NFL Draft 400: Ranking the Top Defensive Linemen for 2016

Matt Miller@nfldraftscoutNFL Draft Lead WriterApril 15, 2016

NFL Draft 400: Ranking the Top Defensive Linemen for 2016

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    Ryan Kang/Associated Press

    The 2016 NFL draft class doesn't feature two Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks at the top like last season's did with Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be excited about this year's class. With this draft set to be dominated by defensive linemen and small-school studs, not many people know as many names as they did last offseason.

    The goal of the NFL Draft 400 series is to change that.

    The top 400 players were tracked, scouted, graded and ranked by me and my scouting assistants, Marshal Miller and Dan Bazal, as well as scouting intern Nick Wright. Together, we viewed tape of a minimum of three games per player (the same standard NFL teams use). Often, we saw every play by a prospect over the last two years. That led to the defensive line grades, rankings and scouting reports you see here.

    Players were graded on positives and negatives, with a pro-player comparison added to match the player's style or fit in the pros. The top 400 players will be broken down position by position for easy viewing before the release of a top-400 big board prior to the draft.

    In the case of a tie, players were ranked based on their overall grade in our top 400.

Matt Miller NFL Draft Grading Scale

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    At the end of each scouting report, you'll see a final grade that falls somewhere between 4.00 and 9.00. This scale comes from the teaching I received from Charley Casserly, Michael Lombardi and other former and current front-office personnel in the NFL. I tweaked it this year to be more transparent. As a result, each player received a number grade as well as a ranking.

    This applies to all positions across the board.

    Matt Miller's 2016 NFL Draft Grading Scale
    GradeLabel
    9.00Elite—No. 1 pick
    8.00-8.99All-Pro—Rare Talent
    7.50-7.99Round 1—Pro Bowl Potential
    7.00-7.49Round 1—Top-15 Player Potential
    6.50-6.99Round 2—Rookie Impact/Future Starter
    6.00-6.49Round 3—Rookie Impact/Future Starter
    5.80-5.99Round 3-4—Future Starter
    5.70-5.79Round 4—Backup Caliber
    5.60-5.69Round 5—Backup Caliber
    5.50-5.59Round 6—Backup Caliber
    5.40-5.49Round 7—Backup Caliber
    5.00-5.39Priority Free Agent
    4.50-4.99Camp Player

59. Alex Balducci, Oregon

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    Steve Dykes/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'4"301 lbs5.1s7.16s4.44s 

    POSITIVES

    Alex Balducci has the body type and athleticism to play as a 5-technique defensive end in the NFL. Balducci shows the ability to get inside rushing lanes and shut down forward movement, and he can generate some pressure in the backfield with his length and power.

    Against the run he shows his most value, but Balducci has flashed some ability to get after quarterbacks when the pocket breaks down. He's solid cleaning up the pocket if pressure from the edge causes a breakdown.

    NEGATIVES

    A lack of play strength limits Balducci's projection. He doesn't have the core strength or base to match up against guards in the run game and doesn't have the athleticism to win on stunts and twists on the edge. Without the instincts to recognize the inside run or misdirection, Balducci often struggles to get in the right place at the right time.

    Improved strength in his legs and core will allow Balducci to be a better anchor in the run game. His current projection is as a two-down lineman without the rushing skills to stay in on third down against the pass. Improved hand placement will go a long way in helping him see the field.

    PRO COMPARISON: Marcus Hardison, Cincinnati Bengals

    FINAL GRADE: 5.00/9.00 (Priority Free Agent)

58. A.J. Zuttah, Dartmouth

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    Photo Credit: John Risley
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'2 "290 lbs4.64s7.16s4.44s 

    POSITIVES

    The younger brother of NFL offensive lineman Jeremy Zuttah, A.J. Zuttah is a versatile lineman who dominated the competition at Dartmouth. With the ability to play both guard and defensive tackle, Zuttah adds another level of intrigue for scouts.

    A naturally strong player on the field, Zuttah also impressed with 30 bench press reps of 225 pounds at the Dartmouth pro-day workout. He has a stout, barrel-chested frame with room to add some bulk if he stays at defensive tackle.

    A three-year starter, Zuttah has good experience and an understanding of schemes and blocking assignments. He's a run-and-chase defender with the straight-line quickness to be a threat when going after the ball.

    NEGATIVES

    Zuttah is undersized for both the guard and defensive tackle position and doesn't flash the upper-level athleticism needed to excel without the mass of a pro player.

    Playing at a smaller school, Zuttah needed to be an absolute freak to project as more than a late-round prospect, and his film showed solid play but nothing overwhelming against a schedule that doesn't put many players into the pros.

    A lack of length and bulk keeps Zuttah from being a gap-plugging tackle, and unless a team is willing to invest in him long term as a guard or 3-technique, he'll struggle to stay on the roster.

    PRO COMPARISON: Kyle Love, Carolina Panthers

    FINAL GRADE: 5.00/9.00 (Priority Free Agent)

57. David Moala, Utah State

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    Ted S. Warren/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'1 ¾"300 lbsn/an/an/a

    POSITIVES

    David Moala has solid football bloodlines. The cousin of Haloti Ngata, the Utah State star was a force on every down in his college career.

    A shorter, squat body with tree-trunk legs, Moala can be tough at the point of attack. He's big enough and strong enough to be a two-gap run defender who understands his assignment and won't freelance out of his role to try to make a splash play.

    When he wins the leverage game, Moala is strong enough to push and drive the line of scrimmage. He'll get forward progress and can re-establish the line a yard or two back from where it started. When matched up head-up on centers, Moala can wreck their plans with his motor and size.

    NEGATIVES

    Moala's lack of size will limit what scheme he's a fit in. At a maxed-out 300 pounds, he's not stout enough for a nose tackle position in a 3-4 scheme, and at less than 6'2", he's too short-armed for the 5-technique position. That puts him as a fit only in a 4-3 scheme, which cuts his fit to about half the league.

    Moala needs to be coached up on how to use his arms and hands to keep blockers off his frame. Too often a good punch from an interior lineman stops him cold. Without great length, he's left fighting for position at a disadvantage. Learning to use his leverage to play low and win low will help Moala down the road.

    Without great athleticism, Moala looks more like a depth player in a 4-3 defense. He must focus on conditioning and hand play to become more of a threat.

    PRO COMPARISON: David King, Kansas City Chiefs

    FINAL GRADE: 5.00/9.00 (Priority Free Agent)

56. Melvin Lewis, Kentucky

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'3"342 lbsn/an/an/a

    POSITIVES

    A big, bad man capable of playing in any defensive scheme, Melvin Lewis flashes plenty of potential coming out of Kentucky.

    Lewis has the size and strength to play in a two-gap scheme between the tackles or as a true 5-technique in a 3-4 scheme. With his length, height and huge body, he's a threat as a gap-plugger in the run game. He's tough enough to win in a one-on-one battle and will stand up and chicken-fight with tackles to win the edge.

    Teams running a 3-4 will like Lewis' ability to stack up blockers on the inside, and for that reason he may project best as a nose tackle. His frame, length and raw power make his uneven tape all the more intriguing.

    NEGATIVES

    Pad height and leverage are a major problem for Lewis. He doesn't fire out low consistently and will struggle to win against smaller players because he's surrendering his power by playing too high.

    Lewis doesn't bring much to the table as a pass-rusher. He's limited athletically and doesn't have the traits to bend the edge or turn the corner. He's like a tractor-trailer trying to turn the corner and needs ample room and time to get around the bend.

    A broken fibula partway through his 2015 season limited Lewis throughout the predraft process. Without great tape before the injury, he looks like more of a project and maybe a first-year redshirt in the NFL.

    PRO COMPARISON: Leon Orr, Oakland Raiders

    FINAL GRADE: 5.00/9.00 (Priority Free Agent)

55. Chris Mayes, Georgia

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'3"321 lbs5.34s5.13sn/a

    POSITIVES

    A transfer from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Chris Mayes is a big body. Mayes also has strength—he dominated the bench press at the combine with 33 reps of 225 pounds. That power, and ability to push offensive linemen in the run game, makes him a draftable candidate.

    A true nose tackle prospect, Mayes has the length (34-inch arms) and girth to shut down inside rushing lanes. He'll squat and become an anchor in gaps and has just enough movement skills to be able to two-gap and plug multiple lanes in the offensive line.

    Mayes' natural power and size are huge assets if a team can be patient while he comes along as a complete player.

    NEGATIVES

    Mayes was just a one-year starter at Georgia and has yet to fully capitalize on his physical gifts. The team drafting him, or signing him as a free agent, must be patient.

    When asked to move down the line of scrimmage and attack the ball, Mayes is average at best. He's not an easy mover through space and has lumbered, heavy movements in pursuit. Average athleticism will hurt his stock as much as a lack of film over the last four seasons.

    Mayes is also an older prospect, already 24 years old, and could turn teams off with the fact he'll be 30 years old when his first contract ends.

    PRO COMPARISON: Ryan Carrethers, San Diego Chargers

    FINAL GRADE: 5.00/9.00 (Priority Free Agent)

54. Trevon Coley, Florida Atlantic

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'0"305 lbs4.93s7.02s4.43s

    POSITIVES

    Trevon Coley doesn't have elite size or strength, but his production as a gap-shooting pass-rusher at FAU will draw NFL eyes.

    Coley, who ran a 4.93-second 40-yard dash at the FAU pro day, is an undersized, athletic defensive tackle. He'll get underneath the hands of blockers and work to find a route to the quarterback. With above-the-line vision and hand use, Coley can quickly disengage a blocker and get to the quarterback.

    Coley is a high-motor player with nonstop hands and feet. He'll churn through contact with his feet and uses his hands well to swat away blockers. He's agile and relentless enough to counter after linemen recover to match his quickness.

    NEGATIVES

    A lack of size and bulk affects Coley on rushing downs. He's not able to get stout at the point of attack and will get pushed around in the run game. You can see in his frame the old linebacker he used to be in high school.

    Coley loves to play in space and isn't as willing to get mixed up with blockers in the run game underneath. His upfield push as a pass-rusher works against him as offensive linemen get underneath his pads and use that forward momentum to drive him out of the play.

    Coley has some impressive pass-rushing tools, but he's undersized and hasn't had enough of an impact on rushing downs to get a long look from the league.

    PRO COMPARISON: Jerel Worthy, Buffalo Bills

    FINAL GRADE: 5.00/9.00 (Priority Free Agent)

53. Gerald Dixon, South Carolina

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    Grant Halverson/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'3"327 lbsn/an/an/a

    POSITIVES

    One of two Gerald Dixons on the South Carolina defensive line, Junior is the one NFL teams will be looking at most. The son of former NFL linebacker Gerald Dixon, this 327-pounder is a space-eating run-stopper on the defensive line.

    With enough hand use and power to shock blockers, Dixon can make plays working off the blocker. He knows how to use his power to fill a rushing lane and will get big to stop short-yardage attempts. Dixon is best working in a two-gap system but has shown ability in a one-gap assignment as well.

    An ideal nose tackle at the next level, Dixon has a frame that could handle more weight and added strength in his lower body to better stand up against blockers in the run game. He's stout enough against double-teams to get a long look in goal-line situations.

    NEGATIVES

    It's best to know what you're getting with Dixon. He's not a pass-rusher and was limited in his overall production at South Carolina as a two-year starter.

    Dixon flashes as a big man against the run, but he'll also turn it off for a series or two at a time and can become disinterested in fighting blockers. With below-average instincts and recognition skills, Dixon has to win with his first step. If he's slow off the ball, his tall frame becomes blockable in a hurry.

    Dixon's size, ability in the run game and football bloodlines will get him a look, but he's best projected as an undrafted free agent and not a player teams will spend a draft pick on.

    PRO COMPARISON: Deon Simon, New York Jets

    FINAL GRADE: 5.00/9.00 (Priority Free Agent)

52. Delvon Simmons, USC

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'5"295 lbs4.85sn/an/a

    POSITIVES

    A transfer from Texas Tech, Delvon Simmons has the athleticism and size scouts love on the defensive line.

    At 6'5" and 295 pounds, Simmons has the frame to play either 5-technique in a 3-4 scheme or as a 3-technique in a 4-3 look. A threat on defense and special teams, Simmons has two blocked kicks at USC. He's a high-motor player who understands his role and assignment. He won't get caught freelancing and chasing the ball away from his side and routinely made clean-up tackles on cutbacks from the ball-carrier.

    Simmons has ideal length to lock out defenders, and he uses his arms well in conjunction with his eyes to stack up blockers and read the play.

    NEGATIVES

    Simmons is built like a basketball player with broad shoulders and thin legs—legs that get moved off the ball far too easily coming off the snap. Simmons plays to his full height and hasn't yet grasped the importance of pad height on the line of scrimmage.

    Athletically, Simmons looks the part more than he plays it. His lateral movement skills are below average, and he doesn't show much spark coming off the snap. Simmons has good length and height, but his actual athleticism is below average for his size.

    Given he only saw the field for two seasons at USC, Simmons has some nice traits, but he will need to improve his play strength and his leverage to leave a mark on the NFL.

    PRO COMPARISON: Lawrence Okoye, New York Jets

    FINAL GRADE: 5.00/9.00 (Priority Free Agent)

51. Devaunte Sigler, Jacksonville State

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    L.G. Patterson/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'3"292 lbs5.00s7.90s4.97s

    POSITIVES

    Carson Wentz wasn't the only standout player on the FCS level in 2015. Devaunte Sigler, while healthy, flashed the tools of an NFL defensive tackle. A second-team All-American and conference Defensive Player of the Year in 2014, Sigler has the pass-rushing tools teams want.

