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Top Ten Defensive Linemen to Watch at the NFL Combine

Which Defensive Linemen Are Worth Watching at the 2015 Combine?

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The Combine is upon us, folks. Just about 45 minutes from my house, the best players of the 2015 NFL draft class have converged on Indianapolis to prove they’ve got what it takes to make it in the pros. Today, we’re going to take a look at the top ten defensive linemen who are appearing at Lucas Oil Stadium this year. 

 

Top Ten Defensive Linemen to Watch at the NFL Combine

USA TODAY Sports

1. USC DE Leonard Williams is a definite first round pick and will likely be taken in the top five overall on draft weekend. Williams is incredibly talented and, at 6’5, 300 pounds, has a powerful frame that is well-suited to the NFL. With the right coaching, Williams is likely to become a major threat on Sunday afternoons. 

 

2. Washington NT Danny Shelton stands 6’2, 339 pounds and has drawn some comparisons to New England Patriots great Vince Wilfork. Shelton is surprisingly athletic for a guy his size, which will make him appealing to NFL scouts this week. 

 

3. Texas DT Malcom Brown, at 6’2, 320 pounds, is a big man who worked hard to improve his quickness during the 2014 college season. Brown is shockingly light on his feet and reads the field well. Certain NFL scouts believe that Brown could excel in either a 3-4 or a 4-3 scheme, which will make him attractive to a number of franchises. 

 

4. Yet another Big 12 player, TCU ILB Paul Dawson, takes today’s No. 5 spot. Dawson doesn’t have a huge frame; he stands just 6’2, 230 pounds, but he is flexible and extremely agile. Dawson plays hard on game day, but hasn’t proven to be committed to watching film or doing any other extra work off the field. Dawson will be an early round pick, but his character does raise some questions.

 

5. And still continuing our march through the Big 12, Oregon DT Arik Armstead had a breakout 2014 season, but doesn’t have the polish of some of the other guys on today’s list. I slipped Armstead into the No. 5 spot, though, because I think he has huge potential in the NFL. At 6’8, 290 pounds, you can’t ask for better size in a pro player. Armstead can also be explosive at times; if a coach can harness this, he could become a real threat on game day Sundays. 

 

6. Oklahoma NT Jordan Phillips is among my personal favorite slightly under-the-radar players in this year’s draft class. Phillips stands 6’6, 334 pounds and possesses surprisingly quick feet for his size. Phillips has been compared to Broncos defensive powerhouse Terrance “Pot Roast” Knighton and has the potential to become a Pro Bowler if he’s drafted into the right system. 

 

7. Florida State DT Eddie Goldman is 6’4, 314 pounds and has the power to absolutely pummel his opponents. However, many scouts are concerned about the fact that Goldman lacks consistent pass-rushing abilities. Overall, Goldman shows the potential to be a solid 3-4 guy in the NFL, but his draft stock may remain stagnant due to the aforementioned pass-rushing issues. 

 

8. Mississippi State ILB Benardrick McKinney is a scrappy player who pays close attention to his assignment on every play. At 6’5, 249 pounds, McKinney has the height needed in the NFL. Despite this, McKinney is likely to become a serviceable player, rather than a superstar; however, he could become a threat on special teams in the pros. 

 

9. Miami ILB Denzel Perryman is a lover of old-school football. Perryman defends his turf and tackles hard; he’s likely to have the most success as a special teams player in the NFL. Perryman has an angry demeanor when he plays, which is desirable in some systems (can anyone say AFC North?) 

 

10. Clemson ILB Stephone Anthony, at 6’3, 245 pounds, has a good build for the NFL, but lacks the finesse and technique needed to become a high-level pro player. Anthony is, however, a star in the attitude department. Even after losing his starting job as a junior, Anthony worked hard and maintained a positive demeanor, which will make him appealing to teams looking for an off-the-field leader.

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