DL Analysis

By Editor-In-Chief Harris Oates

Gregory Rousseau | Miami, Edge

Rousseau had a dominant 2019 season for the Miami Hurricanes, recording 16 sacks and 24 hurries in 14 games. Rousseau has the perfect size and frame for an elite edge rusher, standing at a lanky 6’7″ 265 lbs. Despite the huge numbers in 2019, they can be a bit misleading as he picked up many of those because of secondary. In a typical year you would think of a edge rusher with that frame and production as a top 5 lock, but Rousseau has just 14 games of tape under his belt and is a very raw prospect with unpolished technique. There is a long way to go for Rousseau to reach his high ceiling, but he still ranks as our top edge in the starless class of defensive lineman.

Christian Barmore | Alabama, DT

Christian Barmore had an up and down career at Alabama, but finished it on a high note as a key defensive playmaker for the National Champions. The versatile defensive lineman is currently ranked as our top DT prospect and the 19th player overall, largely due to his improvement through the 2020 season. Barmore has great hands, power and rare flexibility for an interior lineman. Barmore can rush the passer better than any defensive tackle in this class, which will translate nicely into any scheme he is drafted into.

Azeez Ojulari | Georgia, Edge

Azeez Ojulari is another player that capped off their college career with an extremely strong postseason. Ojulari racked up 3 sacks against Cincinnati in the Peach Bowl in route to leading the SEC in sacks for the season. He finished his career with 15 sacks and 46 hurries. Ojulari is just 240 lbs, but makes up what he lacks in size with his speed and a super strong first step. He is a pure speed rusher with a tremendous and technically sound skillset, but lacks any elite power. Ojulari comes in as our third ranked defensive lineman and has a 1st round grade.

Jaelan Phillips | Miami, Edge

Jaelan Phillips is another one hit wonder, who transferred to Miami after spending his early career with UCLA. Phillips was widely regarded as the top recruit in the country coming out of high school, but suffered some head injuries and setbacks (and was hit by a car while riding a scooter) that limited his career with the Bruins. After transferring to Miami he had a breakout season where he recorded 9 sacks and 29 hurries and appeared to finally show out as the prospect he was once recruited to be. Phillips is as strong and powerful as edge rushers come and is such a pure and complete athlete. If you were playing a pick up game of basketball at the YMCA, you’d pick Phillips first every game. His 2020 tape is incredible and really gives a true look at how talented Phillips is and how high his ceiling could be, but don’t doubt that a choppy injury history will always be in the back of every team’s head. It is hard to ignore a history of serious head injuries, but Phillips brings so much talent to the table that he is likely going to be picked in the late 1st.

Kwity Paye | Michigan, Edge

Kwity Paye fills out a doorframe at 6’4″ 275 lbs and is a monster of an edge whose true strengths relies in his combination of agility and power. Although it might seem impossible, Paye plays bigger than his size and is violent on the line of scrimmage with a low center of gravity for such a tall player. He has gotten significant snaps for three solid years of college football in the Big 10, which really separates him from the rest of the tier in terms of experience. He doesn’t have elite sack volume (just 9 in career), but accounted for 53 hurries and 51 run stops. Ironically, his biggest detractor is also his size due to his frequency to rely on physical abilities rather than technique. This will be a brick wall as soon as he enters the league and plays against better and faster offensive lineman. Luckily, that is something that can clearly be improved upon at the next level, which makes Paye into a high ceiling prospect with 1st-early 2nd round potential.

Alim McNeill | NC State, DT

Alim McNeill will sit atop the draft for teams searching for a true nose tackle, however, this could pigeonhole his draft potential to becoming scheme specific. He is a true, elite run stuffer who will cannon ball through double teams from even the strongest of offensive lines in the league. McNeill has improved vastly year-over-year and has 3 years of true starting experience with nearly 1,400 snaps logged. Despite not having a sack in 2020, he still had over 10 in his career along with 36 hurries and 5 batted passes. He is not the type of player that you draft with hopes of improving your pass rush, but certainly will use his size (6’2″ 320 lbs) and strength get the the quarterback at times and will strengthen any defensive line that he is on. McNeill will play a very niche role, but we view him as a late 1st rounder and the second rated defensive tackle.

