Best Defensive Linemen

Mar. 18, 2002


A lot like last year, this year's draft class is loaded at the top for defensive linemen. Look for this class to make a major impact during the 2002 NFL season.
  1. DE-Julius Peppers | North Carolina | 6-6 285 | 4.64 40 Time 

  2. What is there to say about this kid that hasn't already been said? Peppers has great size and exceptional speed. His technique needs more refining, but his potential is unlimited. 
    Ranking: No. 3, 1st Round.
  3. DT-Albert Haynesworth | Tennessee | 6-6 315 | 5.10 40 Time 

  4. Haynesworth has great size and agility for his size. He is a little raw and could have used another year in college. His down the road potential will make him a top ten pick. 
    Ranking: No. 6, 1st Round. 
  5. DT-Ryan Sims | North Carolina | 6-3 295 | 5.05 40 Time 

  6. Sims is the most complete defensive lineman in the draft. He's known primarily as a run stuffer, but is also a good pass rusher. 
    Ranking: No. 10, 1st Round.
  7. DT-Wendell Bryant | Wisconsin | 6-3 295 | 4.77 40 Time 

  8. Bryant is the wildcard of this class. He's the quickest of the group and has nice size. The problem is he doesn't always come to play. He'll show flashes of greatness, and then do nothing the rest of the game. 
    Ranking: No. 12, 1st Round. 
  9. DE-Kalimba Edwards | South Carolina | 6-5 255 | 4.56 40 Time 

  10. Edwards is considered by many to be a "Tweener" in the same mold as Tennessee Titans' DE Jevon Kearse. He has great speed and is an excellent pass rusher. The question is whether he is big enough to hold up against the run in the NFL. There's a possibility he will be moved to linebacker at the next level. 
    Ranking: No. 13, 1st Round.
  11. DT-John Henderson | Tennessee | 6-7 290 | 4.95 40 Time 

  12. Once regarded as the best prospect in the nation. Injuries cost Henderson a lot in the eyes of scouts this year. Henderson is massive and actually looks like he could get bigger. Overall he's still an excellent prospect, but durability concerns will cause him to slide. 
    Ranking: No. 16, 1st Round. 
  13. DE-Alex Brown | Florida | 6-3 260 | 4.69 40 Time 

  14. Brown is one of the premier pass rushers of this class. He worked hard this past season on his run defense and he really improved in this area. With some added bulk Brown has the potential to a special player at the next level. 
    Ranking: No. 19, 1st Round.
  15. DT-Larry Tripplett | Washington | 6-1 305 | 4.94 40 Time 

  16. Tripplett was one of the more dominating defensive linemen this past season. The problem is Tripplett is somewhat undersized due to his lack of height. We view him as very underrated. 
    Ranking: No. 22, 1st Round. 
  17. DE-Dennis Johnson | Kentucky | 6-6 265 | 4.80 40 Time 

  18. Johnson is a pure pass rusher. He has the size and speed to be a premier defensive end in the NFL. Right now he plays with too much finesse and needs to get stronger. 
    Ranking: No. 24, 1st Round. 
  19. DE-Charles Grant | Georgia | 6-3 265 | 4.65 40 Time 

  20. Grant was a surprise early entry candidate. He's a pass rusher, with little run stopping ability at this point. His size and great speed will keep him from sliding too far on draft day though. 
    Ranking: No. 42, 2nd Round.
  21. DE-Dwight Freeney | Syracuse | 6-1 250 | 4.54 40 Time 

  22. Freeney is a one-dimensional pass rusher. His lack of ideal size will cause him to slide a little, but his college production will keep him from sliding very far. He appears to be no more than a situational pass rusher at this point. 
    Ranking: No. 43, 2nd Round.
  23. DT-Dorsett Davis | Mississippi State | 6-5 305 | 5.05 40 Time 

  24. We consider Davis the sleeper of this class. He wasn't overly impressive in college, but has great size and is a tremendous athlete. He may take a little time to develop. 
    Ranking: No. 52, 2nd Round.
  25. DT-Anthony Weaver | Notre Dame | 6-3 280 | 4.89 40 Time 

  26. Weaver was a very productive college player, spending most of his time playing end. He projects as a tackle at the next level. Overall he's one of the best all around prospects of this class, just not overly impressive in any one area. 
    Ranking: No. 54, 2nd Round. 
  27. DE-Kenyon Coleman | UCLA | 6-4 275 | 4.93 40 Time 

  28. Coleman is a hit or miss prospect. He looks like he should be much better than he is. Injuries hampered him throughout his career, none of which should have much effect on his draft stock. Some added bulk could help him reach his potential. 
    Ranking: No. 62, 2nd Round.
  29. DT-Eddie Freeman | Alabama-Birmingham | 6-4 290 | 4.95 40 Time 

  30. Freeman is a massive talent who is very inexperienced. With some coaching he could develop into a solid tackle with a lot of upside. He's a pretty big project at this point though. 
    Ranking: No. 69, 3rd Round.
  31. DT-Alan Harper | Fresno State | 6-2 285 | 5.31 40 Time 

