Some of the top defensive prospects, by position, available in the NFL draft (x-indicates early entrant to draft):
Defensive end/edge rusher
Position outlook: This draft is stacked with defensive linemen of all types. The edge rushers and ends could dominate the first 10 picks.
x-Nick Bosa, 6-foot-4, 266 pounds, Ohio State
Strengths: Quick off the edge and relentless, just like his brother, Chargers star Joey Bosa.
Weaknesses: Maybe some durability concerns because last year’s season-ending injury cut short the one season in which Bosa would have gotten a large volume of snaps.
Fact: Bosa had 29 tackles for loss, including 17 1-2 sacks in 30 games with the Buckeyes.
Gone by: Top three, just like his brother.
Josh Allen, 6-5, 262, Kentucky
Strengths: Size, speed, athleticism are all ideal. Even some room to add a few pounds if necessary.
Weaknesses: Some technique could use polishing, but not much to complain about.
Fact: Won Bednarik Award and Nagurski Trophy as top defensive player in college football last season.
Gone by: Maybe he lasts to No. 5?
x-Rashan Gary, 6-4, 277, Michigan
Strengths: Top-flight athlete with good power, long arms and sturdy against the run.
Weaknesses: Pass-rush production was spotty. Had 10 1-2 sacks in three seasons, though was often used to tie up blockers.
Fact: Consensus No. 1 overall recruit coming out of high school in 2016.
Gone by: If he slips out of the top 10, it won’t be far.
Montez Sweat, 6-6, 260, Mississippi State
Strengths: Among freaky athletes, Sweat might be the freakiest with his 4.4 speed.
Weaknesses: A little top heavy means he needs to upgrade against the run.
Fact: Two-time first-team all-Southeastern Conference and second-team All-American last season.
Gone by: Pick No. 15.
Clellin Ferrell, 6-4, 264, Clemson
Strengths: Solid in most areas and good at getting off blocks to finish plays.
Weaknesses: Sort of the opposite of Gary; not quite the athlete but plenty of production.
Fact: All-American last season with 21 sacks in his final two years.
Gone by: Middle-to-late first-round.
x-Brian Burns, 6-5, 249, Florida State
Strengths: Super quick and agile.
Weaknesses: Light, with thin frame. Could be more of a third-down pass rusher than every-down player.
Fact: Seven forced fumbles and three blocked kicks in his three-year career.
Gone by: Early second round.
Jaylon Ferguson, 6-5, 271, Louisiana Tech
Strengths: Size, strength and effort could make him an ideal 4-3 end.
Weaknesses: Not an explosive athlete. Low upside.
Fact: Set NCAA record with 45 career sacks.
Gone by: Middle of the second.
Zach Allen, 6-4, 281, Boston College
Strengths: Powerful and instinctive. Steadily improved each season.
Weaknesses: Skills might be better suited for tackle in some defenses, but has end size.
Fact: Former Connecticut high school player of the year.
Gone by: Late second.
Others to watch: L.J. Collier, TCU; Chase Winovich, Michigan; Jachai Polite, Florida; D’Andre Walker, Georgia; Oshane Ximines, Old Dominion; Jalen Jelks, Oregon; Austin Bryant, Clemson; Anthony Nelson, Iowa.
Position outlook: Maybe even deeper than the edge guys.
x-Quinnen Williams, 6-6, 303, Alabama
Strengths: Nearly unblockable last season with a combination of quickness, power and strong hands.
Weaknesses: Could nitpick about his weight as he might be more comfortable playing in the 290s. That’s about it.
Fact: One-year starter who made a case as the best player in college football in 2018.
Gone by: Pick four.
x-Ed Oliver, 6-2, 287, Houston
Strengths: Lateral quickness, burst and ability to finish plays like a linebacker.
Weaknesses: Short and was allowed to roam and slant in college.
Fact: Knee problem cut junior season short, but won Outland Trophy as nation’s top lineman as sophomore.
Gone by: Scheme-fit makes Oliver difficult to project, but also hard to see him sliding out of top half of first round.
Christian Wilkins, 6-3, 315, Clemson
Strengths: Team leader, with position versatility and good athleticism.
Weaknesses: Length and point-of-attack strength are less-than-ideal.
Fact: First Clemson scholarship football player to earn a degree in 2 1-2 years.
Gone by: Top 20.
x-Dexter Lawrence, 6-4, 342, Clemson
Strengths: Massive, but pretty light on his feet.
Weaknesses: Limited pass-rush potential, could slow him in pass-happy NFL.
