NFL Draft 400: Ranking the Draft's Top Defensive Linemen

Matt Miller@nfldraftscoutNFL Draft Lead WriterApril 19, 2018

NFL Draft 400: Ranking the Draft's Top Defensive Linemen

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    Scouts and general managers have called the 2018 NFL draft class average, but we still have questions. Who is the best overall player? How about the best at each position? 

    The NFL Draft 400's goal is to figure that out. 

    We tracked, scouted, graded and ranked the top 400 prospects with help from scouting assistants Marshal Miller, Dan Bazal and Jerod Brown. Together, we viewed tape of a minimum of three games per player—the same standard NFL teams use. Oftentimes, we saw every play from a prospect over the last two years. 

    Strengths and weaknesses figured into the grades, with a pro-player comparison added to match the prospect's style or fit in the pros. The top 400 prospects will be broken down by position for easy viewing before the release of a top-400 big board prior to the April 26-28 draft at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

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

35. Matt Dickerson, UCLA

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    Danny Moloshok/Associated Press


    —Instinctual player who can guess correctly.

    —Good vision to identify running backs and work toward stops.

    —Wins with hand-usage and reaction skills.

    —Competitive toughness is evident throughout the rep.



    —Only played seven games in 2017 because of a collarbone injury and hasn't ever been big-time contributor.

    —Lengthy frame at 6'4" and 290 pounds and is likely only a 3-4 tackle.

    —Doesn't have much bend to be an effective pass-rusher around the corner.

    —Easily out-leveraged and can be put on skates.

    —Lacks the physicality needed to be a routine run defender and struggles to disengage with any sort of technique.



    Dickerson plays with solid fundamental technique but lacks any sort of top-tier trait that suggests he could be a starter in the NFL. With a frame that looks thin at the base, he doesn't have the power and anchor to face double-teams consistently. He doesn't offer much as a pass-rusher and will struggle to find a true role. He's a likely practice squad candidate who could see a physical makeover once an NFL team identifies his position more clearly.


    GRADE: 4.90 (Camp Body)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Alex Carrington, free agent

34. Greg Gilmore, LSU

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press


    —NFL-ready size (6'4", 308 lbs) that could slide into a 3-4 tackle role easily.

    —Average run defender who can take on blocks and disengage.

    —Sack production that comes from consistent effort.

    —Runs well enough to be an effective backside defender on boundary runs.


    —Pad height is a major concern and causes routine leverage issues.

    —Leans on linemen and tries to pound feet but doesn't have the lower-body power to move anyone.

    —Offers almost no positional versatility in the NFL and is essentially a 3-4 tackle.

    —Pass-rushing success is more luck than plan and skill.

    —Doesn't have the speed or flexibility to come off the edge and will need stunts to get home in the NFL.



    Gilmore is a limited prospect who has the size for the NFL but lacks the fundamental techniques to be an effective defensive lineman against the best competition in the world. Throw in that he can only play one position in a specific scheme, and he becomes a late-round prospect at best. Gilmore's best bet is to land on a practice squad and develop some of the nuance that will help him succeed despite average-at-best traits.


    GRADE: 5.00 (Priority Free Agent)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Deon Simon, New York Jets

33. Eddy Wilson, Purdue

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images


    —A consistent wrapper in traffic who brings down players if he gets hands on them.

    —Puts a ton of weight into his punches and can stun offensive linemen when he's first.

    —Plays like a boxer and throws hands early and throughout every rep.

    —Looks to engage, stack and disengage with timing and rhythm.



    —Academically ineligible for the final bowl game and will have to answer questions about commitment when things aren't easy or what he wants.

    —Sometimes too willing to separate rather than doing the dirty work and taking on blocks to free others.

    —Works underneath blocks without the makeup speed to catch the play from behind.

    —Production doesn't sell much and lacks tape that shows a playmaker rather than a space-eater.

    —Will not give much in the pass rush and won't routinely disrupt the pocket platform.


    Wilson is a big-bodied (6'4", 301 lbs), heavy-hitting tackle prospect who will have to answer questions after missing the Foster Farms Bowl. He has the thickness and the power that teams want, but his lack of consistency and commitment, both on and off the field, will drive down his stock almost entirely. If teams see someone who simply wasn't interested in school, Wilson could be a Day 3 selection. If there are underlying concerns, he might be waiting for a call as an undrafted free agent.


    GRADE: 5.00 (Priority Free Agent)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Domata Peko, Denver Broncos

32. Joshua Frazier, Alabama

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images


    —Big base that can settle into his hips and anchor.

    —Shows some strength to handle double-teams at the point of attack.

    —Alabama players come with NFL-ready coaching and preparedness.

    —Feet can churn out steps against pressure to collapse pockets.



    —Was never an unquestioned starter at Alabama and has seen primarily backup reps.

    —Two-down player who offers little as a pass-rusher.

