Melvin Ingram, Shea McClellin, and Fletcher Cox are among the elite d-linemen in this class. (Getty Images)
In our fourth week of draft analysis with our good friend Greg Cosell of NFL Films and ESPN's NFL Matchup, we turn our attention to the defensive line, encompassing pass-rushing outside linebackers as well as defensive ends and defensive tackles. More than ever, the multiple defensive fronts NFL teams are running make it tricky to project this or that pass-rushing draft prospect to a specific position at the next level, and we started off by discussing that before moving to analysis of the best prospects in this class. We've also covered the quarterbacks, running backs/wide receivers, and tight ends/offensive line.
Melvin Ingram, South Carolina: "If you're looking for a comparison, I think the player he most reminds me of is Dwight Freeney ... but where does he ultimately line up in a base defense? It's one thing to say a guy's scheme-versatile, and that's usually used as a positive, but you still have to line a guy up in your base defense. I think he could line up as a base end in a 4-3, or in a 3-4 as an outside linebacker."
Whitney Mercilus, Illinois: "I don't focus much on [one-year production careers], because I'm looking for attributes that transition and project to the NFL. If he has those attributes, he will eventually become a good player. Maybe it doesn't happen Week 1, but it will happen. I did not see Mercilus as a 3-4 outside linebacker. In all these cases, people watch film and interpret things differently, but I did not see that. I saw him as a 4-3 defensive end, and in fact, he often lined up inside as a 5-tech, even in a 4-3."
Shea McClellin, Boise State: "I really like Shea McClellin, and I put out there on Twitter and wrote about it as well -- as he develops in the NFL, there will be similarities to Clay Matthews. He's a great pass rusher, but he's just scratching the surface of his potential. He's got really great lateral movement, and he's naturally athletic. He was used as a moveable chess piece in a lot of sub packages at Boise State. I think Shea McClellin will be a better pass rusher in the NFL."
Quinton Coples, North Carolina: "He's not the athlete Julius Peppers is. He doesn't have the elite speed and athleticism you ultimately want in a 4-3 edge rusher. That's not his game. If he is to reach his potential, he will become a speed/power guy , and the power would be the number-one thing. That would then transition to some speed just to get him around the corner."
Courtney Upshaw, Alabama: "I think he fits best as a 4-3 outside linebacker. To throw out an NFL comparison, I saw similarities to LaMarr Woodley. He's a naturally strong man, and a power pass-rusher with some closing speed. He's the kind of guy who has speed right off the ball, and then, he transitions to power. Those guys often put their hands on the ground in a two-point stance in a sub-package. Or, if you go to a team like the Steelers or the Packers, you never put your hand on the ground."
Nick Perry, USC: "He's got initial burst off the ball, no question about it. He's got quick hands -- not violent hands, but I think he's a little straight-line at this point. He doesn't have a great change of direction as a pass-rusher, but he's got a chance to develop."
From there, Greg and I head into all the defensive tackles, and wrap up the defensive line analysis with Nebraska's Jared Crick, who may best personify the hybrid principles we discuss through the podcast.
As always with everything involving Greg Cosell, this podcast is a must-listen for those fans of advanced tape analysis. Subscribe to the Shutdown Corner iTunes link (in iTunes, go to "Advanced/Subscribe to Podcast," and paste this link in: http://ysportspods.podbean.com/category/shutdown/feed/). You can also use the link below to either left-click and listen, or right-click to save to your computer.
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