Christian Wilkins*, 3-4DE, Clemson
Height: 6-4. Weight: 310. Projected 40 Time: 5.00. Projected Round (2018): 1-2. 11/18/17: Wilkins has 44 tackles with seven tackles for a loss and four sacks in 2017. All year, he has played well, using speed and athleticism to cause disruption at the point of attack. In speaking with sources at multiple teams, they see Wilkins as a future first-rounder.
9/1/17: Wilkins played well for Clemson in 2016 as part of a tough defensive line that controlled the point of attack. The sophomore recorded 48 tackles with 13 tackles for a loss, 3.5 sacks and 10 passes batted. Wilkins made 33 tackles and two sacks as a freshman in 2015. He has a nice skill set with upside.
Wilkins had to play a lot of defensive end last year because of injury. He displayed a nice ability to play there, but his NFL home is on the inside. As a pass-rusher, Wilkins was able to get after the quarterback with pressure coming around the corner. He looked the most dangerous when lining up over guards and firing past them to cause disruption in the backfield. While he played a lot of end, at his weight, Wilkins really doesn't have edge rusher speed for the NFL. He will have to rush from the inside as a pro, but that is his natural position anyway. Wilkins was a solid run defender, too. He has a strong, thick lower body to hold his ground at the point of attack.
Vita Vea*, 3-4DE, Washington
Height: 6-5. Weight: 332. Projected 40 Time: 5.20. Projected Round (2018): 1-2. 11/18/17: This year, Vea has 30 tackles with three sacks and three passes batted. Team sources say that Vea could be a pick in the back half of the first round during the 2018 NFL Draft. Vea's play this season will help his chances of being a first-round pick. He has shown the ability to contribute somewhat in the pass rush while being big, strong, and having a burst at the point of attack. Vea is very reminiscent of Danny Shelton at Washington, and Shelton ended up going as a top-20 draft pick. That was a bit of a reach by Cleveland, but Vea could end up going in the first round.
9/1/17: Vea was a load at the point of attack for Washington in 2016. On the year, he totaled 39 tackles with 6.5 tackles for a loss, five sacks, one force fumble and two passes batted. Vea has a serious combination of size, length, strength, and quickness at the point of attack.
For the NFL, Vea projects as a heavy nose tackle who can be tough at the point of attack. He is a big, thick and strong. Vea can use his size and strength eat up blockers and generally holds gap integrity. He has a quick burst off the snap, and there are times where his size, power, and quickness overwhelm smaller interior linemen. Vea is at his best when he tries to bull his way into the backfield to cause disruption. With his upper body strength and the power in his base, Vea can push off or through blocks. He has a good motor and gives a second effort, too.
Vea needs to show improvement in the pass rush during 2017. The junior needs to develop some pass-rushing moves to go with his bull rush. He has to become more consistent in creating pressure and laying hits on the quarterback in order to be a highly in-demand draft prospect. Otherwise, he could be viewed as just a nose tackle.
Zach Allen*, 3-4DE, Boston College
Height: 6-5. Weight: 285. Projected 40 Time: 4.79. Projected Round (2018): 1-2. 11/18/17: Allen hasn't received the hype of teammate Harold Landry, but Allen is the better pro prospect and could easily be picked before Landry. Allen is a tough run defender who is strong to hold his ground at the point of attack. He anchors well and is tough to move. As a pass-rusher, Allen has an impressive first-step and burst out of his stance for a heavy defensive end. He has strength to get pressure on the bull rush and speed to close. Allen could use more pass-rushing moves for the NFL. With his size and strength, it would be nice to see him add a club or rip move.
