1. Rashan Gary, Michigan
Projects as a 4-3 end who can slide down to defensive tackle in a pinch. Does not have the quickest first step, but powerful out of his stance and takes long enough steps that the offensive lineman rarely has an advantage off the snap. Frequently gets too far upfield. Fine discipline as a run defender, but instincts are not elite. Above average speed in pursuit, and very athletic overall. Handles himself well in the run game, seamlessly shedding blocks and squaring up to the ballcarrier. Moves with a fluidity uncommon in players of his size. Has an impressive array of pass rush moves, and uses his hands well. Controls offensive linemen at the point of attack. Needs to do a better job of finishing with moves, however, and getting by the blocker to sack the quarterback in a timely manner. Physical pass rusher whose strength rivals most collegiate offensive tackles.
Five-star blue chip who was ranked first overall in his class. Graduated from Paramus Catholic High School in Paramus, New Jersey (hometown is Plainfield, New Jersey). 6’5”, 280 lb. True junior who has seen significant time in each of his two seasons at Michigan. As a true freshman, played in all 13 games at EDGE – recorded 27 tackles, 5.0 TFL, and one sack. As a sophomore, moved into a featured EDGE role, starting all 13 games. Improved to 66 tackles, 12.0 TFL, and six sacks. Suffered a right arm injury during the Indiana game, then an unspecified upper body injury during the Maryland game, but did not miss a start as a result of either (returned to the Indiana game).
Grade: First Round
2. Nick Bosa, Ohio State
4-3 defensive end who could stand up at outside linebacker. Tremendous discipline at the line of scrimmage – does not get too far upfield in the run game. Laterally, however, can sometimes lose containment and get caught flat-footed. Secure tackler who delivers a powerful blow when attacking ballcarriers. Average speed for an EDGE. Holds his ground in the run game when offensive linemen attempt to drive him back. Very proficient, high-effort pass rusher who knifes through blocks to pressure the quarterback. Executes defensive line stunts well. Uses his strength to his advantage when engaging with offensive linemen, but is not the most creative rusher – seems to rely on talent, as opposed to craftiness, a bit too much. Has some nice wiggle when attempting to elude offensive linemen. Looks like he is shot out of a cannon when rushing from the Wide 9 position in the 4-3.
Five-star blue chip who was ranked third overall in his class, just two slots behind Rashan Gary. Graduated from St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Missed a significant part of his high school senior season due to a knee injury. 6’4”, 270 lb. True junior who has been a key part of the defensive rotation since his first game on campus. As a true freshman, played in all 13 games – put up 29 tackles, 7.0 TFL, and five sacks. Found his way into the starting lineup as a sophomore here and there, starting seven of the 14 games in which he played. Improved to 34 tackles, 16.0 TFL, and 8.5 sacks. Named first-team All-American by the American Football Coaches Association. Ejected from the Iowa game for targeting. Brother Joey was a Top Five pick in 2016, going to the then-San Diego Chargers and making the Pro Bowl in 2017. Father and uncle were each first-round draft picks in the NFL Draft (father’s NFL career was hampered by knee injuries).
Grade: First Round
3. Austin Bryant, Clemson
Can be a 4-3 end or 3-4 outside linebacker. Patient defender who follows the flow of the play. High level of football awareness allows him to read and react in real time. Flexible enough to stand up or put his hand in the dirt. Aggressive, strong player who overpowers offensive linemen. Displays solid footwork when taking on blockers and getting to the play. Keeps his arms extended, allowing him to control blockers, see the play develop, and get where he needs to go. Has some trouble getting set before the snap, and loses a split second at the start of the play from time to time, but recovers nicely. Not a tremendous zone defender, but covers space adequately and reads the quarterback’s eyes. Does not really employ pass rush moves – mainly alternates between speed rush and bull rush. Gets his hands up and affects passing lanes. Hard hitter who punishes quarterbacks whenever he gets a chance. Penchant for making big plays.
Four-star recruit at defensive end who also played basketball. Graduated from Thomas County Central High School in Thomasville, Georgia. 6’5”, 265 lb. True senior who has seen significant time since his freshman year. As a freshman, saw action in 13 games as a rotational defensive end. Logged 22 tackles, 2.0 TFL, and 1.5 sacks. Going into his sophomore season, sustained a foot injury that kept him on the sidelines for the first half of the campaign. Returned down the stretch as a reserve, playing in at least seven games. Put up 13 tackles, 4.5 TFL, and 2.5 sacks. As a junior, came into his own, playing in all 14 games. Improved his stat line to 50 tackles, 15.5 TFL, and 8.5 sacks, garnering first-team All-American honors from the Football Writers Association. Has likely benefited from having three other first-round talents alongside him on the Clemson defensive line.
