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Triple Take: Edge Rushers

The "Triple Take" continues its look at the 2024 NFL Draft with a breakdown of the edge rushers. The Steelers Radio Network trio of Matt Williamson, Dale Lolley and Mike Prisuta give their takes on the top prospects at the position.

The opinions of these Steelers Radio Network personalities do not reflect the views of the Steelers organization.

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Dale's Take …

Edge rushers are always at a premium, whether they be outside linebackers or defensive ends. Guys who can put the opposing quarterback on the ground are coveted. This draft isn't a great one for edge rushers – at least in terms of premium talent. But that doesn't mean there won't be more than a few who find their way into the first round.

Sleeper - Mohamed Kamara, Colorado State (6-1, 248 lbs.) - While Kamara might lack classic edge size in terms of his length, he ran a 4.57 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine and a 1.58-second 10-yard split, showing he can get from Point A to Point B quickly. He showed that at Colorado State, as well, finishing his career with 30.5 career sacks and 45.5 tackles for a loss. The sack total is the second-most in school history behind former Steelers star Clark Haggans' 33. And Colorado State also produced star pass rushers such as Joey Porter and Shaq Barrett, as well.

#5 - Chris Braswell, Alabama (6-3, 251 lbs.) - As has often happened at Alabama, Braswell was buried on the depth chart, playing sparingly until his senior season. But he stuck it out and produced 8 sacks, an interception and three forced fumbles last season to go along with 42 tackles. He posted a 4.6-second 40-yard dash at the Combine and has a variety of different pass rush moves. Braswell isn't particularly fluid around the edge, but his straight-line speed is challenging.

#4 - Chop Robinson, Penn State (6-3, 254 lbs.) - While Robinson didn't have outstanding production at Penn State – 11.5 career sacks – his athleticism is intriguing. He ran a 4.48-second 40-yard dash with a 4.25-second short shuttle at the Combine. His 10-yard split also came in at 1.54 seconds, while he showed good bend and change of direction. Robinson is still developing and could be a better pro than he was in college.

#3 - Laiatu Latu, UCLA (6-5, 259 lbs.) - A thickly-built edge setter with pass rush skills, Latu retired from football due to a neck issue while at Washington before resurrecting his career at UCLA. Recorded 23.5 sacks and 34 tackles for a loss the past two seasons for the Bruins. Latu might be the most skilled pass rusher in this draft, but he doesn't quite have the athleticism of the players ranked ahead of him.

#2 - Jared Verse, Florida State (6-4, 254 lbs.) - A transfer from SUNY-Albany, where he arrived as a tight end, Verse made an immediate impact at Florida State in 2022, recording 17 tackles for a loss and 9 sacks. He followed that up with 9 more sacks and 12.5 tackles for a loss in 2023. Verse has a good first step and his play strength is very good. He should be a solid pro.

#1 - Dallas Turner, Alabama (6-3, 247 lbs.) - Turner ran a 4.47-second 40-yard dash at the Combine, while hitting 40 inches in his vertical jump. He's a tremendous athlete with bend. He still needs some refinement in his pass rush, but his skillset is undeniable. Turner burst onto the scene as a true freshman at Alabama, recording 8.5 sacks in 2021. He added 10 more in 2023 to finish with 22.5 in three seasons to go along with 32.5 tackles for a loss.

Matt's Take …

This is a very offense-heavy draft, but as usual, several edge defenders will be coveted enough to get selected in the first round. The second day of the draft doesn't look as rich for edge defenders, but overall, this draft offers a diversity of players at this position that should be useful pros that fit a variety of NFL defensive schemes.

Sleeper - Mohamed Kamara, Colorado State (6-1, 248 lbs.) - At 6-1, Kamara might not be for everyone, especially as a full-time edge defender. But his production is outstanding, notching 30.5 sacks in his college career with a pension for knocking the football loose. And Kamara showed up big at the Combine with his athletic testing. He has a strong wide build and can play with power rushing the passer or playing the run. At times though, Kamara can be too reliant on power and teams might look at him as strictly a rotational player.

#5 - Chop Robinson, Penn State (6-3, 254 lbs.) - Robinson has elite get-off and is one of the best athletes in this class at any position pound for pound, which he proved at the Combine. His flexibility and explosiveness are rare, but his production doesn't yet meet his traits. And at this point, Robinson doesn't yet win enough with power. His pass-rush profile needs to expand, but if that happens, Robinson could really wreak havoc in the NFL. Robinson's teammate, Adisa Isaac, also got strong consideration for this list.

#4 - Darius Robinson, Missouri (6-5, 285 lbs.) - At his size and the many ways Robinson can be used, he could have just as easily been listed amongst the defensive tackles. And he would have easily cracked the top five on that list. Robinson has a "First guy off the bus" build and looks like he was built in a lab with great length and muscle distribution. He will be used up and down the line of scrimmage at the next level. He was used more at defensive tackle early in his college career but spent the majority of his snaps in 2023 on the edge for Missouri where he abused offensive tackles with his bull rush. Some teams might see him as a tweener and not a fit for their defenses. Others will love Robinson's versatility.

