Underrated Defensive Linemen (Sleepers/Gems)

Stephon Tuitt - Notre Dame

By Nolan Kuzmick, Ourlads’ Draft Analyst

Stephon Tuitt –Notre Dame,DE/DT, Jr: Has the size and strength to be an immediate starter and has shown the technique and explosiveness to make him a nightmare to block. Can line up at any spot across the defensive line and make an impact. Works through the OL and closes fast on the play crushing the ballcarrier. Has a high level of athleticism for his size, one of the most impressive plays he made was ducking under rushing the edge and going to his knees and continuing to the QB from his knees to make the sack. His combination of size, strength, speed, technique and athleticism make him the defensive lineman with the highest ceiling in this draft class. Projected 2nd round, worthy of a top 15 pick

Morgan Breslin-USC, DE/OLB, Sr: Very active in both the pass and rush defense. Gets pressure on the QB, works down the line well. Has good strong hands, works past blockers keeping them distanced from his body. Uses a handful of very effective moves and stunts, including swim, rip, spin, bullrush, and combines these moves with his other handwork to make a very diverse playing style. Plays best at DE, but is a little small for the position. Although his size doesn’t limit him, he would be drafted higher if he was bigger. Had hip surgery as a senior, but performed well at his pro day and when healthy he has 1st round potential. Has solid upper body strength and a motor, flying around. If he works behind the pocket, continues to pursue the play and makes sacks or tackles from behind. Works off blocks naturally and flows down the line. Spins or rips right into the action, always around the ball. Big hitter, that wraps up and makes the sure tackle. Projected 5th round, worthy of a 2nd round choice

Cassius Marsh- UCLA, DE/DT/TE, Sr: A hardworking versatile defensive lineman that is very active with his hands. Uses his length to stay separated from blockers, while keeping his gap closed he maintains the ability to rip off and make the play to either side. Has a nice blend of causing pressure up the middle as well as holding firm against the run. At DE, gets around the edge with strength and handwork. Works down the line and catches runners with nice form tackles, showing a good level of pursuit. Once past blockers, closes fast to make the sack. At DT, gets pushed around at times when engaged, could add more strength to play inside effectively and continue to improve his hand work to get past blockers. Has the ability to play any spot across the defensive line and even TE from his pro day report, has lined up in the backfield in the regular season and caught a TD pass. Really high level of intensity and hard work in his game, I’d find a spot for this player, preferably DE.  Projected 5th round, worthy of a 3rd round choice

Chaz Sutton- South Carolina, DE/DT, rSr: Effective pass-rusher with good length, can line in inside and create penetration from DT or line up on the edge. Quick release at the snap, gets to the QB. Great speed and athleticism, often catches the ball carrier from the backside surveying off the edge and working down the line in a hurry. Has solid swim and rip moves and can get skinny and work his way through blockers. Shows an effective bull rush at times, has ran over OGs. Needs to improve against the ground game, gets high and loses the leverage battle, or continues to work down the line until he can get up field and gets pushed out of the play. Adding strength and working on standing up offensive linemen in the hole and using his long arms to detach and stop runs would be ideal. Projected FA, worthy of a 5th round choice

Zack Kerr–Delaware, DT, rSr: A big body two down tackle that does a nice job of plugging the middle. He engages double teams and doesn’t give ground. In the ground game he gets penetration and makes it hard on the back to get to his lane while opening up ground for linebackers. Has shown flashes of getting off blockers and making the play, can chase the quarterback down, but is mostly used in for the ground game. Shows screen recognition and pursuit angles. Projected 7th Round , worth a 6th round pick

Calvin Barnett- Oklahoma State, DT, Sr: Thick player who has a nice combination of strength and short area quickness. Has a mean side, throwing late hits on the QB, close-lining ball carriers and blind-siding players that aren’t near the play. Needs to clean his game up and use his mean side to his advantage between the whistles. Works down the line well, delaying the RB from picking a lane and allowing his teammates to read the play and get to the ball. Has some moves, but needs to improve there. When he gets off blocks he closes on the QB instantly. Needs to work on disengaging from blocks, at times the ballcarrier runs right past him as he is locked up. Projected 7th rounder, Worthy of a 6th round choice

Donte Rumph-Kentucky, DT, Sr: Great strength and has a good burst to get to the ball once he gets off blocks. Nice flow to the ball, ability to use brute strength to push blockers away and work towards the play. Will need to improve handwork when playing against tougher offensive linemen.  Nice job keeping separation, then dives off the block to make the play. Needs to work on playing lower with leverage, doesn’t have good bend in his stance and plays too high out of the snap. Good lateral movement, has the ability to change direction for a big guy. Keeps lower out of a 4 point stance, holds his ground and clogs the middle on playside. Works well down the line positioning for the cutback.  Projected FA, worthy of a 6th round pick

Roy Philon –Louisville, DT, Sr: Big bodied run-stuffer with quick release and fast, powerful hands.  Does a nice job of getting off blocks quickly. Quick release and a powerful initial punch, keeping separation from blockers. Quick hands, often using a rip move or using his strength to throw defenders aside. Keeps his hips low and uses leverage on offensive linemen. Impressive speed in close quarters and can move well laterally to work down the line and make the play. Knifes through often and disrupts the play behind the line. High level of awareness, recognizing blockers letting him through for screens and using his physicality to make the play. Projected FA, worthy of a 6th round choice

Colby Way- Buffalo,DE/DT, Sr: Keeps separation from blockers with his long arms. Maintains position as runners approach the line and is able to throw blockers aside or break away to either side to make the play. Has a quick swim move to get past linemen and pressure the quarterback. Shows good pursuit and can use his long body to dive and catch runners from behind. Works down the line well to make the play from the offside. Would like to see him add some strength, bulk his frame up, and work on his technique and footwork. Projects as a FA, worthy of a 7th round choice

Chidera Uzo-Diribe- Colorado, DE, Sr: Shows a nice edge rush, using his speed and hands to get outside of blockers. Once he gets past the lineman he takes a sharp angle to the QB, not looping too far behind him, and gets his arms out to attempt to strip the ball. Has good pursuit to chase the play down and make the tackle, holds contain. Needs to improve his technique and incorporate more moves in getting off blockers. Blockers get used to his moves as the game goes, uses two moves. Is more present in the pass rush than in the run game, needs to hold the edge and get upfield and off blocks instead of getting stood up and losing vision of the play. Very raw, but has good athleticism to work with, high ceiling on this developmental project. Projected FA, worthy of a 7th round choice or a target FA

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