Defensive Linemen, Edge Rushers, and Linebackers Rankings w/ Scouting Blurbs

NFL Draft

Defensive Line

1. Leonard Williams, DE, USC

Only elite player in the draft. Tremendous upper and lower body strength with the first step and athletic ability to give offensive lines fits. Gets up to speed so quick and has solid pass rush moves. Run and Pass stuffer. Sometimes can play too high and get caught off balance. Still needs to improve his football IQ, but if he does, could be a top NFL player.

2. Malcolm Brown, DT, Texas

Huge and athletic with good leverage. Decent run stuffer with the athletic ability to collapse the interior of the pocket on the QB. Moves fluidly for his size. Can play a bit soft and gives inconsistent effort. Starter that offenses have to stop.

3. Arik Armstead, DE, Oregon

Powerful pass rusher with a great bull rush. Can set the edge against the run with long wingspan. Not much of a pass rusher but he has the athleticism to do it. Leverage can be a major issues. Not overly dynamic and could drop, but should be a solid NFL starter.

4. Danny Shelton, DT, Washington

Mammoth run stuffer that will fill two gaps. Has great athletic ability to penetrate and get to the QB despite his size. Has explosion off of the line of scrimmage. Excellent tenacity when his motor is running hot. Doesn’t have the strength you want from a player of his size and be more of a gap filler and run stuffer than dynamic pass rusher in the NFL.

5. Jordan Phillips, DT, Oklahoma

Long armed and fluid for a player of his size. Can plug holes with his size or collapse the pocket with his leg drive and foot speed. Very inconsistent motor with long stretches (almost whole games,) with little effort. Can be tenacious when he wants to be. With 100% effort, could be a stud Nose Tackle, or could bust out if effort or injury issues persist.

6. Carl Davis, DT, Iowa

Excellent lower leg drive and plays even bigger than he is. Top notch run defender and flashed pass rush moves through the season. Can be tenacious in fighting offensivelinemen but doesn’t shed blocks quickly. Great run defender who has complete talent potential.

7. Mario Edwards, DE, Florida State

Very good athlete with a fluid lower body. Good anchor and rarely gets pushed off the line of scrimmage. Good range and contains the edge but doesn’t use his athleticism to shed blocks. Gets stonewalled often when rushing the passer. Tons of potential but has never put it all together.

8. Michael Bennett, Ohio State

Underrated disruptor who gets penetration and disrupts passing routes. Makes QB uncomfortable. Good explosion off the line of scrimmage with good leverage. Uses hands to shed blocks well. Can overpursue RBs. Motor gets cold after a few full effort plays. If he gets in the right fit, can be a great defensive complimentary piece.

9. Eddie Goldman, Florida State

Shows upper and lower body strength. Punches with his hands and can get linemen off-balance who try to overpower him. Uses strength to combat the run. Very stiff and is extremely inconsistent in how he gets pressure. May not be the athlete he looks like against smaller offensive lines. Does not shed blocks very well and can be neutralized with good technique. Could develop into a starter but may be a bit overrated.

10. Grady Jarrett, DT, Clemson

Excellent bull rush skills. Short but allows himself to get leverage and drive offensive linemen back. Has a good first step and explosion off of the snap. Tenacious with a good motor. Lacks an array of pass rush moves and isn’t quite big enough to be a dominant run defender. Very good player with technique who will make it in the NFL.

Edge Rushers:

1. Vic Beasley, Clemson

Excellent first step and great anticipation of snap count. Extremely fluid and quick. Nightmare to try and mirror. Best spin move in the country. Has pass coverage experience and will run down RBs. Has dominant games against NFL competition. Not strong at the point of attack. Can be neutralized if OTs get hands on him. Small and thin. Starter with stud potential.

2. Dante Fowler, Florida

Compact, explosive, and strong. Has a variety of pass rush moves and uses his arms well. Quick twitch. Has good range against the run and can set the edge. Limited upside. Sometimes tries to do too much and is neutralized. Often takes too long to go full force at OTs. Tackling technique is iffy. May be maxed out. A good pass rusher with mix of strength and athleticism who should be a solid starter but may never be a star.

3. Bud Dupree, Kentucky

Mammoth with great athleticism for his size. Explosive and fast with great upper and lower body strength. Very good at setting the edge against the run. Tenacious during the play. A bit squatty and doesn’t have a variety of pass rush moves. Still a raw player but his size and athletic upside could make him a stud in the NFL.

4. Randy Gregory, Nebraska

Long and powerful. Can beat offensive linemen with athletic ability, pass rush moves, or strength. Has experience with hand down and rushing from LB spots. Natural bender who dips well with good leverage. Thin body who can play a little wild. Can get stonewalled by stronger offensive linemen. Can struggle setting the edge. Drug and character concerns. The best natural pass rusher in the draft but off field issues will push him down the board.

5. Owamagbe Odighizuwa, UCLA

Long and strong. Has ideal pass rusher build. Keeps linemen at bay with arms and has good footwork. Violent and tenacious. Sets the edge extremely well. Takes wide angles and can take too long to get to the QB. Injury issues. Raw pass rusher and great run tackler with upside.

6. Shane Ray, Missouri

Extremely explosive off the snap. Great first step. Quick twitch athlete who has good leverage to win consistently. Not very long or big. Very undisciplined with hands and pass rush moves. Perfect pass rushing athlete but lacking on the fundamentals to make an instant NFL impact.

