Nick Bosa*, 3-4OLB, Ohio State
Height: 6-3. Weight: 265. Projected 40 Time: 4.75. Projected Round (2019): 1. 6/15/18: Like his older brother Joey, Nick Bosa looks like an elite edge defender. He is fast off the edge with the ability fire by tackles to get upfield. Bosa has excellent hands with functional strength to fight off blocks, a burst to close, and puts quarterbacks down hard. In the ground game, Bosa is solid, but it his pass-rush potential that excites.
Bosa had 34 tackles, 8.5 sacks, two passes batted and one forced fumble in 2017. He was the Buckeyes' best defensive end even though he rotated with Sam Hubbard, Tyquan Lewis and Jalyn Holmes. Bosa could explode as a junior now that those other three left for the NFL, which should leave Bosa playing every down in 2018. As a freshman, Bosa played well for Ohio State, recording 29 tackles with seven tackles for a loss and five sacks.
Clelin Ferrell*, 3-4OLB, Clemson
Height: 6-5. Weight: 265. Projected 40 Time: 4.77. Projected Round (2019): 1. 6/15/18: In 2017, Clemson fielded a defensive line that was comprised of future first-round picks, and Ferrell was arguably the most consistent of the bunch. He created a lot of the big plays for the Tigers' other defensive linemen with the instant pressure he caused off the snap. Fellow defensive end Austin Bryant spent 2017 playing himself into an early-rounder, but Bryant did well cleaning up a lot of scrambling quarterbacks running away from Ferrell.
Ferrell has superb speed with athleticism and the ability to bend around the corner. He is very fast off the snap to get upfield and put quick pressure on the quarterback. Ferrell is more disruptive than his stat line indicates. In 2017, he totaled 66 tackles with 18 tackles for a loss, 9.5 sacks, one pass batted and two forced fumbles. In 2016, Ferrell had an impressive redshirt freshman season for the Tigers as he totaled 44 tackles with 12.5 tackles for a loss, six sacks and two passes batted.
Joe Jackson*, 3-4OLB, Miami
Height: 6-5. Weight: 258. Projected 40 Time: 4.65. Projected Round (2019): 1. 6/15/18: Jackson is a dangerous edge defender for Miami with a nose for the quarterback. He has excellent speed off the edge to go along with length and size. With his nice build, Jackson could grow into a solid base end in a 4-3 defense. In 2017, he had 59 tackles with 11.5 for a loss, 6.5 sacks, two passes batted and one forced fumble. He was impressive in his play against Notre Dame left tackle Mike McGlinchey, a future first-round pick and starting tackle in the NFL. As a freshman, Jackson had 8.5 sacks with 32 tackles, 11.5 tackles for a loss and two forced fumbles. In speaking to a general manager, they said they think that Jackson will go high. Another national scout said they liked Jackson's length but felt his strength and technique needed work, thus they didn't have him high just yet.
Brian Burns*, 3-4OLB, Florida State
Height: 6-5. Weight: 218. Projected 40 Time: 4.72. Projected Round (2019): 1-3. 6/15/18: In 2017, Burns had 48 tackles with 13.5 for a loss, 4.5 sacks and four passes batted. He put more pressure on the quarterback than the numbers indicate. Burns notched 9.5 sacks in his debut season for Florida State and finished 2016 in impressive fashion. Scouts have said that Burns has a ton of athletic ability and upside. He should gain weight as he ages and fill out to being a starting edge defender.
Terrell Lewis*, 3-4OLB, Alabama
Height: 6-5. Weight: 254. Projected 40 Time: 4.71. Projected Round (2019): 1-3. 6/15/18: Lewis was playing well in the 2017 season opener before sustaining an injury that cost him most of the season. He totaled just 16 tackles with a sack for the year, but scouts who watched 2018 spring football were raving about him. Sources believe Lewis has a ton of potential. The edge defender, formerly known as Terrell Hall, developed behind the scenes for Alabama in 2016, but he could be poised for a breakout year in 2018. Scouts have told me that the 6-foot-5, 247-pounder is big and quick, plus possesses surprising change-of-direction skills. They said that Lewis has a great build and is dripping with upside. He has really impressed them watching him in practice during the past few seasons.
