This is a great year to need a player inside on your defensive line, as there are a number of athletes who are monstrosities to behold, but they can also move and penetrate into the offensive backfield to make plays behind the line of scrimmage. There are about 10 that look to be top 100 players with ranges in talent that fit all schemes, including several that will work into the first round. This is a great year to need Front 7 help.
Eddie Goldman, Florida State
Goldman is a very interesting combination of physical talent and high expectations that have yet to be realized. Florida State is known for getting top talent, but you’d like to see a player like Goldman produce more than just eight tackles for loss and four sacks his last season in college. He routinely gets upfield and can make things happen behind the line of scrimmage. He possesses the ability to make a big push on the pass rush and collapse the pocket from the middle. He is very good with his arms and hands and can control and move blockers with his strength. He is very good with leverage and is a load to deal with all afternoon. His most appealing attribute from a Dallas standpoint will be his interior strength. I really liked his motor in games both from a consistency level and from a standpoint of not giving up on any play. He fights and moves as a play develops, which gives him many opportunities. He reminds me quite a bit of Nick Fairley. He has room to grow and develop as either a 1-technique or a 3-technique in a 4-3 defense and would be a fine target for Dallas if he were to fall to them at No. 27.
Leonard Williams, Southern Cal
Williams, only 20 years old, can do it all and play anywhere you want him to on the defensive front. He is so quick and disruptive and gets after the quarterback or the ball carrier constantly. His skills are enormous, and he is quite possibly the best player in this draft — regardless of position. There are players you know are too good to fall to you, so then you just hope they don’t go to one of your rivals because they are that good. That is Williams this year.
Xavier Cooper, Washington State
In this year’s crop of large and able-bodied defensive linemen, there are a few who jump out of their film as candidates who would fit the style of what Rod Marinelli is doing in Dallas, yet might be available in Rounds 2 and 3. Cooper is that type of player. He fits the two things valued in Dallas: he has a very high motor and the ability to penetrate and make a play behind the line of scrimmage. He is as fast as any player in this group, but also has exceptionally short arms, which will not help his draft spot.
Best of Texas
Malcom Brown, Texas
There were times in 2014 that the Longhorns defense did not look great. But in almost every game, their big defensive tackle did. Brown made a lot of plays behind the line of scrimmage with 21.5 explosive plays (sacks and tackles for loss). He possesses quickness and strength and uses both to the extent of drawing double-teams. He can fit in any scheme and has a great makeup. A sure first-round pick and difference-maker.
Sturm’s Top 10
|1. Leonard Williams||Southern Cal||6-4||302||Unreal skill set that should dominate NFL|
|2. Danny Shelton||Washington||6-2||339||Massive frame with impressive quickness|
|3. Malcom Brown||Texas||6-2||319||Perfect 3-technique penetrator|
|4. Eddie Goldman||Florida St.||6-4||336||Still yet to fully reach potential|
|5. Grady Jarrett||Clemson||6-0||304||Undersized, but so very quick|
|6. Carl Davis||Iowa||6-4||320||Greatly admired, but motor questions|
|7. Xavier Cooper||Washington St.||6-3||293||Incredible athlete buried on bad team|
|8. Jordan Phillips||Oklahoma||6-5||329||Serious health considerations|
|9. Michael Bennett||Ohio St.||6-2||293||Needs the right scheme/situation|
|10. Rakeem Nunez-Roches||Southern Miss||6-2||307||Underrated and raw skill set|