Welcome to the SSGPFL 2020 Draft Preview. Today we’re going to focus on the Top 3 DE’s in the 2020 draft class. As a caveat I should mention (and this applies to future columns, as well) these are the Top 3 in MY personal opinion based on my own analysis. Your opinion based on your own analysis may differ. These opinions and anticipated results should NOT be considered legally binding. Now that the lawyer stuff is done, let’s get to it!
Frank Tucker – Central Florida University
This is a big kid. Fast and strong, this young man should be able to hold his own against pro caliber linemen right out of the gate. At 6′ 5″ and 304 lbs, he’s much more suited for a 34 scheme even though he has classic 43 DE speed. Given his size, there may even be a temptation for a 43 coach to move him inside to tackle, but that is something I’d caution against. Though strong as an ox, the tape suggests he struggles with leverage on the inside, likely due to his length. His long arms and quickness make him better suited to isolating a tackle out in space, where he can use his speed to get around the edge. He also diagnoses well in coverage and frequently sniffs out and kills screens before they can get started. And with the way he hits, RB’s tend to mysteriously develop alligator arms when the ball is in air.
While not a great run defender, he’ll hold his own. If stamina is your thing, he has the endurance to be a 3 down player, so you won’t need to spell him much, if at all. This kid loves to play.
Chad Hazel – Michigan State University
Here’s that all around, prototypical 43 DE we drool over every draft. At 6′ 2″, 276 lbs, and carved out of granite, you could snap a picture of Chad and slap it in the Football Coaching 101 text book next to the 43 positional chart. A great run stopper, he also exhibits elite pass rushing technique and has the strength and leverage to push an unsuspecting tackle right back into the QB he’s supposed to be defending. If there’s one knock on Mr. Hazel, it’s that he’s a late bloomer and spent a full 5 years in the college ranks. He’ll be 25 years old when the regular season starts, but that just makes him a full grown man. That’s also probably the reason he looked like a man among boys in his senior season at the collegiate level.
As is the case with Frank Tucker, Chad has the stamina and motor to be an every down player, a trait that highly maximizes a defensive ends’ value in my opinion. Looking past the age concerns, you could do a lot worse than having this guy suit up for your team for the next 6 years.
Charlie Matthews – SE Missouri State
If old age is a concern with Hazel, the opposite may be true with Charlie Matthews. Just 20 years old, Charlie won’t be able to legally crack a beer with his new teammates until nearly Halloween. He’s a little raw around the edges yet, but talk about potential. Boasting a 4.6 40, he’s as fast as many of the running backs he’ll be chasing down on Sundays. Quick to diagnose plays, once he finds his target he hits like a truck. His measurables indicate a 34 type of guy but, when I look at him, I see Julius Peppers in a 43 scheme. His combination of size and speed should mesh to give left tackles in this league fits for years to come. That said, he’s young enough to be malleable, so it’s possible he could bulk up to ideal weight for a 34, or slim down a hair and be scary fast in a 43. Or, do nothing. As is, he could play in any scheme and eventually dominate.
And here’s where I sound like a broken record. This kid has the stamina to be an every down player. As an ADDED bonus, Charlie was a special teams ace in college, which could come in handy for a team that wants to bring him along slowly but put him to use right away.
As with the QB’s, there’s no right or wrong ranking here. If I wanted polish out of the gate and was in ‘win now’ mode, I’d likely go with Tucker or Hazel, depending on scheme. If I was looking to the future, I’d go with Matthews, regardless of scheme. Then again, ‘potential’ is the aphrodisiac of the draft, and Matthews has it oozing out of his pores. That said, there is a lot to like about all three of these guys, so you’re probably not going wrong with any of them. As per usual, there are a few tweeners at the LB position that could excel as pass rushing DE’s, but those are later round guys that often get overlooked, and none of them are guys I’d take over either of these three.
That’s it for now. Look for our next entry coming soon.
Good Luck, and Happy Drafting!!!