Montez Sweat, 3-4OLB, Mississippi State
Height: 6-6. Weight: 241. Projected 40 Time: 4.76. Projected Round (2019): 1-3. 6/15/18: Sweat debuted for the Bulldogs with an excellent 2017 season as a dynamic edge defender. He totaled an SEC-leading 10.5 sacks, with 15.5 tackles for a loss and 48 tackles for the year. To start out his collegiate career, Sweat played at Michigan State before some disciplinary issues led to him leaving for the junior college ranks at Co-Lin Community College. Sweat could add weight to become a defensive end, stay as an outside linebacker, or be a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL.
Josh Allen, 3-4OLB, Kentucky
Height: 6-5. Weight: 230. Projected 40 Time: 4.63. Projected Round (2019): 1-3. 6/15/18: In early October of 2017, WalterFootball.com was first to report that Allen was receiving early-round grades from NFL teams. One national scout compared Allen to Leonard Floyd coming out of Georgia with Allen's ability to rush off the edge. That scout said Allen isn't as freaky of an athlete as Floyd was, and Allen while is not a top-10 pick, they did grade Allen as a first-rounder.
Another director of college scouting said they had given Allen a high second-round grade, but thought Allen would definitely end up going in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, if he had declared. That director said Allen was an interesting player because he also can play inside linebacker, whereas Floyd was just an outside edge defender. That college director said that as an inside linebacker, Allen has similarities to current Texans linebacker Zach Cunningham in terms of his height, speed, length, and athleticism in the middle. Allen considered entering the 2018 NFL Draft, but chose to return to Kentucky instead.
The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Allen was one of the top edge defenders in college football during the 2017 season. The junior had seven sacks along with 65 tackles, 9.5 tackles for a loss, two forced fumbles and three passes batted on the year. Allen produced well as a sophomore in 2016 with 62 tackles, 8.5 tackles for a loss, seven sacks and four forced fumbles.
Oshane Ximines, 3-4OLB, Old Dominion
Height: 6-3. Weight: 252. Projected 40 Time: 4.65. Projected Round (2019): 2-3. 6/15/18: Sources have told me that Ximines earned a preseason selection on team's watch lists as a prospect for the first through fourth rounds of the 2019 NFL Draft. In 2017, he recorded 44 tackles with 14 tackles for a loss, 8.5 sacks, three passes batted and four forced fumbles. He had 7.5 sacks as a sophomore and five as a freshman. Ximines might fit best as a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL given his body type.
Carl Granderson, 3-4OLB, Wyoming
Height: 6-5. Weight: 261. Projected 40 Time: 4.75. Projected Round (2019): 2-3. 6/15/18: Sources have told me that Granderson earned a preseason selection on team's watch lists as a prospect for the first through fourth rounds of the 2019 NFL Draft. In 2017, Granderson totaled 77 tackles with 16 tackles for a loss, 9.5 sacks, two interceptions and one forced fumble. He had four sacks as a sophomore. Granderson owns a nice frame and could add weight in a pro strength and conditioning program.
Austin Bryant, 3-4OLB, Clemson
Height: 6-4. Weight: 265. Projected 40 Time: 4.77. Projected Round (2019): 2-4. 6/15/18: Bryant was the fourth member of Clemson's super star defensive line in 2017, and he did well cleaning up a lot of the disruption caused by Clelin Ferrell, Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence. On the year, Bryant totaled 8.5 sacks with 50 tackles, 15.5 for a loss, one interception and two forced fumbles. Some sources were high on Bryant, while others say they graded him as late second-day prospect heading into his senior year.
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 2018.
Porter Gustin, 3-4OLB, USC
Height: 6-5. Weight: 260. Projected 40 Time: 4.74. Projected Round (2019): 2-4. 6/15/18: Gustin had 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 remaining contests. Gustin was wise return to USC for 2018 to put together a healthy season before going pro.
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.
Chase Winovich, 3-4OLB, Michigan
Height: 6-2. Weight: 258. Projected 40 Time: 4.70. Projected Round (2019): 2-4. 6/15/18: Winovich was a gritty defender who was always around the ball for the Wolverines in 2017. He had an excellent season, totaling 79 tackles with 18 tackles for a loss, eight sacks and two forced fumbles. He had five sacks in the previous season. Given his length and weight issues, Winovich might be better off moving to 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL.
