The 2014 Rookie Defensive Line Class

Josh Collacchi takes a look at the top defensive linemen in this year's draft, and how they could do in your IDP leagues in the future.

| 3 years ago

The 2014 Rookie Defensive Line Class

130214140912-clowney-top-1-single-image-cutFor those playing in IDP fantasy leagues, this year’s defensive line class is one to remember. Many in the draft community have said this is the deepest group of defensive tackles that we have seen for a long time. In addition, there are some defensive ends who could make a splash as well.

With the draft just two months away, now is the time to start looking at the upcoming rookies. Here are the top 10 defensive linemen:

Player Height Weight
1 Jadeveon Clowney 6’5 266
2 Dee Ford 6’2 252
3 Aaron Donald 6’1 285
4 Dominique Easley 6’2 288
5 Kony Ealy 6’4 273
6 Louis Nix 6’2 331
7 Ra’Shede Hageman 6’6 310
8 Will Sutton 6’0 303
9 Timmy Jerningan 6’2 299
10 Caraun Reid 6’2 302

As many IDP fantasy players know, defensive ends usually end up with higher fantasy value. But in some leagues, a defensive tackle is a lineup requirement. This year’s defensive tackle class is rich with talent and would be a great year to add some rookies to your roster. The defensive end class, while not as deep, has some stars that could contribute right away. In the right situation, these rookies could be a big help for your IDP fantasy leagues this year and in the future.

The two defensive ends that will make an immediate impact are Jadeveon Clowney and Dee Ford. Clowney is a generational talent and one of the best pure athletes we have ever seen. Depending on where he is drafted, Clowney could play in a variety of different positions. He is best suited as a 4-3 defensive end, but no matter where he is on the field, Clowney will make an impact.

Dee Ford is the best pure pass rusher in this class in terms of technique, and if taken as an outside backer in a 3-4, he could see six or more sacks right away. Both of these defensive ends should be among the first rookie defensive players taken in your IDP drafts, and be sure to get them into your draft strategy. Another end to keep an eye on is Kony Ealy. Some see him going as high as the first round, but his pass rushing ability is not to the level of the other two defensive ends.

As mentioned, the defensive tackle class is rich with talent, and a few players could have an impact in IDP leagues right away. Aaron Donald is the first that comes to mind. The former Pittsburgh Panther won nearly every award a defensive tackle could win, dominated in college, dominated at the Senior Bowl and even dominated in the combine. The one knock on Donald is his size, which sometimes hurts him in the run game. But as far as rushing the passer, there is not a better interior defender in this class.

Two more defensive tackles to look at are Dominique Easley and Louis Nix III. Nix will likely be a nose tackle or even a defensive end in a 3-4, which severely limits his fantasy upside. But, should he be used in a 4-3, he could see some gaudy numbers. Easley would have been the best interior tackle in this class if it weren’t for injury, but if he comes back strong he could be one of the better defensive tackles in the NFL. Keep tabs on his situation going forward.

In dynasty leagues, each of the 10 players listed above deserve a spot on your IDP rosters, but in deeper formats some could start right away. Depending on the situation, Ra’Shede Hageman could be a force along someone’s defensive line, but keep tabs on what positions these players are slated to play. If a player like Hageman ends up as a 4-3 defensive tackle, his value could be a lot better than if he ends up in a 3-4 system. The reason behind this theory is because in a 3-4 defense, the down linemen are usually used to fill gaps and disrupt the timing, rather than rush the passer.

Keep an eye on where each of these 10 players end up, and remember the names for your IDP fantasy drafts.

In addition to PFF, Josh writes for eDraft and ProFootballCentral. With any comments or questions, each him on Twitter @PFF_JCollacchi !

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