Grade: First Round
4. Clelin Ferrell, Clemson
4-3 end who can both stand up and kick inside. Physical run defender who gets under blocks and blows up ballcarriers. Sometimes get caught inside and loses containment. Begins from a wide base and takes on blockers well. Holds his ground in the run game. Solid lateral movement when standing up at outside linebacker. Low pad level is a major asset. Above average play speed. Explosive pass rusher with serious bend. At his best when executing line stunts and moving around. Effective when rushing inside – has the strength and size to handle pass-protecting guards. Uses his hands well and has a vast arsenal of moves, but is still best when beating tackles with a speed rush. Can drop into zone pass coverage from time to time. Great awareness when attacking the quarterback, going for the strip fumble when in proximity to the passer.
Four-star recruit at defensive end. Graduated from Benedictine College Prep in Richmond, Virginia. Missed his senior season of high school with a torn ACL. 6’5”, 260 lb. Redshirt junior who has started every game of his career at Clemson. As a redshirt freshman, started all 15 games of the season, recording 44 tackles with 12.5 TFL and 6.0 sacks. Left the National Championship Game early with an ankle injury. Started all 14 games as a redshirt sophomore, Improved to 66 tackles, 18.0 TFL, and 9.5 sacks, garnering first-team All-American honors from the Associated Press. Has likely benefited from having three other first-round talents alongside him on the Clemson defensive line.
Grade: First Round
5. Zach Allen, Boston College
4-3 end who can probably play 3-4 end. An absolute battering ram who blows up offensive linemen and wrecks plays. Demonstrates tremendous strength when tackling ballcarriers, bringing down running backs quickly after getting his hands on them. Sometimes gets beat to the spot by ballcarriers, allowing runthroughs in his gap. Despite his good size, gets skinny through double teams. Patient, aware defender who lets plays develop to maximize impact. Powerful first step – bounds into the neutral zone and places offensive linemen on the defensive. Flows from gap to gap and makes plays, but sometimes struggles when runs go to his gap. Bullies offensive tackles when rushing the passer and pursues the quarterback well. Not a “one trick pony,” but certainly does not get cute with pass rush moves; just manages to find ways into the backfield. Wraps the quarterback and brings down passers seamlessly. Gets his hands up and disrupts passing lanes. Intense, physical player who is going to wear down the opponent over the course of the game.
Three-star recruit as a defensive end. Graduated from New Canaan High School in New Canaan, Connecticut. Also played basketball in high school. 6’5”, 285 lb. True senior who is going into his second year as a full-time starter. Prolific tackler. As a true freshman, played in all 12 games as a special teamer, making two tackles. Made his way into the regular rotation as a sophomore, playing in all 13 games with one start. Recorded 36 tackles, 10.0 TFL, and 6.0 sacks (along with four passes defensed). As a junior, started all 13 games, improving to 100 tackles, 15.5 TFL, and 6.0 sacks (adding three more passes defensed and an interception). One of only two defensive linemen to make 100 tackles.
Grade: Second Round
6. Joe Jackson, Miami
Likely a hand-in-the-dirt 4-3 rusher at the next level. Quick off the ball – takes a deliberate path to the ballcarrier and keeps his body positioned well to make plays. At times, agility forces offensive linemen to hold him. Finds ways to deliver punishing hits on opposing players. Does not give up on run plays, chasing down running backs after they have hit the second level. Intense defender who fights with offensive linemen as a run play is developing, rarely giving up much ground. Enjoys piles, messy scrums, and other broken plays – thrives in a chaotic atmosphere because of his willingness to get involved in any play. Sometimes gets a bit excited and loses gap responsibility/gets too far upfield. Does not have great bend when rushing the passer – tends to rely on a powerful punch, good leg drive, and persistence to make plays as a rusher. Physical at the point of attack with offensive tackles. Affects the quarterback and drives offensive linemen into the pocket.
