Defensive linemen, next to quarterbacks, are the most prized possession of NFL front offices. It is not uncommon for a deep draft to have as many as 10-12 defensive linemen selected in the top 40 picks. 2018 should be a deep class with some top level talent at both tackle and end.
Christian Wilkins, Clemson - Wilkins looks like the kind of defensive tackle prospect that never makes it past the 3rd pick. Given the needs of the teams picking in the top 5 this year Wilkins will probably fall past that spot, but he won’t fall far. He is a rare interior pass rusher that is also adept at stopping the run and should be a game changing defensive lineman. Easily a top 10 selection.
Vitai Vea, Washington; Vea is a big clogger at defensive tackle that will demand attention at the NFL level and free up linebackers and other linemen by demanding multiple blockers and collapsing the pocket. People aren’t talking about him but he could be a top ten selection come April.
Da'ron Payne, Alabama - Payne is highly thought of, as all Alabama defensive linemen seem to be, but at some point someone will realize that Alabama players rarely live up to their draft hype, especially the defensive linemen. Still Payne is the type of player that will be attractive to multiple teams in multiple systems and I doubt the dropoff of Alabama players being over drafted starts with hi, Top 20 pick
Derrick Nnadi, FSU - Nnadi can look like a special player and follow that up looking like an alsoran. He needs more consistency and strong mentorship. If he finds a situation that develops him properly he has as high an upside as any defensive tackle in this class. He’ll go in the first round.
Lowell Lotulelei, Utah - Lotulelei was hurt to start the year and as such has fallen down draft boards. WIth a big brother already playing in the NFL and immense talent Lotulelei should have no problem getting a second look from scouts. The physically imposing player was a top 15 talent before he got hurt, He should still go close to there and will settle in the latter half of the first round.
Bradley Chubb, NC State - Chubb is a stud and can play either end spot in a 4-3 defense. He is an elite talent with a strong work ethic. He’ll impress the hell out of teams and should settle near the top 5 in April.
Arden Key, LSU - Probably the most talented defender, if not overall player, Key has suffered from ineffective play and some injuries. His overall speed and athleticism is enough to get every team to take note and Key will test well in the offseason. Well enough to go near the top 10.
Sam Hubbard, OSU - Hubbard has a good pedigree and a great motor. He looks like a can’t miss prospect. Like Chubb he’ll impress teams with his personality and mental abilities. He also has the game film to back it up. Hubbard should easily be a top 20 selection.
Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Oklahoma - Still a bit of a work in progress Okoronkwo flashes brilliant athleticism and a nose for getting to the quarterback. He’s another top 20 prospect.
Clelin Ferrell, Clemson - Ferrell has been seeing a meteoric rise up draft board since the season started. He has all the athletic skills in the world but he is cursed with being part of a strong class. Ferrell should still go in the top 25.