2019 NFL Draft prospect rankings: Interior defensive linemen
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Here, theScore's Mike Alessandrini and Dan Wilkins break down the top prospects in the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft with position-by-position rankings and an overall top 50 big board.

Top 50
QB | RB | WR | TE | OT | iOL
EDGE | DL | LB | CB | S

Interior defensive linemen

1. Quinnen Williams

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School: Alabama
Height: 6-3
Weight: 303 lbs

Strengths

  • Already an elite run defender - dominates linemen with stack, press, and shed and is a fantastic gap penetrator
  • Excellent hand usage allowing him to control opposing offensive linemen
  • Explodes off the snap with quick first step
  • Very good lateral quickness and fluid in space
  • Sure tackler with excellent pursuit speed
  • Scheme versatile due to frame and skillset
  • Times snaps and identifies play call quickly despite lack of experience
  • Fantastic production in 2018 - arguably college football's top defensive player
  • Can win with speed or pure strength
  • Extremely disruptive hands - utilizes intense swipe, swim, and club moves

Weaknesses

  • Can play with high pad level at times
  • Only one season of starting snaps
  • Doesn't have many pass-rush counters when first move is stymied

Bottom line

Williams is one of the premier prospects in the 2019 draft class. Though he has little starting experience, the Outland Trophy winner flashed utter dominance throughout every game he's played. Williams has very few flaws in his game and should provide instant impact against the run and as a pass-rusher. His best fit likely comes as a 3-technique, one-gap shooting defensive tackle in the pros, and he'll likely be a top-five pick. Simply put, Williams is a stud.

2. Ed Oliver

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School: Houston
Height: 6-2
Weight: 287 lbs

Strengths

  • Elite athlete and rare movement skills for a man his size
  • Aaron Donald-esque explosion off the line of scrimmage
  • Eye-popping ability to penetrate assigned gap
  • Unstoppable when converting speed to power
  • Has full-body strength and stays low to win leverage game
  • Very productive throughout college career
  • Speed rusher that utilizes a number of other pass-rush moves as well
  • Excellent pursuit speed with very good body control

Weaknesses

  • Doesn't have ideal measurables for an NFL defensive tackle
  • Some issues shedding blocks in run defense
  • Produced mostly against lower-level competition
  • Disruptive but lacked sack numbers
  • Likely can be neutralized by double-teams in the pros

Bottom line

Oliver is truly a rare physical specimen for an interior lineman prospect. He combines an explosive first step with immense power and body control to defeat opposing blockers on a consistent basis. The three-time All-American certainly has questions regarding his play weight, length, and level of competition, but these limitations shouldn't hinder him from developing into an All-Pro. Oliver is a plug-and-play defender as a one-gap tackle in a 4-3. His athletic traits and dominant flashes are too good to pass up.

3. Christian Wilkins

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School: Clemson
Height: 6-3
Weight: 315 lbs

Strengths

  • Excellent four-year career with the Tigers
  • Uses hands well to stack and shed offensive lineman in run defense
  • Quick burst and excellent body control to shoot through gaps
  • Versatile - has been used on the edge and is effective on stunts/twists
  • Developed as an interior pass-rusher with a number of go-to moves
  • Enough power to push the pocket at the point of attack
  • Nose for the football and batted down a number of passes
  • Light and nimble feet with good lateral quickness
  • Flexible and always wins leverage battle
  • Strong tackler that rarely whiffs

Weaknesses

  • Offensive linemen with superior length have given him trouble
  • Average athlete for his position
  • Lacks quality anchor for a two-gap scheme
  • Ineffective versus double-teams

Bottom line

Wilkins is a pro-ready prospect with a number of desirable and translatable traits. The two-time college football champion has excelled in every phase of the game to date and is a tough locker room leader. Wilkins' upside may be limited due in large part to his below-average athleticism and lack of ideal length, but he rarely loses one-on-one battles in the trenches. A sure tackler with excellent one-gap skills, Wilkins is one of the safest prospects in this year's class.

4. Jeffery Simmons

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School: Mississippi State
Height: 6-4
Weight: 305 lbs

Strengths

  • Possesses ideal size and length for any scheme
  • Able to time snap on a consistent basis
  • Excellent run defender - uses length to penetrate through contact
  • Consistently wins one-on-ones and has piled up tackles-for-loss
  • Very powerful hands in pass rush
  • Uses efficient rush moves including swim and chop club
  • Powerful anchor and able to split double-teams
  • Excellent body control through contact

Weaknesses

  • Tore ACL in February while training
  • Involved in altercation with a young woman before arriving at Mississippi State
  • Tackling technique needs work - had a few too many misses last season
  • Can stray away from designated gap
  • At times will over-run play with momentum and has difficulty recovering

Bottom line

Simmons has his fair share of red flags as a prospect, but he's flashed dominance on tape in a competitive SEC. The defensive lineman has ideal measurables and thrives against the run and pass. With a bit of patience, Simmons can develop into a top-tier defensive tackle due to his diverse pass-rush repertoire, gap penetration skills, and excellent use of hands. He'll likely be selected in the first round despite his recent injury.

5. Jerry Tillery

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School: Notre Dame
Height: 6-7
Weight: 295 lbs

Strengths

  • Excellent size and frame
  • Ideal fit in 3-4 or 4-3 defense
  • Uses a number of pass-rush moves and effective counter
  • Power rusher who improved overall technique in 2018
  • Devastating stack and rip using long arms
  • High effort player that flashed dominance in spurts
  • Game vs. Stanford illustrated elite upside as a prospect

Weaknesses

  • Average athlete by NFL standards
  • Plays a bit high at times and doesn't have natural flexibility
  • Inconsistent career in terms of production
  • Has difficulty changing directions which affects tackling efficiency
  • Heavy footed and doesn't always sync full body during rushes

Bottom line

Tillery is a classic example of a low-ceiling, high-floor prospect. He's flashed dominance as an interior rusher, but has yet to put his jaw-dropping traits together on a consistent basis. Tillery can beat blockers in a variety of ways, but isn't fluid in space or an explosive athlete. With his overall pass-rush prowess, expect the interior defender to be a hot commodity early on Day 2 or even late in the first round.