    With an impressive athletic profile, Sigler has the frame to play inside as a 3-technique rushing the passer or outside as a 3-4 defensive end. He uses his 33 ¾-inch arms well and knows how to stack up tackles and then shed them to attack the ball. All in all, he's further ahead fundamentally than you expect for a small-school player.

    Sigler's high motor is hard to miss on tape. He flashes good first-step quickness and pursuit speed when going after the quarterback or a running back on plays away from him. He works down the line with intensity and rarely gives up early on a play.

    NEGATIVES

    Sigler originally signed with the Auburn Tigers, but they dismissed him due to a violation of team rules after his sophomore season. He then sat out football completely in 2013 before signing with Jacksonville State for 2014 and 2015.

    The injuries that caused Sigler to miss time in 2015 must be discussed, as he also suffered a hamstring injury while running at his pro day. After he sat out almost a month of football, Sigler's ability to stay healthy is a question mark.

    The lack of lower-body power in his game could be Sigler's biggest flaw in the NFL. He has to get better at holding his ground in the run game and playing through the block. His hand usage once blocked is well below average for an NFL player and will need early work.

    PRO COMPARISON: Brandon Dunn, Houston Texans

    FINAL GRADE: 5.00/9.00 (Priority Free Agent)

50. Giorgio Newberry, Florida State

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'5"285 lbs4.94s7.53s4.78s

    POSITIVES

    On the hoof, it's tough to not love Giorgio Newberry. With 34-inch arms and 9 ½-inch hands on a massive frame, the fact that he ran a 4.94 at his pro day just adds to the excitement.

    Newberry has excellent metrics, and when lined up in a gap, he can shoot and create pressure on the quarterback with speed. By training or naturally, he knows how to knife through blockers and use his hands to stay free from offensive linemen.

    Newberry's performance at his pro day overshadowed an average combine performance. With a three-cone time of 7.53 seconds and a 4.78-second short shuttle, he's starting to look like the kind of raw upside player teams love to find along the defensive line.

    NEGATIVES

    The first question scouts will ask when looking at Newberry is why he couldn't crack the starting lineup at FSU. Rarely does a player go from college backup to NFL impact, and Newberry is fighting that battle now.

    Being a 'tweener in the NFL today is often a good thing—but not on the defensive line. Newberry lacks the flexibility to play defensive end in a 4-3 scheme and doesn't show the strength to play over the tackle in a 3-4 alignment. He's tall and long but lacks the instincts or fundamentals to play early on.

    Teams may love Newberry's raw athleticism and versatility (he played special teams and even some tight end), but his lack of production at Florida State will be tough to get over when it comes time to invest a draft pick.

    PRO COMPARISON: Kendall Langford, Indianapolis Colts

    FINAL GRADE: 5.00/9.00 (Priority Free Agent)

49. Connor Wujciak, Boston College

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    Brett Carlsen/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'2"291 lbs4.91s7.32s4.27s

    POSITIVES

    A first-team All-ACC performer in 2015, Connor Wujciak can play the nose tackle position with the lateral movement and flexibility to attack in both A-gaps. Teams wanting a smaller nose will like what Wujciak brings as a late-round option.

    A tough-as-nails performer in the middle of the defensive line, Wujciak will get after it when the ball is snapped. His feet are constantly churning, and he's looking for an angle to get through the line and into the backfield. He's smart, instinctive and one heck of a player to contend with because of his nonstop motor.

    Wujciak can be a force against the run because of his dogged determination to get into gaps and pursue the ball. He's constantly making tackles on film and shows up consistently as a playmaker in the middle of the line.

    NEGATIVES

    The first negative for Wujciak is his lack of size. He's only 6'2" and 291 pounds, and strong centers and good double-teams move him off his spot. He's too often put on skates when a combo block attacks his shoulders.

    Wujciak can get walled off in the run game because he's not big enough to fight through angle blocks. When a guard gets on his shoulder and drives, Wujciak will get pushed out of the play and cannot re-establish his power base to get after the run.

    A lack of size and functional strength at the point of attack will be major obstacles for Wujciak to overcome. Without a pass-rush move that helps keep him on the field for all three downs, he's left without the great size you look for at nose tackle.

    PRO COMPARISON: Earl Mitchell, Miami Dolphins

    FINAL GRADE: 5.00/9.00 (Priority Free Agent)

48. David Onyemata, University of Manitoba

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    Mike Carlson/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'3"304 lbsn/an/an/a

    POSITIVES

    Coming out of the University of Manitoba in Canada, David Onyemata wasn't on many radars when the season began. That changed after the big man ran well at his pro day and showed up in positional drills moving across the field.

    If you want power, Onyemata has power. He's a Mack truck coming out of his stance and can rock offensive linemen back with his hands. He's a violent, aggressive player who will look to run through blockers as he gets after the quarterback.

    Onyemata's body type and athleticism are eye-catching, especially when you consider he could easily add 10 pounds of muscle. A good defensive line coach will see his raw traits and believe they can develop him into a top-tier pass-rusher with time.

    NEGATIVES

    Onyemata is an athlete, but NFL-level talent has never challenged him. Like many Canadians before him making the jump to the NFL, he'll have to learn to fundamentals of the position while also getting caught up to the speed and strength of the pro game.

    His knack for trying to go through blockers is a fine mentality, but he needs more of a toolbox of tricks when it comes to pass-rushing against NFL blockers. Onyemata currently does not use his hands well and doesn't look to stack-and-shed blockers at the point of attack.

    A true project, there is a lot to work with here, and Onyemata's stock on draft day will largely depend on how teams view his upside and coachability.

    PRO COMPARISON: Tony Jerod-Eddie, San Francisco 49ers

    FINAL GRADE: 5.00/9.00 (Priority Free Agent)

47. Farrington Huguenin, Kentucky

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    Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'4"282 lbs4.82s7.29s4.37s

    POSITIVES

    A one-year starter with natural athleticism and enough power to shock offensive linemen, Farrington Huguenin posted two sacks playing left defensive end in Kentucky's 3-4 scheme. With ideal size for the 5-technique position and enough movement skills to get into the backfield, Huguenin has the frame to add more weight.

    Playing on the left side of the defense, Huguenin can stack up against the run game and flashes strong hands and smart hand placement to keep blockers off his frame. A tough player with ideal aggression at the snap, Huguenin has the athleticism to run after the ball. His pro-day times of 4.82 seconds in the 40-yard dash and 4.37 seconds in the short shuttle are impressive for his size.

    An upside prospect, Huguenin could still add weight to his frame. He has a basketball player build right now with broad shoulders and skinny legs and could easily fill out his lower body more once in an NFL conditioning program. If he can get bigger and not lose flexibility, his athleticism could do damage against pro linemen.

    NEGATIVES

    Huguenin must add strength and size to his slender frame to become more than a rotational defensive lineman. At 282 pounds, Huguenin doesn't have the size NFL teams want from a 5-technique defensive end.

    Playing in a 3-4 defense, Huguenin was not asked to rush the quarterback and generated just two sacks in the entire 2015 season in that role—notably, both came in the same game (UNC-Charlotte). The upfield burst he shows pursuing the ball doesn't translate to pass-rushing speed, as his pad height is often too high to push through gaps.

    Given his lack of experience, Huguenin still has room to develop as a pro prospect, but he must develop secondary moves as a pass-rusher and in the run game to work past blockers with NFL experience. Huguenin has sparks where he looks like a potential stud, but his inconsistent pad height and first-step speed are likely to be his downfall.

    PRO COMPARISON: Vance Walker, Denver Broncos

    FINAL GRADE: 5.40/9.00 (Round 7—Backup Caliber)

46. Kyle Peko, Oregon State

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    Rick Bowmer/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'1"308 lbsn/an/an/a

    POSITIVES

    A junior college transfer from Cerritos Community College, Kyle Peko is a ball of activity. You won't get bored watching him work the middle of the defensive line at Oregon State. A shorter, squat player with a nonstop motor, Peko has the quickness to make centers and guards miss him at the line of scrimmage and the power to be a wrap-up tackler and run-stopper at nose tackle.

    Peko has surprising athleticism and quick feet for an interior defensive lineman, and he often played out over the tackle for the Beavers and had some success winning there off the edge. Transferring in from a junior college, Peko didn't struggle to acclimate to the Pac-12 level of play and made a fast impact.

    Peko does everything fast. He's quick off the ball, quick to shoot his hands into blockers and quick to break out a spin move or swim to get past blockers. And in space, he can run down the ball.

    NEGATIVES

    A lack of ideal size will be the biggest issue for teams as they evaluate Peko. At 6'1" and a maxed-out 308 pounds, he doesn't have the length you want from a nose tackle and may be limited in how you can get him on the field.

    Peko's production as a pass-rusher is less than ideal, even if you consider him a nose tackle. He has the quickness to get into the backfield, but he too often dances at the line of scrimmage and goes horizontal instead of vertical with his movement. He has to win with a first step or he's shut down.

    As a one-year starter at OSU, Peko doesn't have the instincts to read and react to the offensive line and understand the keys to get into the backfield and stop the run. He's winning with athleticism only and must work to better understand what's happening in front of him.

    PRO COMPARISON: David Parry, Indianapolis Colts

    FINAL GRADE: 5.40/9.00 (Round 7—Backup Caliber)

45. Mehdi Abdesmad, Boston College

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'6"284 lbs5.1s7.55s4.62s

    POSITIVES

    One of two Boston College prospects (along with Wujciak) along the defensive line in the 2016 draft class, Mehdi Abdesmad is an ideal 5-technique for a 3-4 defense at 6'6" and 284 pounds. With 33 ⅜-inch arms, he also has the length to lock out blockers and contain the edge in the run game.

    Abdesmad plays with great hand strength and has proved he can lock on and drive blockers back off the line of scrimmage. He's an alert, aware player, and misdirection or run-pass option plays won't fool him. He's patient coming off the ball and will maintain leverage while sealing off the edge to take away outside runs.

    As a pass-rusher, Abdesmad hasn't made a major impact, but he's an impressive tackler when running down the ball. With big length and strong hands, he rarely lets a runner out of his grasp. His best asset in the pass game is a strong bull rush.

    NEGATIVES

    Injuries have ravaged Abdesmad's career at Boston College. He missed three games as a freshman (2011) and then missed major time in 2013 due to a knee injury. Another knee injury would cost Abdesmad all but three games in 2014.

    Perhaps because of the injuries to his knees, Abdesmad doesn't have a developed lower body. He's all chest and shoulders with skinny legs. He has the size and production to get a long look in the NFL, but his past problems with injuries and a frame that needs work keep Abdesmad near the bottom of the class.

    On the field, he has to be smarter with his leverage and hand placement. Too often he's standing straight up out of the snap and trying to locate the ball instead of firing out low and reading his keys. If Abdesmad can learn to read and react on the fly, his initial push will improve.

    PRO COMPARISON: Taylor Hart, Philadelphia Eagles

    FINAL GRADE: 5.40/9.00 (Round 7—Backup Caliber)

44. Sterling Bailey, Georgia

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'4"285 lbs4.95s7.39s4.58s

    POSITIVES

    A partial starter in two seasons at Georgia, Sterling Bailey is a scheme-versatile performer with the tools to line up at defensive end in a 3-4 or at defensive tackle in a 4-3. Bailey's 2015 season was his best, and he leaves Georgia as a captain and true leader on the defense.

    At 6'4" and 285 pounds, Bailey has the length (33 ⅜-inch arms) teams want as a 5-technique edge defender. He also has big, strong hands (10 ¼") that allow him to lock on and contain blockers. He's tough at the point of attack and will own his spot when asked to contain.

    Bailey plays with excellent leverage and hand placement. He has the strength to arch his back and dig into the turf to anchor at the point of attack and is rarely beaten when it comes to a shoving match for positioning. Bailey doesn't give much as a pass-rusher, but he does have the technique to stack and shed a tackle and get penetration.

    NEGATIVES

    Bailey had an up-and-down career at Georgia, never starting a full season and being demoted to a rotational role in 2014 after starting nine games in 2013. A lack of production will be the first question raised when Bailey is debated.

    With a move toward more athleticism on the defensive line, NFL teams may not like Bailey's limited hip snap and burst. At under 300 pounds, he timed poorly at the combine and at his pro day in every explosive test, and that's backed up on film. Bailey is an average athlete in most categories and below average in others.

    When his card goes up on the wall in a draft room, Bailey will be hurt by only posting 2.5 sacks in his career and by his testing numbers throughout the draft process. His tape is impressive against the run, and he has pro-ready technique, but it's easy to look at Bailey and feel he's maxed out his potential.

    PRO COMPARISON: Xavier Cooper, Cleveland Browns

    FINAL GRADE: 5.40/9.00 (Round 7—Backup Caliber)

43. Antwaun Woods, USC

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'0"318 lbs5.09sn/an/a

    POSITIVES

    A one-year starter at nose tackle for USC, Antwaun Woods impressed in person against the Notre Dame offensive line. He plays with great natural leverage and has the strength at 318 pounds to generate penetration in the middle of the line.

    When viewing Woods both on film and from the press box, he has impressive forward movement without being a great athlete. He controls his space with feet that never stop moving and the width to plant himself in a gap and anchor it fully.

    Woods doesn't mess around when the ball is snapped and has a straight-forward first movement. He can get into the personal space of a center with quickness and will work him back toward the quarterback with fast hands and feet.

