2018 NFL Draft Defensive End Rankings: From The College Perspective

2018 NFL Draft Defensive End Rankings: From The College Perspective

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2018 NFL Draft Defensive End Rankings: From The College Perspective


It’s NFL Draft time. Finally. Who are the defensive ends who’ll matter from the 2018 NFL Draft, and what’s the college perspective on all of the top prospects?


Daily Five: NFL Draft Defensive Ends

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There’s a superstar defensive end prospect at the top who can’t miss, and then there are a whole lot of interesting players with a world of upside. If you want pass rushers, you’ve got them in this class, but there will be a whole lot of second-guessing and hand-wringing in the biggest boom-or-bust position in this draft outside of quarterback.

15. Jalyn Holmes, Ohio State

6-5, 283: It was next to impossible for Holmes to get a whole lot of love and credit on a line full of superstars at Ohio State, but he’s got intriguing upside as a part of a rotation. He’s very big, he has the right fame, and he’s tough against the run, but he doesn’t have the speed to be a big-time pass rusher, and he might be limited to working as a tweener 3-4 end. Even so, he’s a tantalizing risk to take outside of the top 100.
Projected Round: Fourth

14. Hercules Mata’afa, Washington State

6-1, 254: He’s a man without a position. Built like a linebacker, he played defensive tackle for Mike Leach at Wazzu, and he’ll end up being a defensive end. With his drive and his quickness, he’s a late round flier who might just turn into something special. A football player’s football player, he took a pounding and still ended up with 21 sacks and 45.5 tackles for loss in three years. He’ll need work on his new position, but he’s just good enough to make it work.
Projected Round: Fifth

13. Josh Sweat, Florida State

6-4, 251: No matter if he’s an edge rusher or an outside linebacker, with his 4.53 speed, almost 40″ vertical, and special quickness and athleticism, most questions about his injured knee were answered in Indy – sort of. He’ll have to prove he can hold up, and he’s never going to power over anyone at the next level, but he’s got the quicks to be a terror at times when turned loose.
Projected Round: Fourth

12. Duke Ejiofor, Wake Forest

6-4, 270: A devastating playmaker behind the line for the Demon Deacons, he came up with 17.5 sacks and 34 tackles for loss over the last two seasons. But his tools might not quite translate. He’s strong, and he knows how to get behind the line in a variety of ways, but he’s not all that NFL quick and doesn’t have next-level athleticism. Even so, he’ll work his way into a starting lineup.
Projected Round: Fourth

11. Lorenzo Carter, Georgia

6-6, 250: A true tweener, he’s a tall, thin, talented prospect who didn’t quite put up the huge stats many thought he’d have after his tremendous prep hype, but he was very, very good. And then came the Combine, and he exploded with a 4.5 40 while looking the part of something special. Now those tools have to translate into doing more as a pro. It’s there, but after only coming up with 14 career sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss in four years, there’s a prove-it factor.
Projected Round: Second 

10. Chad Thomas, Miami

6-5, 281: Great pass rusher, terrific drive, amazing musician – he plays a variety of instruments – and that last part might be an issue. There’s a chance he has more talent in the studio than on the field. He was a tone-setting veteran for a young Hurricane D, but he didn’t crank up big-time numbers, coming up with nine sacks and 23.5 tackles for loss over the last two seasons.
Projected Round: Third

9. Ogbinnia Okoronkwo, Oklahoma

6-1, 242: A terrific pass rusher over the last two seasons, he made 146 tackles with 17 sacks as one of OU’s most dangerous defensive players. He showed off the quickness and athleticism at the Combine to go along with his strength. However, he’s missing the NFL-caliber fluidity and smoothness to his game. Put in in a rotation, though, and he’ll produce.
Projected Round: Third

8. Da’Shawn Hand, Alabama

6-4, 297: Is you’re looking for a pure pass rusher, try somewhere else. If you’re looking for a guy who’ll hang out behind the line, nope. But if you want a big, strong, brick wall of a 3-4 end against the run, here you go. Shockingly quick and athletic for a player of his size, he might just be a guy on a line, but he’ll end up doing the dirty work.
Projected Round: Third

7. Rasheem Green, USC

6-5, 275: Good in college, he has the upside to be special at the next level. He was smooth as glass moving around at the Combine, showing off his speed around the short drills – now he has to get functionally stronger. He’s got the body type and the look, but the power has to be there. As a pass rusher, though, look out. After coming up with ten sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss last season, at the very least, he’ll be a third down guy early before he’s ready to take things to another level.
Projected Round: Second

6. Sam Hubbard, Ohio State

6-5, 265: Very smart, and very good as a smallish end or a big outside linebacker, he’ll also go all out all of the time. He was a great part of an outstanding line with 17 sacks and 30 tackles for loss over the last three seasons. But is he able to get a little bigger? Can he play and be as fast at the next level as he was in college? Not really, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be a starter right out of the gate.
Projected Round: Second


5. Jeff Holland, Auburn

6-2, 249: While he’s not all that huge, and he’ll be seen as a tweener outside linebacker/defensive end, he’s a hybrid pass rusher with excellent speed and the want-to to get behind the line.

The edge rusher picked it up in his junior season, cranking up 45 tackles with 9.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss with four forced fumbles. Now, get ready for him to be one of those players who won’t get off the field.

There might be a wee bit of a concern that he really only got the job done for one season – and that he’s not a true NFL defensive end – but he’s got that special ability to get into a backfield.

Tough, wily, and with a great fire, the motor is always going and he’s always making things happen. While he might not exactly look the part or be the prototype, he’ll thrive as a third down specialist.

Do you need to take him early? Not really – he’s not going to be much of a factor against power ground games and there are a whole slew of reasonable concerns. But when it comes to drafting value sacks after the top 100 picks … boom.

Projected Round: Fourth
Real Value: Third

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