6. Dexter Lawrence

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School: Clemson
Height: 6-5
Weight: 342 lbs

Strengths

  • Mammoth of a man that can eat up blockers with frame
  • Quick and nimble for 342-lb lineman
  • Can thrive in any defensive scheme
  • Very efficient tackler with long arms
  • Excellent upper-body power and anchor in run defense
  • Dominant bullrusher
  • Can shed effectively and consistently with length
  • Times snaps well

Weaknesses

  • Doesn't have a diverse set of pass-rush moves
  • Sack production is less than ideal
  • Reliant on size
  • Not very explosive off the line
  • Lacks bend and flexibility

Bottom line

Lawrence is a fun prospect to study, as few football players with his size move as well as he does. While the massive defensive tackle will impact the run game immediately, he lacks the pass-rush traits required to be an elite prospect. Lawrence is a space eater with incredible power, anchor, and length for various schemes, but his fit as a three-down defender is in question.

7. Charles Omenihu

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School: Texas
Height: 6-5
Weight: 275 lbs

Strengths

  • Excellent length
  • Stacks and sheds well in run defense
  • Played a number of snaps on the edge
  • Very explosive off the line of scrimmage
  • Fires with strong hands immediately to win leverage game
  • Effective 3-technique pass-rusher
  • Excellent rip move
  • Converts speed to power and can drive linemen backward with ease

Weaknesses

  • Not the most fluid athlete
  • Unable to run tight angles to quarterback
  • Lacks anchor and pure strength to be every-down defensive tackle
  • Generally ineffective versus top Big 12 offensive linemen

Bottom line

Omenihu is a bit of a tweener but also has the versatility to play multiple positions in the NFL. He profiles as a defensive end on early downs and an inside rusher on passing downs. Omenihu lacks the bend and functional athleticism to be a full-time edge defender, but possesses violent hands and an explosive first step, which could give interior blockers fits.

8. Dre'Mont Jones

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School: Ohio State
Height: 6-3
Weight: 281 lbs

Strengths

  • Excellent first-step quickness is often difficult to defend
  • Has violent hands and uses nasty cross chop
  • Very good gap penetration skills against the pass and run
  • Great body control and keeps balance/bend through contact
  • Number of effective snaps setting the edge as a defensive end
  • Uses variety of pass-rush moves

Weaknesses

  • Undersized
  • Lacks pure power and has difficulty shedding against the run
  • Subpar athlete and change-of-direction skills
  • Likely only a 3-technique defensive tackle in a 4-3
  • Can play high and narrow at times
  • Lacks plan of attack when knocked off first move

Bottom line

Jones has considerable upside as a interior pass-rusher, but must improve his play strength and ability to shed blocks to find a role early in his NFL career. He likely fits only as a 3-technique, one-gap defensive tackle, but he's very good at what he does. Jones makes a number of plays in the backfield and has the traits to thrive in a pass-happy NFL.

9. Renell Wren

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School: Arizona State
Height: 6-5
Weight: 318 lbs

Strengths

  • Great size and top-tier athlete for position
  • Incredibly explosive off the snap and is able to drive blockers backward with power after quick first step
  • High motor and plays physical at all times
  • Stacks and sheds well versus the run
  • Excellent leg drive and bullrush
  • Has physical traits to improve all-around game

Weaknesses

  • Raw prospect that lacks pass-rush production
  • Ideal frame but missed a number of tackles
  • Often solely relies on pure strength
  • Not very fluid in space
  • Must learn to read and react more effectively
  • Some stretches are dominant, others are invisible

Bottom line

Wren is arguably the most intriguing defensive tackle prospect in this year's class. The Arizona State product flashes dominant pass-rush traits and is already an effective run defender. In order to reach his potential, Wren must develop a more diverse approach with his hands, but has the athletic ability to develop into a game-changing defender. His ceiling is very high, but his floor is equally low.

10. Gerald Willis III

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School: Miami
Height: 6-2
Weight: 302 lbs

Strengths

  • Excellent burst and is fluid in space
  • Efficient tackler against the run
  • Uses variety of pass-rush moves
  • Able to slip blocks effectively and make a number of plays in the backfield
  • Flashed violent hands and fantastic swim move
  • Very active hands throughout snap

Weaknesses

  • Must play with better pad level - can be tossed around when he loses the leverage battle
  • Doesn't possess ideal size or length
  • Off-field red flags - transferred from Florida in 2015 after issues with coaches and teammates, sat out 2017 season at Miami for personal reasons
  • Can lose gap assignment

Bottom line

After an up-and-down collegiate career, Willis has his sights set on a successful NFL one. The defensive tackle has been dominated by powerful blockers in the past, but is a very fluid athlete with excellent explosion off the line of scrimmage. Willis has every chance to make an immediate impact as an interior pass-rusher in the pros, but may never develop into a three-down defender.

Other notable prospects

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Khalen Saunders (Western Illinois)
Trysten Hill (UCF)
Greg Gaines (Washington)
Isaiah Buggs (Alabama)
Daniel Wise (Kansas)

Top 50
QB | RB | WR | TE | OT | iOL
EDGE | DL | LB | CB | S

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2019 NFL Draft prospect rankings: Interior defensive linemen
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