NFL1000: Ranking the Top Defensive Tackles of 2017 Season

NFL1000 ScoutsFeatured ColumnistJanuary 8, 2018

NFL1000: Ranking the Top Defensive Tackles of 2017 Season

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    Most of today's NFL is about hybrids and matchups, with players filling in at multiple positions and in multiple roles based on scheme, talent and need. This is true for defensive tackles as well—guys who can stop the run and rush the passer are more valuable than those who specialize in one or the other. 

    In the modern NFL, versatility provides opportunity.

    If you're a light interior defender who can slip through gaps and get pressure, that's great. You'll be valuable in nickel and dime fronts on obvious passing downs. The good news for you is that in 2018, most downs are obvious passing situations. But if your team is facing an old-school rushing attack, you might not see much of the field that week. Similarly, if you're a 330-pound hole-plugger without much mobility to get after the quarterback or perform a stunt outside your gap, your functionality will be limited and your playing time likely will reflect that.

    The best and most important defensive tackle are the ones who do it all—push guards and centers back with ideal leverage and upper-body strength, use their quickness off the snap to move into the pocket before a blocker can do anything about it, move laterally with speed and accuracy and even drop into coverage once in a while. If you can do all these things at a high level as an interior defender, you're going to see as much playing time as your coaches can manage. You'll also likely be at or near the top of our NFL1000 defensive tackle rankings for the 2017 season.

    NFL1000 scout Brandon Thorn has been watching every defensive tackle do his thing throughout the season, and here are his final player rankings and scouting reports for interior defenders for the 2017 year. The following criteria determined the players' final scores:

    Snap Quickness: 25 points. How quickly does this tackle react to the snap? Can he get out of his stance and move forward before his blockers take him on, or does he work at a disadvantage because he's a step slow too often?

    Pass Rush: 25 points. When asked, does this player display the required palette of pass-rush moves? Does he have the combination of power and agility required to break through to the pocket, and can he arrive with a suddenness at the quarterback?

    Run Defense: 25 points. The base attribute for any interior defender. Can this player split double-teams to come down with the ball-carrier? Can he work through a zone slide? How conversant is he with the abilities needed to be a consistent run-stopper?

    Tackling: 15 points. Does this player exhibit form tackling, or are his coaches always holding their breath when he's about to tackle someone?

    Position Value: 7 points. The base value of this player's position versus other positions.    

    Make sure to check out all of the NFL1000 rankings from the 2017 season.



Notable Omissions

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    Though our scouts watch all players in all games, some players—whether due to injury, ineffectiveness or a logjam at their position—don't make the cut because they didn't play a sufficient number of snaps. The following interior defenders were excluded from our rankings because they played less than 10 percent of their team's snaps:

    • Cam Thomas, Kansas City Chiefs
    • Tony McDaniel, New Orleans Saints
    • Arthur Jones, Washington Redskins

Glossary of Terms

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    Alignments (0-technique through 9-technique): Numerical categorizations for the gaps lineman occupy.

    Zero-technique tackles align their heads over the center, and 1-techniques align to either side of the center. A 2i lineman occupies the guard's inside shoulder, 2-techniques align their heads over the guard and a 3-technique is aligned to the guard's outside shoulder.

    A 4i-technique is aligned to the offensive tackle's inside shoulder, a 4-technique sets up his head over the tackle and a 5-technique is outside the tackle.

    Outside zone: Runs that involve more leverage than sheer strength for linemen on both sides of the ball. This type of play is designed to allow the offensive line to achieve lateral displacement of the defensive front. This involves "area" rather than "man" blocks, so the offensive line's goal is to work around and seal (reach) block the defense's first level (the defensive line) before they release to the second level (linebackers) or simply take the defensive line where they want to go.

    Defensive linemen require the mental processing and awareness to read their keys. They also need lateral quickness to expand with the blocker, rather than letting him win their outside shoulder for the pin or reach block.

    Play strength: The ability of the neuromuscular system to produce internal tension to overcome an external load. 

    This means the functional capacity to play with strength on the football field. It is essentially the ability to strain through contact and come out on top with superior leverage. Usually, a variety of muscles are involved—stemming from the ankle, hip and shoulder complex.

    Power: The ability of the neuromuscular system to produce the greatest force in the shortest time.

    Power equals force multiplied by velocity.

    This is usually seen as explosiveness, but that is representative of "velocity" in this equation, with the "force" being when I refer to the "jolt, pop or blowback" powerful defensive linemen are capable of at the point of attack.

    Sand: Lower-half size or girth, specifically in the glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps.    

Nos. 104-101

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    104. Cedric Thornton, Buffalo Bills

    Snap Quickness: 10/25
    Pass Rush: 
    11/25
    Run Defense: 
    11/25
    Tackling: 
    8/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    47/100

    Thornton primarily plays the 1-technique. He functions best as a run-blitzer where he can move laterally at the snap and attempt to penetrate adjacent gaps by catching offensive linemen by surprise. The 29-year-old is in pursuit and works hard to chase down runs from the backside, but he struggles to take on double-teams, oftentimes getting overrun due to a lack of functional strength in his base, hips and hands. His pads rise on contact, and he gets taken for rides once he loses leverage, struggling to regain footing. When blockers win his chest on basic drive blocks, he struggles to stack or disengage. Inaccurate with his hands as a pass-rusher, Thornton tends to get too wide when attempting to execute a move, and he will not push the pocket with his bull rush.

        

    103. Adolphus Washington, Buffalo Bills

    Snap Quickness: 11/25
    Pass Rush: 
    11/25
    Run Defense: 
    12/25
    Tackling: 
    7/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    48/100

    Washington plays both the 3- and 1-technique. He's most effective at the 3, where he can operate in more space and trail runs from the backside with solid pursuit ability. However, the 23-year-old lacks the functional strength, pad level and hand usage to be anything more than a backup. He struggles to generate push as a pass-rusher, his feet stop on contact and he gives up his chest too often. His head gets too far in front of his feet in his pass rush, making him susceptible to offensive linemen swiping down on his hands, which causes him to lose balance. Washington tends to move his body toward the ball rather than shed with his hands, which allows most offensive linemen to easily control him. He's marginal against double-teams, as he's unable to keep his feet on the ground once the secondary block hits. His shoulders often get turned, and the overtaking lineman easily seals him off.

                  

    102. Jerel Worthy, Buffalo Bills

    Snap Quickness: 13/25
    Pass Rush: 
    12/25
    Run Defense: 
    12/25
    Tackling: 
    6/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    50/100

    Worthy was a rotational 3-technique who slid inside to 1-technique on passing downs before the Bills cut him after Week 10. His best game came against Atlanta in Week 4, in which he gauged the snap count and got a couple of good jumps off the ball. He got in the backfield as a run defender to reset the line of scrimmage and alter the runner's track multiple times. Overall, Worthy showed marginal pad level, mental processing and tackling. His pads rose too quickly as a pass-rusher, and he had mediocre hand usage to swipe and keep his chest clear. He was also slow to disengage. The 27-year-old struggled to diagnose pullers, would often get sealed by down blocks and washed down the line. Too often, Worthy would overpursue runners and whiff in space, and he had poor aiming points to align his target.

                      

    101. Austin Johnson, Tennessee Titans

    Snap Quickness: 12/25
    Pass Rush: 
    12/25
    Run Defense: 
    14/25
    Tackling: 
    8/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    53/100

    Johnson has a huge frame with thick limbs, well-rounded weight distribution and adequate length. He's a two-down run-stuffer with little to offer as a pass-rusher. The 23-year-old has good physicality and play strength, with heavy hands to get inside an offensive lineman's frame and stack blocks. He plays with proper leverage due to solid hip mobility to lower his pads and drop to a knee against double-teams, and he has the ability to dig in and root his feet. Johnson also touts adequate snap quickness, resulting in limited ability to expand laterally against outside zone runs or penetrate the neutral zone and reset the line of scrimmage. However, he isn't twitchy or explosive enough to shed and insert into running lanes.

Nos. 100-96

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    Duane Burleson/Associated Press

    100. Quinton Dial, Green Bay Packers

    Snap Quickness: 12/25
    Pass Rush: 
    11/25
    Run Defense: 
    14/25
    Tackling: 
    9/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    53/100

    Dial has the skill set of a two-down player, equally effective against the run as a 0-2i or 5-technique. He operates from a square stance most of the time, uninterested in exploding into contact. He'd rather absorb and anchor down to hold position. The 27-year-old has the strength and length to set the edge and contain runs, with marginal ability to cross face and shed to make tackles. Due to his adequate balance and base, he will get narrow when expanding laterally to defend outside zone. He struggles to center his hips and allows his shoulders to turn prematurely. He does not have ability to present a threat rushing the passer.

         

    99. Justin Ellis, Oakland Raiders

    Snap Quickness: 11/25
    Pass Rush: 
    13/25
    Run Defense: 
    15/25
    Tackling: 
    8/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    54/100

    Ellis has a short, squatty frame with a heavy build and natural leverage. He touts marginal athleticism and snap quickness. He plays with low center of gravity stemming from thick legs, a strong core and solid pad level. The 27-year-old is often the low man at the point of attack. He offers solid play strength and use of leverage to take on double-teams, give up minimal ground and stay leveraged to clog running lanes. Ellis struggles stacking and freeing his chest when blockers are inside his frame, delaying his ability to disengage to adjacent gaps or make tackles outside of his frame. Below-average quickness prevents him from being able to stress the outside shoulder of OL as a pass-rusher, and causes him to lose outside leverage vs. quick reach blocks. Ellis is an adequate bull-rusher, can work under pads and compress the pocket against single blocks.

                

    98. Robert Thomas, New York Giants

    Snap Quickness: 13/25
    Pass Rush: 
    12/25
    Run Defense: 
    14/25
    Tackling: 
    8/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    54/100

    Thomas has a short, compact frame, with most of his weight around his core. He offers solid play strength and natural leverage to work underneath single blocks and hold the point. The 26-year-old plays flat-footed with marginal power/ability to split or work around double-teams. He offers adequate closing speed and burst, is easily reached, and he doesn't impact the game as a backside pursuit player. He has minimal power in his bull rush to create push, and he offers little as a pass-rusher.

    97. Eli Ankou, Jacksonville Jaguars

    Snap Quickness: 14/25
    Pass Rush: 
    13/25
    Run Defense: 
    12/25
    Tackling: 
    8/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    54/100

    Ankou played the 1-technique this year before the Jaguars traded for Marcell Dareus, which essentially made him a bench player rather than a rotational piece. He struggled with his consistency defending the run, showed adequate play strength to hold the point against single- and double-team blocks and displayed marginal hand usage to shed and regain leverage. He got washed down the line on down blocks too often.  

    96. Andrew Billings, Cincinnati Bengals

    Snap Quickness: 12/25
    Pass Rush: 
    12/25
    Run Defense: 
    15/25
    Tackling: 
    8/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    54/100

    Billings is a two-down run-defender with little to offer as a pashsrusher due to adequate snap quickness and marginal athleticism. He does provide competitive toughness, aggressiveness and physicality. The 21-year-old shows good play strength with flashes of immense power in his hands to reset the line of scrimmage and toss around blockers, but his hand placement is sporadic. He's rarely able to latch into the frame of offensive linemen at the point of attack, so he instead uses his size and lower-body strength to hold position. He either sheds blocks with pure power or not at all. Against outside zone, he shows sluggishness moving laterally with blocks, and he struggles to regain footing when contact comes from his sides.      

