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

Matt Miller@nfldraftscoutNFL Draft Lead WriterApril 16, 2019

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

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    After 11 months of evaluations, conversations with scouts and coaches and endless nights on the road or at games, our staff is finally ready to answer the burning questions surrounding the 2019 NFL draft.

    Who is the best overall player? How about the best at each position? 

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

    The top 400 players were tracked, scouted, graded and ranked, with help from scouting assistants Marshal Miller 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. That led to the grades, rankings and scouting reports you see here.

    Players were graded on strengths and weaknesses, with a pro-player comparison added to match the prospect's style or fit in the pros. The top 400 players will be broken down by position for easy viewing before the release of a top-400 big board prior to the draft, which begins April 25 in Nashville, Tennessee.

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

         

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 or current front-office personnel in the NFL. 

    This applies to all positions across the board.

                         

    Matt Miller's 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
    5.30-5.59Round 6—Backup Caliber
    5.10-5.25Round 7—Backup Caliber
    5.00Priority Free Agent
    4.50-4.99Camp Player

34. Youhanna Ghaifan, Wyoming

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    Shannon Broderick/Associated Press

    STRENGTHS

    —Has a phenomenal frame (6'4", 282 lbs) and length that flashes solid athleticism with room to carry more weight.

    —Solid lower-back strength to anchor against individual pressure and win one-on-one battles versus power runs in between the tackles.

    —Strong punch that can disrupt the timing of blocking schemes.

    —Flashed serious potential in 2017 with seven sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss.

                 

    WEAKNESSES

    —Suspended from Wyoming's program in late October and didn't play for the rest of the year after misdemeanor charges of false imprisonment and harassment at a team hotel on the road. Ghaifan pleaded no-contest to harassment. He had to complete 16 hours of community service and was ordered to take a "boundaries class."

    —His pad level won't compete against double-teams unless he adds more weight throughout his frame.

    —His hands are busy but don't do much to actually set up moves or counter.

    —A raw prospect who couldn't dominate against teams like Wofford and New Mexico State and will struggle to match NFL talent.

    —Freelances and works haphazardly, often taking himself out of plays or creating lanes in the running game.

                                             

    OVERALL

    Youhanna Ghaifan declared for the draft rather than head back to Wyoming or transfer to another program. After sitting out almost half of the 2018 season, he would've benefited tremendously from another opportunity to recreate his 2017 tape. Teams will have to dig into his background to decide whether they're comfortable with his efforts since his suspension in October. He has the frame that teams will covet but lacks much of the polish expected and has to develop into a more technically proficient player.

                                    

    GRADE: 4.99 (CAMP BODY) 

    PRO COMPARISON: Gabe Wright

33. Ricky Walker, Virginia Tech

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    Chuck Burton/Associated Press

    STRENGTHS

    —Quick feet that keep him balanced and upright in tight space.

    —His hustle is evident, and he plays whistle to whistle every down.

    —Has active hands that help him win some battles he might otherwise lose.

    —His lateral balance is solid and allows him to fight through traffic while staying square at the line of scrimmage.

                     

    WEAKNESSES

    —Lacks NFL-caliber length and will struggle to compete with a compact frame.

    —His initial burst off the line of scrimmage is too inconsistent and has to be electric for him to have a chance to compete against NFL talent.

    —Doesn't show the ability to stack out linemen on the snap and has to hope to fight through too many washes.

    —His agility is limited, and he'll rarely redirect bodyweight for tackles outside of his limited length radius.

                            

    OVERALL

    Ricky Walker (6'2", 300 lbs) is a high-energy player who can bring some value as a depth piece, but he's going to struggle to handle interior offensive linemen in the NFL. An overall lack of length and explosiveness means he has to win with his hands, and while they're solid, they're not the sort of elite trait he needs them to be. Walker will likely get a crack at a practice squad but lacks any clear fit.

                             

    GRADE: 4.99 (CAMP BODY)

    PRO COMPARISON: Darius Kilgo

32. Marquise Copeland, Cincinnati

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    STRENGTHS

    —Has good lower-back mobility and the strength to bend and anchor against double-teams.

    —Wins with hustle and effort in all phases.

    —Shows excellent spatial awareness and the ability to disengage at the line of scrimmage to make run stops in between the tackles.

    —Shoots gaps with good initial quickness and pad level to disrupt blocking progressions.

                                                 

    WEAKNESSES

    —Has an undersized frame at 6'2" and 287 pounds and has to fill it out to compete in the interior without the flashes of speed and athleticism that can mask a smaller frame.

    —His hand usage as a pass-rusher is limited and doesn't show significant counter ability.

    —His play strength is still developing after he packed on weight over the last few seasons.

    —His agility in tight space looks limited and has to improve if he continues to play at his current build.

                          

    OVERALL

    Marquise Copeland arrived at Cincinnati as an outside linebacker and progressively put on weight. At his current size, he has to show more speed and athleticism to be an effective every-down defensive lineman. Unfortunately, Copeland has already spent a couple of years putting on weight and may not have much room to add more.

    An NFL team will need to invest time in the strength and conditioning department to rebuild Copeland's frame so it can carry more muscular weight. Copeland is all hustle and wins more reps than he loses, but his current body isn't built to last in the NFL.

                                                           

    GRADE: 5.00 (PRIORITY FREEE AGENT)

    PRO COMPARISON: Joey Ivie 

31. Chris Nelson, Texas

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    Michael Thomas/Associated Press

    STRENGTHS

    —Has quick get-off on the snap and shows some spring in his hips to explode into contact.

    —Has natural leverage that makes him difficult to dig out in one-on-ones when he slants into gaps.

    —2018 team captain and four-year contributor on a defense that improved.

    —Has wide hips and weight throughout the lower half of his 6'1", 297-pound frame help him anchor against double-teams and close creases in between the tackles.

                              

    WEAKNESSES

    —Has a short, squatty frame that will struggle to redirect in space for tackles, and he has to be first with his hands to keep his chest clean.

    —Doesn't possess any go-to move as a pass-rusher and is largely a two-down and special-situation player.

    —His lateral agility is limited, and he doesn't possess the change-of-direction ability to impact screens even when he recognizes it.

    —Can't disconnect his eyes from his hands and will find himself fighting unnecessary one-on-one battles rather than disengaging to work to the football.

                                  

    OVERALL

    Chris Nelson shows impressive movement on the snap for someone his size, but his lack of length may be a concern if he can't develop the hand speed to counteract strikes from offensive linemen. He has buildable traits that will intrigue a team, but everyone in the NFL has the needed physical profile. Nelson will have to improve technique if he expects to compete for a roster spot.

                          

    GRADE: 5.00 (PRIORITY FREE AGENT)

    PRO COMPARISON: Malcom Brown

30. Amani Bledsoe, Oklahoma

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    STRENGTHS

    —Has excellent length and a frame (6'5", 287 lbs) that can be manipulated to fit multiple schemes.

