1. Joey Bosa (Ohio State): He was the leader of the defense for Ohio State. Getting to the quarterback is his specialty. In three seasons in Columbus, he racked up 26 sacks and 51 tackles for a loss of yards. He has an excellent core strength and the build to hold his own in the NFL for a young age. He’s a very flexible athlete. Bosa has a very explosive first step which allows him to get off the line of scrimmage and generates an advantage over offensive linemen. I’m very impressed with the way he controls himself to make plays in space. He has strong hands to shed blockers and move offensive linemen out his way. He’s a scrapper meaning he’ll fight to get to the ball-carrier, he’s very active on stunts and has the experience of lining up all throughout the front seven.
2. DeForest Buckner (Oregon): On a defense that struggled greatly in Eugene in 2015, the only shining point was DeForest Buckner. When he had the opportunity to go pro last year, he decided to return for his senior season and stood out once again. The first thing that stands out when you see this guy is his height. He’s 6’7 and also possesses a very massive wingspan. He uses his length to unglue himself from all blocks and double teams. He creates spacing at the point of attack and can set the edge and prevent angle blocking. He has excellent hustle to get after the ball-carrier and he uses his upper body and initial momentum to generate a push and advantage off the snap. He shows versatility as he was able to line up inside and outside on Oregon’s defense.
3. Shaq Lawson (Clemson): He has a compact frame that makes him very effective against the run and the pass as he’s able to show very good quickness and agility as well as a good motor. He uses his hands to his advantage as he’s able to create push with outstanding upper-body strength and shows the strength in his lower body to push-off the line of scrimmage. He doesn’t have the ideal height as your typical defensive end, but he is very well-built with violent hands, versatility and ball awareness. If I had to compare him to a guy in the NFL, it’d be Pernell McPhee of the Chicago Bears.
4. Noah Spence (Eastern Kentucky): He could’ve been a star if he didn’t get in trouble. He was suspended by the Big Ten for failing multiple drug tests. He would end up at Eastern Kentucky in 2015. I like how fluid and how balanced of an athlete he is. He shows smooth lateral quickness and the ability to change direction to avoid blocks. He has tremendous footwork showing the burst to get up the field fast and close out. He can also stay low to the ground with above average coordination. Spence is a very versatile front seven defender as he can play both end positions on the defensive line and can stand up as a linebacker or put his hand in the ground.
5. Emmanuel Ogbah (Oklahoma State): He was named an All-American, the Big-12’s defensive player of the year and he led the conference with 12.5 sacks and tackles for loss with 16.5. He already has the look of an NFL player. He’s very well-built and has the grown man strength to bully offensive linemen around. He’s a disruptive presence that can line up on the left or right side of the defensive line. He’s a power defender that loves to play a very physical brand of football but shows the versatility to drop back in coverage and space.