All-Decade: Ranking the top DEs from the 2010s
The decade is coming to an end and the years from 2010-2019 were loaded with talent. Here’s how we rank the top defensive ends of the decade based on how good they were out of high school.
1. Jadeveon Clowney
Jadeveon Clowney is the best prospect I’ve ever scouted in my career so there’s no doubt he’s the guy here despite so many No. 1 prospects overall at defensive end. Clowney went on to a great college career, was the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft and is a star in the NFL.
2. Robert Nkemdiche
Robert Nkemdiche was supposed to be like Clowney, a once-in-a-decade talent, but he fell a bit short. He was the No. 1 player in his class for sure and had a ton of talent but lacked the motor of Clowney. However, he was still a very good player at Ole Miss and was a first-round pick although he’s been a bust in the NFL.
3. Ronald Powell
Ronald Powell was a freakish athlete out of high school who could have played defensive end, linebacker or even tight end. Injuries derailed his career which is a shame because he could have been one of the best to ever suit up on defense for the Gators.
4. Da'Shawn Hand
Da’Shawn Hand was a special talent and just ahead of Myles Garrett in a heated debate for No. 1 overall. He played defensive end, defensive tackle, tight end and other positions in high school and had the best balance I’ve seen on a defensive end. His career at Alabama was average as he moved to defensive tackle and he’s currently playing inside at the NFL level with Detroit.
5. Myles Garrett
Myles Garrett should have been No.1 in 2014 comparing what he's done now against Hand. The big athletic defensive end had a very good career at Texas A&M and he was the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns. Garrett has been a star in the NFL but is more well known for his recent suspension for hitting Mason Rudolph with his helmet.
6. Byron Cowart
Byron Cowart was No. 1 for a long time in his recruiting year but lost the title to quarterback Josh Rosen after his senior season. However, Rosen skipped Under Armour week and Cowart dominated so we flipped them back. Cowart flamed out at Auburn but had a solid final year at Maryland and is now in the NFL with the New England Patriots.
7. Carl Lawson
To be honest, I felt Carl Lawson was the better defensive end prospect in 2013 ahead of Nkemdiche but he lacked height and length so we had him No. 4 overall instead of No. 1. Lawson was dominant at Auburn, became a fourth-round pick and is still in the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals.
8. Xavier Thomas
Coming out of South Carolina as an elite defensive end prospect, Xavier Thomas was compared to Clowney by many. However, he was a much different player who succeeded as much with power as he did speed. Thomas has been starting to emerge as a star at Clemson after waiting his turn behind an elite group of ends.
9. Jonathan Bullard
Jonathan Bullard was a raw but super athletic prospect coming out of high school with a basketball player’s high cut and superior power. He went to Florida, had a very good college career and was a third-round pick of the Chicago Bears. He’s still in the NFL.
10. Josh Kaindoh
Josh Kaindoh was a long and lean defensive end who started to get stronger at the end of his high school career and learned to play the run well. He missed most of this season with an injury so the jury is still out as to how he develops.