While not as polarizing as other position groups in this year’s draft class, an array of quality defensive linemen fill up the trenches this year. Many will have Alabama’s Jonathan Allen slated at the top, but as you can see from our rankings below, 3/4 draft writers have Michigan State’s Malik McDowell ranked as their #1 guy, which puts him atop our consensus rankings.
There certainly is tons of baggage that comes with drafting a guy like McDowell. During his days in college, he flashed elite talent at times, but at other times showed a poor motor and lack of effort. Still very immature after his dealing with his coaching situation in East Lansing, McDowell doesn’t turn 21 until June – so keep in mind he is still a young kid with time to mature as he steps foot into the NFL. With him, it all comes down to whether or not a team is willing to take that type of risk, although the payoff could be monumental due to his enormous ceiling. You can read more on him below.
In Allen’s case, he is definitely the safer pick as he anchored Alabama’s defensive line this past season and brings with him to the next level the pedigree and accolades which standout. However, he has seemingly fallen on draft boards over the past couple of weeks – some point to his arthritic shoulders as the main culprit of that.
Looking at our overall rankings, you notice that there is more disparity in this position group than there was in any of our offensive rankings. A guy like Montravius Adams comes in at #8 as two of us had him in our top 5, but the other two didn’t have him ranked until 12 and 13. Another interesting case turned out to be Davon Godchaux; again, two of us had him ranked 7 and 6, the other two didn’t have him until 15 and 23. This just goes to show this defensive line class in particular is extremely tough to gauge, especially after the slew of top guys. Everyone has different values when evaluating draft process, and that seemed to be most evident with this grouping.
Below we have compiled our consensus defensive line rankings between our Breaking Football draft team which includes the individual rank from each writer for each player. Let us know what you think in the comments below and follow the rest of our draft team on Twitter @MichaelJKist, @SteveDraft_ , @ZachHicks2.
Biggest Riser: Chris Wormley (Michigan)
Chris Wormley has always been on the radar due to his length and athleticism. After testing in the 94th percentile among NFL defensive lineman since 1999, Wormley could be selected in the top 50 of the NFL draft. Wormley spent most of his time playing out of position at Michigan but should be an absolute force as a 5-tech in the NFL
Biggest Faller: Montravius Adams (Auburn)
Montravius Adams. Early in the draft process, Montravius Adams was considered a sure top 20 pick by many. He possesses the strength and array of pass rush moves to be successful at the next level. The reason why he has fallen to a borderline Day 2 prospect though is his inconsistent motor and lackluster effort at times. If he can put it all together, Adams could be a stud in the NFL but his inconsistencies have dropped him for many teams.
Small School Sleeper: Roderick Henderson (Alabama State)
When you watch this guy on tape, you’re left in awe. There’s no way a man at 6’1”/350+ can move as quickly as Roderick Henderson does. With his blend of size, quickness, movement skills and power – Henderson has all the makings to be a starting caliber nose tackle at the next level. I had the pleasure of interviewing Henderson back in early February, and this guy just wants it – he wants to be good and won’t ever stop working.
Risk Factor: Malik McDowell (Michigan State)
When the motor is on, like in the Notre Dame game, Malik is a dominating force that took on doubles inside and took ND OT Mike McGlinchey to task on the outside. When his motor runs cold, he is completely disinterested and ineffective. Questioned at the Combine about his effort, McDowell said his coaches eventually yielded to how he wanted to play, which won’t translate at the next level. McDowell will need the right environment to thrive, but his ceiling is undeniable.
Breaking Football’s 2017 NFL Draft DL Rankings
|1||Malik McDowell||Michigan State||1||1||3||1|
|14||DeMarcus Walker||Florida State||9||24||8||19|
|18||Isaac Rochell||Notre Dame||18||19||18||18|
|19||Jarron Jones||Notre Dame||19||15||21||20|
|20||Vincent Taylor||Oklahoma State||17||25||12||24|
|21||D.J. Jones||Ole Miss||21||20||20||17|
|24||Roderick Henderson||Alabama State||20||17||24||26|
|25||Nazair Jones||North Carolina||24||21||17||23|