Allen has totaled 78 tackles with 10 tackles for a loss, four sacks, three passes broken up and an interception in 2017. In the NFL, Allen will be an asset as a run defender playing end in a 4-3 or 3-4 defense. He looks like a potential first-rounder in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Taven Bryan*, 3-4DE, Florida
Height: 6-4. Weight: 295. Projected 40 Time: 4.99. Projected Round (2018): 1-2. 11/18/17: This season, Bryan has been enjoying a good year with 33 tackles with four tackles for a loss and three sacks. He had a dominant game against Texas A&M. In speaking with some scouting sources, Bryan has drawn comparisons to Denver Broncos defensive lineman Derek Wolfe. Some announcers have compared the 6-foot-4, 295-pounder Bryan to J.J. Watt, and in terms of style of play Bryan is reminiscent of Watt when Bryan is playing well, but Bryan is not consistently dominant to deserve a comparison to Watt.
Bryan has a tremendous get-off with serious explosion off the snap. He also has developed strength with active hands to shed blocks. With his length, Bryan can play end or tackle, and he would be a perfect fit as a five-technique.
Trenton Thompson*, 3-4DE, Georgia
Height: 6-4. Weight: 295. Projected 40 Time: 5.00. Projected Round (2018): 2-3. 11/18/17: Thus far in 2017, Thompson has totaled 26 tackles with three for a loss, but he also missed multiple games with an MCL sprain. Sources say that Thompson is a definite first-round talent, but they want him to play more consistent football. They also say his body type is a little odd for a three-technique and that his body type fits a 3-4 defensive end better.
9/1/17: Thompson really improved throughout the 2015 season and started to flash a special skill set. The sophomore totaled 56 tackles with 9.5 tackles for a loss, five sacks and a pass broken up. Thompson ended his junior year in superb fashion by dominating the AutoZone Liberty Bowl against TCU, recording three sacks.
One of the hardest things to find for a NFL defense is an interior defensive lineman capable of being a steady pass-rusher. Thompson is that rare kind of defender as he has a lot of ability to get after the quarterback. In the pass rush, he is a fast interior defender who routinely fires by guards to collapse the pocket. Thompson can bolt by guards, can use his speed to loop around the line on stunts, and can close on the quarterback in an instant. Thompson is very fast at firing his gap to create disruption in the backfield with an impressive ability to redirect to chase down quarterbacks and running backs. The speed also extends to run defense, as he can flow down the line to get in on tackles near the line of scrimmage.
Andrew Brown, 3-4DE, Virginia
Height: 6-4. Weight: 285. Projected 40 Time: 4.72. Projected Round (2018): 2-4. 11/18/17: This season, Brown has 34 tackles with 8.5 for a loss, 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble. He has a lot of talent, but doesn't play up to his skill set consistently.
9/1/17: Brown is a sturdy defender at the point of attack and impressed last year. Scouting sources say that Brown has a first-round skill set entering the 2017 season. In 2016, he totaled six sacks, 13 tackles for a loss and 38 tackles. Brown has good size to be a base end with quickness and athleticism to get after the quarterback.
Duke Ejiofor, 3-4DE, Wake Forest
Height: 6-4. Weight: 270. Projected 40 Time: 4.73. Projected Round (2018): 2-3. 11/18/17: Ejiofor has played well for Wake Forest in 2017, totaling 36 tackles with 14.5 for a loss, 6.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and one pass batted. Ejoifor is a solid, sturdy base end with size and quickness on the edge. Sources say they are grading him on Day 2 of the 2018 NFL Draft. They would like to see a more steady motor and consistency from Ejiofor. He may not have the skill set or consistency to be a first-rounder, but he could be a solid second-round pick.
9/1/17: Ejiofor goes under the radar playing at Wake Forest, but he was a real force in 2016. On the season, Ejiofor totaled 10.5 sacks, 50 tackles, four passes broken up, forced fumbles and one interception. He had 4.5 sacks as a sophomore.
Harrison Phillips, 3-4DE, Stanford
Height: 6-4. Weight: 295. Projected 40 Time: 5.24. Projected Round (2018): 3-5. 11/18/17: Phillips has turned himself into a NFL prospect with a solid senior season. He has 73 tackles with 12.5 tackles for a loss, five sacks and two forced fumbles this year. In speaking with a director of college scouting who has been scouting at Stanford, they felt that Phillips is a mid-rounder. He said that Phillips struggles with double teams and has limitations as a pass rusher for the NFL that push him down, but he thinks Phillips is a good run stuffer for the next level. They said his game similar to former Stanford nose tackle David Parry.