    NEGATIVES

    Woods doesn't have the length (31-inch arms) teams want from defensive linemen, especially in a 3-4 defense. And as only a one-year starter on some bad USC teams, pro scouts must discover why he couldn't find a spot on the field before now.

    Woods' lack of length shows up often on film and especially when working against a zone-blocking scheme up front. He doesn't stack up blockers and can be neutralized when a guard gets into his side and drives him out of the play. Woods is great in a man-to-man situation, but angle blocks give him fits.

    In the passing game, Woods is not a factor. He notched just three sacks in 2015 and got those from busted plays. He's so quick to fire off the ball that he often misses blocking keys and can let himself get blocked by poor awareness. Learning to play with his head up and eyes in the backfield will help Woods get on the field faster in the NFL.

    PRO COMPARISON: Ian Williams, San Francisco 49ers

    FINAL GRADE: 5.40/9.00 (Round 7—Backup Caliber)

42. David Dean, Virginia

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    Grant Halverson/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'1"290 lbs5.1sn/an/a

    POSITIVES

    A three-year starter at Virginia, David Dean has the production, experience and short-area quickness to potentially overcome his lack of size at the next level.

    With a quick first step, Dean is able to get through gaps and create penetration. He was a one-man wrecking crew on the Virginia line and was often asked to split double-teams while lining up everywhere between the nose and a 3-technique. Showing ideal versatility up front, Dean brings value to the NFL as an agile lineman able to line up in many different spots.

    Production from Dean at Virginia was pro-quality. He finished 2015 with 4.5 sacks and showed relentless pursuit when chasing down ball-carriers and passers. He has the hip snap and foot speed to be a factor working down the line and combines enough play strength to get stout and anchor gaps.

    NEGATIVES

    Right off the bat you notice that Dean doesn't meet the NFL's standard for size at the position. He's short, lean and short-armed (31 ½ inches), and that's hard to overcome no matter your quickness. Because of his lack of ideal size, Dean's issues with consistent leverage become more noticeable.

    Because he's asked to win with quickness and not strength or length, Dean cannot afford to get stood up at the line of scrimmage, and yet he's often playing straight up and down off the ball. At 6'1", he should win these leverage battles naturally but hasn't developed good habits as a knee-bender.

    Stalemates with Dean are lost too often from poor technique. He flashes impressive quickness, strength and versatility, but he is a project at the next level due to poor size and poor play habits when asked to win with leverage.

    PRO COMPARISON: Christian Covington, Houston Texans

    FINAL GRADE: 5.40/9.00 (Round 7—Backup Caliber)

41. Aziz Shittu, Stanford

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    Young Kwak/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'3"279 lbs5.4s7.52s4.52s

    POSITIVES

    A starter at right defensive end in Stanford’s 3-4 defense, Aziz Shittu suffered a devastating ACL injury during his junior season but fought back to make a huge impact in his final year. A first-team All-Pac-12 selection, Shittu totaled nine tackles for a loss and 4.5 sacks in 2015.

    A long-armed (33 ¾") and big-handed (10 ⅜") defensive end with the strength to lock out offensive linemen on the edge, Shittu impresses in the run game. He's aware and alert right off the snap and does a good job containing the edge. He has the broad shoulders and big hands to lock up a tackle trying to get to the second level to fuel the run game.

    Shittu doesn't give much in the pass game, but he creates opportunities for his linebackers. In a traditional 3-4 defense, he's asked to contain the tackle and tie him up so the outside 'backer can bend the edge. He plays this role well.

    NEGATIVES

    A lack of athleticism will ultimately hurt Shittu's stock as much as his injury history and lack of playing time. He doesn't have the quickness to give chase in the run or pass games and is just a guy when asked to penetrate and make plays.

    Without NFL-caliber explosion, Shittu must win with leverage and technique. The problem is that his pad height is all over the place. He gets caught standing and watching the play too often and makes himself a big, blockable target when standing at full height.

    Shittu makes plays in the run game but doesn't bring the same heat as a pass rusher. He's average outside of straight-line push and won't bend the edge or vary his pass-rushing moves to beat a tackle to the pocket.

    PRO COMPARISON: Billy Winn, Indianapolis Colts

    FINAL GRADE: 5.40/9.00 (Round 7—Backup Caliber)

40. Joel Heath, Michigan State

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'5"293 lbs5.02s7.44s4.52s

    POSITIVES

    Seeing Joel Heath on film and in person (against Nebraska), he shows the length (34 ½-inch arms) and size to be an ideal 5-technique defender in the pros.

    A move from defensive end to defensive tackle before the 2014 season saw his stock take off, and now he's getting a real look as a mid-to late-rounder. The result is a defensive tackle with enough speed and agility to get pressure as a pass-rusher.

    Heath is a high-motor, effort player who wins with smart hand use and short-area quickness. He's stout enough against the run on edge and knows how to use his length to make tackles in space.

    Heath ranks well as a tackler and as a high-motor player. He's a natural leader on the defense. Coaches and teammates we spoke to in person raved about Heath's work ethic and weight room dedication. He's a mature, smart player who attacks the game like a professional.

    NEGATIVES

    Heath looks the part and tested as an above-average athlete, but that hasn't resulted in production. When moving in space, he doesn't always look natural or explosive, and he struggles when asked to fight through traffic around his feet to get to the ball.

    Facing offenses that use pre-snap action and misdirection, Heath struggled to locate the ball on the go and doesn't have the vision of a two-year starter in the Big Ten. His footwork when engaged with blockers also needs work, as too often Heath lets his feet die once his hands are locked up. That creates situations where he must counter the blocker, and that's not something he's developed to date.

    Watching Heath against Iowa and Nebraska, he struggled to fight off bigger, more technical blockers. He was awesome at times against lesser competition, but he needs to become a more complete player to see the field in the NFL.

    PRO COMPARISON: Ed Stinson, Arizona Cardinals

    FINAL GRADE: 5.40/9.00 (Round 7—Backup Caliber)

39. Ufomba Kamalu, Miami (Fla.)

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'5"295 lbs4.88s7.32s4.58s

    POSITIVES

    A productive pass-rusher at Miami after transferring from Butler Community College, Ufomba Kamalu posted 20 total pressures in 2015, per College Football Focus charting. That, combined with his ability as a tackler in space—we didn't chart a missed tackle from him all season—has Kamalu moving up draft boards.

    Looking at Kamalu on paper, he meets the triangle numbers (height, weight, length) for a 3-4 defensive end. He uses that length well to lock out blockers and contain the edge, something he did well at Miami while playing all over the Hurricanes defensive line.

    Whether projected into a one-gap or two-gap system, Kamalu has the size and strength to succeed. He's physical enough at the point of attack to fight through blocks and plays up to his size. Kamalu didn't own offensive linemen at Miami, but NFL teams will be betting on his upside as a JUCO transfer and on the fact that many Miami prospects over the last few seasons were underdeveloped and underused under the former coaching staff.

    NEGATIVES

    Kamalu has great size and length but lacks the explosive qualities of a starting defensive lineman. His testing times and film study back up that he lacks the hip pop and suddenness to make plays against premier offensive linemen.

    Kamalu is a heavy-footed, lumbering player in space and won't win battles with leverage. His 6'5" frame is often straight up and down when coming off the line—something that worked in college given his length and power.

    Without great explosive abilities or the strength to get low and push as a power rusher, Kamalu projects mostly as a run-stuffer in a 3-4 defense. He has the raw tools to be worked into something more down the road, but he's never shown the consistent skills to factor into a defense early on.

    PRO COMPARISON: Jarvis Jenkins, New York Jets

    FINAL GRADE: 5.40/9.00 (Round 7—Backup Caliber)

38. Quinton Jefferson, Maryland

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'4"291 lbs4.95s7.95s4.37s

    POSITIVES

    A junior at Maryland, Quinton Jefferson threw his hat into the NFL draft ring a year early. NFL teams looking for an interior pass-rusher to develop will take a long, hard look at this 3-technique tackle. Jefferson was uncaged as a junior and posted his best season yet with 12.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. He also added a blocked kick and an interception while earning All-Big Ten honorable mention recognition.

    On the field, Jefferson is a penetrator. He comes out of his stance low and with enough initial quickness to get offensive linemen to panic. He has nice leverage and understands how to use his pad height and hands to get underneath the pads of offensive linemen. Jefferson flashes a nice spin move and an above-average swim to get free as a pass-rusher.

    He’s a bit of a dancer at the line, but he has the closing speed and toughness to be effective in pass-rushing situations. His lateral quickness shows well on tape, as does his hip flexibility and burst.

    NEGATIVES

    Jefferson was invited to the Senior Bowl as a graduated junior but wasn’t able to take advantage of the platform to showcase his skills as a pass-rusher due to a back injury.

    In a scouting world in which everything is evaluated, Jefferson’s small hands (8 ⅞”) in relation to the rest of his frame brought up question marks at the Senior Bowl and combine. Jefferson also has smaller-than-ideal legs and could stand to add bulk and power to better handle blockers at the point of attack.

    Jefferson will be looked at as a scheme-specific player who can only line up in a one-gapping 4-3 defense. He doesn’t have the power or leverage to play other spots currently. Teams will thoroughly check a torn ACL from his 2014 season.

    PRO COMPARISON: Jonathan Babineaux, Atlanta Falcons

    FINAL GRADE: 5.40/9.00 (Round 7—Backup Caliber)

37. Destiny Vaeao, Washington State

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    Stephen Brashear/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'4"298 lbsn/an/an/a

    POSITIVES

    An under-the-radar player throughout the season, Destiny Vaeao’s name continues to be mentioned in talks with NFL scouts. His frame—which is one of the more impressive on the hoof in the defensive line class—allows Vaeao to project as both a 4-3 and 3-4 lineman.

    Vaeao’s body type and strength are a clean projection as a 5-technique defensive end in a 3-4 scheme. He’s physical and aggressive at the snap and uses his length well to stack up blockers in the run game. When attacking the pass, he uses a nice swim move and has the power to push and bull rush to get into the quarterback’s face.

    The most impressive aspect of Vaeao’s game is his quickness off the ball. He can easily get past blockers at the Pac-12 level with his first-step speed and agility. His hips are more explosive and fluid than you expect from a 6’4”, 300-pounder. With big, strong hands and a dangerous first step, Vaeao is one of the better sleeper defensive line prospects in the class.

    NEGATIVES

    With impressive positives, Vaeao sounds like a mid-round prospect at worst, but inconsistent play keeps him down in the bottom of the class. He looks like he should dominate, but his game film is up-and-down with actual wins.

    As a top-notch athlete with great size, Vaeao tries to win every matchup with those traits. He doesn’t have refined pass-rushing moves or hand placement to get away from blockers in either the run or pass game. If he can’t get by a blocker with his first move, he’ll lose the snap.

    Vaeao has the tools to be rounded out into a special player, but his lack of consistency is an alarming problem for teams considering him earlier than the late rounds. A boom-or-bust player, if Vaeao gets it, he’ll be a major steal.

    PRO COMPARISON: Allen Bailey, Kansas City Chiefs 

    FINAL GRADE: 5.40/9.00 (Round 7—Backup Caliber)

36. Luther Maddy, Virginia Tech

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    Michael Hickey/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'0"287 lbs4.96sn/an/a

    POSITIVES

    An active, productive defensive tackle, Luther Maddy has to beat the odds that his size won’t hold him back in the NFL.

    His game film shows active, powerful hands and the ability to fight off blockers. Maddy can make splash plays as a one-gap penetrator and has the quick feet to get past blockers and finish plays. He’s aggressive in pursuit and shows a consistently high motor when working down the line.

    Maddy has the instincts and motor to succeed in the NFL, especially in a 3-technique alignment in a 4-3 scheme. There he can split gaps and use his quickness to get into the backfield and create pressure off penetration. You won’t want him lining up head-up on a blocker, but when given the angle, Maddy is tough enough and quick enough to make plays.

    NEGATIVES

    With below-the-line measurements like Maddy brings to the table, he has to be exceptional as an athlete, and that doesn’t show up on film. As an undersized rusher, you expect production from him, but he posted just two sacks in 2015 and rarely made plays against quality competition.

    What’s lacking most from his game outside of better measurables are instincts and leverage. Maddy can be slow to react to the snap and then tries to bait the offensive lineman into tipping his hand. That slow reaction time kills him in the run game, and when combined with poor pad height on a 6’0” frame, it becomes a big question mark.

    Maddy was a productive, fun player at the college level, but to last in the NFL, he’ll have to improve his first-step quickness and leverage. Without that, his lack of length and lower-body power will push him out of the league.

    PRO COMPARISON: Kyle Love, Carolina Panthers 

    FINAL GRADE: 5.50/9.00 (Round 6—Backup Caliber)

35. Vincent Valentine, Nebraska

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'4"329 lbs5.19s8.03s4.59s

    POSITIVES

    Vincent Valentine looks like someone designed a defensive tackle in a laboratory. At 6’4”, he carries his 329 pounds well and has the big, strong legs and bubble that teams want in a space-eater. As a junior, Valentine decided to enter the NFL after graduating from Nebraska in the winter.

    On the field, Valentine has flashes of dominance. He can anchor in the middle of the field and completely shut down interior offensive linemen trying to get to the second level. He makes plays for his linebackers easy because they’re able to run free and clean to the ball. Valentine’s skill set projects well as a nose tackle or 1-technique in either a one- or two-gap defense.

    Against the run, Valentine is immovable at times. He has quick, active hands to shoot gaps against the pass and knows how to get his pads low to attack in a bull rush. When he’s on his game, Valentine looks like a top-20 defensive lineman in a loaded class.