    —Solid speed that can collapse pockets and pressure screens to be thrown prematurely.

    —Has good upper-body strength and brings heat with a well-timed two-handed punch to shock linemen.

    —Brings an alpha mentality and competitive toughness in big games.

                              

    WEAKNESSES

    —Suspended in October 2016 after a failed test for performance-enhancing drugs and missed the rest of the season, as well as the first four games of the 2017 campaign.

    —Underwhelming development at Oklahoma after solid prep career and a high national ranking.

    —Doesn't have much of a plan as a pass-rusher and doesn't have any above-average skill to rely on.

    —Lacks the lateral agility to make plays in space and doesn't have the movement skills to be given edge-setting duties.

                                           

    OVERALL

    Teams are going to love Amani Bledsoe at first glance. He has experience at a top program, came out of high school as a top prospect (No. 8 strong-side defensive end, per 247Sports' composite rankings) and checks every box for the ideal physical profile.

    Unfortunately, he hasn't shown the overall growth or technique refinement that he should've given the expectations. Throw in a lost year due to a suspension for PEDs, and it's hard to tell if he's maxed out his potential. If he can develop more consistent hand usage and varied technique as a pass-rusher, Bledsoe could earn a depth role in a 3-4 scheme.

                                 

    GRADE: 5.00 (PRIORITY FREE AGENT)

    PRO COMPARISON: Bronson Kaufusi

29. Cortez Broughton, Cincinnati

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    STRENGTHS

    —Has excellent foot agility given his size (6'2", 290 lbs) and brings the sort of lower-body quickness that teams are transitioning to with interior defensive linemen.

    —Great explosion at the snap and identifies block nature quickly to move into a pass-rushing plan.

    —Active hands that are able to keep his frame clean. Hot feet that walk blockers back into the pocket and affect the depth of drops often.

    —Slants with a square base and has an ability to get himself little through space and make knifing stops on off-tackle runs.

                                 

    WEAKNESSES

    —His lower body isn't particularly thick and will get abused by double-teams if he can't learn to drop his weight and use leverage to at least slow down the vertical movement.

    —Inconsistent effort in all phases. Balances between team hero or team slouch.

    —Would like to see more true power in his punch to shock linemen for disruption rather than routinely looking to evade in space.

    —His lateral agility is hot-and-cold, and he's too willing to jog on the backside of plays rather than fight to string out runs and eliminate spacing.

                           

    OVERALL

    Cortez Broughton flashes immense potential and the footwork of a much more nimble athlete than anticipated. Inconsistencies in his technique and his overall effort are concerning and keep him from being an early Day 3 pick. If he can develop a powerful punch and show hustle on every down, Broughton has a chance to stick on an active roster as a rookie who can provide interior defensive line help in a 4-3 scheme.

    GRADE: 5.30 (ROUND 6 — BACKUP CALIBER)

    PRO COMPARISON: Javon Hargrave

28. Demarcus Christmas, Florida State

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    STRENGTHS

    —Solid flexibility in his lower back and lower half that allows him to anchor and clog interior runs.

    —NFL-ready size (6'3", 294 lbs) with a thick upper body and heavy hips.

    —Good spatial awareness and the ability to slip reach blocks and spill ball-carriers.

    —His lateral agility is impressive for his size and can keep him productive against off-tackle runs.

                           

    WEAKNESSES

    —Doesn't display the hand strength or hand speed to routinely disengage or create as an interior pass-rusher.

    —Is slow off the ball and doesn't display even average burst or explosion in his lower body.

    —His pad level, particularly when he's collapsing the pocket as a pass-rusher, has to get lower.

    —Has limited positional versatility and is nothing more than a two-down player who's average on run downs.

                                   

    OVERALL

    Demarcus Christmas has plenty of experience coming out of the Florida State program. On the hoof, he looks every bit like an NFL run-stuffing interior defensive lineman. Unfortunately, the need to generate interior pressure in today's league pushes Christmas down the board and will keep him from being an immediate starter. He has solid backup potential as a two-down player who can stop the run and solidify a roster as a depth piece.

                                                                                      

    GRADE: 5.30 (ROUND 6 — BACKUP CALIBER)

    PRO COMPARISON: Bennie Logan

27. Ed Alexander, LSU

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    STRENGTHS

    —Leans on offensive linemen and can wear them down throughout the rep and the game.

    —When he plays with leverage at the snap, he can consistently face double-teams and hold some ground at the point of attack.

    —Throwback nose tackle who can drop his weight in the middle of the field and create a mess of running lanes.

    —Has a thick body (6'3", 331 lbs) with the necessary length that could be molded and developed to carry his muscle mass more evenly.

                      

    WEAKNESSES

    —Limited starter at LSU and didn't make any significant on-field impact.

    —Heavy feet that don't take powerful, ground-pounding steps but simply look lethargic and difficult to get any movement out of.

    —His hips look thin, and most of his current weight is in his midsection.

    —A two-down player who offers little as a pass-rusher and doesn't show the ability to throw moves aside from trying to muscle up linemen back to the quarterback.

                                        

    OVERALL

    Ed Alexander is more of a 2009 nose tackle than a 2019 nose tackle. He has plenty of thickness but doesn't have the speed, footwork or agility to carve out a legit role with his current physique and playing style. Perhaps a move to the NFL will allow Alexander to focus solely on building an athletic profile to make noise as a two-down space-clogger who can eat blocks and let linebackers run. Those players have value but not until Day 3 of the draft and in limited organizations.

                       

    GRADE: 5.30 (ROUND 6 — BACKUP CALIBER)

    PRO COMPARISON: Michael Bennett, Atlanta Falcons

26. Terry Beckner Jr., Missouri

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    STRENGTHS

    —Forceful into contact and looks to make sure ball-carriers feel all of his weight land.

    —Has a well-built upper body that allows him to land heavy blows and play with good strength throughout reps, including when fighting contact while working laterally.

    —One-trick pony as a pass-rusher but has a decent swim move that he throws with violence and speed.

    —Faster and more active feet than expected for someone his size (6'4", 296 lbs), which can help him when the athletic limitations in his lower half show up.

                                         

    WEAKNESSES

    —Had season-ending injuries in 2015 and 2016. Tore the ACL and MCL in his right knee in 2015 and his ACL in the other knee in 2016.

    —Has significantly limited lower-body flexibility that leads to issues with his pad height and leverage.

    —Mobility in his ankles, knees, hips and lower back is severely lacking and leaves him often unable to truly root down against double-teams.

    —His lateral agility is essentially nonexistent and forces him to plant, turn and drive out, making plays in space particularly difficult.

                         

    OVERALL

    Terry Beckner Jr. was highly regarded coming out of high school, but multiple knee injuries have obviously taken their toll and leave him unable to maneuver as well as a team will want. He does flash some intriguing power and enough good reps to earn a look as a depth piece. He has some scheme versatility but doesn't offer enough explosiveness or varied hand technique to be a consistent third-down player.

