Jadeveon Clowney*, DE, South Carolina
Height: 6-5. Weight: 266. 40 Time: 4.53. Projected Round (2014): First-Overall Pick. 5/5/14: Clowney will be the first pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. The only question is if a team throws an insane package of picks at Houston to get the rights to select Clowney.
Clowney is the best player available in the 2014 NFL Draft. He has the most impressive skill set for the NFL of any draft-eligible player. Clowney looks like a very safe bet to develop into a double-digit sacker and a Pro Bowl edge rusher who is high impact player.
At the Combine, Clowney showed his out-of-this-world speed and explosion with a 40 time that would be a quality number for a wide receiver. He didn't do the field drills, but sources said that Clowney interviewed well with teams and was impressive. He continued to impress in interviews around his pro day.
Clowney will be one of the fastest front-seven defenders immediately upon his arrival the NFL. He also has natural power. Clowney uses that strength to shed blocks and can bull rush offensive tackles down the pocket. Clowney has a great repertoire of pass-rushing moves that will only get better with more coaching. It would be a shock if he wasn't a steady double-digit sacker in the NFL.
It gets lost in his pass-rushing ability and crazy athletic skill set, but Clowney is a very good defender against the run. He fires into the backfield regularly to blow up runs and disrupt plays. Clowney is strong at the point of attack and doesn't get pushed around. He has a lot of natural strength that should only improve after time in an NFL strength and conditioning program.
Additionally, Clowney intimidates the opposition. Blockers are scared to go against him, and offensive coordinators change their game plans because of him.
In 2013, Clowney totaled 50 tackles, three sacks, 11.5 tackles for a loss, four passes defended and a forced fumble. He played well in his bowl game against Wisconsin. The junior had a huge impact on game plans with teams deliberately going the other direction.
In the regular-season finale, Clowney had three tackles with two tackles for a loss and a sack against Clemson. He performed well overall this year, but wasn't as dominant as in his sophomore season. However, Clowney received an insane amount of blocking and game-plan attention - more than any team could get away with in the NFL.
It was evident during the 2013 season opener against North Carolina that Clowney's conditioning was subpar. His snap count didn't warrant him being as tired as he was and he clearly took some plays off. Sources told WalterFootball.com Clowney lacked a good work ethic in his conditioning and took a significant amount of plays off in 2012. Both issues were given further proof versus the Tar Heels. After a rough start to 2013, Clowney showed improved effort and wasn't taking plays off like he did in the season opener. Clowney improved his conditioning in the second half of the year.
Clowney recorded four tackles, a sack and a forced fumble against Vanderbilt. Versus Tennessee, he went against potential first-round left tackle Antonio Richardson. Clowney was a beast against the run early on and made a number of plays behind the line of scrimmage. The junior picked up five tackles with 2.5 tackles for a loss, plus got some pass pressures. Generally, Richardson won his snaps in pass protection against Clowney, and late in the game, South Carolina was moving Clowney around to go against other offensive linemen. He decided to sit out against Kentucky and Coastal Carolina.
Clowney didn't help himself when he received a speeding ticket for going 110 mph in a 70-mph zone in December.
8/12/13: Clowney is a NFL-ready phenom who head coach Steve Spurrier said was ready to turn pro coming out of high school. Clowney has been as good as advertised after being the No.1 recruit in the nation. He dominated the SEC in 2012. Clowney has a rare skill set with elite speed, strength and athleticism. He could turn into the "Andrew Luck" of defensive draft prospects; a high-pick lock who is extremely coveted by every team in the NFL and a safe selection to turn into an elite franchise player.
Clowney was one of the best players in college football last year. The sophomore amassed 54 tackles, 23.5 tackles for a loss, three forced fumbles, two passes batted and 13 sacks. He finished sixth in the voting for the Heisman Trophy.
Clowney has incredible explosion off the snap. He is lightning fast coming off the edge and has the power to shed blocks. Plus, Clowney has already developed an arsenal of pass-rushing moves. He wrecks game plans and constantly requires double-, or even triple-, teams. Clowney also seems to have the ability to get some of his sacks shearly on the basis of intimidation.
