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The entire IDP community is getting a huge bump with the speculation and discussion of Jadeveon Clowney. There are other viable defensive linemen in this class though. Surely there will be one or two defensive tackles that will garner an clowneyNFL first round pick, the rest of the defensive ends, however, do not look to be drafted in the NFL’s first round. Before I discuss these players, let’s review the differences of the 4-3 defense and the 3-4 defensive schemes.

A 4-3 defense has four defensive lineman with two defensive ends lined up close to their offensive tackle counterparts (outside shoulder, perhaps squared up). The defensive end’s job is to provide pass rush and to contain outside runs for the most part. With the two interior defensive tackles, one tries to force a double team (usually the nose tackle aka guy who plays closest to center) and the other defensive tackle is usually the shiftier, quicker twitched tackle that provides inside pressure and crashes running lanes. For fantasy, the defensive ends and the defensive tackle allowed to freelance are usually your best options, so keep that in mind on your draft day. In the 3-4 defensive schemes, the defensive linemen’s jobs are more to take on double teams and apply pressure, leaving four linebackers to flow to the ball quickly. So unless your name is Clowney or Watt, you should avoid most of the defensive linemen that play in 3-4s.

1.Jadeveon Clowney, DE South Carolina

This athlete has it all: speed, agility, strength, and technique. Clowney can play up and down the line, applying pressure everywhere he roams. His consistency and fire seem to wane quickly though. The questions mount: does he love the game, which is greater his hype or talent, and can he be a consistent three down player?   The answer: only Clowney knows.

2. Stephon Tuitt, DT/DE Notre Dame

He is a huge athletic man with tremendous quickness and power. Tuitt might be better suited to be a 3-4 defensive end as he can anchor well, but could surprise as a 4-3 defensive end. The defender varies his efforts much like Clowney and has some injury concerns too.

3. Aaron Donald, DT Pittsburgh

If anyone should play the free roaming defensive tackle in a 4-3, it is Donald. He is strong, quick, and agile. The defensive tackle dominated in his games, at the Senior Bowl, and at the Combine. Donald is too small to play defensive end or nose tackle, but he will find a way to flow to the ball and cause havoc.

4. Kony Ealy, DE Missouri

Ealy is quick off the snap, gets good penetration, and uses a combination of swim moves, spins, and power strikes to get through to the offensive line. He is quite flexible and forces fumbles. The defensive end is better as a pass rusher than a run stopper and struggles at times to keep his balance.

5. Demarcus Lawrence, DE Boise State

He is a tweener with his speed and size. If he can add 15-20 lbs on his frame without losing quickness, Lawrence could be very impressive anchoring and creating pressure. The defensive end uses a good combination of power and speed to ward off offensive linemen. Lawrence moved around a lot in college exploiting the best matchups, they might not get so juicy in the NFL.

6. Kareem Martin, DE North Carolina

The defensive end has good size and leverage that he uses to his advantage. Martin can anchor a spot and use his long arms to keep offensive linemen off him so he can flow to the ball. He is not an explosive athlete and can be a little heavy footed at times.

7. Timmy Jernigan, DT Florida State

Jernigan has quick, bouncy feet. He flows well to the ball and uses his hands with tremendous upper body strength to move people around. The defensive tackle needs to work on his balance and the anticipation of the snap.

8. Scott Crichton, DE Oregon State

The defensive end is very strong at the point of attack. He can rush the passer and find the ball carrier equally well. Crichton’s motor keeps on running when most of his fellow defensive linemen slow down. He flows up and down the line quickly.

9. Louis Nix, DT Notre Dame

He is a huge, nose tackle type player. Nix is very explosive and quick who forces offenses to devote two blockers to try to control him. He is a violent tackler who collapses the pocket quickly.

10. RaShede Hageman, DT/DE Minnesota

The defensive lineman can play anywhere on a defensive front (3-4 or 4-3 down lineman). He is quick off the line, has tremendous power, and flows well to the ball. Hageman has little technique, so he needs to get coached up.

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