Jayson Oweh | Penn State, Edge

Jayson Oweh is one of my favorite prospects in the draft, but the one thing that could’ve improved his stock more than anything would have been another year of production at Penn State. The one aspect that is keeping Oweh from a pure 1st round lock is the glaring 0 in the sacks column in 2020, but it must be noted that prospects aren’t drafted off of the stats, rather on potential and fit. Despite the low sack numbers (7 in career), the hurries were there (39) as well as 21 run stops in 2020, which ranks him near the top in the country. He has a near perfect frame at 6’5″ 255 lbs and is long and quick from the edge, but the power isn’t there yet. Oweh is a borderline 1st round pick, but is still very much a project who probably would’ve benefitted from another year of college ball.

Daviyon Nixon | Iowa, DT

Like Barmore, Daviyon Nixon also had a very rocky, up and down career. Nixon is such a solid player all around and could probably even make a strong case as playing most positions on the line. At 300+ lbs, he has a special sort of quickness to his game that combines well with his elite strength. He is light on his feet, but at the same time has the power to bulldoze through the inside of the line. He is a solid prospect who has 1st Round potential, but his inconsistent tape leads many to believe that he could be a shaky role player at the next level.

Levi Onwuzurike | Washington, DT

Levi Onwuzurike was on of the top defensive line prospects entering the 2020 season, however, he opted out and declared for the draft. He posted really good numbers as a talented and versatile combo tackle in his first two seasons, with extremely impressive improvement game-after-game. His explosiveness jumps off tape, especially for a tackle, and he is very agile. He spent most of his time in the A and B gaps, but I could see him moving to the outside in a 3-4 defense at the next level due to his strong pass rushing abilities and speed, however, there is a lot of room left to grow for his pass rushing abilities.

Carlos Basham Jr. | Wake Forest, Edge

Carlos “Boogie” Basham Jr. is an absolute bully on the defensive line who has the skillset to play inside and out at the next level. At 6’4″ 285 lbs, he still blows off the line with the speed of a running back and is an absolute wrecking ball with his size. He had a bit of a dip in production in 2020 and played just 404 snaps, but salvaged 7 run stops, 5 sacks and 16 hurries for his final year. He had an astonishing 89 hurries in his career to go along with 56 run stops and 23 sacks…this dude flat out produced. He is more of a pusher than a bender and feasts off collapsing the pocket as his forte. Basham entered the season as one of our top guys, but it is a bit discouraging that he appears to have taken a step back. Regardless, he is an early Day 2 guy for us.

Marvin Wilson | Florida State, DT

Early in the draft process, Marvin Wilson was a top 5 prospect. Now, after a down season, he is going to be lucky if he is taken before the 3rd Round. Wilson was one of the few bright spots on the Florida State front 7, which led him to facing double teams and mismatches all season before electing to opt out following an “injury”. Wilson finished the 2020 season with just 6 hurries and 7 run stops, which both were well below his career normal. He was exposed in 2020, but with two great years in his past it could be written off as a minor dip and could easily bounce back in the NFL. Wilson is one of the few players whose stock is lower than it would have been if he had gone pro last year, but he still is a day 2 guy in our book.

Cameron Sample | Tulane, Edge

Cameron Sample had an impressive week at the Senior Bowl and was one of the biggest movers following the trip. He is thick (6’3″ 280 lbs), but has an extremely fast first step which he combines with terrific bend off the edge used to leave offensive tackles in the dust. He came out of Mobile as Senior Bowl Defensive MVP to go along with a solid week of practice against a strong offensive line group. Sample lacks NFL length, but outside of that he is a pretty solid prospect with not many flaws. He is the typical high floor prospect that will be taken somewhere from the 3rd to 5th round.