    —Slow to fire his feet and lacks any sort of desired quickness that is becoming commonplace.

    —Heavy-footed runner who looks like every movement is taxing.

    —Little to no positional or athletic flexibility and versatility.



    Joshua Frazier is a mammoth of a man at 6'4", 321 pounds and will entice teams looking for a potential nose tackle. The trend is pointing toward athletic big men on the interior, and Frazier doesn't move well enough to combat the power and speed of NFL linemen. He'll have to continue to develop a rotational skill set or risk being nothing more than a training-camp body.


    GRADE: 5.00 (Priority Free Agent)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Carlos Watkins, Houston Texans   

31. James Looney, California

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press


    —NFL bloodlines with his brother, Joe, a Dallas Cowboys lineman out of Wake Forest. His father, James, was a linebacker at Louisville.

    —Varied moves that can help with pass-rushing production.

    —His speed and athleticism are above-average and will help him in transition.

    —Good first step that can be developed into a well-timed jump off the snap.



    —Doesn't fit a specific position and will have to either bulk up his 6'3", 280-pound frame or become a better athlete.

    —Little waist and lower body that will struggle to hold up at the point of attack against NFL offensive linemen.

    —Tendency to stand and peek over the fence to find the ball-carrier rather than square up blocks in the gap.

    —High pad height creates leverage and balance issues against even adequate linemen.



    Looney is an intriguing prospect who has family connections in the NFL with his brother a 2012 fourth-round selection of the San Francisco 49ers. James, however, may not be quite ready for a role on a roster. He'll have to either bulk up or suddenly develop some bend and flexibility to his game if he hopes to find a true positional fit. In the meantime, he's likely a special teamer who could see some work as a goal-line and short-yardage fullback.


    GRADE: 5.20 (Priority Free Agent)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Will Tukuafu, free agent

30. Abdullah Anderson, Bucknell

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    Photo Credit: Bucknell Athletics


    —A four-time All-Patriot League performer.

    —Powerful player with a natural build (6'4", 295 lbs) for the 5-technique position.

    —Excellent use of length to knock down passes at the line of scrimmage and has been key on blocked field goals.

    —Aggressive with a high motor.

    —Uses hands and length well to create separation for himself to find the ball.



    —Needs to bulk up and add strength in his lower body.

    —Shoots upright and can be a touch slow timing the snap.

    —Doesn't flash the lateral agility to be a penetrator against NFL talent.

    —Won with straight athleticism and hasn't had to learn to counter with technique.

    —Dominated a low level of competition.



    Abdullah Anderson is the type of player you want your team to add in the seventh round or after the draft as a developmental defensive line prospect. His motor, awareness and aggressiveness are worth getting excited about if a team can be patient with letting him learn and grow.


    GRADE: 5.30 (Priority Free Agent)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Christian Covington, Houston Texans

29. JoJo Wicker, Arizona State

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images


    —Two-step quickness is good and creates spacing to win reps early.

    —Put multiple counters on tape and can vary timing and his pass-rushing plan.

    —Arizona State moved him all over the line to generate production.

    —Throws his hands early and often to try to stay clean.



    —Only position he might fit in the NFL is the "Big End" role in the Seattle Seahawks' style of defense

    —Outmatched against power every down with ease.

    —Tweener body type that has to get bigger, or else he needs to work some cornering and speed into his repertoire.

    —Takes down blocks on the earholes of helmets and can disrupt other players by being beaten down the line.

    —Weight is distributed in his midsection, and he looks like a heavy 273-pounder.



    Wicker's 6'3" body isn't ready for the NFL, and it will take a legitimate training program to disperse some of the weight in his midsection while either putting more on or building true speed and agility. He flashes some of the quickness and mental processing that will entice teams to make him a late-round selection and bet on their coaching staff. He's suited for a limited role, but the right team may be able to get a solid rotational player.


    GRADE: 5.30 (Priority Free Agent)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Billy Winn, free agent

28. John Atkins, Georgia

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images


    —Traditional nose tackle in the Georgia defense. Can eat blocks and keep linebackers free.

    —Generates pressure up the middle with a strong bull rush.

    —Plays well in traffic and does his job every play. Doesn't get pushed out of position.

    —Athletic enough to stunt and pursue ball-carriers.



    —Lunges coming off the ball and loses footing.

    —Two-down nose tackle with almost no pass-rushing ability.

    —Slow to get off the snap.

    —Limited agility makes it hard to make plays out of the tackle box.



    Atkins is just a run-stopping nose tackle. He failed to record a sack at Georgia, and the tape shows why. He did a wonderful job of eating blockers and keeping the athletic Bulldogs linebackers free of blockers.


    GRADE: 5.50 (Round 7)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Eddie Goldman, Chicago Bears

27. Deadrin Senat, South Florida

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images


    —A 6'0", 314-pound heavyweight in a compact frame that can anchor well.

    —Has quick hands paired with well-timed strikes.

