So what if Zeke is a rookie? And they didn't draft him #4 overall, given that he's a prototype 3-down back, to have him in a timeshare with Morris or McFadden. Behind that line, coupled with his skills as a runner, receiver, and pass blocker, there's no way he should fall past the first round.
Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
Height: 6-6. Weight: 310. 40 Time: 5.02. Projected Round (2014): 1-2. 5/5/14: Hageman could go in the back half of the first round, but also could slip to the second round. Some teams picking early in the second are doing their homework on Hageman in case he's available.
In 2013, Hageman recorded 38 tackles, 13 tackles for a loss, seven passes broken up, one interception and two sacks. The senior saw his share of double-teams, and at times, those weren't enough to contain him, but he needs to become more consistent. Sometimes, Hageman is unblockable with power and explosion. He has pass-rush ability, but needs to get more consistent pressure on the quarterback. That could improve in the NFL when he isn't facing so many double-teams.
At the Senior Bowl, Hageman had a solid week of practice. He continued to show that he has the power and quickness to overwhelm offensive linemen. Hageman followed that up with a good performance at the Combine. Sources told WalterFootball.com that Hageman did well in the team interviews.
Hageman has a lot of flexibility for NFL defenses. He could play nose tackle in a 4-3 or 3-4 defense while also having the ability to be a five-technique defensive end in a 3-4.
8/10/13: Hageman had an impressive 2012 season and was one of the better interior defensive linemen in the Big Ten. The junior totaled 35 tackles, 7.5 tackles for a loss, two passes broken up, one forced fumble and six sacks. He had 13 tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble in 2011.
Hageman was backup early in his career after switching to defensive tackle from tight end. If the senior can build on his breakout 2012 season, he could rise up the rankings.
Personal: Majoring in youth studies. Son of Eric Hageman and Jill Coyle.
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.
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.
Ego Ferguson*, DT, LSU
Height: 6-3. Weight: 315. Projected 40 Time: 5.00. Projected Round (2014): 2-3. 5/5/14: The speedy and athletic Ferguson was impressive in 2013, especially early in the season. He recorded 58 tackles with 3.5 tackles for a loss and a sack. Ferguson can be disruptive at the point of attack and use his speed to cause a lot of havoc behind the line of scrimmage. The redshirt junior started out hot, but cooled off. He had seven tackles against Alabama.
Ferguson decided to enter the 2014 NFL Draft, but would have had a better shot at the first round by returning to school. Sources have told WalterFootball.com that Ferguson received a second-round grade.
Ferguson was a backup in 2012 and totaled 14 tackles. He was a backup as redshirt freshman backup in 2011, too, notching 13 tackles.
Personal: Majoring in sports administration. Son of Ego and Brenda Ferguson.
Anthony Johnson*, DT, LSU
Height: 6-3. Weight: 308. 40 Time: 5.24. Projected Round (2014): 2-3. 5/5/14: Johnson totaled 35 tackles with nine tackles for a loss, three sacks and an interception in 2013. He wasn't as good as expected for most of the season. Johnson had a pressure and only two tackles against Alabama. He played better late in the year, but Johnson never produced up to his potential in college. At the Combine, he did well in the field drills. Sources have told WalterFootball.com that Johnson received a second-round grade.
8/10/13: Johnson (6-3, 305) replaced Michael Brockers in LSU's starting lineup in 2012 and handled it well. The sophomore totaled 30 tackles with 10 tackles for a loss, three sacks and one pass broken up last year.
Johnson is explosive, very fast and has a great skill set, plus a lot of upside. He's been nicknamed "The Freak" because of his size and speed combination. That is saying something considering some of the other athletes the program has produced in recent years including Patrick Peterson, Morris Claiborne and Barkevious Mingo.
Johnson was a backup in 2011. The freshman rotated into the game behind Michael Brockers and Bennie Logan, but still flashed a nice athletic skill set in limited opportunities. He recorded 12 tackles, three tackles for a loss and a sack.
Johnson could rise higher in these rankings. The junior has a lot of speed to make big plays in the backfield. There is no doubt that Johnson has a great opportunity for 2013 to be his breakout season.
