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2018 NFL Draft: Front 7 Big Board

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NCAA Football: South Carolina at North Carolina State
Bradley Chubb. Do Want.
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the series of the positional big boards that will go on a somewhat weekly basis. Today we will be taking a look at the front seven class that is chock full of talented prospects.

DE

1. Bradley Chubb 6’4 269 Senior North Carolina State

- Chubb is the best defensive end in the entire country. A pass rushing dynamo. A top 5 lock at this point, barring something crazy. Fundamentally sound as a pass rusher. Run defense needs improvement. He’s the best 4-3 end in the nation. He has 198 tackles and 25 sacks in his career. The only question is when he’ll go in the top 5.

2. Sam Hubbard 6’5 270 DE RS Junior Ohio State

- Hubbard has been on the radar for basically his entire career after being called into duty early replacing an injured Joey Bosa. A physical marvel. Fundamentally sound in both pass and run game. One of top underclassmen defensive ends. He isn’t the greatest athlete in the class but frequently works on the details to perfect his craft. He’s a fringe first round prospect.

3. Da’Shawn Hand 6’4 297 Senior Alabama

- When healthy and not in trouble, he’s a talented disruptor in the run game. Very stout at the point of attack. Teams will question him about the off field stuff. A guy who has been waiting his turn and developed into a great rotational piece for the Tide. Senior Bowl and Combine participant.

4. Marcus Davenport 6’6 264 Senior UTSA

- Davenport has sky rocketed up the draft boards after an impressive 2017 season with the Road Runners. He’s not all athlete, no production either. A big physical freak with long arms that can get after it. Pass rush arsenal is among the best in the nation. Just pops off the screen. He has posted a whopping 185 tackles (which is impressive for an end) and 21.5 sacks. Some reports have him saying that he’s raw and needs some development time.

5. Rasheem Green 6’4 275 Junior USC

- Green is an experienced junior defensive end prospect, playing in 32 games in three years. He’s a big time talent that needs some proper coaching on technique. Increased his production every year. A former five star recruit that lived up to the hype of being one. Could’ve really blown up as a senior.

EDGE

1. Harold Landry 6’2 252 Senior Boston College

- It’s an argument that he is one of the best defensive prospects in the ACC. He’s that good. Fundamentals are above average. A tackling machine that won’t stop until the whistle blows. Terrific athlete. Quick first step. He has battled leg injuries throughout 2017 and missed the bowl game as a result. The offseason has been great to him. Should be a top 20 pick if not top 10. He’s that good. The injury history is the only thing holding him back.

2. Josh Sweat 6’4 251 Junior Florida State

- Sweat is a pass rush terror for any lineman to go against. He has speed and length for days on end. Has bulked up considerably since his freshman year. Athletic freak. Vastly underutilized under now Tennessee DB coach Charles Kelly’s reign. He’s now considered a fringe first round pick. Had an outstanding Combine and Pro Day. The injury history is worrisome as he suffered a devastating knee injury as high school senior. He should’ve been redshirted.

3. Ogbonnia Okoronkwo 6’2 253 RS Senior Oklahoma

- OO was a pleasant surprise in 2017 for the Sooners. He’s developed into one of the best pass rushers in college football. Every game that I’ve seen of him, he’s made plays. Very good first step. Football IQ is a plus. Stood out in the most recent Rose Bowl against Georgia.

4. Uchenna Nwosu 6’2 251 Senior USC

- Nwosu was the breakout star of the Trojans defense in 2017. He’s listed as an outside linebacker but can play end and inside linebacker as well. The versatility will be a major plus for the team that drafts him. The Titans did pay special attention to him during his Pro Day though.

5. Lorenzo Carter 6’5 250 Senior Georgia

- Carter has finally solidified his presence as a defensive force as a senior after showing glimpses in the past. A former five star recruit that took some time develop into the monster that he is today. Can be used as both an end and outside linebacker.

OLB

1. Roquan Smith 6’1 236 Junior Georgia

- Smith might be the best linebacker in the SEC if not the whole country. He has really blossomed under the stewardship of HC Kirby Smart. He is the defensive leader for the Bulldogs fearsome stop unit. A tackling machine with great fundamentals. Position versatile as he can play both in and out. First round lock.

2. Tremaine Edmunds 6’4 253 Junior Virginia Tech

- Edmunds is an athletic freak / specimen. A high riser up the boards during the 2017 season. The offseason process has been very kind to him. He’s pretty much locked in as a top 15 pick at this point. Tested very well at the Combine and had a great Pro Day.

3. Shaquem Griffin 6’1 227 RS Senior UCF

- Griffin is the twin brother of former Knight and current Seahawk DB Shaquill. He’s a true defensive general that led the stingy Golden Knights defense to unseen heights. A person of great character that refused to quit even with an amputated hand since childhood. He’s a fearless player that does not shirk anything due to disability. He was devastating when deployed as an outside linebacker at the Senior Bowl despite playing ILB for UCF. Put up 20 reps on the bench press with a prosthetic hand. I sincerely hope some team drafts him high. He can play.

