B/R NFL 1,000: A Scout's Guide to Grading Defensive Linemen

Matt Miller@nfldraftscoutNFL Draft Lead WriterApril 2, 2012

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - DECEMBER 11:   Trent Cole #58 of the Philadelphia Eagles celebrates a sack during a game against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on December 11, 2011 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Defensive ends today come in all shapes and sizes. There are smaller, speed rushers like Dwight Freeney. There are 3-4 power ends like Justin Smith. What remains the same is that defensive ends are tasked with attacking the quarterback.

Defensive tackles' impact on a game can be more subtle, but a good man in the middle can give a defense the kind of flexibility that wins games.

What are we looking for when scouting a defensive lineman? Here's a breakdown of each trait. Check out the B/R NFL 1,000 to see our rankings today's defensive ends and defensive tackles.



A defensive end must have the quickness and balance to change direction as a pass rusher and tackler. We're looking at foot speed (not 40-yard dash times) and hip flexibility.


Bull rush

A ranking that gauges how well the defensive end lowers his shoulders and drives through the blocker in front of him.


Speed Rush

A judge of how well the player moves when rushing the passer off the edge and using a speed move. Closing on the quarterback and taking the right angle to the ball.



Run Defense

Put simply, how well the player attacks the run, taking on blockers and bringing down the ball carrier.



Burst, acceleration and speed all rolled into one handy category.



A grade of the player's power and fundamental strength on the field.


Pass Deflect

Looking for pass deflect numbers, also how well the player does at getting his hands up to knock down or take away passing windows.




This one is simple—not how many tackles does the player produce, but how well does he tackle when asked to do it.


Read and React

How well the player diagnoses the play and then how quickly he gets to the ball.



A player's 2011 injury status. Not only looking at actual injuries, but time missed due to injury.



The cumulative score of the 10 traits above, all wrapped up in one score. This sets the player's place in the position ranking and, ultimately, in the B/R NFL 1,000 ranking across all positions.