The top 2013 3-4 defensive end prospects available for the 2013 NFL Draft in the order in which I believe they will be drafted. * - denotes 2013 prospect. ** - denotes 2014 prospect.
This page was last updated April 24, 2013
NFL Picks - Nov. 29
Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Height: 6-3. Weight: 311. Arm: 33.58.
40 Time: 5.15.
Projected Round (2013): Top-16 Pick.
4/24/13: Lotulelei looks solid in the top 10 as there are a lot of teams in the latter half that could consider drafting him.
The heart issue that caused Lotulelei to be pulled out of the Combine has been determined to be a non-issue. He has been given full medical clearance to play pro football. Lotulelei put on a show at his pro day and was very impressive with power, speed and explosion.
Lotulelei had an excellent senior season. He played well against BYU, Utah State, USC, UCLA and Washington. Lotulelei was extremely disruptive and more so than the numbers indicate. He recorded 42 tackles, 10 tackles for a loss, five sacks, three forced fumbles and four passes broken up.
Lotulelei has a rare combination of size, power, speed and explosion. He beats blockers with strength and speed. Lotulelei is dominant when he isn't double-teamed and remains effective while taking on two blockers.
8/25/12: Lotulelei was a First-Team All-Pac-12 pick in 2011 and won the Morris Trophy as the conference's top defensive lineman as voted on by the starting offensive linemen. He recorded 44 tackles, 1.5 sacks, nine tackles for a loss and a forced fumble. As a redshirt sophomore in 2010, Lotulelei was a backup for most of the season and had 21 tackles with 2.5 tackles for a loss. He is still developing and has tons of potential.
Lotulelei was more disruptive last year than his numbers indicate. He causes a lot of havoc at the point of attack by his ability to fire through his gap and penetrate the backfield. Lotulelei is powerful and extremely quick. He has the sheer strength to grab guards and toss them aside. He also explodes off the snap to quickly gain leverage on the guard.
The main thing that the senior has to work on is adding some more pass-rushing moves. He should add a rip move and spin move to go along with his speed and power rushes. Lotulelei is still raw. He has a huge ceiling and should only get better as he gains more experience. Lotulelei could fit in any NFL scheme, but could be a prototypical tackle for a 4-3 defense.
Sharrif Floyd*, DT, Florida
Height: 6-3. Weight: 297. Arm: 31.68.
40 Time: 4.92.
Projected Round (2013): Top-16 Pick.
4/24/13: There is currently some thought that Floyd could slide on Thursday night. If the Raiders pass on him, he could fall out of the top 10, but looks like a good bet to go to the silver and black. Another team could also trade up for him.
Floyd is the top three-technique defensive tackle in the 2013 NFL Draft. He is extremely fast at the point of attack. Floyd fires his gap and quickly gets penetration into the backfield. Once he gains leverage, he is tough to stop, since he has the strength to shed blocks and maintain his balance with blockers pushing on him. Floyd consistently blows up runs in the backfield and gets a lot of pressure on the quarterback. It wouldn't be surprising if his sack numbers increase dramatically in the NFL.
Floyd played really well for the Gators in 2012 and was a disruptive force. He recorded 46 tackles, 13 tackles for a loss, one forced fumble and three sacks in 2012. The junior made a real impact against Texas A&M and Tennessee when Florida's defense played great in the second half to lead to comeback road wins. Floyd also played well against LSU. He ended the regular season with dominant performances versus Florida State and Louisville.
Floyd had a great workout at the Combine. He ran the 40 in a stunning 4.87 seconds - unofficially - with a 10-yard split of 1.68 seconds. Floyd was also phenomenal in the field drills with quick feet and good movement skills. It is obvious that he has amazing athleticism for an interior defensive lineman.
8/25/12: Sharrif Floyd was one once of the most sought after recruits in the nation. He showed the reason why as he flashed some real talent as a freshman in 2010. Floyd recorded 23 tackles with 6.5 tackles for a loss. The 6-foot-3, 301-pounder was coming on strong at the end of the season.