Ben Banogu, 3-4OLB, TCU
Height: 6-3. Weight: 240. Projected 40 Time: 4.70. Projected Round (2019): 3-4. 6/15/18: Banogu can get away with playing defensive end in the Big XII, but for the NFL, he will probably have to move to outside linebacker. Banogu is a fast edge rusher with some plus athletic ability. In 2017, he totaled 49 tackles with 16.5 tackles for a loss, 8.5 sacks and three forced fumbles. He had 45 tackles and five sacks in 2016.
CeCe Jefferson*, 3-4OLB, Florida
Height: 6-1. Weight: 241. Projected 40 Time: 4.70. Projected Round (2019): 3-4. 6/15/18: In 2017, Jefferson notched 47 tackles with 13.5 tackles for a loss and 4.5 sacks. Sources weren't impressed with Jefferson and felt he should return to Florida for 2018, but in the spring of 2018, he did grade out with a projection of being a potential prospect for the first four rounds of the 2019 NFL Draft by the advance NFL scouts. Jefferson should be a candidate to move to 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL.
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.
Jabari Zuniga*, 3-4OLB, Florida
Height: 6-3. Weight: 245. Projected 40 Time: 4.76. Projected Round (2019): 3-5. 6/15/18: Zuniga is a 3-4 outside linebacker candidate for the NFL. He has some speed and athleticism on the edge. In 2017, Zuniga totaled 34 tackles with eight tackles for a loss and four sacks. In 2016, he flashed as a rotational player and situational pass-rusher with five sacks, 8.5 tackles for a loss and 25 tackles. Zuniga needs to get stronger.
Jachai Polite*, 3-4OLB, Florida
Height: 6-2. Weight: 260. Projected 40 Time: 4.80. Projected Round (2019): 3-5. 6/15/18: Polite is a bit of tweener in that he has the height of a tackle but the weight of a defensive end. Polite has good speed and athleticism at the point of attack. In 2017, he totaled 22 tackles with 5.5 tackles for a loss, and two sacks. Polite had two sacks as a freshman.
Jaylon Ferguson, 3-4OLB, Louisiana Tech
Height: 6-5. Weight: 255. Projected 40 Time: 4.72. Projected Round (2019): 4-6. 6/15/18: Ferguson recorded 39 tackles with seven sacks and 9.5 tackles for a loss in 2017. Last in the season, sources told me that Ferguson didn't have a great year and should return to school for 2018. They had Ferguson as a mid- to late-rounder for the 2018 NFL Draft if he had decided to declare. Ferguson wisely went back to school.
Ferguson had a huge 2016 season, racking 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.
Shareef Miller*, 3-4OLB, Penn State
Height: 6-5. Weight: 256. Projected 40 Time: 4.76. Projected Round (2019): 4-6. 6/15/18: In 2017, Miller had 37 tackles with 11 tackles for a loss and five sacks. It was his first season of extended playing time, so he could build on that year now that he has a season of experience.
Jesse Aniebonam, 3-4OLB, Maryland
Height: 6-3. Weight: 259. Projected 40 Time: 4.77. Projected Round (2019): 6-FA. 6/15/18: Aniebonam was playing well against Texas in the 2017 season opener getting the better of Longhorns left tackle Connor Williams before suffering what looked like a leg injury. Maryland said Aniebonam would be out several months, and he didn't return to the field in 2017.
Aniebonam had a quality junior year with nine sacks, 46 tackles, 14 tackles for a loss, one forced fumble and one pass batted. He totaled four sacks over his freshman and sophomore seasons as primarily a backup. Size issues could force Aniebonam to outside linebacker in the NFL.
Byron Cowart*, 3-4OLB, Maryland
Height: 6-4. Weight: 250. Projected 40 Time: 4.73. Projected Round (2019): FA. 6/15/18: Cowart was the No. 1 recruit in the nation from Seffner, Florida coming out of high school, but he didn't live up to the hype in two seasons at Auburn. He had six tackles as a freshman and six tackles with one sack as a sophomore. There was talk that he would move inside to tackle as a junior, but he had only three tackles with .5 for a loss before leaving the Auburn program during the season. Cowart then transferred to Maryland.