    NEGATIVES

    Consistency was a major issue for Valentine, especially in 2015 with a new coaching staff in place. He struggled with an ankle injury that hurt his quickness off the ball and kept him more stationary than his earlier film had shown.

    Valentine’s frame in his final season looked different—looser, heavier and less conditioned—than his 2014 self. His play mirrored that, as he was slow off the ball at times and played with bad leverage when he did get off the ball on time. Valentine did not look motivated in 2015, which likely contributed to his leaving school early.

    There is potential here, but teams must bet on the 2014 version and not what he put on the field in his junior season. A good coach will be able to tap into Valentine and get production from him as a nose tackle, but there will be major questions about why he shut down for the new coaching staff.

    PRO COMPARISON: John Jenkins, New Orleans Saints 

    FINAL GRADE: 5.50/9.00 (Round 6—Backup Caliber)

34. Dean Lowry, Northwestern

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    Mike Carlson/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'6"296 lbs4.87s7.26s4.38s

    POSITIVES

    A versatile defensive lineman considered a prospect at both defensive end and defensive tackle, Dean Lowry impressed with a 4.87-second 40-yard dash at 6’6” and nearly 300 pounds.

    Lowry combines quick, active hands with great use of strength and leverage to beat offensive linemen. Lining up over the tackle, he has enough speed and twitch coming out of his stance to bend the edge, but he can also line up in a gap on the interior of the line and get enough push to fold the pocket.

    As a tackler, Lowry will put runners in the dirt. He has a big frame and the wingspan to pull down ball-carriers in space. He’s technically savvy when working through gaps in the run game and does an excellent job locating the ball on the go.

    NEGATIVES

    Lowry is a one-move pass-rusher who has to win with speed or he’s out of the play. As a rusher, he lacks a plan and shows no true countermove once a tackle or guard resets and adjusts to his speed. If locked up, he doesn’t have the moves or hand strength to break free and make a secondary attempt at the backfield.

    A long strider, Lowry is stiff when asked to turn the corner. He’ll take a wide, looping path to the quarterback, which creates a natural lane for the passer to step up and fire the ball or scramble. Without the loose hips needed to tightly bend the edge, Lowry projects as more of a 5-technique. The issue there is that he lacks stunning power at the point of contact and can be moved around if his leverage isn’t spot on.

    Lowry is a solid enough player to hear his name called on draft day, but he is a work in progress as he’s rounded out to a more complete 3-4 defensive end.

    PRO COMPARISON: Kendall Reyes, Washington 

    FINAL GRADE: 5.50/9.00 (Round 6—Backup Caliber)

33. Cory Johnson, Kentucky

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    John Sommers II/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'3"300 lbsn/an/an/a

    POSITIVES

    With a nickname like Poop, you’re going to draw attention from NFL scouts. Cory Johnson may have the best nickname in the class, and his play as a versatile defensive lineman will get him as many looks as his unique call sign.

    Playing right defensive end in the team’s 3-4 alignment, Johnson moved into a starting role in 2015 after playing in reserve following a transfer to Kentucky before the 2014 season. Johnson is a high-motor worker with the powerful upper body to stun and move offensive linemen. When he gets into space, he can be an effective tackler. He’s a wrap-up specialist who practically bear-hugs ball-carriers.

    As a pass-rusher, Johnson has enough quickness and pop in his hips to get linemen turned. His first step is fast enough to get into the backfield, and he follows it up with good chase speed. He’s a finisher in space and will go after the ball at 100 percent.

    NEGATIVES

    A lack of big-time experience is the biggest question mark for Johnson. He flashed at times but not always against the bigger competition in the SEC. Powerful offensive linemen gave him fits (notably Auburn and Mississippi State) and caused him to lose ground at the point of attack.

    Instincts were part of the problem for Johnson as he cut his teeth in the SEC. He’ll get out of position by being too eager at the snap. An open space in front of Johnson means he’s running through it, and teams took advantage of that to run counters and traps against him. Read-option plays were often catching him out of position.

    Johnson is an exciting player as a 3-4 defensive end or even a 1-technique player in a 4-3 scheme. His versatility will help sell him to teams given his lack of experience and questionable instincts.

    PRO COMPARISON: Ahtyba Rubin, Seattle Seahawks 

    FINAL GRADE: 5.50/9.00 (Round 6—Backup Caliber)

32. Darius Latham, Indiana

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    Ed Zurga/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'4"311 lbs5.32s7.76s4.63s

    POSITIVES

    A junior entry into the 2015 draft class, Darius Latham has ideal size and strength for a 3-4 defensive end or 4-3 3-technique. His big body and excellent length (34 ¾”) make him a fit no matter where you line him up.

    Using his length and hand strength to create space to rush the passer is a strength for Latham. He’s able to jam back the shoulders of an offensive lineman and cut underneath their arms to get penetration. When stacked up at the line, he has a solid swim move to counter a block.

    Another encouraging sign is that Latham stepped up against the best competition. Against Michigan, he posted a sack and three tackles per our charting and was impressive against Michigan State in a game where he played 73 snaps.

    Latham’s best football is ahead of him if a team can capitalize on his length and athleticism. He’s an upside prospect worth watching.

    NEGATIVES

    Off-field questions will dog Latham as the draft process comes to a completion. He was suspended twice at Indiana (each for one game) after violating team rules. Then, in March, he was arrested for an OWI. Depending on how teams view the incidents, Latham may be a top-100 player or an undrafted free agent. His stock is still fluid.

    As a prospect, Latham is a bit lanky for his length and height. To play in a 3-4 defense, you’d like him to add another 10-15 pounds. Given that he was often asking to be replaced on the field, his conditioning is already a question and may be a major issue if he’s heavier.

    Latham is a player who often does just enough to get by. There aren’t stretches of dominance from his tape even though he’s athletically gifted enough to be a top-tier defender. Getting him to buy in and work hard every day will be a task for his next coach.

    PRO COMPARISON: Quinton Dial, San Francisco 49ers 

    FINAL GRADE: 5.50/9.00 (Round 6—Backup Caliber)

31. Shawn Oakman, Baylor

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'8"287 lbs4.96s7.53s4.56s

    POSITIVES

    Shawn Oakman’s length and upper body are what NFL scouts would design if they could create a prospect on the defensive line, but his lack of lower-body strength and burst are concerns. Which traits will win out in the pros?

    Oakman is blessed with a ripped physique and freakishly long arms. At 6’8” and with 35 ¾-inch arms, he has the size to lock out every offensive tackle he faces. Oakman will flash first-step explosion coming out of his stance, especially on the edge. 

    He has a strong punch and will rock back blockers' shoulders with his reach and big hands. This length allows him to contain and control gaps when he’s dialed in.

    As a rusher and run-stopper, Oakman is impressive tackling in the open field. His length allows him to grab and pull down runners you don’t expect him to reach, and he has the closing speed to track the ball well on plays away from his side. As a weak-side defender, he makes a good number of plays on runs away from his assignment.

    A true upside project, Oakman could be developed into a special talent if he allows himself to be coached up.

    NEGATIVES

    Off the field, Oakman has issues. Oakman was recently charged for rape, an allegation that will likely take him off many draft boards—and if true should keep him out of the NFL. He grew up in a terrible situation—his dad died, and his mom was incarcerated for some time. At Penn State, he was kicked off the team after being caught stealing food from the cafeteria.  Pending legal cases are tough for teams to evaluate—remember La'el Collins fall from Round 1 to undrafted last year on a rumor alone—and makes Oakman's stock unpredictable heading into the draft.

    Oakman wants to be an edge-rusher, based on how he plays the game. He shies away from contact and wants nothing to do with being physical at the point of attack. With the legs of a power forward—long and skinny calves—he doesn’t have the trunk power to win when locked up with blockers.

    At first look, Oakman impresses, but he’s not as athletic as his frame and muscles might indicate. He did poorly in every event at the combine other than the broad jump, which matches his struggles on the field to snap and explode through blockers.

    With super high pad height, Oakman loses the leverage game and cannot recover if a blocker matches his speed. Without hand use—a trait he doesn’t show—he is left trying to go around blockers on every rushing down.

    PRO COMPARISON: Margus Hunt, Cincinnati Bengals 

    FINAL GRADE: 5.60/9.00 (Round 5—Backup Caliber)

30. Nile Lawrence-Stample, FSU

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'1"320 lbsn/an/an/a

    POSITIVES

    A first-team All-ACC player in 2015, Nile Lawrence-Stample is a classic nose tackle. He’s stout at the point of attack and a true anchor for the middle of the defense. As a two-gapping space-eater, he’s one of the best in the class.

    Lawrence-Stample is a bull chasing a matador when he gets through the offensive line. He’s a great effort player in pursuit. When simply getting big in the trenches and stopping blockers from getting upfield, he is a throwback player who takes pride in keeping his linebackers clean.

    His instincts and awareness against the run make Lawrence-Stample a draftable player. He’s not an every-down defensive lineman, but his ability to stuff the run and draw stalemates with blockers up front will get him on a roster.

    NEGATIVES

    Lawrence-Stample really had just one year of production after tearing a pectoral muscle four games into the 2014 season. That lack of production—and playing on a star-studded defense—will draw questions about his impact.

    Teams wanting versatility on the defensive line will overlook Lawrence-Stample, and in fact, many 4-3 teams may consider him undraftable. He’s a true fit in a 3-4 defense as a nose tackle and really nothing more. His lack of lateral quickness and burst off the ball will be eyesores for scouts wanting upfield penetrators.

    Poor conditioning held Lawrence-Stample back in college and will be something he has to immediately overcome in the pros. Being a two-down player may help in this area, but it’s enough of a red flag to cause teams to talk about it when discussing FSU talent this winter.

    PRO COMPARISON: Domata Peko, Cincinnati Bengals 

    FINAL GRADE: 5.60/9.00 (Round 5—Backup Caliber)

29. Anthony Zettel, Penn State

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'4"277 lbs4.81s7.63s4.39s

    POSITIVES

    A nonstop motor and a little bit of craziness fuel the draft prospects of Anthony Zettel. If a player can make it on sheer willpower alone, Zettel will be an All-Pro.

    Zettel is capable of playing inside or outside on the defensive line and has experience playing in multiple alignments along the front. He shows quick eyes, great reflexes and the instincts to read the play on the go. Watching him hop up to bat down passes at the line of scrimmage—he did this six times in 2015—you see his awareness and reaction time.

    Zettel wins with leverage and great pad height out of his stance. He can split double-teams and work through chips from guards or centers to get penetration against inside run plays. Thanks to smart hand use, he is able to stack up and shed blockers you don’t expect him to at 277 pounds.

    With inside and outside experience, Zettel could be fun for defensive coordinators who want to vary up their fronts. A team like New England or Arizona would be the best scheme fit, even if not a need.

    NEGATIVES

    Zettel’s lack of bulk, length (31 ⅛” arms) and overall athleticism will be major issues in projecting him forward.

    If you want Zettel playing inside and anchoring against double-teams, that’s not who he is. His lack of bulk and lower-body power can’t be covered up with a great motor. He can split those blocks but cannot hold his ground.

    He is a liability against the run when asked to shed a block. He’s great in pursuit but cannot handle gap control. His short arms make it easy for blockers to get into his pads and control his frame.

    Pass rushing from Zettel flashes as a strength, but he doesn’t have the agility to bend the edge against NFL tackles and isn’t strong enough to play consistently in a 3-technique. His best role may be as a rotational player depending on the matchup and situation.

    PRO COMPARISON: Mike Catapano, New York Jets 

    FINAL GRADE: 5.60/9.00 (Round 5—Backup Caliber)

28. D.J. Reader, Clemson

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'3"327 lbs5.33s7.90s4.71s

    POSITIVES

    An old-school nose tackle prospect holding down the middle of the Clemson defense, D.J. Reader is a good enough athlete that he played first baseman for the Tigers baseball team in 2013 before committing to football full time.

    Reader is a big man with impressive length (33 ⅝”) on a frame that stays between 325 and 340 pounds. Even at his top weight, he doesn’t look sloppy or poorly conditioned. Reader knows how to use that weight to build power and gain leverage for a bull rush up the gut.

    He’s an athletic big man and can get enough push through the line to reset the pocket and cause pressure. Reader did an excellent job setting up sacks for outside pressure men off his initial push in the pocket. When asked to pursue the ball on rushing downs, Reader can track the ball and will make tackles in space.

    NEGATIVES

    It’s unfortunate to mention as a negative, but Reader did step away from the team for six weeks to start the season after the death of his dad in 2014. His performance in the eight games he did see the field in was impressive enough to get him a combine invite.

    The biggest fix for Reader will be getting off of blocks better with his hands. He too often leans on blockers and doesn’t get that push with his arms to create space. His balance and ability to play up throughout the play are questionable.

    Reader’s burst off the line won’t draw rave reviews, and teams must know they’re getting a gap-eater and not a penetrator when they see his film. If a 3-4 team likes his ability to play on first and second down as a nose tackle, Reader is worthy of a mid-round selection.

    PRO COMPARISON: Damon Harrison, New York Giants 

    FINAL GRADE: 5.60/9.00 (Round 5—Backup Caliber)

27. Jason Fanaika, Utah

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'2"271 lbs4.84s7.06s4.39s

    POSITIVES

    A versatile defender with the traits to stick in a hybrid defensive front, Jason Fanaika was an All-Pac-12 honorable mention player at strong-side defensive end for the Utes.