    GRADE: 5.30 (ROUND 7 — BACKUP CALIBER)

    PRO COMPARISON: David Onyemata

25. Kevin Givens, Penn State

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    STRENGTHS

    —Plays with excellent leverage and uses every bit of his length to be effective.

    —The mobility throughout his frame is noticeable and allows him to remain balanced throughout his reps with good ankle, knee and hip bend.

    —Explosive athlete who fires out of his stance with a compact frame and can show it on the field with sudden-area quickness in gap-shooting ability in slant games.

    —Quick-footed and nimble. Can win with some agility in tight spaces to be an efficient interior player.

                                 

    WEAKNESSES

    —Undersized at 6'1" and 285 pounds, and it shows up when he's trying to adequately anchor against power-running schemes.

    —Has powerful limbs but is hesitant once he stacks out and struggles to disengage from linemen with strong hands.

    —Odd tendency to spin in and out of engaging at the line of scrimmage will erase himself from plays.

    —Gives up when working laterally if he's been reached and doesn't show the ability to rip back across a blocker's face or the hustle to win back late in the rep.

                                    

    OVERALL

    Kevin Givens plays with impressive leverage and bend, showing an awareness of his own physical profile that few players demonstrate. He knows where and how he wins. The next step, then, is refining his game so he can be more than just an undersized and explosive interior player.

    He's fairly scheme-dependent and needs to find a home that asks him to shoot gaps and disrupt in the backfield rather than demand blocks to keep others clean. In the right place, Givens could be a starter sooner rather than later. If he lands with the wrong team, he could struggle to ever crack an NFL roster.

                                                      

    GRADE: 5.50 (ROUND 6 — BACKUP CALIBER)

    PRO COMPARISON: Sheldon Day

24. Michael Dogbe, Temple

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    Chris Szagola/Associated Press

    STRENGTHS

    —His play strength is apparent on film, carried throughout his entire frame and affirmed with his 32 bench-press reps at the NFL Scouting Combine.

    —Has quick and athletic feet, especially when slanting, and he has solid balance upon contact to fight pressure on reach blocks and string out runs.

    —Competitive toughness and hustle are his driving traits. He was recognized at Temple when he received a single-digit jersey number, reserved for the toughest players on the team.

    —Has an athletic profile and the size (6'3", 280 lbs), strength and skill set that could play in multiple schemes.

    —Has quick and active hands that, with continued coaching and development, could become a trump card when paired with the violence and power in his upper body.

                                                  

    WEAKNESSES

    —He has a tendency to pop straight up on the snap and it will cause serious leverage concerns, particularly if he's inside in a 4-3 scheme and facing double-teams.

    —Pass-rushing success is more a product of opportunistic timing and schemes rather than a legitimate pass-rushing skill set or plan.

    —Doesn't have the lower-body flexibility to bend the edge and be an outside pass-rushing option and will only find success inside.

    —He'll stack offensive linemen out every once in a while at the line of scrimmage, but he struggles to disengage and will get tied up running with a blocker in his frame too often.

                                            

    OVERALL

    Dogbe was recognized at Temple as a workout warrior and one of the toughest dudes on the team. As a fifth-year senior, he flashed some power, hustle and athleticism and looked like a fit as a tackle in a 3-4 scheme or a 3-technique in a 4-3.

    He does need to address pad-level concerns that make dealing with double-teams significantly more difficult than it should be for someone with his size and strength. A good coach will make him a solid rotational starter, but Dogbe needs to refine his overall technique to compete in a league in which everyone is strong and fast.

                                               

    GRADE: 5.50 (ROUND 6 — BACKUP CALIBER)

    PRO COMPARISON: Mario Edwards Jr.

23. Chris Slayton, Syracuse

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    STRENGTHS

    —A rare four-year starter, Chris Slayton offers experience and excellent size (6'4", 307 lbs) at the position; he can play in gaps or line up as a 3-4 defensive end.

    —Shows good first-step quickness and can jolt blockers with his long arms (33½").

    —Overall, is an athletic lineman with good hip flexibility and light feet. Can be a problem to handle with his size and natural movement skills.

    —Understands leverage and plays with a consistent pad level and knee bend.

                                      

    WEAKNESSES

    —His production on tape and on the box score isn't there. He rarely impacts the play and is unlikely to suddenly develop as a pass-rusher in the pros.

    —Gets moved around too easily in the running game and struggled to produce tackles or impact plays where he clogged rushing lanes.

    —Cannot redirect if his first move as a pass-rusher fails. Lets his feet die and doesn't know how to countermove.

    —Doesn't use his length to his advantage. Lets blockers get inside his arms and control his body.

                              

    OVERALL

    Slayton looks the part, but his actual play wasn't encouraging. That said, he does have the athleticism and size every scout wants at the position, which makes us wonder if he has untapped potential hidden in his game. Slayton is worth a late selection as a developmental lineman.

                                                              

    GRADE: 5.55 (ROUND 6 — BACKUP CALIBER)

    PRO COMPARISON: Jaleel Johnson

22. Daniel Wise, Kansas

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    STRENGTHS

    —His lateral movement steps at the line of scrimmage are quick.

    —Has good balance in space with some potential to stay on the field on third downs.

    —Above-average athletic ability with solid play speed.

    —Has an NFL family. Brother Deatrich Wise Jr. is playing in the league, and his father, Deatrich Wise Sr., was an 1988 draft pick.

                           

    WEAKNESSES

    —Doesn't have the strength or thickness to hold up against double-teams.

    —Is unable to fight lateral pressure to maintain gap control or leverage at the point of attack.

    —Is too willing to let blockers into his frame and doesn't utilize his natural length and hand strength like he could.

    —With a one-track mind, can lose focus of redirecting to ball-carriers and instead get hung up on fighting blocks.

                       

    OVERALL

    Daniel Wise benefits from his brother playing in the NFL (with New England Patriots) and has good enough athleticism to carve a career of his own. He lacks some of the needed playing strength throughout his 6'3", 281-pound frame and has to develop fast and powerful hands to counter professional linemen, but he has traits to build upon.

    A practice-squad role is likely Wise's best shot to develop in a low-stakes manner with the eventual career ceiling of a rotational piece.

                            

    GRADE: 5.60 (ROUND 5 — BACKUP CALIBER)

    PRO COMPARISON: David Parry

21. Dontavius Russell, Auburn

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    STRENGTHS

    —Four-year starter in the highly competitive SEC

    —Has a thick and powerful frame (6'3", 319 lbs) from top to bottom and can eat space when he plays with leverage.

    —Solid play strength and can be disruptive when he comes under control with powerful and well-timed strikes.

    —Bright player who holds one degree from Auburn and was working on a second.

                          

    WEAKNESSES

    —A heavy-footed mover with plodding steps who will struggle to adapt his playing style to modern NFL speed.

