Browns, NFL Draft

2019 NFL Draft Prospect Rankings: Interior Defensive Linemen

Brett Davis, USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Browns had a really promising 2018 NFL season. This offseason will be an important moment for the future of the franchise. The Browns will use the 2019 NFL Draft to continue the development of the team and hopefully catapult the franchise to the next level.

Here at WFNY, we are getting you ready for the upcoming draft. In particular, Joe Gilbert and John Colosimo are examining each of the positions in the draft, giving their top five prospects in each position group, while also giving their thoughts on the overall class at each position.

The position rankings series finishes up on the defensive side of the ball with the interior defensive line. Let’s check out what Joe and John had to say about the top five interior defensive linemen and the overall class of interior defensive linemen in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Gilbert and Colosimo’s 2019 NFL Draft Prospect Rankings Series: SafetiesCornerbacksLinebackers and Edge Rushers

Joe Gilbert’s Top 5 Interior Defensive Linemen John Colosimo’s Top 5 Interior Defensive Linemen
1. Ed Oliver, Houston 1. Quinnen Williams, Alabama
2. Quinnen Williams, Alabama 2. Ed Oliver, Houston
3. Jeffery Simmons, Mississippi State 3. Jeffery Simmons, Mississippi State
4. Christian Wilkins, Clemson 4. Christian Wilkins, Clemson
5. Jerry Tillery, Notre Dame 5. Jerry Tillery, Notre Dame

Best of the Rest: Dre’Mont Jones (Ohio State), Khalen Saunders (Western Illinois), Renell Wren (Arizona State), Daylon Mack (Texas A&M), Gerald Willis (Miami (FL)) and Dexter Lawrence (Clemson)

Which interior defensive lineman do you feel stronger about than most people?

Joe: I really like Jerry Tillery of Notre Dame. He has the ideal length at 6-foot-6 with a solid build that fills out his frame. He has great quickness at his size with an excellent burst off the line of scrimmage. He shows solid hand usage, which pairs well with his quickness. I think he will live in the backfield during his NFL career.

John: Michael Dogbe of Temple. 6′ 3″ 286lbs with fantastic production, he had 36 Solo tackles, 12.5 TFL, 7 sacks and led the AAC in interior pressures with 39 (50% more than Ed Oliver in the same league), this guy is criminally underrated and someone I’ve drawn a big fat bullseye on for the Browns in the upcoming draft. He shows excellent hand usage and power to go along with versatility as the Owls used him all over the defensive line.

Who is your No. 1 interior defensive lineman in the class and why do you believe he is the best interior defensive lineman? 

Joe: I think Ed Oliver of Houston is the best interior defensive lineman in the draft. He is one of the most freakish athletes I have ever seen at the position. I do not care that he is undersized. Oliver can win in many different ways. He can overpower blockers or use his quickness and explosion to run right past them. He lives in the backfield and during his college career, he was highly productive. He is one of the top players in the entire draft.

John: For 3 seasons now, I never would have thought I could write a different name here than Ed Oliver, Ed was THAT good right from the jump as a freshman. But Quinnen Williams proved this weekend that he had every bit of the athleticism to go with his film and production, and at his size, I just have to give him the edge over Oliver. But in all honesty, you are talking about 2 legitimately elite NFL prospects at the DT position, so I wouldn’t fault someone for ranking them differently as long as they are the top 2.

What are your thoughts on the overall interior defensive lineman class? How would you rate the class?

Joe: This is one of the best interior defensive line classes in a long time and one of the best classes at any position in recent memory. It is loaded with so much depth. There will be numerous interior defensive linemen who will immediately contribute next season. It is a class with an array of talents and skill sets. Compared to last season, this year’s group is deeper and more talented at the top, too.

John: I agree with Joe, there is a ton of depth once you get past the elite guys at the top of the draft, to the point where the Browns could go a different direction in the 1st and still end up with multiple high-quality DT prospects that are ready to contribute in 2019.

Who has the best single skill set and what is that skill set?

Joe: Ed Oliver’s athleticism is the best skill set of the interior defensive line class. I have never seen this great of athleticism at the position since Aaron Donald. Oliver moves like a player 50 pounds lighter but has the power and strength to throw blockers like dolls. He is a freak.

John: I have to agree with Joe, specifically, Oliver’s flexibility. Go watch Oliver flip hips and change direction either on film on in drills, and it will blow your mind. Men that are nearly 300lbs should not be able to move that way. There is a reason at least one team asked Oliver to work out as a linebacker at the combine (seriously, they did).

Who is a sleeper interior defensive lineman who you are keeping an eye on?

Joe: I think Trysten Hill of UCF is a sleeper in the interior defensive line class. He is another lineman in the class who has crazy athleticism that shouldn’t be harnessed in such a large human being. He has a good burst off the line, helping him earn a quick advantage after the snap.

John: Besides Dogbe, Khalen Saunders of Western Illinois. Another great athlete for his size, you may have seen him without realizing it if you came across a video of a 320lb tackle doing a backflip recently. He is slowly gaining notoriety between the senior bowl and combine, and may not be much of a sleeper by the time the draft comes around. 

What is the impact of this interior defensive lineman class to the Browns?

Joe: Interior defensive line is a need priority No. 1 for the Browns. Cleveland is in a great position to fill this need because of this great class of linemen. The Browns will take an interior defensive lineman on Day 1 or 2 and I think the team will add more than one because of the great depth this class has in it. The Browns are in great position to address this need through the 2019 NFL Draft.

John: Huge impact. The Browns will be adding a minimum of 2 DT’s in this draft, and they are likely to see significant snaps whether the Browns draft them in the 1st round or 4th round. The Browns need a starter at 3T as well as depth behind both starters. Fortunately, this is as good an opportunity to add those players as the Browns could have hoped for.