Four-star recruit at defensive end who also played basketball and competed in track. Graduated from Gulliver Prep High School in Miami, Florida. 6’5”, 258 lb. True junior who has played in every game since arriving in Coral Gables. As a true freshman, made appearances in 13 games, starting two. Recorded 32 tackles and led the team with 11.5 TFL and 8.5 sacks. Scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery and return. Became the starter at defensive end as a sophomore, starting 12 of 13 games. Improved to 59 total tackles, adding another 11.5 TFL and 6.5 sacks.
Grade: Second Round
7. Montez Sweat, Mississippi State
3-4 outside linebacker who can easily slide down and be a 4-3 end. Special athlete who has the speed, size, and strength to beat offensive linemen on physicality and athleticism alone. Bench presses offensive linemen and sheds quickly to get to the ballcarrier in the run game, but has some trouble transitioning to making the tackle. Plays a bit high in the run game, but has good awareness and patience. As a pass rusher, sets up linemen with effective, multiple-part moves. Finishes rushes well and frequently knocks down the quarterback. Plays with great leverage, using leg drive to get through double teams. Fights constantly throughout the play. Improvises nicely, taking down the quarterback however possible. Executes defensive line stunts with ease, getting into his pass rush in a short amount of time. High ceiling.
Started as a two-star recruit at tight end out of high school. Graduated from Stephenson High School in Stone Mountain, Georgia. Played high school basketball, too. Started at Michigan State, switching to defensive end. As a true freshman, appeared in two games, recording four tackles, 0.5 TFL, and a sack. As a sophomore, was indefinitely suspended after the second game of the season due to “internal disciplinary issues.” Transferred to Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Mississippi. In his junior college year, put up 39 tackles with 6.0 TFL and 5.0 sacks (along with two forced fumbles and an interception). Three-star recruit at defensive end who then signed with current school, Mississippi State. 6’6”, 241 lb. Broke out as a redshirt junior with 48 tackles, 15.5 TFL, and 10.5 sacks (tied for first in the SEC).
Grade: Second Round
8. Chase Winovich, Michigan
4-3 end who has the size to slide inside in certain packages. Fires out of his stance low to the ground and takes a quick, explosive first step. Gets his hands on ballcarriers and wraps up the running back, frequently creating group tackle situations. Strong defender in the run game, delivering a punch to knock offensive tackles off balance, but can sometimes be driven directionally to create running lanes. Patient defender who rarely bites on fakes. Does not give up on plays – tremendous speed in the open field and a willingness to chase down running backs. High-effort pass rusher who attempts to carry out a variety of rush moves. Pursues quarterbacks relentlessly. Can get taken for a ride upfield as a result of losing leverage on speed rushes. Hesitates a bit when executing line stunts – advantage of deception likely outweighed by time lost.
Three-star recruit at outside linebacker (also played quarterback in high school). Graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School in Jefferson Hills, Pennsylvania. 6’3”, 253 lb. Redshirt senior who moved to tight end after his first year on campus, before becoming a defensive lineman. As a redshirt freshman tight end, sustained a PCL injury and a hamstring injury prior to the season beginning, falling on the depth chart. As a redshirt sophomore, played in all 13 games, recording 32 tackles, 8.5 TFL, and 5.0 sacks. Improved as a redshirt junior to 73 tackles, 19.0 TFL, and 8.5 sacks, playing in all 13 games. Left the Penn State game with what appeared to be a bruised knee, but returned quickly. Father was a small-school college-basketball player.
Grade: Third Round
9. Jaylon Ferguson, Louisiana Tech
Standup 3-4 outside linebacker who can put his hand in the dirt as a 4-3 end. Twitchy athlete who is best when firing out from a standing start. Tracks the ball well and follows the play. Maintains gap responsibility and plays disciplined football. Has the strength to hold the line in the run game. Rarely bullied by offensive linemen – sets with a powerful base and takes on blocks well. Has a solid set of pass rush moves and makes an impact against quarterbacks. Uses his whole body to disrupt passing plays, and is effective whether he manages gets an arm or a leg into the pocket to harass the passer. Athletic player who outclasses offensive tackles from time to time when rushing. Somewhat inconsistent. As a pass rusher, struggles most when getting preoccupied with handfighting offensive tackles instead of pursuing the quarterback.