    Fanaika is an aggressive, tough defender with range as a run defender. He uses his power well to work through blockers and find the ball. His ability to read the offense and locate the ball on the fly is impressive. When working against outside runs, Fanaika shows the change-of-direction skills to redirect and fly to the ball.

    Fanaika understands leverage and uses his shorter frame well to get under the pads of blockers. He uses heavy hands well to shed those blocks and can anchor at the point of attack. As a pass-rusher, he’s more of a finisher than a chaser, but he does show production (four sacks) in that area.

    Flashing back to his 2014 tape, Fanaika was quicker off the ball and looser with his hips and shoulders. Getting back to that type of play could mean a better career than the one projected here.

    NEGATIVES

    An older prospect after a two-year mission for his church, Fanaika will be a 24-year-old rookie. Fanaika lacks the hip twitch or burst to shock offensive linemen off the snap.

    Without great size or length (32 ⅝-inch arms), Fanaika is caught between a defensive end and a linebacker, but he’s not athletic enough to stand up in the pros. A defensive line label fits for Fanaika as he may bump inside on passing downs in some schemes.

    Fanaika's conditioning was an issue in 2015 and may be an area where he gets lighter and eventually plays outside the tackle in the NFL. He was never a twitchy player to begin with, and the added bulk slowed down his first-step quickness and limited his flexibility. That keeps Fanaika from turning the corner with tightness to squeeze the edge.

    It takes some imagination to project Fanaika into a role in the NFL, but his production and impact in two seasons at Utah were pro-caliber.

    PRO COMPARISON: Vinny Curry, Philadelphia Eagles 

    FINAL GRADE: 5.70/9.00 (Round 4—Backup Caliber)

26. Adam Gotsis, Georgia Tech

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    Scott Cunningham/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'4"287 lbsn/an/an/a

    POSITIVES

    A three-year starter and team captain, Adam Gotsis doesn’t play like he’s new to American football, but the former Australian Rules footballer from Melbourne is still relatively new to the game.

    Gotsis has the length (34 ⅛" arms) to stack up blockers in the run game, and the big, heavy hands (10 ¾”) to anchor at the point of attack. Gotsis plays much more stout than his listed 287 pounds and has proved he can occupy double-teams. When giving chase on the ball, Gotsis has enough lateral movement skills to make plays in space. The same skills show up when chasing quarterbacks.

    Gotsis is versatile enough to slide inside on passing downs or line up on/outside the tackle on first and second down. He has the hip flexibility and foot speed to bend around some tackles in the passing game and uses his length and instincts to win battles there.

    NEGATIVES

    A season-ending knee injury shut Gotsis’ season down in late October and has limited his ability to test for teams before the draft.

    A lack of explosion on film keeps Gotsis from having a projection as a pass-rusher in the NFL. He doesn’t have the second-step speed to beat tackles around the edge or the hand play to win on the inside consistently. Without those skills, Gotsis is forced to win with leverage and power.

    Gotsis is a ‘tweener in that he’s not twitchy enough to play defensive end in a 4-3 scheme, but he lacks the traditional power of an inside player. He will be best used in a scheme that values versatility and not conventional traits. As more of a run-only player, Gotsis’ value will be lowered immediately. Add in the knee injury, and he could see a fall to the late rounds.

    PRO COMPARISON: Ziggy Hood, Washington

    FINAL GRADE: 5.70/9.00 (Round 4—Backup Caliber)

25. Javon Hargrave, South Carolina State

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'1"309 lbs4.93s7.90s4.70s

    POSITIVES

    One of the top small-school players in the 2016 draft class, Javon Hargrave has impressed at every opportunity. A two-time Associated Press All-American at the FCS level, Hargrave posted 29.5 sacks in his last two seasons at South Carolina State. Those numbers—plus his size—will catch the eye of every NFL team.

    Hargrave was a factor all week during East-West Shrine practices and then opened eyes as a late add at the Senior Bowl. In both settings, he matched his SC State tape by showing hard-charging, thick legs and quickness that you don’t expect on a 309-pounder. Hargrave wins with constant forward motion—from the snap to the whistle his feet are churning.

    As a pass-rusher, Hargrave flashes more moves than expected. He’ll break out a spin move to beat interior blockers and has enough hand strength to knife away the hands of blockers. Those moves are a good foundation to build on. An explosive first step was the catalyst to his production in college and will be his meal ticket in the pros.

    NEGATIVES

    Hargrave dominated in college, but the MEAC isn’t putting many players into the NFL. His short-armed (32”) frame will also draw critics.

    Despite flashing a move or two as a pass-rusher, Hargrave was often bested against the better competition on the all-star game circuit when they were able to counter his quickness off the snap. Blockers were able to win against Hargrave by getting him to go to one side off his initial step, and then they countered him with length that he couldn’t break free from.

    Little things, like reading the blocker in front of him, are lost on Hargrave coming out of a smaller school. He was able to consistently beat the man in front of him with athleticism, and that led to a lack of developed tools as a complete player. As it stands now, Hargrave doesn’t anticipate cut blocks or misdirection.

    He’s as raw as they come, but big interior pass-rushers are hard to find. The promise of what Hargrave can become will be what gets him drafted in the middle rounds. 

    PRO COMPARISON: Clinton McDonald, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

    FINAL GRADE: 5.75/9.00 (Round 4—Backup Caliber)

24. Matt Ioannidis, Temple

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    Chris Szagola/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'3"285 lbs4.85s7.78s4.71s

    POSITIVES

    A bear in the middle of the defensive line, Matt Ioannidis is one of the strongest defensive linemen in the 2016 draft class. Playing at 299 pounds, Ioannidis had 32 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press.

    Dating back to his true freshman season, Ioannidis has been a factor at Temple. Playing both inside the tackle and in a head-up position, Ioannidis has value to versatile defensive fronts. Watching him throughout the week of practices at the Senior Bowl, Ioannidis wowed with his motor and strength.

    Athletically, Ioannidis has a good mixture of strength and flexibility. He’s super stout at the point of attack and can sit in a gap and close it. His quickness is underrated and allows him to attack in space. He shows the knee bend and hip flexibility to beat blockers on their second move. Ioannidis is mostly a power rusher, but he does use his hands well to break free from first contact and has a spin move that gets home when used.

    NEGATIVES

    Defensive linemen in the NFL must be twitchy, springy players, even when they weigh 300-plus pounds. Ioannidis doesn’t show that quality when moving in space. He can be slow to get to his second gear and struggles to explode off the line and stun blockers.

    When working down the line, Ioannidis will struggle to keep pace with the flow of the play. His balance and footwork are average. As is the case with most weight room players, Ioannidis doesn’t have great flexibility. He’ll struggle to get offensive linemen to turn their shoulders and instead has to dominate with push and pull pass-rushing moves. Ideally, Ioannidis is closing gaps and not shooting them.

    Without the athleticism to be a major contributor in pass-rushing situations, Ioannidis projects as a two-down run defender. He has the tools to be good in that role, but he lacks the size and athleticism to be drafted inside the top 100 picks.

    PRO COMPARISON: Rodney Gunter, Arizona Cardinals 

    FINAL GRADE: 5.75/9.00 (Round 4—Backup Caliber)

23. Adolphus Washington, Ohio State

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'3"301 lbs4.9s8.06s4.79s

    POSITIVES

    A natural pass-rusher in a 4-3 scheme, Adolphus Washington projects as a 3-technique with starter potential. He has the production (four sacks, seven tackles for loss) and quickness to back up his reputation as a pass-rusher.

    Washington is agile and flexible and is able to twist and bend to get past blockers in tight spaces. He’ll flash a head fake, shoulder dip and spin move to create space as a rusher. He has the long arms (34 ½”) to keep blockers off his frame and uses that length to also create separation on passing downs.

    Lateral quickness, first-step speed and a big bubble to push the pocket are all positives for Washington. He’s an impressive athlete on the hoof and uses all his tools to get after the quarterback. Stopping the run happens more on the way to the passer for Washington, but he’s able to flash into the backfield and reject ball-carriers.

    NFL offensive line coaches will have a headache to deal with if Washington gets dialed in. He’s a gap-shooting star with the athleticism and fundamentals to be an early-impact player.

    NEGATIVES

    Washington was picked up on a solicitation charge before the Fiesta Bowl and was suspended by the team for the final game of his career.

    On the field, Washington’s effort and lack of lower-body strength are worrisome. Both can be fixed but are immediate flags when watching his film. Washington isn’t a finisher and will too often give up on the play if his path to the quarterback isn’t an easy one. Because of this, his secondary pass-rush moves are not developed.

    Playing with consistent leverage will be a key for Washington. At Ohio State he often got high and heavy in his pads and expected to be able to shake blockers off in space. That won’t work in the pros. Getting stronger in the legs and rear, plus keeping those shoulders low, will allow Washington to make an impact against the run.

    PRO COMPARISON: Nick Fairley, New Orleans Saints 

    FINAL GRADE: 5.75/9.00 (Round 4—Backup Caliber)

22. Carl Nassib, Penn State

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    L.G. Patterson/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'7"277 lbs4.71s7.27s4.37s

    POSITIVES

    The younger brother of New York Giants quarterback Ryan Nassib, Carl was a walk-on at Penn State who built himself into an All-American in his final season.

    Nassib was one of the most productive players in college football last season, notching a school-record 15.5 sacks, 19.5 tackles for a loss, six forced fumbles and one interception. On film he’s a high-motor, intense player with the length (34 ½”) and hand size (10 ⅜”) of a pro defensive lineman.

    His 15.5 sacks came by way of straight-line speed and a nonstop push to get to the passer. Nassib doesn’t have the loosest hips, but he aligned himself right before the snap to squeeze the edge and make the turn at the corner with quickness. He was then able to use his length and speed to close on the pocket.

    Nassib has a shot to make an impact as a rotational defensive end in a 4-3 scheme. He had great success playing wide of the tackle at Penn State and could find a similar role as a third-down edge-rusher with his hand in the dirt in the pros.

    NEGATIVES

    Nassib was a one-year starter and one-year star at Penn State. Before 2015, he largely produced on special teams. Was his eye-popping production his doing or the byproduct of having Zettel and Austin Johnson on the same defensive line? Nassib had more sacks in the first two weeks than he had in the previous two seasons combined.

    A lack of athleticism is the biggest question mark scouts must address. Nassib tested below average in every drill at the combine, which matches his performance on tape. He doesn’t have the hip snap or burst to get offensive tackles turned in the NFL.

    He’s a linear player without a true position given his lack of athleticism. Without power in his hands, Nassib would be at a disadvantage in any scheme playing over the tackle, but he doesn’t have the bend to play standing up.

    Against the run, Nassib doesn’t have the strength to win at the point of attack. His thin, narrow frame needs bulk added to it if he’s to ever win as an anchor. Missed tackles also plagued his 2015 film, which is a red flag given it was his only year of major snaps.

    Nassib is a great story and one heck of a college football player, but his lack of bend and burst are concerning as he’s projected to the NFL.

    PRO COMPARISON: Bjoern Werner, NFL Free Agent

    FINAL GRADE: 5.75/9.00 (Round 4—Backup Caliber)

21. Ronald Blair, Appalachian State

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    L.G. Patterson/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'2"284 lbs5.15s7.95s4.53s

    POSITIVES

    Ronald Blair is a productive pass-rusher who owned the scene at Appalachian State. As a ‘tweener prospect up front, he brings instant value for a hybrid defense looking for an inside/outside rusher.

    Blair loves to rock a swim move when offensive tackles get their hands on him, and he’s had success with it both inside and outside the tackle. He sets up his pass-rush moves well and knows how to use timing and leverage to beat blockers.

    By keeping his pads low on a 6’2” frame, Blair can get underneath the hands of a blocker and then explode up through their pads to jam back their shoulders. From there, his length (34-inch arms) wins.

    Blair also dominated on rushing downs. He uses his leverage well to stack up blockers before shedding them to attack the ball. His instincts and awareness keep him in the game on runs inside the tackle box, and he works down to the ball with a high success rate.

    Given his size and length, Blair will be a fun project for NFL teams as he comes to the league with refined pass-rushing and run-defending moves.

    NEGATIVES

    Blair disappointed with his testing times at the combine in terms of speed, flexibility and explosion. He’s strong but doesn’t show the snap in his hips to turn the corner against offensive tackles in the NFL. Being able to beat up Sun Belt competition is one thing, but can Blair overwhelm linemen in the pros?

    Blair’s experience as a 3-4 defensive end is helpful, but he lacks the height to play there for most teams in the NFL. A position change is always questionable, and Blair will be asked to either bump down to a 3-technique in a 4-3 or play as a smaller, quicker 5-technique.

    A lack of agility and flexibility will be the biggest debate in draft rooms when Blair comes up. His conditioning was questioned by one team we spoke to and could lead to moving up or down the line depending on his play weight. Blair doesn’t have the flash or twitch of an edge player, though, and would be best served trying to play with his hand in the dirt over and outside the tackle.

    PRO COMPARISON: Nikita Whitlock, New York Giants 

    FINAL GRADE: 5.99/9.00 (Round 3-4—Backup Caliber)

20. Charles Tapper, Oklahoma

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    Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'3"271 lbs4.59sn/an/a

    POSITIVES

    Charles Tapper is a defensive lineman full of upside and with enough athleticism to wow teams looking for a pass-rusher on the edge or between the guard and center.

    With a 4.59-second 40-yard dash, Tapper may be looked at as an edge-rusher, a role he played at times for Oklahoma. He has the length to keep tackles off his frame with his inside arm and turns the corner well for a power end.

