TODAY'S PAPER
Good Evening
Good Evening
SportsFootball

NFL Draft 2018: Scouting the defensive linemen

North Carolina State defensive lineman Bradley Chubb runs

North Carolina State defensive lineman Bradley Chubb runs a drill during the NFL Combine, Sunday, March 4, 2018, in Indianapolis. Credit: AP / Darron Cummings

1. Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State

Height: 6-4

Weight: 269

40 time: 4.65

Projected draft status: Top 5

Strengths: A high-production pass rusher with 10 sacks in each of the last two seasons . . . Very quick around the edge . . . Can also be physical and manhandle opposing linemen in his pass rush . . . Solid run defender . . . Very active throughout games and doesn’t take plays off . . . Good hand technique.

Weaknesses: Will be challenged by consistently better blocking at NFL level . . . Will occasionally get overanxious in pursuit.

Quote: NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah: “Chubb has ideal size, strength and instincts. He primarily lines up with his hand down, but did stand up at times for the Wolfpack. Chubb’s motor never stops. His ability to finish is outstanding and it’s reflected in his production. He has a natural feel as a pass rusher and should be a double-digit sack artist very early in his career.”

2. Vita Vea, DT, Washington

Height: 6-4

Weight: 347

40 time: 5.1

Projected draft status: First round

Strengths: Tremendous physical specimen who has imposing size and strength . . . Can overpower smaller interior linemen, making him a matchup nightmare . . . Uses strength to his advantage and is rarely pushed around.

Weaknesses: More of a pure run-stuffer, so pass-rush skills aren’t what they could be . . . Needs to improve footwork . . . Like a lot of big men, can’t always go full speed on every play.

Quote: NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock: “Do you know how freaky this kid is? He played high school basketball, he was a running back in high school. On defense, they’ve used him everywhere on the front. He stands up at 347, plays the ‘joker,’ rushes the A-gap, comes off the edge.”

3. Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama

Height: 6-2

Weight: 311

40 time: 4.95

Projected draft status: First round

Strengths: Can be a dominant inside player, as evidenced by his big-time performance against Georgia in the National Championship game. He had an interception and a touchdown catch . . . Very productive presence, combining for 89 tackles over his final two seasons . . . Uses strength to his advantage . . . Plays with good leverage.

Weaknesses: Doesn’t have a big burst coming off the ball, so his ability to rush the passer in the NFL will be tested . . . Plays well in confined space, but doesn’t have great range.

Quote: ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay: “Him showing that he has explosive athletic traits at 6-2 1/2 and 311 pounds is awesome. If you look at his sack numbers (one sack in 2017), it’s certainly not overwhelming. But if you study the tape, you see a guy who’s highly disruptive.”

4. Marcus Davenport, DE, University of Texas-San Antonio

Height: 6-6

Weight: 264

40 time: 4.58

Projected draft status: First-second round.

Strengths: Has the capability of being a big-time edge rusher . . . Has terrific speed for a big man . . . Covers a lot of ground and plays with a relentless style.

Weaknesses: Doesn’t have a big first step, so he needs some room to get to top-end speed . . . Will need technique improvement at the next level . . . Sometimes relies on natural ability.

Quote: Davenport: “What motivates me is really when people say the wrong name. They say UTEP. I go to UTSA. But yeah, that’s a little bit of motivation. I’ve always got a chip on my shoulder.”

5. Taven Bryan, DT, Florida

Height: 6-4

Weight: 291

40 time: 4.98

Projected draft status: First-second round.

Strengths: Athletically gifted player who got progressively better in his three seasons at Florida . . . Had 40 tackles, including six for loss, and four sacks last year . . . Has a knack for finding room inside, even in heavy traffic.

Weaknesses: On the thin side for an interior lineman . . . Has been criticized for not being instinctive enough . . . Can be overpowered.

Quote: Bryan: “When [the play] comes to me, I feel I’m a very aggressive D-lineman, get off the ball, try to get my hands on some people. I think that plays into a benefit for me. A downfall? When I know I’m supposed to be not extending as much, sometimes I still do it . . . I’d like to be able to moderate my aggressiveness a little more.”

6. Harold Landry, DE, Boston College

Height: 6-3

Weight: 252

40 time: 4.64

Projected draft status: Second-third round.

Strengths: Tremendous speed off the edge . . . Tenacious player who never gives up on a play . . . Had breakout season in 2016 with 16 ½ sacks.

Weaknesses: Hurt himself by returning for senior season, as an ankle injury limited him to nine games and five sacks . . . Will have to fit into the right defensive system to take advantage of his speed and not leave him vulnerable to being out-muscled.

Quote: Landry on being the best pass rusher in the draft: “I am. I think that nobody in this class has a first step like mine, the bend like mine and the burst to the quarterback like me. I am not saying I am perfect, there are plenty of thing I can improve on in my game, but in this draft I do believe I am the best pass rusher.”

New York Sports