    —Creates leverage naturally and can utilize it to collapse pockets.

    —Effort player who showed up on film and in predraft competitive practices.

    —His weight drops to center and can fight pressure well. Remains balanced as he fights across reach blocks.



    —Doesn't offer much position versatility and is essentially just a 4-3 nose tackle.

    —Average change-of-direction skills limit his ability to burst through lanes created in pass rushes.

    —Only wins with quick hands and will struggle to vary moves routinely against guards that quick-set him.

    —Down blocks swallow him, and he struggles to disengage to redirect.

    —Offensive lineman who can counterpunch will exploit his lack of height or length, which forces him to punch first.



    Senat is a thick-bodied nose tackle who has limited positional versatility, but he can create some havoc on the interior. He has some natural and athletic limitations that teams will struggle to grasp as they look for interior linemen who are more than just space-eaters. Senat has good initial hand quickness that can mitigate some of the length concerns and help him hear his name called as a practice squad candidate for his first season.


    GRADE: 5.50 (Round 6-7)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: David Parry, New Orleans Saints

26. Poona Ford, Texas

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    Michael Thomas/Associated Press


    —Plus agility for the position. Can win battles with his feet and chase down ball-carriers.

    —Experience in multiple positions and schemes on the defensive line. Has played 0-technique to 5-technique

    —Good upper body strength and arm length despite his 5'11" frame.

    —Ford made a huge difference in games by closing running lanes and disrupting backfields, which didn't show up on stat sheets.



    —The NFL is a world in which you have to meet the prerequisites to be drafted high. Poona Ford's height will be seen as a negative.

    —He struggles to win with his hands and disengage from blockers.

    —Hard for him to see into backfields and diagnose plays.

    —Texas' defensive scheme asked him to eat blocks not make plays.


    Bleacher Report's Doug Farrar dubbed Ford the "the best player not invited to the 2018 combine." The Longhorns product does not fit the mold for NFL defensive linemen, but his play does. The strength and leverage he generates with his hips and his punch allow him to lock out and shed blockers. He's also athletic enough to get into gaps. Scouts are going to hate his height, and his draft stock will drop because of it.


    GRADE: 5.50 (Round 6-7)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Geno Atkins, Cincinnati Bengals

25. Taylor Stallworth, South Carolina

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    —Taylor Stallworth is an impressive athlete at 6'2" and 305 pounds.

    —Plays with balance into contact and is rarely driven off track.

    —Excellent hand usage, including his strike timing, strength and variance as a pass-rusher.

    —Hustle player who works whistle to whistle with enthusiasm.



    —His body type doesn't match his skill set, and it limits his positional versatility.

    —Will have to spend his rookie year building an athletic profile that fits what a team wants.

    —Doesn't have NFL-caliber straight speed to reach backside blocks to the boundary.

    —Lack of production as a pass-rusher is concerning. He has just one sack in 36 games.



    Stallworth is a high-energy player who doesn't have a clear position in the NFL. He has a versatile skill set but nothing to hang his hat on, and it limits how a team can use him. His squad will probably ask him to add some weight to his 6'2", 305-pound frame and become a sub-package 1-technique. A rotational position is a perfect way to take advantage of some of Stallworth's individual talents. He should land with a team for training camp and may see a practice squad opportunity in Year 1.


    GRADE: 5.60 (Round 6)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Brandon Mebane, Los Angeles Chargers

24. John Franklin-Myers, Stephen F. Austin

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press


    —Late sleeper wasn't invited to the Senior Bowl or Shrine Game but got a combine invite.

    —A three-year starter at Stephen F. Austin, with three selections to at least the All-Southland Conference second team.

    —Has the build for a 5-technique with the play strength to handle locking the edge.

    —Super aggressive off the snap and can whip blockers with a powerful first step.

    —True developmental player who would need a year to work on his football IQ and strength.



    —Has seen little NFL talent across from him.

    —Technique is raw. He doesn't fight with his hands or use his length to properly keep blockers off his body.

    —Plays stiff and might be best by filling out his 6'4", 292-pound frame and playing in a 3-4 end role.

    —Average lateral agility and overall athleticism. Doesn't wow with his athleticism or length.

    —Scouts told us he looked good at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl but would have been lost at a bigger all-star game.



    John Franklin-Myers is the ultimate "draft and stash" defensive lineman in this class. He needs time to get his processor up to speed and work on the technique that would allow him to use his athleticism on the defensive line.


    GRADE: 5.60 (Round 6)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Cory Redding, retired

23. Du'Vonta Lampkin, Oklahoma

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    —Has a 6'4", 335-pound frame that can chew up space and command double-teams.

    —Has enough girth to drop and anchor against power or to dig in and drive into gaps.

    —Raw prospect with major upside if a team can get him motivated.

    —Has some reps that look like those of a dominant 1-technique when he's invested.