Clowney is extremely strong against the run in taking on offensive linemen. He is a stout defender at the point of attack and maintains his gap.
Clowney was the SEC Freshman of the Year and a Second-Team All-SEC selection in 2011. He totaled 36 tackles with eight sacks, 12 tackles for a loss and five forced fumbles. Clowney did well against top competition including a good game against Georgia's Cordy Glenn.
While Clowney already is an impact player, the scary part is he has immense upside and seems to be just scratching the surface of what he can be. Clowney has the physical talent to be a dominant NFL player and is the best defensive prospect to enter the next level since Ndamukong Suh.
Personal: Son of Josenna Clowney. Raised by Josenna and maternal grandparents John and Josephine Clowney. His father, David Morgan, served 12 years in prison for robbery. Was nicknamed "Doo-Doo" as a child.
Kony Ealy*, DE, Missouri
Height: 6-4. Weight: 273. 40 Time: 4.92. Projected Round (2014): 1-2. 5/5/14: Even though Ealy is the consensus second-ranked defensive end, he isn't a lock for a first-round pick. Ealy could fall to the second round. At the Combine, he ran slower than expected, but had a respectable showing in the field work. Ealy's stock really ranges as some project him to go in the middle of the first round while others think he'll be available on Friday night.
Ealy was an impact pass-rusher on the other side of the field from Michael Sam in 2013. Ealy has an impressive combination of size and speed. He was tough at the point of attack on run downs and showed his pass-rushing prowess off the edge throughout 2013. Ealy looks like a natural 4-3 defensive end who can stay on the field for all three downs.
Ealy had a three-sack game against Kentucky and generally puts a lot of pressure on the quarterback. While the Missouri defense was lit up by Auburn, Ealy showed up big with two forced fumbles, three tackles for a loss, one sack and five tackles. From start to finish in the Cotton Bowl, the junior ended his college career with a big-time presence against Oklahoma State. Ealy had two sacks, six tackles and a pass batted. He recorded 9.5 sacks, 43 tackles, 14.5 tackles for a loss, three forced fumbles, six passes broken up and an interception for the year.
8/12/13: Ealy contributed a decent 2012 season with 37 tackles, 10 tackles for a loss, 3.5 sacks, seven passes batted and a forced fumble. However, the sophomore had Sheldon Richardson causing a lot of disruption on the line. Missouri needs Ealy to step up and produce more as a junior now that Richardson is in the NFL.
Personal: Majoring in business management. Son of Willie Ealy and Nettie Jones.
Stephon Tuitt*, DE/DT, Notre Dame
Height: 6-5. Weight: 304. Projected 40 Time: 5.00. Projected Round (2014): 1-2. 5/5/14: Sources with teams picking early in the second round are doing their homework on Tuitt because they believe that he could be there for their pick on Friday night. Tuitt didn't work out at the Combine, but he did show up much having dropped roughly 15 pounds since the end of the season.
Tuitt gained a lot of weight over the 2012-2013 offseason following surgery and wasn't as fast or quick-twitch in 2013 as he played around 315-320 pounds. However, he still found a way to make some impact plays in most games. Tuitt has rare movement skills with great size. He fits every NFL defense in a variety of ways, so it seems very unlikely that he will fall that far.
In 2013, Tuitt totaled 49 tackles with nine tackles for a loss, 7.5 sacks, one forced fumbles and a pick-six. He showed off his athletic ability with some pass pressures and a diving interception for a touchdown against Michigan. Tuitt played well against Arizona State with a strip-sack and other pressures. His best game of the season came against USC. The junior dominated the line of scrimmage and had success going against the Trojans' guards and tackles. Tuitt recorded seven tackles with two sacks for his first multi-sack game of the year. He drew a holding penalty and had a lot of other pressures. Tuitt finished 2013 with a strong performance against Rutgers in the Pinstripe Bowl.
8/12/13: Tuitt was one of last season's breakout stars who led Notre Dame to the National Championship game. He was a dominant force for the Fighting Irish with his combination of power and surprising quickness. Tuitt recorded 12 sacks with 47 tackles, three forced fumbles, one pass break up and a 77-yard fumble return for a touchdown (against Navy) in 2012.