7. Preston Smith, Mississippi State

Great technique when tackling and attacking the run. Uses full extension and knows how to shed blocks. Not the best athlete in the world and isn’t overly powerful. Good at everything but not great at anything. Could be a complimentary starting piece.

8. Nate Orchard, Utah

Smooth and quick pass rusher with very good explosiveness. Plays well against the best competition. Meticulous pass rusher whose speed give OTs fits. Poor run defender. Will give up on plays if he doesn’t win immediately. Very good pass rusher who keeps improving but will need the right fit.

9. Lorenzo Mauldin, Louisville

Strong lower body and bull rushes very well. High motor with the range to set the edge against runners. Plays with poor leverage and isn’t very athletic. Changes direction poorly and can be caught out of position. Underrated pass rusher whose power can be a benefit.

10. Eli Harold, Virginia

Great leverage and speed. Closes very fast and has a high football IQ. Knows how to dip and beat OTs. Not very strong and when engaged he really struggles. Won’t give much in pass coverage. Looks the part but has stretches where he struggles. Big upside and downside.

11. Danielle Hunter, LSU

Big, fast athlete. Long with a strong upper body. Great motor and closes gaps extremely well. Is often found out of position or attacking the wrong gap. Not as productive as he should have been. Needs to develop natural football skills. Raw player with huge upside.

12. Hauoli Kikaha, Washington

Great motor with a variety of pass rush moves. Never know how he will attack opposing linemen. Gets good leverage and bends well. Fluid athlete who is a natural pass rusher. Massive injury issues. Won’t give much against the run. Overpursues. If healthy, he could be a good starter but that is a major question.

13. Trey Flowers, Arkansas

Strong upper and lower body. Great at shedding blocks with strength and head usage. Sets the edge and rarely misses a tackle on a RB. Not the best athlete in the world and doesn’t try to be a dynamic pass rusher. One of the better base run defensive ends in the draft.

14. Markus Golden, Missouri

Very good against the run and rarely gets pushed back. Has athletic ability and plays with a good motor. Upper body strength is apparent. Not much of a pass rusher. Plays high and doesn’t have good production. Can’t shed well. Has the look and mindset of a good pass rusher but has a long way to go.

15. Geneo Grissom, Oklahoma

Long. Has experience in space. Good first step and flashes explosiveness. Toguh to stop in space. Not very quick twitch and struggles to move laterally. Doesn’t have the upper or lower body strength to attack big linemen. Raw pass rusher whose explosiveness could entice teams.


1. Benardrick McKinney, Mississippi State

Versatile athlete who can play inside or outside. Great speed and size who is powerful at the point of attack. Could rush off the edge some. Good closing speed. Tackling technique is poor and he is very high cut. Coverage could be an issue. Productive leader who should start but must be used creatively.

2. Paul Dawson, TCU

Best block shedder in the draft. Seems to know what runners are doing before they do it. Goes sideline to sideline well and plays well in pass coverage. High motor. Powerful hitter. Not a great athlete despite small size. Can get caught out of position. May have a limited ceiling. Starter with the instincts to outperform his physical limitations.

3. Eric Kendricks, UCLA

Excellent closing speed. Fills gaps well and limits big RB plays. Outstanding production. Very athletic for ILB. Has shown pass coverage potential. Can whiff on plays and often is pushed backwards by runners. Won’t pass rush up the middle. Can overpursue and whiff. A good athlete with high ceiling to be an NFL starter.

4. Stephone Anthony, Clemson

Good lateral movement to fill gaps. Good technique and plays downhill. Has shown proficiency in coverage. Athletic upside. Can play upright and struggles to shed blocks. Needs to get better at reading offenses. Thumper with athletic upside.

5. Denzel Perryman, Miami (FL)

Big and powerful. At full speed, difficult to stop. Big hitter. Plays with leverage and knows how to use hands to shed blocks. Not a good lateral athlete and misses tackles in space. Struggles against longer offensive linemen. Overpursues. More of a 2-down MLB.

6. Shaq Thompson, Washington

Quick twitch athlete. Excellent closing speed and natural lateral movement ability. Excels in space and very good in coverage. Can make the big play with interceptions or forced fumbles. Not very strong and gets lost when engaged. Tries to make the big hit rather than tackle. Motor runs hot and cold. Upside as an athlete but likely relegated to an OLB role.

7. Kwon Alexander, LSU

Ideal weakside LB. Great footwork and lateral mobility. Covers a lot of ground. Sets the edge with closing speed. Good stunt pass rusher who can blitz from far away. Doesn’t have much in ways of leverage and strength. Can be slow to react and needs to improve football IQ. Moves feet too much. Could develop into a starter with more football experience.

8. Taiwan Jones, Michigan State

Big and producrtive. Wraps up very well and will tackle bigger RBs with ease. Has experience at OLB and ILB. Not much of an athlete and can take a little too long to gear up and fill his gap. Won’t give much in coverage. Good back-up and locker room player.

9. Ramik Wilson, Georgia

Great tackling technique. Moves sideline to sideline well and can cover more ground than many LBs. Seems slower in pass coverage than against the run. Motor can run hot and cold. Lacks upper body strength. Likely a back-up 3-4 ILB or 4-3 OLB.

10. Hayes Pullard, USC

High football IQ and takes excellent angles. Good athlete with fluid hips. Shown real potential in coverage against TEs and RBs. Doesn’t shed blocks well and not very strong. Doesn’t relish contact. Not a pass rusher. Backup ILB.

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