The 2019 edge class offers the Cleveland Browns a ton of options, including some who are getting overlooked to this point in the process.
In such a deep class of edge rushers, it’s not a surprise that a few players seem to be getting overlooked and the combine could be a place where they could really vault their prospects. The Cleveland Browns should continue adding to their defensive line and giving themselves additional pass rushing depth to keep players fresh, have additional scheme options and generate more pressure.
The four prospects mentioned here have good production and seem to be underrated or overlooked heading into this week. The fact they have done their job on the field gives them something to fall back on in the event their testing isn’t where they’d like it to be.
A great week could not only entrench the Browns interest in them, but also improve how evaluators look at them, forcing some to go back and find what they missed.
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Zach Allen, Boston College
- 47 solo tackles (9.7 percent), 15.5 tackles for loss (20.3 percent), 6 sacks (30 percent) in 2017.
It really feels as though Allen has fallen victim to not being flashy. He’s a dominant run defender first, but shows the ability to rush the passer, but doesn’t win with speed and quickness much. He’s not going to run the arc, ducking under an offensive tackle and kill the quarterback. Allen wins with power, hand usage and utilizes speed more as a changeup, catching opponents off guard with it.
Someone who legitimately has a case on his tape and production to be no worse than a second round pick could help himself with excellent athletic testing. And it seems as most people are expecting him to be mediocre in this area. He’s not likely to put up a blazing 40, but he might surprise some with his explosion and agility, reflecting his power and balance.
It’s possible that when his profile is finished that he ends up being similar to a player like Cam Jordan. His production profile and size are similar, so if he can match the athleticism, he becomes a really intriguing prospect for a team like the Browns.
Ben Banogu, TCU
- 42 solo tackles (7.7 percent), 18 tackles for loss (20.4 percent), 8.5 sacks (24.2 percent) in 2018.
Banogu is a player that has really fallen under the radar as of late, which may or may not mean anything. A lot of the talk has been about his teammate and defensive line mate, L.J. Collier, who some are projecting to be a late first round pick to the top 50. Collier is a fine player, but what makes it interesting is that Banogu was more productive.
He’s not a polished player by any stretch and that might be at the root of this. Collier flashes a jolting punch and disrupts plays, getting into the backfield. Banogu shows remarkable speed and quickness and seems to win on his superior physical skills rather than tried and true moves.
The combine seems like an event where Banogu will shine and could reinvigorate the energy with him heading towards the draft. Plenty of coaches will convince themselves they can teach a player how to be a better player, but can’t size and athleticism. And pretty or not, his production is good. The Browns can use more speed on the edge, giving them options on how to utilize their defensive linemen and particularly Myles Garrett.
Maxx Crosby, Eastern Michigan
- 31 solo tackles (6.6 percent), 19 tackles for loss (25 percent), 7.5 sacks (27.7 percent) in 2018.
Crosby is a lean, slippery pass rusher with quickness and burst to get to the quarterback. He looked rather ordinary on tape in terms of just how physically developed he is relative to a lot of other prospects in the class. So depending on the viewpoint, he’s underdeveloped or he’s got a lot of room to add muscle to his frame; maybe it’s both.
As a result, the first thing that will be interesting with him is what a few months have training have done for his physique. His raw speed will be interesting to see as well, but he should do really well when it comes to agility and change of direction.
Crosby seems underrated regardless of how he performs. A great week here and if he still doesn’t get his due, he could be a steal in the draft. This week may be what he needs to really get people’s attention and realize that he has good tape and his production is excellent.
D’Andre Walker, Georgia
- 23 solo tackles (5.8 percent), 11 tackles for loss (18.9 percent), 7.5 sacks (34 percent) in 2018. Did not play in team’s bowl game due to injury.
Walker appears to be slated to test with the linebacker group as opposed to the defensive line group. He had a great season topped off with his performance in the SEC Championship where he was fantastic against Alabama offensive tackle Jonah Williams.
Walker fits in this group, because despite a great season, he’s rarely talked about. Some of that is probably due to the fact that he missed both the bowl game and the Senior Bowl due to a groin injury and it’s a case of simply being out of sight, out of mind. It also doesn’t help that he played in the same conference as Josh Allen of Kentucky, Jachai Polite of Florida and Montez Sweat out of Mississippi State.
There is also some expectation that he’s not going to run fast. Assuming he does everything at the combine, he can use his pro day as a fall back as he’ll be another month out from the injury. It really seems like there’s no down side for him. A good day and people will be reminded of the fact that he was a very good pass rusher that played against great competition.