    —His pad level is a major concern and will leave him taking a ride into linebackers' laps when he's double-teamed.

    —Flexibility and mobility in his ankles, knees, hips and lower back are limited and cause his pad level to rise. They also lead to an inability to drop his weight and maintain gap control at the line of scrimmage.

    —Gets laser-focused on immediate tasks and doesn't show the spatial awareness or play speed to stack out and redirect to ball-carriers.

                                          

    OVERALL

    Dontavius Russell is a powerful, space-eating nose tackle with experience in a difficult conference. Unfortunately, he's coming into the league about 10 years too late. He doesn't have the speed or pass-rushing prowess that teams want from interior defensive linemen, and he'll struggle to earn snaps without improving his pad level. A stint on a practice squad to focus on mobility would improve his game immensely.

    GRADE: 5.60 (ROUND 5 — BACKUP CALIBER)

    PRO COMPARISON: Shamar Stephen

20. Albert Huggins, Clemson

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    STRENGTHS

    —Able to drop his weight and eat double-teams at the point of attack.

    —A thick-bodied player with solid strength throughout his 6'3", 305-pound frame.

    —Has impressive balance to feel contact on down blocks and redirect weight to hold gap leverage.

    —Solid athletic profile that translates to the NFL.

                                                    

    WEAKNESSES

    —Drops his eyes off the line of scrimmage routinely and loses the awareness or ability to track play.

    —Leans into offensive linemen and slows down his feet way too much, failing to generate consistent movement.

    —Doesn't offer pass-rushing potential and lacks average hand usage or countermoves to provide pressure.

    —Is slow out of his stance and doesn't have the quick-twitch explosion on the snap.

                                         

    OVERALL

    Albert Huggins struggled to make much of an impact on the field at Clemson while serving as a rotational depth piece on arguably the best defensive line in the country. The lack of experience shows, as Huggins doesn't have the refined technique that would round out his game. For now, he's a stout player who can handle his fair share of double-teams as a developmental nose tackle.

                                                                               

    GRADE: 5.65 (ROUND 5 — BACKUP CALIBER)

    PRO COMPARISON: Treyvon Hester

19. Byron Cowart, Maryland

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    STRENGTHS

    —Was a top-ranked player and an absolute stud coming out of high school and recruited to Auburn by Will Muschamp.

    —Disengages with a violent chop move that looks to break forearms and causes offensive linemen to think twice when they punch.

    —Has a rare frame that combines excellent play strength with natural length and thickness.

    —Flashes the same potential he did in high school and may have barely scratched the surface of what he could with support and nuanced coaching.

    WEAKNESSES

    —Only one true year as a starter at Maryland after transferring from Auburn to JUCO.

    —An undisciplined player who drops his eyes, plays erratically and will freelance.

    —His pass-rushing plan looks predetermined, and he doesn't show counter or reactionary instincts.

    —Played out of position at Maryland and doesn't have the explosiveness to be an edge player in the NFL. He'll have to move inside and show he can play with the same power and speed.

    —His vertical chop is powerful, but his standard punch lacks pop to shock and stack out offensive linemen.

                                        

    OVERALL

    It doesn't take long to see why Byron Cowart was a top-ranked recruit coming out of high school. His time at Auburn, however, didn't go as planned. His mother was dealing with health issues at the time, prompting him to leave the Tigers program. He returned home and spent a semester at Hillsborough Community College before enrolling at Maryland.

    He's underdeveloped and needs consistent coaching, but his athleticism and natural talent are apparent. He's a depth player early in his career but could develop into a versatile starter in any scheme.

                           

    GRADE: 5.65 (ROUND 5 — BACKUP CALIBER)

    PRO COMPARISON: Larry Ogunjobi

18. Greg Gaines, Washington

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    STRENGTHS

    —Short, stocky run-stopper with excellent power and awareness at the point of attack.

    —Can split and handle double-teams or combination blocks thanks to his low center of gravity and lower-body strength. Holds up well against a center-guard combination and will anchor very well in the running game.

    —Active tackler who does a good job of finding the ball and working his way into the path of the ball-carrier.

    —His bull rush is powerful and tough to stop; once Gaines gets a head of steam going, he can run through blockers and will move the line of scrimmage.

    —What you see is what you get given his maxed-out frame (6'1", 312 lbs), but he has rookie-year contributor tools.

                                                                

    WEAKNESSES

    —His average arm length (31¼") limits his hand usage when a blocker does get into his frame because he's lined up directly over the center and not in a gap.

    —A nonexistent speed rush has Gaines projected mostly as a run defender only; he doesn't have the speed or twitchy moves to beat interior linemen with quickness off the snap.

    —Stiff hips and short legs make his lateral agility tough to watch. He's a straight-line player only.

    —Poor overall athleticism limits what he'll be able to do at the next level. 

                           

    OVERALL

    Greg Gaines is your ideal stocky 3-4 nose tackle who won't flash with exceptional athletic traits, but he's tough at the point of attack and is hard to move off his spot. His ability to come in and play early in his career adds value to his profile, even if he's mostly seen as a two-down player.

                                                     

    GRADE: 5.90 (ROUND 3-4 — FUTURE STARTER)

    PRO COMPARISON: Beau Allen

17. Daylon Mack, Texas A&M

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    STRENGTHS

    —Popped at the East-West Shrine Game and was called up to the Senior Bowl after a strong week against lower competition. Once paired against top competition at Senior Bowl, he still dominated with his strength and quickness.

    —Has a short frame but good thickness in his lower body and is able to hold his ground at the point of attack.

    —The 2018 season saw his motor never turn off; he dominated Senior Bowl practices with a fire and hunger to never give up on a rep and power through the initial block on a consistent basis.

    —Very good athlete at 6'1", 336 pounds and will surprise blockers with his initial quickness and follow-through moves with good agility to restart his rush.

                                    

    WEAKNESSES

    —Former star prep player who didn't stand out until his senior year of college and didn't start a game until his junior year.

    —Gets lost in the wash too often up front and can struggle to sift his way through blockers and find the ball. His read-and-react skills are underdeveloped.

    —Has excellent size and balance but gets pushed around too often on combination blocks or even when chipped by a center and left to handle the guard alone.

    —Teams must do homework on why he struggled to make an impact until his senior season.

    —Could be limited by scheme and position given his size and the likelihood he only plays nose tackle or a 1-technique position.

                                             

    OVERALL

    Daylon Mack was a sight for sore eyes at the Shrine Game and Senior Bowl practices, but many scouts we talked to wondered where this had been throughout his time at Texas A&M. Mack has the ideal bulk and athleticism for a nose tackle or 1-technique position and has the tools to come in as a rookie contributor and future starter.

                               

    GRADE: 5.90 (ROUND 3-4 — FUTURE STARTER)

    PRO COMPARISON: Deadrin Senat

16. Isaiah Buggs, Alabama

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    STRENGTHS

    —An ideal fit for teams running 3-4 defenses with his experience at 5-technique but also projects well to an inside tackle position in a four-man front.

