Draft preview: Defensive line

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MIKE MAYOCK'S CHOSEN FEW

(Note: NFL.com draft analyst Mike Mayock listed highly regarded prospects Melvin Ingram, Whitney Mercilus and Andre Branch as outside linebackers rather than defensive ends.)

DEFENSIVE END

QUINTON COPLES
6-6, 284, North Carolina
Finished four-year career with 24 sacks, ranking fourth in the nation among active players. … First-team All-ACC selection at defensive end in 2011 with 7.5 sacks. … First-team All-ACC at defensive tackle in 2010 with 10 sacks. … NCAA suspensions on defense prompted coaches to move him inside for one year. … Consistency of effort has been questioned, but Tar Heels' game plan in 2011 didn't put him in open space consistently, where he seems to operate best.

COURTNEY UPSHAW
6-2, 272, Alabama
First-team All-American had 8.5 sacks and 17 tackles for loss last season. … After playing a reserve role for two seasons, started in 2010 and led Crimson Tide with seven sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss. … Primarily a pass rusher in college, but some NFL teams that play 3-4 defense could consider using him at linebacker rather than defensive end.

NICK PERRY
6-3, 271, Southern California
Added 10 pounds since end of season to increase chances of being drafted to play end rather than linebacker. … Outstanding athlete posted a 38.5-inch vertical jump at NFL Scouting Combine. … Entered draft following junior season after leading Pac-12 with 9.5 sacks last year. … Recorded state-record 36 sacks as a high school senior in Detroit.


DEFENSIVE TACKLE

FLETCHER COX
6-4, 298, Mississippi State
Has versatility to line up at tackle or end. … First-team All-SEC selection in 2011 was named defensive lineman of the week four times during a season in which he recorded five sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss. … Left school with one year of eligibility remaining. … Exceptional athlete known for relentless work ethic.

JEREL WORTHY
6-2, 308, Michigan State
First Spartans defensive lineman to earn first-team All-America honors since Bubba Smith in 1966. … Impact went well beyond the stat sheet (3.5 sacks, 8.5 tackles for loss), anchoring unit that led Big 10 in total defense. … Led team with four sacks in 2010 and finished second on team with 4.5 sacks in 2009.

MICHAEL BROCKERS
6-6, 322, Louisiana State
One-year starter with tremendous potential. … Left school with two years of eligibility remaining. … Gained 70 pounds since joining program as a highly touted defensive end in 2009. … Saved best for last, with a blocked field goal and career-high seven tackles in BCS Championship and six tackles and a forced fumble in SEC Championship.


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LOCALS WORTH A LOOK

BRANDON THOMPSON
6-2, 314, Clemson
A strong, smart defensive tackle nicknamed "Yams" in reference to his massive thighs. … Fifth among defensive tackles at combine and just one rep shy of tying for second with 36 bench-press reps. … Known more as a run-stopper who clogs up the middle than as a pass rusher. … In 38 starts, notched 208 tackles, 22.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. … Also broke up nine passes, forced two fumbles and recovered three.

TYDREKE POWELL
6-2, 311, North Carolina
Played last two seasons at defensive tackle after lining up at defensive end first two seasons. … Managed to be a consistent contributor each year while staying healthy throughout. … Ahoskie, N.C., native amassed 135 tackles with 15 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and three recoveries in 27 starts.

MARCUS KUHN
6-5, 299, N.C. State
Native of Germany played both tackle and end first two seasons but switched to tackle fulltime after redshirting in 2009. … Didn't play football until age 15 and didn't start for Wolfpack until last season. … Had 9.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks in 2011.

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