Nos. 95-91

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     95. Rodney Gunter, Arizona Cardinals

    Snap Quickness: 12/25
    Pass Rush: 
    13/25
    Run Defense: 
    13/25
    Tackling: 
    9/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    54/100

    Gunter is a high-energy player who offers competitive toughness and plays snap-to-whistle throughout games, excelling in pursuit. He's often late off the ball, which negates his ability to fire into the chest of blockers and often causes him to hang around the line of scrimmage without generating push or penetration. The 25-year-old is below-average against double-teams, and he often fails to reduce blocking surface or drop his hips to hold ground, allowing blockers into his chest to gain control and steer. He's effective as the crasher on stunts but he lacks much of a pass-rush plan, which results in him getting bottled up after attempting a bull rush.

       

    94. Tenny Palepoi, Los Angeles Chargers

    Snap Quickness: 14/25
    Pass Rush: 
    12/25
    Run Defense: 
    13/25
    Tackling: 
    9/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    55/100

    Palepoi has a solid build, but his small frame with short arms hinders him from holding the point inside the tackles on a consistent basis. He plays a 0- or 1-technique on obvious passing downs stunting to adjacent gaps, and primarily as a 5- or 7-technique in the run game off the edge. The 27-year-old touts solid snap/lateral quickness to shoot gaps. He does not offer much as a pass-rusher, but he showed discipline on the backside of runs to stay at home for the cutback and set the edge against tight ends from the 7-technique.

      

    93. Brian Price, Dallas Cowboys

    Snap Quickness: 13/25
    Pass Rush: 
    13/25
    Run Defense: 
    14/25
    Tackling: 
    8/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    55/100

    Price displays competitive toughness, stout run defense and adequate snap quickness. He does well taking on double-teams and creating stalemates using strength, physicality and hand usage to keep his chest clear. His pad level can be inconsistent, which causes him to lose leverage against outside zone. Effective stabs by releasing offensive linemen on outside-zone combos will seal him inside, and he doesn't show the lateral quickness to expand and win the outside shoulder against reach blocks. Price is a limited pass-rusher who is primarily a two-down 1-technique.

                 

    92. Ahtyba Rubin, Atlanta Falcons

    Snap Quickness: 13/25
    Pass Rush: 
    12/25
    Run Defense: 
    15/25
    Tackling: 
    9/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    56/100

    Rubin is predominantly a nose tackle, playing head up over the center or shaded on either shoulder. He has good natural leverage and play strength to create stalemates at the point of attack, with solid lateral quickness and processing to read his keys and maintain outside leverage versus attempted reach blocks. The 31-year-old works hard to get his helmet across blockers to show colors in his gap as a shade, and he works hard in pursuit down the line of scrimmage. He does a solid job of working under blockers' pads with leverage and using his hands to split double-teams. The 6'2", 310-pounder has little juice or power as a rusher but stays active and plays with a good motor to keep offensive linemen working.

                       

    91. Ricky Jean-Francois, New England Patriots

    Snap Quickness: 12/25
    Pass Rush: 
    13/25
    Run Defense: 
    15/25
    Tackling: 
    9/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    56/100

    Jean-Francois was cut four total times in 2017, ending his stint with the Packers on November 1 and finishing the year with the Patriots. He primarily played the 3-technique and 2i-technique off the guard's outside or inside shoulder. The 6'3", 313-pounder is a good run defender who plays with solid mental processing, strength, hand usage and leverage. He quickly wins blockers' chests to stack, reset the line of scrimmage and naturally maintain his gap. Jean-Francois does so with crafty hand usage and good pad level, which helps him work through either shoulder to shed. He plays physical and fast despite marginal quickness. The 31-year-old has good processing to read the ball on screens, misdirection and cutbacks. An adequate pass-rusher, Jean-Francois doesn't have much burst or power, but he fights through blocks to the whistle.

Nos. 90-86

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    90. Sylvester Williams, Tennessee Titans

    Snap Quickness: 14/25
    Pass Rush: 
    12/25
    Run Defense: 
    14/25
    Tackling: 
    9/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    56/100

    Williams is a nose tackle only, coming off the field in nickel and obvious passing downs. He has respectable strength and hand usage to stack blockers in the vertical run game, where he latches onto the frame of the point man on double-teams and turns his hips and shoulders to reduce surface area on bang-down blocks from assisting offensive linemen. The 29-year-old struggles to generate much torque through his hips to create space for himself once blockers get into his chest. He does an adequate job locating the ball, but he's often sluggish to break contact, shed blocks and enter running lanes. Williams is difficult to reach due to his solid snap quickness and hands, and he does a good job flattening and keeping his outside arm free. He has minimal power or impact as a rusher, however.

    89. Destiny Vaeao, Philadelphia Eagles

    Snap Quickness: 13/25
    Pass Rush: 
    13/25
    Run Defense: 
    14/25
    Tackling: 
    9/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    56/100

    Vaeao has a well-rounded, thick build. The 2016 undrafted free agent plays with toughness and aggressiveness. He predominantly wins with quickness to get into the neutral zone and strength to hold position against drive or down blocks. The Washington State product struggles with technique and pad level against double-teams, as he fails to drop to a knee and sink his hips, which often causes him to lose ground and leverage. He's an adequate pass-rusher with solid quickness and agility, but he fails to show refinement in his hands to free his chest and get to the edge.

    88. Treyvon Hester, Oakland Raiders

    Snap Quickness: 14/25
    Pass Rush: 
    14/25
    Run Defense: 
    13/25
    Tackling: 
    8/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    56/100

    Hester is a rotational rookie seventh-round pick. He shows adequate play strength to hold his ground as a run-defender, but he has inconsistent pad level and hand placement. The Toledo product gives up his chest too easily, his feet tend to stop on contact and he's often slow to disengage. He has little pop or power in his hands to stack blocks or reset the line of scrimmage. Hester has enough quickness to open the backside of offensive linemen on stunts, and he shows a solid pass-rush plan and an ability to sync his hands and feet to string together moves.

    87. Tanzel Smart, Los Angeles Rams

    Snap Quickness: 14/25
    Pass Rush: 
    12/25
    Run Defense: 
    15/25
    Tackling: 
    8/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    56/100

    Smart is undersized both in terms of weight and length, but he plays with natural leverage and sound technique. He uses proper pad level and snap quickness to penetrate double-teams. When he gets caught at the line of scrimmage, he contorts his body, drops to a knee and creates piles rather than giving up ground. Smart processes and recognizes reach blocks, and he'll fight to square up blockers and not get pinned. He touts adequate athleticism as a pass-rusher, but he lacks the power to generate push.

    86. Grover Stewart, Indianapolis Colts

    Snap Quickness: 13/25
    Pass Rush: 
    13/25
    Run Defense: 
    14/25
    Tackling: 
    9/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    56/100

    Stewart carries his listed weight of 333 pounds well, with even dispersion throughout his frame. He predominantly played nose tackle and 5-technique this season, where his play strength helped him set the edge. He's often late recognizing and reacting to outside-zone runs from inside the tackles. Stewart struggles to unlock hands off his frame, cross the face of blockers and shed when they initially win his chest. He plays somewhat high and does not offer much rushing the passer except moderate push to the pocket when single-blocked. He needs to work on hand placement and playing with better leverage.

Nos. 85-81

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    85. Hassan Ridgeway, Indianapolis Colts

    Snap Quickness: 14/25
    Pass Rush: 
    14/25
    Run Defense: 
    13/25
    Tackling: 
    8/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    56/100

    Ridgeway has a squatty, dense build with the power and ability to generate torque through his hips and hands. He's athletic and quick, but his mental processing and hand usage are marginal. He struggles with block destruction apart from using pure power, and he tends to throw a shoulder into blockers as opposed to using his hands to stack, clear chest and key the ball. His pad level is an issue against double-teams, as he allows blockers into his chest too easily and will get overrun and driven back. Ridgeway flashes as a pass-rusher syncing up his hands and feet, as his lateral quickness allows him to square up blockers and win inside with a club move.

    84. Brandon Dunn, Houston Texans

    Snap Quickness: 13/25
    Pass Rush: 
    13/25
    Run Defense: 
    14/25
    Tackling: 
    9/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    56/100

    Dunn has a compact frame with a thick lower half and solid length. The 2014 undrafted free agent will drop to a knee and angle his hips and shoulders against double-teams to strain and hold the point, creating piles before he's driven back. He's active in the run game and works well against the outside zone, as he flows down the line of scrimmage and shows solid athleticism in pursuit. Dunn is a solid bull-rusher with the right pad level to generate movement, but he lacks power in his hands to shed and get around blockers. He's a quality two-down rotational player.

    83. Haloti Ngata, Detroit Lions

    Snap Quickness: 12/25
    Pass Rush: 
    13/25
    Run Defense: 
    15/25
    Tackling: 
    9/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    56/100

    Ngata went on injured reserve with a torn bicep after Week 5. He has a stout frame with adequate snap quickness. The 12-year veteran isn't a penetrator who will reset the line of scrimmage, but his strength allows him to absorb blocks and hold the point. He fares well against outside zone when having to expand laterally and hold outside leverage. Ngata has adequate closing speed in pursuit and the requisite motor to make tackles on cutbacks. As a bull-rusher, he can compress the pocket with crafty swipes and chops to win leverage and get the occasional pressure.

    82. Chris Smith, Cincinnati Bengals

    Snap Quickness: 15/25
    Pass Rush: 
    13/25
    Run Defense: 
    11/25
    Tackling: 
    10/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    56/100

    Smith is primarily a 3-technique even though he's listed as a defensive end. He wins with his athleticism and snap quickness as a looper on tackle-end stunts, and he can close ground around the corner and get his hands in passing lanes. He's effective as a quarterback spy and has solid closing speed as a pursuit player. Due to his marginal play strength and power, Smith's bull rush provides little push and ability to compress the pocket. He also does not show a reliable pass-rush plan.

    81. Pat Sims, Cincinnati Bengals

    Snap Quickness: 13/25
    Pass Rush: 
    11/25
    Run Defense: 
    17/25
    Tackling: 
    8/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    56/100

    Sims is a two-down 1-technique. He's a stout run defender who holds his position against double-teams using size, weight, girth and pad level to dig in and halt momentum. The 32-year-old tends to brace and catch blocks at the point of attack, absorbing initial contact, anchoring and plugging holes effectively. It's difficult for releasing offensive linemen to get around him to the second level, and he's adept at allowing linebackers to play free. Sims uses his hands well to stack and shed blocks, but his below-average snap quickness makes him adequate against outside zone and not someone who penetrates gaps or makes tackles outside the hashes.

Nos. 80-76

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    80. Courtney Upshaw, Atlanta Falcons

    Snap Quickness: 14/25
    Pass Rush: 
    13/25
    Run Defense: 
    14/25
    Tackling: 
    9/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    57/100

    Upshaw has a maxed-out frame and a thick build, particularly through his limbs. The Falcons used him as a utility player up and down the line of scrimmage, primarily off the edge as a 5-, 6- or 7-technique. He's quick off snaps and strong, with good hand usage to set the edge in the run game and play on the shoulder of offensive linemen, keeping his outside arm free. Upshaw fares well on the backside of runs keeping contain, staying home for the cutback and flowing down the line of scrimmage in pursuit. He will get pinned and engulfed against double-teams and combos when further inside as a 1- or 3-technique, as he lacks the size, length and strength to root his feet. The 28-year-old has enough quickness and hand technique to get penetration on tackle-end or end-tackle stunts.

