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    2021 NFL Draft: Top 10 defensive line rankings

    After a strong 2020 class headlined by Javon Kinlaw and Derrick Brown, how do the 2021 interior defensive line rankings current;y shape up?

    The 2020 NFL Draft class had a talented group of interior defensive linemen. Led by two top 15 selections in Javon Kinlaw and Derrick Brown, the class had very strong top-end talent, but the depth was questionable. In 2021, the opposite will occur. In my opinion, the class does not currently possess a player on the level of Kinlaw or Brown but does have a number of high impact players that should go during day two. So how do the 2021 defensive line rankings look as it stands now?

    2021 Defensive Line Rankings

    10) Tyler Shelvin, LSU

    Tyler Shelvin is one of the highest regarded interior defenders among draft twitter pundits. Some believe he’s currently in the conversation to be a first-round selection. Shelvin is a dominant run defender whose motor is always running at 150%. He has the ability to make plays down the line of scrimmage. However, Shelvin lacks any real pass rush refinement or production and doesn’t project as more than a two-down player barring any major improvement in his pass rush development.

    9) Mustafa Johnson, Colorado

    A bit of a tweener, Mustafa Johnson is a high effort productive pass rusher for Colorado. He measures in at 6’2″ and 290lbs, which leads some to be desired. However, he’s a strong athlete with active and aggressive hands. In two seasons, he’s produced 12.5 sacks and over 20 tackles for loss. Johnson will likely slide in the draft due to unimpressive measurables and because he lacks a set position, but his intensity and impact speak for themselves. Johnson’s ability to create pressure all over the line will be a valuable asset for a creative defensive coordinator.

    8) Christian Barmore, Alabama

    In flashes, Christian Barmore has shown first-round potential. Unfortunately, he’s done it in a very small sample size. After redshirting his first season and working with the second rotation last year, the question of how Barmore performs as a full-time starter will heavily affect his draft stock. He is the player most likely to make a substantial move up my rankings throughout the 2021 season. Barmore has the physical upside and explosiveness to be a double-digit sack interior pass rusher in the NFL. We saw Alabama players like Da’Ron Payne and Quinnen Williams play themselves into first round selections as one-year starters.

    7) Jordan Davis, Georgia

    Jordan Davis is an elite run defender who lacks pass-rush productivity. However, I think Davis has the length and athletic ability to project him as an above-average pass rusher when he develops his hands and counters a bit. He possesses the versatility to play the 3-tech or the nose, and could even play the 5-tech in the 3-4. Davis’ combination of physical upside and scheme versatility make him my highest graded interior lineman from the SEC.

    6) Levi Onwuzurike, Washington

    Levi Onwuzurike is fresh off a dominant run against the PAC-12 in 2019. His pass-rush production is modest, registering 7 sacks in three years, but he has also amassed nearly 100 tackles in that same span. Despite weighing less than 290lbs, Onwuzurike plays with excellent leverage and natural play strength. He’s also a quality athlete, making him a quality run defender and a capable pass rusher. Expect Onwuzirke to be one of the nation’s leaders in tackles for loss.

    5) Jaylen Twyman, Pittsburgh

    A player many are excited for, Pittsburgh’s Jaylen Twyman was one of the nations’ most productive interior pass rushers. However, his tape did bring some major concerns to my eyes. Twyman plays with very poor leverage on a down to down basis, essentially standing up and losing all-natural power. This leads to more poor snaps as it does impressive plays. Considering Twyman is already undersized, he must learn to keep his pads lower to the ground if he wants to generate pressure on a consistent basis.

    4) Osa Odighizuwa, UCLA

    One of college football’s most impressive physical specimens, at 6’2″ 279lbs, Osa Odighizuwa may seem undersized for the defensive interior, but a combination of long arms and very impressive core strength makes him an outlier. He possesses the ability to rid himself of potential blockers while maintaining his leverage and without giving up an inch. He lacks refinement in his hands, and it makes him an inconsistent pass rusher. He also struggles to locate the ball too inconsistently to be viewed in the top 50, but with proper development, he could be a pro bowl level player.

    3) Jay Tufele, USC

    A strong athlete with an ideal frame and active hands, Jay Tufele has all the physical tools to be an ideal 3-tech in the NFL. He’s a strong run defender and has shown the ability to push the pocket from the interior. He does have an issue with his pad level that he must address, as it affects both his impact as a pass rusher and his ability to take on double teams. He does an excellent job locating the football, and when he’s mindful of his leverage, he’s a dominant force.

    2) Darius Stills, West Virginia

    Darius Stills lived in the backfield for the Mountaineers last year. He was a disruptive force whose speed off the ball and active hands allowed him to lead West Virginia in both tackles for loss and sacks. Listed at 6’1″ and 281lbs, Stills could see a slide due to his smaller frame and poor length. However, the NFL once let Aaron Donald fall to the 13th overall pick because he was 6’1″ and under 285lbs. I’m not comparing Stills to the best player in the NFL, but I am using Donald to show that a disruptive defensive lineman doesn’t have to be 6’4″ to make an impact. Stills has a legitimate double-digit sack upside in the NFL.

    1) Marvin Wilson, Florida State

    He’s the consensus top interior defensive lineman, and for good reason. In my eyes, Marvin Wilson is the best defensive lineman in the entire class, and it’s not close. At 6’5″ and 311lbs, he possesses an elite frame and pairs it with an explosion off the line of scrimmage. His hands are fast and effective, and he’s a force against the pass and the run. Wilson has a chance to come out with a higher grade than Derrick Brown did for me in 2020. His motor is constantly running, and he’s improved his production every season. Wilson starts the season as a top 15 player.

    The 2020 interior defensive line class was strong at the top with two top 15 selections in Brown and Kinlaw. However, only one other player was taken in the top 50 after those two. In 2021, I could see up to five interior defensive linemen being selected with the first 50 picks. Lead by Wilson, the class does possess strong top-end talent, but the value of the class will ride on its depth.

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