April 15, 2021   8 MIN READ

Ask Andrew: Rousseau, Paye or Oweh As Top Edge?


Two weeks stand between now and the commencement of the 2021 NFL Draft, yet many questions remain unanswered.

This week delivered an abundance of thought-provoking mailbag questions once again, covering a vast array of topics.

So, let’s get to it!

Miami product Gregory Rousseau is hoping to be the first pass rusher taken in the NFL Draft.

From Twitter: Jeff Gamber (@JeffGamber)
Q. Who is your #1 edge rusher in this draft? It seems like a difficult position to get a handle on.

A. Well, the obvious choice would be Miami’s Gregory Rousseau, given his freakish athletic traits. However, while Rousseau is 6 foot 7 and burst onto the scene with 15.5 sacks (19.5 TFLs) in 2019, that 13-game sample size is the only tape we have to evaluate. His collegiate experience is far too limited to feel comfortable forking over premier draft capital to acquire his services, in my opinion. Not to mention he’s still an immensely raw talent who must improve his play strength, add size to his frame, and develop his pass rush arsenal.

For me, it comes down to Michigan’s Kwity Paye or Penn State’s Jayson Oweh. Paye is a powerfully built, compact defensive lineman who offers positional versatility. He’s not what I would consider bendy or instinctual from a pass-rush standpoint, but is equipped with quick, active hands and the strength to anchor. Oweh is a far more explosive athlete who wins with fluidity, quickness, and burst. He’s still a bit raw and his pass-rush plan needs refinement. Long story short, this year is the first in which I can definitely say there’s no clear-cut, No. 1 edge rusher.

From Twitter: Doug (@ItsOnlyDoug)
Q. Why should I be excited about the 12 spot? It feels like Reagor/Barnett territory and so far that doesn’t blow me away. Sure, the drop in spots help next year, but we still have to get through this season first. Help me understand.

A. Well, you have every right to be skeptical. When it comes to prospect evaluation and identifying talent, the Eagles have sorely missed the mark over the years. However, if there’s a silver lining, the drop-off doesn’t really begin until after the 12th pick. The Eagles could feasibly have the option of selecting a top cornerback, the No. 2 rated offensive tackle or – depending on how the board falls – the No. 1 pass rusher. So, truth be told, the Eagles are still in position to add an impactful player despite dropping to 12. If it’s me calling the shots, I’m snagging Jaycee Horn without thinking twice.

From Twitter: calicopat (@calicopat)
Q. If the stars don’t align for a WR in the 1st, what WRs could we target in the 2nd (#37) or 3rd (#70 and #84)?

A. I certainly wouldn’t rule out the possibility of one of the Alabama wideouts, most likely Jaylen Waddle, tumbling a bit, but there will still be other opportunities to add a quality pass catcher on Day 2. Should they covet one at 37, LSU’s Terrace Marshall and Ole Miss’s Elijah Moore would be in the conversation. In fact, following his pro day, Marshall (6-3, 200) said he’s had multiple conversations with the Eagles. Moore is of an entirely different mold. The former Rebel boasts cat-like quickness and big-play ability but will likely be featured mostly in the slot at the next level. If the Eagles wait until 70th, they could be in play for UNC’s Dyami Brown, though his stock continues to skyrocket.

From Facebook: Chris Glover
Q: What do you think of Walker Little’s 2018 tape?!

A. I thought his 2018 tape was promising, but still, I didn’t see the consistency snap to snap. Also, it’s concerning that we have to point to 2018 for extensive footage. Due to the knee injury in 2019 and opt-out last season, he hasn’t seen live action in two years. He’s a fluid mover, athletic, and a tremendous pass blocker, but the lack of development is concerning. He strikes me as someone who will be over-drafted based on upside, though it’s not a move I’d make. There are other developmental tackles with a clean bill of health that are far more attractive.

From Facebook: Bj King-Mitchell
Q. What’s the most realistic draft pick at 12?

A. As I sit here answering on April 14, I’d say Jaycee Horn or Kwity Paye. Given the team’s longstanding history of prioritizing the trenches, however, I’m leaning Paye.

From Facebook: Leo Pien
Q. Hey Andrew, what are the most important physical tool and athletic testing numbers to look at for each position in your opinion? Like wingspan/3-cone for Edge, and arm-length/bench/20-yd shuttle for OL and maybe 40-yd dash for WR/CB I assume. What traits do you look first when scouting different positions?

A. That’s a great question, and one that I could easily spend an hour discussing.

To keep it short, I closely examine vertical jumps for wide receivers. While it’s a drill indicative of lower-body explosion, it also tends to translate to a wider catch radius. Forty times are important, but I try not to put too much stock in those. I’ll also look at the offense receivers are coming from. Is it simplistic? Is the route tree rudimentary? How did they handle physicality on the boundary? If you notice, many of the receivers who get off to slow starts at the next level are often plagued by at least one of those issues.
When I study edge rushers, I put a ton of stock in 3-cone drills, because it demonstrates burst, change of direction, balance, and body control. All vital components to becoming an effective pass rusher at the pro level.

When evaluating interior offensive linemen in a workout setting, the primary focus becomes lower body power and hip flexibility due to the demands of the position. Therefore, I look at the broad jump.

From Facebook: Richard Ricciuti
Q. With regards to Kwity Paye.. Does his lack of production concern you enough to not take him at #12 or does his athleticism/positional value warrant the pick?

A. Paye’s lack of production early in his career was more due to an influx of defensive talent at Michigan. The DE room was crowded in 2018 (Rashaan Gary, Chase Winovich), but I felt he was quite disruptive when he got his chance to turn it loose. I like his power, burst, and positional versatility, but I’m not sure I see him as a consistent double-digit sack artist at the pro level. As much as I like Paye as a prospect, it’s hard to justify taking him if, say, Jaycee Horn or Rashawn Slater are on the board. They would get better value selecting Pitt edge rushers Rashad Weaver or Patrick Jones at 70, in my opinion.

From Facebook: James Mullally
Q. Likelihood of going either Oline in round one or 2?? Clearly a lot of flashy corner or wr talent were all focused but any idea what the teams actual perception of Mailata, Driscoll, Dillard, Herbig etc is?? Lots of draft steals early in that regard if they wanted to shore it up.

A. I’m with you, James. I was of the belief that if Penei Sewell was there when the Eagles still had the sixth pick it was a no-brainer. Yes, the offensive line should be markedly improved with a healthy Brandon Brooks and Lane Johnson. However, when assessing the group under a microscope, there are legitimate concerns. Johnson is coming off a major ankle injury, and as dominant as Brooks has been, he’s also been plagued by injuries. Having them in the lineup is a luxury, but should hardly be counted on as stable, long-term options. Dillard has underwhelmed in his snaps and doesn’t strike me as anything more than a Halapoulivaati Vaitai-caliber player. Mailata was remarkable in his 10 starts and should be in a spirited training camp battle with Dillard for the LT spot.

So, there’s obviously depth concerns for a variety of reasons, and given the Eagles’ propensity to fortify the trenches with premium draft capital, there’s a distinct possibility that Rashawn Slater could be the pick at 12.

– Andrew DiCecco (@ADiCeccoNFL) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com.

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