    —Inconsistent effort each down and moment to moment.

    —His lack of experience and starting time (two career starts) is a flag for someone deciding to come out early.

    —Looks lost on the field at times and is slow to diagnose blocks as they come.

    —Slow off the ball and will be beaten early in reps by efficient athletes.

    —Non-factor as a pass-rusher.



    Du'Vonta Lampkin has all of the tools to be a rotational interior defender. However, a lack of college experience and consistency makes him a major risk. Whichever team takes a flier on Lampkin will be betting on his upside and hoping that it has the players around him to help him succeed. His massive frame is hard to ignore and can be a crutch while he learns how to play with the effort needed every down in the NFL.


    GRADE: 5.60 (Round 6)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Jordan Phillips, Miami Dolphins

22. Kentavius Street, NC State

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images


    —Short and squatty frame with plenty of power.

    —Brings weight into contact and causes violent collisions at all levels.

    —Has shown varied moves to be effective.

    —Wins leverage battles easily and has the strength to collapse pockets.



    —Tore ACL at pro day and likely not a Year 1 contributor.

    —Doesn’t have the length to engage offensive linemen first and is instead often a reactionary player.

    —Will struggle to disengage from linemen who get their hands on him first and can latch with powerful grips.

    —Doesn’t have the bend or flexibility to be an edge-rusher.


    Street was a prospect on the rise before tearing his ACL at his pro day. Teams will be impressed with his power and leverage as an end in a 3-4 scheme, but he’ll have to develop as a pass-rusher to minimize the issues that come from a short frame and limited length. He’s an excellent backup and rotational defensive lineman with the upside to become a contributor.


    GRADE: 5.60 (Round 6)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Willie Henry, Baltimore Ravens

21. Kahlil McKenzie, Tennessee

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press


    —Father is Oakland Raiders GM and former NFL linebacker Reggie McKenzie.

    —NFL-ready frame and size that can handle physicality on Sundays.

    —Built like a tree in his lower half and can generate plenty of power from his lower back and butt.

    —Strong punch with the ability to stack offensive linemen at the point of attack.



    —Limited playing time and impact, in part due to torn pectoral muscle in 2016.

    —Gets pushed around far too often for someone his size.

    —Balance upon contact is an issue and leads to glancing hits and him being manipulated in space.

    —Will struggle to routinely handle double-teams at the line of scrimmage and in the gap.

    —Poor block recognition leads to essentially playing himself out of leverage when he doesn’t have to.



    Kahlil McKenzie will likely hear his name called on Day 3 of the NFL draft. His father has the career experience to suggest the McKenzie bloodlines are worth securing. The younger McKenzie has an excellent frame and power that he has to learn to pair with instincts and mental processing to become a more efficient and effective player. In the meantime, he’s a great depth piece as a tackle in a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme.


    GRADE: 5.60 (Round 6)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Kenny Clark, Green Bay Packers

20. Bilal Nichols, Delaware

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    —Sleeper prospect who dominated Shrine Game practices.

    —Motor ran hot in those practices, and coaches were wowed by his athleticism and effort.

    —Excellent length (33 ⅜" arms) and big hands (10 ¼").

    —Has an assortment of pass rush moves you normally don't see from a developmental player.

    —Will give max effort against the run.



    —Small-schooler who didn't see elite competition.

    —Inconsistent film shows him winning with athleticism against poor talent.

    —Lack of bend was exposed against better blockers.

    —Tall and slow out of his stance in game situations. Was able to dominate in Shrine Games practices with an easy snap count.

    —Will get shut down and struggles to redirect as a pass-rusher.



    Bilal Nichols flashed onto the radar with a really good showing at the Shrine Game and followed that progress up with a strong predraft process. He's a solid developmental option who could become a three-down threat as an interior player in a 4-3 scheme.


    GRADE: 5.70 (Round 5)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Star Lotulelei, Buffalo Bills

19. Justin Jones, NC State

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images


    —Adequate lateral quickness to make plays outside the tackle box.

    —Uses his hands to beat blockers with punches, rips, swims and slaps.

    —Keeps fighting through double-teams and never gives up on a play.

    —Good upper strength and hand use on punches.

    —Long arms and wide base.



    —Made a lot of plays due to competing alongside two other great defensive linemen, Bradley Chubb and B.J. Hill.

    —Sidesteps blockers and puts himself out of position.

    —Plays with a stiff lower body, especially in his hips and ankles.

    —Has a slow start off the ball and lets blockers get into his frame.

    —Doesn't offer much ability as a pass-rusher and is a two-down lineman.



    Jones was a productive player as one of four senior starters on the NC State defensive line. He plays with solid upper-body strength and good hand use, but he will struggle to get off blockers due to slow reaction off the ball. Too many times he let blockers drive him out of the play because he was trying to diagnose plays instead of reading and reacting.


