2012 NFL Positional Needs: Pass Rushers

Will your favorite team be looking to add some young pass rushing talent in the draft this year?

Leading up to the draft, many draft analysts talk how difficult it is to find a franchise quarterback. If a team has an opportunity to draft one, it's almost imperative that they take him.

While the position doesn't get the same press, finding an elite pass rusher is almost as difficult to find. When a team manage to hit on one, it's rare that they'll hit the open market; when they do they'll make a ton of money (see Mario Williams). Therefore, in most cases to be successful in the NFL you need to be able to find quality pass rushers through the draft.


New York Jets

Outside linebackers currently on roster: Aaron Maybin (4th year), Calvin Pace (10th year), Eddie Jones (2nd year), Garret McIntyre (2nd year), Bryan Thomas (11th year)

The Jets added a nice pass rushing threat in Aaron Maybin last season, but he's all they've got. Unfortunately a Maybin-led pass rush isn't going to win you many games, and on top of that the rest of the Jets linebacking corps is aging and needs to be revamped.

Courtney Upshaw would be a good fit here in New York. He'd fit almost seamlessly in the Jets' defense and would provide a guy who should be an anchor of their 3-4 defense for many years to come.

New England Patriots

Outside linebackers currently on roster: Jerod Mayo (5th year), Rob Ninkovich (7th year), Jeff Tarpinian (2nd year), Tracy White (10th year)

It's not difficult to see the New England needs to upgrade its pass rush, but it can be a challenge to figure out just where they'll try to address that need. It's not entirely clear whether they'll play primarily in a 3-4 or a 4-3 this season, so that makes it a bit more difficult to project who they will look at to rush the passer.

If they do as expected as return back to a 3-4, they may wait until the mid rounds of the draft and select someone like Bruce Irvin who would probably exclusively as a pass rush specialist. The best plan may to be to pursue a player like Nick Perry, who can play upright in a 3-4 or with his hand in the dirt in a 4-3 alignment.

Eric Galko is the Owner, Director of Scouting of Optimum Scouting and lead editor for OptimumScouting.com. He has been scouting college football for eight years, and for pro teams and other sports professionals for the last four years. Eric is also a member of the FWAA.

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