Three-star recruit at defensive end. Graduated from West Feliciana High School in St. Francisville, Louisiana. 6’5”, 270 lb. Redshirt senior who has earned national attention since his redshirt freshman season. As a redshirt freshman, made multiple media freshman All-American teams. Played in 12 games, making five starts at defensive end – recorded 35 tackles, 15.0 TFL, and 6.0 sacks. As a redshirt sophomore, started 14 games, making 49 tackles, 14.0 TFL, and 14.5 sacks (third in FBS in sacks). Took a bit of a step back as a redshirt junior, playing in 11 games, missing a game due to an injury (nature unclear). Put up 38 tackles, 12.5 TFL, and 7.0 sacks.
Grade: Third Round
10. Carl Granderson, Wyoming
Projects as a 4-3 end. Has the size to be a fine run defender, but struggles at times in the run game taking a direct path to the ballcarrier. Easily knocked off his track by offensive tackles and pulling guards, especially when slanting inside. Part of this appears to be a reluctance to take on blockers, instead trying to duck and weave away from linemen – ends up shedding blocks nicely, but also susceptible to getting pancaked. Does a solid job of setting the edge, using his length to keep offensive linemen at bay while keeping his eyes on the football and making the play. Deals effectively with cut blocks. Consistently finds a way to get involved in the play, pursuing the ballcarrier all over the field. Needs to do better at playing his gap. Explosive pass rusher who is a threat to quarterbacks. Has a nice rip move that gets him under offensive tackles. Keeps his arms extended and looks to strip the football from passers in the pocket. Finishes well in the backfield. High-effort rusher. Athletic with a nose for the ball.
Not ranked as a recruit coming out of high school. Graduated from Grant High School in Sacramento, California. 6’5”, 255 lb. True senior who has been a starter since he came to school. As a true freshman, played in 12 games, recording 36 tackles, 6.0 TFL, and a sack. As a true sophomore, played in just six games before tearing his ACL midway through the season. Put up 19 tackles, 6.0 TFL, and 4.0 sacks. Came into his own as a junior, playing in all 13 games and improving his numbers to 78 tackles, 16.0 TFL, and 8.5 sacks. Also added two interceptions and returned a fumble for a touchdown. Sustained an elbow injury late in the year, which has kept him out for much of the spring.
Grade: Third Round
11. Landis Durham, Texas A&M
Hybrid 4-3 end or 3-4 outside linebacker. Smooth stunter – gets in and out of his cuts with ease, and takes on ballcarriers head on. Begins from a wide base and accelerates nicely into the play after the snap. Slender build that is ideal for a pass rusher. Fills gaps well, but could do a better job holding his ground through the play to close down cutback/bounce lanes for running backs. Not a very dynamic pass rusher – a bit boring to watch, but works hard and fights with offensive linemen to get into the backfield. Stays aware throughout the play of where the quarterback is, staying involved in the play. Possesses fine agility, but does not have elite top-end speed that would allow him to chase down top-notch athletes. Seems to project as a very average pro player/borderline starter.
Three-star recruit as a linebacker. Graduated from Plano East Senior High School in Plano, Texas. 6’3”, 255 lb. True senior who saw his first significant playing time as a junior. As a true freshman, played linebacker and recorded three tackles over five games. Transitioned to defensive end as a sophomore, seeing action in four games and recording three tackles (1.0 TFL). Became the starter as a junior, playing in all 13 games. Broke out with 55 tackles, 11.0 TFL, and 10.5 sacks (tied for first in the SEC). Also forced three fumbles.
Grade: Fourth Round
12. Brian Burns, Florida State
Tweener who fits best at 3-4 outside linebacker. Lightning quick off the edge. Lanky defender with a wiry build – above average wingspan. Runs a bit hot and cold over the course of a game. Liability in the run game who is frequently manhandled by stronger offensive linemen. Gets driven out of run plays. Could do a better job of knifing through blocks to get to the ballcarrier. Active hands when making tackles, finding a way to get the ballcarrier down. Tremendous pass rusher, but may need to add some weight if he does not want to be solely a third-down EDGE defender. Nice bend and lean when speed rushing – gets a step on offensive tackles and takes long enough strides to get by blockers around the outside. Pursues the quarterback well, positioning himself to deliver a blow and strip the football. Does not have an arsenal of power moves, and can get stonewalled by offensive tackles from time to time. Is decent in pass coverage, but does not move well laterally.
