The Top 5 Interior Defensive Linemen in the 2016 NFL Draft

When we talk about interior defensive linemen, we can be talking about players with various styles of play. Some of the players we profiled earlier in this series (3-4 DE’S) could very well fit into this category also. That just shows the versatility and depth of the defensive lineman in this draft. Some of the following could very well line up as 4-3 nose tackles, 4-3 3-techniques and some might even be able to play the 5 –technique. Sheldon Rankins – Louisville At 6014 – 299, Rankins lacks ideal size. He showed at the Combine that he is quick and explosive running the 40 in 5.03 and the 3-cone in 7.44. Rankins has a great motor and goes hard from snap to whistle. He plays the run well and can provide and interior pass rush (6 sacks in 2015). I fell he is best suited to play as a 3-technique in a one gap 4-3 scheme. He may also be able to play on the nose in a 4-3 and might be able to be nose in a 3-4 but that could be a stretch. Regardless, he will hear his name called late in the first round or early in the second. Kenny Clark – UCLA The third year junior has made 29 consecutive starts for the Bruins. He plays mostly as a 0 or 1- technique at UCLA but he is capable of playing any inside position in a 4-3 or a 3-4. He is very instinctive and flashes dominant ability versus one on one blocks. As a pass rusher he excels as a bull rusher but he can also put countermoves together and be a consistent inside pass rusher. He is often double teamed yet still makes plays. As an added bonus, he was voted a Co - Captain as a junior. Vernon Butler – Louisiana Tech Butler had a strong season with 50 total tackles including 10.0 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks. He followed that up with a strong week of practice at the Senior Bowl and then the Combine. AT 6037 – 323 with 35” arms, Butler has ideal size to play in different schemes. While he lacks top end speed, he is quick off the ball, can use his hands get rid of blocks and make plays. AT present he is best as a run defender but can be an adequate pass rusher with technique development. Jonathan Bullard – Florida Bullard is another player who has scheme versatility. At 6’3 – 285 with 33 5/8” arms he may be best suited to play as a 4-3 3-technique. He played as a defensive end at Florida and he could easily line up as a 5=technique also. He had very good production this past year with 66 total tackles and 6.5 sacks. He is a top competitor and plays at a high level of intensity. He gets off the ball quickly, stays low, gets penetration and is disruptive. Bullard has a frame that can hold 290+ without losing any athleticism. I see him as a solid second round pick. Sheldon Day – Notre Dame Day is a very productive three year starter for Notre Dame. Some have described him as a poor man’s Aaron Donald. While his competitive nature is similar to Donald, he lacks the speed that Donald had when he entered the NFL two years ago. Day’s biggest problem is his lack of ideal height (6005) but he has long arms for his height and is a strong, explosive player. He is a very good inside pass rusher with moves and a burst to the quarterback. In the run game, he is difficult to block one on one and is quick to find the ball. With his height he is limited to playing as a 3-technique in a 1-gap 4-3 scheme. Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe

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