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Insider Only Defensive Line NFL Draft Rankings

Defensive Line and Offensive Line will be two areas the Steelers will look to address at this April’s draft, In 2009 Casey Hampton will be 32 years old and will be entering the final year of his contract. Aaron Smith will be entering his 11th NFL season and will be 33 years old at the start of the 2009 campaign. Brett Keisel is signed through 2009 and will also be 30 years old in 2009. The Steelers will look to get younger and add some depth.
DEFENSIVE ENDS:
1. Michael Johnson- Georgia Tech, Sr- Johnson is incredibly explosive and he is the best pass rusher in the country right now. He is somewhat undisciplined and plays a little bit too upright. I still have him as my top D-End right now.
2. Ben Orakpo- Texas, Sr- Orakpo is a big guy with no character issues. He is a very hard worker and improved greatly in many areas, such as his pass rush, in the off season. At the beginning of the season there were issues concerning his speed that held him behind Hardy and Selvie. With the substantial improvement he has shown in that area Orakpo has improved his draft stock significantly. He could go as high as # 10 in this year’s draft.
3. George Selvie- South Florida, Jr- I’m very high on Selvie. He has the potential and ability to become the best defensive end of this group, but his junior season has not lived up to the expectations. If he comes out this year he will probably go in the first day, but he should go back to school for his senior season where he could boost his status to high first rounder.
4. Tyson Jackson- LSU, Sr- At this point Jackson is the best run stopping defensive end available. He uses his body very well and is a very solid tackler. With that said, he doesn’t possess the speed or agility needed to get around the tackle in the NFL. His best fit right now is probably to move inside in a 4-3 system.
5. Greg Hardy- Ole Miss, Jr- Hardy is a very big guy with solid speed for his size. He hasn’t been as dominant as originally expected but I still think that his workout numbers will get him a high enough selection to lure him away from Ole Miss.
6. Everette Brown- Florida State, Jr- Brown is a great pass rusher with a lot speed to get around the edge. I only have him at 6 right now because I don’t want to overreact to his current hot streak but if he stays consistent he will probably jump up to the number three overall spot.
7. Aaron Maybin- Penn State, Soph- Maybin has stepped in for Evans this season and has played fantastic. Size is a concern which is why I have him at #7.
8. Matt Shaughnessy- Wisconsin, Sr- Shaughnessy’s injury issues are keeping him low on my rankings. Don’t look for someone to take a chance on him until the second day of the draft.
9. Jerry Hughes- TCU, Soph- Hughes has had a great season. Like Brown, Hughes is a junior end who is rising up the charts. He has a great burst and is very instinctive. The problem with him is that many teams are going to wonder if this is a fluke season. He is a player who is going to want to pay attention to his draft status as the season ends.
10. Connor Barwin- Cincinnati, Sr- Solid size and a decent NFL prospect. Barwin is a very intelligent player. I expect him to go in round 5 or 6.
DEFENSIVE TACKLES:

1. Terrance Cody- Alabama, Jr- Cody is very big and very powerful. Cody is mobile but he isn’t the fastest defensive tackle available. I see him as a first round selection, but there really isn’t an elite defensive tackle in this year’s class.
2. B.J. Raji- Boston College, Sr- Raji is the best overall talent at defensive tackle this year. The reason he will stay at number 2 is because of character issues he has had in the past. He has stayed clean for most of this season, but with the NFL as strict as it is I don’t see a team taking a huge risk and selecting Raji in the top ten. Raji’s talent alone should get him a first round selection.
3. Sen’Derrick Marks- Auburn, Jr- marks is another example of a player with a ton of talent but another issue is holding him back. In Marks’ case it is his health. Marks has had a ton of injury problems throughout his college career including trouble with both ankles. Like Raji, I don’t see a top 10 selection being made on him.
4. Fili Moala- Southern California, Sr- Moala shows a lot of potential and has gotten bigger but he still doesn’t seem to live up to some expectations. He is probably looking at a 2nd round selection.
5. Peria Jerry- Ole Miss, Sr- Jerry has been able to avoid major injury this year and has improved his draft stock to possibly a late first day selection.
6. Geno Atkins- Georgia, Jr- Atkins started the season as the top junior available. At this point, he hasn’t improved his status at all, and has probably dropped to the second day of the draft. It wouldn’t be too surprising to see him go back to Florida State for his senior season.
7. Terrance Taylor- Michigan, Sr- Taylor started out the season as my default top ranked defensive tackle. He has underperformed this season and has most likely fallen into the second day of the draft. At this point he doesn’t look capable of playing 3rd downs in the NFL which will definitely hurt his status.
8. Ndamukong Suh- Nebraska, Jr- There are a good deal of people who see Suh as a possible first round selection this April. At this point I don’t see Suh as being able to handle the NFL game. I would think he needs another year in the college game, but if Suh keeps hearing the possible first round status then I could definitely see him leaving Nebraska.
9. Evander Hood- Missouri, Sr- Hood looks like a late round selection at this point, he will need to get a little bigger if he wants to improve on that.
10. Vance Walker- Georgia Tech, Sr- Walker is a very solid player at this point with decent speed. Walker’s main problem is that he gets caught out of position often and he doesn’t have the agility needed to recover.

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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