1. Vic Beasley – Clemson: Beasley has been one of the most productive Defensive Ends in college football over the last two seasons. Clemson had the top defense in the entire nation this past season and Beasley was one of their leaders. He’s a bit undersized at 6-3, 240 for the NFL at Defensive End, but he has the speed and athletic ability to move to an Outside Linebacker in a 3-4 defense and should get a lot of pressure on the Quarterbacks.
Beasley had 12 Quarterback sacks in 2014 and 21.5 tackles for loss. He had 6 more Quarterback hurries as well and broke up 3 passes. At Clemson, Beasley had 33 sacks during his career.
If Beasley were bigger he would be a top 10 pick.
2. Randy Gregory – Nebraska: The Cornhuskers Randy Gregory is bigger and he should be a top 10 pick. Supposedly, the 6-6, 240 Gregory can run the 40 in 4.4 seconds which is phenomenal. Gregory needs to fill out a bit before he will be a top NFL Defensive End. At 240, Gregory will not be able to play the run well at the next level. But, as a college Defensive End, I have him rated as the 2nd best out there. Has declared for the NFL draft, so at the combine we will see if the 4.4 40 yard dash tales are correct. Gregory actually had a better sophomore season than he did this past season, but he battled through injuries in 2014. If Gregory does not fill out, he could still make an outside Linebacker with his athletic ability.
3. Nate Orchard – Utah: One of the more productive players in the country with 84 total tackles. Impressive stat for Orchard this past season was the 18.5 sacks which was second in the country to Washington’s Hau’oli Kikaha and his 19 sacks. Orchard also had 21 tackles for loss. Orchard is not going to turn in a 4.4 40 yard dash, but he has some good feet and is more than quick enough at 6-4, 255 to make a good 4-3 Defensive End in the NFL and he is a senior so is definitely available. Orchard had 3 sacks against Stanford and top Offensive Tackle Andrus Peat. That, in itself, should make Orchard one of the best Defensive Ends in America.
4. Shane Ray – Missouri: At 6-3, 245, Ray is another one that is a bit undersized for the Defensive End position, but the junior has a motor and is quick off of the corner. The SEC defensive player of the year had 13 sacks and 22.5 tackles for loss in helping his team win the SEC East and a runner up finish in the conference. Ray teamed up with Markus Golden to form one of the most feared Defensive End tandems in the nation. Together they had 23 sacks and Missouri won big with defense this season. Ray is not as tall as Gregory, but should turn in just as impressive of a 40 yard dash time as he supposedly runs in the mid 4.4s.
5. Joey Bosa – Ohio State: Plain and simple, this guy is a beast and a very productive one at that. At 6-5, 280 he is extremely tough against the run as a 4-3 Defensive End. Bosa played high school ball at Fort Lauderdale’s St Thomas Aquinas High School with is one of the best high schools in the country at producing top talent. Bosa was a starter from day one at Ohio State and already has 21 career sacks including 13 this season.
Bosa has run the 40 in the low 4.7 range and can do a standing back flip which is extremely impressive for a guy his size.
Was a first team All American this season and could as easily be higher on this list. His father was a first round draft pick from Ohio State in 1988 and Joey could follow up after next season.
6. Trey Flowers – Arkansas: Flowers was all over the field last season for the Hogs. An extremely aggressive player with great athletic ability, he totaled 68 tackles for the Arkansas Razorbacks last season. The 6-3, 270 senior from Huntsville, Alabama only had 6 Quarterback sacks in 2014 after totaling 5 sacks in 2013. He’s not the greatest pass rusher, but is very good against the run and was number 3 on the Arkansas Razorback total tackle list.
7. Dante Fowler Jr – Florida: He’s not the tallest Defensive End at 6-3, but he is 260 pounds and super aggressive, plus talented. In high school, Fowler ran the 40 in 4.65 which is impressive for his size and also vertically leaped 33 inches.
Fowler had 8.5 Quarterback sacks in 2014 and a very impressive 17 Quarterback hurries. The Florida Gator’s had an awful offense this past season, but their defense was tough. Dante Fowler Jr was one of their leaders and announced already that he is leaving the Gators for the NFL. Fowler should be one of the top Defensive Ends drafted this Spring and that’s not exactly going out on a limb all that much. Good, tough player for the Gators.
8. Shilique Calhoun – Michigan State: The Michigan State Spartans defense in 2013 was incredible. They were good in 2014, but clearly not on the same level as the previous year.
Calhoun was one of their top players over the last two seasons.
The 6-5, 260 junior Defensive End from Middletown, New Jersey has run the 40 yard dash in the low 4.6 range and is an impressive athlete.
Calhoun has announced that he is returning to Michigan State for his senior season which I feel is a great idea. With the other national Defensive Ends and the Big 10’s reputation on the rise after Ohio State’s impressive national championship season, Calhoun has a shot at being a higher draft pick next season. Plus, he is one of my favorite players to watch and I am glad he is returning.
He had 8 Quarterback sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss this past season and 39 total tackles. He also had 8 Quarterback hurries and a kick blocked.
