Top 10 pass rushers in the 2021 NFL draft

University of Miami defensive end Gregory Rousseau wears the turnover chain during a 2019 game against Central Michigan. (Michael Laughlin/Sun Sentinel/TNS)
University of Miami defensive end Gregory Rousseau wears the turnover chain during a 2019 game against Central Michigan. (Michael Laughlin/Sun Sentinel/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

Here are the top 10 pass rushers in the NFL draft, which is set for April 29 to May 1 in Cleveland:

1. Kwity Paye, Michigan, 6-foot-4, 272 pounds (first round): In 2019, he was named second-team All-Big Ten after making 50 tackles, 12 for losses and 6.5 sacks. He was named a captain last season and earned honorable mention All-Big Ten after playing in four games. He missed two games because of injury.

2. Gregory Rousseau, Miami, 6-7, 255 (first/second): He played wide receiver, safety and defensive end in high school. He fractured his ankle as a freshman, but in 2019 he terrorized quarterbacks in the ACC as he finished second in the nation with 15.5 sacks. He was named first-team All-ACC. He opted out of last season.

3. Jaelen Phillips, Miami, 6-5, 266 (first/second): Teams will have medical concerns as he had an ankle injury, concussions and a wrist injury. He briefly retired at UCLA and then transferred to Miami after reconsidering. He earned second-team All-American status after finishing sixth in the FBS with 15.5 tackles for loss and had eight sacks to go with 45 tackles.

4. Jayson Oweh, Penn State, 6-5, 253 (first/second): He didn’t start playing football until his junior year in high school, but was still a top-100 recruit. He had five sacks in 2019 but did not record a sack in 2020, but was still voted first-team All-Big Ten by the league’s coaches.

5. Azeez Ojulari, Georgia, 6-3, 240 (first/second): Coming out of Marietta High, he was a four-star recruit. He redshirted after playing in three games as a reserve and maintained his eligibility. He led the Bulldogs with 5.5 sacks in 2019. He flashed his speed and power in 2020, with 12.5 tackles for loss and had 8.5 sacks. He was named second-team All-SEC.

Wake Forest defensive linemen Carlos Basham Jr. (18) and Sulaiman Kamara celebrate after sacking Towson quarterback Tom Flacco in the first half Sept. 9, 2018, in Winston-Salem, N.C. Basham was selected to The Associated Press All-Atlantic Coast Conference football team, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019. (Nell Redmond/AP)
Wake Forest defensive linemen Carlos Basham Jr. (18) and Sulaiman Kamara celebrate after sacking Towson quarterback Tom Flacco in the first half Sept. 9, 2018, in Winston-Salem, N.C. Basham was selected to The Associated Press All-Atlantic Coast Conference football team, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019. (Nell Redmond/AP)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

6. Ronnie Perkins, Oklahoma, 6-3, 247 (first/second): He projects as a 4-3 defensive end as a speed rusher in passing situations. During his Pro Day, he worked some drills as a 3-4 outside linebacker dropping into space. He turned some heads with a one-handed interception.

7. Joe Tryon, Washington, 6-5, 262 (first/second): Has the size, but has not shown the flexibility to bend the edge to get to the quarterback. He played strong at the point of attack.

8. Payton Turner, Houston, 6-6, 270 (first/second): He was named a team captain and led the Cougars with 10.5 tackles for loss and five sacks in five games.

9. Carlos Basham, Wake Forest, 6-5, 285 (first/second): He had at least one sack in 13 of his last 16 games played including one in all five games in 2020. He was named preseason second-team All-American by the Walter Camp Foundation. He had 112 quarterback pressures over his sophomore and junior seasons, the most by any returning Division I player, according to Wake Forest.

10. Rashad Weaver, Pittsburgh, 6-5, 270 (second/third): He turned in a monster 2020 season as he finished eighth in the FBS with 145 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks and had 35 tackles in nine starts. He was named first-team All-American by the Associated Press.

Best of the rest: Penn State’s Shaka Toney, Kansas State’s Wyatt Hubert, Coastal Carolina’s Tarron Jackson, Notre Dame’s Ade Ogundeji, Iowa’s Chauncey Golston and Northwestern’s Earnest Brown.

Teams in need: Falcons, Titans, Rams, Browns, Bengals and Seahawks.

Need area for Falcons: Yes. The Falcons have not had a double-digit sacker since Vic Beasley had 15.5 in 2016.

Top 5 edge rushers in 2022 draft: Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux, Purdue’s George Karlaftis, Ohio State’s Zach Harrison, Oklahoma’s Nikolas Bonitto and Tennessee’s Henry To’oto’o.

AJC’S POSITION-BY-POSITION SERIES

QUARTERBACKS: How far will Justin Fields drop in draft? | Top 10 QBs

RUNNING BACKS: Plenty of prospects to pick from | Top 10 RBs

WIDE RECEIVERS: Draft deep with talent | Top 10 WRs

TIGHT ENDS: Ability to create mismatches is key | Top 10 TEs

OFFENSIVE TACKLES: A ‘nasty’ bunch | Top 10 OTs

OFFENSIVE GUARDS/CENTERS: The men in the middle | Top 10 C/OGs

Falcons’ 2021 draft position: Here are the top 10 picks in D. Led’s Mock Draft 4.0:

1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence (QB, Clemson)

2. New York Jets: Zach Wilson, (QB, BYU)

3. San Francisco 49ers: Justin Fields (QB, Ohio State)

4. Atlanta Falcons: Penei Sewell (OT, Oregon)

5. Cincinnati Bengals: Ja’Marr Chase (WR, LSU)

6. Miami Dolphins: Kyle Pitts (TE, Florida)

7. Detroit Lions: DeVonta Smith (WR, Alabama)

8. Carolina Panthers: Jaylen Waddle (WR, Alabama)

9. Denver Broncos: Trey Lance (QB, North Dakota State)

10. Dallas Cowboys: Patrick Surtain (CB, Alabama)

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