Player, Pos, Team Height Weight Draft Grade
01 Aaron Donald DT, Pittsburgh 6'0" 275 A 6.9 Full Scouting Report

Scouting Report:

Aaron Donald - Pittsburgh

Donald is a fourth-year senior and a three-year starter at defensive tackle. Out of high school, he was rated as a three-star prospect but was not highly recruited. Many of his offers were from MAC schools. The reason for this was his height, or lack thereof. Donald measures only 6000 and has a play weight of around 290. That lack of ideal size did not stop him from having dominating performances.

Donald lines up as a three-technique in Pitt's 4-3 scheme. While he lacks ideal height, he has long arms, is very strong, and is a very good athlete. His initial quickness is exceptional. He, often, is past his opponent before they can get a hand on him. He has very good instincts and reactions and is consistently around the ball. In the run game, he is very disruptive because of his ability to shed blocks and penetrate. This year, he had 26.5 tackles for loss. He is highly competitive with a non-stop motor and is a relentless pursuit player.

Aaron is also a top inside pass rusher. He has quick hands and very good inside hand use. He has the skill set to set up blockers with both his hands and feet. He shows a variety of moves and uses counter moves effectively. Going into their Bowl game, Donald has 10 sacks this year and close to 30 for his career. Donald’s size, athleticism and skill set say he is best suited to play as a three-technique for a one-gap 4-3 defense in the NFL. A team that plays that scheme could very well draft him high. I doubt the 3-4 teams will be that interested. He is not a two-gap type player and can have some trouble with double teams. In the right scheme, he can be a very effective pro.

02 Louis Nix DT, Notre Dame 6'3" 326 A 6.8 Full Scouting Report

Scouting Report:

Louis Nix – Nose Tackle

Nix is a fourth-year junior and a three-year starter on the defensive line. He graduated in December, and with that, decided he was done with college football.

Nix red-shirted as a freshman. He was overweight and not in good enough shape to be a factor. That year did him well, as he matured and learned what it takes to be a top college football player. As a red shirt freshman in 2011, he started at nose tackle and has held that position since. In the 2012 National Championship game, he injured his knee, but rather than go through surgery, he just rehabbed and prepared for the 2013 season. This year, he played with pain in the knee, and finally, after the Pitt game, he underwent surgery to have a torn meniscus repaired and missed the last three games of the season.

Nix has a prototypical nose tackle body. He has good height at about 6020 and played this year at close to 350 pounds. He is a wide body with good arm length. Nix is a very good athlete for a man his size. He is light on his feet and shows a good short area burst. He won’t set any records in the 40 but his 10 time will match many guys 30 and 40 pounds less in weight. I would estimate he will run the 40 in about 5.35. Nix has very good initial quickness, often being the first man off the ball. While he had a tendency to play tall in 2012, that wasn’t the case in 2013. He comes off the ball low and is very explosive. He has quick hands and does a good job not letting offensive blockers control him. He plays with bend and anchors. As a nose, he consistently has to take on two blockers, yet he never gets knocked off the line of scrimmage. When going against a single blocker, he can shed quickly, get penetration, and be quite disruptive. Nose tackles are asked to occupy blockers and don’t usually make a lot of plays. That is not the case with Nix. With his quickness, strength, and power, he gets a lot of tackles. While he doesn’t have great speed, he still plays with a high level of competitiveness and does an excellent job in pursuit.

Most nose tackles aren’t very good pass rushers. Nix, again, is the exception. He can collapse the pocket as a bull rusher and has some counter moves to redirect. While he might not get many sacks, he does get pressures and also does a good job getting his hands up to knock down passes.

Overall, Nix's best fit is as a 3-4 NT. He should be able to come in and start as a rookie for most clubs. Because of his athleticism, it’s not out of the question for some 4-3 teams to be interested. He can easily play a one-tech in those schemes.

