2016 NFL Draft Prospects: 3-4 Defensive Ends

By Charlie Campbell.
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The top 2016 3-4 defensive end prospects available for the 2016 NFL Draft. * – denotes 2017 prospect. ** – denotes 2018 prospect.

This page was last updated April 27, 2016. Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.
2023 NFL Draft Position Rankings:
QB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | NT | 3-4 OLB | 3-4 DE | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K | P

2024 NFL Draft Position Rankings:
QB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | NT | 3-4 OLB | 3-4 DE | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K | P

2025 NFL Draft Position Rankings:
QB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | NT | 3-4 OLB | 3-4 DE | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K | P

  1. DeForest Buckner, 3-4DE, Oregon
    Height: 6-7. Weight: 290. Arm: 34.38.
    40 Time: 5.05.
    Projected Round (2015): Top-10 Pick.

    4/27/16: Sources at teams picking late in the top 10 believe that Buckner will go earlier and won’t slide in the top 10. At the combine, Buckner had a solid workout, but didn’t blow it out of the water. Sources say that Buckner is good kid and they have given him high marks for character.

    Buckner has a serious skill set with size and speed. He can beat blockers with power and has the speed to close on the quarterback. With his flexible size, Buckner can be moved around the line from end to tackle. He would fit as an end/tackle in a 4-3 and a five-technique defensive end in a 3-4. Buckner is in the running to be the first defensive player selected in the 2016 NFL Draft.

    In 2015, Buckner had 76 tackles with 16 for a loss, 9.5 sacks and five passes batted. He played really well for the Ducks as a run defender and showed more pass-rush potential, which hasn’t been easy to display for many Oregon products. The Ducks’ scheme suppressed the pass-rush potential of other edge rushers like Arik Armstead and Dion Jordan.

    8/22/15: Buckner has a similar skill set to former teammate Arik Armstead. Buckner recorded 81 tackles with 13 tackles for a loss, four sacks and four passes broken up in 2014. He looks capable of a big senior year, but Oregon’s scheme doesn’t lend itself to big sack totals as evidenced by Armstead and Dion Jordan.

  2. Jarran Reed, 3-4DE, Alabama
    Height: 6-3. Weight: 311. Arm: 32. Hand 10.76.
    40 Time: 5.21.
    Projected Round (2016): 1.

    4/27/16: Teams picking in the middle of Round 1 have told me that Reed is in the running for their first-round pick. He is a good run stuffer, but doesn’t offer a lot in the pass rush. Reed does have the speed and athleticism to develop more pass-rushing skills as a professional though.

    Reed had a solid combine workout. His 40 time wasn’t special, but he did well in the field drills. In 2015, Reed totaled 53 tackles with 4.5 for a loss, one sack and two passes batted. At the Senior Bowl, he flashed some of his pass-rush potential. Sources said that Reed might end up as a top-25 pick.

    8/22/15: Reed was an All-SEC honorable mention in 2014. He was a quality run defender for Alabama with 55 tackles, 6.5 for a loss, one sack, and five passes broken up. Reed needs to improve his pass rush to rise as a senior.

  3. A’Shawn Robinson*, 3-4DE, Alabama
    Height: 6-3. Weight: 307. Arm: 34.5.
    40 Time: 5.20.
    Projected Round (2016): 1.

    4/27/16: At the combine, Robinson had a fine workout, but wasn’t as impressive as expected. Sources say that if Robinson had been consistent for Alabama, he would be in contention for the No. 1-overall pick. They say he is a tremendous athlete with rare size, strength, speed and movement skills. They like Robinson as a person off the field, but question his love and dedication to football.

    In 2015, Robinson recorded 46 tackles with 7.5 for a loss and 3.5 sacks. He came on really strong for the Crimson Tide in the middle portion of the year and showed a combination of power and speed to make plays in the backfield or stuff his gap at the point of attack. Robinson has a versatile skill set to play 3-4 defensive end, nose tackle, or any interior position in a 4-3 defense.

    All of Alabama’s front seven played well against LSU, but Robinson was the most impressive defender to lead a great team effort. He stuffed a number of runs from Leonard Fournette and also was getting after the quarterback. Robinson followed that up with 2.5 sacks against Mississippi State. He finished the year with strong games against Florida, Michigan State and Clemson.

