So I took to Twitter (as all great stories start) and asked my followers a simple question: "which would you rather see, my top EDGE rankings or my top IDL rankings?" And I'll be damned if the responses weren't split right down the middle. Like...7 - 10 split style. So, in fairness to those of you who voted one way or the other, I made the executive decision to do what I wanted to do and took your feelings into consideration last.
I posted EDGE rankings earlier in the week and now, I'd love to introduce you all to my top-10 IDL defenders of the 2019 NFL Draft. In all honesty, you're going to get about fourteen names here because the 9-14 stretch of interior defensive lineman is SUPER close.
You can read the full rankings below, but I offer my commentary here on this year's class. No surprises at the top from me this year, as Quinnen Williams and Ed Oliver shine as the cream of the crop. Quinnen should end up holding my top overall spot in this year's class, just edging out pass rushers Brian Burns and Nick Bosa. I don't know when it became the "cool" thing to do to overlook Oliver, but here we are, a month before the draft and there's like...no one talking about him. He's just the latest victim of the Mike McGlinchey and Derwin James syndrome: we choose not to talk about good players because they've been good this whole time and that gets boring.
Christian Wilkins has quietly solidified himself as a legit top-20 threat and I, for one, am here for it. I'm a big fan of Wilkins' versatility and penetration skills up front. Plus, I don't think I've seen a guy who plays harder all year long than what Wilkins has given us on film.
A surprise at #4, much to the chagrin of those of you who celebrated in my mentions like Ewoks on Endor when you didn't see Rashan Gary in my top-10 EDGEs. Rashan is good, okay?! Just don't overthink him or make him something he isn't. I want Rashan playing linear (read: straight ahead). He's masterful with his hands against the run and really stout at the point of attack. I'd love to see him play around 290 as a 3T, but in all honesty he can fit as a base end or as a B-gap defender in odd fronts as is. Just don't ask him to rush off the edge, @NFL.
(You know I mean business because I @'d them and everything.)
An unceremonious offseason for Jeffery Simmons. His tape? Very good. His ACL tear? Very bad. His off-field incident from a few years back? Even worse. Simmons currently sits just outside of my top-32 overall players, which is incidentally where I think he falls in the actual draft.
Now...it's time for things to get weird. Generally speaking, those names all belong at the top. But how about Dexter Lawrence and Jerry Tillery at 6 and 7? Very different players. I have Round 2 grades on both of these guys and think you could justify either in the 20s of the actual Draft. Tillery still runs a little hot and cold for my liking but he tested amazing and his strides forward as a player this year are super promising.
To be completely honest with you, I wanted to drop Dre'Mont Jones even lower than IDL8, but he's the ONLY Round 3 grade I have at this position group. So there you go. For what it's worth...he might score Round 3, but you'd have a hard time convincing me to draft him all together if I were a real GM unless he slid further than that. His tape is severely lacking against the run and his testing further complicates the issue.
Alright...we've made it to the block of Round 4 grades that I think are all promising players...they're just not 3 down contributors. I think Kansas' Daniel Wise is the closest to a three down player, so he lands at 9. Dontavius Russell? He gets a little push as a power guy against the pass. But he's very nimble for a big guy and just (and I mean like...JUST) edges out Khalen Saunders, Renell Wren and Daylon Mack. Depending on your needs, it's hard to go wrong with this group in the middle rounds.
Make sure you send me your IDL rankings through Build Your Own Big Board! You can save and link them or tweet me screenshots. You can find me on Twitter here: @GrindingTheTape.