Arden Key*, 3-4OLB, LSU
Height: 6-5. Weight: 260. Projected 40 Time: 4.70. Projected Round (2018): Top-10. 11/18/17: Key had a slow start to the season. He missed two games and then had to work himself back into playing shape after shoulder surgery limited his offseason training. Midway through the year, Key has come on to be a dynamic speed rusher off the edge. Team sources still have Key as high first-rounder and think he could be a devastating pass-rusher in the NFL.
In 2017, Key has 33 tackles with four sacks and a forced fumble. He put together impressive games against Mississippi State, Auburn and Florida. Key made a sack to clinch the comeback win over Auburn. He was phenomenal against Alabama and the Crimson Tide couldn't block him.
Sources tell me there are some off-the-field concerns with Key, which could push him lower. While there are concerns, scouts also say that Key loves football and has worked on his own with pass-rushing guru Chuck Smith to develop his skills. The team interviews are going to be important for Key.
9/1/17: Key was one of the best players in college football in 2016. He recorded 56 tackles with 14.5 for a loss, 12 sacks, three forced fumbles and three passes broken up on the year. He flashed a ton of potential as a freshman for LSU, totaling 41 tackles with 6.5 for a loss, five sacks and one pass broken up. Key is a dangerous pass-rusher with excellent speed and the ability to bend around the corner. He is lightning fast off the edge and has a ton of upside to develop.
Clelin Ferrell**, 3-4OLB, Clemson
Height: 6-5. Weight: 265. Projected 40 Time: 4.77. Projected Round (2018): 1-2. 11/18/17: Clemson has a defensive line that is comprised of future first-round picks, and some sources think that Ferrell creates some of the big plays for the Tigers' other defensive linemen. Fellow defensive end Austin Bryant is playing himself into an early-rounder this year, but Bryant has done well cleaning up a lot of scrambling quarterbacks running away from Ferrell. Ferrell looks like a future first-round pick in the 2018 or 2019 NFL Draft.
Ferrell has superb speed with athleticism and the ability bend around the corner. He has 52 tackles with 14 tackles for a loss, 7.5 sacks, one pass batted and one forced fumble in 2017.
9/1/17: Ferrell had an impressive redshirt freshman season for the Tigers in 2016 as he totaled 44 tackles with 12.5 tackles for a loss, six sacks and two passes batted. Ferrell has a good skill set with size, so he could easily rise with his year of experience.
Dorance Armstrong Jr.*, 3-4OLB, Kansas
Height: 6-4. Weight: 241. Projected 40 Time: 4.60. Projected Round (2018): 1-2. 11/18/17: In 2017, Armstrong has 53 tackles with eight for a loss, one sack, three forced fumbles and a pass batted. Sources have said they continue to be impressed by Armstrong. He is a fast edge defender with very good athleticism. He also sees lots of double teams with plays going away from him.
9/1/17: In 2016 as a sophomore, Armstrong had some serious production with 10 sacks, 20 tackles for a loss, 56 tackles and three forced fumbles while being a First-Team All-Big XII selection. One general manager told me that they think Armstrong is a stud and can't see him staying for his senior year in 2018. They said that Armstrong could be on a par or better than Boston College senior edge rusher Harold Landry. That general manager thought Landry would have been a late first- or second-round pick if he had entered the 2017 NFL Draft.
Austin Bryant*, 3-4OLB, Clemson
Height: 6-4. Weight: 265. Projected 40 Time: 4.77. Projected Round (2018): 1-2. 11/18/17: Scouting sources have told me they felt that Bryant has been playing his way into a first-round-caliber prospect this season. He has been a dynamic speed rusher and a pass-rushing force for one of the best defenses in college football. In 2017, Bryant has 7.5 sacks with 43 tackles, 14.5 for a loss, one interception and two forced fumbles.
9/1/17: Bryant missed eight games for Clemson in 2016. As a result, he had 13 tackles with two sacks on the season. In 2015, he had 23 tackles with 1.5 sacks. Clemson feels that Bryant has a lot of ability and is excited about him for 2017.
