Before the 2019 NFL Draft kicks off this Thursday night in Nashville, Tenn., we’re breaking down each position group to bring you our ranking of the best prospects.
Here’s a look at our top 10 defensive linemen:
1. Quinnen Williams, Alabama (6-foot-3 303 pounds)
2018 stats: 71 tackles, 19.5 for loss, eight sacks
If the Arizona Cardinals don’t draft quarterback Kyler Murray with the No. 1 pick, many expect them to take Williams. The Alabama product is considered by many to be the top prospect in the draft, with Nick Bosa often getting consideration, as well. Williams has drawn comparisons to Los Angeles Rams star Aaron Donald and has the potential to be a franchise defensive tackle. The guy is a stud.
2. Nick Bosa, Ohio State (6-foot-3, 266 pounds)
2018 stats: 14 tackles, six for loss, four sacks
Bosa finds himself near the top of all draft boards, despite missing nearly all of last season after undergoing surgery to repair a core muscle in September. A potential game-changing defensive end, the brother of Los Angeles Chargers star Joey Bosa eliminated any lingering concerns with an impressive combine. He’s the top pass-rusher in the draft.
3. Ed Oliver, Houston (6-foot-1, 287 pounds)
2018 stats: 54 tackles, 14.5 for loss, three sacks
Possessing high-end speed and an impressive motor, Oliver will be off the board early. The athletic defensive tackle jumps off game film due to his ability to explode off the line and wreak havoc. As good as he is, though, the distance between him and Williams is significant.
4. Montez Sweat, Mississippi State (6-foot-6, 260 pounds)
2018 stats: 53 tackles, 14 for loss, 11.5 sacks
Sweat set a record for defensive linemen when he ran a 4.41 40-yard dash at the combine. The guy is fast, athletic and just an all-around freak. Sweat might find himself at linebacker in the pros, but he still ranks among the top defensive linemen in this class.
5. Rashan Gary, Michigan (6-foot-4, 277 pounds)
2018 stats: 43 tackles, 7.5 for loss, 3.5 sacks
Another defensive end whose athleticism stood out at the combine, Gary has a chance to go higher than many mock-drafters have him going. He’s one of the more skilled linemen in this draft and has an absurd size-speed combination, to boot.
6. Christian Wilkins, Clemson (6-foot-3, 315 pounds)
2018 stats: 50 tackles, 14 for loss, 5.5 sacks
Wilkins is an impressive athlete who should go inside the top 20. The Clemson product is a disruptive defensive tackle who is much more than a space-eater who garners double teams. A strong showing at the combine solidified his status as one of the top defensive lineman prospects.
7. Brian Burns, Florida State (6-foot-4, 249 pounds)
2018 stats: 52 tackles, 15.5 for loss, 10 sacks
A talented edge rusher, Burns could fly up draft boards if teams are looking for sack specialists. He’s not as strong as some of the other defensive end prospects, but his speed and skill make up for it — most of the time.
8. Jerry Tillery, Notre Dame (6-foot-6, 295 pounds)
2018 stats: 30 tackles, 10.5 for loss, eight sacks
Tillery has top-10 talent, but off-field concerns could cause him to slide on draft day. A standout performer for the Fighting Irish, Tillery also built a reputation for being somewhat of a cancer in the locker room. He’s among the most talented defensive tackles in the draft, though, so don’t be surprised if a team overlooks those concerns and picks him early.
9. Clelin Ferrell, Clemson (6-foot-4, 264 pounds)
2018 stats: 55 tackles, 19.5 for loss, 11.5 sacks
Ferrell is a fine prospect, but he doesn’t possess the speed nor the game-breaking ability that some of his peers do. Still, his improved ability as a run defender makes up for some of his pass-rushing shortcomings, and his all-around skill makes him a legitimate first-round talent.
10. Dre’Mont Jones, Ohio State (6-foot-2, 281 pounds)
2018 stats: 40 tackles, 13 for loss, 8.5 sacks
Jones is a dynamic interior pass-rusher who ranks as a second-round pick in many mock drafts, but easily could jump into the first round. He’s athletic, disruptive and, most importantly, highly skilled. Could be one of the steals of the draft.
Thumbnail photo via Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports Images