Nowadays, defensive lineman are a must-have for NFL teams. Most of the currently successful ones have come through the NFL draft in recent years. In the 2013 NFL draft, there are a number of highly-skilled defensive lineman who could have the same sort of success.
Defensive ends are at a premium in this draft class, most of which come out of the SEC and Big 12 conferences. Over the last few years, these conferences have produced some of the best defensive players in the NFL and the 2013 Draft class will be no different. However, there are also a number of other lineman in the country whom scouts will be focusing heavily on throughout the coming college football season.
Let's take a look at who some of the best defensive lineman in the 2013 NFL Draft class are.
(A hat tip to B/R's own NFL Draft Lead Writer Matt Miller for this great piece to kickstart this one.)
Using brute strength is how most interior lineman get noticed and Star Lotulelei of Utah does it better than anyone else in the country.
Star became, well, a star in 2011, earning himself the the Morris Trophy for being the Pac-12's best defensive lineman.
At 6'4" and 325 pounds, Star uses his physical presence to push through the offensive line and disrupt the offense. He also has some deceptively quick feet for a big man, which allows him to have the advantage on the blockers from the snap.
One of the great things about Star is his willingness to stick to his assignment. Brutal and punishing off the block, he won't venture off and fail to fill his gap. NFL scouts will love that, knowing they are sticklers for assignments.
The Utah product will look to be more of a presence in the pass-rush this season. If Lotulelei can accomplish that, there's no question this Star can shine bright for an NFL team.
Texas loves its defensive prospects and this year they have two of the best in college football playing on their line. The first of which is Jackson Jeffcoat.
Jeffcoat, son of former NFL defensive end Jim Jeffcoat, uses the family genes pretty well. While health has been an issue for Jackson, when he does play, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better end in the country.
Jeffcoat uses his explosive speed off the line to shed his blockers. In doing so, he has an instant advantage at the snap of the ball and get a jump on the blocker. With his speed, Jackson combines it with a strong body to help push lineman around, allowing him to interject himself into the backfield.
Jackson has the body-type of a linebacker and the instincts of a lineman. We could see him being used in both situations in 2012, which will provide him with that little something extra scouts will be looking for come draft time in 2013.
With Michale Brockers now in the NFL, LSU's Barkevious Mingo will get a chance to show what's he made of on every down, not just on a few here and there.
Mingo is a terror on the end, speeding around the offensive line to make opposing quarterbacks shake in their cleats. Blazing speed is Mingo's biggest asset, which makes him feel more comfortable outrunning his blockers instead of shedding them entirely.
Now that Mingo will be inserted into the starting lineup full-time, he will need to focus some of that speed on the running backs as well as the quarterbacks. If he can elevate that level of consistency at stopping the run, he could jump up the draft boards without haste.
Still a little unproven in the pass-rushing category, Alex Okafor—the second member of the Texas Longhorn defense on the list—has the capability to be the best lineman in the country.
Okafor's bread and butter is stopping the run. His tree trunk-like lower body allows him to meet up with ball carriers and halt them where they stand. He's quick on the ball and isn't afraid to drive through the offensive line using those strong legs of his.
While stopping the run is not a problem, Okafor will need to focus on expanding his game by stopping the pass as well. Texas will have a great defensive front with Jeffcoat and Okafor. Jeffcoat may be the headliner in some people's eyes, but Okafor will be right there with him in terms of overall draft rankings.
Coming out of the rough and tough SEC conference, Sam Montgomery stands alone amongst the elite defensive lineman in college football.
Being able to play both the defensive end and outside linebacker positions, Montgomery brings unmatched tenacity and aggression around the edge each and every play.
Montgomery posses amazing speed and athleticism which helps him to shed even the toughest of blockers. Combine that with his sneakily long arms, outside of the pocket is in Montgomery's control whenever he wants it. Luckily for LSU, he wants control a lot.
He's a man among boys at this point. Even in the NFL, Montgomery will have his way more often than not.
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