Earlier this month, I showcased what I believed to be this year's top five offensive prospects; this time around, we will take a look at the top five NFL defensive prospects who will be making an impact in the NFL next season.
1.) Everette Brown, DE/OLB, Florida State: The 21-year-old Everette Brown really raised some heads this season showing his versatility to move between DE, as well as playing the outside linebacker.
At 6'4", barely tipping the scales at 250, Brown may lack ideal size for an NFL Defensive End, but he makes up for brute strength with his agility and uncanny speed for a player of his frame.
Brown totaled 13 sacks, while forcing three fumbles last season with the Seminoles, and regardless of what defensive scheme he is brought into at the pro level, he should be able to add a boost to any team's pass rush.
2.) Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas: At 6'4", 260, Orakpo has legitimate NFL size for a defensive end, and has shown improvement every year playing for the Long Horns. In 2008 Orakpo totaled a career high 11 sacks, and 40 tackles.
Although Orakpo may be the first defensive player selected in the 2009 NFL draft, his inability to move to the Outside Linebacker drops him to No. 2 behind Florida States, Everette Brown.
3.) Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State: Had Jenkins declared last season, he likely would have been the first defensive back to be selected in the draft, yet after another season at Ohio State, he will still likely be the first CB selected in the 2009 NFL Draft.
Great size for an NFL CB at 6'1", and great speed (4.3), Jenkins should be able to make a smooth transition into the NFL.
Jenkins INT numbers may not jump out at you, but that is more or less a result of opposing QB's avoiding his side of the field. A sure tackler, and could be a major asset for any team that favors a CB blitz.
4.) BJ Raji, DT, Boston College: BJ Raji is an intriguing prospect to say the least. While many feel that a 3-4 defensive scheme would suit him best, due to his size, there has also been talk lately that many 4-3 defensive teams are looking at him as a major asset.
In his time with the Eagles, Raji saw improvement nearly every season, and after being red-shirted, and given some extra time off the field to work out and get conditioned, he became a major threat in Boston College's pass rush, totaling for seven sacks.
At 6'1", and well over 300lbs, Raji is by far the best NT prospect in this years NFL draft, and should be off the board by No. 20.
5.) Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest: Curry possess all the tools to be a successful NFL Linebacker. Size, speed, elusiveness, and the ability to move between the outside and middle Linebacker positions.
Totaled over 100 tackles in 2008, and while he didn't prove to be much of a threat in the pass rush, he was a major asset in stopping the run, and showed a knack for being able to succeed in coverage.
Curry will be fighting it out with Rey Maualuga in terms of which LB is selected first in the 2009 NFL draft, and while Maualuga may have slightly more upside, for my money Curry is the best LB in this years draft class.
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