Note: These are ordered in regards to general overall rating. This is not necessarily a reflection of predictive draft order as other variables such as scheme, coaching, etc. will alter each team’s rating of each prospect.
- Taco Charlton, Michigan – Has slowly built up an array of pass rush moves over the last year and a half, and still developing an impressive set of skills as a disruptive right defensive end. Could also be a possible outside linebacker in a 3-4, but would have to put more dropping on tape for scouts to evaluate. Doesn’t possess the elite initial burst, but makes up for it with outstanding size and length, and a growing knowledge of how to play the position.
- Caleb Brantley, Florida – Elite, one gap disrupter. Powerful base and strong hands, and extremely disruptive. Possesses quick initial burst that allows him to penetrate as well. Very active hands, and strong footwork. More of a run defender at this point, but could develop to an all around defensive tackle. Plays with fire, but can get tired, could work best to start as rotational tackle.
- Malik McDowell, Michigan State – Malik McDowell possesses an extremely rare physical set of tools, allowing him to line up either inside or on the edge. He puts together a combination of speed, power, and athleticism, that makes him a fit for any type of defensive scheme. His effort is full speed all of the time, and has been very well coached. He should make an instant impact in the NFL, and could be used all over the line.
- Charles Walker, Oklahoma – Position at NFL is either 4-3 three technique, or 3-4 defensive end, but in either case excels against the run. Has the ability to penetrate gaps and disrupt plays in the backfield. Strong hands and very good lower body strength. Able to get to the quarterback as well, and that versatility will make him very attractive to attacking defenses.
- Montravius Adams, Auburn – A hot commodity prospect at the next level, a big interior lineman with an incredible initial burst to attack gaps and get into the backfield. If he can work on his run defense and is stronger maintaining as a two gap defender, his stock could soar.
- Chris Wormley, Michigan – Reliable and consistent, and a solid run defender. Shows good gap discipline and a plus player against the run. Excellent size and agility allows him to play inside primarily, but also on the outside. Good pass rush skills, but not great, but always shows good effort and not a liability in passing downs. Position flexibility and good all around skills should move him into mid to early rounds.
- Larry Ogunjobi, Charlotte – Extremely well built anchor that holds up very well against the run, and controls his gaps. The exciting aspect to his game is his surprising ability to play as a one gap, penetrating defensive tackle. Money is made for defensive tackles, in general, with their ability to get to the quarterback, and if he can continue to show this ability through the combine and with workouts, he could find himself moving into late round 2 or early round 3 consideration.
- Carlos Watkins, Clemson – Flashes ability to get the quarterback, and has been productive. He has the initial burst and explosiveness off the snap, but has a lot of work to do on his mechanics and footwork. Has a strong frame, but looks like he could continue to build lower body strength. Most likely a 4-3 three technique, but teams will need to determine if they project his as an even bigger and stronger player, or if he can be developed into more of an elite, penetrating tackle.
- Dalvin Tomlinson, Alabama – Run stopper that projects as a 4-3 interior anchor, or possibly could bump outside in a 3-4. Experienced and productive against the run, proven as a two gap defender.
- Davon Godchaux, LSU – Lacks a big frame or the lower body strength to hold up two gaps against the run, but is still strongly built and not a liability in this area. Slippery pass rush and couple with a quick burst off of the snap, is very proficient in penetrating the gap and getting into the backfield.
Comments: As always, this is a confusing position group because there is so much blurred evaluating between 3-4 and 4-3 and how players could be used even within those two variants. Some of the top prospects, for example, could actually be drafted as defensive ends in a 3-4. There is a separate link to the pure 3-4 nose tackle prospects. Generally, a prospect’s value here will rise the better they can demonstrate that they can get into the backfield.