Ranking the DI prospects for the 2018 NFL Draft
The 2018 defensive interior class is decidedly top-heavy. Maurice Hurst and Vita Vea have separated themselves in a big way grade-wise from the rest of the defensive tackles in this draft, but that’s not to say there’s no talent to be had in the rest of the class.
Rather, Hurst and Vea are just that good.
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[Editor’s note: These rankings were originally posted on February 28, and following the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine and various pro day workouts, these rankings have evolved as we head toward the draft.]
1. Maurice Hurst, Michigan
The prototypical 3-technique defensive tackle, Hurst offers a pass-rushing toolbox that no other interior player in this class can come close to matching. His four-year career of grades is unlike anything we’ve ever seen at the defensive tackle position, proving his durability and sustainability at the position.
2. Vita Vea, Washington
Vea is the definition of a disrupter, he moves the line of scrimmage and not the other way around. Only playing 62.2 percent of Washington’s snaps this past season is a little concerning, but there are few concerns about his on-field performance.
3. Da’Ron Payne, Alabama
Payne showed a complete different gear against Georgia in the National Championship game where he set career highs for pressures (seven) and run stops (six). That high-end is encouraging, but it was shown too infrequently to be on the level of Hurst and Vea.
4. Taven Bryan, Florida
Bryan is a freak of nature athletically who is only starting to put it all together. There’s no telling if he’ll ever do just that and put it all together, but he’s improved greatly in every season of his college career.
5. RJ McIntosh, Miami (Fla.)
McIntosh created havoc on one of the most consistent bases of anyone in this class. His tape against the Wisconsin offensive line in Miami’s bowl game though is concerning as was the lowest-graded game of his career, against top caliber offensive linemen.
6. Tim Settle, Virginia Tech
Settle is a ball of power at this point, he’s unrefined and out of control at times, but you can’t teach 330-plus pound men to move the way that he does. As a redshirt sophomore, Settle has two years of solid grades under his belt.
7. Derrick Nnadi, Florida State
Nnadi is a nose tackle in a 3-techniques body. With a little more beef, he could easily hold up at the nose full-time. He’s a difficult man to out-leverage and has a history of being stout in run defense.
8. B.J. Hill, NC State
Hill dominated the Senior Bowl 1-on-1 unlike any other defensive tackle in Mobile. He won 73 percent of his reps that week, but unfortunately, that same dominance was rare in NC State’s actual games.
9. Trenton Thompson, Georgia
Thompson never could quite stay healthy at Georgia, but when he was, he flashed more than his fair share of ‘wow’ reps. Thompson can make plays on the opposite side of the line of scrimmage that few in this class are capable of.
[Editor’s note: These rankings are ever-evolving as we head toward the draft.]