Harold Landry, 3-4OLB, Boston College
Height: 6-3. Weight: 250. Projected 40 Time: 4.67. Projected Round (2018): 1-2. 11/18/17: In 2017, the senior has 38 tackles with 8.5 tackles for a loss, five sacks and two passes broken up. He has missed a few games with an ankle injury. Multiple team sources say they see Landry as a late first- or early second-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Landry was a liability versus the run against the Fighting Irish, recording only one tackle while Notre Dame ran for seven touchdowns and had two players exceed 200 yards rushing. On the vast majority of his plays, Landry went against a freshman right tackle, yet was ineffective. Landry also lost his few reps against Mike McGlinchey, plus got rag dolled by Quenton Nelson. It was an ugly performance for Landry. He was slightly better against Clemson.
9/1/17: Landry had an impressive junior season as an edge rusher for Boston College, recording 16.5 sacks, 22 tackles for a loss, seven forced fumbles, four passes batted and 51 tackles. He contributed as a sophomore with 60 stops, and 4.5 sacks. Landry could fit best as a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL. A general manager told me they thought Landry would have been a late first- or second-round pick if he had entered the 2017 NFL Draft.
Sam Hubbard, 3-4OLB, Ohio State
Height: 6-5. Weight: 266. Projected 40 Time: 4.78. Projected Round (2018): 1-2. 11/18/17: Thus far in 2017, Hubbard has 30 tackles with 7.5 tackles for a loss and two sacks. He has had good moments, but still doesn't always play up to his great skill set.
9/1/17: In 2016, Hubbard collected 46 tackles with eight for a loss, 3.5 sacks and two passes batted. While rotating into the game as a sophomore, he showed his potential with 6.5 sacks. Hubbard also had 28 tackles with an interception. The senior could explode in 2017 as he has an early round skill set. Hubbard has a lot of physical talent, but he hasn't produced up to it. He could rise high if that changes as a senior.
Josh Sweat*, 3-4OLB, Florida State
Height: 6-5. Weight: 250. Projected 40 Time: 4.75. Projected Round (2018): 1-3. 11/18/17: Sweat has been solid in 2017 with some good performances and some quiet games. He has 49 tackles with 11.5 tackles for a loss, 4.5 sacks and three passes batted on the year. One positive for Sweat has been staying on the field and avoiding injury thus far.
9/1/17: Sweat has a lot of talent and was starting to flash as a sophomore in 2016. He had seven sacks, 11.5 tackles for a loss, 41 tackles and one forced fumble on the year. Sources say that Sweat has a first-round skill set and could explode as a junior.
Sweat comes with major durability concerns, however. He still has instability in a few locations in his knee from an injury he suffered early in his senior year of high school. Sources say Florida State has tried a variety of methods to rehab the knee, which hasn't responded. Because he could have his NFL career limited to one contract, sources say they hear that Sweat is going to skip his senior year and enter the 2018 NFL Draft. The knee injury could cause him to slide even though he has Thursday-night edge-rushing talent.
Marcell Frazier, 3-4OLB, Missouri
Height: 6-5. Weight: 260. Projected 40 Time: 4.74. Projected Round (2018): 2-3. 11/18/17: Frazier has 26 tackles with 5.5 sacks and 8.5 tackles for a loss this season. He had a slow start to the year before playing better midway through the year. Sources say that Frazier's development has been hurt by Missouri losing star defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski to Miami.
9/1/17: Missouri has been a factory for NFL defensive line talent in recent years. With Charles Harris on the other side, Frazier was able to do some damage in 2016. The junior came on strong at the end of the season. On the year, Frazier notched 7.5 sacks with 33 tackles. He had two sacks as a backup in 2015. Frazier could be poised for a big 2017 season as it looked like the light came on for him late in the 2016 season.
Porter Gustin*, 3-4OLB, USC
Height: 6-5. Weight: 260. Projected 40 Time: 4.74. Projected Round (2018): 2-3. 11/18/17: Gustin has 16 tackles with three tackles for a loss and three sacks in 2017. A toe and biceps injury sidelined him after three games. He missed five games, came back to play against Arizona State, and then missed the next two contests.
9/1/17: Gustin may end up growing into a defensive end, but he showed some edge skills as a freshman and sophomore. In 2015, he totaled 5.5 sacks while also chipping in 25 tackles with 6.5 for a loss. It was an impressive season from a freshman, and he was only a rotational player with two starts. As a sophomore, Gustin notched 68 tackles with 5.5 sacks and four passes batted. He started at outside linebacker and could be a good fit for 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL.