Floyd was suspended for the first two games of 2011 by the tyrannical NCAA for violations during his recruitment by a school he chose not to attend. The sophomore played mostly defensive end in 2011. He totaled 46 tackles with 6.5 tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks, one blocked kick and one pass broken up.
Floyd can be a load for offensive linemen due to his power and speed. He has a high ceiling and will be playing more defensive tackle in 2012 - his natural position.
Sheldon Richardson*, DT, Missouri
Height: 6-3. Weight: 294. Arm: 34.48.
40 Time: 5.02.
Projected Round (2013): Top-16 Pick.
4/24/13: Most draft projections have Richardson going in the top half of the first round, and some believe that a team like the 49ers could trade up for the Missouri standout.
Richardson had solid performances at his pro day and Combine that showed off his speed and athleticism. He had a superb junior season including a great game against Alabama. The junior had 14 tackles and a sack coming from defensive end against right tackle D.J. Fluker. Richardson flashes the speed to fire the gap and make plays behind the line. He has non-stop drive and makes a lot of tackles in pursuit. Richardson demonstrated one of the best motors of any player in college football. He is truly relentless.
Richardson returned a fumble 60 yards against Kentucky. He couldn't make plays going against guard Larry Warford, but made an impact when taking on other blockers. Richardson was a speedy disruptive force at the point of attack.
Richardson totaled 75 tackles in 2012; a staggering number for a defensive tackle. He also had 10.5 tackles for a loss, four sacks, three passes batted and three forced fumbles.
8/25/12: Richardson started two games in 2011 and saw playing time in the defensive-line rotation. He totaled 37 tackles with eight tackles for a loss and two sacks.
The redshirt junior will start in 2012. He played injured as a sophomore and had shoulder surgery that cause him to miss spring practice.
Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
Height: 6-3. Weight: 313. Arm: 33.48.
40 Time: 5.03.
Projected Round (2013): 1.
4/24/13: Williams' stock has been rising following the Combine and his pro day, and he looks like he has a shot to crack the top 20.
Williams was getting to the quarterback a lot early in the season, recording five sacks through the first six games. The one game he was kept in check came against Louisville. Center Mario Benavides held Williams to two tackles as the Cardinals gashed North Carolina on the ground up the middle. It was an ugly performance for Williams. He bounced back with better outings against weak opponents.
Williams was quiet in the second half of the season with just one sack. It came against Virginia in an excellent performance by Williams. He finished the year with 42 tackles, 13.5 tackles for a loss and six sacks. Williams has a nice combination of speed and size.
8/25/12: The junior-college transfer benefited from some good talent around him in Tydreke Powell, Quinton Coples and Kareem Martin last season. Williams had 54 tackles with seven tackles for a loss, 2.5 sacks, one interception and a forced fumble. He is a specimen with a nice combination of size and speed.
Williams needs more development, but is an interesting prospect. He made a good decision to stay for his senior season.
Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
Height: 6-4. Weight: 280. Arm: 32 1/8. Hand: 9 3/4.
40 Time: 4.80.
Projected Round (2013): 1-2.
4/24/13: It sounds like Jones stands a good chance of being a late first-round pick. he has generated interest from a lot of 3-4 defenses due to his power and physicality.
Jones had 62 tackles with 5.5 sacks and 19 tackles for a loss in 2012. The senior has a nice mix of speed and strength, but needs to refine his pass-rushing moves. UCLA also played him out of position at defensive tackle.
Jones had a dominant week at the Senior Bowl. He showed that he is dedicated to the weight room and has put in a lot of time in developing a serious NFL body. Following the weigh-in, the powerful defensive end had a superb week of practice. Jones showed off a great skill set with which he can defeat offensive linemen with either strength or agility. Jones has the power to move offensive linemen to the side and the speed to close in a hurry. He won his one-on-one reps using both power and speed.