    8/22/15: Robinson recorded 49 tackles with 7.5 tackles for a loss, one forced fumble and two passes batted in 2014. In 2013 as a freshman, he was too good to keep on the sideline. Robinson was an impact defender for the Crimson Tide with 38 tackles, eight tackles for a loss and 5.5 sacks. He’s quick for his size and very strong. Robinson could be the best defensive lineman Alabama has had since Marcel Dareus.

  4. Chris Jones*, 3-4DE, Mississippi State
    Height: 6-5. Weight: 310. Arm: 34.5.
    40 Time: 5.03.
    Projected Round (2016): 1-2.

    4/27/16: I was too low on my rating of Jones because he was an underachiever in college. He has a great skill set, but didn’t produce anything close to what he was capable of. Still, sources at a variety of teams told me Jones graded out as a late first- or early second-round pick. He is a rare prospect with his combination of size, speed and athleticism. Jones could play a variety of techniques, and is a good fit in a 4-3 or 3-4 defense. Teams do say they are concerned about Jones lacking love and dedication to football.

    Jones was a solid defender for the Bulldogs in 2015 with 44 tackles, 7.5 tackles for a loss, 2.5 sacks and four passes broken up. His run defense was improved compared to previous seasons, and he looked stronger at the point of attack. It would have made more sense for Jones to return for his senior year, but he decided to enter the 2016 NFL Draft. At the combine, Jones was decent.

    8/22/15: In 2014, Jones had 26 tackles with three sacks and two passes batted. He commanded a lot of blocking attention, and that helped free up teammates Preston Smith and Caleb Eulls to have breakout seasons. Jones showed some serious potential as a true freshman and flashed as an interior pass-rusher. In 2013, he totaled 32 tackles with seven tackles for a loss, three sacks and three passes broken up.

    Jones has the ability to play defensive end and tackle. According to Mississippi State, he played at 315 pounds as a freshman and has dropped weight.

  5. Robert Nkemdiche, 3-4DE, Ole Miss
    Height: 6-3. Weight: 294. Arm: 33.88.
    40 Time: 4.87.
    Projected Round (2016): 1-2.

    4/27/16: At the combine, Nkemdiche interview poorly with teams, and it served to confirm the major off-the-field concerns with him. On the field, Nkemdiche had a good workout as expected. That was reinforced at his pro day.

    Late last year, Nkemdiche added to the off-the-field questions he will face from NFL teams when he fell from the fourth floor of an Atlanta hotel room in December. Marijuana was found in his hotel room and he was arrested. That caused Nkemdiche to be suspended for his bowl game.

    Nkemdiche recorded 29 tackles, seven for a loss and three sacks in 2015. His best performance of the year was against Alabama with six tackles, one sack and another 1.5 of his tackles were for a loss. Nkemdiche left the game against Memphis with a concussion and missed another contest.

    Nkemdiche has a tremendous skill set with the speed and agility of a linebacker. For the NFL, there is no doubt that he has the skill set to be a disruptive presence at the point of attack. However, Nkemdiche struggles to finish plays after breaking into the backfield. He lacks pass-rushing moves and has poor awareness. Thus, Nkemdiche underachieved in production.

    Sources say that Nkemdiche isn’t a natural pass-rusher, and his lack of sacks in his career illustrates that. They also have a lot of off-the-field concerns with Nkemdiche as one source said that Nkemdiche loves the limelight and wants to be a movie star. Another source said that Nkemdiche’s brother Denzel brings a lot of off-the-field concerns with him and Denzel is expected to move with Robert wherever he lands in the NFL.

    8/22/15: Laquan Treadwell and Laremy Tunsil weren’t the only star recruits to choose Ole Miss in an amazing 2013 class. Nkemdiche was considered to be the No. 1 player in the nation. He certainly flashed more than once in 2013. The freshman totaled 34 tackles with two sacks and eight tackles for a loss that year.

    Nkemdiche has tons of physical talent with speed and athleticism. He could grow into a defensive tackle. In 2014, Nkemdiche recorded 35 tackles with two sacks. Thus far, he has not looked like a natural pass-rusher. Nkemdiche flashes serious size and speed talent, but lacks consistency. Perhaps that will come as a junior.