    79. D.J. Jones, San Francisco 49ers

    Snap Quickness: 14/25
    Pass Rush: 
    11/25
    Run Defense: 
    15/25
    Tackling: 
    10/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    57/100

    Jones has a short, squatty frame with marginal length much like teammate Earl Mitchell, although he has more weight and slightly less range in pursuit. His strength helps him hold the point against the vertical run game, but he struggles to press blockers off his chest when they win the inside, which causes him to get stuck on blocks too long. The rookie is able to stack and hold an edge against down and drive blocks due to his natural leverage and strong base. His range and quickness help him expand and work down the line of scrimmage against outside zone to force runs back inside, but he needs to come off the field on passing downs.

    78. Alan Branch, New England Patriots

    Snap Quickness: 13/25
    Pass Rush: 
    13/25
    Run Defense: 
    16/25
    Tackling: 
    8/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    57/100

    Branch has an enormous body with extra weight throughout his frame, thick midsection and solid length. His strength and girth help him eat double-teams, hold the point and alter the path of releasing offensive linemen to the second level to allow linebackers to flow and play free. He does well shooting his hands into the frame of blockers to flatten out attempted reaches and reset the line of scrimmage as a 0-technique. Branch gives good effort in pursuit working down the line of scrimmage, but he lacks adequate agility or quickness to make many wrap-up tackles outside of his frame. He's adept at transitioning into a bull rush to provide some push, but he's strictly a two-down player.

    77. Vincent Taylor, Miami Dolphins

    Snap Quickness: 14/25
    Pass Rush: 
    13/25
    Run Defense: 
    14/25
    Tackling: 
    9/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    57/100

    Taylor has long legs, great arm length and plays with excellent physicality, but he has room to add weight to his frame. Thanks to his play strength and square power, he gives up minimal ground against double-teams, as he works hard to cross the face of overtaking offensive linemen to regain gap control. His competitive toughness fuels him to never give up on a block and pursue the ball through the whistle. The rookie is a quality rotational piece, but his adequate mobility and athleticism and raw hand techniques as a pass-rusher hold him back from being anything more for the time being.

    76. A'Shawn Robinson, Detroit Lions

    Snap Quickness: 13/25
    Pass Rush: 
    13/25
    Run Defense: 
    13/25
    Tackling: 
    11/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    57/100

    Robinson has a stout frame, thick build and impressive athleticism. He's an adequate run defender with solid snap quickness. He struggles with high pad level and leverage against double-teams at the point of attack, which causes him to get overrun and driven back far too often. The Alabama product thrives in pursuit, plays with impressive effort, takes proper angles and unloads as a tackler to deliver big hits outside the hashes. He works well as a bull-rusher and is effective on stunts, but he lacks the lateral quickness or hand usage to get pressure without scheme help. Robinson is often able to get his hands in passing lanes when he's unable to reach the quarterback.

Nos. 75-71

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    John Cordes/Associated Press

    75. Caleb Brantley, Cleveland Browns

    Snap Quickness: 14/25
    Pass Rush: 
    13/25
    Run Defense: 
    14/25
    Tackling: 
    9/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    57/100

    Brantley has well-rounded thickness throughout a sturdy frame. He flashes as a run defender, showing the ability to key pullers, swipe and evade down blocks and penetrate the backfield with force and power. Cleveland often uses him as a run blitzer stunting to adjacent gaps with moderate success. He has solid get-off with room to become more consistent timing the snap. His pads rise far too often on contact when he takes on double-teams and as a pass-rusher, which negates much of his natural power. He's too easily controlled considering his physical tools.

    74. Kyle Love, Carolina Panthers

    Snap Quickness: 13/25
    Pass Rush: 
    15/25
    Run Defense: 
    14/25
    Tackling: 
    8/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    57/100

    Love is a former undrafted free agent who possesses more upper- than lower-body strength, aggressive hands and a high motor. His base tends to get narrow working laterally down the line and on double-teams. He struggles squaring up against doubles against good or better competition, losing his footing and getting moved off the spot. Love is quick off the snap but slow to react against outside zone, so he often attempts to undercut rather than pin outside shoulder and work down the line to maintain his gap. He's most effective rushing the passer utilizing his active, quick hands with a spin, hump and dip or rip moves.

    73. Stacy McGee, Washington Redskins

    Snap Quickness: 13/25
    Pass Rush: 
    13/25
    Run Defense: 
    16/25
    Tackling: 
    9/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    58/100

    McGee has a large frame, good length and a thick upper body. He plays both the 3- and 5-technique. The 27-year-old is best against the vertical run game using his length, play strength and hand placement to stack blockers, hold position and two-gap. He sets the edge on down blocks, with heavy hands and power to reset the line of scrimmage. While his mental processing is adequate, he's too easily manipulated by runners, as he prematurely exits gaps before they fully commit. He's top-heavy, especially moving laterally, and his heavy feet tend to knock him off balance once his shoulders turn. McGee's immense strength and length allow him to work through the shoulder of an offensive lineman as a rusher, with a solid hump move to counter. He could afford to lose weight to increase motor and stamina, though.

    72. Chris Baker, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    Snap Quickness: 13/25
    Pass Rush: 
    12/25
    Run Defense: 
    16/25
    Tackling: 
    10/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    58/100

    Baker has a stocky, thick build, with most of his weight around his backside and midsection. His strength and technique as a run defender help him angle his body and hold the point against double-teams, using his girth to free up linebackers to scrape and fill. He does well expanding laterally and using his hands to free his chest and flatten the outside shoulder of offensive linemen on reach blocks to maintain leverage. Baker's processing helps him locate the ball and come off blocks to adjacent gaps for tackles. He touts adequate quickness and minimal power as a rusher, but he has good awareness to get his hands in passing lanes.

        

    71. Eddie Vanderdoes, Oakland Raiders

    Snap Quickness: 13/25
    Pass Rush: 
    13/25
    Run Defense: 
    16/25
    Tackling: 
    9/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    58/100

    Vanderdoes has solid length and an unimpressive build with extra weight around his midsection and lower half. He's a good overall run defender with strength, physicality and hand usage, but his athleticism and snap quickness are only adequate. He plays with good leverage, an aggressive demeanor and good hand placement at the point of attack to get inside, stack and control blockers. Vanderdoes can two-gap effectively, as he's capable of disengaging and crossing face to plug multiple gaps. He's excellent against double-teams to get his hands on the point man's frame, drop his knees and hips and angle his body to delay linemen from releasing and simultaneously hold his ground. He lacks the ability to string moves together as a rusher and needs to broaden pass-rush plan and develop a primary move.

Nos. 70-66

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    Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

    70. Tyrunn Walker, Los Angeles Rams

    Snap Quickness: 14/25
    Pass Rush: 
    15/25
    Run Defense: 
    14/25
    Tackling: 
    8/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    58/100

    Walker has a high-cut frame with long limbs and thickness in his upper half. His upfield quickness, aggressiveness and strong hands in the run game help him get into the frame of blockers, control and hold the point. He's a straight-line player most effective moving forward using his power, length and hands to keep his chest clear and provide push to the pocket. Walker is an adequate run defender against outside zone with stiff hips and marginal lateral quickness. He tends to get washed down the line when adjacent linemen bang down on doubles, as he struggles to root his feet into the ground.

    69. Jeremiah Ledbetter, Detroit Lions

    Snap Quickness: 14/25
    Pass Rush: 
    13/25
    Run Defense: 
    14/25
    Tackling: 
    10/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    58/100

    Ledbetter has solid snap quickness and play strength, which enables him to shoot his hands, drop his hips and give up minimal ground in the run game against double-teams. He's often able to regain leverage when initially reached or pinned against outside zone, and he flows down the line of scrimmage in pursuit to make tackles outside the hashes. The rookie shows solid flashes as a pass-rusher, as he uses his hands to clear and free his chest, but his inconsistent pad level causes him to lose leverage and quickness to finish.

         

    68. Maliek Collins, Dallas Cowboys

    Snap Quickness: 16/25
    Pass Rush: 
    14/25
    Run Defense: 
    12/25
    Tackling: 
    9/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    58/100

    Collins played 0- and 3-technique this season with below-average ability as a run defender and flashes rushing the passer. His best fit is as a 3-technique. His snap quickness, burst and play strength are all impressive, but his hand usage and pad level are marginal. He often gets pinned and overrun on double-teams, struggles to maintain leverage or shed once blockers get into his chest, and he is primarily effective as a run blitzer when he can stunt across gaps and penetrate. Collins has a solid spin move and club as a pass-rusher, but he lacks an effective counter or bull rush.

    67. Jamie Meder, Cleveland Browns

    Snap Quickness: 13/25
    Pass Rush: 
    13/25
    Run Defense: 
    15/25
    Tackling: 
    10/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    58/100

    Meder's snap quickness, play strength and competitive toughness are all above-average. He plays the run well with strong hands and use of leverage to give up minimal ground against double-teams, and he fights hard down the line of scrimmage against outside zone to flatten blocks. The 26-year-old plays with outstanding effort and tracks the ball to the whistle. He's an adequate pass-rusher who does not offer a signature move or much push with his bull rush.

         

    66. Ryan Glasgow, Cincinnati Bengals

    Snap Quickness: 14/25
    Pass Rush: 
    12/25
    Run Defense: 
    16/25
    Tackling: 
    9/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    58/100

    Glasgow is a rotational piece on the DL who fills in primarily at the 3-technique. He wins with his competitive toughness and play strength. His inconsistent hand usage and placement hinder his ability to stack and control good or better competition at the point of attack, but he's an active player who fights hard to strain through blocks to maintain or regain gap integrity. He's able to stay square against double-teams as his mobility allows him to sink his hips, turn his shoulders and create leverage with his hands, but he needs to shore up his footwork to become consistent. Glasgow is adept at washing down cut blocks and flowing down the line of scrimmage in pursuit.

Nos. 65-61

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    65. Xavier Williams, Arizona Cardinals

    Snap Quickness: 13/25
    Pass Rush: 
    14/25
    Run Defense: 
    14/25
    Tackling: 
    10/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    58/100

    Williams has the natural leverage, aggressiveness and power to stack blocks and keep his outside arm free from a shaded alignment. He will get caught peeking backside on outside-zone runs rather than maintaining gap discipline on the front side. The 25-year-old excels in pursuit from the back side, taking proper angles with the quickness to evade backside cutoffs and scoop blocks. He lines up his target with  pop on contact and is a wrap-up tackler. Williams has push-pull, club-swim moves as a pass-rusher, but he lacks the burst to work around and close ground for consistent pressure.

