The Most-Interesting Rookie DL

The Footballguys staff discusses the top rookie defensive linemen

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Each year, the incoming group of rookies offers hope for the new season. We asked our staff to offer up the rookie defensive lineman they are most interested in.

Here are the names who were mentioned.

And here are all of the reasons.

Jeff Haseley

This is not a deep class for rookie defensive linemen. It's not even that top-heavy. Having said that, Kwity Paye and his versatile abilities as a run-stopper and his knack for reaching the quarterback is arguably the one to watch and the best rookie defensive lineman to target in dynasty IDP rookie drafts. Paye immediately will see action on the line with veteran standout DeForest Buckner giving the Colts a much-needed presence on their front-four. Paye has the potential to reach 40 tackles and 7-10 sacks this season.

Jason Wood

I'll go with Jaelan Phillips, the Dolphins' first-round pick. With Miami jettisoning Kyle Van Noy, the team really only has one proven pass rusher returning in Emmanuel Ogbah. The Dolphins have the makings of a playoff contender but they'll need to be able to bring pressure consistently, and Phillips could make or break their pass rush. Phillips is interesting as a prospect because he was a 5-star high school recruit as an edge rusher and headed to UCLA. But multiple injuries and disdain over the team's situation led Phillips to retire and start taking classes at a community college. Miami reached out and gave him a second chance, and the rest is history.

Sigmund Bloom

I'll second Jason's call on Phillips. From a pure ability/talent perspective, he was a top-10 pick and clearly No. 1 in this edge class. The Dolphins had four top-50 picks, so they were situated perfectly to take on more of a risk/reward pick at 1.18. Emmanuel Ogbah was a very underrated playmaker last year and the Dolphins have the best outside corner combo in the league to create more time for Phillips and company to get home when they are rushing the passer.

Ryan Weisse

I'm very excited to see Jayson Oweh suit up for Baltimore. His athleticism should allow him to slide right into the spot vacated by the exit of Matthew Judon. Judon had six sacks for the Ravens last season and was averaging more than seven sacks per season as a starter in Baltimore. Oweh is not the same build as Judon but he makes up for that in speed. He ran a reported 4.39 40-yard dash at his pro-day and looks that quick on film. His 2020 season stats don't jump off the page, as he recorded no sacks, but he did sack the quarterback five times in 2019. He has some things to work on but the foundation is there for him to be an excellent edge rusher in the NFL.

Sigmund Bloom

I'll also call some attention to Payton Turner, who was trending as a surprise first-round pick right before the draft. He's not a classic dip-and-bend edge rusher, but that isn't what the Saints want in their edges, they like long power players who collapse the pocket and that's what Turner is. He can also line up inside on passing downs. One of Marcus Davenport or Cameron Jordan could be gone next year to make Turner a starter.

For defensive-tackle-required leagues, Christian Barmore is underrated because he could play a lot of end on base downs and then rush the passer from the interior on passing downs for the Patriots. Bill Belichick traded up for him, so he definitely has a plan for the top defensive tackle in this year's draft.


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