  6. Austin Johnson*, 3-4DE, Penn State
    Height: 6-4. Weight: 314. Arm: 32.38. Hand: 9.5.
    40 Time: 5.32.
    Projected Round (2016): 1-2.

    4/27/16: In speaking to sources at multiple teams, there are a lot of fans of Johnson. A number of teams are talking about taking him in Round 2, but he may go quickly in the second round and possibly even late in Round 1. Teams love Johnson’s skill set and versatility.

    Johnson produced a quality season for Penn State in 2015. He was a tough defender at the point of attack with 78 tackles, 15 tackles for a loss and 6.5 sacks. He had one sack as a sophomore and freshman. The jump was in part due to quarterbacks stepping up to avoid Carl Nassib. Johnson projects as a nose tackle for a 3-4 or 4-3 defense in the NFL. Johnson had a mildly disappointing Senior Bowl as he didn’t look as good as some of the other defensive linemen in Mobile. That was the same outcome from his combine performance.

  7. Jonathan Bullard, 3-4DE, Florida
    Height: 6-3. Weight: 285. Arm: 33.63.
    40 Time: 4.93.
    Projected Round (2016): 1-2.

    4/27/16: If Bullard were bigger, he could be a pick in the top half of the first round. However, he is a tweener tackle/end, and that hurts his draft stock. Bullard had a strong workout at the combine where he showed his good speed and athleticism.

    Bullard played really well for Florida in 2015, making 66 tackles with 17.5 for a loss, 6.5 sacks and two passes batted. He was one of the SEC’s best run defenders on the defensive line and demonstrated the ability to rush well from the inside. For the NFL, Bullard would be best in a 4-3 defense as a defensive end in running situations who moves inside in the sub package.

    8/22/15: Bullard totaled 52 tackles with 8.5 tackles for a loss, 2.5 sacks, and two passes batted in 2014, coming on strong late in the season. He is a quick defender at the point of attack, but needs to add weight for the NFL.

    Injuries forced Bullard to play out of position at defensive tackle in 2013, but he had 33 tackles with 2.5 tackles for a loss and 1.5 sacks there. Bullard recorded 27 tackles with five tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks and one pass batted in 2012.

  8. Adolphus Washington, 3-4DE, Ohio State
    Height: 6-3. Weight: 301. Arm: 34. Hand: 9.5.
    40 Time: 5.17.
    Projected Round (2016): 2-3.

    4/27/16: Washington turned in an excellent regular season and looked like an early round talent with his combination of size and quickness on the defensive line. However following his impressive season, he landed an arrest for solicitation. Sources say that by the time of the 2016 NFL Draft they don’t think it will be a big factor, and to reinforce that view, the charges against him were dropped. In speaking with teams, Washington is being projected to Day 2.

    Washington had an impressive week at the Senior Bowl. He used his speed and power to dominate the first practice. In the following days he was good, but not as great. Still, Washington looked like a late first-round talent in Mobile.

    In 2015, Washington recorded 49 tackles with seven tackles for a loss, four sacks, a forced fumble and a pick-six. He dominated Penn State’s offensive line with two sacks and tons of disruption in the backfield. On a weekly basis, Washington was very disruptive with the speed to fire his gap and get into the backfield. He also was strong to shed blocks and play the run.

    8/22/15: Washington made a nice impact in 2014 as part of an excellent defensive line. He teamed with Michael Bennett and Joey Bosa to produce a consistent pass rush and a ton of plays behind the line of scrimmage. Washington had 48 tackles with 10.5 for a loss, 4.5 sacks, three passes batted and one forced fumble on the season. He totaled five sacks over his a sophomore and freshman years.

  9. Jihad Ward, 3-4DE, Illinois
    Height: 6-5. Weight: 296. Arm: 33.63. Hand 9.38.
    40 Time: 5.11.
    Projected Round (2016): 2-3.

    4/27/16: Some sources say they are grading Ward in the third round, while others have him in the second. Thus, Ward is a safe bet to be a second-day pick. Teams really like his raw athletic potential. They like Ward’s size, strength and athleticism. They feel he is a starting-caliber left defensive end for a 4-3 defense. Ward flashed at the Senior Bowl with versatile size and speed at the point of attack. He confirmed his special skill set with an impressive performance at the combine.