Jones also had a solid performance at the Combine. There is a debate about his position for the NFL, and many consider him to be a tackle/end tweener. He looks like a perfect fit as an NFL power left defensive end in a 4-3 defense who can move inside on passing downs. Even if Jones is played exclusively on the edge, he has the strength to stuff the run and can contribute as a pass-rusher. He also would fit well as a 3-4 defensive end.
Jones had 6.5 tackles for a loss and three sacks in 2011. He missed all of the 2010 season with a fractured right foot. Jones made 30 tackles, 11 tackles for a loss, two forced fumbles and four sacks in 2009 playing next to Brian Price.
Margus Hunt, DE, SMU
Height: 6-8. Weight: 277. Arm: 33 3/8. Hand: 9 5/8
40 Time: 4.60.
Projected Round (2013): 1-2.
4/24/13: There is variety in where Hunt is being projected to go, but he could be a late first-round pick.
Hunt used the Combine to put on a tremendous display of strength, speed and athleticism. He tied for the the bench press lead with 38 reps and ran a lightning 40 time. Hunt gave further proof that he is a freak athlete.
The senior started out poorly in 2012 with a bad game against Baylor. He played better after that, including quality showings against Texas A&M, Houston, Southern Miss and TCU. Hunt was a force in SMU's bowl game, picking up two sacks and two forced fumbles. He had 31 tackles, eight sacks, an interception, two passes batted and three blocked kicks in 2012.
Hunt's technique in run defense and executing pass-rushing moves have really improved, but he is still extremely raw. Hunt flashed at times at the Senior Bowl, yet needs some more development for the next level. He could turn into a perfect 3-4 defensive end in the mold of Justin Smith.
8/27/12: Hunt is a physical freak. The Karksi-Nuia, Estonia product is a raw player who really came on strong at the end of his junior season. He recorded all three of his sacks for 2011 against Pittsburgh in the Bowl game. Hunt also had 28 tackles with 7.5 tackles for a loss. He totaled 5.5 sacks across his freshman and sophomore seasons.
Hunt uses his height to be a dangerous weapon on special teams. He blocked seven kicks as a freshman, three kicks as a sophomore and four kicks as a junior. It is entirely possible that the senior could end his college career with nearly 20 blocked kicks. Hunt may be best as a five-technique defensive end in a 3-4 defense for the NFL.
Johnathan Hankins*, DT, Ohio State
Height: 6-3. Weight: 320. Arm: 33.08
40 Time: 5.31.
Projected Round (2013): 1-2.
4/24/13: Hankins was solid, but unspectacular, at the Combine. He started out the year extremely strongly for Ohio State. He was a monster in the middle of the line as a run-stuffer with some pressure as a pass-rusher.
Hankins was a dominant force against California, among others. He totaled 10 tackles and a sack while making plays all over the field. Hankins made tackles outside of his gap. One was on a wide receiver screen on the perimeter. He was beating double-team blocks from a guard and center to stuff runs at the line of scrimmage.
Hankins' play cooled off some after a dominant September, but he still caused problems at the line of scrimmage and finished his collegiate career strong with a good performance against Michigan. Hankins totaled 55 tackles, four tackles for a loss and a sack in 2012.
8/25/12: Hankins is a massive tackle who takes up a lot of space and blockers at the point of attack. The sophomore had a strong 2011 season. He was a fabulous run-defender at that point of attack and totaled 67 tackles. Hankins also had 11 tackles for a loss and three sacks. He notched 16 tackles and a sack as a freshman.
Even though Hankins only had three sacks last year, he was a better pass-rusher than the numbers indicate. Hankins got good penetration into the pocket to hurry quarterbacks and take away space for them to step up in the pocket. He has serious quickness that he uses to fire into his gap and disrupt plays.