#3 - Laiatu Latu, UCLA (6-5, 259 lbs.) - A neck injury in 2021 almost ended Latu's football career. What a shame that would have been, as this guy has just been an outstanding football player over the past two seasons. He already has an NFL toolbox of pass-rush moves and sets up his opponent extremely well coming off either edge. Latu has fantastic hand usage and lives in the opponent's backfield. Medicals aside, the knock on Latu is his arm length and athletic ability-both of which are just average. But of everyone on this list, Latu might have the best chance to make an immediate impact as a rookie.

#2 - Jared Verse, Florida State (6-4, 254 lbs.) - It was a bit of a shock that Verse returned to Florida State for the 2023 season as he likely would have been an early first round pick. Verse is very powerful and plays much bigger than his listed height and weight. This is an aggressive defender that plays hard snap after snap. Verse has very powerful hands with a good first step off the ball. He doesn't change directions and isn't quite as flexible as some on this list, but Verse has an NFL profile with his power, refinement, and playing demeanor.

#1 - Dallas Turner, Alabama (6-3, 247 lbs.) - Turner is a little light in the pants and can play with a little too much finesse, but other than that, he has pretty much everything you are looking for in a high-end edge defender. Turner is a former five-star recruit and that shows up with his movement skills and he continues to add bulk and strength. He is a long flexible athlete that can also drop into coverage. Turner is more of a traditional 3-4 outside linebacker than a power base end. His speed is obvious, but he can be run at directly. Turner's teammate, Chris Braswell, also got strong consideration for this list.

Mike's Take …

The NFL's reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Myles Garrett of the Browns, is an edge rusher. So are three of the four other most recent finalists for that coveted honor (the Steelers' T.J. Watt, the Cowboys' Micah Parsons and the Raiders' Maxx Crosby. There's no denying the importance of the position or the impact when it's played at the highest-possible level. So expect to hear the names of those perceived to be the best of this year's bunch called early and often in Round One, and beyond. When it comes to edge rushers, you can never have enough.

Sleeper - Austin Booker, Kansas (6-41/2, 240 lbs.) - It doesn't get a whole lot sleepier than looking at a player with one career start in college to possibly play a game that inspires reminders of Maxx Crosby. But Booker, a Minnesota transfer who put up some interesting numbers coming off the bench for Kansas, might be such a player. "His game is all about speed and finesse," NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah assessed. "There's little touches of a Maxx Crosby, just how long he is. He kinda reminded me a little bit of that poor man's Maxx Crosby, not that level of player but that style of play." Crosby was initially a fourth-round pick coming out of Eastern Michigan in 2019.

#5 - Chop Robinson, Penn State (6-3, 254 lbs.) - Jeremiah sees "rare explosiveness for an edge rusher" in Robinson. The Maryland transfer validated Jeremiah's assessment by clocking a 4.48 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. Although Robinson's stats weren't all that eye-catching (three forced fumbles, 11.5 sacks and 20 tackles for a loss in a combined three Big Ten seasons, two at Penn State), he has the physical skill set teams covet.

#4 - Chris Braswell, Alabama (6-3, 251 lbs.) - Speaking of physical skill sets, Braswell, likewise, qualifies as an athletic freak. Braswell waited his turn at Alabama and then made the most of it. "He just doesn't stay blocked," Jeremiah observed. "He might not win right away but he refuses to stay blocked." One of the things driving Braswell last season, according to NFL Network analyst Charles Davis, was an internal competition with fellow Crimson Tide edge rusher Dallas Turner. As Turner explained it, per Davis, "We had a production award at Alabama and each week checked the production board, who got there, who made more plays, who did their assignments correctly. We both finished Top 3."

#3 - Laiatu Latu, UCLA (6-5, 259 lbs.) - Perhaps no one wants it more than the winner of the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Award, the Lombardi Award (lineman of the year) and the Hendricks Award (defensive end of the year) in 2023. Latu spent his first season at Washington, then suffered a career-threatening neck injury that cost him the next two seasons. He resurfaced better than ever over the past two seasons after transferring to UCLA. "He's the most skilled edge rusher in the draft," Jeremiah proclaimed. Explosive testing verified dominating tape.

#2 - Jared Verse, Florida State (6-4, 254 lbs.) - Verse displayed versatility at FSU by lining up across the line of scrimmage. But he did his best work against offensive tackles, either by running through them or simply walking them back to the quarterback. Jeremiah called Verse "a violent tempo-setter for the defense" and considers former Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson (third overall, Houston, 2023) a height/weight/speed "DNA match." Verse also has a motor that allows him to chase down plays from behind.

#1 - Dallas Turner, Alabama (6-3, 247 lbs.) - Turner checks every box, including his approach to the game. "They said at Alabama he was all business," Jeremiah reported. Anderson plays with effort and athleticism, has a variety of ways to get to the pocket and attacks the passer upon arrival. His basketball background was apparent when Turner posted a broad jump of 10-7 and a vertical leap of just over 40 inches at the Combine. He also ran a 4.46 40 in Indy. That explosiveness translated into 10 sacks and the SEC Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2023.