    64. Nazair Jones, Seattle Seahawks

    Snap Quickness: 15/25
    Pass Rush: 
    13/25
    Run Defense: 
    15/25
    Tackling: 
    9/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    59/100

    Nazair Jones has a large frame, elite length, long legs and a slender build (can add weight). Jones shows below average sand, strength, and pad level to root his feet and hold the point vs. double teams and down blocks, but he doesn't stay blocked long. He's slippery with wiry strength, good athleticism and physicality, which allows him to shed off blocks, re-enter gaps and expeditiously sort through trash to find the ball in pursuit. As a pass-rusher, Jones is persistent but raw. He does not show a primary or counter move, attempts to win with raw strength and gets locked up easily. The 23-year-old often sticks his hands in passing lanes and is a threat late in the rush to find creases and get pressure due to very good closing speed

      

    63. Akeem Spence, Detroit Lions

    Snap Quickness: 15/25
    Pass Rush: 
    13/25
    Run Defense: 
    14/25
    Tackling: 
    10/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    59/100

    Spence has a compact frame with natural leverage and snap quickness. With active hands and feet and a high motor, he's a better backside run defender than frontside. He's solid against double-teams, is capable of jumping the snap and knifing through to hold ground, and he will fight to regain gap or spin into the running lane when initially sealed off. Spence is best against the outside zone, as he can use his quickness to penetrate and disrupt. He moves fluidly down the line of scrimmage to make tackles in pursuit on screens, dump-offs and away-side runs. He lacks pass-rush moves, which makes him most effective as the looper on stunts.

    62. Trevon Coley, Cleveland Browns

    Snap Quickness: 14/25
    Pass Rush: 
    12/25
    Run Defense: 
    15/25
    Tackling: 
    11/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    59/100

    Coley is a high-energy player with natural leverage who primarily plays the 3-technique and nose tackle on passing downs. His snap quickness and mental processing help him key in on pullers, replace and get underneath down blocks. He's a strong pursuit player who makes plays outside the hash and numbers, from the back side on run plays away and uncoils at the point of attack with power as a tackler. His strength and girth help him hold up against double-teams, but he lacks much power in his bull rush to collapse the pocket.

    61. Dontari Poe, Atlanta Falcons

    Snap Quickness: 13/25
    Pass Rush: 
    14/25
    Run Defense: 
    16/25
    Tackling: 
    9/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    59/100

    Poe's huge frame, strength and build help him hold his ground against the vertical run game. He can stack and hold the point against drive/base blocks and double-teams. Despite his athleticism, he's slow to diagnose scoop and reach blocks, which results in blockers easily gaining outside leverage. Poe struggles to protect himself against cut blocks, as he fails to use his hands to wash down, leaving his legs susceptible to contact. He primarily wins using a club move as a pass-rusher, but lacks a pass-rush plan when it doesn't work. He defaults to a bull rush and fails to show an effective counter move.

Nos. 60-56

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    Steven Ryan/Getty Images

    60. Mike Pennel, New York Jets

    Snap Quickness: 13/25
    Pass Rush: 
    13/25
    Run Defense: 
    17/25
    Tackling: 
    10/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    60/100

    Pennel has a massive frame with tremendous bulk and thickness throughout his limbs, which makes it difficult for blockers to get inside of him or move him off his spot in the vertical run game. He's physical, aggressive and nasty. The 26-year-old owns his space with the ability to root his feet against double-team blocks, flashing jarring torque to shed and split once an offensive lineman's weight distribution gets thrown off. He touts immense power in his hands and has the length to reset the line of scrimmage and command the point of attack. Due to his adequate athleticism and lateral quickness, he will struggle expanding to win outside leverage against reach blocks. He can compress the interior of the pocket with a bull rush, but adequate snap quickness negates his ability to get offensive linemen to open their hips or worry about anything other than power.

    59. Jay Bromley, New York Giants

    Snap Quickness: 15/25
    Pass Rush: 
    15/25
    Run Defense: 
    14/25
    Tackling: 
    9/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    60/100

    Bromley has solid hand usage, quickness and competitive toughness. His quickness allows him to win adjacent gaps as a run blitzer, work through the edge of single blocks and flow down the line of scrimmage from the back side. His pad level tends to rise against double-teams, and he struggles to reset his hands and regain leverage. He's a quality pass-rusher with strong hands to win the chest of blockers, generate solid push and rip through to break contact.

    58. Adam Butler, New England Patriots

    Snap Quickness: 16/25
    Pass Rush: 
    14/25
    Run Defense: 
    13/25
    Tackling: 
    10/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    60/100

    Butler has good athleticism, snap and foot quickness. The Patriots primarily use him as a 5- or 3-technique and a nose tackle on obvious passing downs. He's an active player who excels stunting to adjacent gaps as a pass-rusher by syncing his hands and feet and using clubs and dips to open the shoulders of offensive linemen and create backside openings for loopers. He transitions from his pass rush to pursuit quickly, and he's an adept tackler in space. Butler's processing helps him squeeze against pullers and off the back side of runs on cutbacks, and he uses proper pad level to take on down blocks. He touts adequate play strength, but he needs to penetrate gaps rather than hold the point against doubles or drive blocks.

    57. Shamar Stephen, Minnesota Vikings

    Snap Quickness: 14/25
    Pass Rush: 
    13/25
    Run Defense: 
    16/25
    Tackling: 
    10/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    60/100

    Stephens has nice length and a even weight distribution throughout his frame. He's quick off the snap, has proper pad level due to mobility to sink his hips, and his strong base allows him to give up minimal ground as a run defender. He can angle his body to split or take on double-teams head up with play strength. Stephens tends to wrap his arms around the frame of blockers at the point of attack, so he could use his hands more effectively to stack blockers off his chest. He's tough to reach as an outside shade, as he flows quickly out of his stance to leverage the ball and contain. He can push the pocket with his bull rush, but he lacks variance as a rusher.

        

    56. Jordan Phillips, Miami Dolphins

    Snap Quickness: 15/25
    Pass Rush: 
    15/25
    Run Defense: 
    14/25
    Tackling: 
    9/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    60/100

    Phillips has a massive frame with impressive length and athleticism. His agility and quickness off the line help him get inside the chest of blockers and control them with ease. He struggles maintaining consistent pad level against double-teams, will get blown off the ball at times and tends to stay blocked too long as opposed to shedding to locate the ball. He his length, size and power to walk offensive linemen back as a bull-rusher, but he lacks an effective counter. Phillips gives effort as a pursuit player.

Nos. 55-51

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    Mike McCarn/Associated Press

    55. Damion Square, Los Angeles Chargers

    Snap Quickness: 15/25
    Pass Rush: 
    12/25
    Run Defense: 
    17/25
    Tackling: 
    9/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    60/100

    Square has a stout, well-rounded build with thickness in his limbs and marginal length. He demonstrates impressive mental processing, as he quickly keys and diagnoses traps, pulls and play action. His pad level and play strength help him get underneath down blocks, single drive blocks and double-teams to stack and hold the point. He reads lateral movement well in the run game, expanding with proper hand placement against reach blocks to work across the face of blockers to gain outside leverage. He doesn't stand out athletically, as he shows some stiffness to redirect, and he lacks much pass-rush ability.

    54. Star Lotulelei, Carolina Panthers

    Snap Quickness: 14/25
    Pass Rush: 
    14/25
    Run Defense: 
    16/25
    Tackling: 
    9/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    60/100

    Lotulelei is a quality run defender with solid snap quickness, excellent stunting to adjacent gaps, clearing hands and penetrating as a run blitzer. He's adequate against double-teams, but his pads tend to rise against upper-echelon players when he's unable to lock onto the point man, doesn't drop to a knee or reduce surface area quickly enough. He can push the pocket and take attention away from outside rushers as a pass-rusher, but he doesn't show ability to string moves together.

       

    53. Beau Allen, Philadelphia Eagles

    Snap Quickness: 15/25
    Pass Rush: 
    13/25
    Run Defense: 
    16/25
    Tackling: 
    10/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    61/100

    Allen has a beefy, round, thick build and a nonstop motor. His snap and foot quickness help him get into the neutral zone, split combo blocks, hold his ground against vertical double-teams and reset the line of scrimmage. Thanks to his mental processing, he quickly reads and flows down the line of scrimmage on the back side of zone runs to get in on tackles outside of the hashes, and he quickly breaks off his pass rush to assist on screens and dump-offs. He lacks the lateral agility to threaten the edge of offensive linemen as a pass-rusher, but he keeps his feet firing and resets his hands inside to generate some push with his bull rush.

    52. David Irving, Dallas Cowboys

    Snap Quickness: 15/25
    Pass Rush: 
    15/25
    Run Defense: 
    13/25
    Tackling: 
    11/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    61/100

    Irving has a huge frame with long arms and room to add weight. He's athletic and offers closing burst in space. The 24-year-old is effective as a 1-technique rushing the passer, using light feet to work around the edges of interior offensive linemen with the length to get into their chest to control and shed. He has the awareness to use his length in passing lanes, and he's effective hanging back to monitor scrambling quarterbacks. Irving is an adequate run defender at the point due to inconsistent pad level against double-teams, which allows him to get moved around with ease. He's most effective as a run blizter stunting to adjacent gaps.

    51. Vernon Butler, Carolina Panthers

    Snap Quickness: 15/25
    Pass Rush: 
    13/25
    Run Defense: 
    16/25
    Tackling: 
    10/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    61/100

    Butler is a prototypical interior defensive lineman in terms of his height, weight, arm length and athleticism for his size. As a run defender, his snap quickness helps him get upfield and penetrate as a shade, and he touts the lateral quickness to work back across the face of offensive linemen and in pursuit down the line. He also displays impressive closing speed. However, Butler needs to refine his hand usage as a rusher, as he still attempts to win with athleticism or pure power rather than stringing moves together or possessing a counter.

Nos. 50-46

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    50. Willie Henry, Baltimore Ravens

    Snap Quickness: 15/25
    Pass Rush: 
    15/25
    Run Defense: 
    14/25
    Tackling: 
    10/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    61/100

    Henry is a rotational interior defensive lineman who predominantly plays in nickel and dime looks as a shaded 1-technique. He's strong at the point of attack and has the ability to stack blockers using proper hand placement to gain control and shed. The 23-year-old is adequate against double-teams, but he will get moved off his spot when offensive linemen bang down to assist. He doesn't hunker down and hold the point well, but he fights and has the ability to regain position. Henry tends to dip his head on reach blocks, which initially allows zone blockers to gain outside leverage. He offers impressive range in pursuit, and he's capable of delivering big shots from the back side thanks to his physicality. He excels stunting on tackle-tackle and tackle-end stunts, and he does an excellent job getting his hands up in passing lanes to bat balls when he's unable to penetrate.

        

    49. Earl Mitchell, San Francisco 49ers

    Snap Quickness: 16/25
    Pass Rush: 
    12/25
    Run Defense: 
    16/25
    Tackling: 
    11/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    62/100

    Mitchell has a short, squatty frame with marginal length and solid thickness. The 30-year-old, who primarily operates a 1-tech, possesses impressive snap quickness, play speed and natural leverage. He's difficult to reach or cut off on outside-zone runs, and he has the lateral quickness to get his hat across blocks and maintain outside leverage from sideline to sideline. Mitchell touts the play strength and leverage to get underneath vertical and double-team blocks, and he can plant his outside foot and generate hip torque to shed and split. He takes proper angles in pursuit, with impressive closing speed and pop on contact. He has an adequate push-pull to shed and get into rushing lanes as a pass-rusher, but he doesn't string moves together or offer much power.

    48. Malcom Brown, New England Patriots

    Snap Quickness: 14/25
    Pass Rush: 
    13/25
    Run Defense: 
    18/25
    Tackling: 
    10/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    62/100

    Brown has a thick, compact build with marginal length and decent athleticism. He is the Patriots' best interior defensive lineman and excels defending the run using his play strength and leverage. He has the mobility to drop to a knee, angle his shoulders and split double-teams, and he can stack drive/down blocks and reset the line of scrimmage. He does a nice job keying the runner with blockers stacked and effectively shedding to either side to get his hands in running lanes. Brown is an adequate tackler and pass-rusher. Outside of his bull rush, though, he offers little else as a rusher.