    GRADE: 5.70 (Round 5)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Kawann Short, Carolina Panthers

18. Kendrick Norton, Miami (FL)

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    —A nose tackle prospect with a massive wingspan (81 ¼") and hands (10 ¾").

    —Excellent field strength to stack up blockers and anchor against the run.

    —Absorbs blocks and allows his teammates to flourish. Can play in a 3-4 or 4-3 with his size and athleticism.

    —Aggressive at the point of attack and doesn't back down from mauling guards.



    —Two-down player who doesn't bring tools as a pass-rusher.

    —Back bender who lunges into blockers and plays with his eyes on the ground too often.

    —Agility is poor and doesn't allow him to be a pursuit player.

    —Gets hung up on double-teams and needs to use his hands better.

    —Is more of a developmental player who needs to learn hand technique and improve his body.



    Kendrick Norton had a standout year as Miami rebounded onto the national stage, but scouts see a limited player who needs to continue working on his game and his conditioning. He could be a late-round steal for a team needing a nose tackle on first and second down.


    GRADE: 5.75 (Round 4-5)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Jarran Reed, Seattle Seahawks

17. Breeland Speaks, Ole Miss

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    —Fired up all the time and extremely competitive.

    —Has some varied moves as a pass-rusher and can mix and match techniques.

    —Above-average athlete given his size.

    —Ability to get skinny through backside gaps and make stops on wide zone runs to the opposite side.

    —Good punch timing and extension.



    —Moved all over for Ole Miss but never found eye-popping production at any spot.

    —Limited player who is likely only an end in a 3-4 scheme.

    —Ejected from two games and plays with too much emotion, which can disrupt production.

    —Leverage is a concern and will create some plays where he's on skates.

    —Will take some shots that cause problems with offensive players in the NFL.



    Speaks is a revved-up player who needs to learn to contain some of the emotions that dominate his play. He has the size and athletic ability to be a quality end in a 3-4 scheme, but the recklessness that he plays with is a concern at the next level. Teams will expect him to rein some of that in to be a consistent contributor in the NFL.


    GRADE: 5.75 (Round 4-5)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Nick Fairley, free agent

16. Trenton Thompson, Georgia

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    —High-effort player who will try to win every play.

    —Fires off the backside straight down the line to make plays.

    —Penetrates backfield and blows up ball-carriers or running lanes.

    —Lateral quickness to make plays outside his area.

    —Can generate pressure on quarterbacks and has adequate closing speed.



    —Poor hand use lets him get eaten up by blockers.

    —Slow first step getting off the snap.

    —Relies on quickness to beat blockers.

    —Weak upper body

    —Saw limited snaps due to injury and scheme.



    Thompson is a tad undersized as a 3-technique defensive lineman but can make up for it with his lateral quickness and eagerness to make plays. He can fit into a 4-3 scheme or the 3-4 he played in at Georgia. Past injuries and durability will be a concern for his position, as well as his play and game strength.


    GRADE: 5.75 (Round 4-5)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Caleb Brantley, Cleveland Browns

15. Andrew Brown, Virginia

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press


    —First-step explosiveness is impressive, and he can beat blocks in a hurry.

    —Effort and hustle are never in question.

    —Rolls into blocks with a heavy upper body and can string angles out.

    —Doesn't quit in the rep and throws anything and everything to be effective each down.

    —Low leverage at the snap makes him a handful to deal with physically.



    —Slow punch that is often late to engage offensive linemen.

    —Quickness isn't NFL-caliber and will likely keep him as a tackle in an even front.

    —Runs with a heavy trunk and takes plodding steps in space.

    —Not a fluid athlete and will struggle to play anything outside of the box.

    —Effort pass-rusher rather than someone who shows diverse hand usage or varied moves.



    Brown wins almost entirely on effort and hustle. Each rep is a heavyweight fight, and he's willing to do whatever it takes to win before lining up to do it again. Teams will love that energy, and it should earn Brown a roster spot to keep developing some of the pass-rushing nuance to become a complete player.


    GRADE: 5.80 (Round 4-5)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Sheldon Day, San Francisco 49ers

14. RJ McIntosh, Miami (FL)

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    —He has the speed and length of an end in a growing tackle's body.

    —Has an impressive nose for the ball that creates opportunities to make plays.

    —Better in a shaded technique when he can use explosiveness to knife gaps.

    —Good eye discipline to get hands up and into throwing windows.

    —First-step quickness is highly disruptive from an interior position.



    —Decent weight but doesn't have the desired frame and thickness.

    —Doesn't have the anchor to compete against double-teams consistently.

    —Poor balance that gets disrupted easily by down blocks.

    —Hands are all over the place and don't show nuance of an effective pass-rusher.

    —Path is destroyed when an offensive lineman gets the first punch into contact.



    McIntosh is a raw player who will have to use speed and quickness to be an effective interior defensive lineman at the next level. He has the potential to add muscle mass and lower-body thickness, and he'll have to if he expects to see legitimate playing time. He has all of the short-area burst that teams want to see but will be overwhelmed by power at the line of scrimmage if he can't beef up.