4. Leighton Vander Esch 6’4 256 Junior Boise State

- Vander Esch is a great athlete for his size. He’s also very well schooled in the fundamentals as most Boise State defenders are. Had a great game against Oregon in the bowl game. He’s a borderline top 25 lock at this point in the process.

5. Rashaan Evans 6’2 232 RS Senior Alabama

- Evans is a beast. He got next in the long line of great Tide linebackers that are inevitable pros. He is a playmaker all over the field and the stats show it. Had a monstrous season all year. He has improved upon his numbers every year so the production is without question. However, he has had a rough go of things in the offseason thus this ranking is so low. He did not participate in Alabama’s Pro Day nor the makeup one scheduled in late March.

ILB

1. Micah Kiser 6’0 238 RS Senior Virginia

- Kiser is one of the best inside linebackers in this class. He’s a throwback to the older generation of linebackers with big frames. Kiser has really come on during his senior season, improving an already plus level of instincts and football IQ. Production is very good as he has 397 tackles and 19 sacks in his career. Regardless of his lack of athleticism, he’s a pretty good player.

2. Malik Jefferson 6’2 236 Junior Texas

- Jefferson has improved a lot in 2017 but has flashed a lot of the same inconsistencies that have plagued his career. He’s a terrific athlete that is miscast as an inside linebacker. He tested very well at the Combine and Pro Day. He would be better off at outside linebacker as a pass rushing specialist.

3. Tegray Scales 6’0 230 Senior Indiana

- He was the Hoosiers’ defense at times. Undersized but the production is immense. He posted a whopping 324 tackles and 17 sacks to go along with 8 picks. Athleticism won’t be the best but he’s just a football player that will find a niche in the league.

DT

1. Taven Bryan 6’5 291 Junior Florida

- Bryan is a massive mountain at defensive tackle. He’s a solid athlete for a man his size. Character and work ethic are major pluses. People have said that he’s the next JJ Watt but as any sane evaluator would, I immediately dismiss that. He’s a pretty good prospect though. Late first round potential lock.

2. Vita Vea 6’4 347 Junior Washington

- Vea is huge. He fits as a nose tackle in the 3-4 due to his size. He’s an underrated pass rusher as well. Should be a top 15 lock.

3. Harrison Phillips 6’4 307 RS Junior Stanford

- Phillips is the latest out of the defensive line factory from Palo Alto. He’s a disruptive force in the run game. Has been flying up the boards this year. A handful to deal with on the interior for opposing linemen. Non stop motor. He has bulked up to 307 after being listed at 290+ for the better part of 2017 to answer the size question. Put up a monster 42 reps on the bench press.

4. B.J. Hill 6’4 311 Senior North Carolina State

- He’s well developed fundamentally. Run defense is on point. A big body 4-3 tackle that can play the part of a 3-4 nose tackle if need be. Not the best athlete but he maintains gap discipline very well, which allows him to be in the picture. Hands are a plus. Won’t wow anyone but is consistently good at his job.

5. Maurice Hurst 6’1 292 Senior Michigan

- Hurst has been a rising star this year for a fearsome Wolverines front seven. He’s very quick for his size and is very fundamentally sound like most Michigan defenders. Knows his role and executes nearly every time. Unfortunately, he was ineligible to participate at the Combine due to a previously undetected heart issue. However, he was cleared to participate at the Pro Day. It will bear watching how the heart affects him in the future.

6. Nathan Shepherd 6’5 315 Senior Fort Hayes State

- Shepherd was having a great week at the Senior Bowl by all accounts until he broke his wrist, which unfortunately knocked him out of the event. He was dominating every rep against much more higher level competition. The medical will be key for him. Canadian native. He proved at the Combine that he isn’t a fluke. He’s very good.

7. P.J. Hall 6’0 308 Senior Sam Houston State

- Hall is a freak athlete in every sense of the phrase. He put up 4.83 in the 40, 38” vertical jump, 9’8” broad jump, and 36 bench press reps. That’s insane for a guy his size. The stat line is crazy as well. 284 tackles, 86.5 tackles for loss, 42 sacks, 9 forced fumbles, 4 interceptions, and a whopping 14 blocked kicks. He’s been blowing up ever since his Pro Day. If there ever was a J-Rob small school special, this guy is it. And on top of that, he can play defensive end as well.

8. Derrick Nnadi 6’1 317 Senior Florida State

- Nnadi is the latest prospect in a long line of productive Seminole defensive tackles. A handful to deal with on the interior. Just starting to scratch the surface of his talents. He’s the anchor that the Noles can rely on the defensive line. A disruptive pass rush force on the interior. One of the best pass rushers from the tackle position in the nation.