1. AARON DONALD (PITTSBURGH) 6-1/285
Put Donald at the 3-technique in a 4-3 front and you have a disruptive force a la Warren Sapp. He excels at leverage and a first step to penetrate inside the trenches. Quick enough and strong enough to hit the gap while using his hands violently. Yes, he is undersized at 285 pounds but that should not discount his strength at all. Bottom line, the kid has a motor and is deceptively athletic who is skilled at stopping the run. Aaron Donald also has upside rushing the passer because he already has sound technique and can afford to bulk up.
2. TIMMY JERNIGAN (FLORDA STATE) 6-2/299
Jernigan is another prospect that I think would fare well as a 4-3 defensive tackle. He’s a bit bigger and thicker than Aaron Donald but still has good quickness. Does a good job of using his hands and shedding blocks while controlling the line of scrimmage. One knock is that he is still raw after starting his first season full time in 2013. I see him get driven back at times when he is head up on the center so nose tackle is probably not the best fit for him. Finally, he must learn more pass rush moves or he won’t be on the field every down.
3. RA’SHEDE HAGEMAN (MINNESOTA) 6-6/310
Now here is a big man that can be a versatile fit on the defensive line with the right coaching. His size and frame allow him to be 3-4 defensive end or a 4-3 defensive tackle. Hageman can even be a nose tackle if he adds just a little bit more weight. I like that he has a nasty attitude to his game and puts an emphasis on finishing a sack or tackle. Hageman has a knack for getting after the quarterback and has a high ceiling for improvement. Physical specimen that has to polish up on his technique and use his hands much more.
4. STEPHON TUITT (NOTRE DAME) 6-6/304
Tuitt has playmaking upside that could definitely boost his stock before the draft. He carries 300 pounds nicely on his frame and is explosive off the snap. Played defensive end in a 3-4 scheme at Notre Dame but can probably shift inside to the 3-technique at defensive tackle. You can see that he loves the art of pass rushing so he is not just a run stopper. The key is being consistent and accountable which was a problem for him in 2013. If a coaching staff can mold his combination of power, quickness, and range, Tuitt will be a absolute factor.
5. LOUIS NIX (NOTRE DAME) 6-2/331
The first thing you notice about Louis Nix is his huge size. His frame allows him to fit in at nose tackle in a 3-4 defense by anchoring down and taking on double teams. His ability to drive blockers back will automatically improve a run defense. Athletic and moves well for his large size. Most scouts may compare to him to B.J. Raji from the Green Bay Packers. One red flag is post season knee surgery that could cause his weight to creep up.