A great pass rush is the most disruptive force against any quarterback. That’s why pass rushers are such valuable assets in today’s NFL. Whether it’s getting to the quarterback or stuffing the run, defensive linemen control the tempo of the game. It all starts up front. There’s a reason that Houston’s J.J. Watt and Denver’s Von Miller are consistently in the running for NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
Here are the best defensive linemen available in this year’s NFL draft:
Bradley Chubb, Defensive End, N.C. State
Bradley Chubb is the consensus top defensive lineman in this year’s draft. He possess an incredible skillset, combining speed, quickness, and an overall athleticism that are incredibly rare for someone his size. Chubb is 6’4, weighing in at 269 lbs, but he also runs a 4.65 40-yard dash.
At N.C. State, Chubb recorded double-digit sacks in consecutive seasons to close his collegiate career. Last season, he consistently penetrated opposing backfields, getting ten sacks in the process, to go along with three forced fumbles. He had 73 tackles, but more impressively 25 of them were for a loss. Those types of plays can change a drive and ultimately a game, in favor of his team.
Chubb is considered one of the best overall players in this year’s draft, regardless of position.
Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA
When NFL GMs look for difference makers, they look for guys like this. Able to contribute in all facets of the game, Davenport could make a strong impact early in his career. Just take a look at what he able to do last year, with 8.5 sacks and three forced fumbles, he made his presence felt in a profound way. He also had a combined 55 tackles on the year, of which 17.5 were for a loss.
Davenport posses tremendous size and length, at 6’5, 259 lbs., and he uses it to his advantage, racking up four batted passes over the course of the season.
Vita Vea, Defensive Tackle, Washington
Vita Vea is a beast. They don’t come much bigger than him at 6’5 and 332 lbs. Vea gets a great push up front as a nose tackle, who is an expert at clogging holes and stopping the run. But he also brings another element to the game with his surprising athleticism, as he is capable of rushing the passer as well. In 2017, Vea had 44 tackles, while also tallying 3.5 sacks.
Look for Vea to be selected somewhere in the first round. Pass rushers are more valuable, which could hurt his draft stock, but as a prospect in his position, he is in the top echelon of nose tackles coming out of college.