2017 NFL Draft: Top Five DL
One of the most loaded positions in this year’s NFL draft is easily the defensive line position. Between defensive ends, defensive tackles and nose tackles, there are a plethora of prospects. Let’s preview the top five defensive linemen in this draft.
5. Caleb Brantley, DT, Florida Gators
In my mind, Brantley is one of the most underrated D-line prospects coming out of college this year. Brantley had a nice first two seasons with the Gators before exploding onto the scene this past fall. He led the team with 9.5 tackles for loss and was a frequent flyer in the other team’s backfield. Brantley is one of the best linemen in the draft with an effective combination of size and speed. The strength is there with him, as he can shed blocks with ease and close in on ball carriers. Judging strictly off his performance on the field, he is a sure first-round talent.
4. Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan Wolverines
Charlton was one of the anchors on the bonified Michigan defense that should put out many draft picks this year. This past senior year, he racked up 9.5 sacks, 13 tackles for loss and 43 tackles. He showed his skills and athleticism at the combine, where he ran an impressive 4.92 40-yard dash and had a 33-inch vertical. One thing that separates Charlton from many other prospects is he’s a senior and has four years of solid experience and leadership. In terms of a finished product, he is just about there and the team that picks him will benefit immediately from his production and skillset. Not only is he a big defensive end who can rush the passer well, he is extremely fast on the outside and can play in coverage if he needs to. That versatility is what puts him in the top five and makes him first-round talent.
3. Jonathan Allen, DT, Alabama Crimson Tide
Most likely the first Alabama player taken this year, Jonathan Allen is a monster. There is no better way to put it. Another senior, he was bred into the Nick Saban scheme defense and was arguably their best defender last season. He wreaked havoc on the offensive line all year, consistently winning at the point of attack. He finished with a whopping 62 tackles, 15 for loss, and 9.5 sacks in his senior year. Like Charlton, he stepped up as the defensive leader for the Tide. Another significant part of his game is that his head is in the right place. He has never gotten in trouble, causes no off the field distractions and he is all business on the field at working harder and getting better. His mentality and football I.Q. are off the charts and can only be outmatched by his unbelievable strength and tool set. Don’t expect him to fall out of the top five selections.
2. Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford Cardinal
I would go so far and to call Solomon Thomas the most underrated player in this whole draft and in five years from now, he could easily be having the best career of anyone in this draft. Thomas’ biggest strength is actually his quickness off the line, probably better than anyone else in the draft. He can beat a lineman with his finesse moves and hands so badly, it’s not even funny. He has one of the best attitudes and work ethics in all the draft, never losing focus on helping his team win. His 4.69 40-yard dash at the combine was electric. He has also displayed his versatility in college, being able to play defensive tackle or even linebacker if called upon. Thomas brings a 100 percent, all day, 24/7 mentality that should rub off well with no matter who he is paired with. He should be taken top three in the first round.
1. Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
He loves dinosaurs. He enjoys writing poetry. Oh yeah, he is also pretty good at football. Myles Garrett has the most extraordinary life of any prospect coming out this year, but it’s his performance that has everyone raving. His brute strength, combined with lighting fast explosiveness off the line make his potential sky high in the NFL. He easily had the best combine of any defender this year, dominating all the drills. Freakish speed and strength make this man a scary player for the future. He displayed a good work ethic and attitude, specifically how he wants to become of the best NFL players of all-time. Lofty goals for sure, but demonstrating his will to be great. He will certainly need to be given some time initially in the pros, as he has not fully developed his game yet. If it all comes together though, the man with 32.5 sacks in three college seasons will be the best defensive lineman in the NFL. Period. This man should and will be taken with the No.1 overall pick by Cleveland.
Matthew Harvey is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism and history. To contact him, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Senior / Broadcast Journalism and History