Draft preview: Defensive line


Some saw Da'Quan Bowers as the possible No. 1 pick a few weeks ago, but NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock has since dropped Bowers from second to fifth on his defensive end list. * * *

MIKE MAYOCK'S CHOSEN FEW

Defensive End

ROBERT QUINN6-4, 265, North CarolinaDidn't play in 2010 after NCAA ruled him permanently ineligible for accepting benefits from an agent…Had huge 2009 season with 11 sacks and 19 tackles for loss…Winner of the 2008 Brian Piccolo Award as the ACC's most courageous player for successful recovery from a benign brain tumor…Known for explosiveness in pass-rushing situations.

CAMERON JORDAN6-4, 287, CaliforniaOne of the more versatile prospects in the position group, capable of playing anywhere along the front and perhaps even outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense…Compiled 175 tackles with 34 tackles for loss and 16.5 sacks in four seasons…Son of Steve Jordan, an NFL tight end for 13 seasons with the Minnesota Vikings.

J.J. WATT6-5, 290, WisconsinAn All-American and team MVP in 2010 after piling up 21 tackles for loss and seven sacks…Best suited for a 3-4 defense and best known for relentless work ethic...Played tight end at Central Michigan in 2007 before transferring to Wisconsin without a scholarship…Switched to defense during redshirt year and earned a scholarship for 2009, when he amassed 15.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks.

ALDON SMITH6-4, 263, MissouriSurprised some by declaring for draft with two years of eligibility left, having played just 23 games…Missed three games in 2010 with a broken leg…Finished year with 48 tackles, including 10 for loss, and 5.5 sacks…In 2009, burst onto scene with school-record 11.5 sacks in addition to logging 64 tackles and 19 tackles for loss.

DA'QUAN BOWERS6-3, 280, ClemsonLost some momentum when didn't recover quickly enough from a torn meniscus to work out at NFL Scouting Combine or Clemson's pro day…Held personal pro day on April 1…Led nation in 2010 with 15.5 sacks and tied for lead with 26 tackles for loss, even while slowed late in season by the knee injury…Coveted for explosion off the line and upper-body strength.



Nick Fairley of Auburn and Marcell Dareus of Alabama are universally viewed as the top two defensive tackle prospects, though the pecking order between the rivals is up for debate. * * *

Defensive Tackle

MARCELL DAREUS6-3, 319, AlabamaPlays a position where statistics don't matter nearly as much as ability to disrupt offenses' best-laid plans…Racked up 67 tackles, 20 tackles for loss and 11 sacks over last two seasons…Gained notoriety with lone career interception, a pick of Texas quarterback Colt McCoy in 2010 BCS National Championship returned for a touchdown…Amazing speed – 4.93 in the 40 – for his substantial size.

NICK FAIRLEY6-4, 291, AuburnMade a name in 2011 BCS National Championship, earning defensive MVP honors with five tackles – three for loss – and a sack…Capped season where set school record with 21 tackles for loss and came within a half-a-sack of record with 10.5…Played sparingly in 2009, and before that played on junior college level…Redshirted at Copiah-Lincoln Community College in 2007.

COREY LIUGET6-2, 298, IllinoisGained acclaim at the end of his college career as well, making ESPN.com's All-Bowl Team after producing 2.5 tackles for loss and a sack in the Illini's victory over Baylor in the Texas Bowl…Finished three-year career with 125 tackles, 25.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks…Had 11 tackles at Michigan State last season, the most for an Illinois defensive tackle in 14 years.

MARVIN AUSTIN6-2, 309, North CarolinaAppeared poised for big senior season but never saw the field after being dismissed from the program for accepting benefits from an agent…In 2009, recorded 42 tackles, six tackles for loss and four sacks…Also had six tackles for loss and four sacks as a true freshman but just 1.5 tackles for loss and one sack as a sophomore…Rated as the top defensive tackle in high school recruiting class.

MUHAMMAD WILKERSON6-4, 315, TempleNumbers got better every season after spending one year at Hargrave Military Academy…Capped three seasons at Temple in 2010 with 70 tackles and posted team highs in tackles for loss with 13 and sacks with 9.5…Totaled 74 tackles with 13 tackles for loss and eight sacks in previous two seasons…A standout basketball player in high school.


STRICKLAND'S SECOND LOOK

RYAN KERRIGAN6-4, 267, PurdueTied Bowers for national lead in tackles for loss with 26 and ranked fifth with 12.5 sacks…Has a nose for the ball, forcing a Big Ten record 14 fumbles over four seasons…Amassed 210 career tackles with 33 sacks and 57 tackles for loss…Defensive end that possibly could move to outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense.

PHIL TAYLOR6-3, 334, BaylorHad 62 tackles in 2010 – the most for a Baylor defensive lineman since 2002 – with seven tackles for loss and two sacks…A massive nose-guard type with quickness in the ballpark of a defensive end…Played at Penn State for two seasons before being dismissed from the program for fighting, but avoided off-field issues in Waco.

ADRIAN CLAYBORN6-3, 281, IowaStarted final 30 games of four-year career that resulted in 192 tackles, 37 tackles for loss and 19 sacks…Did much of damage in 2009 when he racked up 70 tackles, including 20 for loss, and 11.5 sacks…A relentless rush end who has overcome Erb's Palsy, a condition that causes paralysis to the upper arm from time to time.

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