Four-star recruit at defensive end. Graduated from American Heritage High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. 6’5”, 231 lb. True junior who burst onto the college football scene in his first year at Florida State. As a true freshman, played in eight games, recording 23 tackles, 9.5 TFL, and 8.5 sacks. Sack total was among the top in the ACC. Earned Freshman All-American honors. As a sophomore, played in all 13 games, improving to 48 tackles and 13.5 TFL, but only put up 4.5 sacks. Forced three fumbles and racked up four passes defensed.
Grade: Fourth Round
13. Marlon Davidson, Auburn
4-3 end who may end up kicking down to a 3-4 end or a 4-3 tackle. Launches himself into offensive linemen and frustrates double teams. Does not play with nearly enough leverage for a player of his size. Gets driven back in the run game. Plods around the field, but manages to get ballcarriers to the ground when he is in proximity. Violent tackler who is not afraid to chase running backs to the second level. Active pass rusher who tosses blockers aside in pursuit of the quarterback. Does not have a wide array of moves – is much likelier, when rushing the passer, to use the size and strength that is not as apparent in the run game. Plays low to the ground and extends his arms well. Not very fast.
Four-star recruit as a defensive end. Graduated from Greenville High School in Greenville, Alabama. Also played basketball in high school. 6’3”, 282 lb. True junior who has been a full-time starter since his first game at Auburn. Was the first true freshman defensive lineman at Auburn to start the season opener in 30 years. Started all 13 games, recording 38 tackles, 6.0 TFL, and 2.5 sacks (added four passes defensed). Remained the starter as a sophomore, playing in 12 games. Held steady with 42 tackles, 6.0 TFL, and 3.0 sacks. Brother played defensive line at Auburn.
Grade: Fifth Round
14. Corbin Kaufusi, Brigham Young
Almost certainly a 4-3 defensive end. Not a natural run stopper. Has a bit of trouble shedding blocks and squaring up ballcarriers. Sometimes slow to react to running backs and gets caught watching ballcarriers run by him, especially when caught up in a battle with a blocker. Displays nice strength when tackling. Chases down ballcarriers from sideline to sideline. Dynamic pass rusher who is still learning and honing a few kinds of moves. Clearly makes an attempt to fire out low, and manages to get under blockers. Uses tremendous height to his advantage, getting his hands up and disrupting pass lanes. Carries out defensive line stunts a bit awkwardly as a result of below-average lateral agility.
Unranked recruit at defensive end. Graduated from Timpview High School in Provo, Utah. 6’9”, 285 lb. Went on Mormon mission before returning to school – had signed to play football, but walked onto the varsity basketball team and became a key reserve. Returned to football as a redshirt sophomore after not playing since high school, recording 31 tackles, 2.5 TFL, and 2.5 sacks over 12 games; also blocked two kicks. Left the basketball team during the offseason to focus on football, and had a successful redshirt junior season. Played in 13 games, improving to 67 tackles, 7.5 TFL, and 6.0 sacks. Father played defensive line in the NFL. Brother is an NFL defensive lineman drafted in the third round. 25 years old.
Grade: Fifth Round
15. Sutton Smith, Northern Illinois
Hybrid EDGE who can play 4-3 end or 3-4 outside backer. Ridiculously good first step. Diagnoses the play with speed and solid instincts. Fine run defender who plays with ferocity. Knifes through blocks and drives offensive linemen into the play. Engages blockers and uses his strength to stay in the play. Takes some plays off, but is a dangerous rusher when giving full effort. Could do a better job of attacking linemen with a square body. Active pass rusher who jukes around offensive linemen. Pursues quarterbacks with reckless abandon and frequently lands clean, hard shots on unsuspecting passers. Secure tackler who wraps well and delivers a blow. Could take smarter angles to the quarterback. Stands to develop his technique further. Finds ways to get into the backfield and disrupt.
Three-star recruit as a skinny running back. Graduated from Francis Howell High School in Saint Charles, Missouri. 6’0”, 225 lb. Redshirt junior who had a massive sophomore season. As a redshirt freshman, played in 12 games, but had little impact. Recorded 15 tackles, 2.0 TFL, and a sack. As a redshirt sophomore, played in 13 games, improving to 63 tackles, 29.5 TFL, and 14.0 sacks. Also scored two touchdowns. Father played football at Middle Tennessee State. Hand injury as a high school junior caused him to miss key time.
Grade: Fifth Round