Top 10 Interior Defensive Lineman Draft Prospects – 2020
1. Derrick Brown – Auburn
I don’t believe there is much separation between Brown and Javon Kinlaw, it just depends on what a team is looking for along their defensive front. If you covet an interior player that has the upside to be a 10+ sack pass rusher then Kinlaw is your guy, but if you want a dominant run defender along your line that makes everyone else’s job a little easier then Brown is the pick. Brown is a strong, athletic force that is hard to move off the line of scrimmage. He is the type of player that can ruin plays consistently while at the same time ruining an opposing player’s entire day. If you don’t have the strength to deal with him, he can bull rush his way to the quarterback or stack and shed lineman easily. Brown is not an Ed Oliver type penetrator that will beat you with quickness, but he is dominant at what he does making him IDL1 among my Top 10 Interior Defensive Lineman Prospects for 2020.
2. Javon Kinlaw – South Carolina
Next up is the aforementioned Kinlaw who is oozing with talent and potential. He is also a power player that can drive lineman back into the quarterback’s lap but he does it with an elite jump from the snap that can leave the opposition in a bind. With a little technical refinement and adding a few more pass rushing moves, Kinlaw can be the best interior defensive lineman in the class. His athleticism and first step stands out as he can get to backs quickly on the edge or blow up plays causing backs to cut back into traffic. Kinlaw can play all over the line, but I think he serves best as a three technique gap shooter.
3. Ross Blacklock – TCU
Here is one of my favorite players in the draft, Ross Blacklock. At first glance Blacklock’s short and stout body type can fool you, but his movement ability and craftiness inside gives me Grady Jarrett vibes. I think TCU’s defensive alignment may have hindered Blacklock a bit as he is a one gap penetrator that should be moving forward more frequently instead of laterally. Don’t get me wrong, Blacklock can thrive on stunts due to his lateral quickness, but his snap anticipation and leverage allows him to shoot gaps to the quarterback. He is a disruptive force inside due to his relentlessness, hand technique, and bowling ball nature to bounce off blockers and get into the opposition’s backfield. He will need to get a little stronger against the run to be an every down force, but for right now he can come into the league and be a feared pass rusher from the inside.
4. Justin Madubuike – Texas A&M
Madubuike is not the twitchy interior player like Blacklock, but he is hard to move off the ball and his strength and physicality wears on lineman as the game moves along. He can immediately come into the NFL and be a stout run defender, but the lack of pass rushing chops and bend can relegate him early in his career as a two-down player. Madubuike doesn’t lose many battles along the line of scrimmage as he either wins or stalemates with offensive lineman. The more I watched him, the more I liked him. He is a solid interior player that can affect the pocket and the line of scrimmage. Madubuike is the type of player that can make your defense better as he can take on multiple blockers so the second level defenders can eat.
5. Marlon Davidson – Auburn
Predominately used as an edge rusher at Auburn, Davidson’s sack production at the next level should come from the inside. Davidson plays with a quickness and strength that’s hard to deal with for four quarters. He is a power player that’s hard to move off his spot, that delivers the contact and plays through it on his way to the quarterback. The low man wins in the trenches and Davidson uses his leverage and balance to penetrate gaps. Not only does he win with strength, but for a guy his size Davidson moves effectively in space. At the next level, I think he can line up as a defensive end in running situations and slide inside on passing downs. That versatility should lead to him hearing his name called on day 2 of the draft.
6. Jordan Elliott – Missouri
There are certain parts of Elliott’s game that need improvement like a consistent get off from the snap and his lack of juice as a pass rusher, but in the scouting world it’s what he can do effectively that should be highlighted. Elliott wins with his hands and anchor to disengage easily from a lineman’s grasp. He can be a stout run defender in a two gap system where he can use his strength in the trenches to stack and shed blockers. As a pass rusher, hand usage and snap anticipation is key as he can get after the quarterback when he unlocks both. Elliott works through blocks effectively utilizing angles and upper body strength. He can come into the league and help a team’s run defense from day 1.
7. Neville Gallimore – Oklahoma
If we were grading just pure effort, then Gallimore would be a lot higher on the rankings. Gallimore will claw and fight on every down for 60 minutes of the game. He is the type of player coaches want on their football team as you can coach technique and pass rushing moves, but you can’t coach effort and the drive to get better. Gallimore’s lack of pass rushing moves is evident on tape as he needs to incorporate more counters. If he doesn’t win early in the play, he usually doesn’t get much penetration. However, what I noticed on tape was the later you get in the game like the fourth quarter, Gallimore becomes more effective as he keeps the same intensity he had in the first quarter. He has heavy hands and is always moving forward which can wane on offensive linemen. I believe once he adds more to his pass rushing repertoire, then Gallimore can be a very disruptive one technique at the next level.
8. Raekwon Davis – Alabama
A highly recruited top 100 prospect, Davis started his collegiate career with a bang before fading down the stretch. When the tape is good, he flashes dominance in the run game as his hands stand out to stack and shed defenders. A two-gapping system where Davis can line up as a 5 technique in running situations suits his skill-set extremely well. However, they’re times where his lack of pass rushing moves and burst stands out. Davis is a run stuffer at the moment that uses his length and strength to be a disruptive force in the interior. Don’t ask him to rush and get consistent pressure on the quarterback though.
9. Benito Jones – Mississippi
Next up is one of my sleepers in the class, Benito Jones. He’s a big inside presence that’s tough to move off his spot as he showcases his upper body strength pushing linemen into the backfield. He flashes at times but will need to improve his pass rushing moves and stamina throughout the game. I like his tools as he is a hulking interior defender that does a good job utilizing his hands, and has some underrated twitch to be a late round steal in the draft. I envision Jones as a nose or one-technique in an even man front on a penetrating defense.
10. Malcolm Roach – Texas
Another bully on the inside finalizes my top 10 interior defensive lineman. Roach lines up all across the Longhorns formation from standing up as an edge rusher, second level defender, defensive end, and on the inside. The versatility Roach possesses will make him a good grab for a team in the later rounds. He is one of those tough nosed players that works well through contact and penetrate even with guys blocking him. As of right now Roach is more of a run-stuffer than a consistent pass rusher, but his strength and imposing physicality allows him to get to the quarterback at times. His lack of agility, conditioning, and athleticism shows up on tape as he can’t get everywhere quickly on the field, but a team looking for physicality and power on the inside should give Roach a call.
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