With Summer scouting now making its way to the defensive side of the ball, we now have defensive line rankings to digest. This year’s group is a deep group, one of the deepest we have looked at so far in our series. Because of that, this group will be one that will need extra attention as the year rolls on.
Leading the group is a dominant presence within the Big Ten, he isn’t alone though as the conference is well represented. The rest of the power five is as well but there are some group of five mixed in as well.
Here is where the top defensive linemen in the country are stacking up after evaluating them this Summer.
After watching a total of ten defensive linemen, Jer’Zhan Newton was the last I had lined up to watch. After watching everyone else prior, he wasted no time making himself the clearcut DL1. This is a very talented group so earning that speaks to his ability but the film is an even greater compliment. He is listed at 6’2”, 295 pounds so he is a smaller interior lineman but that is what allows him to find success so often. Every undersized defensive lineman draws comparisons to a notable one but we won’t do that here, instead just know despite the size you are getting a disrupter if your team gets him.
Despite not earning the top spot, Leonard Taylor was very fun to watch when going over his film. He is also a smaller player in these defensive line rankings but like Newton, he uses that to win. He has so much power that he generates from his lower body when he engages blockers that he can bull rush but he also has no problem finessing them to get into the backfield. While he has a bright future as a run defender don’t count out his pass rush ability either to be further developed.
After two undersized players in these defensive line rankings, we get to the beef of the class. Listed at 6’5”, 315 pounds, Maason Smith is hard to miss when you look at him on film. Of the players listed on these rankings, Smith is the best pass rusher that I saw of the group. If a team moved him to edge I wouldn’t be surprised but I liked LSU putting him in the middle and letting him create chaos no matter what the opposing offense threw at him.
Another name that should be familiar to NFL fans, specifically Hard Knocks or Jets ones, is Kris Jenkins Jr. makes his way into the top five. The Michigan Senior Doesn’t have his dad’s size but he does have his mean streak. He is an excellent run defender who tracks the ball carrier very well while making his way into the backfield. He could be a big-time riser in this class when we reconvene in April for the draft.
Rounding out our defensive line rankings is a name that no one wants to mess with. Dontay Corleone of course is nicknamed “The Godfather” but that doesn’t mean his sequel performances will be a letdown. Corleone has thrived thus far for Cincinnati having shown he can be disruptive in both the run and pass game while having the motor to keep that pace up all game long.