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NFL Draft: Top five defensive ends as draft nears

CLASS OF 2020 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | State | Position | Team

Clelin Ferrell
Clelin Ferrell (AP Images)

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The NFL Draft is coming up in a few weeks. With the NFL Combine and pro days in the rear-view mirror, here is our ranked list of top defensive ends heading into the draft.

Recruiting: The younger brother of Joey Bosa, the five-star defensive end, predictably picked Ohio State over Florida, Florida State and others in the summer before his senior season.

Buzz: The former four-star recruit is still expected to be one of the first couple picks in the NFL Draft, he’s that talented and special and even though he missed almost all of his junior season with a core injury, NFL executives have him high on draft boards. Off the field, Bosa made the news this past week because he scrubbed his social media accounts of pro-Donald Trump tweets and other opinions that could turn off fans in San Francisco as the 49ers have the second pick. In 29 games at Ohio State, Bosa totaled 77 tackles and 17.5 sacks.

Farrell’s take: I whiffed on Joey’s ranking as he should have been a five-star and there was no way I was going to miss on Nick who many thought could be better. Bosa has lived up to all the hype and is just a bigger and more athletic version of who he was out of high school. He was essentially a can’t-miss kid and had the same cockiness his brother had coming out.

Recruiting: Allen committed to Kentucky during his official visit to Lexington in January. The Wildcats were his only listed offer.

Buzz: Rated as a three-star outside linebacker, Allen grew into an edge rusher at Kentucky and he put up huge numbers with 220 tackles and 31.5 sacks in his career, 17 of them coming this past season. There is a lot of buzz that Allen could be the third-overall pick as some analysts are weighing Allen and Alabama DT Quinnen Williams in that spot.

Farrell’s take: Allen’s Twitter claims he was a two-star but we had him as a low three-star after he changed states and positions and ended up in New Jersey as a linebacker. He was raw as can be and still learning the position but he had that natural explosion off the snap. But there was no way we could tell he was going to be this good.

Recruiting: After playing at Stone Mountain (Ga.) Stephenson, Sweat played at Michigan State before transferring to junior college at Wesson (Miss.) Copiah-Lincoln and eventually ending up at Mississippi State.

Buzz: Maybe no player performed better at the NFL Scouting Combine than Sweat, whose highlight was running the 40-yard dash in 4.41 seconds. He was a fringe first-round selection that has shot up draft boards and could now be a top-10 pick because Sweat was also productive in college finishing with 105 tackles and 23.5 sacks. Sweat was diagnosed with a heart condition at the combine but it does not appear serious as he was allowed to work out in Indianapolis.

Farrell’s take: Sweat went from being a two-star tight end signee for Michigan State to a three-star defensive end out of JUCO for Mississippi State and he’s played like a five-star. He was a good athlete out of high school and JUCO but not the freak you see now. He should go in the top 10 with his athleticism and that’s something we would have never expected.

Recruiting: On National Signing Day, Burns committed to Florida State over Florida, Georgia and others. He had taken a late official visit to Tallahassee and it paid off with his commitment.

Buzz: Burns showed excellent power and speed at the NFL Scouting Combine and coupling that with a solid career with the Seminoles has put him squarely in the middle-to-late first round. Some mock drafts put him as high as 15 and others have Burns somewhere in the mid-20s. In three seasons at Florida State, Burns finished with 123 tackles and 23 sacks.

Farrell’s take: Burns was a skinny but very quick end out of high school with a great first step and excellent length. We worried about his ability to bulk up and defend the run but we felt he would be an excellent pass rusher. He’s rising on the boards after showing off his athleticism at the Combine.

Recruiting: While it came down to Clemson, South Carolina and Virginia Tech, the Tigers were always thought to be his leader and he ultimately committed to Dabo Swinney's program during the summer before his senior season.

Buzz: Clemson’s defensive line was loaded with four probable NFL Draft picks and Ferrell had more sacks than Christian Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence and Austin Bryant. He was second among the group in tackles with 166 and led the foursome with 50.5 tackles for loss. Ferrell is ranging from somewhere in the middle of the first round but it feels like he could be a steal after racking up such big numbers on such a talented defensive line.

Farrell’s take: Ferrell was a kid I liked a lot but I worried about his aggressiveness after seeing him in high school. That was a foolish concern. He’s emerged as one of the best pass rushers in college football and a guy who should end up as a late first-rounder in a strong defensive line group. His competition level in high school wasn’t great so maybe he wasn’t being challenged.