Manti Te'o received all the headlines, but Tuitt and Louis Nix were phenomenal for the Fighting Irish. Like the rest of the Notre Dame defense, Tuitt had a disappointing performance to end the season against Alabama. However, Tuitt played with a hernia in the final two games of the season and clearly wasn't his normal self.
Tuitt was a backup as a freshman, yet had 30 tackles with two sacks. The junior could be even more of a force in 2013 now that he has a year of starting experience, but he will see a plethora of double-teams. Tuitt has the size to play defensive tackle in a 4-3 defense or defensive end in a 3-4 set.
Marcus Smith, DE/OLB, Louisville
Height: 6-3. Weight: 251. 40 Time: 4.68. Projected Round (2014): 1-3. 5/5/14: In a draft that lacks pass-rushing talent, Smith has had a late rise. Some feel he could go late in the first round.
The Cardinals had a tough defense in 2013, and Smith was the leader of the unit. He was the American Conference Defensive Player of the Year as he finished the season with 14.5 sacks for Louisville. Smith also had 42 tackles with 18.5 tackles for a loss, four forced fumbles and three passes broken up. The senior's sack total put him second in the nation behind only Stanford's Trent Murphy.
Smith had multi-sack games against Florida International, Rutgers, South Florida, Connecticut and Miami. He then held his own at the Senior Bowl and did well at the Combine. Smith's stock has been rising down the home stretch.
Smith collected four sacks and 5.5 sacks as a junior and sophomore, respectively. He played defensive end for the Cardinals, but in the NFL, he will have to move to outside linebacker. Smith would fit best as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense.
Personal: Son of Elba Wilson and Marcus Smith. Administration major.
Scott Crichton*, DE, Oregon State
Height: 6-3. Weight: 273. 40 Time: 4.84. Projected Round (2014): 2-3. 5/5/14: In 2013, Crichton totaled 47 tackles with 19 tackles for a loss, 7.5 sacks and three forced fumbles. He was more disruptive than the numbers indicate. Crichton didn't record a sack against Oregon, but constantly pressured Marcus Mariota and caused lots of disruption. In his career, Crichton caused a lot of havoc and commanded some extra blocking potential. He finished the season well and entered the 2014 NFL Draft.
At the Combine, Crichton had a solid performance, yet he wasn't overly impressive. Sources have told WalterFootball.com they have graded Crichton as a second-rounder. He is a bit of tweener between a 4-3 end and a 3-4 outside linebacker.
8/12/13: Crichton has displayed some natural pass-rushing and play-making ability over the last two years for Oregon State. The sophomore turned in an impressive 2012 season with nine sacks, 17 tackles for a loss, 44 tackles and a forced fumble. He had six sacks, 14.5 tackles for a loss, six forced fumbles and 74 tackles as a redshirt freshman in 2011.
Crichton needs to improve his hand usage and the ability to shed blocks. He has some quickness and strength, but needs his repertoire of pass-rushing moves to get better. Crichton is too reliant on a bull rush. If the junior checks in smaller than his listed measurements, he will have to move to outside linebacker.
Personal: Majoring in human development and family sciences. Son of Lucky and Malama Crichton.
Dominique Easley, DE, Florida
Height: 6-2. Weight: 288. Projected 40 Time: 4.85. Projected Round (2014): 2-3. 5/5/14: The medical reports have stated that Easley is making a good recovery from the knee injury that ended his season. He was a dominant force in 2013 before an ACL tear in practice cut his year short. He had led the way for the Gators' defense to put on impressive displays against Miami and Tennessee. Easley caused a lot of havoc at the point of attack and created a lot of negative plays for the Hurricanes. The senior also drew three holding penalties in that game.
Easley was in the running with Jadeveon Clowney for the best get-off in college football, but unlike Clowney, Easley had a non-stop motor and never took plays off. Sources told WalterFootball.com that Easley was probably a late first-round pick before the injury. Now, he should go on the second day of the 2014 NFL Draft.
8/12/13: There is a nice buzz about Easley heading into the season. He had 26 tackles in 2012 and led the Gators with four sacks. The junior also had 8.5 tackles for a loss and one pass batted. Easley missed two games with nagging injuries. He was quiet in the first half of the season, but finished the year well.