  32. Harper has a great motor and a real nose for the ball. Problem is he will likely get pushed around a lot at his current size. If he can add bulk without losing any quickness, he could develop into a promising player. 
    Ranking: No. 77, 3rd Round. 
  33. DE-Ryan Denney | Brigham Young | 6-6 270 | 4.92 40 Time 

  34. Denney has good size and above average speed. He's not outstanding in any specific area, but is solid in all facets of the game. He doesn't appear to be much more than a solid NFL starter at best. 
    Ranking: No. 84, 3rd Round.
  35. DT-Nate Dwyer | Kansas State | 6-2 295 | 5.21 40 Time 

  36. Dwyer is a run stuffer with little upside. He isn't very fast, but has good instincts and should be a more than adequate backup. 
    Ranking: No. 93, 3rd Round.
  37. DT-Jovon Bush | Clemson | 6-4 295 | 5.18 40 Time 

  38. Bush has the size it takes to make it in the NFL. He's inexperienced and never was very impressive when he played in college. He may be a late bloomer. He's a decent prospect due to his size and potential. 
    Ranking: No. 94 3rd Round.
  39. DE-Bryan Thomas | Alabama-Birmingham | 6-4 255 | 4.58 40 Time 

  40. Thomas is a pass rush specialist. He's a little on the small side, and could be in for a rough go if he doesn't add some bulk. He'll get a shot due to his pass rush skills. 
    Ranking: No. 110,4th Round.
  41. DE-Carlos Hall | Arkansas | 6-3 260 | 4.69 40 Time 

  42. Hall is a former college linebacker who's making the switch to defensive end. He's still adding weight and has a lot of upside. Right now he's still a project. 
    Ranking: No. 111, 4th Round. 
  43. DE-Conner Stephens | Mississippi State | 6-4 250 | 4.87 40 Time 

  44. Stephens looks the part of an NFL lineman. He's got all the tools to be successful, but just hasn't played up to his ability as of yet. He may be a late developer, or maybe just a backup prospect. 
    Ranking: No. 121, 4th Round.
  45. DT-Robert Bernard | Texas A&M | 6-3 295 | 4.96 40 Time 

  46. Bernard is a great physical talent, but hasn't reached his ability yet. In 2000 he tore an ACL in his knee, and looks to finally be back to full strength. He never stood out much in college, but his size and athleticism should earn him a shot in the NFL. 
    Ranking: No. 122, 4th Round. 
  47. DT-Charles Hill | Maryland | 6-2 285 | 4.99 40 Time 

  48. Hill is a run stuffing tackle with little else to offer. If he bulks up he may eventually land a starting job. Overall he looks like a backup right now. 
    Ranking: No. 134, 5th Round.
  49. DT-Antwan Lake | West Virginia | 6-5 285 | 5.01 40 Time 

  50. Lake is a former tight end converted to defensive tackle. He never really showed a lot in college, but he's very athletic and has good size. He's a developmental prospect. 
    Ranking: No. 142, 5th Round.
  51. DE-Joey Evans | North Carolina | 6-4 260 | 4.91 40 Time 

  52. Evans is your typical average contributor with good size. He doesn't appear to have much upside, but could be a part time starter if he gets a little bigger and develops some pass rush moves. 
    Ranking: No. 143, 5th Round.
  53. DT-Mike Collins | Ohio State | 6-2 290 | 5.11 40 Time 

  54. Collins played nose tackle in college and will have a tough time finding a home in the NFL. He's mostly just a big guy in there to take up space. He did show some flashes, but his best bet will be to hook up with one of the few teams that still use a nose tackle. 
    Ranking: No. 152, 5th Round.
  55. DT-Ma-ake Kemoeatu | Utah | 6-5 310 | 5.30 40 Time 

  56. Kemoeatu is a huge interior lineman with good run stopping ability. You won't get much pass rush out of him, but he could fit in as a good extra tackle to rotate in on running situations. 
    Ranking: No. 157, 5th Round.
  57. DT-Josh Shaw | Michigan State | 6-3 285 | 4.93 40 Time 

  58. Shaw was a very productive college player. He currently lacks the size it takes to hold up at the next level. If he can bulk up he could earn a roster spot for somebody. 
    Ranking: No. 161, 6th Round.
  59. DT-Anthony Fletcher | UCLA | 6-2 290 | 5.18 40 Time 

  60. Fletcher is another player with plenty of experience, but lacks the size to make a real impact in the NFL. He looks to be a solid backup run stopping prospect. 
    Ranking: No. 165, 6th Round.
  61. DE-Akin Ayodele | Purdue | 6-2 250 | 4.77 40 Time 

  62. Ayodele is a converted linebacker with very good pass rushing skills. His lack of size will cause him to fall on draft day. He has some potential as a pass rush specialist. 
    Ranking: No. 170, 6th Round.