NFL Draft Scout analyst Ric Serritella has been covering the draft for nearly two decades, gaining a reputation around the league as one of the most dependable resources for insider information. He provides a positional preview of his top five players at each position, along with a small school prospect worth keeping an eye on come draft weekend!
Top 5 Defensive Line
Quinnen Williams, Alabama – Blessed with an exceptional combination of raw power and shocking quickness, Williams made a living this past season alternately beating opponents with strength and speed. He’s often the first defender off the ball, flashing quick-twitch explosiveness, firing through the gaps and ruining plays before they even begin.
Ed Oliver, Houston – A truly exceptional athlete for the position, exhibiting light feet and loose hips, Oliver explodes off the snap like he is fired from a cannon, slicing through gaps, including those of would-be double-team blocks. He’s much stronger than his frame suggests, showing a powerful initial pop for the bull rush as well as good pad level and leg drive to get under much larger
Jeffery Simmons, Mississippi State – A physical, powerful player who can overwhelm opponents with his strength and explosiveness in various ways, Simmons demonstrates heavy hands, along with the length and strength to lockout or anchor. Despite his off-field concerns, he was among the Bulldogs’ most recognized players for their work in the community. However, a torn ACL likely means he will have to redshirt his rookie season.
Christian Wilkins, Clemson – Though he was blessed with first round athleticism, Wilkins plays like an undrafted free agent trying to make the team, pursuing laterally and downfield with passion and playing on three different special teams units. He has not missed a game over his four seasons at Clemson and comes with a sterling reputation off the field, including earning Academic All-American accolades
Jerry Tillery, Notre Dame – Quite possibly the most physically imposing player of the 2019 NFL Draft, Tillery has been blessed with rare size, including height, broad shoulders, vines for arms and excellent overall weight-distribution. He’s surprisingly quick off the ball, showing impressive agility for a man of his size, as well, to get home on twists or when pursuing laterally and downfield.
Small School Sleeper
Khalen Saunders, Western Illinois – A fantastic athlete, Saunders is built like a refrigerator, showcasing the initial quickness and lateral agility to help earn him the reputation as the "Aaron Donald of the FCS." He projects as a mid-round prospect who may very well outplay some of the more traditionally-built defensive tackles selected ahead of him.
*For expansive player rankings in even more in-depth scouting reports, be sure to download Ric Serritella’s 2019 NFL Draft Bible, available here!