Edge rushers dominate the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine
After analyzing key takeaways from the defensive backs at the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine, it’s time to turn our attention to the men who are tasked with making the DBs’ lives as easy as possible.
Here are the most important things to know from the combine performances of the 2022 NFL draft‘s edge rusher class, particularly as it pertains to the New York Jets.
Did Travon Walker add himself into the mix for the New York Jets?
Among the position’s biggest-name prospects, the star of the EDGE class at the combine was undoubtedly Georgia’s Travon Walker.
Possessing a big frame for the EDGE spot at 6-foot-5 and 272 pounds, Walker still put up some of the best times of any prospect at his position.
Walker ran the 40-yard dash in a ridiculous 4.51 seconds, ranking third-best among the EDGE class this year. It’s the fastest time we have ever seen from a player weighing over 270 pounds, beating the record of 4.55 held by USC’s Nick Perry (271 pounds) since 2012.
There’s a strong hit rate for players of Walker’s size who can run that fast. Of the six previous players who ran the 40 in 4.6 seconds or less while weighing at least 270 pounds, four of them lasted at least six seasons with the team that drafted them: Perry, Will Smith, Adarius Thomas, and Ziggy Ansah. Rashan Gary, a 2019 draftee, is on his way to joining them.
To boot, Walker ranked second in the class with a 6.89-second time in the three-cone drill. That’s the seventh-best time we have seen from a 270+ pound player, ranking one spot behind J.J. Watt (6.88).
Walker, who is the No. 26 overall prospect and No. 6 EDGE prospect on the consensus big board at NFL Mock Draft Database, was not getting much buzz as an option for the Jets with one of their two first-round picks (Nos. 4 and 10). But since his combine explosion, the Walker-to-the-Jets talk has begun to heat up a bit.
Play: 👉 the Jet X Offseason Simulator
Aidan Hutchinson shines in change-of-direction drills
Potential No. 1 pick Aidan Hutchinson didn’t wow anybody with his 4.74-second time in the 40-yard dash, but the Michigan product did blow people away with his times in the quickness drills.
Hutchinson (6-foot-7, 260 pounds) not only had the best three-cone time (6.73 seconds) and 20-yard shuttle time (4.15 seconds) of the EDGE class, but his 6.73-second three-cone time is the best ever recorded by a defensive lineman, and his shuttle time ranks seventh-best.
The only other 260+ pound players to be selected top-15 with a sub-6.90 time in the three-cone are Joey Bosa and J.J. Watt.
Kayvon Thibodeaux has a limited but impressive appearance
Oregon’s Kayon Thibodeaux was once considered the consensus No. 1 prospect but has since seen his stock drop a tad, leaving him as a possible candidate to slip to the Jets at No. 4.
Thibodeaux (6-foot-4, 254 pounds) only partook in two combine drills before calling it a day but he performed excellently in them. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.58 seconds and pumped out the most bench-press reps of any edge rusher that participated with 27.
Only three other 250+ pound players have hit both of those marks and been drafted in the top-15 (as Thibodeaux likely will be): Vernon Davis, DeMarcus Ware, and Dwight Freeney.
George Karlaftis has a solid showing
Purdue’s George Karlaftis is a likely first-round prospect (consensus big board: No. 11 OVR, No. 4 EDGE). While Karlaftis did not run the 40-yard dash or three-cone, he impressed in other areas.
The 6-foot-4, 266-pound Karlaftis posted a 121-inch broad jump (80th percentile all-time among EDGE), 4.36-second shuttle (66th percentile), and 38-inch vertical (91st percentile). It was a nice answer to some of the questions Karlaftis has faced about his athleticism.
Jermaine Johnson and David Ojabo jet through the 40
Rounding out the consensus top-six edge rushers in the 2022 class are Florida State’s Jermaine Johnson (No. 16 OVR, No. 5 EDGE) and Michigan’s David Ojabo (No. 9 OVR, No. 3 EDGE). Both players were outstanding in the 40-yard dash.
Ojabo’s 4.55-second time ranks at the 96th percentile all-time among edge rushers. He stands at 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds. Johnson’s 4.58-second time places at the 94th percentile. He checked in at 6-foot-5 and 254 pounds.
We also saw impressive broad jumps from Ojabo and Johnson. Johnson’s 125-inch leap places him at the 91st percentile among edge rushers. Ojabo posted a 121-inch jump, ranking at the 80th percentile.
This class is remarkably strong. It is overflowing with athletic freaks.
Amaré Barno is the underdog star of the Combine
Amaré Barno of Virginia Tech made a name for himself with a record-setting performance.
Barno (6-foot-5, 246 pounds) ran the 40-yard dash in 4.36 seconds, the best time ever recorded by a defensive lineman. He also had the best broad jump of the EDGE class at 131 inches.
On the consensus big board at NFL Mock Draft Database, Barno is currently the No. 146 overall prospect and No. 19 edge rusher. Look for a steady rise in the coming weeks.
Other notable 40-yard dash times for edge rushers
Here are some more notable 40 times for edge rushers (listed in parentheses is their rank on the NFL Mock Draft Database consensus big board):
- Sam Williams, Ole Miss (No. 95 OVR, No. 14 EDGE): 4.46 at 6-foot-4, 261lbs
- Boye Mafe, Minnesota (No. 77 OVR, No. 11 EDGE): 4.53 at 6-foot-4, 261lbs
- Nik Bonitto, Oklahoma (No. 63 OVR, No. 9 EDGE): 4.54 at 6-foot-3, 248lbs
- Myjai Sanders, Cincinnati (No. 61 OVR, No. 8 EDGE): 4.67 at 6-foot-5, 228lbs
- Kingsley Enagbare, South Carolina (No. 67 OVR, No. 10 EDGE): 4.87 at 6-foot-4, 258lbs
I have long thought Karlaftis is a great fit for the Jets, I believe Walker has passed him. He had been creeping up for me and now I see Walker as a priority, to the point I think he’s in play at #4. I have MAJOR concerns with Thibodeaux and to be honest some of the other smaller guys. The Jets’ run defense is horrible and I don’t think adding another glorified LB to play DE is the answer. They need a do-it-all 4-3 DE with size to set the edge and speed/power to rush the passer. They are adding Lawson, now add at legit DE and the DL will look a lot better.
I agree, I still think Karlaftis is very much in play, I feel like Jermaine Johnson stole all of the attention at the Senior Bowl and since then Karlaftis’ hype has died down for no reason besides other prospects shining as well. But I’m on the same page as you, I’d like to see a more well-rounded edge than a speedster. Lawson himself is a smaller, pass-game-centric guy, so if you add another one of those your run D is going to continue struggling.
Ekwonu at 4, Walker at 10. Upgrading both lines, incredible upside
Sanders 6’5 and 228 pounds ? Barno 246 pounds 4.36 is crazy, no one talking about Sam Williams 4.46 at 261 pounds