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'Hard to find, hard to acquire'

Getting to the quarterback is essential, an indisputable absolute when it comes to playing defense in the National Football League.

But how do you get there? And from where?

Bengals Director of Player Personnel Duke Tobin was among those contemplating such questions, and others, as they related to edge rushers at the NFL Scouting Combine.

"It's one of the hardest positions," to evaluate, Tobin maintained. "You have to fit it within your scheme.

"Are you willing to take an undersized guy? Do you want to take a full-sized guy? How often is he going to play? Is he going to be in the linebacker room or the defensive end room? Is he on the line of scrimmage or is he off? Is he going to be off the field on first down and on the field on third down? Or, is he an every-down player?

"Ideally, the higher you take a guy you want them to be an every-down player."

Those are questions that have to be answered several times over when putting a roster together in the estimation of Atlanta General Manager Thomas Dimitroff.

"I think more and more everyone realizes the importance of having one, two and three pass rushers that can affect the quarterback," Dimitroff suggested.

The good news is this year's draft offers plenty of worthwhile candidates for inspection and selection.

"For most of the league, who happen to be looking for pass rushers, it's a positive," Dimitroff assessed.

More candidates means more opportunities for teams to find the appropriate pass-rushing answers, the players who are able to check off the appropriate boxes.

"An edge rusher could be a 4-3 defensive end," Kansas City General Manager John Dorsey said. "It could be a 3-4 'backer. I think the very first thing you look for is the ability to get off the snap of the football, and then how fast can he get around the corner in terms of hitting that perfect angle?

"Everybody rushes the passer differently. Some guys do it with power, some do it with finesse, some do it with agility and quickness. So I think what you do is as you go through each respective draft class you have to see what makes that player as an edge rusher or a pass rusher unique and, can he fit into our system?"

It doesn't necessarily end with the snap of the ball, but there are those who are convinced it  starts there.

"The No. 1 thing is get-off," Atlanta head coach Dan Quinn said. "I want to see if the guy can beat you to the punch. As a pass rusher, having that get-off to stress the offensive tackle the most right off the bat and break down their technique based on the guy's initial quickness, that's what I look for the most.

"Past that, you want to find a guy who has a finisher's mentality. Very rarely do you just beat a guy with one move. It's the strain, the battle, the finish to go the extra step and win the last yard. Those guys that have that kind of fight and that kind of speed and get-off, generally you're going to hear their names called early," in the draft.

Added Denver Broncos head coach Vance Joseph: "Pass rushers are awfully hard to find because it's a combination of obviously having great ability but also great feel as a pass rusher. Every great defense, it starts with having rushers and defensive backs and corners. If you can rush the passer and cover, you can play great defense.

"But they're hard to find and hard to acquire if you don't have them."

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