Rashad Weaver | Pittsburgh, Edge

Rashad Weaver is a lanky edge who produced apart of a very talented front 7 at Pittsburgh. Weaver finished the season with 32 hurries and 10 sacks, largely due to the combination of his power and technique. His moves are sophisticated and his bag of tricks is seemingly never ending, however, the concerns surround his agility and quickness…especially concerning since he tore his ACL and missed all of the 2019 season. Weaver is a low-ceiling/high-floor prospect thanks to his fundamentally sound skillset, which makes up for his lack of athleticism and agility. We see Weaver getting drafted in the 3rd or 4th round to play in a depth role at the next level.

Joe Tryon | Washington, Edge

Joe Tryon is a true bull rusher and is a player with imposing physical ability that is generally unmatched by college offensive lineman. Tryon opted out, which will be interesting to follow through the draft process. He has always been a player to watch because of his rare physical skillset, but his technique was never there. In his one season as a starter he accounted for 28 hurries and 9 sacks, but that generally was due to the high volume of bulldozing rather than his pass rush moves. Unfortunately for Tryon, the tackles will just get faster and stronger at the next level, which keeps him as a mid-to-late Day 2 prospect for us.

Jonathan Cooper | Ohio State, Edge

Jonathan Cooper is an undersized edge prospect who also benefitted from a strong week at the Senior Bowl. His hands are one of his biggest strengths as he efficiently beats lineman without having much of an edge when it comes to size or speed. He found decent production through a strong defense, which likely puts him into the mix along with the other depth pieces in this tier.

Ronnie Perkins | Oklahoma, Edge

Ronnie Perkins is a 3 year starter from a national contender and is another high-ceiling/low-floor prospect. At 6’3″ 250 lbs he has tremendous bend and flexibility that allows for him the play a pure speed role. We was a tremendous run stopper, but the pass rushing technique isn’t up to par for a guy with as much experience. He likely could end up playing in an outside linebacker role as a depth player until he improves on his strength and technical skills. Due to that, we have Perkins as a late Day 2/early Day 3 prospect.

Patrick Jones II | Pittsburgh, Edge

Patrick Jones II is another member of the dominant Pittsburgh front 7 and recorded back-to-back seasons with 9+ sacks along with 81 career hurries. The production and film is great, but following an embarrassing week of Senior Bowl practice there have been some concerns. Jones has great technique to go along with his prototypically sought after size, but there is legit concern over his strength. It is worth noting that he is an above average run stopper, which should add to his versatility. Someone will take a shot on Jones, but the chances of that happening before the 3rd round are questionable.

Jay Tufele | USC, DT

Jay Tufele is one of the best pass rushing tackles in this class, but lacks the elite run stuffing abilities to be considered inside the top tier tackle group. For 305 lbs, Tufele is quick on his feet and brings an elite skillset of rushing techniques to the table. Another piece to weigh in is that Tufele is rusty off of a year off from football, but can erase those concerns with a smooth Pro Day.

Tommy Togiai | Ohio State, DT

Tommy Togiai is a bull-rushing run-stuffer that adds some much needed pressure from the inside. He played most of his career snaps from the B-Gap, however, has logged just 659 snaps total over the course of three years. Each season he got more snaps, which is refreshing to see, but he never surpassed 300 in a year (just 291 in 2020). His role is pretty limited and clear cut, as he will translate into a true depth defensive tackle in the league. Due to this, we have him graded as a mid round prospect with a lot of room to grow at the next level.

Tyler Shelvin | LSU, DT

Tyler Shelvin was a key playmaker for the 2019 National Champions, but opted out of the season to prepare for the draft. Shelvin is one of the biggest bodies in the class and was last playing around 350 lbs, but it will be interesting to get his true measurements after a year of no football. His potential is likely limited as a run stuffer, as he had just 5 hurries in his career, but his true test will be appearing at the LSU Pro Day and proving that he can still move around like he once could. For a player his size, a year off could be detrimental, so that is TBD. As of now you can lock him in as another mid round pick.