    —A breakout senior season saw him notch 9.5 sacks and be much more disruptive in the backfield and when chasing down quarterbacks.

    —His quickness and strength are NFL-caliber; he gets out of his stance quickly and can make an inside or outside move off his blocker and gain ground past the line of scrimmage. Offers a solid bull rush or anchor.

    —Has quick, light feet that allow him to set up blockers and counter with a spin or swim move.

    —Still has some development potential, which is rare for Alabama prospects who are generally well-coached and developed.

                                                                                      

    WEAKNESSES

    —Short-armed prospect with just 31¼-inch arms, and it shows when he tries to keep blockers off his frame or shed the hands of offensive linemen.

    —Started his college career at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and has limited experience against top-tier blockers, despite his two years in the SEC.

    —May have benefited from a defense that is loaded with future NFL starters. Saw his production skyrocket after Quinnen Williams became a full-time starter and offenses had to focus extra blockers on Williams to stop him.

    —His combine performance will hurt his stock after he posted a 5.15-second 40-yard dash, a 24½-inch vertical jump and 8.01-second three-cone drill.

    —Scouts relayed information to us that coaches at Alabama were not high on Buggs and didn't vouch for his work ethic.

                                                                                          

    OVERALL

    Isaiah Buggs has moments in which he looks like a top 50 selection, but concerns over his conditioning and effort are evident when watching his tape. A move inside to a defensive tackle position could limit his wear and tear, but he's best suited immediately for a rotational role on the inside with a starter track if developed.

                                                                           

    GRADE: 5.90 (ROUND 3-4 — FUTURE STARTER)

    PRO COMPARISON: Maliek Collins

15. Kingsley Keke, Texas A&M

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    STRENGTHS

    —Had a four-year impact at Texas A&M and has the NFL traits to play either defensive end or defensive tackle, depending on the scheme.

    —His athleticism and strength check the boxes pro teams want. Can scoot past blockers with his quickness and does counter well with strength when asked to stack blockers.

    —Shed 20 pounds and became much more agile. Teams running 3-4 schemes might ask him to put the weight back on to play 5-technique defensive end.

    —Has the moves scouts want from a defensive lineman with good quickness, light feet and an assortment of pass-rushing moves that allow him to win in space.

    —His pursuit is ideal, and he will chase down ball-carriers on outside runs, screens and quick passes outside the hashes.

                                                                    

    WEAKNESSES

    —Tweener body (6'3", 288 lbs) that might not be a fit for every defensive scheme and could drive down his stock as teams see him as more rotational that starter quality.

    —Soft at the point of attack and can be walked back and controlled by blockers. Could stand to add lower-body strength or potentially regain lost weight.

    —Lets himself stick to blockers and tries too often to go through his man instead of working to counter and go around him.

    —Never put together production that demanded attention from opposing offensive lines. Was a good but never great player in the SEC.

    —Has an inconsistent motor when it comes to trying to get off blocks and into the backfield. He often gives up after first contact with a lineman and must become more urgent and aggressive.

                                       

    OVERALL

    Teams will love the combination of athleticism and versatility when looking at Keke's tape, but there are legitimate concerns about his ability to unstick from blockers and make plays in the backfield consistently. He's looked as more of a sub-package rusher than an every-down stud.

                           

    GRADE: 5.99 (ROUND 3-4 — FUTURE STARTER)

    PRO COMPARISON: Willie Henry

14. Gerald Willis III, Miami

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    Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

    STRENGTHS

    —Had a dominant, productive 2018 season in which he produced 18 tackles for loss and showed Day 1 impact as a 3-technique pass-rusher.

    —An agile and active rusher who shows good burst through the line and has the speed to close on the ball when chasing players down the line or in the backfield.

    —Has a stunning ability to win with his first step when lined up in one-gap situations and is asked to get into the backfield.

    —Spent the 2017 season on the scout team and used it to develop extra pass-rushing moves. Can beat blockers with a rip and swim move.

    —Scouts see him as having upside and some developmental potential thanks to his athleticism and limited reps in college.

                                    

    WEAKNESSES

    —A little shorter than you'd like at 6'2" and 302 pounds but somehow plays too tall in his pad height.

    —Dismissed from University of Florida for rule violations and a reported fight with a teammate; spent the 2017 season at Miami on the scout team after sitting out to take care of personal and family issues; sat out the bowl game in 2018 because of a hand injury.

    —Goes through extreme highs and lows within a set of downs. Can dominate and then get washed down the board and frustrates with inconsistency in his pad height and hand play to disengage.

    —Doesn't have power in his hands to split double-teams and can too easily be neutralized by combo blocks.

    —Surrenders downs with inconsistent and lazy pad height that makes him an easy target for blockers. At his height, he should be able to play low and shoot gaps, but in the running game, he stands up after his first effort and is taken out of plays.

                                 

    OVERALL

    Gerald Willis III's time away from football in 2017 helped him become a better player, which showed in 2018 as he took over games for the Hurricanes. As a 3-technique prospect, he's intriguing as a middle-round prospect who could hit and become a starter or at least contribute as a rotational pass-rusher.

                                                

    GRADE: 5.99 (ROUND 3-4 — ROOKIE IMPACT)

    PRO COMPARISON: Akeem Spence

13. Renell Wren, Arizona State

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    Darryl Webb/Associated Press

    STRENGTHS

    —Has an excellent body at 6'5", 318 pounds with 10-inch hands and 33⅞-inch arms.

    —A positionally versatile player who has lined up at nose tackle but has the quickness and length to make an impact as a 4-3 gap-shooter or a 3-4 defensive end in a 5-technique.

    —Traits for days that, if unlocked, could turn him into a steal in the middle of the draft.

    —Has the quickness, length and even enough twitch to excite evaluators and coaches. Could be developed into a remarkable asset on the defensive line.

                                     

    WEAKNESSES

    —Struggled until his redshirt senior year to make an impact and is seen as a one-year wonder.

    —Slow processor who stops his feet while trying to read the play. Needs more reps and additional coaching to better read and diagnose on the go.

    —His hands are sluggish and not impactful despite their great size. He doesn't shed blockers and too easily gives up his body to blockers.

    —Hasn't been a closer when attacking the quarterback and too often gets halfway before throttling down or getting gassed.

    —Zone-blocking schemes can get across his body and drive him out of the play. Has to work on disengaging from blocks.

                                          

    OVERALL

    The key to liking Renell Wren is buying into his potential. If coaches can get the most out of his frame and his athleticism, Wren has the traits and the build of a high-level starter. The biggest question is why, as a five-year player at Arizona State, was he not developed already? The gamble is worth rolling with for teams in need of a versatile defensive lineman.

                                          

    GRADE: 6.00 (ROUND 3 — ROOKIE IMPACT)

    PRO COMPARISON: Akiem Hicks

12. Khalen Saunders, Western Illinois

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    STRENGTHS

    —Fiery, athletic defensive tackle with nonstop feet and hands while working his way through or around blockers on the interior offensive line.