Personal: Majoring in general studies. Son of Nakisha Johnson and Sherman Patty. Johnson is a New Orleans native and was a refugee from Hurricane Katrina before returning to New Orleans and becoming one of the top recruits in the nation out of high school.
DaQuan Jones, DT, Penn State
Height: 6-4. Weight: 322. 40 Time: 5.35. Projected Round (2014): 3-4. 5/5/14: In recent years, Penn State has produced a few good defensive tackle prospects in Devon Still and Jordan Hill. Jones is the latest tackle who could go on the second day of the draft. Jones is a sleeper target who a lot of teams are interested in.
The senior impressed in 2013. He picked up 53 tackles with 11.5 tackles for a loss and three sacks. Jones has some quickness and pass-rush ability. He put more heat on the quarterback than his sack total indicates. Jones was solid, but unspectacular, at the Senior Bowl and Combine. He has added some bulk and opened himself up for consideration to be a 3-4 nose tackle.
Jones started next to Hill in 2012 and recorded 22 tackles with .5 sacks. Jones had eight tackles as a backup in 2011.
Personal: Majoring in criminology. Son of Steve Jones and Vaile Newborn.
Brent Urban, DT, Virginia
Height: 6-7. Weight: 295. Projected 40 Time: 4.90. Projected Round (2014): 3-4. 5/5/14: Urban notched 40 tackles with 12.5 tackles for a loss, one sack and nine passes batted in 2013. He stood out with a good game against Miami. The senior has some quickness of the ball with the strength to shed blocks. Urban performed well at the Senior Bowl but didn't run at the Combine.
As a junior, Urban had 20 tackles with two sacks and a forced fumble. The Canadian has some upside to develop and could be a good fit as a 3-4 defensive end.
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.
DeAndre Coleman, DE/DT, California
Height: 6-5. Weight: 314. Projected 40 Time: 5.34. Projected Round (2014): 4-5. 5/5/14: Coleman recorded 40 tackles with nine tackles for a loss and 2.5 sacks this year. He played well for California and did well at the Senior Bowl. Coleman didn't run at the Combine.
8/10/13: California had a rough 2012 season, but he still played solid football. The junior totaled 48 tackles, 8.5 tackles for a loss, three sacks and one pass breakup. He totaled 19 tackles with six tackles for a loss and two sacks in 2011.
Coleman could fit as a 3-4 defensive end or a 4-3 defensive tackle in the NFL. He may not be quick enough to play a traditional 4-3 defensive end at the next level.
Personal: Social welfare major. Son of Randy Washington and Deborah Coleman.
Kelcy Quarles*, DT, South Carolina
Height: 6-4. Weight: 297. 40 Time: 5.03. Projected Round (2014): 4-5. 5/5/14: Quarles had a solid season for South Carolina. He recorded 39 tackles with 13.5 tackles for a loss and 9.5 sacks. The junior notched sacks in seven different games in 2013. As a run-defender, Quarles needs work. Wisconsin had a lot of success running at him in the bowl game. For the NFL, Quarles looks like a situational pass-rusher. He had a solid performance at the Combine.
8/10/13: Quarles has a solid sophomore season last year, totaling 38 tackles, eight tackles for a loss and 3.5 sacks. He totaled 28 tackles in 2011.
Quarles seems capable of producing more after gaining more experience and strength. He could produce a big season in 2013 with all the attention Jadeveon Clowney draws.
Personal: Majoring in public health.
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.
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.
Bruce Gaston, DT, Purdue
Height: 6-2. Weight: 303. Projected 40 Time: 5.35. Projected Round (2014): 6-FA. 5/5/14: Gaston played well in 2013 and recorded 44 tackles, seven tackles for a loss and three sacks. He didn't take part in the Combine.
8/10/13: Gaston formed a nice interior defensive line for Purdue in 2012 with Kawann Short. The strong and physical Gaston did a nice job of controlling his gap and defending the run. The junior totaled 28 tackles with 5.5 tackles for a loss and two forced fumbles. He had 30 tackles with seven tackles for a loss, three sacks and two passes batted in 2011.
In the NFL, Gaston would probably be best adding weight and playing nose guard in a 4-3 defense.