2020 NFL Draft prospect rankings: Interior defensive line
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theScore's Mike Alessandrini and Dan Wilkins break down the top interior defensive line prospects in the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft as part of a position-by-position series.

Top 50
QB | RB | WR | TE | OL
DL | EDGE | LB | CB | S

1. Derrick Brown

Jonathan Bachman / Getty Images Sport / Getty

School: Auburn
Height: 6-5
Weight: 326 lbs

Positives

  • Excellent blend of size, length, and college production
  • Explosive off the snap to immediately attack his gap
  • Long-arms blockers and easily drives them into the backfield
  • Good bull-rusher and consistently wins the leverage battle
  • Natural one-gap shooter and pocket pusher
  • Elite hand placement - always in control of opposing linemen
  • Very good finisher and reliable tackler who rarely misses
  • Strong and disciplined run defender
  • Uses outstanding rip move to shed opponents, including the SEC's top blockers
  • Utilizes a number of pass-rush moves and has even shown an ability to bend around offensive tackles

Negatives

  • Poor athletic testing with a concerning 8.22-second three-cone time
  • Plays with an inconsistent pad level
  • Tight hips lead to below-average lateral agility and change-of-direction ability

Bottom line

After an incredible career against the best college football has to offer, Brown heads to the NFL as one of this year's safest prospects. The accolades rained down this past season - including SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors, a unanimous All-American nod, and a Lott IMPACT Trophy win - and it's easy to see why. Brown is a bully on every down, torturing interior linemen with powerful hands, explosive penetration skills, and a diverse pass-rush repertoire. The defensive tackle will likely have issues changing direction and isn't a high-end athlete, but he's already an excellent run defender with tools to thrive as a pass-rusher as well. Brown's floor is among the highest in the entire class.

Grade: Top 20

2. Javon Kinlaw

Jacob Kupferman / Getty Images Sport / Getty

School: South Carolina
Height: 6-5
Weight: 324 lbs

Positives

  • Outstanding size and length for the position with an NFL-ready frame and rare physical tools
  • Possesses the strength to stack and rip linemen as well as drive them backward
  • Excellent get-off and burst for his size
  • Natural ability to change direction with good lateral quickness
  • Generates extraordinary power through his body as a bull-rusher
  • Violent hands to swat and rip through blockers
  • Excellent tackler with a wide radius and rarely misses
  • Improved his play every season and often played out of position
  • Power rush moves are likely the best in the class

Negatives

  • Can sometimes play out of control with hands changing positions, resulting in a loss of balance
  • Plays with an inconsistent pad level
  • Could expand his pass-rush repertoire

Bottom line

If you're looking for this year's physical freak along the defensive line, Kinlaw is your man. The former South Carolina standout possesses a unique blend of length, athleticism, burst, and raw strength that teams covet at the next level. These tools give him the highest upside in the class. Kinlaw's hand placement and overall technique certainly need polishing, but he still dominated college opponents on nearly every down. What he could do with a year of NFL coaching is a scary thought. Kinlaw fits into any scheme, and some team is likely to fall in love with his potential and make him an early first-round selection.

Grade: Top 20

3. Justin Madubuike

Ronald Martinez / Getty Images Sport / Getty

School: Texas A&M
Height: 6-3
Weight: 293 lbs

Positives

  • Intriguing blend of length, explosive athleticism, and lateral quickness
  • Productive defender in the SEC
  • Consistently wins one-on-one battles - excellent pass-rush win rate
  • Powerful upper body to stack and drive linemen into the backfield
  • Excellent contact balance and change-of-direction ability to move around blocks
  • Good bend and power as a bull-rusher
  • Utilizes good pass-rush counters
  • Excellent closing speed and ability to finish tackles
  • Number of tackles for loss against the run
  • Nimble feet and is able to naturally sink hips

Negatives

  • Inconsistent hand placement and timing against the run
  • Sometimes late coming off the line when the ball is snapped
  • Committed too many penalties over the last two seasons

Bottom line

Madubuike enjoyed a productive career against premier college competition and offers an intriguing blend of athleticism, burst, and power. The second-team All-SEC selection profiles as a three-technique, one-gap defensive tackle who lives in the backfield. There are kinks to work out regarding his snap timing and hands in the run game, but he can immediately impact the pass rush, which is what NFL teams prioritize at the position. For teams that miss out on Brown or Kinlaw early in the first round, Madubuike is an excellent fallback option.

Grade: Rounds 1-2

4. Jordan Elliott

Ed Zurga / Getty Images Sport / Getty

School: Missouri
Height: 6-4
Weight: 302 lbs

Positives

  • Good size and production
  • Excellent first-step quickness and burst off the line of scrimmage
  • Lived in the backfield last season against the run and pass
  • Fast, violent hands that never stop moving
  • Good ability to shed blocks in run defense
  • Very good bull-rusher who can convert speed to power at the point of attack to drive linemen backward
  • Number of pass-rush moves including a deadly swim
  • Good balance and flexibility to redirect
  • Easily disrupts pull or trap blocks with speed and quickness

Negatives

  • Doesn't possess ideal length - leads to a few missed tackles
  • Only spent one year as a starter in college
  • Can be reckless and undisciplined in his gap when firing off the line
  • Can lose track of the ball carrier in the backfield - sometimes only focused on getting past blocks

Bottom line

Though he isn't getting as much attention as some of his peers, we believe Elliott has the tools to succeed as a high-level pass-rusher and run defender. His height and length fall short of what most clubs desire at the position, but the former Tiger was a consistent producer last season despite his physical limitations. Once he learns how to use his eyes more efficiently, Elliott could develop into a starting-caliber one-gap interior rusher in a 4-3 base defense and impact every phase of the game.