Easley was strong, fast and disruptive in 2012. Still, he made a good decision to come back to school for 2013. The senior is very capable turning in a huge year and rising high in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Easley played defensive tackle in 2011. The sophomore flashed real disruptive speed at the point of attack, recording 37 tackles, 7.5 tackles for a loss and 1.5 sacks.
Easley suffered a torn ACL late in 2011, and that could have contributed to him starting slowly last season. The Gators play a hybrid defense, so he has experience as a 4-3 end and as a five-technique defensive end in a 3-4. Easley was a top recruit coming out of high school and is a good athlete.
Jeremiah Attaochu, DE/OLB, Georgia Tech
Height: 6-3. Weight: 252. Projected 40 Time: 4.71. Projected Round (2014): 2-3. 4/12/14: Many project Attaochu to go early in the second round. The issue for him is scheme fit as he is a tweener for a 4-3 defense and is a better fit in a 3-4.
In 2013, Attaochu collected 45 tackles with 16 tackles for a loss, two passes batted and 12.5 sacks. He beat North Carolina left tackle James Hurst for one of those sacks. Attaochu had big games against Clemson and Georgia. He is a good speed rusher, but he'll most likely have to move to outside linebacker in the NFL. Attaochu played well at the Senior Bowl, but didn't work out at the Combine.
8/12/13: Attaochu is fast and is very athletic. He has some natural pass-rush ability as he enters his senior year with 19 career sacks. Attaochu is moving from outside linebacker to defensive end for 2013. He should gain weight for the NFL and looks like he would fit well as a 3-4 outside linebacker.
Attaochu totaled 69 tackles, 10 sacks, 12 tackles for a loss, one pass broken up and one forced fumble last year. He had solid sophomore season with 59 tackles, 11.5 tackles for a loss, six sacks, one interception, two passes broken up and two forced fumbles.
Personal: Majoring in science, technology and culture. Son of Paul and Comfort, originally from Nigeria.
Kareem Martin, DE, North Carolina
Height: 6-6. Weight: 272. 40 Time: 4.72. Projected Round (2014): 2-3. 5/5/14: Martin could go in the second round, but he shouldn't fall out of the third round. Martin recorded 82 tackles, 21.5 tackles for a loss, 11.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and three passes broken up in 2013. After a quiet start, he was red hot in the second half of the season.
Martin has a nice athletic skill set, but didn't always played up to his potential. He needs to become more consistent with his pass rush. Martin didn't have a very impressive week at the Senior Bowl, but had a respectable showing at the Combine. Martin has a lot of athletic upside, so he if lands in the right spot, he could prove to be a steal.
8/12/13: Martin totaled 40 tackles, 15.5 tackles for a loss, three passes batted, one forced fumble and four sacks last year. Surprisingly, the junior wasn't as effective a pass-rusher as he seemed capable of. Many thought Martin would produce a big season with a year of experience and Quinton Coples being in the NFL.
Martin beat out Donte Paige-Moss for a starting job in 2011 despite the fact that Paige-Moss had a productive 2010 season. The sophomore provided a bigger impact early in the season for the Tar Heels than Coples. Martin recorded 40 tackles with four sacks, seven tackles for a loss and six passes batted in 2011.
Martin has upside, and he could become a big-time prospect as a senior. Martin has good size with excellent speed. He is a physical player who really battles offensive tackles.
Personal: Public policy major.
Trent Murphy, DE/OLB, Stanford
Height: 6-5. Weight: 250. 40 Time: 4.86. Projected Round (2014): 2-3. 5/5/14: Murphy has a well-rounded skill set as he is a good pass-rusher with quickness and strength. Murphy defends the run well and has good instincts. He also has the athletic ability to drop into pass coverage. Murphy looks like a great fit as a 3-4 OLB in the NFL. He would be drafted higher if he was faster and had more explosion off the snap.
Murphy had a mixed performance at the Senior Bowl and wasn't good enough to help his first-round prospects. At the Combine, Murphy confirmed that he is a second-day pick and not a first-rounder.