NFL coaches are going to love Hankins' versatility. He has played all over the defensive line. Hankins has lined up as a three-technique, on the outside shoulder of the guard; a two-gap defensive tackle technique; a defensive end; and the zero-technique - as a nose tackle above the center. Thus, he could fit as in a 4-3 as a defensive tackle, or in a 3-4 defense as a nose tackle or defensive end.
If Hankins becomes a more consistent pass-rusher and is able to produce a quality sack total, he could contend to be the top tackle selected. With Ohio State's new attacking defense, it wouldn't be surprising if the junior increases his sack production in 2012.
Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama
Height: 6-3. Weight: 323. Arm: 32.08.
Projected 40 Time: 5.35.
Projected Round (2013): 1-3.
4/24/13: Scouts told WalterFootball.com they don't view Williams as a first-rounder because he won't be on the field in pass-rushing situations. However, some project him to go on Thursday night.
Williams had a rough start to his senior season. He was limited against Michigan in Week 1 and sat out the next game, against Western Kentucky, with a concussion. Williams played better later in the year with good performances versus Texas A&M, LSU, Georgia and Notre Dame. He had 37 tackles, 2.5 tackles for a loss and one sack in 2012.
Williams is a good run-stuffer, but doesn't offer much of anything as a pass-rusher. He looks like a two-down player at most for the NFL, and with the amount of nickel formations teams run, may only end up playing 40 percent of his defense's snaps.
Williams was unable to run in the field workouts at the Combine.
8/25/12: The "tattooed monster from down under" has some shear power and quickness. The Australian didn't start playing football until he was 15 years old. He played a couple seasons of community college before breaking into the lineup as a junior for Alabama.
Williams had 24 tackles with four tackles for a loss and half a sack in 2011. He was a starting five-technique defensive end but moved inside to tackle as part of a four-man front in pass-rushing situations. Williams should take on a prominent role in the Alabama defense since the Crimson Tide lost a number of players to the 2012 NFL Draft.
Malliciah Goodman, DE, Clemson
Height: 6-4. Weight: 276. Arm: 35 7/8. Hand: 10 1/8.
40 Time: 4.87.
Projected Round (2013): 2-4.
4/24/13: Goodman produced 20 tackles, seven sacks and four forced fumbles this season. He flashed some nice pass-rushing ability at times, but was a weak run-defender. The senior also wasn't consistent enough. He had three sacks as a backup as a junior and sophomore. Goodman had a mixed week at the Senior Bowl, but he could at least be a situational pass-rusher in the NFL.
Scouts told WalterFootball.com that they expect Goodman to be drafted on the second day.
Devin Taylor, DE/OLB, South Carolina
Height: 6-7. Weight: 266. Arm: 3.08.
40 Time: 4.72.
Projected Round (2013): 3-4.
4/24/13: Taylor was underwhelming in 2012. Jadeveon Clowney commanded constant double-teams, yet Taylor didn't take advantage of the one-on-ones. He's a decent run-defender, but is not able to generate sacks.
Taylor picked up 45 tackles, 8.5 tackles for a loss, six passes batted and three sacks in 2012. The redshirt senior is frustrating because he clearly has the skill set to produce more. Taylor can cause disruption, but struggles to finish plays. He would probably be best adding weight and playing 3-4 defensive end in the NFL.
Taylor was excellent at the East-West Shrine and showed his potential. He followed that up with a good day at the Combine. There is the capacity for Taylor to go sooner than expected.
8/27/12: Taylor recorded 7.5 sacks with 46 tackles in 2010. The sophomore also broke up eight passes with an interception returned for a touchdown.
Taylor started the 2011 season extremely slowly. Around mid-October, something woke him up and he had a strong three game stretch. Taylor recorded a sack, three tackles, 1.5 tackles for a loss, a pass broken up, and an interception returned 48 yards for a touchdown against Arkansas. He had 42 tackles, 7.5 tackles for a loss and 7.5 sacks last year.
Taylor was on the sideline at times last season as Melvin Ingram and Jadeveon Clowney logged more snaps for South Carolina. With Ingram in the NFL, Taylor should have plent of opportunities to improve his production in 2012.