Grade: 2nd round

5. Ross Blacklock

Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty

School: TCU
Height: 6-3
Weight: 290 lbs

Positives

  • Athletic interior rusher with excellent quickness and burst off the line
  • Quick, powerful hands to swipe past offensive linemen in the run game and win as a pass-rusher
  • Excellent lateral agility to move around opponents
  • Very flexible - gets low and makes himself difficult to block
  • Has shown the ability to split double-teams
  • Excellent motor with great speed - plays sideline to sideline
  • Advanced run defender with a number of tackles for loss
  • Understands gap discipline and is difficult to move off his spot
  • Great speed-to-power rusher

Negatives

  • A bit undersized for the position
  • Doesn't possess many effective pass-rush moves - will need to diversify repertoire in the NFL
  • Failed to consistently convert pressures into sacks
  • Has a tendency to overrun screens or rushes

Bottom line

Blacklock isn't likely to top 10 sacks as an NFL rookie, but he has unique raw tools that will excite a number of scouts. The All-Big 12 defender has burst, speed, and agility you can't teach, and he uses his flexibility to win the leverage battle and dominate against the run. Blacklock must refine his pass-rush repertoire and become more disciplined through his gap to make it in the pros, but his ceiling is sky-high. His strengths translate best to a one-gap rusher who can utilize his explosiveness to push the pocket.

Grade: 2nd round

6. Neville Gallimore

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School: Oklahoma
Height: 6-2
Weight: 304 lbs

Positives

  • Excellent speed and explosive athleticism
  • Shoots out of his stance and immediately challenges interior blockers
  • Violent hand swat is lethal when well-timed
  • Immense lower-body power to move blockers into the backfield
  • Active hands used to recover if he's beaten at the snap
  • Significantly improved every year in college
  • Very nimble feet for his size
  • Good finisher despite an unremarkable tackle radius
  • High-motor player who never stands still

Negatives

  • Height and length are below NFL standards
  • Below-average college production even with unique raw skills
  • Has difficulty changing direction and doesn't possess ideal lateral quickness
  • Has some balance issues - ends many plays on the ground
  • Needs to improve hand technique to shed blocks against the run
  • Plays with a high pad level

Bottom line

Between a breakout 2019 campaign and an impressive 4.79 40-yard dash time at the combine, Gallimore has been rising up draft boards over the last few months. The former Sooner offers ideal burst and lives in the backfield when everything is clicking. There are areas of concern, however, including a lack of college production, balance issues, and change-of-direction struggles. Add these shortcomings to below-average measurables and it's hard to envision a team dubbing Gallimore worthy of a first-round pick. That's not to say there isn't plenty to love about his game - his natural burst and powerful hands will get him on the field as a three-technique defensive tackle or at the nose early in his pro career.

Grade: Rounds 2-3

7. Raekwon Davis

Joe Robbins / Getty Images Sport / Getty

School: Alabama
Height: 6-6
Weight: 311 lbs

Positives

  • Excellent size and length
  • Versatile with plenty of starting experience in the SEC
  • Stout run defender - can stack and shed blockers to make plays in the backfield
  • Good burst off the line of scrimmage for his size
  • Impressive tackle radius with very few misses
  • Can set the edge and hold off double-teams
  • Good power at the point of attack to seal gaps
  • Large hands with great natural grip strength
  • Effective bull-rusher for a tall defender

Negatives

  • College production never matched potential
  • Balance issues surface when closing in on quarterbacks
  • Average athleticism with below-average lateral agility
  • Not many refined pass-rush moves

Bottom line

After a promising freshman campaign, expectations were sky-high for Davis at Alabama. Unfortunately, he failed to consistently produce as a pass-rusher and thus never lived up to the hype. That likely won't change in the NFL, but scouts will still love the towering defender. Davis offers a unique blend of length, power, and run-defense skills and should earn a role in any defense early in his career. He also has the versatility to play in odd or even fronts and is best suited either as a two-gap lineman tasked to read blocks or in a five-technique, heads-up role against offensive tackles.

Grade: 3rd round

8. DaVon Hamilton

Leon Halip / Getty Images Sport / Getty

School: Ohio State
Height: 6-4
Weight: 320 lbs

Positives

  • Good size with excellent upper- and lower-body strength
  • Potent bullrush that gives blockers trouble
  • Very good run defender - able to eat up rush lanes and make a number of tackles behind the line of scrimmage
  • Solid post-snap burst for his size
  • Shown ability to win against double teams
  • Good awareness to understand offensive line movements and plays
  • Excellent tackler with good closing speed

Negatives

  • Lacking college production
  • Was a rotational player for most of his career
  • Doesn't utilize many pass-rush moves
  • Can be overeager and lose sight of the ball

Bottom line

Hamilton never played more than 60% of Ohio State's defensive snaps in a single year during his college career, but there's untapped potential here. The defensive tackle is extremely powerful at the point of attack and a natural space-eater, making him an ideal fit in a two-gap system. His technique and strength in the run game will give him a role on early downs, but Hamilton's pass-rush skills could improve with the help of an NFL offensive line coach. He'll never be Aaron Donald, but the former Buckeye can develop into a starter in an odd- or even-front defense.

Grade: 3rd round

Other notable prospects

McTelvin Agim (Arkansas)
James Lynch (Baylor)
Larrell Murchison (NC State)
Rashard Lawrence (LSU)
Jason Strowbridge (North Carolina)
Khalil Davis (Nebraska)

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2020 NFL Draft prospect rankings: Interior defensive line
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