    —Great agility and quickness. Able to stun blockers with his first step and can quickly get inside the reach of guards and centers.

    —A scheme-versatile player with experience lining up over the center or in a shade position, where he can use his quickness and naturally low center of gravity to hold his ground.

    —Uses his hands well to navigate through the trash on the offensive line to get into backfields.

    —Gives good effort in pursuit and can make splash plays in the backfield.

                                             

    WEAKNESSES

    —Played against low-level talent at Western Illinois. Outside of the Senior Bowl process, he hasn't played against top-tier competition.

    —Shorter than teams would like at 6'0".

    —Seemed to wear down late in games. Even throughout the Senior Bowl, he faded toward the end of the week.

    —Can struggle to shed blockers at the point of attack and isn't quite strong enough to hold his ground when doubled by interior blockers. Needs to play in a gap and not head-up.

    —Scouts liked his Senior Bowl and scouting combine more than his tape, with one calling him a "workout warrior."

                        

    OVERALL

    Khalen Saunders is an active, agile defensive tackle who can shoot gaps and make plays against the quarterback and also in the running game. The issues come when Saunders' initial rush is stopped, but he has the athletic upside to become a better all-around player with NFL coaching and a strength and conditioning program to help him learn to be a pro.

                              

    GRADE: 6.00 (ROUND 3 - ROOKIE IMPACT)

    PRO COMPARISON: B.J. Hill

11. Armon Watts, Arkansas

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    STRENGTHS

    —Good lateral speed and balance to maintain gap control as the lane bounces.

    —Excellent length and frame (6'5", 300 lbs) to be a versatile defensive line player.

    —Lower-back strength and mobility are impressive and allow him to lean into double-teams and hold stout at the line of scrimmage.

    —Quick hands as an interior pass-rusher help keep his frame clean and led to seven sacks in 2018.

    —Play speed is faster than timed speed, and he can be disruptive in odd or even fronts.

       

    WEAKNESSES

    —One-year starter that has limited tape and experience against top talent.

    —Will be 23 years old as a rookie and may be seen as athletically maxed out.

    —Inconsistent effort and hustle in all phases, including explosion at snap, motor as a pass-rusher, and backside run support and redirection.

    —Spatial awareness is limited and he's too focused on winning a one-on-one versus identifying the ball-carrier and redirecting between the tackles.

       

    OVERALL

    Armon Watts' best reps are phenomenal. His worst reps show a player that lacks experience and overall feel for the game. Whichever team selects Watts will be betting that with continued coaching and experience, it can unlock every-down play that shows a great blend of speed, balance, hand usage and length. He may not start immediately, but he is a versatile player that fits any scheme and should be a rotational piece if nothing else as a rookie.

        

    GRADE: 6.15 (ROUND 3 - ROOKIE IMPACT)

       

    PRO COMPARISON: Jordan Phillips

10. Trysten Hill, UCF

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    STRENGTHS

    —Twitchy, athletic pass-rusher who struggled to get on the field in 2018 after a coaching change but made the most of his opportunities, including 10.5 tackles for loss and three sacks.

    —Can beat blockers with first-step quickness, and naturally low center of gravity keeps his pad level down through gaps.

    —High-energy player who works his tail off in pursuit and can often be found chasing the ball away from the middle of the field; shows an ability to produce pull-down sacks or tackles for loss by chasing down the line.

    —Frenetic motor that always revs; looks for counter moves and ways to beat the initial block.

    —Built for gaps and has the right body type (6'3", 308 lbs) to come in and splash as a 3-technique in a 4-3 scheme.

       

    WEAKNESSES

    —Fell out of favor with new coaching staff and was relegated to backup status in 2018 despite being the team's best player.

    —New staff hasn't vouched for him to scouts, complaining about maturity and laziness.

    —Gets ahead of himself and will be countered in the backfield due to initial upfield push. Must learn to recognize blocking schemes and throttle down at times.

    —Has a bit Tasmanian Devil to his game and must learn to play under control, more like what was seen in his freshman and sophomore tape.

    —Scouts and coaches must vet his background and talk to Scott Frost's coaching staff to find out if his issues with the new staff (Josh Heupel) are new or longstanding problems.

       

    OVERALL

    Hill was UCF's best player when he was on the field, but that was far too infrequent in 2018 and leads to questions about his character and work ethic. Based on his tape, Hill should have been an all-conference performer instead of an afterthought. NFL teams could benefit from his struggles this season, though, as his slipping stock could give teams a starting defensive tackle in Round 3.

       

    GRADE: 6.25 (ROUND 3 - ROOKIE IMPACT)

       

    PRO COMPARISON: Star Lotulelei

9. Anthony Nelson, Iowa

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    STRENGTHS

    —High-motor player who plays whistle to whistle without hesitation.

    —Well-timed swim move that can defeat blocks in space.

    —Excellent length and frame to carry weight that make him position-versatile.

    —Bright player that recognizes misdirection and shows an ability to play with square shoulders as an edge-setting run defender.

       

    WEAKNESSES

    —One-trick pony as a pass-rusher and doesn't have a counter to beat tackles that anchor well.

    —Lower-body flexibility looks limited, and he'll struggle to bend around deep pockets with efficiency.

    —Height (6'7") and length (34⅞" arms) aren't utilized as the strengths they could be, leading to too many blockers inside his frame and an inability to maintain interior gap leverage against power schemes.

    —Too willing to Frankenstein walk at the line of scrimmage and struggles to disengage in space.

       

    OVERALL

    Nelson comes with phenomenal length and a frame that NFL staffs covet. He could comfortably add some weight and see a significant increase in strength and power in the NFL. As of now, he wins with hustle and energy that gets paired with well-timed moves, leading to some wins that otherwise might not be expected. He brings positional versatility and is the kind of middle-round selection that brings tremendous value as a depth player in his first season.

       

    GRADE: 6.25 (ROUND 3 - ROOKIE IMPACT)

        

    PRO COMPARISON: Tanoh Kpassagnon

8. Dre'Mont Jones, Ohio State

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    STRENGTHS

    —Productive (8.5 sacks) junior defensive tackle with the ideal traits of a 3-technique pass-rusher.

    —Has a plan as a pass-rusher and will hit blockers with a deadly first step but can also counter with good hand play and a well-timed spin move.

    —Can get into the backfield and make splash plays against the run thanks to his quickness and ability to penetrate the line; teams will want to get a hat on him given his ability to shoot through seams created by zone-blocking schemes.

    —Can open up and run down ball-carriers and quarterbacks with excellent quickness and speed; takes good pursuit angles and shows the motor to affect plays ran away from him.

    —Quick in every aspect of the game: hands, feet, mind and legs.

       

    WEAKNESSES

    —Might be seen as scheme- or position-limited to a one-gap, 3-technique position (to which his supporters would say, "just play him there").

