clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

2016 NFL Draft: DL Scouting Reports

New, comments

Finally, we get to cover the deepest position group in the entire draft. And with the release of Chris Long, and impending free agent Nick Fairley, the Rams have a hole or two to fill...

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The defensive line is by far the most loaded position group in this years draft; especially the interior defensive line. I am sure the depth in this year’s group made the decision to cut Chris Long a little easier, considering the odds are in their favor to find a replacement. No one should be surprised to see roughly 15 guys drafted in the first 90 picks.

I am often asked how I grade players and how I go about ranking them. This year I've decided to add to the scouting reports my ten most watched attributes and the grading system I use to determine where that player falls among his peers. Everything is graded on a scale of 1-10 with ten being elite, and one being terrible. I also give a grade for potential. I make potential separate because more times than not, a player never reaches his full potential, so potential should not be a heavy factor in grading a player, but has to be included still. Therefore, it is it's own separate entity. The highest grade for potential is an A+, which would mean you could be a Tom Brady or Adrian Peterson caliber player. The lowest grade for potential is a C which just means you ceiling is average.

Skills Grading System

1

Terrible

2

Bad

3

Poor

4

Needs Attention

5

Below Average

6

Average

7

Above Average

8

Very Good

9

Game Changer

10

Elite

Skills Grading Total system

50-60

Career Backup/ST

61-70

Needs to develop 1-3 yrs

71-80

Instant Starter

81-90

Rookie of the Year

91-100

Rookie All-Pro Potential

Potential Grading System

A+

Hall of Fame

A

Perennial All- Pro

A-

Perennial Pro Bowler

B+

10 Year Vet

B

Pro Bowl

B-

Fan Favorite

C+

Solid Contributor

C

Average Pro at Best

***ALL PLAYER COMPARISONS ARE BASED OFF OF SKILL SET AND BODY TYPES, NOT A PREDICTION OF CAREERS***

Noah Spence

6'2" 251 LBS Ohio St. (Eastern Kentucky)

Pass Rush

10

Run Play

7

Hand Usage

7

Leverage

7

Motor

8

Power

7

Block Shedding

8

Get Off

10

Awareness

8

Athleticism

8

OVERALL

80

POTENTIAL: A

Overview:
Noah Spence would probably be talked about as a top 10 pick if not for off field issues. It doesn't help him any that guys recently drafted that have had marijuana issues have not done so well. But it's hard for teams to ignore pure and raw talent. Spence is the best pass rusher in this draft in it's entirety.  He comes off the edge with speed and power. He accelerates around the corner as well as anyone. He's also not shy about using his hands and disengages from blocks quickly and efficiently.

A bit underrated, his run defense, is certainly not a weakness. Though it's rarely talked about in a passing league. Spence diagnosis plays really well and gets after the ball carrier. His ability to regularly win the edge and turn the corner mixed with his keen sense to identify the run, should result in a lot of tackles for loss in his career. But of course getting kicked off your team shortly after winning a championship will never go unnoticed. Spence is a special edge rusher, and one could argue that the loss of his presence played a role in the guy down the line from him at Ohio St production falling off a cliff. If a team believes they can trust him moving forward Spence can be a game changer. He reminds me a bit of Von Miller, from their style of play, size, and bad decisions. He's the type of impact player that can alter the outcome of a game.

Player Comparison: Von Miller

Sheldon Rankins

6'1" 299 LBS Louisville

Pass Rush

9

Run Play

6

Hand Usage

7

Leverage

10

Motor

8

Power

7

Block Shedding

8

Get Off

10

Awareness

6

Athleticism

6

OVERALL

77

POTENTIAL: A-

Overview:
Sheldon Rankins is a poor man's Aaron Donald. And poor might be a stretch. Middle class is probably more accurate. He is an absolute terror rushing the passer up the middle. He fires off the ball extremely quickly and displays a range of moves. He has a counter for his counter. Rankins isn't the most athletic guy nor the strongest, but he makes offensive linemen look silly nonetheless.

The best part of Rankins game is his leverage. He does an excellent job getting up under the line man's pads. He's low at all times in traffic, and explodes through like a tank. However, Rankins lacks consistency playing the run. There's plays where you'd be sure he knew the play, then he can follow that up with complete confusion. At times I question his awareness and understanding. It looks as if he struggles to diagnosis some plays. One thing I don't question about him is his motor. You're going to get effort on virtually every play. Rankins is a fun player to watch and if he's paired with another good interior defensive lineman, they'll likely terrorize the quaterback's of that division for years to come.

Player Comparison: Geno Atkins

Emmanuel Ogbah

6'4" 273 LBS Oklahoma St.

Pass Rush

8

Run Play

8

Hand Usage

7

Leverage

8

Motor

10

Power

7

Block Shedding

8

Get Off

9

Awareness

8

Athleticism

7

OVERALL

80

POTENTIAL: A-

Overview:
Emmanuel Ogbah, man, I love watching this kid play. I have long enjoyed watching him since he was a top recruit. I've followed him closely and he has not disappointed. Ogbah is easily the most underrated edge rusher in the entire draft. He does absolutely everything right. He's just a good football player. He plays with great leverage and uses his hands very well. He can bend as well as anyone when turning the corner making it very hard for tackles to get a hand on him. He's a very underrated athlete. He diagnosis the run extremely well. He gets flat down the line regular cutting the back off.

Ogbah also might have the best motor in this draft. He just doesn't stop. He'll beat up on you with raw power all game than switch it up when you're tired to speed rushes. He plays low which helps him win at the point of attack more times than not. Even when he is not sacking the QB or tackling the ball carrier, he's disrupting the play enough to ruin timing on throws and make backs miss the hole. He does a lot of little things that can't be measured by stat sheets. Ogbah is the epitome of consistency. If there's a knock to be had on him it's that he does everything good, but nothing great. He's a guy that will easily get you 8-11 sacks year in and year out, but that's about his ceiling. Ogbah has the ability to play on the left or right side, and can even line up on the inside. He resembles Michael Bennett a lot at times.