Fact: Suspended for last season’s College Football Playoff for failing an NCAA test for performance-enhancing drugs. Has said he had no idea why he failed the test.
Gone by: Top 40 pick.
x-Jeffery Simmons, 6-4, 301, Mississippi State
Strengths: Big, perfectly proportioned athlete who consistently produces.
Weaknesses: Tore a ligament in his left knee in pre-draft workouts.
Fact: Was involved in a fight with a woman, whom he punched several times, while still in high school. Pleaded no contest to simple assault charge.
Gone by: Simmons seemed to have stayed out of trouble in college and would have been a sure first-rounder before the knee injury. Now? The potential could still make him a late first-rounder for a good team to stash.
Jerry Tillery, 6-6, 295, Notre Dame
Strengths: Long, quick and agile pass rusher.
Weaknesses: Plays tall and inconsistent against the run.
Fact: Was suspended for bowl game as a freshman and was caught on camera kicking a USC player as a sophomore, but seemed to mature as an upperclassman.
Gone by: Middle of the second round.
Others to watch: Dre’Mont Jones, Ohio State; Trysten Hill, UCF; Khalen Saunders, Western Illinois; Daylon Mack, Texas A&M; Gerald Willis, Miami.
Position outlook: Linebackers have to be able to really run to be drafted in the first round these days and there are two of them in this year’s class that fit the type.
x-Devin White, 6-0, 237, LSU
Strengths: Covers lots of ground and crushes ball carriers when he arrives.
Weaknesses: Can get out of position. More fast than instinctual.
Fact: Butkus Award winner as nation’s best linebacker in 2018.
Gone by: Top 10.
x-Devin Bush, 5-11, 234, Michigan
Strengths: Fast and reliable in pass coverage.
Weaknesses: Undersized, with a frame that might be maxed out, unlike Devin White.
Fact: Led Michigan in tackles the last two seasons.
Gone by: Top 15.
Others to watch: Mack Wilson, Alabama; Germaine Pratt, North Carolina State; David Long, West Virginia; Te’Von Coney, Notre Dame; Cameron Smith, Southern California.
Position outlook: NFL teams draft cornerbacks in bulk. This year’s class is light on early first-rounders, but look for a run in the late first and early second rounds.
x-Greedy Williams, 6-2, 185, LSU
Strengths: Long, tall and smooth.
Weaknesses: Gangly and light. Needs to be more physical in coverage and supporting run.
Fact: Led SEC in interceptions as a redshirt freshman with six.
Gone by: Early second round.
Deandre Baker, 5-11, 193, Georgia
Strengths: Steady, tough and disruptive.
Weaknesses: On the small side and left some potential turnovers on the field.
Fact: Jim Thorpe Award winner as nation’s best defensive back last year.
Gone by: Late first round.
Byron Murphy, 5-11, 190, Washington
Strengths: Disciplined, instinctive and productive.
Weaknesses: Neither size nor speed stands out.
Fact: Only played 20 college games because of injuries.
Gone by: By the tape, early second round. By the measurable, early fourth.
Rock Ya-Sin, 6-0, 192, Temple
Strengths: Chiseled and strong with good speed.
Weaknesses: Choppy with his footwork and grabby with his hands.
Fact: Transferred from FCS Presbyterian College to Temple after the 2017 season.
Gone by: Middle of second round.
Others to watch: Julian Love, Notre Dame; Justin Layne, Michigan State; Trayvon Mullen, Clemson; Joejuan Williams, Vanderbilt.
Position outlook: Safeties are becoming more valuable to NFL teams, but this year’s group might not produce a first-rounder.
Johnathan Abram, 5-11, 205, Mississippi State
Strengths: Tough against the run.
Weaknesses: Could be limited to playing close to the line of scrimmage.
Fact: Mississippi high school product who signed with Georgia originally but transferred to the Bulldogs after a stop in junior college.
Gone by: Early second round.
Nasir Adderley, 6-0, 206, Delaware
Strengths: Rangy, fast and dangerous as a kick returner.
Weaknesses: Up-and-down production in FCS.
Fact: Cousin of Pro Football Hall of Famer Herb Adderley, who played for Packers and Cowboys.
Gone by: Middle of the second, but the type of athlete that could tempt a team in middle of the first round.
Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, 5-11, 210, Florida
Strengths: Hard-hitter with good range.
Weaknesses: Messy in coverage.
Fact: Outback Bowl MVP as a freshman against Iowa, with two interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown.
Gone by: Middle of the second.
Others to watch: Deionte Thompson, Alabama; Darnell Savage, Maryland; Juan Thornhill, Virginia; Taylor Rapp, Washington.
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