Since declaring for the draft, Nix has been working out, preparing for the Combine and is reportedly down to around 330. I can easily see him being the first nose tackle drafted this year and will probably go somewhere in the middle of the first round.

03 Timmy Jernigan DT, Florida State 6'2" 298 A 6.8 Full Scouting Report

Scouting Report:

Timmy Jernigan - Defensive Tackle - Florida State Seminoles

Jernigan is one of the record 90+ underclassmen who have declared for the NFL Draft and just might be the best interior defensive linemen in the group. Jernigan is a third-year junior, with 2013 being his first year as a starter. Florida State uses a strict rotation with their defensive linemen and as a freshman and sophomore, Jernigan got significant playing time in that rotation. Though he wasn't a starter, Jernigan played a key role on defense during both of those aforementioned seasons.

Jernigan lines up mostly as a 0, 1 and 2 technique depending on FSU's defensive formation. I've seen a few plays where he lines up at outside linebacker as well. He is very productive in his role. This season, Jernigan finished with 68 total tackles, 11 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. In 2012, the defensive tackle amassed 46 total tackles as well as 8 TFLs and 1.5 sacks. He also has numerous quarterback pressures.

For an inside player who plays a lot of 0 and 1 technique, Jernigan is not very big. He is listed as being 6020 - 292, and while I'm sure the 292 is close to accurate, he may not quite be 6'2 when he gets to the Combine. Jernigan has a thick frame with good arm length. While he may not time that great in the 40 (5.0 estimate), he is extremely quick and I doubt too many defensive linemen with be faster for ten yards. Jernigan is explosively quick and athletic. He is light on his feet and changes direction easily. He has very good balance and excellent lateral movement, enabling him to clear his feet through trash.

Jernigan has very good snap reaction to go along with a quick first step. He has quick hands and a strong punch that allows him to control opponents. His hand use is very good and that, along with his first step quickness, makes is very difficult for opposing offensive linemen to get their hands on him. Jernigan is an alert, instinctive player who finds the ball and makes plays. He is a top run defender who gets penetration and is disruptive. While he shows he can 2 -gap, he is much better when playing in 1 gap defenses where his quickness comes into play. As a tackler and a pursuit player, Jernigan is excellent.

As a pass rusher, the now ex-Seminole is quick off the ball and, again, combined with his hand use, he makes it difficult for linemen to block him. He has the snap in his hips to bull rush and the quick feet and hands to be very effective with counter moves. He demonstrates a very good burst coming off blocks to close on the quarterback.

Overall, Jernigan can play in any scheme, but I feel he is best suited to play in a 4-3 one gap scheme. This type of scheme utilizes his traits. In a Lovie Smith defense, Jernigan would be an excellent 3-technique candidate. He is a quality "A" level player who could start as a rookie for most teams.

04 Ra'Shede Hageman DT, Minnesota 6'5" 302 A 6.8 Full Scouting Report

Scouting Report:

Ra’Shede Hageman – Defensive Tackle
If you only had one tape to look at on Hageman, the game you would want to see is Nebraska. He showed dominating ability in that game with a sack and two tackles for loss. The problem is, he doesn’t play every game like the Nebraska game. I viewed five games of this player (Penn State, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Northwestern, and Iowa) and I saw up-and-down play in each game.

Hageman is a fifth-year senior and a three-year starter. He plays in a strict rotation playing about 55% of the defensive snaps. He usually plays as a one-technique but will also play at the three-technique position.

He is listed at being 6’6 – 315. He is an adequate athlete and a bit tight in the knees and hips. He can have a tendency to play tall. When he bends his knees and stays low, he is much more effective. He has good straight-line quickness and adequate speed. I would estimate he will run in the 5.10-5.15 area.

