DeaconsIllustrated - NFL Draft: Top five defensive ends
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NFL Draft: Top five defensive ends

Gregory Rousseau
Gregory Rousseau (USA Today Sports Images)

The NFL Draft will be a bit different this year without a combine but the scouting must go on and evaluations are as important as ever with millions on the line. Here’s a look at my top five defensive ends heading into March and a few sleepers to keep an eye on.

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1. GREG ROUSSEAU, Miami

Rousseau opted out of the season and some feel that may lead to a slide but to me he’s still the best edge rusher in this draft and has the numbers to show it.

Possible teams: Miami Dolphins, Detroit Lions, New York Jets

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2. KWITY PAYE, Michigan

Paye is an athletic freak and, based on his ceiling, he could be the first edge rusher off the board if a franchise wants to trade up into the teens. His speed for his size is ridiculous.

Possible teams: LA Chargers, Las Vegas Raiders, Atlanta Falcons

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3. JAELAN PHILLIPS, Miami

Phillips medically retired at one point so some franchises could be cautious, but anyone that watched his tape from last year will want pull the trigger in the first or second rounds.

Possible teams: Tennessee Titans, Buffalo Bills, NY Giants, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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4. AZEEZ OJULARI, Georgia

Ojulari is a natural edge rusher who some view as a linebacker and others see him at defensive end. His hybrid ability could land him at the end of the first round or top of the second.

Possible teams: Tennessee Titans, Baltimore Ravens, Arizona Cardinals, New York Jets

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5. RONNIE PERKINS, Oklahoma

I like Perkins better than many and love the way he handles contact and keeps his balance in traffic against the run. He would be a steal in the second round.

Possible teams: Dallas Cowboys, a Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Seattle Seahawks

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SLEEPERS

Oweh is an athletic player and a physical specimen but his lack of sack production is a bit of a concern. He’s a developmental pick for a franchise, perhaps as high as the second round.

Possible teams: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans, New York Jets

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Basham Jr. has a great resume and some have him as high as No. 3 as an edge rusher so he could end up selected in the first two rounds.

Possible teams: Tennessee Titans, Green Bay Packers, Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions

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Tryon opted out last season but neared double-digit sacks in 2019 and is a polarizing prospect. He could slide or land at the end of the first round.

Possible teams: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Green Bay Packers, LA Chargers

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