As a junior, Phillips had 46 tackles with 9.5 tackles for a loss and 6.5 sacks. He missed his sophomore season with an injury after backing up as a freshman.
B.J. Hill, 3-4DE, N.C. State
Height: 6-4. Weight: 315. Projected 40 Time: 5.17. Projected Round (2018): 3-5. 11/18/17: Hill is part of a talented defensive line for the Wolfpack, and all four their starters are future NFL contributors. Hill is a tough run defender at the point of attack who is tough to move and reliable to fill his gap. In 2017, the senior has 42 tackles with one sack and three passes batted. As a junior, he totaled 39 tackles with 2.5 for a loss, one sack, one forced fumble and three passes batted. Hill contributed 50 tackles as a sophomore with 3.5 sacks and 40 tackles as a freshman with 1.5 sacks.
Jerry Tillery*, 3-4DE, Notre Dame
Height: 6-6. Weight: 310. Projected 40 Time: 5.20. Projected Round (2018): 3-5. 11/18/17: Tillery has played well for Notre Dame as he is active at the point of attack. On the season, he has 40 tackles with 5.5 for a loss, three sacks and a forced fumble.
9/1/17: Tillery had 37 tackles with three tackles for a loss in 2016. The sophomore played better than the numbers illustrate and caused some havoc at the point of attack. Tillery has the skill set to develop into more production in 2017 and maybe 2018.
Folorunso Fatukasi, 3-4DE, Connecticut
Height: 6-4. Weight: 303. Projected 40 Time: 5.15. Projected Round (2018): 4-6 11/18/17: Fatukasi has 38 tackles, 6.5 for a loss and three sacks thus far this season.
9/1/17: Fatukasi had a quality junior year for the Huskies as he notched 43 tackles with 2.5 tackles for a loss, three sacks and a blocked kick. If Fatukasi can improve his pass rush as a senior, he could rise.
Da'Shawn Hand, 3-4DE, Alabama
Height: 6-4. Weight: 273. Projected 40 Time: 4.84. Projected Round (2018): 6-FA. 11/18/17: Hand has 16 tackles and one sack thus far in 2017. Scouting sources say that Hand is just a guy. They have him as a late-rounder in the 2018 NFL Draft or undrafted free agent.
9/1/17: Hand has never lived up to the hype after being the No. 1 recruit in the nation coming out of high school. He was more of a rotational player for Alabama in 2016, but he was playing better late in the season. Hand totaled 21 tackles and two sacks in 2016. With Jonathan Allen, Tim Williams, Dalvin Tomlinson and Ryan Anderson all moving on to the NFL, Hand should take on a bigger role as a senior. As a sophomore in 2015, he totaled 16 tackles with three sacks and 6.5 tackles for a loss.
Kahlil McKenzie Jr.*, 3-4DE, Tennessee
Height: 6-3. Weight: 325. Projected 40 Time: 5.17. Projected Round (2018): 5-7. 11/18/17: So far in 2017, McKenzie has 33 tackles with 3.5 for a loss and two sacks.
9/1/17: A pectoral injury limited McKenzie to only half the season in 2016. As a freshman in 2015, McKenzie flashed with 24 tackles and a sack. He has to stay healthy and produce as a junior.
Drew Bailey, 3-4DE, Louisville
Height: 6-5. Weight: 294. Projected 40 Time: 5.20. Projected Round (2018): 6-FA 11/18/17: Bailey has eight tackles with .5 sacks at this point this season.
9/1/17: Bailey was a quality run stuffer for Louisville in 2016. He totaled 58 tackles with nine tackles for a loss and two sacks on the year. Getting after the quarterback is critical to helping Bailey's draft stock.