    GRADE: 5.80 (Round 4-5)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Darnell Dockett, retired

13. Foley Fatukasi, Connecticut

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    Stew Milne/Associated Press


    —Four-year player who has experience over others in the class.

    —Has the power and girth to handle interior work.

    —Pounds feet to consistently get into the quarterback's lap and move the platform.

    —Every strike is a haymaker and has all of his weight behind it.

    —Hustle player who treats every rep like a fight.



    —Raw player who is winning with sheer size and strength against competition.

    —Heavy athlete that doesn't have the quickness or balance of top-tier interior players in the NFL.

    —One-track mind that treats each rep like a one-on-one instead of identifying schemes and disengaging to make plays.

    —Won't make many plays outside of the box in the NFL.

    —Will get exposed on reach blocks because he's lacking the lateral agility and balance to open and fight pressure while working outside.



    Foley Fatukasi is a raw prospect who has succeeded by using power and thickness to disrupt plays early. He'll have to develop a varied skill set in the NFL if he's expecting to be anything more than a two-down 3-tech that is taken off the field on obvious passing downs. There is enough flash on film to suggest Fatukasi could become a moveable piece in any front with continued coaching and athletic development.


    GRADE: 5.99 (Round 4)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Dalvin Tomlinson, New York Giants

12. P.J. Hall, Sam Houston State

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    Photo Credit: Brian Blalock


    —Undersized (6'1", 310 lbs) but plays with great athleticism and strength (36 reps).

    —Amazing speed for the position (4.7 seconds at his pro day) and burst (38-inch vertical)

    —Lined up all over the defensive line and even stood up as a rusher for Sam Houston State.

    —Totaled 42 sacks in his four-year career, despite recording just six in 2017.

    —Can play all three downs as a pass-rusher and run-stopper.



    —Dominated smaller competition at Sam Houston State.

    —Playing weight and strength will be a concern for scouts. Even though he did 36 reps, it doesn't always show up on film.

    —Can be taken out of the play by getting too far up field.

    —Fails to keep gap responsibility when facing bigger guards.

    —Doesn't play well with hands and uses his speed and agility to beat lesser competition.



    An athletic wonder on the defensive line, P.J. Hall put up numbers that rival the likes of J.J. Watt. He might need time to catch up on scheme and playing up to the NFL level after four years at FCS Sam Houston State, but he's a very versatile player who is comfortable and productive in many defensive techniques. He has recently been linked to the Atlanta Falcons and would be a great fit in their defense.


    GRADE: 6.00 (Round 3)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Sheldon Richardson, Minnesota Vikings

11. Da'Shawn Hand, Alabama

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    —He's a rocked-up 300-pounder who carries it well.

    —Can drop his weight against double-teams and hold leverage at the point of attack.

    —Rare arm length as an interior player who can punch and extend to create rush lanes.

    —Agile for his size and plays with balance in traffic.

    —Has the speed and power to play 3-4 end or the 3-technique in a 4-3 front.



    —Missed three games in 2017 due to MCL injury

    —Lack of production is concerning because he hasn't become the dominant player that was expected with his high school ranking.

    —Won't be a legitimate pass-rusher from the inside and will struggle to routinely create pressure with varied moves.

    —Accepts blocks too often rather than showing good hand usage to stack and separate.

    —Flash player who is inconsistent far too often given his abilities.



    Da'Shawn Hand has struggled to find consistent playing time on Alabama's loaded defensive line over the last few years. He finally saw consistent starter's reps in 2017 and performed well, despite missing three games with an injury. He has all of the physical gifts to be a starter, but the erratic effort is a major concern and shows a player who is willing to take it easy on the field.


    GRADE: 6.00 (Round 3)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Tim Jernigan, Philadelphia Eagles

10. B.J. Hill, NC State

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    —Natural athlete with a massive frame.

    —Flows to the playside of the field with good quickness.

    —Prototypical size for the NFL with room to develop.

    —Upper-body strength to go along with his quick feet.

    —Nose for the football with instincts and awareness.



    —Tested stronger and faster than he plays.

    —Questionable if he can anchor down and shed blocks.

    —Bradley Chubb took a lot of opposing offensive lines' attention away from Hill, allowing him to make plays.

    —Can be moved off his spot and out of gaps too easily.

    —Limited pass rush production and moves.



    B.J. Hill had no problem finding and flowing to the football in the NC State defense. Scouts questioned his play strength, regardless of his 35 reps at the combine, and his ability to anchor and maintain gap control. Hill was very productive against the run and will look to continue that same level of play in the NFL as a two-down defensive tackle.


    GRADE: 6.25 (Round 3)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Bennie Logan, Tennessee Titans

9. Derrick Nnadi, Florida State

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    Mark Wallheiser/Associated Press


    —Short pass-rusher with a good first step and natural leverage at 6'1", 317 pounds.

