NFL Draft: Analyzing 2018’s Top Defensive Linemen
After just going over the top offensive linemen in the draft, now it’s time to switch to the other side of the ball and talk about the defensive lineman. It goes both ways as the defensive line is the meat and potatoes of the defense. The line can control the game and as the Denver Broncos showed a couple of years back, win a Superbowl. So, with that said, let’s get to the top defensive linemen that are in the 2018 NFL Draft. (Players are listed in order of my rankings)
Bradley Chubb – Edge – NC State
Chubb is a beast and probably the safest pick in the entire draft on the defensive side of the ball. However, I say that with 1 caveat, he’s a 4-3 DE. If he is drafted as a 3-4 OLB, I think he can show flashes as a LB, but he’s not made for coverage. He’s meant to have his hand in the dirt and get after the QB.
Vita Vea – NT – Washington
I LOVE Vite Vea. I have watched him for 2 years and he legitimately would have been a 1st round pick last year. The massive, 350-pound beast from Washington plays much faster than you might expect. He uses his hands well, has good footwork, and is as strong as a mule. In fact, many scouts compare him to Haloti Ngata and the comparison are logical. He will be a pro bowler very soon.
Da’Ron Payne – DT – Alabama
Payne is going to be a very good interior lineman for anyone that drafts him. He is big, strong, and very smart. He has lost 40 pounds of fat since coming to Alabama. Thus, he has a great motor and can both stop the run and rush the passer. He’s not going to chase anyone down, but he isn’t going to let someone get by him if they are within arm’s distance.
Marcus Davenport – Edge – Texas-San Antonio
I actually really like Marcus Davenport. I think he will be the best 3-4 Edge player in this draft. The difference between him and Chubb is, Davenport played as a stand-up player in college and is faster. He needs to be more consistent, but when he does, he’s going to be a handful to deal with. I think he can be the 2nd best pass rusher on a championship defensive team.
Rasheem Green – DE – USC
Green is another talented prospect that has to be drafted in a 4-3 system. He can get to the QB and he’s good against the run. Probably should have stayed 1 more year. He is just a big green and needs to develop and add to his arsenal of pass rushing moves.
Taven Bryan – DT – Florida
Bryan is going to have to get pressure up the middle. He’s a little small to be a 3-4 DE so he will be limited to being a 4-3 DT. He can get overpowered at times, but he is able to use his slim frame to get in between the offensive line.
Maurice Hurst – DT – Michigan
Hurst is very similar to Bryan. The thing with Hurst is he has a heart condition. He has known about it since his freshman year at Michigan. The biggest question will be how far does that condition hurt him? Will he fall to just round 2? Will it push him to round 3?
Tim Settle – NT – Virginia Tech
Settle is a guy who can play as a 4-3 DT, a 3-4 NT, or even a 3-4 DE in some schemes. He would be better off about 10 pounds less, but while at 335 now, he plays with a lot of athleticism. He is a little raw with only 1 full year as a starter, but he has good physical gifts that a lot of NFL coaches would love to mold.
Sam Hubbard – Edge – Ohio State
I think Hubbard is talented, but nothing stands out as being special to me. He reminds me a lot of Derrick Morgan because he’s not going to be the best pass rusher on your team, but he’s consistent and solid. May get more pressures than actual sacks.
Harrison Phillips – DT – Stanford
Phillips has a constant motor and he can get to the QB, he just does it more than will than actual pass rushing moves. He’s solid against the run. He’s a guy that will never be the star on a line but could start for them quietly for 5-10 years.
In my opinion, this isn’t a great year for the pass rushing defensive lineman. There isn’t a Mario Williams or Myles Garrett in this draft. However, Chubb has the ability to be good in the right system, but he strikes me of more of an 8-10 sack guy than a 12-15 sack guy. Despite that, there is good depth up and down for all NFL lines. The mix of power, speed, and athleticism with the guys above should all have an impact in the league, just be patient.