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2020 NFL Draft Preview: Defensive Line

The countdown toward the 2020 NFL Draft continues, and there are now only six days until the big event.  Provided everything goes off without a hitch, which still remains to be seen, the rookie class of NFL players will be known in just over a week.

Since the coronavirus has upended the sport world, forcing all draft activity to be held remotely, it will be interesting to see how functional the league is at handling all the moving parts of the event simultaneously.  Hopefully, it all goes well; these defensive linemen are anxious to find out what fate awaits them.

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First Round Could Target Defensive Lines

Derrick Brown was a standout at Auburn University.  The 6’5”, 318-pound defensive tackle, who just wrapped up his senior year, dominated the SEC and forced offenses to design plays specifically to counter his power.  As the SEC Defensive Player of the Year for 2019, with 54 tackles and four sacks, Brown could find a new NFL home early in the draft, possibly within the first ten players to be chosen.

South Carolina’s Javon Kinlaw made a name for himself as he put 35 tackles and six sacks on his stat sheet his senior year.  He is able to defend runs and passes, and is destined to be a starter wherever he ends up in the NFL.  At 6’6” and 310 pounds, he knows how to use his size to get the job done, which is why he earned First-Team All-SEC honors this past year.  If he doesn’t get selected in the top ten at the draft, he’s a good candidate for a top-15 pick.

Ross Blacklock is coming out of TSU, hoping to skip his senior year at the school for a shot at the big leagues.  He might be able to pull it off, too, especially after the performance he gave this past season.  40 tackles and 3.5 losses to his credit on the year, his performance was made even more important considering the fact that he missed his entire sophomore year because of an Achilles injury.  That didn’t cause him to slow down, though, and, in fact, made him more energized to come back and make up for the lost time with his talents on the field.  He’s a skilled pass rusher and, with a little extra coaching, will be a formidable defensive addition to any NFL team.

NFL Draft – Going Above And Beyond

Defensive linemen are expected to be able to read the offense quickly and react accordingly.  All of the top prospects this year can do that easily enough, but Texas A&M’ Justin Madubuike takes things a step further. In addition to his 45 tackles and 5.5 sacks, he also has a blocked kicked and an interception, things that defensive coaches in the NFL love to see.  He’s slightly smaller than the rest of the top picks – at “only” 293 pounds – but this gives him an advantage in agility.  He’s almost a guarantee to be picked in the second round of the draft.

Auburn has some other defensive talent looking for a start in the big leagues this year.  Marlon Davidson hasn’t been talked about as much as Brown, but he deserves a considerable amount of credit.  He racked up 48 tackles and 6.5 sacks last year, leading Auburn in the number of dropped quarterbacks.  However, at 6’3” and 278 pounds, the Alabama native doesn’t have the size as most of the other leading prospects, which could ultimately drop him down in the pickings.

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Canada is being represented in the upcoming draft by Neville Gallimore.  He is originally from the neighbor to the north, but made his way to Oklahoma, where he spent five years developing his skills.  He redshirted in 2015, crafting his game and impressing coaches, leading to 29 tackles and four sacks last season.  At 6’2” and 302 pounds, he has a decent frame and a lot of speed, but needs some additional training if he is going to be a starter.  Still, he might find a spot in the NFL during the second or third round of the draft.

The Fun Is (Hopefully) About To Begin

There are plenty of other candidates that are going to be ready to find out if they have the stuff NFL pros are made of next week.  It would be difficult to list all of the players that are on standby, but these are almost definitely guaranteed to be selected early on when teams start choosing their players.  That is, if the draft moves beyond the technical difficulties that are likely to be seen.

 

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Erik is a writer and a sports nut who has had the good fortune to be able to experience a wide variety of world sports action up close and personal. He enjoys staying on top of the changing world of athletics and capitalizing on his writing skills to offer a unique take on what's going on in the ever-changing athletics ecosystem.

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