In Part I of this segment, we profiled the soon-to-be rookie offensive players we think will become the cream of the crop in the NFL. Now we take a look at the defense.
DT: Ndamukong Suh (Nebraska), Gerald McCoy (Oklahoma)
This was really a no-brainer. The top two defensive tackle prospects are head and shoulders above the others. They both have the talent to play in either a 4-3 or a 3-4.
Sleeper: Jared Odrick (Penn State)
No one seems to be mentioning Odrick as a potential Cowboys’ draft selection–except us. If he can overcome some character concerns (which we believe are unjustified), he can cash in his ticket as a Pro Bowl player.
DE/OLB: Brandon Graham (Michigan), Sergio Kindle (Texas)
Graham is a personal favorite of ours because of his ability to not only rush the passer, but also effectively halt the run. He is probably a better fit for Dallas’ scheme than Kindle. Both players will likely be taken before the 27th pick.
Sleeper: Jason Worilds (Virginia Tech)
Worilds is our #44 overall player, but he could move up even further. He had the best 10-yard split of any defensive end at the Combine.
ILB: Rolando McClain (Alabama), Brandon Spikes (Florida)
Despite all of the criticism Spikes is receiving, we still look at him as having first round game tape. What else really matters? We view both him and McClain as better fits in a 3-4 scheme where they will have to participate less in sideline-to-sideline pursuit.
Sleeper: Micah Johnson (Kentucky)
Another 3-4 guy, Johnson’s forty time, like Spikes, was atrocious. However, if he checks out medically, he is worth a risk late in the draft due to his athleticism and play-making ability.
CB: Kyle Wilson (Boise State), Devin McCourty (Rutgers)
Wilson and McCouty just look the part. They have tremendous hips and fluidity, and both will also help you out in the return game. McCourty’s size and speed may even give him the highest upside of any CB in this class.
Again, another cornerback who can return punts and kickoffs. It is AOA’s combination of size and speed that we love though. He will have to show teams he is capable of playing with the big boys.
S: Eric Berry (Tennessee), Earl Thomas (Texas)
Fairly standard selections here. Berry and Thomas are simply the two best safeties in this draft–hands down.
Sleeper: Major Wright (Florida)
Wright has been slowly crawling up draft boards, even reaching the top five safeties in NFL draft analyst Mike Mayock’s rankings. Is his centerfield ball-hawking ability enough to make up for his poor tackling? Wright is a high risk/high reward selection.