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Marino | 2017 NFL Draft Positional Superlatives: Defensive Lineman

SEP 24 Charlotte at Temple
Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire

Scouting Notes

Marino | 2017 NFL Draft Positional Superlatives: Defensive Lineman

Next up on my positional superlatives series are defensive lineman which features two prospects ranked among my top 50 prospects and eight with day one or day two grades. This year’s crop of defensive lineman is underwhelming.

For complete analysis on the entire 2017 NFL Draft class, Joe Marino’s 2017 NFL Draft Scouting Portfolio is NOW AVAILABLE. The Portfolio consists of 300 prospect reports and is available with an NDT Scouting Premium Subscription.

Best Prospect:  Malik McDowell, Michigan State

SEP 24 Wisconsin at Michigan State

24 SEP 2016: Spartans defensive tackle Malik McDowell (4) catches his breath between plays during a Big Ten Conference NCAA football game between Michigan State and Wisconsin at Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, MI. (Photo by Adam Ruff/Icon Sportswire) Adam Ruff/Icon Sportswire

Malik McDowell is a versatile defensive lineman that can win with finesse and power. With the quickness to sidestep blocks, McDowell is able to shoot gaps and has the outstanding flexibility necessary to bend around offensive linemen. Also capable of winning with power components, McDowell can handle power right at him by leveraging his hips and halting blocks with powerful hands.

As a pass rusher, McDowell has the quickness and length that easily puts stress on an offensive lineman’s feet to stay square with his surge. The gripe on McDowell is a clear lack of consistency that is maddening. Given his exciting physical traits, McDowell has been a bit of a underachiever, but the traits and skill set are present and that of an NFL starter.

Best Resume:  Tanzel Smart, Tulane

My resume grades factor the injury history, off-field concerns and accolades that a player accumulates in their collegiate career and Smart scored the best. Appearing in 48 games (36 starts), Smart had no notable injury concerns and was clean off the field. He finished his career with back-to-back first team all-conference honors and a Senior Bowl Invitation.

Best Size:  Jarron Jones, Notre Dame

My size metric weighs all official measurements against positional averages over the last five years and Jones scored the best. Jones checks in at 6056, 316 pounds with 35 ½” arms and 10 ½” hands.

Best Production:  Larry Ogunjobi, UNC-Charlotte

My production metric factors total games started and consistency in statistical output and Ogunjobi scored the highest. Ogunjobi started all 46 games in his college career and racked up 217 tackles, 49 tackles for loss and 13 sacks. 

Best Athlete:  Chris Wormley, Michigan

My athleticism metric weighs all athletic testing results against positional averages over the last five years and Wormley had the best score.

  • 40-Yard Dash:  4.84
  • 10-Yard Split:  1.67
  • Bench Press:  23
  • Vertical Jump:  31 ½”
  • Broad Jump:  9’2’’
  • 3-Cone:  7.08
  • Short-Shuttle:  4.55

Best Run Defender: Dalvin Tomlinson, Alabama

Maintains gap integrity and is capable of defending two gaps. Powerful, stout, and difficult to move. Splits double teams and knows how to sink his hips and anchor. Extends his arms into the blocker’s chest plate and is able to reset the line of scrimmage. Stacks blocks and easily sheds. Can play through blocks and locate the football.

Best Pass Rusher:  Malik McDowell, Michigan State

Wins with power, burst, hand technique, and length. Effective rushing inside or outside. Puts considerable stress on the blocker’s feet when attacking gaps/crossing face.

Most Lateral Influence:  Malik McDowell, Michigan State

Tremendous lateral ability to work along the line of scrimmage and impact plays. Strong change of direction skills help him in pursuit. Flexible throughout his frame to contort his body and remain stout.

NOV 05 Maryland at Michigan

ANN ARBOR, MI – NOVEMBER 05: Maryland Terrapins quarterback Perry Hills (11) is tackled by Michigan Wolverines defensive end Chris Wormley (43) and Michigan Wolverines linebacker Ben Gedeon (42) during game action between the Maryland Terrapins and the Michigan Wolverines on November 5, 2016, at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, MI. (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire) Scott Grau/Icon Sportswire

Best Play Strength:  Chris Wormley, Michigan

Difficult man to move. Exceptional anchor. Can sink his hips, releverage his hips, and hold his ground. Heavy hands. Power is how he wins and he does it at a high level.

Top Sleeper:  Treyvon Hester, Toledo

Treyvon Hester dropped 20 pounds prior to his senior season, and it proved to be an excellent move. He improved his athleticism, which resulted in his best football at the end of his career. Hester is an active player off the ball that strikes quickly in the neutral zone with violent hands. Capable of resetting the line of scrimmage and quickly finding the football, Hester puts stress on blockers to quickly square their hips.

Hester has good burst and hand usage as a pass-rusher, making him a viable three-down player. Hester does need to improve his pad level, as much of what he initially gains with his activity off the ball is quickly mitigated because his pads get too high.

There are also noticeable moments during which his motor runs cold. Hester profiles as a rotational 3-technique in a 4-3 alignment and offers some upside to grow if he puts it all together.

Be sure to check out the rest of the positional superlatives series:

Tight Ends


Wide Receivers

Edge Defender

Running Backs


Interior Offensive Line


Offensive Tackles

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Joe Marino

Marino began his career as the Assistant Editor for USA Today Digital Properties Draft Sites Network in 2011. A member of the FWAA, Marino writes about the NFL, College Football and NFL Draft for FanRag Sports.

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