He shows good initial quickness, and when he stays low, he can be explosive. He has good instincts and awareness on the field and finds the ball. He doesn’t have top hand use and can be slow to shed at times, but because of his strength, he can also be tough to move. His play is average when taking on double team blocks. It's frustrating watching him as there are plays when he gets off the ball, sheds a block quickly, and makes the play, but then, other plays, he is a non-factor. You don’t see down after down consistency. He flashes pursuit ability and takes good angles but, again, not on a consistent basis. As a pass rusher, he can be a very good bull rusher when he wants to. I have seen plays where he jolts his opponent with a hand punch and drives him back to the QB. He also flashes quick hands and counter moves. The problem is there are too many plays where he is stuck at the line of scrimmage.

There is no question that this player has talent. While not a great athlete, he has the traits to be a starter in the NFL. He has to play lower more often and play with intensity on a more consistent basis. He has the talent to be drafted in the late second to third round, but his inconsistent effort and production may drop him down a round.

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05 Kelcy Quarles DT, South Carolina 6'3" 293 A 6.7 Full Scouting Report

Scouting Report:

Kelcy Quarles – Defensive Tackle – South Carolina

Quarles plays defensive tackle in South Carolina’s four-man front. He will line up on the nose and also at as a one, two, or three-technique. The way the South Carolina defense is set up, the defensive linemen play in a rotation to stay fresh. What jumps out at me about Quarles is his sack production. Quarles is an inside guy, yet led South Carolina in sacks. Jadeveon Clowney is said to be the top D-Linemen in the country, yet he finished the season with only three sacks, Quarles had 9.5. That is a huge number for an inside player.
Quarles has good size at about 6040 – 300. He is thick and well-built for a D- Linemen and has the frame to carry 310 – 315 when in the NFL. He has good straight-line quickness and speed. I think he will time in the 4.95 – 5.05 range at the Combine. A concern I have is, he is a bit tight in his knees and can have a tendency to play straight-legged. Because of this, his lateral movement isn’t as good as it could be. At times, he will have trouble clearing piles when moving laterally. That being said, he is still a force at the line of scrimmage. He has good snap reaction and initial quickness. With his long arms, he can control blockers and he shows he can shed quickly. One person close to Quarles referred to him as being “country strong”, and that is a great description. Though he can get tall he does an excellent job holding the point. You almost never see him give ground to blockers and does a very good job versus double team blocks.

Quarles plays hard and competes. He has good awareness and can find the ball. He can be a force versus the run and his 13.5 tackles for loss attest to that. While he isn’t a great athlete, he makes a lot of plays including some “wow” plays. I like that he makes pursuit plays. He has some range and goes all out chasing the ball.

As a pass rusher, he is a bull rusher first but he can also put together some counter moves. He has a good burst coming off blocks to the QB.

Quarles can play a variety of positions at the next level. I see him mainly as an inside player in either a 3-4 or a 4-3. While he doesn’t have great nose tackle size, his strength and power more than make up for it. With his long arms and two-gap ability he could also play as a five-technique. I can see him being drafted in the later part of the first round or early in the second. He can start for many clubs as a rookie.

06 Anthony Johnson DT, LSU 6'3" 305 A 6.7 Full Scouting Report

Scouting Report:

Anthony Johnson – Defensive Tackle

LSU does an outstanding job recruiting defensive linemen. Year after year they sign some of the top linemen in the southeast. They not only sign these payers, they develop and play them. When you watch LSU tape, you see that at least eight defensive linemen play in their rotation. This philosophy gives LSU the ability to keep fresh linemen on the game and also gives the younger players game experience in which to develop.

This is Johnson’s third year at LSU and his first as a starter, but he had gotten significant playing time in each of his first two years playing in the rotation. His nickname is “The Freak”, and that should tell you a little about his athleticism. Right now, he stands at about 6’3 -295. He came to LSU at over 330 and has worked to lose over 30 pounds. The weight loss has increased his speed, quickness, and stamina. He has excellent initial quickness and very good natural strength and power. He flashes dominating ability as both a run defender and a pass rusher. He doesn't have top instincts at this time. While he makes the dominant play, there are other plays where he does not know where the ball is.

