He is not a household name as a pass rusher by any means, but his pursuit of the ball, low to ground torso, and stay low approach to the game could make him a sneaky source of tackles for loss and potentially some sacks. He fights for the ball, and will latch onto runningbacks until he pries it loose. He is not a household name yet, in Tampa Bay, but he could quickly become one if he is able to excel next to David.
Devin Bush (1-10/PIT)- The Steelers traded up in the draft to get their linebacker cornerstone for the next decade. A tad bit undersized for the weakside outside linebacker (WILL) position, Bush will be fine as he plays aggressively, understands the game and attacks the ball. He disengages quickly enough to challenge passes, has shown the ability to drop in coverage, and plays sideline to sideline. Add in the fact that he could be underutilized as a pass rusher, and this was a ballsy, but potentially franchise changing pick for the Steelers as they await Ryan Shazier to return from a spinal injury.
Josh Allen (1-7/JAX)- Allen, at times struggled to set the edge versus tackles in college, but can disengage from tight ends and, with experience could turn into a good edge setter. Able to mirror tight ends downfield, he also eyes the ballcarrier and has above average pass rush skills. While he may not be a three down starter immediately for the Jaguars, his flexibility, motor, understanding of the game and quickness off the block make him ideal candidate to post a decent sack and tackle for loss clip in his rookie season in Jacksonville.
Quinnen Williams (1-3/NYJ)- The Jets needed to revamp the interior of their defensive line, and Williams will help immensely. Able to take on double teams, explode out of his stance and use his hands and legs, he gets to the quarterback quickly and sets the tone for the interior of the defensive line. His ability to diagnose and proactively react to plays means he will be able to surprise offensive lines with quickness, violence, and technique. He takes on tackles and blockers well. The only question with him is can he improve his technique when attacking runningbacks downhill.
Ed Oliver (1-9/BUF)- Oliver has an elite first step and will immediately fill in the gap left by Kyle Williams. A good run stopper, he has not tapped into his potential as a pass rusher, but with practice, could perfect his craft. Early on, his ability to disrupt gaps will lead to him being around the ball, and being able to create opportunities for others. He will post a good number of tackles for loss and gets under the pad level of blockers well. Where he will need to improve is in his ability to convert his explosiveness into more sacks.
Until next time y’all, stay cool in the summer heat, enjoy the sports we have, and above all else, stay active on the site. It’s already over 90 degrees here in Atlanta, so I’m going to be on the couch, sipping cold beverages as often as possible over the next few months. I look forward to entertaining and educating everyone on the Front Seven this season, and competing with some of you in MLFF leagues. Good luck to all, the season cannot commence quickly enough.