Derek Wolfe of Cincinnati is a big interior lineman and plays very instinctively to be a factor in the run game. He is a slow-moving, non-explosive athlete, but this doesn't define his game, as he finds other ways to be a factor.
He can get overpowered by double-teams, however, and will need to continue to develop his technique to not get erased there.
The 6'5", 295-pound Wolfe had a productive season, logging a conference-best 21.5 tackles for loss, earning co-conference player of the year honors and was tied at 14th nationally with 9.5 sacks. However, his draft stock varied wildly, from first-round pick to undrafted free agent.
According to SI's Tony Pauline, Wolfe looked good in drills. He was fluid moving around the field and looked powerful during bag drills.
Wolfe has good height and length at 6’5" with 33"-plus arms. He is an instinctual, high-motor player who understands how to engage a lineman, extend his arms and reads the flow of the play to move off his blocks and make his big frame a factor inside.
He sees screens well, can find the ball-carrier and is good to work off his man to disrupt plays inside. Can defeat single blocks well and is a decent pass-rusher when put in the right scheme where slants and stunts can put him in good position. Versatile, playing nose, 3-technique, 5-technique and some 7-technique.
I love the versatility he can bring. I projected Wolfe as a surprise first-round pick by the Patriots because a scheme-versatile team can use a guy like him, who can be a one-gap guy in a 3-4 or easily flip to a 4-3 defensive tackle up front. I've seen him on some boards as low as the third round. He should go higher. —Mel Kiper
Wolfe's weight fluctuates greatly. He was listed at 300 pounds in college, weighed in at 286 at the Senior Bowl, 295 at the scouting combine and 280 six days later at his pro day. He might not have a natural position in the NFL if he can’t stay in the 295 to 300-pound range.
Also has an inconsistent first step. Sometimes he's the first guy off the line and sometimes a half-second behind everyone else. As the game drags on, he has a harder time keeping his pad level down, is easier to push back and is less effective getting into the backfield.
Wolfe is a slow mover and will not blow back any offensive linemen off the ball. Sometimes he relies too heavily on his ability to diagnose, reading the play so long that he simply gets erased by blockers.
Double-teams will give him a lot of trouble, often forcing him on his back; NFL teams will see right through that and get an extra hand on him in the run game. He could work on using hands more violently, as he doesn't have many effective rush moves at this point.
As far as Wolfe is concerned, very solid player. Not flashy. I've heard people say first round. I don't see it. I see kind of late two to mid three, and I think you get a solid player that can play defensive tackle -- or he can play defensive end in the three-man front. —Mike Mayock
Projected Rookie Impact
Overall, the "curiously" fluctuating weight, lack of explosion and inconsistent first step are a bit of a concern. Wolfe needs to stay around that 300-pound mark if he’s going to be a 3-technique, 5-technique or interior rusher. He will probably be limited to being a decent situational interior pass-rusher.