    The junior college product Ward had 53 tackles with 3.5 for a loss and three sacks for his debut season as an Illini in 2014. As a senior, he totaled 53 tackles with 3.5 for a loss and 1.5 sacks.

  10. Carl Nassib, 3-4DE, Penn State
    Height: 6-6. Weight: 277. Arm: 34.5. Hand: 10.38.
    40 Time: 4.84.
    Projected Round (2016): 3-4.

    4/27/16: Team sources say they expect Nassib to probably go on the second day of the 2016 NFL Draft, but some teams have him graded later than that because they have concerns about his athletic ability translating to the NFL. Nassib led the nation with 15.5 sacks in 2015. He was on fire all year before an injury cost him virtually the final few games of the regular season. The senior also had 46 tackles with 19.5 tackles for a loss and six forced fumbles on the year.

    Nassib owns a nice combination of strength and closing speed. He has a good motor and gets some sacks on a second effort. His 2015 production came out of nowhere as he had only only seven tackles with one sack, one forced fumble and a pass breakup in 2014. Even though his production is a 1-year wonder, former head coach Bill O’Brien and current head coach James Franklin have been profuse in their praise for Nassib’s work ethic and practice effort.

    Nassib is a former walk-on at Penn State and the younger brother of New York Giants quarterback Ryan Nassib. Carl Nassib was reportedly 50-60 pounds lighter when he arrived at Penn State and has worked extremely hard to get bigger.

  11. Bronson Kaufusi, 3-4DE, BYU
    Height: 6-6. Weight: 285. Arm: 34.13. Hand: 9.5.
    40 Time: 4.87.
    Projected Round (2016): 3-4.

    4/27/16: Kaufusi totaled 64 tackles, 20 tackles for a loss, 11 sacks, one interception and three forced fumbles in 2015. He has a nice skill set with size, strength and speed, but he needs to improve his ability to get off blocks. Kaufusi had a decent week at the Senior Bowl, but really didn’t improve his draft stock. That was the same result from his combine workout.

    8/22/15: Kaufusi had 43 tackles with 11.5 tackles for a loss, five passes broken up and seven sacks in 2014. He dealt with injuries in the early portion of the season. In 2013, the sophomore had a decent year with 37 tackles, seven tackles for a loss, four sacks, one interception and a forced fumble.

  12. Matt Ioannidis, 3-4DE, Temple
    Height: 6-3. Weight: 299. Arm: 32.63. Hand: 9.88.
    40 Time: 5.03.
    Projected Round (2016): 4-6.

    4/27/16: Ioannidis was a steady defender for Temple over the past three seasons with 3.5 sacks as a sophomore and then 3.5 sacks per year as a junior and senior. He also had 40 tackles with 11.5 for a loss in 2015. In 2014, Ioannidis totaled 47 stops with 11 for a loss. His best fit could come as a five-technique in a 3-4 defense. He earned an invitation to the Senior Bowl and had a quality week. Ioannidis followed that up with a decent performance at the combine. WalterFootball.com knows some teams that are targeting him on Day 3. Some 3-4 teams like his projection to being a five-technique defensive end.

  13. Quinton Jefferson, 3-4DE, Maryland
    Height: 6-4. Weight: 289. Arm: 33. Hand: 8.25.
    40 Time: 4.95.
    Projected Round (2016): 4-6.

    4/27/16: Jefferson had a nice redshirt junior season for Maryland, but he’s undersized for the NFL. In 2015, he totaled 39 tackles with 12.5 for a loss, 6.5 sacks, one forced fumble and one interception. Jefferson played in only three games in 2014. The previous year as a true sophomore, he had 47 tackles with three sacks.

    Jefferson was decent at the Senior Bowl and flashed some speed and athleticism. He then ran well in the 40 at the combine. Sources say they have graded out Jefferson in the early rounds on Day 3.

  14. Anthony Zettel, 3-4DE, Penn State
    Height: 6-4. Weight: 284. Arm: 31.13.
    40 Time: 4.81.
    Projected Round (2016): 4-6.