    47. Larry Ogunjobi, Cleveland Browns

    Snap Quickness: 16/25
    Pass Rush: 
    13/25
    Run Defense: 
    16/25
    Tackling: 
    10/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    62/100

    Ogunboji has a stout, muscular frame with impressive snap quickness and play strength. He excels as a run defender, as he can shoot gaps with his quickness and hold the point using his lower-body strength. The 23-year-old shows impressive variation in block destruction, including knowing when to reduce his surface area with a shoulder dip, and he has the hip flexibility to play low with leverage. He knows when offensive linemen are playing outside their frame, and he has the rotational strength to shed with ease. Ogunboji's hand usage as a rusher is rudimentary, and he attempts to run through or around offensive linemen with physical gifts rather than developed moves.

    46. Corey Peters, Arizona Cardinals

    Snap Quickness: 14/25
    Pass Rush: 
    13/25
    Run Defense: 
    18/25
    Tackling: 
    10/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    62/100

    Peters uses impressive play strength, hand usage and pad level as a run defender to flatten out attempted reach blocks, stack and reset the line of scrimmage and latch onto the frame of the point man on double-teams with powerful hands and lower-body girth, giving up minimal ground. His mental processing helps him diagnose whams and traps quickly, which allows him to spill runs outside or cross face back into the running lane. He will provide some push on tackle-end stunts and on bull rushes, but he does not have the quickness or variety of moves to pose a consistent threat rushing the passer.

Nos. 45-41

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    Mark Tenally/Associated Press

    45. Ziggy Hood, Washington Redskins

    Snap Quickness: 16/25
    Pass Rush: 
    14/25
    Run Defense: 
    16/25
    Tackling: 
    10/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    63/100

    Hood has a compact, muscular frame with thickness throughout his build. Thanks to his athleticism and play speed, he's an active run defender and fluid mover down the line of scrimmage. He plays long, with the leverage and hand placement to stack blockers, root his feet and tilt his body to reduce surface area on double-teams. He's difficult to reach due to his quickness, and he's quick processor to locate the ball on screens. As a rusher, Hood favors a hump move to open the hips of offensive linemen, penetrate and move the quarterback off the spot. His motor and quickness allow him to find creases in protection to get into passing lanes.

                

    44. Clinton McDonald, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    Snap Quickness: 17/25
    Pass Rush: 
    14/25
    Run Defense: 
    14/25
    Tackling: 
    11/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    63/100

    McDonald is an undersized player lacking sand in his back half, but he has a muscular build and thickness in his limbs. He's quick, agile and slippery, and he plays with natural leverage. As a run defender, the 30-year-old primarily wins with his quickness and pad level to work underneath and around blockers, but he will struggle holding position against down blocks and vertical double-teams. He's an impressive pursuit player who will track down runners on screens and dump-offs. He wins with speed as a pass-rusher, and he can open the hips of offensive linemen, plant and redirect inside to penetrate. McDonald is capable of turning a tight corner and closes quickly to finish. However, he doesn't show refined hand usage or power to offer much variance.

    43. Sheldon Day, San Francisco 49ers

    Snap Quickness: 16/25
    Pass Rush: 
    14/25
    Run Defense: 
    16/25
    Tackling: 
    10/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    63/100

    Day is undersized with evenly dispersed thickness throughout his frame, natural leverage and marginal length. His short-area quickness and explosiveness out of his stance help him get upfield into the neutral zone. Thanks to his hand placement and pop, he often delivers jolts to the frame of blockers and resets the line of scrimmage. In the run game, he penetrates by finding creases to disrupt pullers and split the back side of runs. Though his overall play strength is fine, he doesn't have much staying power against vertical double-teams after the initial burst. On stunts, he crashes hard to compress the pocket.

    42. David Onyemata, New Orleans Saints

    Snap Quickness: 16/25
    Pass Rush: 
    16/25
    Run Defense: 
    16/25
    Tackling: 
    8/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    63/100

    Onyemata has a large frame and a rocked-up, muscular build with minimal body fat. The Nigeria native steadily improved as the year progressed. He plays long with tremendous power and strength in his upper body and hands to work inside the frame of blockers, reset the line of scrimmage and clear his chest. His competitive toughness is second to none, and he won't back down from anyone. He's inconsistent with his aiming points in space as a tackler, and he struggles utilizing his lower half to gain leverage and root his feet against doubles. His pads tend to rise, causing him to get washed and moved around too easily. Onyemata is still learning to string together moves as a rusher, but he has a good bull rush and a devastating hump move that few can replicate.

    41. Tyeler Davison, New Orleans Saints

    Snap Quickness: 15/25
    Pass Rush: 
    14/25
    Run Defense: 
    16/25
    Tackling: 
    11/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    63/100

    Davison has a bulky, compact build with thickness throughout and decent length. As a run defender, he demonstrates proper pad level, play strength and hand usage. He's scrappy and tough, and he consistently strains and fights through contact. The 25-year-old is capable of swiping his hands on down/angle-drive blocks using a quick club-arm over move to evade contact and penetrate the backfield, or he'll quickly win the chest of blockers and generate torque to work underneath, lift and win his gap. His snap quickness and processing help him expand with outside-zone runs, and he uses his hands to flatten reach blocks. He also offers adequate range in pursuit. Davison aligns his hips and elbows in his power rush to deliver jolt and compress the pocket.

Nos. 40-36

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    Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

    40. Bennie Logan, Kansas City Chiefs

    Snap Quickness: 16/25
    Pass Rush: 
    13/25
    Run Defense: 
    16/25
    Tackling: 
    11/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    63/100

    Logan has even muscle dispersion throughout his build with impressive length, athleticism, pad level and snap quickness. Thanks to his play strength and pad level in the run game, he can drop to a knee and create leverage with his hands against double-teams. He gets moved off his spot against tough competition on down and double-team blocks, as he loses footing and is unable to keep feet planted, which forces him to take multiple hop-steps backward or to the side to regain his base. Logan fares well regaining leverage after initial contact, as he strains back across the face of blockers into running lanes. His ball-awareness, pursuit and tackling ability are all impressive. As a pass-rusher, he offers some ability to push the pocket with his bull rush, but he rarely beats a guy clean.

    39. Abry Jones, Jacksonville Jaguars

    Snap Quickness: 17/25
    Pass Rush: 
    14/25
    Run Defense: 
    15/25
    Tackling: 
    10/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    63/100

    The 6'4", 318-pound Jones has a well-rounded build, with most of his bulk sitting around his midsection and core. He's primarily a 1-technique, but the Jaguars have used him at the 5-tech on occasion to set the edge in the run game. His long arms and snap quickness help him shoot his hands into blockers' chests. Rather than win with play strength, he relies more upon his quickness and leverage. Against the run, he uses his those skills in addition to his pad level to defeat reach blocks and work underneath double-teams. Jones is a fluid mover down the line of scrimmage, and he offers range in pursuit. He has been caught peeking and abandoning gap integrity a few times this year, so discipline should be a focus of his moving forward. His active hands help him unlock a blocker's grip and get his hands in passing lanes, but he needs work stringing together moves.

       

    38. Al Woods, Indianapolis Colts

    Snap Quickness: 15/25
    Pass Rush: 
    14/25
    Run Defense: 
    18/25
    Tackling: 
    9/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    63/100

    Woods has a huge frame with impressive length. Thanks to his snap quickness and mental processing, he quickly recognizes down and reach blocks, shoots his hands into the frame of blockers and presses to keep his chest clear. He keys the ball quickly when engaged, generating torque to shed and show color in adjacent gaps. Woods anchors down and holds ground well against double-teams, using his strong hands and length to stack. When he's unable to free his chest to regain leverage, he will quickly drop to a knee. As a pass-rusher, he has the power to work through blockers' edges for penetration.

    37. Jarran Reed, Seattle Seahawks

    Snap Quickness: 15/25
    Pass Rush: 
    14/25
    Run Defense: 
    17/25
    Tackling: 
    11/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    64/100

    Reed has a large frame with broad shoulders, a thick chest and well-rounded weight throughout his build. His play strength and mental processing help him as a run defender. He has the requisite quickness to get in the neutral zone and expand laterally with outside zone. The 25-year-old stacks blocks with proper hand placement and reads the ball quickly, making snap decisions to shed to adjacent gaps and get in on tackles. When bull-rushing, he resets his hands inside and under the frame of offensive linemen and can walk them back. He's adept at getting his hands in passing lanes, but he lacks the agility and hand techniques to win with speed or counter.

    36. Davon Godchaux, Miami Dolphins

    Snap Quickness: 15/25
    Pass Rush: 
    15/25
    Run Defense: 
    16/25
    Tackling: 
    11/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    64/100

    Godchaux primarily plays the 1-, 2- and 2i-techniques. The rookie's snap quickness, competitive toughness and powerful hands help him shoot into the frame of blockers, latch and create leverage in the run game. He's difficult to move on double-teams once he gets a hold of the point man, as he demonstrates diverse block-destruction ability. Thanks to his play strength, hip mobility and balance, he can drop to a knee, expand his base, angle his body and strain to hold the point. Godchaux fights hard to regain gap and show his colors once releasing offensive linemen depart and to cross-face against down blocks to get his hands on ball-carriers in the hole. He excels as a rusher working to unlock lever points of linemen to win chest and compress the pocket.

Nos. 35-31

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    35. Corey Liuget, Los Angeles Chargers

    Snap Quickness: 17/25
    Pass Rush: 
    16/25
    Run Defense: 
    14/25
    Tackling: 
    10/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    64/100

    Liuget carries most of his thickness around his core and backside. He's thin below the knees, which impacts his ability to dig in, brace and anchor against double-teams and down blocks from tough competition. His feet tend to get narrow, which causes him to lose balance and leverage. He wins primarily against the lateral run game. His snap quickness helps him excel as a penetrator. Liuget's processing allow him to shoot through the gap to replace pullers and undercut reach blocks. As a pass-rusher, his hand usage and quickness stand out. He sets up blockers with inside-out fakes, clubs and rips to penetrate and move the QB off his spot. The 27-year-old possesses a nonstop motor and chases the ball through the whistle all over the field.

    34. Brandon Mebane, Los Angeles Chargers

    Snap Quickness: 15/25
    Pass Rush: 
    13/25
    Run Defense: 
    19/25
    Tackling: 
    10/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    64/100

    Mebane has a stout, thick all-around build with above-average natural leverage and play strength. He primarily plays as a 1- or 2i-technique. He displays proper pad level and hand placement when he works underneath the pads of blockers on double-teams and down blocks, generating good hip and hand torque to shed. His mental processing and athleticism help him defeat reach blocks and win outside leverage, replace quickly on pulls and work fluidly through trash as a backside run defender to get in on tackles outside the hashes. He comes off the field on obvious passing downs, but he has an adequate bull rush to compress the pocket as a rusher.