    —Pad height is a concern with a top-heavy approach out of his stance that will need corrected; on first viewing our scouts noted he played like he was 6'5" and not 6'3".

    —Missed time in 2017 after a cut on his leg became an issue; was considering entering 2018 draft class before the injury.

    —Can get washed down quickly in the run game when he tries to squeeze through gaps and penetrate the line. Must learn to play square and fight to hold his ground.

    —Doesn't have much natural power and could potentially add bulk while also adding strength; teams will be concerned by his combine weight of 281 pounds.

       

    OVERALL

    Jones only put together one top-tier season of production at Ohio State, but coaches there have been singing his praises for two years. Jones has ideal 3-technique traits with the quickness to be a special player on all three downs. This limits him to base 4-3 teams as a starter, but Jones will have a rookie impact for any team committed to putting a lineman in the B-gap.

       

    GRADE: 6.70 (ROUND 2 - ROOKIE IMPACT)

        

    PRO COMPARISON: Geno Atkins

7. Jerry Tillery, Notre Dame

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    STRENGTHS

    —Productive leader of the Notre Dame defensive line with scheme-versatile traits and size at 6'6", 295 pounds with 34¼-inch arms and 10⅝-inch hands.

    —Offers an athletic frame with good traits to play in multiple positions and alignments; has the quickness to play as an interior rusher, but his length and height are ideal for a 5-technique role.

    —Has the upper-body power to rip through blockers on his way to the quarterback; will drop his weight and bull-rush with good quickness and pad height but is at his best going to the outside shoulder of a blocker where his speed works in space.

    —Awesome productivity as a pass-rusher, notching eight sacks in 2018 while receiving consistent attention from extra blockers chipping him and looking to frustrate his moves.

    —Still has room to grow, physically and in terms of technique; has a body that could easily add 15 pounds and still has room in his game to add more pass-rushing moves and more of a fight when the offense runs the ball. Will get a developmental label from some teams, but he offers immediate play potential.

       

    WEAKNESSES

    —Disappeared against the run; Tillery was easily washed down by blockers who used his upfield movement against him.

    —Suspended for violating team rules as a freshman (Fiesta Bowl).

    —Doesn't always play to size and power, leaving us frustrated with his lackadaisical style, especially when asked to shed blockers and attack in the run game.

    —Doesn't always look agile and athletic when asked to move down the line in pursuit. Can get heavy and tall too quickly, which allows him to be easily blocked.

    —Needs to get much better at using his upper-body strength to shed blockers in the run and pass game.

        

    OVERALL

    Tillery was one of the best defensive tackles in the nation early in the college football season but seemed to fade as the season wore on. He's a physically ideal lineman with the traits to play in various schemes and offers instant-impact ability, especially as a 3-4 defensive end (5-technique). If teams can capture his attention and round out his game, Tillery could be a stud pass-rusher from anywhere on the defensive line.

       

    GRADE: 6.80 (ROUND 2 - ROOKIE IMPACT)

          

    PRO COMPARISON: Chris Wormley

6. Dexter Lawrence, Clemson

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    Grant Halverson/Getty Images

    STRENGTHS

    —Three-year starter who got onto the field as a true freshman for Clemson.

    —Massive size at 6'4", 342 pounds with 34¾-inch arm length and 10½-inch hands and the athleticism to play any alignment from 5-technique across the line to 5-technique.

    —Rare natural strength in his upper and lower body to simply overpower blockers when faced with one-on-one situations; has the power to split double-teams and not slow down on his path to the quarterback.

    —When lined up in a two-gap situation, he has the size and power to be a retaining wall that keeps blockers from advancing to the second level.

    —High-character teammate who received glowing reviews from Clemson's coaching staff for his leadership, work ethic and personality.

    —Stack-and-shed skills are elite.

       

    WEAKNESSES

    —Missed 2018 playoff run after failing a test for ostarine, a performance-enhancing drug banned by the NCAA.

    —Has to prove he can be an effective third-down pass-rusher and not just a first- and second-down run defender.

    —Pressure from a bull rush could be better with almost nonexistent pressure from outside the shoulder of his blocker.

    —Seems to have regressed after breakout in 2016 and struggled to put together game-changing performances despite unstoppable size and power combination.

    —Can get too high coming out of his stance and surrender himself to blockers.

       

    OVERALL

    Lawrence is a rare dude from a physical standpoint, and his play is more impressive than that of last year's No. 12 overall selection, Vita Vea. It's that comparison that has evaluators considering that Lawrence could be a top-20 selection in this year's class. If teams bet on his size, athleticism and the early-career production, then it's feasible that Lawrence could hear his name called early in Round 1.

       

    GRADE: 6.90 (ROUND 2 - ROOKIE IMPACT)

       

    PRO COMPARISON: Dontari Poe

5. L.J. Collier, TCU

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    STRENGTHS

    —One-year starter who had a breakout season with 42 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss and six sacks.

    —Wowed with his motor and pass-rushing moves at the Senior Bowl, consistently beating athletic offensive tackles with quickness or countering inside with power to reach the quarterback.

    —Tough, high-motor player who attacks the offensive line; will not let tackles stop him off one move and has a good set of counter moves, including a bull rush and spin move.

    —Has hands like a boxer and will swat and rip his way to freedom from blockers who latch onto his frame.

    —Could be seen as scheme-versatile given his experience at 4-3 defensive end and body type as a potential interior rusher.

       

    WEAKNESSES

    —Has a unique body at 6'2", 283 pounds but with 34-inch arm length; doesn't really fit the mold of a defensive end or defensive tackle.

    —Average long speed and lateral agility in pursuit; isn't the type to string out a play and chase down a quarterback or running back for a sack/TFL.

    —Outside rush is limited by lack of hip bend and closing speed. At his best working inside.

    —It could be based on coaching, but Collier is not fast off the snap. He waits to see what his lineman will do and then reacts to the block.

       

    OVERALL

    Collier offers an intriguing option for teams looking to run a base 4-3 defense given his experience and production at strong-side end, but his pro production is more likely to come from an inside rushing position. That might limit him to teams running a four-man front or heavily dependent on subpackages, but Collier's limited outside rush ability makes him very positionally specific. He has the tools and work ethic to be an early contributor.

       

    GRADE: 6.90 (ROUND 2 - ROOKIE IMPACT)

       

    PRO COMPARISON: Breeland Speaks

4. Christian Wilkins, Clemson

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    STRENGTHS

    —The leader of a talented Clemson defense who was the energetic force binding a defensive line with four draftable prospects—and three potential first-rounders—together.

    —High-character, high-IQ player who earned a bachelor's degree in two-and-a-half years at Clemson and was honored for his work off the field with the William V. Campbell Trophy.

    —Four-year contributor who was flashy as a freshman and rock-solid by his senior season; high-effort player who will stick to his assignment and not get caught freelancing or taking plays off. Coachable and smart.

