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Green Zone League Articles

2020 GZL Draft: Top DE Prospects
By Tyler Richardson
Special to gzl-football.com

Joey Bosa - I have already written about Bosa, so I'm not going to add too much more here. He is one of the biggest studs in a draft class that is lacking the top-end talent we have come to expect in recent years. Bosa's name will be called early and the ceiling for him really just depends on how much time and effort a team is willing to put into developing him. The only weakness in his game is his lateral movement, although his tackling ability does leave a little to be desired. Could play 4-3 or 4-3 DE. A near lock for the top five.

Odin Fuller - It's weird - in a year where I might have to say goodbye to one of my first and most unique draft picks in Justin Houston who I converted from OLB to a 4-3 LE, there comes a player who reminds me so much of him. Fuller has good athleticism to go with above average strength (although not Bosa-level). Like Bosa, though, he lacks the high-end agility that the top defensive end talents usually possess, and he is a little raw with below average tackling technique and not the best instincts. Either way, his raw athleticism combined with above average strength and an huge build make him likely to come of the board in the first 15 picks, likely even the top 10.

Emmanual Ogbah - In my opinion Ogbah is the last of the sure-fire first round picks at defensive end, and he could be gone in the first 15-20 picks as well. While he is not quite the prospect Fuller is from a physical standpoint (-3 STR, -2 ACC, +1 SPD, +1 AGI), he is very close, and has a very high football IQ and makes more tackles than a guy like Fuller. Some might even perceive Ogbah as a better prospect due to his better intangibles. I think you have to take a guy like Fuller first, as his SPD/STR/ACC combo gives him a ceiling that is a good bit higher than that of Ogbah, and I've found defensive end to be one of the fastest progressing positions in the league. Either way, Ogbah is still a good prospect and a lock for the first round.

Dave Salisbury - I almost made the mistake of overlooking this guy (literally just scanned back through the DEs and put him on my board), as he's not your traditional 4-3 end. At 6'3". 301 lbs with DE/DT tweener-type strength, this guy appears to be your typical 3-4 DE out of the gate. Kind of reminds me of a player I had (and created) in RZL named Jamal Green. Despite his huge build and great strength, this guy can move. He doesn't have great speed/agility/acceleration or anything, but considering he's 300+ lbs, it's more than plenty. Again, 3-4 DE is his ideal position but teams can surely get creative with this guy. You could see him at RE or even LE in a 4-3. You could see him moved to DT. You could see him at LB (Ok now I'm kidding). Either way, this Salisbury guy just became one of my favorite guys in the class. I'll be very interested to see where he ends up going and what teams end up doing with him. Forget that bit about the last of the sure-fire first round picks - this guy is a first round pick.

Ethan Bruner - I also find Bruner to be one of the more interesting prospects in this class. He has decent size for a DE at 6'3", 255 lbs and has some very, very raw athleticism to go with it. He isn't the fastest of the defensive end prospects, but he does possess the most lateral quickness and best first step of just about anyone at his position in this class. Put in some training camp developmental with him, and you could be looking at a very athletic, big player. Here's what make him so interesting - I think he's a better linebacker than a defensive end. His below average strength means he could end up getting pushed around more times than not at DE, and with the talent available in this league that's really unacceptable. But his strength isn't as much of an issue if you move him back to OLB where he can be a pass rushing specialist. Here's the kicker: his football instincts are already lacking and he reportedly bombed the interview with several teams at the combine. His awareness would be at dangerously low levels if any team was to brave the move to linebacker, and would certainly be a project pick at best. Heck, even at DE he's still a project, but at linebacker even more so. The good news is that his tackling technique is surprisingly good, so he won't need much immediate development there. My advice is for a struggling team to take him near the end of the 2nd round, convert him to linebacker, and PLAY HIM, because those progression points for snaps are too easy to miss out on. He'll make a bunch of mistakes, but he might even get the stats to get some reward-based progression as well.

Gene Christensen - We're now at the part where most of the high end talent is off the board, and you're looking at fringe starters, a good skew, or talented depth. Christensen isn't going to blow anyone away with his raw physical talent. He doesn't even fit the bill of the classic 80/80/80 DE, a type who while appearing to be quite mediocre all around, has been known to make an impact. I see Christensen as more of a career backup, albeit a talented one, unless he gets a favorably skew from the GZL gods. I'd expect to see him come of the board around the 4th round.
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