    —Natural anchor to play nose tackle despite smaller frame.

    —Possessing an excellent work ethic and motor, he gives chase on pursuit plays.

    —Knows how to use his hands to free up from blockers and is rarely stopped one-on-one.

    —Isn't slippery in gaps but generates pressure up the middle by driving the center off the ball with a bull rush.



    —Tested below NFL thresholds in the 40 (5.38 seconds), three-cone (8.15 seconds), short shuttle (5.02 seconds) and broad jump (96 inches).

    —Likely a two-down player in the NFL, which affects his draft value.

    —Scouts told us his poor combine and lack of pass rush could make him a Day 3 player.

    —Shorter arms (33 ½") show up on tape as he struggles to split double-teams.

    —Needs to learn to drive off the ball better in the run game.



    Derrick Nnadi was a fantastic college football player, but he doesn't hit all the marks for tools needed to be an early draft pick. He's likely scheme-specific to a 3-4 team looking to add a nose tackle who can get a little upfield push if kept in on third down.


    GRADE: 6.25 (Round 3)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Michael Pierce, Baltimore Ravens

8. Rasheem Green, USC

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    Ralph Freso/Associated Press


    —Athletic penetrator with a dangerous first step.

    —Lined up at defensive end and tackle so he's scheme-versatile, but best projection is as a 5-tech.

    —Quick in space and knows how to get skinny to shoot gaps.

    —Perfectly fits sub-package personnel because of his ability to play end and then kick inside.

    —Smart pass-rusher who uses his tools to set up and counter blockers.



    —Light and lean lower body causes him to get pushed around in the run.

    —Teams (and fans) will have to be patient with his development.

    —Poor leverage firing out of his snap leads to less talented blockers owning him.

    —Could stand to be tougher at the point of attack—mentally and physically.

    —Junior entry could have used more seasoning in college.



    Rasheem Green is a tools projection with the room to grow into a dominant frame and player. Improving his power base to better hold up against the run is a must, but he could still make an impact as a Round 2 or 3 player in 2018.


    GRADE: 6.50 (Round 2-3)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Allen Bailey, Kansas City Chiefs

7. Nathan Shepherd, Fort Hays State

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press


    —Ideal height and weight for the NFL at 6'5", 315 pounds.

    —A work in progress that coaches would love to get their hands on because he has room to grow and mature physically.

    —With aggressive early hands, he can stack and shed with adequate strength.

    —Moves well with good flexibility for a tall defensive lineman.

    —Had an amazing start to the Senior Bowl before an injury to his hand.

    —Explosive first step off the snap.



    —Level of play at Fort Hays State.

    —May not see any good production until his second or third year in the league.

    —Plays too high in traffic and is easily reached with a cut block.

    —Struggles to disengage from blockers.



    With raw potential coming out of the MIAA ranks, Nathan Shepherd has the size and speed to make him an every-down player. His first-step quickness and lateral movement make him just as big of a threat on the backside as the playside. He needs to work on staying low and not letting blockers stay on him, and he'll have to prove he can compete in the NFL after years of dominating the small schools.


    GRADE: 6.70 (Round 2)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Kawann Short, Carolina Panthers

6. Tim Settle, Virginia Tech

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    —Excellent combination of size and speed at 6'3" and 335 pounds.

    —Played nose tackle but has the quickness and lateral agility to potentially line up in gaps and penetrate.

    —Has an awesome motor and is a relentless player in pursuit who will fight through the whistle.

    —Reworked his body before the 2017 season and saw his production and impact shoot through the roof.

    —Pad level is nearly perfect and makes him hard to get hands on, so he wins with easy leverage against interior linemen.



    —One-year starter with limited impact before 2017.

    —Teams are concerned he's still a work in progress and needs to keep reshaping his frame.

    —Can get hung up on double-teams and needs to learn better technique to shed.

    —Wears himself out with his high-motor style of play and conditioning issues in the past.



    Tim Settle has been one of the biggest risers on the board throughout the season. His power, quickness and effort make him a coach's favorite. If he can keep his weight in check and improve his conditioning, Settle is a likely early starter.


    GRADE: 6.75 (Round 2)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Dontari Poe, Carolina Panthers

5. Harrison Phillips, Stanford

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press


    —Phillips is almost always the strongest and the smartest guy on the field.

    —Multi-sport athlete who used his wrestling background to learn how to play his hands and leverage.

    —Plays with active hands and wide base while being able to keep his eyes in the backfield.

    —Led Stanford in tackles from the nose tackle position.

    —Able to stay on the field as a pass-rusher and get quarterbacks off their spot.

    —Can dictate where his blocker is going to go, not the other way around.

    —Weighed in at 307 pounds and could still add size and strength to his frame, even after putting up 42 bench reps.



    —Plays too upright at times.