Elerson Smith | Northern Iowa, Edge

Elerson Smith is a small school guy who benefitted a lot from a strong week at the Senior Bowl. Smith was forced to take a year off leading up to the Senior Bowl, but appeared to knock the rust off just fine. He had a dominant 2019 campaign where he accounted for 14 sacks, 5 forced fumbles and 21.5 tackle for loss. However, his production was at the FCS level against much inferior competition, which is why the Senior Bowl held so much water. Smith had an impressive week and likely has landed himself a draftable grade sometime on Day 3.

Joseph Ossai | Texas, Edge

Joseph Ossai is an undersized edge that lacks the spark required to be considered a top tier prospect. He has some experience playing off the ball as a linebacker, which adds to his versatility as a prospect, but he isn’t an every down player in the NFL and lacks the top tier speed and technique to get it done. He is a good enough athlete to add some depth down the line and can fill many different roles for a defense, but his stock is a mid rounder at best.

Daelin Hayes | Notre Dame, Edge

Daelin Hayes is another undersized edge at just 240 lbs, but has a super quick and twitchy first step, which often affords him the outside leverage against top tackles. He is a super athlete who probably could also play as a traditional outside linebacker role, but really has great bend and a plethora of good pass rush moves to make it as a 3rd down specialist early in his career. His power is nothing special, but he continues to improve and has a knack for getting to the passer. He was not a big sack guy and really didn’t produce much until his final year of eligibility, but did record 23 hurries in 2020 along with a strong showing at the Senior Bowl.

Quincy Roche | Miami, Edge

Quincy Roche, like many in this tier, is on the small end of the spectrum (just 245) and doesn’t impose much of a threat with his length, reach or athleticism. However, Roche produced throughout his career and finished off his final year of eligibility by transferring from Temple to Miami. At Temple, Roche dominated a lesser division and record 70 hurries from 2018-2019, but took a step back last year and wasn’t nearly as productive when he reached P5 status. Regardless, he is among the most accomplished edge rushers in this class, which could push him into late Day 2 territory.

Chris Rumph II | Duke, Edge

Chris Rumph II is an extremely polished prospect with a career full of experience and production at Duke. He is a dark horse sleeper who might get picked up well before the experts are predicting due to his impressive pass rushing technique, however, there are major size concerns as he is stands about the size of an NFL Linebacker.

Victor Dimukeje | Duke, Edge

Victor Dimukeje, alot like teammate Chris Rumph II, is veteran edge rusher with a full set of advanced pass rushing tactics. Dimukeje has a much better frame than Rumph, however, ranks on the lower side when it comes to reach and height. Dimukeje is an experienced veteran, but just doesn’t have the athletic ability or strength to be considered with the top tier prospects.

Darius Stills | WVU, DT

Darius Stills is an undersized tackle at just 285 lbs, but actually played great in his snap-share as a Nose Tackle. Stills plays close to the ground with a low center of gravity that allowed him to dominate the Big 12 as a run stuffer. He is nothing to write home about as a prospect, however, is the type of glue guy that you need in your rotation.

Milton Williams | Louisiana Tech, DT

Milton Williams was a two year starter at Louisiana Tech, but dramatically improved throughout his career. He is in that 275 lb range, which isn’t elite for his natural position, but he plays up to his frame. Williams doesn’t jump through the screen on film, but he is a solid player who makes you wonder how much room he has to grow at the next level. He played most of his snaps as an edge early in his career, but transitioned into playing a lot more on the interior in 2020, so the pass rush moves are there.

Bobby Brown III | Texas A&M, DT

Bobby Brown III is a massive tackle prospect and looks it on film. At 6’4″ 325 lbs he barrels around the field and breaks through offensive lines. He is very powerful and had a great career as a run stuffer, but also developed and improved upon his pass rushing toolbox. He is a far from polished prospect, but has the size and power that a team will take a shot on and look to mold into a complete player.

Marlon Tuipulotu | USC, DT

What Jay Tufele lacked as a run stuffer, Marlon Tuipulotu filled in well and vice versa as a pass rusher. Tufele and Tuipulotu worked together as one of the best pair of tackles in college football. Tuipulotu had an up and down career, but legitimized himself as a true power run stuffer and was one of the best block shedders in the class. However, the limited athleticism and agility is a concern at the next level.

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