Clowney should draw a lot of double-teams that will allow Taylor to be single-blocked. If the senior is drafted into a 4-3 defense, he probably will need to put on some weight.
William Gholston*, DE, Michigan State
Height: 6-6. Weight: 281. Arm: 34.08.
40 Time: 4.96.
Projected Round (2013): 3-5.
4/24/13: Gholston didn't take the next step in 2012 and was a disappointment. He didn't develope any pass-rushing moves and struggled to pressure the quarterback. Gholston defended the run well, but was a liability as a pass-rusher. He totaled 59 tackles, 13 tackles for a loss, 10 passes broken up, one forced fumble and 4.5 sacks this year. His sacks came against Central Michigan, Wisconsin, Northwestern and Minnesota.
Gholston would be best as a 3-4 defensive end.
8/27/12: Gholston, a true physical specimen, flashed in 2011 and if he becomes more consistent, could skyrocket up draft boards. The junior from Detroit looks ready for a breakout season, although he already was a Second-Team All-Big Ten pick in 2011.
Gholston broke into the lineup as a sophomore, totaling 70 tackles with five sacks, one forced fumble and 16 tackles for a loss. He was suspended for the first Wisconsin game after punching Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan and twisting the helmet of quarterback Denard Robinson.
Gholston finished the season with a phenomenal game against Georgia in the Outback Bowl after playing well against Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship. He is very physical at the point of attack and is one of the better run-defenders at defensive end in the draft class.
The biggest thing that Gholston needs to improve is his pass rush, but he has the potential to be an excellent rusher. There are times when Gholston displays a dominating bull rush and a devastating spin move. If the junior produces on his potential this year, he could be a high first-round pick.
Gholston is the cousin of famed New York Jets bust Vernon Gholston, so it will be interesting to see if teams hold that against William.
Joe Kruger*, DE, Utah
Height: 6-6. Weight: 269. Arm: 34.78.
40 Time: 4.83.
Projected Round (2013): 4-5.
4/24/13: Kruger had a quality junior season with 30 tackles, eight tackles for a loss, six sacks, two forced fumbles, an interception, a blocked kick and a pass broken up. He definitely benefitted from playing next to Star Lotulelei. Kruger had three sacks as a sophomore. He could be best as a 3-4 defensive end in the NFL.
Lavar Edwards, DE, LSU
Height: 6-4. Weight: 277. Arm: 35.48.
40 Time: 4.80.
Projected Round (2013): 4-6.
4/24/13: Edwards was the backup to Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo, so he had a hard time standing out the past few seasons. Edwards had 26 tackles with seven tackles for a loss, 4.5 sacks and one interception this year. He had 26 tackles with a sack in 2011 after recording 21 tackles and 2.5 sacks with an interception and forced fumble during his sophomore season. Edwards had a quality showing at the Combine. It wouldn't be surprising if he turns into a better pro player than he was in college.
Damion Square, DT, Alabama
Height: 6-2. Weight: 293. Arm: 32.18.
Projected 40 Time: 5.10.
Projected Round (2013): 5-7.
4/24/13: Square had 33 tackles, four tackles for a loss and 3.5 sacks in 2012. He was a contributor for Alabama, but not a difference-maker.
8/25/12: Square is a tweener defensive end and defensive tackle. He may be best adding some weight and playing on the inside for the NFL. His speed could be a mismatch for guards and centers.
Square can play inside; he also plays the five-technique 3-4 defensive end in Alabama's defense. Square totaled 32 tackles with seven tackles for a loss and a sack last season.
Quinton Dial, DT, Alabama
Height: 6-5. Weight: 318. Arm: 34.48.
Projected 40 Time: 5.30.
Projected Round (2013): 6-7.
