With this year’s Super Bowl in the record books, we begin the countdown to this year’s NFL draft and start to take a closer look at some of the best players at their respective positions. If you haven’t already, take the time to read David Miniel’s article on the best offensive linemen in the draft, and when you’re done doing that, come back here and find out who are five of the best defensive linemen to watch out for in this year’s class.
1. Bjoern Werner. DE, Florida State (6-4, 255 lbs)
German born Werner has good height but may be a little undersized in terms of body mass. He has played in all 27 of his career games, pointing to good durability, and no instant injury concerns.
His motor is strong, and he never gives up on a play. He can shed blockers well, and has demonstrated a good ability to get to the quarterback. I think his trim 255 lbs help him with this, and he is deceptively quick for a defensive lineman.
He is a hard working, no frills kind of player, who could offer decent versatility, being able to play defensive end and linebacker in a 3-4 defense.
2. Barkevious Mingo. DE, LSU (6-5, 240 lbs)
Possible possessing one of the best names in this years draft, Mingo is even smaller than Werner at just 240 lbs, and will probably be required to bulk up a little. He has quick hands and a raw talent as a pass rusher. His long arms and explosiveness give him an advantage over many offensive linemen.
Again, he could find himself playing linebacker in the NFL, but this is a transition he shouldn’t have a problem making. He doesn’t quit on the play and shows good energy and a toughness that many pro teams will find attractive.
3. Star Lotulelei. DT, Utah (6-4, 320 lbs)
Now we get to the big boys. A really good mixture of height and bulk, although his top end speed is a little lacking. In his two years at Utah, he played 26 games, and has no known injury issues.
He can play the run very well, and has good upper body strength which he uses to push opponents around. He needs improvement in the pass rush department, but can push players far enough backwards to cause some disruption to quarterbacks.
His motor is strong and shows little signs of tiring during a game. Lotulelei should make a nice addition to several NFL teams on the look out for a promising defensive tackle with lots of upside.
4. Sheldon Richardson. DT, Missouri. (6-3, 295 lbs)
Good combination of height and weight, although might look to increase his bulk just a touch. Richardson was a junior college transfer to Missouri in 2010, and had to deal with the NCAA regarding some eligibility issues.
He will win the battle coming off the snap, but has problems when dealing with double teams by opposing teams. He does have a good first step, and then his speed increases as he fights to get to the QB, showing good ability to change direction.
His engine doesn’t tend to stop, and he plays with confidence, not being afraid to back down.
5. Damontre Moore. DE, Texas A&M (6-4, 248 lbs)
Moore is perhaps a bit on the small side, but there is room to beef up as he looks to find a home on an NFL team. To date, he has not missed a game because of injury, and has good straight ahead speed for a defensive lineman.
He can win the fight with speed moves and power, and puts in a good show in his efforts to get to the quarterback.
Moore can play on both sides of the line, and his athletic ability would make him a good fit in a number of positions. He has good instincts for the football and plays with power and energy, and a high level of intelligence.
So, what do you think? Which of these players are you looking forward to seeing play in the NFL, and who do you think can have the biggest impact? Hit the comments below and let us know.