In 2013, Murphy totaled 15 sacks, 24.5 tackles for a loss, 62 tackles, six passes batted, one forced fumble and an interception returned 30 yards for a touchdown. He led the nation in sacks.
Murphy recorded two sacks of San Jose State quarterback David Fales in the 2013 season opener. Murphy had an interception returned for a 30-yard touchdown against Washington State. Versus Washington, he had two sacks and deflected a pass that was intercepted near the end zone late in the fourth quarter to protect Stanford's narrow win over the Huskies.
Murphy played well against Oregon and was an animal against Oregon State, totaling eight tackles, 2.5 sacks, two batted passes and 4.5 tackles for a loss. He came close to a number of other sacks and was living in the backfield all night. Murphy was held in check by Notre Dame left tackle Zack Martin, and totaled just two tackles and .5 tackles for a loss. While Stanford fell in a road upset to USC, Murphy was phenomenal for the Cardinal. He had eight tackles with four tackles for a loss and two sacks. Murphy had a quality game against Michigan State in the Rose Bowl.
8/12/13: Murphy was perhaps the best player on Stanford's tough defense in 2012. That is saying something with other good prospects like Ben Gardner, Henry Anderson, Ed Reynolds, Chase Thomas and Shayne Skov all being legitimate pro prospects.
Murphy is a physical force who beats linemen with power and technique. He also has speed to get by as an edge-rusher. Murphy totaled 56 tackles with 10 sacks, 18 tackles for a loss, four passes broken up, one interception and a forced fumble last season. He racked up 40 tackles with 10 tackles for a loss and 6.5 sacks in 2011.
Murphy is a versatile player who has lined up in a variety of spots in Stanford's 3-4 defense.
Personal: Majoring in science, technology and society.
Chris Smith, DE, Arkansas
Height: 6-1. Weight: 266. 40 Time: 4.71. Projected Round (2014): 3-4. 5/5/14: In 2013, Smith recorded 36 tackles with 11.5 tackles for a loss and 8.5 sacks. He had three sacks against Southern Miss. Smith didn't stand out against South Carolina, Florida or Alabama. However, he played better against Mississippi State and Ole Miss. Smith showed his edge-rush ability at the Senior Bowl, but he should move to outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense in the NFL. Smith had a nice Combine performance and would be ranked higher if he were taller.
8/12/13: Smith fell under the radar last year because Arkansas had a nightmare season, but he played extremely well. The junior totaled 52 tackles with 13 tackles for a loss, 9.5 sacks, four passes batted and one forced fumble. He put a lot of pressure on the quarterback. In 2011, Smith had 31 tackles with 3.5 sacks. He could be the second-best pass-rusher in the SEC behind only Jadeveon Clowney.
Personal: Son of Sherry and William Smith.
Taylor Hart, DE, Oregon
Height: 6-6. Weight: 281. Projected 40 Time: 5.04. Projected Round (2014): 3-4. 5/5/14: Hart recorded 75 tackles, six tackles for a loss and 3.5 sacks in 2013. Early in the year, he had limited playing time because the Ducks blew out so many opponents. Hart had an excellent game against Oregon State to close out the regular season. He didn't work out at the Combine due to an injury.
8/12/13: Hart led the Ducks in sacks last year with eight. He also chipped in 36 tackles with 11 tackles for a loss, three passes batted and a forced fumble. It was his second season as a starter.Hart totaled 44 tackles with 2.5 sacks, three tackles for a loss, two passes broken up and a forced fumble in 2011. He registered 18 tackles and two sacks as a freshman backup.
Personal: Son of Doug and Kathy Hart.
Will Clarke, DE, West Virginia
Height: 6-6. Weight: 271. 40 Time: 4.77. Projected Round (2014): 3-5. 5/5/14: Clarke was a sleeper prospect who helped himself with a strong postseason at the East-West Shrine and, to a lesser extent, at the Senior Bowl. In the former, Clarke was disruptive all week, which showed in the East-West Shrine Game itself. He also had a solid Combine.