    Tapper’s hand play succeeds when working to get blockers off his pads, and he has shown the ability to time his punch well to combat what linemen come at him with. His hand play needs work, but it’s a potential strength.

    Tapper can drop his weight and get push as a bull-rusher. He doesn’t shy away from contact and will be the aggressor at the point of attack. His showing at the Senior Bowl gave teams a glimpse of what type of impact Tapper can have as a rusher.

    Athletically, Tapper could be classified as an edge player. At 6’3”, 271 pounds and with high 4.5 speed, he has the traits to become a better pass-rusher in the NFL than he ever was in college. The 34 ⅜" arms and 11 ½" hands will help scouts fall in love with Tapper, too.

    NEGATIVES

    Tapper was never put into a role to succeed at OU. The team tried playing him as a 3-4 defensive end, but at 271 pounds, he was never strong enough to hold up at the point of attack against Big 12 tackles.

    Tapper’s balance and pad height are major question marks. He has quickness but often surrendered it by standing up straight off the snap. Being a linear player at 271 pounds head-up on an offensive tackle is a sure way to lose the battle.

    In terms of fundamentals and technique, Tapper is super raw and underdeveloped. He doesn’t know how to use leverage or quickness to beat tackles around the edge and fails to use his speed to his benefit. When countered by tackles, he doesn’t use a secondary move and will allow less talented players to block him.

    Tapper is a bit of a tease as a prospect given his length and speed matched against how the Sooners used him and what he produced there.

    PRO COMPARISON: Owa Odighizuwa, New York Giants 

    FINAL GRADE: 6.00/9.00 (Round 3—Future Starter)

19. Sheldon Day, Notre Dame

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'1"285 lbs5.07s7.44s4.50s

    POSITIVES

    Sheldon Day has a motor that never stops running, and it allows him to make plays his size and athleticism normally wouldn’t allow. A two-year captain, teammates and coaches alike respect him.

    Watch Day run down screen plays on film and you fall in love with his effort and agility. Adding to his resume, Day was stronger at the point of attack in 2015 than he’d shown in previous seasons. With the burst and leverage to beat up interior blockers, Day can be a handful on passing downs.

    Day’s calling card as a pass-rusher is his first-step quickness. He’s explosive off the ball and uses his hands well to break free from blockers once he gets their shoulders turned. He has impressive bend for a smaller pass-rusher and shows great body control and balance with his quick, pitter-patter steps.

    Day might not have NFL measurables, but his never-quit motor and ability to create space with his quickness are too good to overlook.

    NEGATIVES

    A lack of size will hurt Day’s stock on draft day. He’s short, short-armed (32 ⅝”) and struggled to stay above 285 pounds during the season. He weighed in at 275 pounds in the spring before his senior year and may play closer to that weight. Adding to the concerns, Day has missed time with injuries throughout his career.

    Notre Dame's defensive scheme was never best for what Day does. Ideally he’s rushing from a 3-technique position, but instead he was asked to play over the tackle. When asked to be an anchor on the edge or against the run in general, Day’s lack of size and length become a negative. He’s not able to squat against double-teams and can be controlled by stronger centers in the hole.

    There isn’t an easy, clear projection to the NFL for Day. He’s a polished pass-rusher, but he lacks ideal size for that role. Playing in a 3-4 scheme, he has no value outside of a sub-package rusher. The draft-day decision for teams will hinge on motor and leadership versus size and old-school standards for height and length.

    PRO COMPARISON: Will Sutton, Chicago Bears 

    FINAL GRADE: 6.25/9.00 (Round 3—Future Starter)

18. Hassan Ridgeway, Texas

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    L.G. Patterson/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'4"303 lbs5.02s7.33s4.69s

    POSITIVES

    A junior entry from Texas, Hassan Ridgeway is a massive, thick defensive tackle with experience playing both nose tackle and 3-technique. His flash plays against the run were impressive in 2015, and he added 3.5 sacks to his resume while earning honorable mention All-Big 12 credit.

    Ridgeway is an easy, fluid mover laterally and in space. He has confident, sure hands and uses his size well to combat blockers' attempts to lock him up. His flexibility and hip snap are some of the best in the group. For a 300-pounder, Ridgeway can get skinny and slide through gaps to make splash plays in the backfield. He locates and attacks the ball easily.

    As a pass-rusher, Ridgeway wins by getting initial contact and driving blockers off the ball. He’s an attacker when the ball is snapped and throws his full weight into the lineman in front of him. He’s then agile enough to follow up with a spin or rip move to finish the play.

    As a run defender, Ridgeway was dominant when on the field. He has the strength, length and instincts to be a dynamic first- and second-down defender in either tackle spot or even as a 5-technique defensive end in a 3-4 scheme.

    NEGATIVES

    Talking to Texas coaches about Ridgeway, the biggest area they felt he could improve moving forward is with his conditioning and game-day prep. He was a rotational player throughout his time at Texas due to this.

    Ridgeway was consistently banged up during his three years of playing time at Texas and got the reputation as someone who wouldn’t fight through injuries to get on the field. With those concerns and issues with conditioning, he has a few red flags to answer for.

    On the field, Ridgeway too often gets pushed back off the ball when he should be anchoring his space. His leverage and body control are inconsistent play to play, and far too often Ridgeway is looking for the ball instead of maintaining his gap (especially against Oklahoma State).

    A one-year wonder lost in Malcom Brown’s shadow in 2014, Ridgeway doesn’t have an extensive catalog of plays teams can go to in his defense. He’s a high-upside player with some risk given his earlier issues but has the athleticism and body type to be at least a rotational tackle early in his career.

    PRO COMPARISON: Eddie Goldman, Chicago Bears

    FINAL GRADE: 6.40/9.00 (Round 2-3—Future Starter)

17. Bronson Kaufusi, BYU

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    Rick Bowmer/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'6"285 lbs4.87s7.03s4.25s

    POSITIVES

    If NFL draft prospects are like stocks, Bronson Kaufusi is one you buy low now and wait for the big payday down the road. A top-tier athlete with potential as a 4-3 or 3-4 defensive lineman, Kaufusi is just starting to scratch the surface of what he can be.

    An explosive, every-down player, Kaufusi has an impressive understanding of hand usage and timing. He’ll put his 34 ½-inch arms to use, stacking up blockers both in the run and passing games. He is agile enough to bend at the hips and explode under a locked-out arm.

    Kaufusi plays with the balance and leverage of a seasoned pro. He doesn’t get lazy in his technique and maintains his body lean throughout the play. A former basketball player, Kaufusi has light feet and will surprise blockers with quick changes of direction and enough closing speed to go get the ball in space.

    Some teams may like Kaufusi as a strong-side defensive end in a 4-3 set, and others may like what his size and athleticism offer in a 3-4. That versatility is valuable, and the upside Kaufusi brings once he settles into a role is as exciting as the 26.5 sacks he produced at BYU.

    NEGATIVES

    Going back to his 2014 film, when Kaufusi played defensive end, it’s clear his best position is with his hand in the dirt. Playing in the 280- to 285-pound range is best for his pro career.

    In that same vein, Kaufusi is not a player you want in coverage. He has some value in space but only moving forward. Going through positional drills at the Senior Bowl, Kaufusi was awkward and uncoordinated in any coverage drops.

    Against the run, Kaufusi could better play to his size. For a heavy defensive end, he surrendered his chest too easily and was often pushed around in the run game. Learning to dig in his heels and anchor—especially against double-teams—will be important if Kaufusi ends up in a 3-4 scheme.

    Looking at his frame, Kaufusi could stand to gain more weight and better fill out his lower body. His thin calves are too often seen stretched out and angled as he tries to stand up against run blockers. Like most BYU players, Kaufusi spent two years on a church mission and will be a 24-year-old rookie.

    PRO COMPARISON: Derek Wolfe, Denver Broncos 

    FINAL GRADE: 6.50/9.00 (Round 2-3—Future Starter)

16. Kenny Clark, UCLA

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'3"314 lbs5.06s7.73s4.62s

    POSITIVES

    A four-game starter as a true freshman in 2013, Kenny Clark’s impact at UCLA began early on. Playing nose tackle as a junior, Clark was one of the most impressive defensive tackles in the country in one-on-one situations.

    Clark is the total package on the defensive line, showing agility, strength, instincts, awareness and toughness all in a 6’3”, 314-pound frame. A former wrestler in high school, Clark knows how to win with leverage and with his hands, and he has a developed sense of when and where to shoot those hands to break free from blockers or to create separation.

    Clark plays like a wrestler at tackle, winning with a strong base and quick, short movements. He doesn’t overextend his frame and has the first-step quickness to stun blockers off the snap with a combination of speed and a strong punch from his hands. Clark is at his best anchoring in the run game, and he’s shown the power to handle double-teams or combination blocks without surrendering ground.

    An intelligent, instinctual player, Clark is impressive on and off the field. His post-football career goal is to be a coach, and that knowledge shows in his game.

    NEGATIVES

    A lack of pass-rushing skills may turn away teams, but those drawn in by his run-stuffing ability are likely to question his lack of length (32 ⅛”). Knowing what you get with Clark is important. He’s an anchor and sets up tackles for his linebackers, but he doesn’t often make that play himself.

    Clark was inconsistent at times throughout the 2015 season as the Bruins struggled. He tended to play down to his competition. Going back to 2014, when UCLA was at full strength, Clark shows dominance. Teams must decide if being the focal point of offensive game plans overwhelmed him last season.

    Clark’s lack of pass rush could keep him off the field on passing downs, and those types of players aren’t drafted as early as three-down linemen, no matter how talented or promising. He’s young (20 years old) and smart beyond his years, but Clark has to learn to play with patience and to use his power to overcome his lack of burst off the snap.

    PRO COMPARISON: Sylvester Williams, Denver Broncos 

    FINAL GRADE: 6.50/9.00 (Round 2—Future Starter)

15. Austin Johnson, Penn State

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    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'4"314 lbs5.32s7.84s4.75s

    POSITIVES

    Playing on a defense with Anthony Zettel and Carl Nassib, it was easy for Austin Johnson to be overshadowed, but he ranks highest of the three Penn State defenders when it comes to NFL potential.

    Johnson is a classic nose tackle prospect, but this former all-state basketball player has quick feet and easy body movements for a 314-pounder. Just a junior, Johnson is only 21 years old, but he plays with toughness and meanness in the middle of the line. He has an athletic, well-built frame with room to possibly add size as he ages.

    You can’t watch Penn State’s tape and not see Johnson making tackles. He was an excellent wrap-up tackler when he got into the backfield and when backs crossed his path in the trenches. Johnson’s instincts and ability to adapt on the fly are well-developed for a young player. He has the football IQ to step right into a lineup as a rookie.

    Teams running a 3-4 defense and needing a space-eater will see Johnson as a better prospect than classic 4-3 fronts. Look for him to be an early-impact defender. 

    NEGATIVES

    Short arms (32 ¾”) and small hands (9 ⅞”) will cause hesitation when viewing Johnson’s draft card, especially when looking at him as an interior defensive lineman.

    Johnson’s lack of pass-rush production may cause concern, but that’s not who he is. Without great hand use to shed blockers in the middle of the line—largely due to his role as an anchor, where he’s not often shedding blocks—keep him from getting loose after passers. This is an area where he can be taught and developed.

    The athleticism is there for Johnson to become a better rusher. It’s a case of what he is asked to do versus what he can do.

    Balance and pad height are the other correctable issues on his film. Johnson doesn’t maintain good pad level against tough interior blockers. He’ll get high in his countermoves and becomes more blockable than he should be.

    PRO COMPARISON: Carl Davis, Baltimore Ravens 

    FINAL GRADE: 6.50/9.00 (Round 2—Future Starter)

14. Willie Henry, Michigan

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    Tony Ding/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'3"303 lbs5.00s7.57s4.53s

    POSITIVES

    Willie Henry flew under the radar until the arrival of new head coach Jim Harbaugh. Playing in a new defense allowed him to flourish, and his 6.5 sacks and 10 tackles for a loss helped put Henry on the radar of NFL teams.

    A versatile defensive lineman with experience in both a 3-4 and 4-3 alignment, Henry’s ability to rush the quarterback from inside a gap or stand up the run on the edge over the tackle drives up value. Henry is able to win with his first step, which is one of the best in the class. He has burst and the power to back it up when countered by an agile blocker.

    He brings a full 300 pounds behind him with heavy hands (10 ⅞”) and the reach (33 ⅜”) to keep the blocker’s outside arm off his chest.

    Henry has a strong, thick base and uses it to get push in bull-rush scenarios and also to anchor against the run. He’ll sit in a gap and shut down the run, but he has the length and power to handle a two-gap assignment just as well.

    When the quarterback is in his sights, Henry is like a wolf smelling meat. He attacks with great closing speed and a tenacity that’s missing from many top prospects in this class.

    NEGATIVES

    Henry is a fun player to watch, but his balance and body control could be better. He’ll get knocked sideways at times and walled down in the run game because he doesn’t have a steady base underneath him.

    There have been concerns from area scouts we spoke to that Henry’s production was schemed for him with Texas stunts and twists that matched him up with guards who couldn’t handle his speed. A lack of a secondary pass-rush move seems to validate some of this, as Henry rarely got to the quarterback on a second move.

    On rushing downs, Henry can be undisciplined. His desire to get upfield and attack the quarterback will leave him out of position to stop the run through his gap.

