NFL Draft: Breaking Down the Top Defensive Line Prospects

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Stanford Cardinal defensive end Josh Mauro (90) sacks and causes Washington State Cougars quarterback Connor Halliday (12). Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports


22. Josh Mauro, DE, Stanford: 6-6, 271 (5.21)

Mauro isn’t the explosive athlete you look for at the position, but he’s an experienced 3-4 end that plays with a high motor and can hold the point of attack.

Mauro does need to add bulk if he’s going to be a traditional two-gap end in the NFL, but his sound fundamentals, good pad level, and natural football ability make him a solid day-three option in the draft.

(Draft Projection: Rounds 4-5)

FIU Golden Panthers running back Silas Spearman III (center) is tackled by Louisiana Tech Bulldogs linebacker Beau Fitte (left) defensive lineman Justin Ellis (top) and defensive lineman Malcolm Pichon (right). Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

23. Justin Ellis, NT, Louisiana Tech: 6-1, 334 (5.27)

Ellis is a late-round prospect that could offer some value for a team seeking a nose tackle on day three of the draft.

Ellis can clog running lanes and keep his linebackers clean as a gap occupier in the middle of the line of scrimmage.

Ellis doesn’t offer much as a pass rusher, but should make his living as a run stuffer in the NFL.

(Draft Projection: Round 5)

Syracuse Orange defensive tackle Jay Bromley (96) causes a fumble by Northwestern Wildcats quarterback Kain Colter (2). David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

24. Jay Bromley, DT, Syracuse: 6-3, 306 (5.06)

Bromley is a late-round option for any team looking for a penetrate and disrupt three-technique defensive tackle.

Bromley shows good quickness and burst off the line, recording 14.5 tackles for loss as a senior in 2013.

Bromley is a tough, quick-twitch defensive lineman who plays with a high motor and is relentless in getting after the quarterback.

Bromley just needs to show more consistency, especially against the run.

(Draft Projection: Round 5)

Oregon Ducks defensive tackle Taylor Hart (66). Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

25. Taylor Hart, DE, Oregon: 6-6, 281

Hart’s draft stock has taken a hit this offseason after he broke his foot in early January and missed the opportunity to showcase his ability at the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine.

Hart still offers some value as an undersized defensive tackle or 3-4 end in the NFL.

Hart isn’t going to wow anybody with his ability to make impact plays, but he does hold the point of attack well and can use his length to gain leverage on offensive linemen.

Hart is an all-around solid defensive line prospect who could offer some depth at the position in the NFL.

(Draft Projection: Round 5)

Other Late-Round Prospects

26. Zach Moore, DE, Concordia (St. Paul): 6-5, 269 (4.84) 

(Draft Projection: Rounds 5-6)

27. George Uko, DE, USC: 6-3, 284 (4.99)

(Draft Projection: Rounds 5-6)

28. Shamar Stephen, DT, UConn: 6-5, 309 (5.25)

(Draft Projection: Round 6)

29. Calvin Barnett, DT, Oklahoma State: 6-2, 317 (5.27)

(Draft Projection: Rounds 6-7)

30. Beau Allen, NT, Wisconsin: 6-2, 335 

(Draft Projection: Rounds 6-7)