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2023 NFL Draft

2023 NFL Draft Watch List: Interior Defensive Linemen

  • JB Butler
  • May 16, 2022
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The 2023 NFL Draft has the potential to be remarkable. It’s loaded with talent, from quarterbacks like Bryce Young and CJ Stroud to safety with players like Brandon Joseph and Jordan Battle. However, the position group with the most franchise cornerstones is the defensive line, especially on the interior. In this post, I look at some of the interior defensive linemen to watch for the upcoming college season.

Jalen Carter, Georgia

Carter was a rotational player his first year in Athens before entering the conversation for DT1 in next April’s draft. Carter might’ve been the best player on a defensive line that featured 2022 first-round picks Jordan Davis, Devonte Wyatt, and Travon Walker. He has excellent first-step explosiveness that helped him earn 8.5 tackles for loss last season. Carter possesses the strength to collapse the pocket and overcome any technique lapses that he may have and the hand placement to control opposing guards. With Carter being “the guy” this year, he has to improve his motor to work secondary moves and make plays to finish the game. If Carter can keep improving, he has a chance to solidify himself as a top-five pick next spring.

Bryan Bresee, Clemson

Bresee was an essential part of the Tigers’ 2020 playoff run racking up 33 tackles, four sacks, six tackles for loss, and a safety. He earned ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year and looked to be in a prime position to have a better year through the first four games of last season. Bresee was so dominant in those four appearances that he still earned third-team All ACC honors. Bresee is one of the best penetrators in the class, and he does a great job playing behind his strong punch. His pass-rushing ability makes him a versatile prospect. He can win in one-on-one situations and in concert with linebackers and ends on stunts. If he improves his pad level, he has a chance to surpass Clemson greats like Shaq Lawson and Christian Watkins and go early in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Calijah Kancey, Pittsburgh

Kancey has been an impact player for the Panthers since stepping on campus in 2020. He’s wracked up 60 tackles during his career, but his improvement as a pass rusher has been most impressive. He increased his sack total from 1.5 sacks in 2020 to seven last year while nearly doubling his tackles for loss. Kacey has elite first-step explosiveness and a nonstop motor that allows him to make second and third effort plays. He also possesses good strength and uses it to leverage offensive linemen and create piles against the run. As he prepares for next season, Kancey should continue to work on the consistency of his hand placement. He has a chance to be a day-one pick.

Gervon Dexter, Florida

Dexter was a tackle machine for the Gators in his sophomore season. He totaled 50 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks in 2021. He stepped his play up in every way (except for interceptions) from his freshman season, where he was a rotational player. He uses his athleticism to wreck offenses. He is extremely quick off the ball and has the lateral quickness to track down running backs. He also has a powerful punch that allows him to stack and shed opposing linemen, and he plays with good leverage. He can be an every-down disruptor.  Dexter has a chance to be a day-two pick with more development as a pass rusher in 2022.