James Hearns*, 3-4OLB, Louisville
Height: 6-3. Weight: 249. Projected 40 Time: 4.65. Projected Round (2018): 2-4. 11/18/17: Hearns has 34 tackles with 10.5 for a loss, six sacks and two passes batted for 2017. He played well against Clemson after underwhelming against North Carolina. Hearns has been very streaky this season. He should return for his senior year to get stronger and play more consistently.
4/24/17: Sources say that Hearns is a bigger version of Devonte Fields. They say that Hearns is loose, limber, quick and fast to close. He needs to be more consistent, but his pass rush talent is developed. In 2016, Hearns totaled 42 tackles with 10 tackles for a loss, eight sacks, two passes batted and five forced fumbles. Hearns could produce a big 2017 season.
Lorenzo Carter, 3-4OLB, Georgia
Height: 6-6. Weight: 242. Projected 40 Time: 4.75. Projected Round (2018): 2-4. 11/18/17: Carter has been much improved as a senior while starting to play up to his athletic potential. He showed dangerous edge-rushing skills against Notre Dame and made a lot of big plays to help the Bulldogs win in South Bend. In 2017, Carter has 35 tackles with four sacks, two forced fumbles and 6.5 tackles for a loss. Sources say they are giving Carter third- or fourth-round grades, although the team that likes him enough to draft him could take him earlier.
9/1/17: Carter has flashed during is career at Georgia, yet hasn't put everything together in one season yet. Perhaps that will happen as a senior. He started out his career with 4.5 sacks as a freshman to go with 41 tackles. Carter was quiet during his sophomore year with 19 tackles and zero sacks. In 2016, he recorded 44 tackles with five sacks and two forced fumbles. Carter came on late lsat season, so perhaps he will have a big senior year. Carter has a nice skill set with speed, athleticism and length.
Jaylon Ferguson, 3-4OLB, Louisiana Tech
Height: 6-5. Weight: 255. Projected 40 Time: 4.72. Projected Round (2018): 3-4. 11/18/17: In 2017, Ferguson has 31 tackles with four sacks and five tackles for a loss.
9/1/17: Ferguson had a huge 2016 season as he racked up 14.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, two passes broken up, 16 tackles for a loss and 49 tackles. Ferguson impressed as a freshman as well with six sacks, 35 tackles and two forced fumbles. He could stand to get stronger for the NFL, but he could be an exciting prospect for the 2018 or 2019 NFL Draft.
Sione Teuhema, 3-4OLB, Southeast Louisiana
Height: 6-4. Weight: 245. Projected 40 Time: 4.70. Projected Round (2018): 3-4. 11/18/17: In 2017, Teuhema has 73 tackles with 16.5 tackles for a loss, nine sacks, two forced fumbles and one pass broken up. Teuhema has impressed scouts this year, and they say that the off-the-field concerns that caused him to leave LSU weren't a serious concern. In fact, the LSU staff speaks highly of Teuhema to scouts.
9/1/17: Teuhema is the older brother of Maea Teuhema, who was a standout guard for LSU before leaving the program this year. Sources say that Sione Teuhema played last season with an ACL injury and still showed explosiveness and athleticism. They think he could be an effective rusher as a Sam - strongside - linebacker in the NFL. Across his eight games last year, he notched four sacks. Sione Teuhema also started out his collegiate career at LSU before leaving the program. Scouts are excited to see how Teuhema plays with better health and his increased experience this season.
Chad Thomas, 3-4OLB, Miami
Height: 6-6. Weight: 265. Projected 40 Time: 4.78. Projected Round (2018): 3-4. 11/18/17: Thomas has 20 tackles with 7.5 for a loss and three sacks in 2017. Sources tell me that Thomas is really talented physically, but he hasn't put it all together on the field. There are flashes of excellence and stretches of doing nothing while looking clueless. They say that Thomas lacks instincts as well. However because of his great skill set, grades are going to be all over the board on Thomas.
9/1/17: Thomas has flashed at times for Miami over the past couple of seasons. In 2016, he collected 37 tackles with 11 for a loss, four sacks and three passes broken up. He had 18 tackles with a sack, four passes batted and one forced fumble in 2015.
