I gotta say, I’m not in love with this defensive class. I don’t see that classic ace middle linebacker or that amazing safety talent that’s so obvious to produce 120+ tackles as a rookie or even in year two. There are nice DE edge rushers as well as multi-faceted, athletic OLBs but none super-high-end except one guy sticking out as a possible elite.
1) OLB/DE Harold Landry, Boston College
The fastest, quickest EDGE rusher in the 2018 NFL Draft and comes with a series of pro-style pass rush moves as well…not just ‘all athlete’ getting to the QB. Landry is well rounded enough to rush the passer, but also play the run, and drop into coverage. He’s going to put up stats/numbers and be a real value if he gets classified as a ‘DE’ instead of an ‘LB’, but I gotta think he’ll be an OLB in the pros but on a 4-3 defense he’d likely be a DE.
Likelihood to be classified DE for IDP = 40%
2) DE Bradley Chubb, NC State
He might be an ‘A’, he might be a ‘B’ -- but you know he’s good, and further more…you know he’s going to be drafted highly and he’ll start right away. You’re going to get production year one and might have a good or great one on your hands eventually.
Likelihood to be classified DE for IDP = 70%
3) DE Marcus Davenport, UTSA
More likely to be classified a DE than Landry or Chubb and he’ll be asked to rush the passer at will. He could post 8-10+ sacks his rookie season with some more refinement of his pass rushing skills. He has the body, reach, athleticism…just needs to put it all together. Usually, guys like him breakout in year two.
Likelihood to be classified DE for IDP = 85%
4) LB Trumaine Edmunds, Va Tech
He’s going to be a three-down player who can rush the passer, cover in the passing game, and he should rack up a decent count of tackles with his athleticism and long arms/reach. He’s not going to redefine the OLB position, but he’ll be solid and should start right away.
5) LB Roquan Smith, Georgia
I like Smith better for fantasy/IDP than I do for the NFL – he’s going to be drafted highly, thrown right into the starting lineup, probably as a (miscast) ILB, where he will get tackle counts but also use his pursuit skills to get into the backfield and be solid in coverage. His IDP numbers will likely outshine his real value to an NFL team (like a poor man’s Myles Jack).
6) LB Dorian O’Daniel, Clemson – I’m really heating up on O’Daniel. As good a movement skill as there is among the LB or SAF group. He has Telvin Smith possibilities.
7) DT P.J. Hall, Sam Houston State – Pure gamble on poor man Aaron Donald athleticism.
8) SAF Godwin Igwebuike, Northwestern – If he can land right and get into the starting lineup quick, he’s going to be quietly very good right away.
9) OLB Shaquem Griffin, C Florida – Might should have him higher…might should not have on here at all. A dilemma. Elite speed, trouble holding tackles and shedding blockers. Depends upon how a team uses him.
10) LB Christian Sam, Arizona State – A solid ILB, a more classic sit in the middle ILB. Not great, but solid in a sea of not so great ILB prospects this year.