Player Comparison: Michael Bennett

Andrew Billings

6'1" 311 LBS Baylor

Pass Rush

6

Run Play

10

Hand Usage

7

Leverage

6

Motor

9

Power

10

Block Shedding

7

Get Off

7

Awareness

8

Athleticism

5

OVERALL

75

POTENTIAL: A-

Overview:
If you want to talk about brute force and power, than Andrew Billings is your guy. Just absolutely ferocious. A true beast built to either play football or win the world's strongest man competitions. Simply put, one man just doesn't do the trick. He routinely threw guards and centers aside like rag dolls. Billings is interesting in the sense that you know he's a big strong guy, but he has some sweet feet. He moves through traffic far too well to be his size.

Billings definitely won't win many races though. Athleticism isn't his strong suit. He at times can get too high, but he's so strong rarely do the offensive lineman get the chance to take advantage of this weakness. However he at times can rely on his strength to much and lose his technique. Usually with a man this size questions about his motor will arise first and foremost. But Billings appears to have no problem with running. Again he's not going to wow you with surprising speed, but the effort is there. You can often see him running down field to make tackles. I can't say that's good news for the ball carrier considering he doesn't stop his feet on contact. He runs threw you every single time. Billings is like a younger Vince Wilfork. He has a future as a potential premier run stuffer in this league.

Player Comparison: Vince Wilfork

A'Shawn Robinson

6'4" 307 LBS Alabama

Pass Rush

7

Run Play

10

Hand Usage

8

Leverage

8

Motor

9

Power

10

Block Shedding

9

Get Off

8

Awareness

9

Athleticism

7

OVERALL

85

POTENTIAL: A

Overview:
A'Shawn Robinson is truly a complete player, and he might be the best defensive lineman in the entire draft. Robinson is one of those guys that regardless of the draft, he's likely going to be gone in the first 16 picks. Every draft he's going in the top half. He brings a really cool mix of school defensive tackle with new school. He's got that nastiness that old school guys had. He gets after you and he let's you know about it. He's like a shark in the water. When he smells blood there's no stopping him. He's consistently calm when engaged. Usually a sign that the player is in complete control of the situation. Robinson is hands down the best at dissecting plays in the trenches. And he does it faster than anyone else.

Robinson is also really fundamentally sound. He uses his hands and locks out his arms to keep the lineman at bay. In every tape I watched of him, his eyes are literally always in the backfield. He's reading everything like a got damn librarian. He's smooth in the hips allowing him to turn and work through traffic effortlessly on stunts, unlike most interior linemen. He's very explosive and gets off the ball quickly. Because Robinson is such a good athlete but has a prototypical frame for the position he can transition from speed to power and back to speed in the blink of an eye. Robinson is the alpha male of this years defensive line prospects. He's going to play in this league for a long time, and really stands out on tape the way Haloti Ngata did for so many years.

Player Comparison: Haloti Ngata

Joey Bosa

6'5" 269 LBS Ohio St.

Pass Rush

7

Run Play

8

Hand Usage

10

Leverage

7

Motor

9

Power

8

Block Shedding

7

Get Off

7

Awareness

8

Athleticism

6

OVERALL

77

POTENTIAL: B+

Overview:
Joey Bosa is a solid player. From top to bottom he looks the part. And he's actually quite explosive. I only say actually because he's so thick in the upper body you just would expect him to be a little slower and stiffer. But athleticism isn't what makes Bosa good. It's his fundamentals. He might be the most fundamentally sound player on the entire defensive side of the ball this year. His hand usage is superb. You can pretty much bet your bottom dollar guys leave the game with bruises, cuts, and scrapes all over their forearms, as he's regularly slapping them away.

Bosa has a good motor and keeps coming all game long. He really just wears the lineman down. Where I tend to question Bosa falls in two areas. The first being his bend. It's just not that great for an edge rusher. However, he doesn't really use it to beat tackles as much as he does with great hands. The other question is how much better will he get? I question if he's already near his ceiling. He looks like a sure bet to record a few double digit sacks in his career, but will he be consistently dominant? Can he take over games is the big question? He plays with a lot of instincts which I like, but I would like to see those instincts become more awareness, than reaction. Nevertheless he's likely a solid return of investment. From the first day I saw him I have thought nothing but Chris Long, and absolutely nothing has changed since that day.

Player Comparison: Chris Long

Below are my rankings of the top ten defensive linemen of the 2016 NFL draft. Included are both the round I think they are deserving of being drafted in, as well as the round I think they will ultimately be drafted in...

Rank

Player

School

Ht/Wt

Projected Rd

1

A'Shawn Robinson

Alabama

6'4" 307

Top 10/Top 15

2

Noah Spence

Ohio St.

6'2" 251

Top 10/1-Mid 2

3

Emmanuel Ogbah

Oklahoma St.

6'4" 273

Top 20/1-2

4

Joey Bosa

Ohio St.

6'5" 269

Top 25/ Top 10

5

Sheldon Rankins

Louisville

6'1" 299

Top 25/Late 1

6

Andrew Billings

Baylor

6'2" 311

Top 25/Top 25

7

DeForest Buckner

Oregon

6'7" 291

Late 1-2/Top 20

8

Jarran Reed

Alabama

6'3" 307

Late 1-2/Top 25

9

Kevin Dodd

Clemson

6'5" 277

Early 2/1-2

10

Shaq Lawson

Clemson

6'3" 269

Early 2/1-2