    4/27/16: Zettel was solid for Penn State with a lot of power at the point of attack. He totaled 47 tackles with 11 for a loss, four sacks, six passes batted and a forced fumble during 2015. Zettel put more pressure on the quarterback than his sack total indicates. He had a quality week at the East-West Shrine, but is top heavy. Zettel needs to build up his lower body to have a strong base for the NFL. He was faster than expected at the combine.

    8/22/15: Zettel is undersized for defensive tackle, but he is a quick interior rusher. For the NFL, he will have to move to 4-3 defensive end and could move inside for passing situations. Zettel has the frame to warrant consideration as a five-technique in a 3-4 defense.

    Zettel’s 2014 season showed that he has interior pass-rushing skills as he racked up eight sacks. He also had 42 tackles with 17 tackles for a loss. Zettel had four sacks per year as a sophomore and a freshman.

  15. Ebuka Onyemata, 3-4DE, Manitoba
    Height: 6-4. Weight: 300.
    Projected 40 Time: 5.11.
    Projected Round (2016): 4-6.

    4/27/16: The Canadian product flashed at the East-West Shrine as he has a nice combination of size and speed. Onyemata carries his weight well and has a lot of upside to develop.

  16. Shawn Oakman, 3-4DE, Baylor
    Height: 6-7. Weight: 269. Arm: 35.13. Hand: 10.58.
    Projected 40 Time: 4.96.
    Projected Round (2016): 5-FA.

    4/27/16: Oakman’s draft stock has slid further now that he is under investigation for a sexual assault. That could drop him deep in the 2016 NFL Draft and possibly even into the undrafted ranks.

    In 2015, Oakman totaled 43 tackles, 14.5 for a loss, 4.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. He was suspended for the season opener because of a team-rules violation. NFL teams already had off-the-field concerns with Oakman that that suspension will only add to. His play was somewhat disappointing considering the number of pass-rushing opportunities he saw against weak opponents.

    At the Senior Bowl, Oakman was not impressive and showed that he is very top heavy. He needs to strengthen his lower body and base. Oakman also didn’t interview well there or at the Combine. His workout at Indianapolis didn’t help either. Oakman would be fortunate to be a second-day pick.

    8/22/15: Oakman notched 48 tackles with 18.5 tackles for a loss, 10 sacks, three passes batted and three forced fumbles in 2014. In the early going of the season, he was one of the more impressive players in college football. Oakman cooled down as the season progressed. He lacks instincts and technique, so he needs development. In some ways, Oakman is similar athlete and prospect to Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Margus Hunt, a second-round pick in 2013.

    Oakman is strong and quick, but doesn’t play consistently up to his skill set. He looks like a great fit as a five-technique defensive end in a 3-4 defense. Oakman also could be a base end in a 4-3 defense. Baylor also lines him up at defensive tackle and as a standup rush linebacker. Oakman just has to get more consistent and play up to his physical skills. In 2013, he totaled 33 tackles, two sacks and two forced fumbles. Oakman spent 2011 with a redshirt at Penn State. He then sat out the 2012 season after transferring.

  17. Greg Townsend, 3-4DE, USC
    Height: 6-3. Weight: 275.
    Projected 40 Time: 4.85.
    Projected Round (2016): FA.

    4/27/16: Townsend was a backup before breaking into the starting lineup as a senior. In 2015, he had 44 tackles with seven tackles for a loss and two sacks. Townsend didn’t participate in the ombine.

  18. Sterling Bailey, 3-4DE, Georgia
    Height: 6-3. Weight: 282.
    Projected 40 Time: 4.81.
    Projected Round (2016): FA.

    4/27/16: In 2015, Bailey had 46 tackles with 2.5 for a loss, one sack and two passes broken up. He didn’t participate in the combine.

    8/22/15: Bailey has been a backup for Georgia the past few seasons. He totaled 27 tackles with .5 sacks in 2014.

2023 NFL Draft Position Rankings:
QB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | NT | 3-4 OLB | 3-4 DE | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K | P

2024 NFL Draft Position Rankings:
QB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | NT | 3-4 OLB | 3-4 DE | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K | P

2025 NFL Draft Position Rankings:
QB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | NT | 3-4 OLB | 3-4 DE | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K | P

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