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The Top 5 Defensive Linemen In The NFL Draft

In an era of the NFL, where players are more athletic than ever on the offensive side of the ball, defenses need an equal reaction on defense to win games. Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Christian McCaffrey, and so many more have NFL teams scrambling (pun intended) to find defensive linemen who can not only chase them down but try and stop these playmakers before they can make the plays. If teams are looking for those linemen in this year's NFL draft, here are the best five names to watch. 

Game Wrecking Defensive Linemen Are More Important Than Ever

#5: T'Vondre Sweat, DT, Texas

Sweat split the limelight with another top defensive line prospect, Byron Murphy II, but managed to solidify himself as likely the second-best run-stuffer in this draft. Sweat comes to the NFL as a behemoth, 6'4 and weighing 362 pounds. Jalen Carter, the runner-up for defensive rookie of the year last year, came to 6'3 and 313 pounds. Sweat is massive, and he demolishes any runs up the middle just as he should. Sweat has size and strength that any center or guard will struggle with in the NFL. While he is slower than one would ideally want and is not the most effective pass rusher, Sweat's capabilities as a pure run defender earned him a top-five spot.

#4: Chop Robinson, Edge, Penn State

Robinson is small compared to the NFL's edge rushers, only 6'3 and weighing 250 pounds. However, this more diminutive stature allows him to utilize his biggest weapon: speed. Robinson hangs around a 4.60 40-yard dash, allowing him to often blow by tackles, and combines this with what seems to be unlimited energy to constantly get to the quarterback. Robinson's long strides and explosiveness will grant him plenty of pressure on the quarterback in the NFL. Robinson's only real major issue is his lack of a rush move arsenal, which can lead him to be figured out later in games and forces him to rely on speed. 

#3: Jared Verse, Edge, Florida State

Like Robinson, Verse is incredibly fast, boasting a 4.59 40-yard dash, allowing him to speed by offensive tackles. The difference between Robinson and Verse is Verse's plethora of pass-rush moves, which he combines with his speed and explosive first step to quickly get past the offensive tackle. Verse's main weakness is a side effect of this explosiveness, often not being able to control his movements or overshooting tackles sometimes. If Verse can control himself more, he will be an elite and consistent edge for whichever team drafts him.

#2: Laiatu Latu, Edge, UCLA

Latu's comeback is incredible, and he has done a spectacular job of returning to the field after facing adversity. This comes after Latu experienced a neck injury in 2020 that required him to step away from the game for two full seasons. This injury, and the fear that it could pester Latu in the NFL, is the only major fear scouts should have when scouting him. Latu has incredible agility and control over his body when rushing, which makes it a nightmare for offensive linemen to keep up and stay engaged with him. He can also drop back into coverage and tackle exceptionally well in the open field, a skill in which he is by far the best in this position group. Be wary of the injury, but if Latu stays healthy, he threatens any opposing team.

#1: Jer'Zhan Newton, DT, Illinois

Newton is small for a defensive tackle, standing at only 6'2 and 295 pounds. But this allows Newton to have something unique that no other defensive tackle has in this class: versatility. Newton can move, shift outside, and swap with the other nose tackle whenever needed. This flexibility also displays Newton's incredible athleticism and speed for the position, which make him a massive threat in screen plays and deep routes that take a long time to develop. While Newton is small and can struggle in the run game, his flexibility and adaptability are something unlike anyone else in the class and very rare in the NFL, making him worthy of the number one spot.



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