2019 Senior Bowl Preview: Interior Defensive Linemen

The all-star circuit is upon us! After we send 5 staff members to the Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, our entire staff is heading to Mobile for the Senior Bowl. And just wait until you see the coverage we have planned...

To get you ready, we're going to preview the prospects slated to participate at the Senior Bowl and first up are the interior defensive linemen.


Isaiah Buggs, Alabama

Buggs played anywhere from a 3 to a 5-technique for the Crimson Tide, wreaking havoc with power and exceptional hand usage. He's a decent athlete, but lacks overall explosiveness and the elite range of his Alabama counterparts. Teams will need to discover why the motor doesn't always run hot for Buggs, and if they can change that in the NFL.

Greg Gaines, Washington

Gaines is probably the least coveted prospect at the interior defensive line position in Mobile, so he has a lot to prove. He's a high effort defender with exceptional physicality and good processing, but he's not going to wow athletically and he lacks the size and length teams prefer on the interior. Can he make a dent as a pass rusher in 1v1s?

Kingsley Keke, Texas A&M

I'm excited to see Keke in Mobile, as his length and physicality really intrigue me at a variety of potential spots on the defensive line. How athletic is he? Can he bend tight arcs to the pocket when he gets on the outside shoulder of the guard? In addition to answering those questions, Keke's explosiveness will be something to watch during Senior Bowl week.

Dontavius Russell, Auburn

Squatty, powerful and smart, Russell will be a solid mid-round pick for a team, as he even has the ability to convert speed-to-power and collapse the pocket a little bit. He's not dynamic enough to play a heavy snap count however, and athletically he won't be an impact player behind the line of scrimmage.

Khalen Saunders, Western Illinois

Saunders played all over the defensive line for Western Illinois, but will profile as a 3-technique in the NFL. He looked quick and powerful in the FCS, tallying 18.5 sacks over the past four years. How will his traits translate against better competition? In team sessions, Saunders will need to diagnose blocks quicker, as he won't get away with backdoor plays against better competition the same way he did in the FCS.

Gerald Willis, Miami

Willis' flashes are awesome, but consistency is a massive issue. He can knife a gap with unbelievable quickness, or be the last guy off the ball and get pancaked. One of the most high-variance players in the draft, NFL teams will be looking at Willis' frame to see how much bad weight he's carrying, and asking questions about his past to see if he really has changed from his former ways.

Renell Wren, Arizona State

Like Willis, Wren is also given to tons of highs and lows in his play, but his issues don't seem to be effort-driven. Rather, Wren has very little plan of attack as a pass rusher and he plays way too high off the ball, losing the leverage to exhibit the raw power that is his biggest strength. He needs a lot of development, but he can be an impact player if it ever clicks.

Charles Omenihu, Texas

Saving the best for last? Absolutely. Omenihu will be one of my highest-ranked players in Mobile this year, and easily my top interior defensive lineman. He'll actually play on the edge a good bit during the week, and his weigh-in will be important, but I like him in a versatile role at the next level. His get-off and hand usage are among the best in the class.

Written By:

Jon Ledyard

Chief Operating Officer

COO & Senior NFL Draft Analyst for The Draft Network. Co-host of the Locked on NFL Draft podcast. Passion for all things Pittsburgh.

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