    —Dominating in the run game but lacks pass rush moves to make him a third-down threat.

    —Overpursuit can take him out of plays.

    —Not as athletic as you would think for a 307-pound defensive lineman.



    Harrison Phillips is a dominating defensive presence who led his team in tackles in 2017. He also put up an amazing 42 reps on the bench at the combine and showed his strength on tape was real. His ability to play up and down the defensive line makes him very valuable at the top of the second round to both 4-3 and 3-4 teams.


    GRADE: 6.90 (Round 2)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Ndamukong Suh, Los Angeles Rams

4. Maurice Hurst, Michigan

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press


    —Amazing effort and recognition skills and plays with a nonstop motor.

    —Plays very well against the run with pursuit skills and speed.

    —Coaches raved about his character and work ethic.

    —Fast hands and knows how to use them to set up blockers or shed offensive linemen.

    —Can anchor better than expected for his size (6'2", 282 lbs).

    —Well-rounded defensive lineman with power, quickness and leverage.



    —Was held out of the combine after doctors discovered a heart issue, though he was later cleared to participate at the Michigan pro day.

    —Scheme-limited and is only a fit in a 4-3 scheme.

    —Can have a hard time getting free from longer, powerful blockers, like in the Ohio State game.

    —Maxed-out frame.



    Maurice Hurst is a high-motor, high-character defensive lineman, but teams will have to do their due diligence regarding the heart condition that became public at the combine. He's a great fit as a one-gap penetrator in an aggressive, attacking 4-3 scheme.


    GRADE: 6.99 (Round 2)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Larry Ogunjobi, Cleveland Browns

3. Da'Ron Payne, Alabama

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    —Ended his Alabama career with standout performances in the College Football Playoff.

    —Has strength to anchor at the point of attack and occupies blockers to free up linebackers.

    —High-motored player who played assignment football instead of freelancing and going after the quarterback.

    —Excellent stack-and-shed strength.

    —Can play anywhere on the defensive line.

    —Scheme in college kept him from producing huge numbers, but the traits are there to be a top pass-rusher.



    —Limited reps as a starter and was rarely asked to pin his ears back and rush the passer.

    —Lacks ideal height (6'2 ½") and arm length (33").

    —Needs to develop counter moves as a pass-rusher.



    Da'Ron Payne is still developing as a pass-rusher but showed in the national title game that he can dominate interior linemen when allowed to penetrate. Payne has the strength, quickness and motor to attack when freed up but will also play smart team football.


    GRADE: 6.99 (Round 2)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Corey Liuget, Los Angeles Chargers

2. Taven Bryan, Florida

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    —Electric one-gap penetrator who has power, speed and effort.

    —Shoots through the line with quickness and can stun interior offensive linemen.

    —Light feet and loose hips allow him to win with burst, but he also possesses secondary pass rush moves like a spin and can be dangerous on stunts.

    —Tough with an aggressive approach to the point of attack and doesn't shy away from blockers.

    —Has the upper-body strength to shed blockers and the speed to chase down ball-carriers.

    —Has the frame to play either inside of a 4-3 or on the outside of a 3-4 defense as a 5-tech.



    —Block recognition can be poor, and instincts are questionable.

    —Needs to better control his pad height to win with leverage.

    —Short-armed at 32 ¾".

    —Production never matched the hype or athleticism.



    Taven Bryan might be seen as more of a developmental player, but he has true Round 1 traits thanks to his athleticism and the pressure he can generate in the middle of the defensive line. He's an ideal fit for a 4-3 defense that wants a one-gap penetrator and should hear his name called in the first 40 picks.


    GRADE: 6.99 (Round 2)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Sheldon Richardson, Minnesota Vikings

1. Vita Vea, Washington

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    —Massive frame at 6'4" and 347 pounds with plus athleticism and lateral movement.

    —Naturally strong (41 bench press reps) and is the best in the class at splitting double-teams.

    —Lined up all over the Washington defensive line, even getting some snaps on the edge.

    —Dominates at the point of attack and is a seamless fit at nose tackle but has the skills to play all over the line.

    —Handles assignment football well and is athletic enough to one-gap but strong enough to handle two.

    —Day 1 NFL starter tools.

    —Aggressive, violent player with a high motor.



    —Doesn't bring much production as pass-rusher.

    —Can play too tall off the snap.

    —Might struggle to penetrate gaps against NFL talent on the interior.

    —Can be hesitant to fire off the ball and is often the last defender to move.



    Vita Vea is too often labeled as a two-gap player, but he's a true athlete with the tools to stay on the field for passing downs. He's more Haloti Ngata than Danny Shelton and could be the foundation of a 3-4 or 4-3 defensive line. He might be seen as scheme-limited, which could affect how highly he's drafted.


    GRADE: 7.05 (Round 1)

    PRO PLAYER COMPARISON: Haloti Ngata, Philadelphia Eagles