Ade Aruna, 3-4OLB, Tulane
Height: 6-4. Weight: 265. Projected 40 Time: 4.70. Projected Round (2018): 3-4. 11/18/17: Aruna has 18 tackles with three tackles for a loss and three sacks in 2017.
9/1/17: Scouts going to fall camps during the preseason told me that Aruna is a sleeper prospect who could end up being a steal. Aruna is said to run the 40-yard dash in the 4.65-4.75-second range, which is very fast for a defensive end. He is only in his fifth year of organized football, however, and is considered to be super raw. Sources label him as a fast, explosive athlete who is still harnessing his talent and learning the game. In 2016 as a junior, Aruna totaled 43 tackles with 10 for a loss, five sacks and one forced fumble for the Green Wave. Sources say that the senior has the frame to hold 280 pounds and could be a 4-3 open-edge defensive end.
Marquis Haynes*, 3-4OLB, Ole Miss
Height: 6-3. Weight: 222. Projected 40 Time: 4.64. Projected Round (2018): 3-4. 11/18/17: Haynes has 39 tackles with 9.5 for a loss, 7.5 sacks and three forced fumbles thus far in 2017. The senior is a limited role player for the NFL as a designated pass-rusher (DPR). Sources say that Haynes isn't the fastest of learners, so switching to traditional outside linebacker in a 4-3 defense is not being projected for him. However, scouts like his natural edge-rush ability and think he could be a good contributor as a DPR.
9/1/17: As a junior, Haynes played well and illustrated that he can be a difference-maker as a situational defender. In 2016, Haynes had 53 tackles, 11 tackles for a loss, three forced fumbles, three passes batted, one interception and seven sacks. His sophomore season was even better with 43 tackles, 16.5 for a loss, 10 sacks, three forced fumbles and two passes batted. He recorded 31 tackles with nine tackles for a loss and 7.5 sacks as a freshman.
Haynes is fast off the edge and has some natural pass-rushing skills to him. He is a heat-seeking missile off the edge who is a natural pass-rusher. Haynes also has functional strength that was illustrated by bull rush sacks through Alabama's Cam Robinson and Florida State's Roderick Johnson in 2016.
However, Haynes is extremely undersized and will have to move to outside linebacker in the NFL. Even for that position, he will need to get stronger, but he has a real knack for producing sacks in the clutch and had an impact in Ole Miss beating Alabama in 2015. Haynes has to get better in run defense or he will just be a situational rusher in the NFL.
Uchenna Nwosu, 3-4OLB, USC
Height: 6-2. Weight: 240. Projected 40 Time: 4.75. Projected Round (2018): 3-4. 11/18/17: Nwosu is enjoying a good season for the Trojans to help himself. On the year, he has 60 tackles with 7.5 tackles for a loss, 5.5 sacks, one interception and 11 passes broken up.
Nwosu is a pursuit outside linebacker for the NFL. He has some speed and athleticism off the edge. In the ground game and in the pass rush, Nwosu can struggle with the length and strength of offensive tackles, leading to him getting covered up. Nwosu would fit best as a a 3-4 outside linebacker.
Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, 3-4OLB, Oklahoma
Height: 6-1. Weight: 242. Projected 40 Time: 4.69. Projected Round (2018): 3-5. 11/18/17: In 2017, Okoronkwo has eight sacks with 58 tackles, 16 tackles for a loss, two passes batted and three forced fumbles. He has been a leading defender for the Sooners and has received a lot of media hype.
In speaking with a director of college scouting, they say they think that Okoronkwo is fast and explosive to rush the passer, but is tight. He gets covered by length and mass on the edge with offensive tackles, and that will be a bigger issue in the NFL. They think that Okoronkwo could be a hybrid inside and outside linebacker for the NFL. They gave him a fourth-/fifth-round grade.
9/1/17: Okoronkwo was a dangerous edge defender for the Sooners in 2016. The juniot totaled 71 tackles with 12 tackles for a loss, nine sacks, three passes batted and two forced fumbles. It was a breakout season after serving as a backup in the previous seasons.
Tyquan Lewis, 3-4OLB, Ohio State
Height: 6-4. Weight: 260. Projected 40 Time: 4.74. Projected Round (2018): 3-5. 11/18/17: Lewis has 13 tackles, 4.5 sacks, six tackles for a loss and two passes batted this season.
