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Top Defensive Linemen: Part 1

Posted by James Rowe on May 15, 2011 – 4:24 pm in: 2012, NFL Draft

Over the past 2 drafts, there has been a bunch of elite talent on the defensive line. Names like Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley, Gerald McCoy and Marcell Dareus have been highly regarded as elite DT prospects, but at this point there isn’t one prospect that stands out in the 2012 draft. Here is a list of 5 prospects who I can think have a good chance at becoming elite DT prospects in the upcoming draft.

1 Jared Crick DT Nebraska– Super production prospect from Nebraska, who has still played at a high level, even with Suh gone. Crick has a career 18.5 sacks from his 3 years(2 starting) for the Cornhuskers and actually improved his sack total last year without Suh next to him. At a reported 6’6 290lbs, Crick profiles to be a UT in a 4-3 defense, and a DE in a 3-4 defense, which give him more value to more teams. He still need to keep adding weight and strength for the NFL, but if he keeps his production at the same level as the previous seasons, I find it hard for him not be valued somewhere in the top 10-15 picks.

2 Jerel Worthy DT Michigan State*- Despite having just average stats, Worthy has been able to catch the attention from scouts and is thought of as the top junior DT in college football. Worthy has a quick first step, which allows his 6’3 305lbs body to make an impact for the Spartans defense and helped Michigan State earn a top 15 ranking and a BCS bowl bid. He still needs to refine his technique and improve the use of his hands, but I would not be surprised to see Worthy have a breakout season statistically this year.

3 Marcus Forston DT Miami*- Another underclassmen who has top 10 potential is Marcus Forston from Miami. Forston at 6’3 305lbs has ideal size to play UT in a 4-3 in the NFL. Forston is a disruptive pass rusher who has the ability to blow up pass plays with his quickness. Like Worthy, Forston has yet to put up eye popping stats, but still stood out as a difference maker on tape and has a lot of potential. Forston could follow the path of another former Miami DT Warren Sapp, and become one of the best pass rushing DT’s in football.

4 Mike Martin DT Michigan– Some call him a Hulk, and there is good reason for it. Martin is an absolute beast strength wise, and it translates very well to football. He is a true gym rat, being able to bench press 505lbs and do a 700lb squat. Martin was able to standout as an impact player on a horrible Michigan defense last year, and the move to a 4-3 defense should allow Martin to continue as a noteworthy prospect though out the draft process. He projects as a 4-3 NT, but will still need to add girth to combine with his strength to be able to last in the NFL.

5 Kheeston Randall DT Texas– The last guy who I think has a chance to become an elite prospect is Kheeston Randall. While at Texas, Randall has been a big contributor to the Longhorns excellent run defense(ranking in the top 10 in 2009 and 2010). At 6’5 295lbs, he still needs to add some weight, but his height should allow it which is a huge plus. He isn’t a great pass rusher yet, but he has the ability to clog holes which will make teams value him more. Randall’s long arms probably makes his best fit in a 3-4 as a DE, but I could also see him as a NT in a 4-3 if he can add 15-20lbs.

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