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College Edge Rushers the Bears Should Keep an Eye on

Well Bears fans, many things have changed since my last draft article came out. The team got a guy named Khalil Mack on the team, who has made quite a difference for this Bears team, to say the least.

The Bears will not have a first or second round pick next year thanks to the Khalil Mack and Anthony Miller trades, so wipe away the dreams of getting Nick Bosa.

Still, Ryan Pace has pulled plenty of gems out from the middle and late rounds of the draft, so Bears fans should still be paying attention to some draft prospects. This draft class could have some great value picks, so I am mainly looking at guys who are being mocked to go in the middle rounds, and it’s not all about needs, as it is more important to make sure to get the proper talent given the pick.

I knew a lot about the edge rushers coming into this year because I was expecting the Bears to use a top pick on one before we got Mack. This doesn’t mean that it’s not possible to grab one in the middle rounds. Edge rusher is one of those positions where you cannot have too many of them, and getting another great one in the rotation could make this defense even more deadly.

Darrell Taylor Tennesse

Darrell Taylor was a guy that I thought was underrated a bit coming into the season. That is likely because he has not been a flashy pass rusher. He has proven to be  a guy who is going to be involved in the run game.

He has had a relatively quiet season, until his last game, when he had a three sack and two forced fumble performance against the run-heavy Georgia Bulldogs.

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He’s consistently a good run stopper , whereas he has been viewed as a much less consistent pass rusher. That three-sack performance may show that he can do more in the pass rush than we previously thought. In that Georgia game, he showed some great pass rush moves that would translate into the pros. The guy plays with fire, proven by one of my favorite college football videos ever.


Taylor could end up as a good value, and he is one to watch for the rest of the college season, as he could be an interesting addition to the edge rusher rotation next season.

Oshane Ximenes Old Dominion

Ryan Pace loves his small school prospects, and when looking at Division I football, there is not a lot smaller than Oshane Ximenes from Old Dominion. Ximenes got some attention recently after he made a major impact on one of the biggest upsets of the college football season when Old Dominion stunned Virginia Tech.

Ximenes had himself a couple of sacks in that game, and he has opened some eyes with his consistent production as a pass rusher. The fifth-year senior has had a steady growth in sacks in his time at Old Dominion, but he is rapidly approaching his total of 8.5 last year, with seven already this season.

He is a pass rusher that has been consistently productive, something that could entice Ryan Pace to select him. Even though Old Dominion will not be on tv very much the rest of the season, watch out for Twitter scouts to find out more about him when we are in the offseason. He will be a guy to watch for at the Senior Bowl as well.

Sutton Smith NIU

While Sutton Smith is at a smaller school, people knew his name coming into this season. The former MAC player of the year had an NCAA leading 14 sacks and 30 tackles for loss to his name, so he has been on scouts’ radars from the beginning. He is again having a solid year with five sacks on the season.

The reason that Smith is so successful is because of his pure speed. He has a fantastic burst off the line of scrimmage, and he makes tackling look easy. He has a great bend to avoid the tackle getting to him, and he has a relentless pursuit to find and get to the quarterback.

So with these many positives, there comes a big negative of why he is not a top draft pick, and that is size. He is severely undersized being only a 6’1″ edge rusher. He did not originally come into NIU as an edge rusher. He was a running back. Sutton Smith has not let his size stop him in the MAC conference, so it may be worth a shot to see if he can also defy the odds in the NFL. It will be interesting to see if teams will see him as an edge rusher, or possibly playing in a completely different position.

Follow Dan on Twitter–Featured Photo Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports


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