Clarke really stepped up his play as a senior. He assembled six sacks, 49 tackles, 17 tackles for a loss, three passes batted and one forced fumble for the season. As a junior, Clarke had only 26 tackles with 1.5 sacks and 6.5 tackles for a loss. He didn't produce much as a sophomore.
Clarke has a nice combination of length, quickness and strength. He would be a nice fit for the defensive end position in a 3-4 defense.
Personal: Son of William and Beverly Clarke. Majoring in criminology and investigations.
Ed Stinson, DE/DT, Alabama
Height: 6-3. Weight: 287. Projected 40 Time: 4.99. Projected Round (2014): 4-5. 5/5/14: Stinson had 42 tackles and 1.5 sacks in 2013. He played better and was more disruptive than the numbers indicate. Stinson is a good run-defender, but he needs to improve his pass rush to be a starter.
8/10/13: Stinson is a tough run-defender at the point of attack, but doesn't offer much pass rush. He had 30 tackles, 8.5 tackles for a loss and three sacks last year. Stinson recorded 19 tackles, five tackles for a loss, one sack, one forced fumble and a pass broken up in 2011. He was part of a rotation previously, but should play more in 2013 with Quinton Dial and Damien Square in the NFL.
Jackson Jeffcoat, DE/OLB, Texas
Height: 6-3. Weight: 247. 40 Time: 4.63. Projected Round (2013): 4-6. 5/5/14: In 2013, Jeffcoat collected 79 tackles, 13 sacks, 19 tackles for a loss, three passes batted and an interception. He played well for Texas and came up with clutch performances against Kansas State and Oklahoma with two sacks in each outing. Jeffcoat had three sacks against Texas Tech.
While Jeffcoat produced a good statistical season, sources say he's a project for the NFL because he is too undersized for defensive end and not athletic enough for outside linebacker. Not everybody projects him transitioning well to outside linebacker either. At the Combine, he ran faster than expected.
8/12/13: Jeffcoat went out for the 2012 season after six games due to a torn pectoral muscle. He totaled 25 tackles, four sacks, 10.5 tackles for a loss, two forced fumbles and one pass breakup in his shortened year. Jeffcoat needs to add strength as teams were able to run the ball at him.
Jeffcoat was a Second-Team All-Big XII selection in 2011. He had 54 tackles with 16.5 tackles for a loss, 7.5 sacks and three passes broken up. Almost all of Jeffcoat's production came in the second half of the season. He was a backup as a freshman, collecting only 13 tackles with three tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks and one pass breakup.
Jeffcoat has a real burst off the edge that puts tackles on their heels. He has the speed to turn the corner and the agility to drop his hips or shoulder to get pointed to the quarterback. Jeffcoat needs to continue to develop his pass-rushing moves for the NFL. He could fit best as a 3-4 rush linebacker, and it is possible that he could be the 2014 NFL Draft's Dion Jordan.
There is no doubt that Jeffcoat has good bloodlines. His father, Jim Jeffcoat, had a long NFL career with the Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills.
Cassius Marsh, DE, UCLA
Height: 6-4. Weight: 252. 40 Time: 4.89. Projected Round (2014): 4-6. 5/5/14: Marsh picked up 55 tackles with 8.5 tackles for a loss and six sacks in 2013. After a slow start to the year, he played well in the second half. Marsh had a big game against USC to close out the regular season. He showed a nice combination of strength and quickness. Marsh was up-and-down at the East-West Shrine, but he has some potential. Marsh had good performance at the Combine.
8/12/13: Marsh quietly put together an impressive 2012 season. The junior collected 40 tackles, eight sacks, 10.5 tackles for a loss, two passes batted and two forced fumbles. He was red hot in the middle of the year with 5.5 sacks in a four-game stretch.
Marsh was wise to return for his senior season. It wouldn't be surprising if he has a big year with edge-rusher Anthony Barr demanding double-teams and forcing quarterbacks to move towards the other side.
Marsh also had a solid sophomore season with 22 tackles, four tackles for a loss and two sacks. He has some real quickness and with upside to improve his production in 2013. Marsh received playing time as a freshman and made 23 tackles.
Personal: Son of Curtis Marsh and Holly Ann LeBlanc.
