CFF Overview: DI – Sleepers
This year’s interior defensive line class has a number prospects to be had after the first three rounds who could provide value sooner than later as role players, either pass rushing specialists or a run-down options. The four sleepers on this list are not the only potential finds, but they’re a set that’s been overlooked and they’ve shown ability that makes them interesting for the next level.
Christian Ringo, Louisiana Lafayette
A player out of a small school has to answer at least three questions if they are going to be seen as more than just a big fish in a small pond… first, can they dominate in their conference as any possible NFL prospect should? Second, do they perform well against Power 5 teams when they get the chance? And third, do they have a skill set that can translate to the NFL (even in a specialized role)? Christian Ringo checked all three boxes this past season. When he won, he did so by using his quickness, exploding off the ball especially when lining up at nose tackle. In the pros, however, he’ll likely have to come from the 3-tech spot since he weighs in around 275 pounds.
Ringo will not be a high draft pick and might even go undrafted, but he could quickly become a third-down, 300-snap specialist. What he could provide in those snaps is an effective interior speed rusher who can cause trouble on passing downs.
Signature Stat: Of all interior and edge defenders who rushed the passer over 150 times, no player in this draft was as an efficient as Ringo with a 15.8 PRP score.
Louis Trinca-Pasat, Iowa
Overshadowed at Iowa by his more talented teammate, Carl Davis, Louis Trinca-Pasat also played both the 1-tech and 3-tech roles since Iowa only played left/rigth with their defensive tackles. While Davis had all the natural ability in the world, he struggled to be consistent on a game-to-game basis; Trinca-Pasat is the exact opposite.
Peraps seen to be limited by his athletic ability, in the Senior Bowl Trinca-Pasat showed he might have just enough to play in the NFL — he works hard to make up for any shortcomings. He will struggle at times due to his size and his relatively short arms, but Trinca-Pasat will fight for everything he gets and over achieve.
Signature Stat: On 347 pass-rushing snaps, he generated 41 total pressures and a 9.2 PRP mark; fourth-best for DTs and ahead of the more well-known Michael Bennett and Xavier Cooper.
Bobby Richardson, Indiana
The Indiana product is an undersized defensive tackle — he weighed in at the combine at just 283 pounds — but he does have good length and the possibility to add more weight. At the moment he has the body to be able to play as a traditional end in 3-4 front or an end in a hybrid 3-man front, where he could be moved from the 5-technique to more of an inside role.
He will need to learn to use that length to control the blocker on run plays rather than attempting to shed all the time. Where Richardson first looks to be most effective in the NFL is as a pass rusher, using his quickness to win laterally and up field. He can play on the first two downs in the right spot, but if he is able to get pressure when shifted inside, that will be where his best value will be found. He has the quickness to make plays happen while rushing the pass.
Signature Stats: Against Power 5 teams, Richardson had the fourth-highest Run Stop Percentage, 8.3%
Martin Ifedi, Memphis
The Memphis product is the prototypical 3-4 defensive end, he is not big enough to play inside on run downs but can kick inside for passing situations to use his quickness to take on the pass. This past season Ifedi played under 50% of the snaps due to an injury early in the season, however, when he returned he was a consistent force as a pass rusher.
On only 255 pass-rushing snaps he recorded 38 total pressures… only 12 fewer than Leonard Williams on half the snaps. Ifedi wins with a variety of moves — he can win with quickness when lined up inside and can bull rush guards to collapse the pocket.
Ifedi was also good in the run game, but it was not as consistent as his production against the pass. When Ifedi loses versus the run, it’s a lacking strength that sees him moved out of the point of attack. However, this isn’t a regular occurrence, just something to watch when he gets to the next level. Ifedi does do a lot of good in the run game by using his length to stand up blockers and then is able to come off for a play on the ball-carrier. Once he gets stronger, he could develop into a three-down player who in the right system could become a valuable piece.
Signature Stat: Ifedi wasn’t only a threat in the passing game, as a run defender he had the seventh-best Run Stop Percentage for 3-4 defensive ends at 8.4%
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