He usually lines up as a defensive tackle, but in some packages he will line up on the nose in a 3-man line. With his power, he can be difficult to knock off the line. As a result, he is disruptive in the running game. So far in 2013, he only has two sacks, but he gets a lot of pressure and his ability to collapse the pocket makes the QB move. He still needs to develop better hand use.

Johnson has unlimited talent and the traits to become a Pro Bowl type player. At this time, he still needs to develop better hand use and his recognition skills need to improve. In saying that, more teams are going to look at the positives and figure they can fix the negatives. He will be a high pick, and unless he gets injured or his play drops off dramatically, he may be a top 10 pick when it’s all said and done. He best fits a 4-3 team as a 3-technique player, but he can really play in any scheme and be a productive player.

07 Dominique Easley DT, Florida 6'2" 280 A 6.6x Full Scouting Report

Scouting Report:
Dominique Easley - Defensive Tackle - Florida
Size - 6020 - 288 - 4.75e
Strong Points -
Very good athlete, excellent initial quickness, disruptive vs the run, pass rush, use hands
Weak Points -
Has had an ACL surgery on both knees, lacks ideal size and arm length, can be slow to find ball.
Summation -
Easley is a fourth year junior who is entering the draft. Enrolled in 2010 and played as a backup in 6 games. Started 12 games in 2011. Stated 11 games in 2012. Only played in 3 games in 2013 before sustaining a knee injury.
At 6020 - 288 Easley lacks ideal defensive tackle size, but he is a very good athlete with strength and explosion. He is extremely quick off the ball and is consistently able to get penetration and be disruptive versus the run game. While he gets that quick penetration, he doesn't always find the ball. There have been times when he has gotten into the back field, forced the back to make a cut yet doesn't make the play because he doesn't see the back. He needs to show more awareness.
With his speed and quickness he is an excellent pursuit player. He shows consistent hustle, has speed and takes good angles. With his quickness he is also very effective versus the outside run. As a pass rusher he gets off the ball quickly and can use his hands. He has the quick feet and change of direction to make a counter move and shows a top burst off a block to the quarterback. Despite his lack of great size, he is a productive bull rusher. He can stay low and has the explosive snap in his hips to generate power and push his opponent back. He is a consistent and aggressive tackler.
Overall, Easley has the natural tools to be a very effective 3 technique defensive tackle. While he can play as a 5 technique, I don't see him as having the physical tools to be as effective. His and athleticism.
While Easley has the talent to be a first round pick, his durability is a huge issue. The medical people will determine if he goes high or low.

08 Ego Ferguson DT, LSU 6'3" 308 B 6.6 Full Scouting Report

Scouting Report:

Ego Ferguson – Defensive Tackle – LSU

Ferguson is a fourth-year junior and this was his first year as a starter for LSU. As a redshirt freshman and sophomore, he didn’t start, but got a lot of playing time as a rotational player. He did not play in LSU’s Bowl Game and there are conflicting reasons given, so this has to be checked into. He has good size at about 6030 – 310, and he is a very good athlete. He has speed (est 4.90), change of direction, balance, and body control.

Ferguson lines up inside in their front and has real good snap reaction and initial quickness. He has good instincts and reactions and is consistently around the ball. He can be a force versus the run. He is both strong and powerful at the point of attack and has the quick hands to shed blocks. He gets penetration and can be disruptive. He has very good lateral agility, can clear trash, and make pursuit plays. I like that he competes and plays a physical game. One concern is his pass rush. In three years playing at LSU, he has only one career sack. With the athleticism he has, you have to expect more. On tape, he gets off the ball and shows he can get rid of blocks. He also has some counter moves. While I didn’t see sack production, I did see some pressures. In fairness, he gets close, but he just doesn’t make the play.

