2016 NFL Draft: Top 5 DLs
In this year’s NFL Draft there are many possible star players in the defensive line core -- probably the deepest position in this draft. Most fans of college football could name many more that should be on this list but didn’t quite make the cut, and feel that they should have. Most of the teams have weaknesses in its d-line squad and will be looking to draft one of these players.
1. Joey Bosa, Ohio State
Almost everyone has Bosa as a high first-round draft pick, and the highest defensive line pick in most mock drafts. The 6-foot-5, 269-pound DE from the Buckeyes impressed at the combine as well as on the field, becoming a top performer in three combine workouts. Bosa had a 120 inch broad jump, completed the 3 cone drill in 6.89 seconds and ran a 4.21 second 20 yard shuttle. Bosa’s father and uncle were both first-round picks in the NFL, John Bosa was picked 16th overall in 1987 and Eric Kumerow was picked in the same spot by the same team the next year. Joey plans on following in their footsteps, he even has a chance to be picked even earlier. Bosa showed ability to play both as a linebacker and a lineman in college well enough to be a pro. He may not have the edge speed to be the best pass rusher but his hands and strength will help him to put pressure on as well as play LB. He is a safe selection thanks to his growth potential even with the fact that he does have flaws that people don’t like to admit. Whoever ends up drafting Bosa with have a good and possibly great player that could thrive with a defensive coordinator who is willing to move him around the field.
2. Deforest Buckner, Oregon
Buckner, a 6’7” 291 lbs DE certainly looks like a classic 3-4 DE in the NFL . He has great quickness, strength and overall athleticism to make NFL teams drool. He really showed his talent during the 2015 season and proved that his length and power help him to control the point of attack. He also showed that he has an above average pass rush potential for his position, giving NFL teams even more of a reason to draft him early. There isn’t too much to be said about Deforest Buckner, he has certainly proven that he can become a very dominant force in the NFL.
3. A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama
Robinson is rated by many as the best DT in the draft, beating out players like Jarran Reed, another player from Alabama. A’Shawn (6’4”, 307 lbs) is monster, who is known for being an outstanding interior defender thanks to his size, length and strength. His size makes him possibly the most well-proportioned interior lineman in the draft. Many NFL teams surely hope to be the one that gets to draft him. No matter which team drafts him you can be sure that he is going to go pretty early. There is a chance though that he could slide and be passed up for his former teammate at Alabama due to his issues with pass rushing and leverage. Robinson could certainly be an all-pro in the future if he works on those weaknesses, at the moment he is not guaranteed to be a star.
4. Shaq Lawson, Clemson
Lawson is arguably the second best defensive end in the draft, closely ranked with Deforest Buckner. The 6-foot-3, 270-pound DE was a top combine performer in both the 40-yard dash with a time of 4.70 seconds and the 20-yard shuttle with a time of 4.21 seconds. Lawson has the instincts, power, and toughness along with his size to put very nice numbers on the stat sheet. He certainly has the body of an NFL player but his athleticism and pass rush abilities are not much more than average which could cause some teams to want to change his position or even pass him up early in the draft.
5. Sheldon Rankins, Louisville.
Sheldon Rankins gets the fifth spot on this list thanks to his incredible edge rushing and bullrushing talents. The 6-foot-1, 300-pound defensive tackle produces like a winning football player whose motor never stops running. Rankins shows rare foot quickness to go along with his impeccable feel for his position. The only reason he isn’t higher on the list is his smaller stature which could cause a small draft slide.
Tommy Butler is a Freshman majoring in Broadcast Journalism. To contact him you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on twitter @Rtb179PSU.