Jeoffrey Pagan*, DE/DT, Alabama
Height: 6-3. Weight: 310. Projected 40 Time: 5.15. Projected Round (2014): 4-6. 5/5/14: Pagan had 34 tackles with 3.5 tackles for a loss and two sacks in 2013. He played well against LSU with a sack coming in that game. Pagan should have returned for his senior year, but WalterFootball.com knows some 3-4 teams that are interested in him.
8/10/13: Pagan came off the bench in 2012 and contributed some solid run defense. The sophomore totaled 23 tackles, four tackles for a loss and 1.5 sacks as a rotational player. With Quinton Dial and Damien Square in the NFL, Pagan should take on a starting role in 2013 as a junior. He has the skill set to produce more as a junior and/or senior.
Ben Gardner, DE, Stanford
Height: 6-4. Weight: 275. Projected 40 Time: 4.87. Projected Round (2013): 4-6. 5/5/14: Gardner was playing really well for Stanford in 2013 before a torn pectoral muscle robbed him of the majority of the second half of the year. His going out was a huge loss to the Cardinal's defense as he was providing a lot of disruption with some big plays. Gardner finished the year with 19 tackles, 7.5 tackles for a loss, 4.5 sacks and a forced fumble. He didn't participate at the Combine.
8/12/13: Gardner had a strong 2012 season with 49 tackles, 14.5 tackles for a loss, 7.5 sacks, five passes batted and a huge forced fumble (against Notre Dame). He is a strong and smart defender. Gardner is very physical with offensive linemen and played better than his numbers indicate. He had 35 tackles, 10 tackles for a loss and 4.5 sacks in 2011.
Personal: Majoring in science, technology and society.
Morgan Breslin, DE/OLB, USC
Height: 6-2. Weight: 250. Projected 40 Time: 4.71. Projected Round (2014): 5-7. 5/5/14: Breslin missed the 2013 opener against Hawaii with a foot injury. He was banged up over season and missed time at multiple points. When Breslin played, he performed well for the Trojans. In limited time, Breslin picked up 4.5 sacks, eight tackles for a loss and 15 tackles. He didn't work out at the Combine.
8/12/13: The junior college product Breslin had a breakout year for USC in 2012, his first season on campus. He totaled 62 tackles with 19.5 tackles for a loss, 13 sacks, four passes batted and a forced fumble.
The biggest issue keeping Breslin is his size. He is a tweener defensive end/outside linebacker. It will be interesting to see how Breslin performs in the Trojans' new defense, but he looks best as a 3-4 outside linebacker.
Personal: Majoring in sociology.
Trevor Reilly, DE/OLB, Utah
Height: 6-5. Weight: 255. Projected 40 Time: 4.85. Projected Round (2014): 5-7. 5/5/14: Reilly played linebacker and defensive end for Utah. For the NFL, he could play either position, but would need to add more weight for defensive end. The senior recorded 100 tackles with 8.5 sacks, 16 tackles for a loss, two passes broken up, one interception and one forced fumble in 2013. He didn't work out at the Combine.
Reilly had 69 tackles, 4.5 sacks, four passes batted and three forced fumbles in 2012. In 2011, he had 47 tackles, five sacks and four forced fumbles.
Personal: Economics major. Son of Ross and Kris Reilly.
James Gayle, DE/OLB, Virginia Tech
Height: 6-4. Weight: 259. 40 Time: 4.70. Projected Round (2013): 5-7. 5/5/14: Gayle had 44 tackles in 2013, plus six sacks, 10.5 tackles for a loss and a forced fumble. He played well for Virginia Tech alongside Derrick Hopkins, Luther Maddy and Dadi Nicholas. Gayle didn't really stand out at the Senior Bowl, but he did well at the Combine.
8/12/13: Gayle had 43 tackles, 11 tackles for a loss and five sacks in 2012. He recorded 38 tackles, 12.5 tackles for a loss and seven sacks in 2011. Gayle has been a Second-Team All-ACC selection for the past two seasons. He was a backup in 2010, but still recorded four sacks.
Gayle has some athletic ability and natural pass-rush skills. He could easily improve his draft stock with a big senior year. Gayle needs to add weight and strength.
