NFL Draft: Top defensive players available by position

April 20, 2019

Some of the top defensive prospects, by position, available in the NFL draft (x-indicates early entrant to draft):


Position outlook: This draft is stacked with defensive linemen of all types. The edge rushers and ends could dominate the first 10 picks.

x-Nick Bosa, 6-foot-4, 266 pounds, Ohio State.

Strengths: Quick off the edge and relentless, just like his brother, Chargers star Joey Bosa.

Weaknesses: Maybe some durability concerns because last year's season-ending injury cut short the one season in which Bosa would have gotten a large volume of snaps.

Fact: Bosa had 29 tackles for loss, including 17 1-2 sacks in 30 games with the Buckeyes.

Gone by: Top three, just like his brother.

Josh Allen, 6-5, 262, Kentucky.

Strengths: Size, speed, athleticism are all ideal. Even some room to add a few pounds if necessary.

Weaknesses: Some technique could use polishing, but not much to complain about.

Fact: Won Bednarik Award and Nagurski Trophy as top defensive player in college football last season.

Gone by: Maybe he lasts to No. 5?

x-Rashan Gary, 6-4, 277, Michigan.

Strengths: Top-flight athlete with good power, long arms and sturdy against the run.

Weaknesses: Pass-rush production was spotty. Had 10 1-2 sacks in three seasons, though was often used to tie up blockers.

Fact: Consensus No. 1 overall recruit coming out of high school in 2016.

Gone by: If he slips out of the top 10, it won't be far.

Montez Sweat, 6-6, 260, Mississippi State.

Strengths: Among freaky athletes, Sweat might be the freakiest with his 4.4 speed.

Weaknesses: A little top heavy means he needs to upgrade against the run.

Fact: Two-time first-team all-Southeastern Conference and second-team All-American last season.

Gone by: Pick No. 15.

Clellin Ferrell, 6-4, 264, Clemson.

Strengths: Solid in most areas and good at getting off blocks to finish plays.

Weaknesses: Sort of the opposite of Gary; not quite the athlete but plenty of production.

Fact: All-American last season with 21 sacks in his final two years.

Gone by: Middle-to-late first-round.

x-Brian Burns, 6-5, 249, Florida State.

Strengths: Super quick and agile.

Weaknesses: Light, with thin frame. Could be more of a third-down pass rusher than every-down player.

Fact: Seven forced fumbles and three blocked kicks in his three-year career.

Gone by: Early second round.

Jaylon Ferguson, 6-5, 271, Louisiana Tech.

Strengths: Size, strength and effort could make him an ideal 4-3 end.

Weaknesses: Not an explosive athlete. Low upside.

Fact: Set NCAA record with 45 career sacks.

Gone by: Middle of the second.

Zach Allen, 6-4, 281, Boston College.

Strengths: Powerful and instinctive. Steadily improved each season.

Weaknesses: Skills might be better suited for tackle in some defenses, but has end size.

Fact: Former Connecticut high school player of the year.

Gone by: Late second.

Others to watch: L.J. Collier, TCU; Chase Winovich, Michigan; Jachai Polite, Florida; D'Andre Walker, Georgia; Oshane Ximines, Old Dominion; Jalen Jelks, Oregon; Austin Bryant, Clemson; Anthony Nelson, Iowa.