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The defensive line positions in this year’s draft is as strong as I can ever remember. In terms of prospects, this is the year for a team to need one. Half of the first round this year will likely be D-lineman. I have separated the linemen into Ends and Tackles for the purposes of ranking. Though in this age of the 3-4 defense, they are sometimes interchangeable and sometimes Nose Tackles are very valuable and sometimes DEs project as Outside Linebackers…well, you get the idea.

DE

1. Robert Quinn, North Carolina

2. Da’Quan Bowers, Clemson

3. JJ Watt, Wisconsin

4. Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue

5. Adrian Clayborn, Iowa

6. Aldon Smith, Missouri

7. Cameron Heyward, Ohio St

8. Cameron Jordan, California

9. Brooks Reed, Arizona (OLB)

10. Jabaal Sheard, Pittsburgh

DT

1. Marcell Dareus, Alabama

2. Nick Fairley, Auburn

3. Phil Taylor, Baylor

4. Corey Liuget, Illinois

5. Stephen Paea, Oregon St

The big concern right now is the health of Bowers’ knee. He could be anything from elite pass rusher for 10 years, to complete wash out and bust after microfracture surgery, degenerative arthritis, etc. He was viewed as possibly the #1 overall pick in February, now he may not be taken in the top 15…

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