Personal: Majoring in sociology. Son of James and Michelle Gayle. Uncle, Shaun Gayle, had a solid career for the Chicago Bears.
Michael Sam, DE/OLB, Missouri
Height: 6-2. Weight: 261. Projected 40 Time: 4.71. Projected Round (2014): 5-7. 5/5/14: Sam was a breakout performer for Missouri in 2013 with 11.5 sacks. He also recorded 48 tackles with 19 tackles for a loss, two forced fumbles and two passes broken up. Sam returned a fumble for a touchdown in the Tigers' upset win over Georgia. He dominated with three-sack games against Arkansas State, Vanderbilt and Florida. The senior was shut down by Tennessee's tough offensive line, and Auburn ran over him in the SEC Championship.
Sam recorded 22 tackles with 4.5 sacks, seven tackles for a loss and two forced fumbles in 2012. As a sophomore, he had 1.5 sacks. That was slightly less than the 3.5 sacks from his freshman season.
Sam should move to outside linebacker in the NFL, but could be a situational defensive end in obvious passing downs. He would probably fit best as a 3-4 outside linebacker. Sam had a mixed week at the Senior Bowl and looked bad at the Combine.
Personal: Son of Michael and JoAnn Sam.
Chaz Sutton, DE, South Carolina
Height: 6-5. Weight: 256. Projected 40 Time: 4.83. Projected Round (2014): 6-FA. 5/5/14: Sutton made an impact for South Carolina and held up moderately well with teams sending plays away from Jadeveon Clowney. Sutton had 32 tackles with 8.5 tackles for a loss and three sacks in 2013, but is undersized for the NFL. He didn't work out at the Combine.
8/12/13: South Carolina has had a lot of good defensive line talent in recent years, so it has been hard for Sutton to see the field. He is slotted to replace Devin Taylor as a starting defensive end on the other side from Jadeveon Clowney. With the monster Clowney drawing double- and triple-teams, Sutton should see a ton of one-on-one blocks in 2013. He totaled 25 tackles, seven tackles for a loss, five sacks, one pass broken up and one forced fumble as a junior last season.
Personal: Majoring in hotel, restaurant and tourism management.
Aaron Lynch**, DE, South Florida
Height: 6-5. Weight: 249. Projected 40 Time: 4.74. Projected Round (2014): 7-FA. 5/5/14: Lynch was a disappointment in 2013, yet he still entered the 2014 NFL Draft. Lynch wasn't the same force that he was at Notre Dame as a freshman. Despite a weak conference, Lynch didn't come alive until late November when he picked up four sacks through the final three games.
Lynch recorded 29 tackles with 11.5 tackles for a loss and five sacks in 2013. He made a big mistake going pro considering his disappointing year and questions about his makeup. There are a lot of off-the-field concerns that could cause him to go undrafted.
8/12/13: The Notre Dame transfer was forced to sit out the 2012 season, but he may only need one more season of college to prove that he is a first-round prospect. Lynch played really well for Notre Dame in 2011 as freshman, recording 33 tackles, seven tackles for a loss, 5.5 sacks and a forced fumble. Lynch was just scratching the surface of his talent.
Lynch left the Fighting Irish due to homesickness for Florida and landed with the Bulls. He should dominate the Big East in 2013.
Personal: Majoring in interdisciplinary social science. Son of Alice Lynch.
Ryne Giddins, DE, South Florida
Height: 6-3. Weight: 253. Projected 40 Time: 4.74. Projected Round (2014): 7-FA. 5/5/14: In 2013, Giddins totaled 27 tackles with 10 tackles for a loss and five sacks. His play was disappointing like teammate Aaron Lynch's. Giddins didn't work out at the Combine.
8/12/13: Giddins disappointed last season as his production was down. The junior recorded 25 tackles with four tackles for a loss and 3.5 sacks. He played in 12 games, but only started seven. Giddins became a starter during his redshirt sophomore season in 2011. He had a solid debut for the Bulls with 66 tackles, 11 tackles for a loss, 5.5 sacks and three forced fumbles. Giddins could have a big senior season in 2013 with Aaron Lynch playing on the other side from him.
Personal: Majoring in communication sciences and disorders.