    PRO COMPARISON: Kawann Short, Carolina Panthers

    FINAL GRADE: 6.50/9.00 (Round 2—Future Starter)

13. Jonathan Bullard, Florida

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'3"285 lbs4.93s7.31s4.56s

    POSITIVES

    A strong-side defensive end in the Florida defense, Jonathan Bullard has the size and strength to play a variety of roles in the NFL. His listing at a defensive line prospect will undoubtedly vary from team to team, with some seeing him as a defensive end and others as a pass-rushing tackle.

    Bullard’s best attribute is his strength against the run. He’s rarely moved off his spot and has the toughness and instincts to split blockers and attack the ball. His closing speed is eye-opening—and is backed up by a 4.56-second 20-yard shuttle time.

    When matching blockers off the snap, Bullard is quick and powerful, willing to throw his frame into the line. With a developed football IQ and instincts, Bullard has the traits to get on the field early.

    As a pass-rusher, Bullard improved greatly by notching 6.5 sacks in 2015. He’s a high-motor player who accumulated effort sacks by pursuing through the play and cleaning up the pocket. Bullard tracks the quarterback well and has enough burst to split blockers and fly through a gap at the snap.

    It was encouraging to see Bullard up to 285 pounds at the combine, after being listed at 277 by the school. He needs to play closer to that weight to continue having success as a run-stuffer in the pros.

    NEGATIVES

    Bullard may be a man without a position for many NFL teams. He was used over the tackle, in gaps and even out wide at Florida. His lack of pass-rushing production as a defensive end will limit how teams view him as an edge defender.

    Bullard’s lack of twitch will be an issue for him moving forward. He has fine closing speed, but there isn’t much suddenness in his hips or feet. He won’t snap past blockers off the ball and win with his first step. Adding strength and some bulk to play as a true defensive tackle may be the best bet to eliminate concerns about his speed to turn the corner.

    To be an every-down player, Bullard has to become more consistent as a rusher. Coming into the league, he’s a nice, but undersized, defensive tackle prospect.

    PRO COMPARISON: Malik Jackson, Jacksonville Jaguars

    FINAL GRADE: 6.60/9.00 (Round 2—Future Starter)

12. Vernon Butler, Louisiana Tech

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'4"323 lbs5.33s7.82s4.76s

    POSITIVES

    A two-year starter at Louisiana Tech, Vernon Butler heads to the NFL as a versatile lineman able to play anywhere from 0-technique out to the 5-tech spot. A massive man at 323 pounds, Butler has cat-like quickness and light feet to be a problem for quarterbacks and running backs alike.

    A powerful, angry bull-rusher, Butler gets into the backfield and makes plays there. He added 10 tackles for a loss and three sacks while playing over the tackle in 2015. If Butler gets his hands underneath the pads of a blocker, it’s game over for them, as he’ll forklift them off the ball.

    He’s quick enough to win with his first step, but what makes Butler so intriguing is his ability to win with second and third moves when countering blockers.

    Butler plays low and with consistent push from his legs. He’ll churn and fight for penetration and can be a nuisance to block on rushing downs because he’s strong enough to hold double-teams and keep interior linemen from getting upfield.

    From a frame standpoint, Butler is close to perfect. He has thick, strong legs matched with great length (35 ⅛-inch arms) and big, strong hands (10 ¾”). He has the reach to lock out blockers and the stout lower body to anchor. Butler uses his hands well to shed blocks and will push and pull to create space as a rusher.

    NEGATIVES

    A bit of a one-year wonder, Butler made his money against smaller competition in Conference USA play. Because of this, he was allowed to get by with less than ideal pad height and body control at the point of attack. Learning to keep his pads down and perhaps improving lower-body strength will be keys for Butler.

    At Louisiana Tech and during the Senior Bowl week, Butler wowed us with movement skills, but what you rarely saw was him locating the ball while blocked and getting after it. He was wonderful at splitting blocks and then locating but wasn’t as skilled as locking out his man, spotting the ball and then shedding the blocker to get the ball.

    Butler’s individual traits are impressive, but they didn’t lead to much production at Louisiana Tech, which has to be questioned. Is he a player with upside due to his abilities who needs refinement at the pro level, or is what you see what you get? That question will keep scouts up at night as they make a final grade on Butler.

    PRO COMPARISON: Dan Williams, Oakland Raiders

    FINAL GRADE: 6.60/9.00 (Round 2—Future Starter)

11. Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'3"295 lbs4.75sN/AN/A

    POSITIVES

    A former standout defensive end prospect in high school, Robert Nkemdiche was one of a handful of star recruits signing with Ole Miss in the 2013 recruiting class—along with first-round prospects Laremy Tunsil and Laquon Treadwell. A three-year starter for the Rebels, Nkemdiche is the ultimate boom-or-bust prospect.

    Blessed with a statuesque build for the position, Nkemdiche is as impressive as they come on the hoof. He has thick, powerful levers and the lower-body strength to run in space and get push in the middle of the field.

    He’s incredibly explosive firing out of his stance and has the body control, balance and sheer strength to be a nightmare as a 3-technique rusher. Blockers who manage to get in front of Nkemdiche are met with low pads, a full head of steam and a bull rush that has lifted linemen off the ground.

    Nkemdiche is a natural as a pass-rusher. He’s fluid, fast, powerful and uses his hands to create separation like a seasoned veteran. There is an unlimited supply of tools to work with here.

    Nkemdiche seemed to elevate his play to his opponents. Watch him against Alabama or Florida and you see a dynamic defender capable of shooting gaps and stacking up blockers at the line of scrimmage. Against legitimate NFL-caliber offensive linemen, Nkemdiche was capable of toying with them.

    NEGATIVES

    Nkemdiche has often been in the headlines for the wrong reasons. He was suspended for Ole Miss’ bowl game following the 2015 season after falling out of a fourth-floor hotel room window in Atlanta—a fall that sent him to the hospital and police to his room to find marijuana present. Nkemdiche told the media at the NFL combine that he was only drunk and that the marijuana wasn’t his. He also noted that teammate Tunsil was in the room with him.

    Before the legendary fall, Nkemdiche was investigated for assault after a fight at a frat party during his recruitment to Ole Miss. Scouts we’ve talked to are afraid Nkemdiche’s older brothers are a negative influence steering him in the wrong direction.

    On the field, Nkemdiche never lived up to the hype. He flashed plays shooting gaps and made big hits in the backfield, but those plays were inconsistent and were more often than not caused by a hard-charging guess through a hole.

    Nkemdiche’s instincts and football IQ did not lead to plays. He doesn’t show the gap discipline to make an early impact in a 3-4 defense and may be lower on those boards than that of a 4-3 team.

    PRO COMPARISON: Sheldon Richardson, New York Jets

    FINAL GRADE: 6.75/9.00 (Round 2—Future Starter)

10. Jihad Ward, Illinois

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    L.G. Patterson/Associated Press

     

    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'5"290 lbs5.00s7.38s4.63s

    POSITIVES

    A former wide receiver, Jihad Ward transitioned from a skill player to a space-eater in junior college before joining Illinois. A senior entry, Ward was among the most impressive athletes on the field for the 2016 Senior Bowl practices.

    An athletic big man with the strength to step right into a 3-4 defense as a 5-technique, Ward flashes with hip quickness and hand strength. Ward’s frame is one scouts fall in love with, given his bulk and length (33 ⅞-inch arms).

    Ward can play double duty on the end of the defensive line. He’s stout enough to stack up blockers in the run game but explosive enough to shoot gaps and make plays in the backfield against the run and the pass.

    He’s aware and instinctive, which makes him dangerous on the fly. College offensive tackles could rarely keep pace with Ward’s first-step speed when he got loose, and even Taylor Decker struggled at times to match his power toe-to-toe.

    Considered an upside prospect, Ward beat up Big Ten competition with his athleticism. If he can learn fundamentals, he could be dangerous.

      

    NEGATIVES

    Inconsistency on the field is all that keeps Ward from being a first-round prospect. When asked to anchor against a double-team or combination block on the edge, he’ll surrender his legs and be moved off his spot. Playing against NFL-caliber tackles on a regular basis, this showed up often on rushing downs. When Ward is on his game with leverage and a wide base, he’s tougher to move.

    You’d like to see Ward use his length and hands better to keep blockers off his frame in the run game. He gets top-heavy and likes to lean or lay on blockers, and they’re able to control him with an inside grip. Ward has the power to disengage but doesn’t go to his rip or swim move often enough to credit it as a positive.

    Ward’s game tape at Illinois is flashy but rarely dominant. A lack of fight in his game allows him to be stuffed more often than a 6’5”, 290-pound athlete should be.

    PRO COMPARISON: Cameron Heyward, Pittsburgh Steelers 

    FINAL GRADE: 6.90/9.00 (Round 2—Future Starter)

9. Maliek Collins, Nebraska

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'2"311 lbs5.03s7.53s4.52s

    POSITIVES

    A classic 3-technique penetrator, Maliek Collins elected to head to the NFL after his junior season at Nebraska. His 2014 tape showed a flashy, productive pass-rusher, but he must convince teams his final season was a fluke.

    A former high school wrestler, Collins has explosive traits and excellent body control firing out of his stance. Collins doesn’t have elite measurables, but he has heavy, strong hands (9 ½”) and uses them well to cut and slap away blockers. He uses his natural leverage to his advantage and understands how to get underneath blockers and pop up to drive them back off the ball in a bull rush.

    Collins has enough burst off the line to get blockers turned. When lining up in a 3-technique, he’s quick enough to slice through a gap and get into the backfield with his first step. He shoots gaps with excellent pad height and comes through aware and ready to chase the ball.

    Largely considered a one-gap attacker, Collins has enough strength to play in a 3-4 scheme that wants movement from the nose tackle. Like a Bennie Logan or Glenn Dorsey type, Collins has versatility.

    NEGATIVES

    You have to question why Collins’ production dropped off so hard in 2015—from 14 tackles for a loss and 4.5 sacks to just 2.5 sacks and seven tackles for a loss—but players and coaches we talked to during an October 2015 visit said that everyone on defense was struggling under the new regime. That may be a convenient excuse, but it is something teams must factor into the equation.

    Collins does a good job initiating contact off the snap but doesn’t win battles when he has to redirect or shed the blocker. If he doesn’t get inside leverage, the snap is almost always won by the blocker. Collins’ lack of length can be an issue there, and it allows blockers to get into his frame faster because he’s not able to reach and lock them out.

    Penalties were an issue for Collins in the games we charted. His play in 2015 looked more undisciplined and careless than the player who had a Round 1 grade off his sophomore tape. NFL teams must weigh the odds to determine which prospect they’re getting, but if Collins sees a small draft-day fall down the board, he could be an incredible value to teams needing an interior rusher.

    PRO COMPARISON: Bennie Logan, Philadelphia Eagles

    FINAL GRADE: 6.99/9.00 (Round 2—Future Starter)

8. Kevin Dodd, Clemson

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'5"277 lbs4.86s7.18s4.44s

    POSITIVES

    A left defensive end in Clemson's 4-3 defense, Kevin Dodd shifted to the right side replacing an injured Shaq Lawson against Oklahoma and became a household name. In that game, showcasing his speed and power off the edge, Dodd charted 11 hurries and a sack while pinning his ears back in relentless pass rush.

    That potential is what NFL teams are hoping to cash in on. Dodd, who had 48 hurries and 12 sacks on the year, according to College Football Focus, has the triangle numbers you want in a 4-3 defensive end or bigger rush linebacker in a 3-4 scheme.

    With 34-inch arms and short-shuttle speed of 4.44 seconds, Dodd can get to the quarterback with a variety of moves. He shows a motor that runs at full speed all game long, and while much of his production did come against college right tackles, he impressed in matchups on the left side too.

    Dodd has strong hands and uses them quickly while rushing the passer. He’ll rip and swim blockers and has the acceleration to explode through any creases he creates with his hands. Dodd almost looks slippery at times because blockers have such a hard time locking him up. He’s versatile enough with a speed/power combination to win off either shoulder of the offensive tackle.

    In the run game, Dodd is a physical presence. He reads the play and works laterally to get in line to make a tackle. When asked to stack up a double-team, he’s able to hold contain with length and lower-body strength.

    NEGATIVES

    A one-year wonder at Clemson after being stuck behind Vic Beasley and others on the defensive line, Dodd heads to the NFL at 23 years old and will turn 24 before his rookie season. The other concern is that the Clemson defense was so loaded that Dodd saw simple one-on-one looks as teams shifted to contain D.J. Reader and Lawson.

    Missed tackles came up often on Dodd’s tape. He whiffs big at times in the run game and seems to struggle throttling down with enough control to make a tackle attempt. He plays top-heavy in his pursuit of runners, and some players he should run right through end up juking him.

    Dodd looks the part, and his 2015 production is enticing, but the question of his age and his lack of sustained production will be questions that could send him to Day 2 of the draft.

    PRO COMPARISON: Ziggy Ansah, Detroit Lions

    FINAL GRADE: 6.99/9.00 (Round 2—Future Starter)

7. A'Shawn Robinson, Alabama

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'4"307 lbs5.20s7.80s4.74s

    POSITIVES

    A’Shawn Robinson may only be 21 years old, but he looks like a grown man at 6’4” and 307 pounds with 34 ½”-inch arms and 10 ½-inch hands. This is what a defensive lineman should look like, and coming out of the Alabama system, Robinson is immediately ready for a role in the pros.

    An ideal fit as a 3-4 defensive end, Robinson has the raw power to move the line of scrimmage off his first step. He mixes quickness with big power and will use his hands to toss away college offensive tackles when they try to initiate contact. In the run game, Robinson was rarely stopped at the line.

