10 Rookie Defensive Linemen to Target in 2019 IDP Leagues

May 07, 2019
10 Rookie Defensive Linemen to Target in 2019 IDP Leagues

Pass rushing is an integral part of the NFL. As more offenses implement a pass-first philosophy, it's important to get to the QB consistently to combat the aerial attack. Here are eight defensive linemen who you should consider targeting in 2019.

If you're in a dynasty league or are looking for more information on the rookies discussed below, you should definitely check out all the content from our friends at Dynasty League Football.

Nick Bosa, DE, San Francisco 49ers

Before draft season really gained momentum, I was expecting Bosa to go to the Cardinals, thus expecting an LB designation. As the Kyler Murray to Arizona rumors picked up steam, I was giddy at the fact he'd go to San Francisco and preserve his DL status.

The 49ers are getting an edge defender who has football in their bloodlines. Bosa was on his way to a Heisman season before a core muscle injury knocked him out after four games. At that point, it didn't matter if he came back or not—he was going to be a top pick. During his 2017 season, Bosa was dominant, producing a 21% pressure rate, while generating 8.5 sacks and 16 tackles for a loss. Bosa has an NFL-ready motor and is quick off the ball. His movements are fluid with no wasted motion and opposing tackles have trouble reacting. He is the prototypical "see ball, get ball" edge defender and doesn't let anyone get in his way. He can be a bit slow in change of direction in his tackle pursuits.

Bosa should be installed as their starting end opposite Dee Ford. Luckily for Bosa, he has an edge rusher capable of taking some of the attention off of him, as Ford is coming off a 13-sack season where he generated a 13% QB-pressure rate. Bosa is on track to be ready for the 2019 season and should able to handle a full season of snaps. The 49ers defensive line is formidable with Bosa, Ford and Buckner. Bosa is going to be the focal point, and for 2019, should be the top rookie DL off the board. For redraft leagues, I don't have a problem targeting him as a DL2 as he has double-digit sack upside.

Clelin Ferrell, DE, Oakland Raiders

As the draft crept closer, I dug a bit deeper on Ferrell. My only concern, which is the same for all IDPs, was his landing spot. I was hoping he wouldn't end up on a team running a 3-4 defense. I was more than happy with the Raiders taking him, and honestly, I don't think was as big a reach as people think.

He's coming off an impressive 2018 season which saw him rack up 11.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss. Ferrell produced a 17.3% pressure rate, converting 13 of his pressures into sacks. He'll be able to handle an NFL workload, as he appeared in 675-plus snaps in three-consecutive seasons. His size and frame are of a prototypical 4-3 edge. He'll be able to stand up in both the run and pass thank to his length. His moves can be coached up. He's quick off the ball and gets into his gaps and disrupt plays. I really like how he uses his hands and he's going to be a power rusher. While he doesn't have plus-agility, he more than makes up for it with his length and quickness.

He's a complete defensive end with a quick get off the ball and movement. He's an immediate upgrade who'll help in the pass rush and provide more sacks for a defense that failed to reach 15 sacks as a team. The Raiders, even though they lost Khalil Mack, have added additional help with Benson Mayowa and Jonathan Hankins. Maurice Hurst is also entering his second season with high expectations. I love Ferrell's upside in dynasty and redraft leagues. For dynasty, I'm targeting him as my DL2 behind Bosa. In redraft leagues, you might be able to grab him as your DL3 with Bosa garnering all of the attention. Ferrell has DE2 upside with 6-8 sack potential.

Quinnen Williams, DL, New York Jets

I would've liked Williams to have gone to a 4-3 defense as a 3-technique, but I think he should be productive in New York's 3-4, a defense similar to Nick Saban's in Alabama.

His 2018 season is the one we're really looking at, as he appeared in 648 defensive snaps. Williams was dominant at the line of scrimmage, recording 71 tackles (45 solos) and 19.5 tackles for loss, resulting in 88 total yards lost during his 2018 season. From a pass-rush standpoint, Williams produced a 17% QB pressure rate as a nose tackle and converted eight pressures into sacks. Despite having just a single-season under his belt, his production should translate to the next level. He adjusts well to the blocking schemes thrown his way and fills his gaps well. He sees through his blockers to get to the ball. He's methodical in his pursuits and can analyze plays. Williams also has above-average acceleration, which is scary for a man his size. He might need to gain some mass to play a zero-technique in the NFL.

There is a chance Williams gets a DL designation over DT, so for those in DT-premium leagues, keep an eye on that change. Whether he starts along the line or interior, he'll have a chance to make an immediate impact as a rookie in 2019.

LJ Collier, DE, Seattle Seahawks

Collier didn't enter the draft with much pomp and circumstance as the other prospects, but he has a chance to prove he belongs in the NFL. The Seahawks have made some changes, and Collier looks to be part of those plans.

Collier made his first starts as an end in 2018, starting in 10 of 11 games. He earned first-team All Big-12 honors with 42 tackles and 11.5 tackles for loss while also providing six sacks and a 16.5% QB pressure rate. He's not going to jump off the page with off the chart measurables or athleticism, but he's a smart pass rusher and is tough to combat at the point of attack. Collier holds up well against the run and uses his hands to shed contact and blockers. He has a bull-rush that drives his blockers where he wants to go. The main concern on him is the one year as a starter, but he put together some impressive tape in that single season.

The Seahawks traded away elite rusher, Frank Clark, so the door is open for a starting job on the edge. While Collier projected as a rotational end heading into the draft, there's a chance he earns significant snaps this season. If you're in a deeper redraft league, he'll be worth adding as a fourth or fifth DL as depth. For dynasty leagues, he might be among the first 10 DL off the board—there you're getting a bargain.

Josh Allen, DE, Jacksonville Jaguars

Allen could go either way this season, but I'm thinking the Jags didn't spend their seventh overall pick just to give him situational snaps. Allen joins an elite defensive unit and should get on the field for significant snaps in 2019.

Allen strung together a dominant three-year run at Kentucky that culminated in an 88 tackle/17 sack/21 TFL campaign—a prolific season that resulted in a 23.5% QB pressure rate and 11.6% tackle rate. He was also responsible for five forced fumbles. He was awarded First-Team All AP and All-SEC. A hybrid defender, who can play the edge and linebacker, Allen's as impressive stopping the run as he in pass rush situations. He possesses plus-speed and size and is still growing into his body. Allen's first step is lethal and he has the ability to drop back into coverage if asked to. He just needs to impose his will a bit more at the point of attack and use his hands more.

I don't foresee the Jaguars having any issues fitting Allen into their system. With Yannick Ngakoue on the other side, Calais Campbell can kick inside next to Marcel Dareus. Allen will also spell Ngakoue on 1st/2nd downs or obvious run situations. I do like Allen as the third DE off the board and he carries double-digit sack upside playing in Jacksonville's defense. In redraft, you can target him as your third DL.

Brian Burns, DE, Carolina Panthers

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