9/1/17: Lewis totaled 29 tackles with eight sacks, three forced fumbles, 10.5 tackles for a loss and two passes batted last season. Some scouting sources say they graded Lewis as a mid-round talent for the 2017 NFL Draft before he decided to return for his senior year. In 2015, Lewis totaled 54 tackles with 14 tackles for a loss, eight sacks and one pass broken up. It was an impressive season for the sophomore. Lewis started across from Joey Bosa and led the Buckeyes in sacks.
CeCe Jefferson*, 3-4OLB, Florida
Height: 6-1. Weight: 261. Projected 40 Time: 4.72. Projected Round (2018): 3-5. 11/18/17: So far in 2017, Jefferson has 33 tackles with nine tackles for a loss and three sacks.
9/1/17: Jefferson has been a edge rusher who has flashed for Florida over the past two seasons as part of a rotation. As a freshman in 2015, he had 29 tackles with 8.5 tackles for a loss, 3.5 sacks and one forced fumble. Jefferson didn't take the next step as a sophomore with 30 tackles, 6.5 for a loss and 1.5 sacks. The junior is capable of breaking out in 2017. His body type could make him more of a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL rather than at defensive end.
Davin Bellamy, 3-4OLB, Georgia
Height: 6-5. Weight: 240. Projected 40 Time: 4.78. Projected Round (2018): 4-6. 11/18/17: Bellamy has really picked up his play as a senior and was very impressive against Notre Dame. He beat Fighting Irish left tackle Mike McGlinchey on a speed rush to get a strip-sack to close out Georgia's one-score victory late in the fourth quarter. In 2017, Bellamy has 24 tackles with five tackles for a loss, 2.5 sacks, two passes batted, and a forced fumble.
Sources say they're projecting Bellamy to Day 3 of the 2018 NFL Draft. They think Bellamy is a bit of a tweener and wonder if he can add weight to play defensive end. They also say Bellamy is not all that impressive as pass-rusher.
9/1/17: Bellamy recorded 51 tackles with nine for a loss, five sacks and one pass batted as a junior. He had 33 tackles with three sacks, 5.5 tackles for a loss and one pass broken up in 2015.
Jacob Pugh, 3-4OLB, Florida State
Height: 6-4. Weight: 247. Projected 40 Time: 4.84. Projected Round (2018): 7-FA. 11/18/17: Pugh has 16 tackles and two passes batted this season.
9/1/17: In 2016, Pugh recorded 43 tackles with six for a loss, 4.5 sacks and one forced fumble. He had 32 tackles with three sacks in 2015. Pugh snagged two interceptions as a freshman. There was some hype around Pugh, so perhaps he will validate it in 2017.
Andrew Trumbetti, 3-4OLB, Notre Dame
Height: 6-3. Weight: 260. Projected 40 Time: 4.78. Projected Round (2018): 7-FA. 11/18/17: In 2017, Trumbetti has 21 tackles with 3.5 for a loss and .5 sacks.
9/1/17: Trumbetti had 25 tackles with zero sacks as a junior. He notched 35 tackles and two sacks over the previous two seasons.
Walter Brady, 3-4OLB, Middle Tennessee
Height: 6-3. Weight: 255. Projected 40 Time: 4.75. Projected Round (2018): 7-FA. 11/18/17: Brady has 24 tackles with two sacks thus far in 2017.
9/1/17: In 2015 at Missouri, Brady led all FBS freshman players with seven sacks. The Tigers kicked him off the team prior to the 2016 season. It will be interesting to see if Brady can get back on track at Middle Tennessee State.
Byron Cowart*, 3-4OLB, Auburn
Height: 6-4. Weight: 250. Projected 40 Time: 4.73. Projected Round (2018): FA. 11/18/17: Cowart had three tackles with .5 for a loss in 2017 before leaving the Auburn program. The former No. 1 recruit in the nation needs to excel at playing for another school before going to the NFL.
9/1/17: Cowart was the No. 1 recruit in the nation from Seffner, Florida coming out of high school, but he hasn't lived up to the hype through two seasons. He had six tackles as a freshman and six tackles with one sack as a sophomore. Perhaps Cowart breaks out as a junior. There is talk that he will move inside to tackle as a junior.