    A natural two-gapper in Alabama's 3-4 scheme, Robinson has the size and short-area quickness to play in either a one- or two-gap scheme. His power, length and knowledge of how to disengage from blockers will be a great asset from his first day in an NFL camp.

    Two years of charting Robinson’s play at Alabama leaves you wondering what if in the passing game. The scheme asked him to contain the tackle and free up his outside linebackers to make a play. His production as a pass-rusher is a negative, but this is a case of what he was asked to do versus what he can do.

    NEGATIVES

    Big and tall out of the gate, Robinson has to learn to control his pad height. Playing at 6’4”, he’s often taller than bigger offensive linemen because of a lack of bend in his legs and arch in his back. There are flashes of leverage from Robinson, but not too often.

    Pass-rushing moves from Robinson are not yet developed, and he is likely to see a two-down role early in his pro career until he can be refined as a rusher. There he’ll have to learn to use his hands to create separation and how to move more effectively with low pads and light feet. Robinson plays bigger than he is at times, which is fine against the run but a weakness when trying to skirt by blockers.

    Robinson will never bend edges and tear up the corner with speed, but can he be developed into a solid contributor on third downs? How teams answer that question will determine if they see him as a first- or second-round talent.

    PRO COMPARISON: Michael Brockers, Los Angeles Rams

    FINAL GRADE: 6.99/9.00 (Round 2—Rookie Starter)

6. Jarran Reed, Alabama

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'3"315 lbs5.21s7.77s4.75s

    POSITIVES

    A transfer to Alabama from East Mississippi Community College, Jarran Reed made an impact that doesn’t show up on stat sheets as the anchor of the Alabama defense in 2015. As the Crimson Tide made another title run, it was Reed keeping the athletic linebackers clean and setting up one-on-one looks for defensive ends Jonathan Allen and A’Shawn Robinson.

    Reed is a prototypical nose tackle—6’3” with a stout, squatty build and tree-trunk legs. He plays with power but also has refined technique in his hand placement and leverage. His balance, body control and wide base allow Reed to truly sit down and anchor in double-team situations. He’s able to absorb combination blocks and chips with strong shoulders and won’t let himself be walked back. Reed’s bad plays are stalemates.

    A solid one- or two-gap defender, Reed has excellent football awareness and translates film study to the field, which shows in his ability to recognize blocking assignments and fly to the ball. He’s a perfect mix of size and athleticism, which allows him to play every alignment on the defensive front between the nose and a head-up defensive end.

    A productive tackler, Reed has more pass-rushing acumen than most nose tackles. If freed to go get the quarterback, he has enough motor and juice in his wheels to at least get pressures off penetration.

    NEGATIVES

    A DUI arrest in 2014 will be brought up in every interview Reed has with teams. His response will weigh heavily on his team-by-team draft stock.

    While Reed has the traits of a solid pass-rusher, he doesn’t have the production of one. In two years at Alabama, he notched just two sacks, which doesn’t endear him to teams needing more of a pass rush. As with any nose tackle, that could limit Reed’s appeal to all 32 teams.

    While Reed doesn’t have great quickness to give chase—be it a quarterback or a running back—you also expect more of a straight-line bull rush. He likes to try to slide and squeeze through blockers when he is kept on the field as a rusher and must learn to just use what God gave him and try to push through the line.

    PRO COMPARISON: Brandon Williams, Baltimore Ravens

    FINAL GRADE: 6.99/9.00 (Round 2—Future Starter)

5. Chris Jones, Mississippi State

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'6"310 lbs5.03s7.44s4.62s

    POSITIVES

    Turn on the film from Chris Jones’ games against Missouri and Arkansas and you’ll see a defensive lineman with top-10 potential. Maybe even top five overall. He’s long, explosive and relentless as he tosses around ball-carriers. That’s the ability that has teams talking about using a top-15 selection on him.

    Jones has elite strength at the point of attack and uses his 10 ¾-inch hands to throw blockers off his path. He combines pad level with power in his lower half and can rock back blockers when he gets underneath their chest and drives up. Jones has a wide, powerful base and moves like a small defensive end in pursuit.

    Working both head-up on the tackle and in gaps, Jones has excellent balance and the strength to absorb cut blocks. He won’t let trash near his feet trip him up moving laterally. His initial forward movement can be top-heavy, but Jones recovers well and has the awareness to be deadly as a wrap-up tackler in the middle of the line.

    Whether you run a one-gap or two-gap defense, Jones is a fit. The same goes for a 3-4 or 4-3 defense. He’s a truly scheme-versatile performer with the elite length, size and skill set to make a day one impact.

    NEGATIVES

    Off-field issues too often get swept up in vague terms, and Jones is a victim of that. Despite his only run-in during the last four years being for a suspended license, Jones is talked about by team scouts as immature and as a player who “doesn’t get it” off the field.

    According to teams, there are also concerns about his father and a history of drug use. To the outsider, these may seem like odd notes, but to NFL teams investing millions of dollars into a player, they are relevant.

    When looking for on-field issues, Jones can be inconsistent and tended to play down to his competition. He didn’t always meet power with power on the line and gave average effort when the play was away from his side of the line. If he can be coached to stay low—not easy at 6’6”—his burst will level out and be much more consistent.

    Jones’ workouts didn’t match his film in terms of athleticism and explosion. Even factoring in his improved vertical jump of 29 ½", Jones' explosive numbers are below the line.

    PRO COMPARISON: Muhammad Wilkerson, New York Jets

    FINAL GRADE: 6.99/9.00 (Round 2—Future Starter)

4. Andrew Billings, Baylor

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    Tom Pennington/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'1"311 lbs5.05s8.05s4.82s

    POSITIVES

    If you haven’t watched Andrew Billings run down a screen play on the boundary yet, you’re missing out.

    A nose tackle in the Baylor defensive scheme, Billings is one of the most active defensive linemen in all of college football. Flashing a motor that never stops and elite lateral quickness, Billings is able to make plays down the line or in the backfield.

    Billings is a verifiable "hoss" to handle in one-on-one situations, and when he slides into a 1-technique to rush the passer through a gap, his quickness and toughness are a nightmare for centers and guards.

    With a sudden, powerful push off the snap, Billings is able to penetrate and move the offensive line. Even as he was consistently double-teamed or combo-blocked, Billings was productive at a consistent rate, leading Baylor in tackles for a loss and sacks from the nose tackle position.

    A powerful lifter in high school, Billings man-handles blockers when he latches on with leverage. He drops his weight well to anchor and plays with the leverage of a wrestler when shutting down inside rushing lanes. A former offensive lineman, the 21-year-old Billings is still learning the position and has remarkable upside.

    NEGATIVES

    Short arms are a major concern for teams looking at Billings. He was able to win with power and by overwhelming college blockers with movement and strength, but that style doesn’t produce in the pros. With a top-heavy frame, Billings has to prove he can get the lower-body push to re-establish the line of scrimmage in the NFL.

    A lack of elite change-of-direction skills may also be an issue as Billings moves to the next level. He has straight-line quickness—as seen when he’s running down plays on the edge—but does he have the hips to snap and attack laterally?

    He’s still a raw player, and Billings will ask NFL teams to bet on his upside. There’s always risk in that, which is why he could be available well into the 20s on draft day. Billings beat up some bad Big 12 interior offensive linemen, and he’ll face much stiffer competition from day one in the NFL.

    PRO COMPARISON: Casey Hampton, former Pittsburgh Steeler

    FINAL GRADE: 7.00/9.00 (Round 1—Rookie Starter)

3. Sheldon Rankins, Louisville

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    Joel Auerbach/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'1"303 lbs4.85s7.44s4.59s

    POSITIVES

    Sheldon Rankins offered scouts a flashback to a dominant Senior Bowl week from Aaron Donald in January 2014 and has teams hoping they get another shot at an undersized pass-rusher at 3-technique after missing out on one of the NFL’s best when Donald fell to the middle of Round 1.

    Rankins may not be Donald, but there are similarities. Both are undersized tackles with great quickness and body control. Rankins showed off impressive strength lining up at defensive end in Louisville’s 3-4 scheme and is a more versatile option along the line given his experience as a 5-technique but with the ability to play in a 1-, 3- or 4-technique.

    With elite short-area quickness and a stunning first step, Rankins can win the snap before linemen are in their pass set. He’s agile and loose-hipped and will use head shakes, shoulder dips and a juke move to create separation from linemen. This was all on display as he made linemen look like fools at the Senior Bowl.

    Rankins can win with sheer explosiveness, but he’s also smart with hand use and leverage. He’s not purely beating blockers with athleticism; he understands his assignment and his position. He sacrificed many splash-play opportunities to control his gaps in the Cardinals defense.

    NEGATIVES

    When evaluating players, you want those marquee matchups of an elite talent against an elite talent. In the 2015 bowl game, Rankins was often matched up against Texas A&M tackle Germain Ifedi, and he was handled the majority of the game.

    That poor showing echoes a larger trend that saw Rankins' play and impact slow down as the season wore on in 2015. He was back to his explosive self against Senior Bowl competition, but watching Rankins against Auburn in Week 1 and then again in Week 11 against Virginia, he looked completely wore down. Playing almost 80 percent of the team’s defensive snaps may have zapped his legs.

    A lack of ideal size could undo some of the goodwill Rankins has done on film. The NFL is still a height/weight business, and Rankins is below the line for standards at the position.

    PRO COMPARISON: Mike Daniels, Green Bay Packers

    FINAL GRADE: 7.00/9.00 (Round 1—Rookie Starter)

2. DeForest Buckner, Oregon

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'7"290 lbs4.80s7.51s4.47s

    POSITIVES

    Among the most dominant players in college football the last two seasons, DeForest Buckner had the look of a top-15 pick after the 2014 season. He elected to return to Oregon for one more year, and in that time he solidified himself as a top-10 player in the class.

    A 5-technique defensive end straight out of central casting, Buckner has the height, weight, length (34 ⅜-inch arms) and hand size (11 ¾”) to make scouts drool. With that size, he impresses with short-area quickness, flexibility and agility in space. Watch Buckner work a spin move or swim an offensive guard and you see just how special of an athlete he is.

    Buckner will no doubt be compared to former teammate Arik Armstead, last year’s No. 17 overall pick. Given the choice between the two, Buckner is the far better football player and brings a better pro skill set to the table. Behind that agility comes the power to collapse an offensive line. Buckner initiates contact with his length and has the punch to cause guards and tackles to step back and flatten their own pocket.

    Buckner fights through contact with a high motor and doesn’t surrender on snaps. Even when a blocker contains him, he’s throwing up a hand to try to bat the pass down.

    NEGATIVES

    As a top-10 player, there are few issues with Buckner’s game, and those that do exist are picky.

    The biggest issue on film is a top-heavy playing style that has Buckner lunging and leaning on blockers in the run game. He’ll attack off the snap with a two-handed shove but doesn’t always move his feet to match his hands. This allows blockers to wall Buckner down from the side.

    It may be a scheme preference, but Buckner at times will “slow play” his first step and wait to see what the lineman in front of him is doing. This is taught sometimes but is rarely used in the NFL because of the quickness and power of offensive tackles.

    PRO COMPARISON: Calais Campbell, Arizona Cardinals

    FINAL GRADE: 7.20/9.00 (Round 1—Rookie Starter)

1. Joey Bosa, Ohio State

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'5"269 lbs4.86s6.89s4.21s

    POSITIVES

    The son of former first-rounder John Bosa and the nephew of former first-rounder Eric Kumerow, Joey Bosa has football in his blood. Now he’ll look to best his elders (both picked No. 16 overall) on draft day.

    A prototypical 4-3 defensive end, Bosa has the athletic tools and production that rarely leaves the first five picks of the draft. He has the hips to turn and squeeze the edge, the arm length (33 ⅜”) to keep blockers off his chest and the motor to run down backside plays across the field. In an NFL obsessed with pass-rushers, Bosa is the best the defensive linemen group has to offer.

    Bosa looks the part with ideal length and thickness throughout his frame. He’s flexible, agile and explosive coming out of a two- or three-point stance. His production matches the potential, as Bosa tallied 37 tackles for a loss in the last two seasons and added 18.5 sacks in that time.

    Playing either in a 4-3 or 3-4 defense in the NFL, Bosa has the hand strength to win battles up front. He’s able to lock onto tackles and drive them off the ball with a good bull rush but can also set them up with a false step and quick explosion off the corner.

    A strong tackler, Bosa doesn’t get enough credit for being a lockdown defender on the edge. He contains his corner well and will make tackles both in space and in traffic but always while protecting the boundary.

    Entering the NFL, Bosa is pro-ready. He knows how to set up blockers and can create separation with hip snap, hand fights or head fakes. He’ll turn the corner with speed and convert that burst to power. He’s a complete defensive end prospect with All-Pro potential.

    NEGATIVES

    Bosa dropped weight—down to 269 pounds from a playing weight of 285—to run faster at the combine and failed to move the needle with a 4.86-second time. He improved at his pro day, but it leaves scouts wondering if he can stand up as an edge-rusher or if he’s a true down lineman.

    Missed tackles show up for Bosa when you watch him against big competition. Going back to the Ohio State title run in 2014, there were times his effort lagged at the end of plays. Being a more complete finisher will be key if he’s to live up to expectations. Cutting down on silly offside penalties will also be a must, as Bosa too often jumps the gun.

    Teams will no doubt ask Bosa about a suspension that cost him the first game of the 2015 season. The answers could affect whether he’s a top-five pick.

    PRO COMPARISON: Greg Hardy, NFL Free Agent

    FINAL GRADE: 7.20/9.00 (Round 1—Rookie Starter)