2022 NFL Draft: Ranking the top-10 interior defenders this year

Georgia Bulldogs defensive lineman Jordan Davis (99) Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Georgia Bulldogs defensive lineman Jordan Davis (99) Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

The 2022 NFL Draft is deep at several positions. Here are the ten best interior defenders this class will provide NFL teams. 

While the NFL game has gravitated towards passing and high-speed offensive attacks, the big men up front are still an integral piece of the puzzle. As Aaron Donald showed in the Super Bowl against the Bengals, games are still decided in the trenches.

Like the edge rushers group of the 2022 NFL Draft, the interior defensive linemen are extremely deep and versatile. There could be as many as 10 prospects selected from the IDL class on the first and second day. As our rankings pieces continue and we get closer to April, I share those ten difference-makers below.

1. Jordan Davis – Georgia

An absolute monster of a man in the middle of the Georgia defense, the 6-foot-6, 340-pound Davis bullied his way into a consensus AP and SEC 1st Team selection in 2021. A prototype at the nose tackle position, Davis has freakish mobility and strength for a man with such imposing size.

He recorded 32 tackles, five for a loss, 2 sacks, a safety, and a pass deflection from the interior this season. Davis’ athleticism will be a huge coup for any defensive coordinator at the next level and should guarantee him a spot in the top 15 of the 2022 NFL Draft.

2. DeMarvin Leal – Texas A&M

A DE/DT tweener with a great combination of burst and strength from the edge, Leal’s versatility should land him inside the top-25 of the upcoming draft. Leal was one of the stars of an up-and-coming Aggies team in 2021 and could become an even better player in the NFL. He’s a former top-10 recruit with immense upside that will appeal to most defensive coaches, regardless of scheme.

3. Perrion Winfrey – Oklahoma

A true one-gap disrupter with a mean streak, Winfrey is making a name for himself on the offseason circuit. The Senior DL was a star at the 2022 Senior Bowl and could see his stock soar before the 2022 NFL Draft. He’s an ideal fit as a 4-3 UT or a five-technique in a 3-4. Winfrey’s violent hands and constant ability to get into the backfield will make him a cinch day-one starter in 2022.

4. Devonte Wyatt – Georgia

The second member of college football’s best defensive lineman duo in 2022, Wyatt is a star in his own right and potential first-rounder. In a crowded group of talented DL that includes teammate Jordan Davis, Wyatt seems destined to make his own sizable impact at the next level. At 6-foot-3 and 305 pounds, he’s an ideal fit inside a 4-3 but has versatility due to his excellent quickness and burst.

5. Travis Jones – Connecticut

Speaking of great athletes, Travis Jones is another tremendous size/speed prospect among the interior defensive linemen. He ran a sub 5.0 40-yard dash at over 330 pounds and was a disruptive presence in the middle for the Huskies last season.

Jones does a great job fighting through blocks and double teams with great strength and tenacity. He’s the prototype nose prospect for the NFL and should come off the board before the end of day two.

6. Phidarian Mathis – Alabama

The second half of this defensive line group features players like Mathis with big-game experience from storied programs that should be solid contributors at the next level. Mathis is another NFL-caliber DL prospect generated by the factory in Tuscaloosa. He was one of the more productive interior players in 2021, racking up 10.5 TFL and nine sacks. He’s a day-one starter that should be available in the third round.

7. Haskell Garrett – Ohio State

Like Alabama, Ohio State has been a feeder program to the NFL recently in terms of great DL talent. Garrett is another solid prospect with tons of starting experience against some of the better OL talents in the Big Ten.

He doesn’t possess ideal measurables, but he’s an intelligent player that stays active in the passing lanes. The productive former Buckeye should come off the board sometime in the 3rd to 4th round area.

8. Thomas Booker – Stanford

Another experienced defensive lineman with good strength and tenacity, Booker is an intriguing prospect. He will be available early on day three of the 2022 NFL Draft. A former defensive end that displays great quickness inside, Booker could be a fit in both three and 4-man fronts in the NFL. He’s stout and aggressive at the point of attack and may only be scratching the surface of his potential.

9. John Ridgeway – Arkansas

While the offense receives much of the credit for Arkansas’ breakout season in 2021, the defense was also much improved at all levels. One reason for their improvement was the defensive line and senior John Ridgeway.

A massive human being with great strength at the point of attack, Ridgeway moves people at ease in the run game. However, he is limited as a pass rusher and may only be a two-down thumper. Ridgeway could impact the early downs as a possible late third-rounder.

10. Zachary Carter – Florida

Another tweener prospect featured in this upcoming 2022 NFL Draft, Zachary Carter will be a valuable commodity with experience both inside and out on the defensive line. He’s an active player with great hands, intelligence, and a non-stop motor.

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He’ll need to continue to add weight and strength to hold up inside, but he will be a heavy rotational player as soon as he hits the field again in 2022.