    33. Christian Covington, Houston Texans

    Snap Quickness: 15/25
    Pass Rush: 
    15/25
    Run Defense: 
    17/25
    Tackling: 
    10/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    64/100

    Covington went on injured reserve with a torn bicep after just seven games and two starts this season. He primarily aligns as a 3-, 4i- or 5-technique and plays with great mental processing and outstanding pad level. Thanks to his hip and shoulder mobility, he keeps hands above his eyes at the point to stack with his hips underneath him, and he sheds blockers violently using a push-pull technique. The 24-year-old touts excellent block destruction with an arsenal of techniques to defeat double-teams and single blocks. He'll drop to a knee, uncoil his hips and shed the point man on doubles to split and win his gap, or he'll play low enough to reduce surface area so offensive linemen can't create sufficient leverage. He keeps his eyes on the runner when engaged and is able to work across face with his hand usage and quickness. He's adept at taking sharp angles on stunts, and his quickness helps him stress the sets of interior linemen as a pass-rusher.

    32. Danny Shelton, Cleveland Browns

    Snap Quickness: 14/25
    Pass Rush: 
    15/25
    Run Defense: 
    18/25
    Tackling: 
    10/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    64/100

    Shelton has great size, girth and solid snap quickness. His play strength helps him take on double-teams, but he strains to keep his shoulders square. Thanks to the power in his hands, he can shed the point man and split for tackles at the line of scrimmage. When the secondary blocker bangs down on doubles and pins his hip, the 24-year-old fights hard to regain gap and trip up bypassing runners. Shelton throws his body around and plays through the whistle. He has quick recognition against pullers and is difficult to move on down blocks. His bull rush can put opposing linemen on skates into the quarterback, but he doesn't show a secondary move or counter.

    31. Eddie Goldman, Chicago Bears

    Snap Quickness: 14/25
    Pass Rush: 
    15/25
    Run Defense: 
    21/25
    Tackling: 
    7/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    64/100

    Goldman has a huge, thick build and frame with elite play strength. While he comes off the field on most third downs, his excellent mobility in his hips and shoulders helps him contort his body to win leverage and crease double-teams in run defense. Thanks to his hand placement and thunderous, elite power through his core and hands, he not only stacks and two-gaps, but he collapses blocks when he decides to disengage. Goldman is adequate at finishing in the backfield. His snap quickness is solid, but he's susceptible to reaches from premier zone-blocking centers. As a pass-rusher, he recognizes out-leveraged blockers and uses quick, violent push-pull and club moves to shed and move the quarterback off his spot.

Nos. 30-26

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    30. Steve McLendon, New York Jets

    Snap Quickness: 14/25
    Pass Rush: 
    14/25
    Run Defense: 
    19/25
    Tackling: 
    11/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    65/100

    McLendon is light in his backside, but he's thick throughout his core and limbs. He's a solid athlete with impressive play strength and pad level. Between hip mobility, torque and strong hands, he can latch into the frame of blockers, play square, stack and control the point of attack. The 32-year-old has a great sense of leverage and offensive linemen playing outside their frame, which allows him to quickly shed and discard in adjacent gaps for tackles. He's adept at getting upfield and into the chest of offensive linemen against reach blocks, resetting the line of scrimmage and taking away the cutback lane. He's an above-average wrap-up tackler and a strong pass-rusher with a bull rush and push-pull to counter.

    29. Sheldon Rankins, New Orleans Saints

    Snap Quickness: 17/25
    Pass Rush: 
    17/25
    Run Defense: 
    14/25
    Tackling: 
    10/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    65/100

    Rankins has even weight dispersion throughout his frame with thick, muscular limbs. He primarily plays 3-technique, but he gradually played more 5-technique as the year progressed. In run defense, his quickness to adjacent gaps and at the point of attack helps him deliver jolts and stack drive/down blocks. He displays inconsistent lower-body mechanics against vertical double-teams, as he drops to a knee and angles his body but struggles to brace, anchor and maintain gap discipline, which causes him to get pinned or driven back against tough competition. Rankins is a high-level rusher who eats up space between blockers to take away the half-man relationship. He's capable of stringing moves together, winning with speed or power, and he has a potent spin move to counter inside.

    28. Darius Philon, Los Angeles Chargers

    Snap Quickness: 17/25
    Pass Rush: 
    15/25
    Run Defense: 
    16/25
    Tackling: 
    10/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    65/100

    Philon has an athletic build, above-average snap quickness and play strength and great hand usage. He plays with proper pad level and fires his hands into the blocker's chest with smart placement to stack and gain control. The 23-year-old is capable of reaching stalemates against double-teams, turning his shoulders, dropping to a knee and reducing surface area. He often has a sense of when offensive linemen are playing outside of their frame and leaning, which allows him to quickly shed and discard. His quickness helps him stunt, rip and penetrate adjacent gaps as a run blitzer. As a pass-rusher, he softens the corner and rips through the outside shoulder thanks to his active, quick hands.

    27. Marcell Dareus, Jacksonville Jaguars

    Snap Quickness: 17/25
    Pass Rush: 
    15/25
    Run Defense: 
    18/25
    Tackling: 
    8/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    65/100

    Dareus has a huge build with broad shoulders and ample thickness throughout his frame. He plays both the 1- and 3-techniques. He possesses impressive athleticism and snap quickness for his size, as he carries 330-plus pounds fluidly. The 27-year-old excels at the point of attack in the run game eating double-teams, as he has the pad level, girth and play strength to halt movement, drop his pads and win leverage. He's a quick, reactionary player against reach blocks, as he smoothly opens his hips to either side and gets his hands on blockers to flatten, reset the line of scrimmage, win outside leverage or undercut inside for penetration. He doesn't play with a great motor to track down ball-carriers, but he's a force inside the tackles.

    26. Domata Peko Sr., Denver Broncos

    Snap Quickness: 14/25
    Pass Rush: 
    11/25
    Run Defense: 
    22/25
    Tackling: 
    11/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    65/100

    Peko is strictly a two-down run defender who plays the 0- through 2i-techniques effectively. He's a savvy veteran against the run, as he's active in pursuit and plays with great effort to the echo of the whistle. The 33-year-old possesses elite functional strength both in his upper and lower halves. He uses his girth and hands to brace, anchor and dig his feet into the ground to hold position and halt movement versus double-teams against all levels of competition. Peko does an outstanding job of leveraging his body to block releasing offensive linemen from getting to the second level, which allows linebackers to remain largely unscathed. He's great against outside zone as a shaded player, as he will use his outside hand to flatten reach blocks and turn the shoulders of offensive linemen, resetting the line of scrimmage in the process. However, he makes little impact as a pass-rusher.

Nos. 25-21

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    25. Kyle Williams, Buffalo Bills

    Snap Quickness: 15/25
    Pass Rush: 
    15/25
    Run Defense: 
    17/25
    Tackling: 
    11/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    65/100

    Williams is active, well-rounded and crafty. Against the run, his snap quickness, pad level and hand usage help him stack blockers and keep his chest clear. Against double-teams, he maintains a strong base and has the ability to strain and hold position. His play strength allows him to split doubles, flattening out the overtaking offensive lineman and forcing runners to bounce. He locates the ball quickly on misdirection, screens and play action, with a nonstop motor to chase runners across the field and make tackles outside the numbers. Williams is a solid pass-rusher with powerful hands using a club or hump move. He attacks the offensive tackle on tackle-end stunts, trapping their arms and freeing up the looper.

    24. Johnathan Hankins, Indianapolis Colts

    Snap Quickness: 14/25
    Pass Rush: 
    14/25
    Run Defense: 
    20/25
    Tackling: 
    11/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    66/100

    Hankins has a stacked, thick frame with extra weight in his midsection. He's athletic with light feet. In run pursuit, he's aware of the ball and is a strong wrap-up tackler. Thanks to his play strength and hand usage, he gives a powerful jolt at the point of attack through his hips and hands to stack single- and double-team blocks with authority. He plays with a strong base to create stalemates, and he generates impressive torque to shed. Hankins' processing helps him expand and win outside leverage against reach blocks. As a pass-rusher, his bull rush and hand techniques help him win the chest of blockers and push the pocket.

    23. Brandon Williams, Baltimore Ravens

    Snap Quickness: 14/25
    Pass Rush: 
    13/25
    Run Defense: 
    21/25
    Tackling: 
    11/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    66/100

    Williams is similar to Pierce, albeit with a bit more upfield and lateral quickness, and he's more of a threat shooting gaps as a run blitzer and on stunts. He wins predominantly with his girth and upper-body strength as a run defender. The 28-year-old holds his position against double-teams, and he possesses the quickness to shed and knife through for penetration. He excels as a two-gapper, with powerful hands to stack blocks with ease and work underneath or around to adjacent gaps. He can push the pocket with a solid pass-rush plan, including a club-rip to win outside leverage and open up lanes for loopers. He's a strong wrap-up tackler and finisher in the backfield, too.

    22. Mario Edwards Jr., Oakland Raiders

    Snap Quickness: 15/25
    Pass Rush: 
    15/25
    Run Defense: 
    17/25
    Tackling: 
    13/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    67/100

    Edwards has a muscular, thick, well-rounded build with decent length. He's athletic and mobile in his hips, and he plays with outstanding leverage and pad level. Thanks to his play strength, explosive hips and hands, he can deliver a jolt at the point of attack and reset the line of scrimmage. His excellent physicality and hip torque help him hold his own inside the tackles even though he's at a constant weight disadvantage. He often spins off blocks and contorts his body to shed to adjacent gaps. Edwards is a great hitter and tackler, as he unlocks his hips on contact and wraps up to finish. As a pass-rusher, his speed-to-power conversion helps him blow back offensive linemen, win their frame and walk them back to the quarterback. He has a solid club-rip move, and his quickness gives interior linemen trouble.

    21. Denico Autry, Oakland Raiders

    Snap Quickness: 16/25
    Pass Rush: 
    17/25
    Run Defense: 
    16/25
    Tackling: 
    11/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    67/100

    Autry has a large frame with solid thickness, long limbs and impressive mobility in his ankles and hips. He plays all over the line of scrimmage, primarily as a 3- and 5-technique. The 27-year-old is athletic and touts elite length with huge hands. He plays with impressive leverage for his size, and his hand usage helps him stack and disengage off of blocks in the run game. He drops to a knee against doubles to split. As a backside run defender, Autry uses his quickness to shoot through gaps and relies on his hands to clear chest for tackles at and behind the line of scrimmage. He wins as a pass-rusher with length and placement to create space for himself around the edge with a long-arm technique, and he plays with impressive tilt at the top of his rush to corner. He does a tremendous job getting his hands in passing lanes.

Nos. 20-16

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    Michael Reaves/Getty Images

    20. Michael Pierce, Baltimore Ravens

    Snap Quickness: 13/25
    Pass Rush: 
    13/25
    Run Defense: 
    23/25
    Tackling: 
    11/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    67/100

    Pierce is a fire hydrant in the middle of the defense. He has a massive, thick lower half with a tremendous center of gravity and natural leverage. The 25-year-old possesses elite play strength at the point of attack, which enables him to eating double-teams to free up linebackers. His powerful leg drive helps reset the line of scrimmage, forcing running backs to prematurely adjust their track.

    Pierce has powerful hands to hunker down and stay squared up moving laterally, cross-face back inside and two-gap all levels of competition. His hand usage helps him avoid backside cut blocks, and he works hard laterally in pursuit, where he's capable of making a surprising number of tackles at or outside the numbers. His combination of leverage, hand placement and lower-body power contribute to a devastating bull rush, but he doesn't offer much else as a pass-rusher.

