clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

2016 NFL Scouting Combine: DL to Watch

New, comments

Who are some of the defensive line prospects to look out for in Indianapolis?

Shilique Calhoun. Do Want
Shilique Calhoun. Do Want
Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive Tackle

1. Javon Hargrave 6'1 309 South Carolina State

- Hargrave has had a meteoric rise up the boards through the draft process as he first dominated at the East-West Shrine Game before getting the call up to the Senior Bowl. What's amazing is that he simply stepped right in on Day 3 of the Senior Bowl practices as a last minute replacement and just crushed it. He has a nice mix of brute strength and athleticism. Compares to Baltimore Raven DT Brandon Williams. Will be interesting to see if he can build on the hype.

2. Vernon Butler 6'3 325 Louisiana Tech

-  Butler had a great week in Mobile and could make an argument that he was the best defensive lineman on the North team. He has a bevy of moves and surprisingly amount of quickness for a guy his size. Agility is a plus as well. Very underrated as a prospect due to the guys above him. Wouldn't be surprised if he goes in the second round.

3. Nile Lawrence-Stample 6'1 302 Florida State

- NLS is the latest Seminole defensive lineman bound for the pros after sitting behind Baltimore Raven Timmy Jernigan and Chicago Bear Eddie Goldman. His major playing time was brief but he did make an impact on the field. Held up well at the point of attack. Well schooled in the fundamentals as are most d-tackles at FSU under the leadership of DL coach Odell Haggins. Scheme versatile.

4. Sheldon Rankins 6'1 304 Louisville

- Rankins had a solid week and was the best South DL not named Noah Spence. He featured a lot of moves and counter moves in his arsenal. A really quick tackle that can penetrate the backfield in a flash. Great hand usage, quick feet, and instincts are pretty good. Suffered a knee injury but separated himself a bit from middle tier defensive linemen this week.

5. Sheldon Day 6'0 286 Notre Dame

- Day is this year’s Grady Jarrett in that he can play all of the line positions without losing a step. A still raw prospect that has yet to fully utilize all of his talents. Flashed his potential on numerous occasions. A developing prospect that got better as the year went on. Dominated Day 3 of the Senior Bowl when he practiced exclusively at defensive end.

6. A'Shawn Robinson 6'4 312 Alabama

- Another defensive line stud for the Tide. Robinson is the strongest of the two between him and Allen. He's very good in the run game and is very agile for a guy his size. Projected to stay at tackle due to his size and strength in run defense. Character is a plus as well.

7. Johnathan Bullard 6'2 283 Florida

- The Gators' best lineman and one man show due to significant injuries on the line. Strength is a big factor in his game. Power moves are very good. Holds up at the point of attack and doesn't get lost in the wash. Played through nagging shoulder and knee issues so toughness isn't an issue. Projects as a five tech in a 3-4.

8. Kenny Clark 6'3 308 UCLA

- Clark was the Bruins' best defender in 2015. He's played tackle, end, and some nose tackle for UCLA throughout his career. Position and scheme versatile. Possibly the most technically refined defensive lineman in the country. Knows when and how to use power/finesse in every move. Lateral agility is an issue, however. High running motor but that can be exploited against him when he's lost in the wash. Fires off the ball really well for a guy his size.

Defensive End

1. Shaq Lawson 6'3 275 Clemson

- Lawson has more than capably replaced Vic Beasley as his replacement in 2015. Lawson possesses more of a brute strength game rather than a explosive athletic ability one. He has very solid fundamentals and is well schooled in tackling the right way. Has the strength to toss aside the blocker and a high motor. Footwork despite his athletic limitations is above average. Doesn't have that explosive first step like a Joey Bosa but will constantly outwork the blocker. Ball skills are good. Discipline and football IQ are very good. Doesn't abandon his gap assignment to go hunting for glory stats like sacks and tackles for losses.

2. Shawn Oakman 6'7 269 Baylor

- Oakman was the literal definition of "Looks like Tarzan, Plays like Jane". He featured an impressive body but his situational awareness was very poor. Quickness and agility was severely limited by much more less imposing offensive tackles due to his skinny legs. He doesn’t have the leg drive nor the strength to keep going when first step is beaten. After this week, he’d be lucky to be a midround pick.

3. Noah Spence 6'2 254 Eastern Kentucky

- Spence was easily been the best defensive lineman on either side and it wasn't particularly close in Mobile. He has a great mix of speed and power along with the instincts to know which area to use. Elite first step and counter moves. Constantly blowing by every tackle he has faced this week. He has to answer for some off field issues. Stock is somewhere in the later first round to middle second round.

4. DeForest Buckner 6'7 290 Oregon

- Arik Armstead who? Buckner is just as good if not better than the 49ers first round pick in the 2015 Draft. He’s a physical marvel and has very little bad weight. More of a brute strength type of defensive end instead of the speed type we’ve seen from Oregon in years past. Has some ability to drop back into coverage but it’s not the best aspect of his game.

5. Shilique Calhoun 6'5 252 Michigan State

- A dominant force for the Spartans for two years now. He's improved his fundamentals in 2015. Projected to be a first rounder in 2015, 2016 shouldn't be any different. Pass rush arsenal has grown considerably. Very good usage of hands and arms to keep the blocker at bay. A sound tackler in the run game. Ball skills have progressed. Above average speed game. One of the best pure 4-3 end prospects in the country.

6. Emmanuel Ogbah 6'4 275 Oklahoma State

- Ogbah is the Big 12's most talented pass rusher and has the stats to back it up. Led OSU in tackles for loss, sacks, and forced fumbles. Lateral agility is a major plus to his game. Arm length is another positive. Arsenal of pass rush moves are above average although he leans on his strength rather than finesse at times. A fast riser up the boards.

7. Carl Nassib 6'6 273 Penn State

- Nassib has flown under the radar (like he has all year) due to the "names" showing out. He had a pretty good week in Mobile. More of a run stopper DE than a pass rushing one. Will find a place on a team somewhere. 2016's Karl Klug? Surprisingly agile and possesses quick feet. Doesn't get lost in the wash easily. Holds up decently in the point of attack.

8. Bronson Kaufusi 6'6 281 BYU

-  Ziggy Ansah who? Kaufusi could be the best end prospect in an area of the country that's full of them. He was all over the place in the bowl game against the hated Utah Utes. I wouldn't hesitate to take him if he was available in the fourth round. Third round talent. Had a solid week of practices at the Senior Bowl.

Bonus prospects to watch

1. Jarran Reed 6'3 311 DT Alabama

2. Dadi Nicolas 6'3 235 DE Virginia Tech

3. Jihad Ward 6'3 296 DE Illinois

4. Chris Jones 6'6 308 DT Mississippi State

5. Victor Ochi 6'1 241 DE Stony Brook