    —Very productive during his career with 16 sacks and 40.5 tackles for loss.

    —At his best shooting gaps and penetrating to get to the quarterback; has the ability to slip past blockers with his quickness and a penchant for getting skinny to go through holes.

    —Instinctive player who uses his hands well to frustrate quarterbacks even if he's not making a sack; times his swats well and will bat down passes at the line of scrimmage or eliminate a passing window with his reach.

       

    WEAKNESSES

    —Average athleticism limits what he can be on the field. Doesn't shock you with first-step quickness.

    —Doesn't have a redirect move and will get stonewalled if he doesn't win with his quickness off the snap.

    —Lacks the play power to beat head-up blockers with a bull rush.

    —Tape didn't show him beating double-teams with the power and length to split blockers. At times he accepted his role of allowing talented teammates to make plays off his double-teams.

    —Solid all-around player who doesn't excel in any one area.

       

    OVERALL

    Wilkins is the type of player every team wants—highly intelligent, a great leader and exceptional worker—but his athletic limitations must be discussed. He's not the type of player to bust, which teams will value, but he's also not going to lead his team in sacks or tackles for loss from a 3-technique position consistently.

       

    GRADE: 6.99 (ROUND 2 - ROOKIE STARTER)

       

    PRO COMPARISON: Grady Jarrett

3. Jeffery Simmons, Mississippi State

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    Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

    STRENGTHS

    —Two-year starter who posted 30 tackles for loss and seven sacks in 26 games while showing a unique combination of length, power, speed and toughness.

    —Agile and flexible enough at 6'4", 301 pounds to dip and bend past offensive linemen; has a wicked first step and is able to set up a spin move and a long arm move that keep blockers guessing.

    —Is able to get low and explode up into the pads of blockers, giving him awesome leverage to execute a bull rush or stack-and-shed.

    —Beautiful combination of power and quickness; can easily convert speed to power and vice versa.

    —Won Mississippi State's Newsom Award, which is awarded for work on the field, in the classroom and in the community before the 2018 season; coaches speak highly of his character, leadership and work ethic.

       

    WEAKNESSES

    —Torn ACL suffered in February while training makes his rookie season questionable.

    —Was able to dominate because of athleticism and size, which led to underdeveloped instincts on the field.

    —Can get caught doing his own thing and can take himself out of the play.

       

    OVERALL

    Simmons would have been in play for the top overall grade in this class if not for injuries and, more seriously, being found guilty of malicious mischief and pleading no-contest to simple assault after he was captured on camera punching a woman repeatedly in the spring before his freshman season at Mississippi State. As it stands now, even factoring in those concerns, he has a top-10 grade and looks like he'll be an early-impact player with All-Pro potential. The biggest question for Simmons now is how well he'll come back from the ACL injury, but as long as he doesn't have complications, the sky is the limit on his potential.

       

    GRADE: 7.20 (ROUND 1 - TOP-15 PLAYER POTENTIAL)

       

    PRO COMPARISON: Chris Jones

2. Ed Oliver, Houston

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    Michael Wyke/Associated Press

    STRENGTHS

    —Three-year starter and highly recruited prep player who stayed local at University of Houston and became a nightmare in the backfield by posting 13.5 sacks and 53 tackles for loss while often receiving double- and triple-team attention.

    —Rare athlete with unreal first-step quickness and speed; fires out of a low stance with awesome leverage and pad height and is too quick for most offensive linemen to get their hands on.

    —Major effort player who will fight through combo blocks and is seen hustling down the field to make stops in the run game; doesn't give up on a play or take snaps off when he's on the field. All heart and hustle.

    —Played selfless football by often lining up at nose tackle despite everyone in the football world knowing he was suited for a gap-penetrator role; played hurt, fought through constant double- and triple-teams and didn't let his play level drop.

    —Is able to win with initial quickness but has learned to pair that well with spins and head fakes, but he still has room to develop as a pass-rusher and will see instant improvement once he's given advice from NFL coaches.

       

    WEAKNESSES

    —Undersized by NFL standards at 6'2", 287 pounds and with just 31¾-inch arm length.

    —Knee injury nagged his junior season and kept him from reaching his max potential.

    —Had a heated argument that almost got physical with the head coach at Houston over wearing a coat on the sideline of the team's game.

    —Struggles to shed double-teams and can't fight through combo blocks due to lack of length.

    —Doesn't have a well-developed counter move in his pass-rushing toolbox.

    —Has the Ndamukong Suh issue of his upfield push being so fast that teams run at him, especially counter plays to trap his quickness.

       

    OVERALL

    Oliver made the surprising decision to declare for the 2019 NFL draft before the 2018 draft had even taken place, but his reputation as one of the most athletic interior linemen in the last decade had been backed up on the field. Even through an injury in his final season, Oliver balled out for Houston and showed his value, production and elite athleticism. Teams may get hung up on his size, but Oliver should be a top-10 pick in this draft class if they pay attention to film and upside.

         

    GRADE: 7.25 (ROUND 1 - TOP-15 PLAYER POTENTIAL)

       

    PRO COMPARISON: Gerald McCoy

1. Quinnen Williams, Alabama

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    STRENGTHS

    —First-year starter exploded onto the scene as a redshirt sophomore with violent hands and a disruptive, fast first step.

    —Valuable at multiple alignments and can play nose, 1-tech, 3-tech, 4-tech or 5-tech, making him a fit for any defensive system.

    —Plays with great pad height and body lean; shoots with his feet but wins with his hands and is able to swat and knife away blockers' punches. Slippery enough and crafty enough with hand play to shed blockers in run and pass situations.

    —Doesn't lose reps; either stops the push of the offensive line or makes a major push into the backfield. Uses leverage, power and quickness to push blockers and reset the line of scrimmage.

    —Bull rush wins consistently and has the hand usage and follow-up quickness to shed blockers and get after quarterbacks as a pass-rusher.

    —Production matches the traits: 19.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks, one safety and 71 tackles.

    —High-character player with zero questions off the field. Plays with an incredible motor.

       

    WEAKNESSES

    —Doesn't have eye-popping athleticism or power; more of a try-hard player than a twitched-up athlete.

    —Added weight for redshirt sophomore season and more for the predraft process. Could play around 6'3" and 280 pounds.

    —Still learning the position and can be overwhelmed by long, quick guards or centers when combo-blocked.

       

    OVERALL

    Williams receives our highest grade of any player in the 2019 draft class thanks to his power, quickness, football IQ, work ethic and upside. As a one-year starter, Williams has yet to reach his ceiling. He is scheme-versatile and able to line up anywhere along the defensive line to impact the game. Whether a team is running a 3-4, 4-3 or hybrid defense, Williams is a plug-and-play starter with early All-Pro potential.

       

    GRADE: 8.00 (TOP-5 PICK - ALL-PRO POTENTIAL) 

         

    PRO COMPARISON: Fletcher Cox