                 

    19. Tim Jernigan, Philadelphia Eagles

    Snap Quickness: 18/25
    Pass Rush: 
    16/25
    Run Defense: 
    18/25
    Tackling: 
    9/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    68/100

    Jernigan has a muscular, stout build with thick limbs and marginal length. He shows some stiffness in his hips that delays his ability to redirect in space, which makes him more of a north-south-oriented player. The 25-year-old's natural leverage, snap quickness and power help him shock offensive linemen and reset the line of scrimmage. He's tenacious and has a physical demeanor.

    Jernigan is a disruptive run defender who uses quickness and mental processing to quickly key and diagnose pullers, evade down blocks and replace for penetration. He excels at reading off-balance linemen, causing them to whiff as he uses a club-swim move to evade contact and bypass them. He's an active pass-rusher with strong hands to fight through and unlock contact points, and his club-swim and rip moves help him win the edge and restrict the pocket.

                 

    18. Dalvin Tomlinson, New York Giants

    Snap Quickness: 15/25
    Pass Rush: 
    14/25
    Run Defense: 
    20/25
    Tackling: 
    12/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    68/100

    Tomlinson has a stout, sturdy build with impressive hip mobility and power through his core. The rookie is efficient out of his stance to take the neutral zone, with unusually refined hand usage for a player his age. He consistently latches inside the frame of blockers with elite play strength to stack, press, raise their pads and naturally two-gap.

    The 23-year-old extends his arms to capture outside leverage against reach blocks, and he takes away space from the back side to flatten cutoffs and scoops, resetting the line of scrimmage and eliminating the cutback lane for runners. He manages to avoid cut blocks by using hands to wash down, and he's a strong, reliable tackler. Tomlinson is adept at working into the frame of offensive linemen as a rusher. His bull rush helps him compress the pocket.

               

    17. Kenny Clark, Green Bay Packers

    Snap Quickness: 15/25
    Pass Rush: 
    15/25
    Run Defense: 
    21/25
    Tackling: 
    10/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    68/100

    Clark has a thick build with elite play strength through his base, hips and core. The 6'3" 314-pound defender is masterful with his hands, using excellent timing and placement to latch on to blockers' frames. He also has top hip mobility (flexion/extension), as he drops to a knee and angles his body to win leverage, halt movement or split double-teams.

    The 22-year-old plays with good pad level and a nasty demeanor. He uncoils his hips and bench presses blockers to clear his chest, shedding them once a stalemate is reached. He shows good processing against the outside zone and expands laterally, wins the outside shoulder to flatten his opponent and push them into the backfield to disrupt the runner's track. He has solid club-rip/club-swim moves, and his bull rush gets him an occasional hurry or pressure.

                          

    16. Javon Hargrave, Pittsburgh Steelers

    Snap Quickness: 19/25
    Pass Rush: 
    15/25
    Run Defense: 
    17/25
    Tackling: 
    11/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    69/100

    Hargrave has a compact frame and build with an extremely thick lower half at 6'2", 305 pounds. He comes off the field on most third downs and has only played 46.3 percent of snaps this season. The 24-year-old is a good defender against the vertical run game. He also has excellent hip mobility and natural leverage to reduce surface area, root his feet and give up minimal ground.

    He slips off blocks and is capable of back-dooring runs in the backfield. The second-year player is exceptionally difficult to reach-block, showing elite lateral quickness to explode out of his stance and expand to maintain outside leverage. He takes good angles with high-end closing speed and shows good effort in pursuit. He's a solid pass-rusher and can blow by centers with lateral quickness or gradually walk interior offensive linemen back to compress the pocket with his bull rush.

Nos. 15-11

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    Dave Reginek/Getty Images

    15. Tom Johnson, Minnesota Vikings

    Snap Quickness: 18/25
    Pass Rush: 
    18/25
    Run Defense: 
    15/25
    Tackling: 
    11/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    69/100

    Johnson is undersized at 288 pounds but has a thick, muscular build with good athleticism. He's a 3-technique who can slide further inside on passing downs. The 33-year-old displays excellent snap quickness and pad level, and adequate play strength as a run defender. He excels against zone runs both on the front side to capture an opponent's outside shoulder and as a back-side penetrator.

    The Southern Miss. product struggles to hold the point of contact against double-teams because his base narrows and doesn't allow him to root his feet. However, he quickly takes away the half-man relationship as a pass-rusher. He also shows outstanding pad level and hand usage to work underneath and inside his foe's frame, displaying excellent ability to counter inside and close quickly on the QB. He also takes solid angles in space to line up his target and finish as a tackler.

                              

    14. D.J. Reader, Houston Texans

    Snap Quickness: 15/25
    Pass Rush: 
    15/25
    Run Defense: 
    19/25
    Tackling: 
    13/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    69/100

    Reader is primarily a shaded nose tackle, but Houston shifts its line, so he plays a 2i- through 5-tech alignment. The 6'3", 325-pounder has a thick, stout build with good length. He plays with excellent pad level at the point of attack, with solid hand placement against combos. The 23-year-old shows impressive hand power, which allows him to work underneath blockers, shed and fight hard to maintain his gap. He needs to get more crafty about holding and releasing foes, as he was called for it multiple times this season.

    The Clemson product is an incredible player on the back side of runs and in pursuit, considering his size. He displays good processing, which keys lateral movement and allows him to trail opponents' inside hips and fluidly move down the line of scrimmage. Reader makes tackles all over the field with outstanding closing speed, agility and motor. He'll collapse the pocket when single-blocked, often putting foes on skates.

                               

    13. Michael Brockers, Los Angeles Rams

    Snap Quickness: 16/25
    Pass Rush: 
    17/25
    Run Defense: 
    19/25
    Tackling: 
    11/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    70/100

    Brockers has an athletic build with excellent length and evenly dispersed weight throughout his 6'5", 302-pound frame. He primarily plays in a 4i- or 2i-technique alignment with good athleticism, snap quickness and top play strength. His length complements good hand usage as both a run defender and pass-rusher. The 27-year-old consistently keeps his chest clear and blockers away from his frame.

    He plays with good pad level and roots his feet to hold the point of attack against double-teams. An effective two-gapper with good processing to key on and diagnose the ball, cross-face, shed and insert into adjacent gaps, Brockers is also a strong wrap-up tackler and explosive hitter in pursuit. He's a good rusher with fast hands and light feet and can win with quickness or strength.

                    

    12. Malik Jackson, Jacksonville Jaguars

    Snap Quickness: 19/25
    Pass Rush: 
    18/25
    Run Defense: 
    15/25
    Tackling: 
    11/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    70/100

    The 6'5", 290-pound Jackson has a filled-out frame, high-cut lower half and lacks sand in his backside. He primarily plays the 3-technique with a nonstop motor, excellent snap quickness and timing off the ball. The six-year veteran excels at run blitzing, penetrating adjacent gaps and chasing down runs from the back side.

    However, he lacks play strength in his back half to brace and anchor when squared up, struggles to hold position against double-teams and will get blown up if he can't drop to a knee quickly enough to reduce surface area. He's exceptional at syncing his hands and feet as a pass-rusher and has various chops, clubs and rips to win the edges. Jackson also shows superb ankle flexion to turn tight corners. He's excellent on stunts, both while collapsing the pocket and taking a tight path as the looper.

                        

    11. Damon Harrison, New York Giants

    Snap Quickness: 14/25
    Pass Rush: 
    15/25
    Run Defense: 
    23/25
    Tackling: 
    13/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    72/100

    The 6'3", 341-pound Harrison is a massive human being with elite play strength and mental processing. He's a phenomenal run defender who has heavy, crafty hands that allow him to reset the line of scrimmage, stack and 2-gap any level of competition. He can also eat double-teams and defeat reach blocks. He owns A-gaps with the excellent ability to cross his opponent's face and flow down the line of scrimmage in pursuit.

    The 29-year-old displays superb play recognition to quickly key on and leverage the ball. He also spins around to back-side gaps, clogs lanes when runners cut inside and breaks off his rush on screens with underrated agility and closing speed. He lines up his target in space and makes tackles outside his frame, extending his body and wrapping up. Harrison collapses the shoulder and runs through centers when they don't have help, and he gets his hands in passing lanes.

10. Linval Joseph, Minnesota Vikings

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    Tom Dahlin/Getty Images

    Snap Quickness: 14/25
    Pass Rush: 
    15/25
    Run Defense: 
    22/25
    Tackling: 
    14/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    72/100

    The 6'4", 329-pound Linval Joseph has a massive frame with broad shoulders and good length. He's an elite run defender who has dominating play strength, and he uses his length to bench-press blockers off his frame to free his chest, reset the line of scrimmage and track the ball in the run game.

    He can eat double-teams to free up linebackers, who can then scrape and fill. With excellent hand usage and foot quickness to work through blocks laterally up and down the line of scrimmage, Joseph displays tremendous effort in pursuit to make tackles outside the numbers. The 29-year-old is an elite wrap-up tackler who meets ball-carriers with an attitude and delivers jarring force upon contact. He'll put an opponent on skates with his bull rush, and he has an arm-over and a rip move as effective counters.

    —NFL1000 DT Scout, Brandon Thorn

    Joseph plays the 1-tech position in a four-man front about as well as it can be played. He starts with a massively wide base and comes off the snap low with malevolent leverage. This makes him a natural run-stopper, and when he's presented with double-teams, he has the root strength and penetrative ability to bust through them. What makes him a special player for his size is that he is so quick—not only to and through the pocket, but also from sideline to sideline.

    He's the primary reason head coach Mike Zimmer blitzes when he wants to more than when he has to. Zimmer's schemes are based on four-man pressure and creative double-A-gap blitzes. He requires a tackle who can handle the rough work while his teammates fly around. Joseph is that man.

    —NFL1000 Lead Scout, Doug Farrar

9. Ndamukong Suh, Miami Dolphins

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    Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

    Snap Quickness: 17/25
    Pass Rush: 
    19/25
    Run Defense: 
    18/25
    Tackling: 
    11/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    72/100

    Ndamukong Suh has a massive frame with good length, thickness and muscularity at 6'4", 305 pounds. The eight-year veteran has rare power and the explosiveness to deliver massive jolt at the point of attack. Suh's a good run defender who shows elite flashes. He's also capable of snapping blockers' heads back and controlling and collapsing their frame prior to shedding into adjacent gaps.

    The Nebraska product sniffs out screens quickly and is rarely fooled with misdirection. He has long arms, which help him win his opponent's inside shoulder and walk his foe into the QB's lap with regularity. Suh has effective arm-over and hump moves to counter. However, he shows inconsistent pad level and effort, particularly against combos, and will get moved down the line of scrimmage easily once he gets pushed laterally. The 30-year-old is a strong wrap-up tackler but periodically coasts in pursuit.

    —NFL1000 DT Scout, Brandon Thorn

    Suh isn't quite the pass-rusher he was at his apex in Detroit, where he was just about unblockable when faced with a single offensive lineman. But he's still one of the best run tackles in the league, and when he puts it together, he can still beat guards with a forceful bull rush to get to the quarterback. He's lost a millisecond of quickness over the years, but 90 percent of the Suh we once saw is still good enough to play at a Pro Bowl level. The question for him as he heads into his 30s is how willing he'll be to compensate for any physical decline with refinements in technique.

