clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

2016 NFL Draft rankings: Top 20 interior defensive linemen

New, comments

Ranking the top 20 interior defensive line prospects in this year's NFL Draft class.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
1. DeForest Buckner (Oregon) | 6-foot-7, 291 pounds

For those who were shocked to see Buckner left off of my edge rankings list, it's because I believe he is much better suited to play on the interior. Just look at his metrics compared to other DTs vs. DEs. Buckner has violent and active hands which allow him to dominate at the point of attack and his versatility will put him high on nearly every team's board this year. He's pretty much a lock to hear his name called within the first seven or eight picks.

2. Andrew Billings (Baylor) | 6-foot-1, 311 pounds

Billings might be the strongest defensive lineman I've ever had the pleasure of scouting and he only just turned twenty-one years old in late March. His upside is tremendous, but he hasn't fully put everything together yet. If he can refine his technique as a pass rusher, then be on the look out for Billings at the next level; this kid has all-pro potential. Billings best fits as a 0/1-tech at the next level and will likely be a top-20 pick in the draft.

3. Sheldon Rankins (Louisville) | 6-foot-1, 299 pounds

It still pains me that Rankins was so criminally misused at Louisville, but his dominating performance at Senior Bowl practices (before getting injured) proves why he will be a very good 3-tech for whichever lucky team snags him in the first round. Rankins is quick as hell off the snap and can get to the quarterback in a hurry. Don't be surprised if Rankins has the biggest impact as a rookie on this list.

4. Jonathan Bullard (Florida) | 6-foot-3, 285 pounds

Bullard's quickness and snap timing is right up there with Rankins. His best fit is going to be as a 3-tech, but he offers versatility by lining up all over the line and can fit in any scheme. Bullard will need to improve on his pad level once his initial efforts stall and could also benefit from adding some muscle to his frame if he wants to stick around as an interior D-lineman.

5. Jarran Reed (Alabama) | 6-foot-3, 307 pounds

If you ask me, Jarran Reed is the better of the two Bama D-linemen eligible for this year's draft. Reed is a phenomenal run stuffing DT and he looks a lot more athletic on the field than his combine numbers indicate. As of now, Reed is a much better 2-gapper than he is a penetrating 1-gapper, but with some time to develop his skills, I think he can become much more than a one-dimensional run stuffer.

6. A'Shawn Robinson (Alabama) | 6-foot-4, 307 pounds

Robinson looks like he could have entered the 1986 NFL Draft, but make no mistake, this grown man is an immovable object in the trenches. Robinson's tape isn't as pretty as Reed's, but his monster frame and boundless strength will be enough to get teams standing in line on Day 1.

7. Chris Jones (Mississippi State) | 6-foot-6, 310 pounds

Jones, most notably known for flashing folks at home during the NFL Combine, is also really good at football. There were concerns of Jones' arrest for driving with a suspended license, but those concerns have recently been put to rest. On the field, Jones wins with his heavy hands and overwhelming power at the point of attack. If Jones can eliminate some bad habits like his upright stance, he can be a really special player. Look for his name to be called in the early-to-mid Day 2 range.

8. Vernon Butler (Louisiana Tech) | 6-foot-4, 323 pounds

Vernon Butler is someone who I feel is being overhyped right now, but that doesn't mean I'm not a fan. I believe his value is somewhere in the second round, though I wouldn't be shocked if he was taken earlier. Butler is extremely raw and has some ugly tape out there, but if you turn on his film vs. Kansas State you'll see why scouts love his potential as a 1-tech D-lineman.

9. Kenny Clark (UCLA) | 6-foot-3, 314 pounds

Clark is a pure nose tackle prospect that drew a ton of double-teams for UCLA. He's going to demand a lot of attention at the next level and has impressive strength to win 1-on-1 matchups with his bull rush technique. The fact that Clark is only 20 years of age and was a high school wrestling champ is also going to intrigue a lot of teams. The obvious concerns with him are his lack of upside as a pass rusher and relatively small frame for a nose tackle.

10. Hassan Ridgeway (Texas) | 6-foot-3, 303 pounds

Shout out to kwfords in the comments section. I've had my eye on Ridgeway since last September, and after diving into his tape again, my initial thoughts check out. Ridgeway is a very solid prospect that should be drafted no later than the third round. He's a good athlete that earned some questionable scores at the combine, including a 3-cone score (8.28) in the one percentile. I'm going to assume he either slipped or pulled a muscle during his timing, because during his pro day he improved his score by a full second (7.33 or 85th percentile).

11. Ronald Blair (Appalachian State) | 6-foot-2, 284 pounds
12. Robert Nkemdiche (Ole Miss) | 6-foot-3, 294 pounds
13. Austin Johnson (Penn State) | 6-foot-4, 314 pounds
14. Javon Hargrave (South Carolina State) | 6-foot-1, 309 pounds
15. Willie Henry (Michigan) | 6-foot-3, 303 pounds
16. Sheldon Day (Notre Dame) | 6-foot-1, 293 pounds
17. D.J. Reader (Clemson) | 6-foot-3, 327 pounds
18. Maliek Collins (Nebraska) | 6-foot-2, 311 pounds
19. Jihad Ward (Illinois) | 6-foot-5, 297 pounds
20. Adolphus Washington (Ohio State) | 6-foot-3, 301 pounds

---

2016 Positional Rankings: Quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight endoffensive tackleinterior O-lineedge rusher