9. Danielle Hunter – LSU: The Tigers generally have the best defense in the SEC and this year’s was no different when they edged out Arkansas for the honor.
Danielle Hunter was one of their better players against the run and his potential is totally untapped at this point. He is similar to Nebraska’s Randy Gregory in that he is also 6-6, 240 and could use a little beef.
Hunter had 73 total tackles and he returned a fumble 25 yards for a Touchdown. The only problem with Hunter is that he had 1.5 Quarterback sacks in 2014 and 3 total Quarterback sacks in 2013. For whatever reason, he is not the greatest of pass rushers. But, he is getting some pressure on opposing Quarterbacks and he has that potential.
Hunter has announced he is not coming back to LSU for his senior season and entering this year’s NFL draft.
10. Shawn Oakman – Baylor: Speaking of potential, Shawn Oakman of Baylor has almost unlimited amounts of it. Oakman was a Penn State player that transferred to Baylor after being dismissed from the Nittany Lions after breaking team rules. He is a very impressive 6-9, 280 and has very little body fat.
This past season, Oakman had 11 Quarterback sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss on top of 51 total tackles and 8 Quarterback hurries. In the Cotton Bowl, Oakman beat super Spartan Offensive Tackle Jack Conklin and got a Quarterback sack on Connor Cook. Conklin is a very good Offensive Tackle for Michigan State and rarely gives up sacks.
Maybe to redeem himself the junior from Lansdowne, Pennsylvania has announced he is returning to Baylor for his last season.
Oakman is still very raw, but should be a first round draft pick after next season if things work out for him.
No doubt we will hear the comparisons to Ed ‘Too Tall’ Jones, but Oakman is a better athlete.
11. Markus Golden – Missouri: The Missouri Tigers had a nice defense this past season and Golden teamed up with super Defensive End Shane Ray to form one of the country’s best group of Ends.
Golden was a 6-3, 260 senior from St Louis, Missouri and will be missed in Columbia next season and beyond. In 2014, Golden had 78 total tackles, 10 Quarterback sacks and 20 tackles for loss.
He also had a 21 yard fumble return for a Touchdown. Golden broke up 2 passes, forced 3 fumbles and had another 8 Quarterback hurries.
The 2013 season was also good for Golden and he had a 70 yard fumble return for a Touchdown which clearly showed his speed. His 40 yard dash time is supposedly at a low 4.7 which is excellent for a 260 pound Defensive End.
12. Bud Dupree – Kentucky: Dupree was probably the Kentucky Wildcats best player in 2014. The super aggressive 6-4, 265 senior from Irwinton, Georgia is something of a physical freak. His vertical leap is supposedly 40 1/2 inch which is incredible for a 265 pound Defensive Lineman. He is also capable of a 4.5 40 and should prove that in the NFL Combine.
Dupree had 74 total tackles in 2014, plus 7.5 Quarterback sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss. Dupree topped off his impressive season with a blocked kick, 2 fumbles forced, 1 pass broken up and 5 more Quarterback hurries.
Kentucky is in extreme program building mode and it will be tough losing Bud Dupree this year.
13, Henry Anderson – Stanford: This dependable Defensive End for the Stanford Cardinal is not the most physically gifted defender, but he has a huge heart. The 6-6, 290 senior from Atlanta, Georgia is as tough as they come and difficult to block. He plays a Defensive End in the 3-4 defense and could play in the 4-3 at either Tackle or End, but lacks some of the quickness that some of the other Ends on this list possess.
Anderson had 65 total tackles, 8 Quarterback sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss. He also had 9 Quarterback hurries and 2 passes broken up.
Anderson will probably not be an elite pass rusher in the NFL, but is very good against the run. Really tough guy that is supposedly a really hard worker and has been a fun guy to watch the last couple of years.
14. Emmanuel Ogbah – Oklahoma State: Ogbah and his Oklahoma State Cowboys had a tough season going on until they finished strong. The 6-4, 270 sophomore out of Houston, Texas seemingly came out of nowhere to finish with 49 total tackles, 11 Quarterback sacks and 17 tackles for loss. Ogbah played a little last season so he is not a complete surprise, but he was the Big 12 defensive lineman of the year in 2014 and should continue to improve.
With his size, he is solid against the run or the pass.
Myles Garrett – Texas A%M: True freshman and probably should have been in my top 14.
Ken Ekanem – Virginia Tech: Another guy that could have easily been in top 14.
Houston Bates – Louisiana Tech: Very productive sack man.
Derek Barnett – Tennessee: Another outstanding true freshman. Watch out for Vols.
BJ Larsen – Utah State: Larger DE that could have been on list above as well.
Preston Smith – Mississippi State: Very athletic and talented guy
Sheldon Rankins – Louisville: Huge and productive DE.
Marcus Rush – Michigan State: Undersized guy that has a lot of heart.
Kemoko Turay – Rutgers: Tall freshman with a bright future.
Ryan Mueller – Kansas State: Former walk-on that gives his all. Was better as a junior.