    —NFL1000 Lead Scout, Doug Farrar

8. DeForest Buckner, San Francisco 49ers

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    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    Snap Quickness: 18/25
    Pass Rush: 
    20/25
    Run Defense: 
    18/25
    Tackling: 
    13/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    76/100

    The 6'7", 300-pound DeForest Buckner has a lean, athletic build, looking more like an end than a tackle. He excels at stacking and setting the edge on down blocks and has good twitch to shed and play the two-gap. The Oregon product is inconsistent against deuce blocks, struggling to root his feet and hold ground. He's an excellent back-side run defender, though. Buckner has the snap quickness to get into the neutral zone and expand laterally, using his length to long-arm cutoffs and work down the line of scrimmage.

    He's got exceptional range as a tackler, engulfing runners by using his length and closing speed to track and wrap up. His tentacle-like arms and enormous hands are weapons he employs with a variety of slaps, clubs and chops to pin the outside arm of offensive linemen. He's got an arm-over move to finish and win the edge. Buckner impacts passing lanes on nearly every rush and strings moves together well, featuring a hump maneuver to counter inside.

    —NFL1000 DT Scout, Brandon Thorn

    After just two NFL seasons, Buckner has firmly established himself as one of the most impressive defensive linemen in the league, regardless of position. He has decent leverage for a guy who stands 6'7", but he's not married to the idea of "get low and stay low." This makes sense for him more than for most interior linemen. Buckner is so quick off the snap, he can react as a defensive end would. This presents multiple problems for guards, who would prefer not to block defensive ends. From the 3- and 5-tech spots, Buckner is as tough to deal with as you'll find, and he's a major cog in San Francisco's defensive rebuild.

    —NFL1000 Lead Scout, Doug Farrar

7. Sheldon Richardson, Seattle Seahawks

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    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    Snap Quickness: 20/25
    Pass Rush: 
    19/25
    Run Defense: 
    18/25
    Tackling: 
    13/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    77/100

    Sheldon Richardson has a lean, athletic build with good thickness in his upper half and good length at 6'3", 295 pounds. He's an outstanding athlete with loose hips, excellent snap quickness and good power in his hands. The former New York Jet is a good overall run defender with good block-destruction ability and good play strength to hold the point.

    He wins primarily on the back side of runs, getting upfield into the neutral zone to split combos, avoid scoops and cutoffs, and flow down the line of scrimmage with tremendous burst and closing speed to get in on tackles outside of the hashes. Richardson takes good angles in pursuit, and his motor runs hot. The five-year vet is a good pass-rusher with a well-stocked pass-rush plan, as he uses his length to get inside his opponent, create space and string together moves.

    —NFL1000 DT Scout, Brandon Thorn

    The Jets' insistence on playing Richardson out of position primarily as an outside linebacker led to his lack of effectiveness in 2016, but when the Seahawks acquired him in a September trade, they knew right where to put him: at the 3-tech base position, where he could use his speed and strength to wreak havoc against the run and rack up the occasional sack. Richardson can play multiple gaps, and the Seahawks would be wise to lock up this impending free agent on a multiyear deal.

    —NFL1000 Lead Scout, Doug Farrar

6. Kawann Short, Carolina Panthers

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    Grant Halverson/Getty Images

    Snap Quickness: 20/25
    Pass Rush: 
    18/25
    Run Defense: 
    21/25
    Tackling: 
    11/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    77/100

    The 6'3", 315-pound Kawann Short has a rare blend of size, athleticism and power. He's exceptionally explosive at the snap and with his hands, which deliver a massive jolt at the point of attack to stun, control and shed with ease. The Purdue product resets the line of scrimmage against attempted reach blocks and has the strength to collapse his blocker's shoulders and disrupt plays in the backfield. 

    Short is agile and fluid while moving down the line. He's an excellent pass-rusher and has a variety of moves to clear hands and win the edge. He can also run down the center and push blockers into the quarterback's lap.

    —NFL1000 DT Scout, Brandon Thorn

    Short has been tasked to play more between the guard and tackle on both sides of the defensive line this season as the Panthers show far more aggressiveness on tape as a blitzing team. Wherever he does line up, Short uses leverage and a massive lower body to get off the ball with strength and authority, but he's not just a "power pig." Short has a devastating rip move he uses to split gaps and look for the opening to the quarterback, and his quickness to the pocket is something to behold. 

    —NFL1000 Lead Scout, Doug Farrar

5. Gerald McCoy, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    B51/Mark Brown/Getty Images

    Snap Quickness: 22/25
    Pass Rush: 
    20/25
    Run Defense: 
    18/25
    Tackling: 
    12/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    79/100

    Gerald McCoy has broad shoulders and a thick lower half, with his weight primarily distributed through his backside and legs. The 6'4", 300-pound defender shows elite athleticism and snap quickness. Playing like he's shot out of a cannon at the snap, McCoy is used heavily as a run-blitzer as he has outstanding ability to penetrate gaps and blow up plays in the backfield.

    The Oklahoma product shows good play strength and pad level at the point of attack, and he has solid hand usage to stack and shed. The eight-year veteran uses incredible quickness to win the edge as a pass-rusher, with a cross-chop to pin his opponent's outside shoulder, showing good ankle bend to turn the corner in tight spaces and finish. McCoy's got a good spin move to counter inside and can put opponents on skates when he converts speed to power. His closing speed in pursuit is good, and he's a sure tackler.

    —NFL1000 DT Scout, Brandon Thorn

    On a Tampa Bay defense with too few elite pass-rushers and run-stoppers, McCoy stands alone as a beacon of elite consistency. While he brings impressive strength and ferocity to the 3-tech position—watch him fight his way through double-teams with estimable hand technique—his agility makes him great. McCoy can use everything from spin moves to rip moves to get free of blockers. Just when you have all that timed, he'll come at you with a pure bull rush and drop you right into your quarterback. 

    —NFL1000 Lead Scout, Doug Farrar

4. Grady Jarrett, Atlanta Falcons

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    Steve Dykes/Getty Images

    Snap Quickness: 22/25
    Pass Rush: 
    18/25
    Run Defense: 
    19/25
    Tackling: 
    13/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    79/100

    Grady Jarrett is one of the most active, explosive interior defensive linemen in the NFL. He displays outstanding natural leverage, elite snap quickness, explosive hands and a relentless motor. The three-year veteran also recognizes traps, pulls and screens quickly, and he shows elite pursuit skills to chase down plays from the back side.

    Jarrett is difficult to reach due to his upfield quickness and accurate hands at the point of attack, which allow him to win outside leverage. He's capable of stacking the point man on doubles or dropping to a knee and splitting. The Clemson product has a variety of techniques to win as a pass-rusher, including a club swim move, hump and spin. He quickly recognizes slide protection to his side, demonstrating good lateral quickness to penetrate across opponents' faces and move the QB off his spot.

    —NFL1000 DT Scout, Brandon Thorn

    One of the greatest mysteries of recent drafts is how Jarrett, one of the fundamental pieces of the great Clemson defenses when he was there, lasted until the fifth round in 2015. Size was a concern for multiple teams, but as Jarrett has shown, his 6'0", 305-pound frame doesn't matter. Jarrett is primarily an active 3-tech who bombs through blockers to get through the pocket, but he can also line up as a 1-tech between the center and guard, using active hands to defeat his opponent. 

    —NFL1000 Lead Scout, Doug Farrar

3. Fletcher Cox, Philadelphia Eagles

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    Abbie Parr/Getty Images

    Snap Quickness: 19/25
    Pass Rush: 
    23/25
    Run Defense: 
    20/25
    Tackling: 
    11/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    80/100

    Fletcher Cox has a large 6'4", 310-pound frame with an athletic, lean, well-rounded build. He's also an elite athlete with long arms and tremendous mobility in his ankles and hips. Those allow him to flatten and corner in tight spaces. Cox shows the hand placement, leverage and elite play strength to hold his ground versus combo blocks and has the ability to cross-face and two-gap single blocks.

    He's is a devastating pass-rusher with incredible talent to convert speed to power and keep offensive lines off balance. He can open offensive linemen's hips and rip to win the corner with elite closing speed to finish at the QB or transition to power and cave in the pocket before blockers can anchor. He sets up his moves with extraordinary nuance and fluidity. Cox also shows advanced hand usage and power to clear opponents' hands and penetrate the pocket.

    —NFL1000 DT Scout, Brandon Thorn

    Cox can play and win at every position from head-over nose tackle to 5-tech. He has an innate, obvious sense of which way his blockers are going, and he can adapt on the fly to reach a blocker's weak side. He has an incredible bull rush and can fly across multiple gaps on stunts and designed blitzes. Few defenders have his combination of strength, quickness and play intelligece.

    —NFL1000 Lead Scout, Doug Farrar

2. Geno Atkins, Cincinnati Bengals

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    Bruce Kluckhohn/Associated Press

    Snap Quickness: 21/25
    Pass Rush: 
    19/25
    Run Defense: 
    22/25
    Tackling: 
    12/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    81/100

    Geno Atkins has a lethal blend of natural leverage (pad level), snap/lateral quickness, power and play strength. He's an elite run-defender with outstanding block-destruction ability and an array of techniques to defeat combos.

    He uncoils his hips with excellent hand usage at the point of attack to shock and stack the offensive line, reset the line of scrimmage and shed at will. An excellent pass-rusher using a devastating bull rush to put offensive lines on skates, Atkins has push-pull and club-swim moves as potent counters. He takes good angles with solid foot quickness and closing burst to disrupt and finish plays behind the line of scrimmage. He'll collapse the edge on tackle-end stunts with underrated bend to the corner. Atkins is an all-around great player.

    —NFL1000 DT Scout, Brandon Thorn

    That three of the top four defensive tackles on our list (Grady Jarrett, Aaron Donald and Atkins) stand about 6'1" and each weigh 300 pounds or less is no mistake. Though many NFL teams still seem to see this kind of tackle as having a size disadvantage, such players actually have the edge in a passing league, where they can use their leverage and quickness to create consistent pressure. Atkins has been doing his thing since he came to the Bengals as a fourth-round pick in 2010, and when healthy, he's shown first-round talent throughout his career. 

    —NFL1000 Lead Scout, Doug Farrar   

1. Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams

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    James Kenney/Associated Press

    Snap Quickness: 24/25
    Pass Rush: 
    24/25
    Run Defense: 
    20/25
    Tackling: 
    12/15
    Position Value: 
    7/10
    Overall Grade: 
    87/100

    The 6'1", 280-pound Aaron Donald has a muscular, athletic build with broad shoulders and good thickness throughout a stocky frame. He also shows elite play speed with electric snap quickness and change-of-direction ability. Donald plays with tremendous natural leverage due to pad level, mobility and hand placement. He can also blow by run-blockers and live in the backfield or strike their frame, create leverage with his hands, generate hip torque and shed at will. He shows incredible dexterity, tilt and bend as a pass-rusher.

    With a diversified pass-rush plan, he's capable of stringing together multiple moves on a single rush to win either the outside or inside using speed, power or both. He's also got hair-trigger closing speed to finish around the corner and in pursuit.

    —NFL1000 DT Scout, Brandon Thorn

    Donald's 39 sacks through his first four seasons? That's a number any edge-rusher would like. To put up those stats as an interior defender and primary focus of every offensive line he faces—and thus gets as many double-teams as any lineman in the league—shows his real effect.

    Strong enough to win as a head-over nose tackle and physically gifted enough to line up at defensive end in special packages, Donald is the NFL's toughest defensive lineman to deal with on a snap-to-snap basis. He puts on a clinic every week, whether he's slow-rolling a guard only to devastate him with a quick inside counter or using his arms to push a center back before rip-moving him out of the picture. 

    —NFL1000 Lead Scout, Doug Farrar