4/24/13: As a senior in 2012, Dial was part of a rotation and totaled 21 tackles with 1.5 sacks. His first season at Alabama was as a backup in 2011 when he recorded one sack. Dial played two seasons at East Mississippi Community College before landing with the Crimson Tide. He could be a backup in the NFL.
Joe Vellano, DT, Maryland
Height: 6-1. Weight: 285.
Projected 40 Time: 5.03.
Projected Round (2013): 6-FA.
4/24/13: Vellano had a good senior season. He totaled 61 tackles, 14 tackles for a loss and six sacks. Vellano is a very good college player, but a tweener for the NFL. He had flashed at times at the East-West Shrine. Vellano didn't work out at the Combine.
8/25/12: Vellano had 94 tackles with 7.5 tackles for a loss, 2.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and four passes broken up last season. He was an excellent run-defender for Maryland. Vellano had 63 tackles, 10.5 tackles for a loss, five sacks and one forced fumble in 2010.
The senior should add more weight for the NFL. He probably fits best as a nose tackle in a 4-3 defense.
A.J. Francis, DT, Maryland
Height: 6-3. Weight: 305.
Projected 40 Time: 5.03.
Projected Round (2013): 6-FA.
4/24/13: Francis had a quality senior season with 43 tackles, nine tackles for a loss, five passes batted and four sacks. He played well at the East-West Shrine. Francis didn't work out at the Combine.
8/25/12: Francis had 31 tackles with three tackles for a loss and two sacks in 2011. He was Maryland's starting nose tackle for the majority of the 2010 season. The sophomore was second on the defensive line in tackles with 44. He also had seven tackles for a loss and 2.5 sacks. Francis has room to improve in 2012.
Omar Hunter, DT, Florida
Height: 6-2. Weight: 290.
Projected 40 Time: 4.93.
Projected Round (2013): 7-FA.
4/24/13: Hunter was solid in 2012, but wasn't a difference-maker for the Gators. He had 40 tackles, four tackles for a loss and four passes batted. Hunter stepped up in the regular-season finale for a big performance against Florida State.
8/25/12: Omar Hunter should form a good tackle tandem with Sharrif Floyd this season. Hunter has the opportunity for more playing time with Jaye Howard in the NFL.
Hunter had 25 tackles in 2010 and 31 tackles in 2011. He is one of the Gators' young defensive lineman that is expected to improve this season. There is talent around Hunter, and he could benefit from other playmakers to produce in 2012.
T.J. Barnes, DT, Georgia Tech
Height: 6-6. Weight: 369. Arm: 34.78.
40 Time: 5.30.
Projected Round (2013): FA.
4/24/13: Barnes had 28 tackles, five tackles for a loss and 1.5 sacks this season.
8/25/12: Barnes had 11 tackles with a sack in 2011 and was quiet. He occupies blocks at the line of scrimmage, but does not do a good job of disengaging to get in on tackles.
Baker Steinkuhler, DT/DE, Nebraska
Height: 6-6. Weight: 290.
Projected 40 Time: 4.92.
Projected Round (2013): FA.
4/24/13: Steinkuhler had 47 tackles, 6.5 tackles for a loss and 2.5 sacks in 2012. He was a stout defender, but not a play-maker. Steinkuhler missed the Big Ten Championship Game and Nebraska's bowl game against Georgia. He didn't attend the Combine.
8/25/12: Steinkuhler had 40 tackles with four tackles for a loss and two sacks in 2011. Against Washington, he started the game strong with some good plays against the run and pass rushes, but did not play as well in the second half.
Steinkuhler struggled against Wisconsin, but played better against Michigan State. He had a big game against Northwestern, but was shutout by Iowa. Steinkuhler really missed teammate Jared Crick. Steinkuhler needs to get more consistent as a senior, especially in the pass rush.
Steinkuhler - a first-year starter - registered 46 tackles and 3.5 sacks in 2010. He is strong at the point of attack and has the frame to add more weight and bulk at the NFL level. Steinkuhler could be a better fit as a 3-4 defensive end.
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