It will be interesting to see where Ferguson gets drafted. I would bet that his combine and Pro Day workouts will be very good and that will help push up his stock. When you watch tape, you have to like his run production and that will get him playing time as a rookie. With his athleticism, there is no reason why he doesn’t have more sack production. I can see him drafted as high as the second round but he will probably end up going in the third. He should be a solid NFL player because the talent is there.

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09 DaQuan Jones DT, Penn State 6'3" 333 B 6.6 Full Scouting Report

Scouting Report:

DaQuan Jones – Defensive Tackle

Jones is a 4th year senior and a 2 year starter at defensive tackle. In the first two games this year he has 18 total tackles and 2.5 sacks. In the game versus Eastern Michigan Jones I had Jones for 9 total tackles and 1.5 sacks.

Jones has good size for a defensive tackle. At about 6’3 – 304. He usually lines up in a 1 or 2 technique but will be at the 3 technique on some downs. He is not an explosive, flashy athlete but rather a good blue collar type who plays hard every down. He has good overall athleticism with balance, quickness and good change of direction. He doesn’t have great speed, I would estimate his play speed at 5.15 – 5.20. He has good snap reaction and good initial quickness. He is quick to react with good instincts. He is around the ball. He shows strength and power at the point of attack and can get rid of blocks fairly quickly. He plays with bend and you don’t see him get knocked off the ball. He can handle a double team block. He makes a number of tackles because he is around the ball and can get rid of blocks. He is not flashy as a pass rusher, showing more bull rush than moves. He will flash a counter move but that is not his game. He has an adequate burst to the quarterback. 

Overall, Jones doesn’t jump out at you but you look at the stat sheet and you see he has made a number of plays. He should be able to play in either a 3 or 4 man front, but may be best suited to play in a 4 man. In a 3 man front I see him at 4 or 5 technique. Would need to add bulk to play on the nose. At this time I see his ceiling as a 2nd round pick but will probably end up going in the 3rd. Interesting guy to look to upgrade later in the season.

10 Will Sutton DT, Arizona State 6'0" 280 B 6.6 Full Scouting Report

Scouting Report:

Will Sutton – Defensive Line

There is a lot to like about Sutton. He is an every down player and is extremely productive. He is a fifth year senior from Corona, California and has been a starter for three seasons. He missed the 2010 season. Sutton lines up all over the defensive line. He mostly plays as a 3 or 4 technique but he has also line up on the nose and as a 5 technique player. He is an active and makes a lot of plays. If there is a negative, it’s his height. He is listed at being 6’1 – 305. I agree with the 6’1 but he looks a little heavier. He has long arms, and that can help make up for his lack of height. He has very good initial quickness and quick hands. He shows the ability to control his opponent with his hands and can shed quickly. He plays with strength and power and never gives ground. He is a quick penetrator who can not only disrupt plays but can also make the play. With his long arms and power, he can 2 gap his opponent or play in a 1 gap scheme and shoot the gap. While he doesn’t have long speed (5.1 play speed), he is very quick for 5-10 yards and shows pursuit ability. He shows excellent pass rush skills for an inside lineman. He had 13 sacks in 2012 and has 16.5 total sacks since the beginning of the 2011 season. What we are seeing now is that he is constantly double teamed on passing downs. As a pass rusher, his initial quickness is very good, but he knows how to use his hands and can both bull rush and use moves, He is good with counter moves.

The player that he would compare to from last year is Bennie Logan, the Eagles 3rd round pick in 2013 from LSU. Sutton is about the same size but is more athletic than Logan and gets more production as a pass rusher. At 6’1, people may say he is a nose tackle, but I really think that he would be better off as a 3 technique on a 4-man front. He can play DE in a 3-4, but he lacks the desired height for that position. His productivity says he should go very high, but I feel he would be drafted somewhere between the 45th and 60th pick. He has starter traits, but you wish he was taller.

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