Louis Nix III, Notre Dame
At 6’ 3” 340 pounds, Louis Nix III is a prototypical nose tackle. He is a disruptive force in the run game and productive in the passing game. For being such a big guy, Nix seems to have a high motor. One thing I like from Nix is how he continued to play hard in the 2013 National Championship game even when Notre Dame was getting blown out by Alabama. While sometimes Nix may have trouble rushing the passer he seems to always put his hands up resulting in pass breakups. Another positive is that Nix never really gives up on the play. He always seems to be around the tackle when it is made. Nix suffered a season ending knee injury in November which may hurt his stock but ultimately is the best nose tackle in this draft.
Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh
Aaron Donald has shot up draft boards recently. He had an amazing combine and senior bowl performance making him a probable first round pick. Donald seems to be solid in both run and pass defense. Being a bit undersized will hurt his stock but even at just 6’ 0” and under 290 pounds, Donald is a disruptive bull rusher. Along with being a strong pass rusher he is good at getting off of blocks and making plays in the run game. Athleticism is a positive in his game but may lack the strength to affect his ability to produce at the next level. He could fit as a 43 defensive tackle and possible a 34 defensive end.
Timmy Jernigan, Florida State
Jernigan is a great run defender. He showed his ability to stop the run against top ranked Auburn in the National Championship which helped his stock. For a defensive tackle he is very explosive off the snap and flashes potential to get off blocks and make plays. While Jernigan is still a somewhat raw prospect, his stout run defense may catapult him into the first round. His pass rushing ability is solid but he seems to occasionally get pushed around in both the run and pass game. Consistency may be an issue but he is still one of the top defensive tackles on the board.
Ra’Shede Hageman, Minnesota
Despite a lack of competition at Minnesota, Ra’Shede Hageman was a disruptive force. He continued to produce even while being double teamed. He may have increased production in the NFL since he will more than likely not be double teamed as much as he was at Minnesota. He flashes greatness but was a bit inconsistent this past season. One big knock on Hageman is that his pad level is way too high. Something that will help is stock is that he has not had any injury concerns in his tenure at Minnesota.
Daquan Jones, Penn State
Daquan Jones flashes a lot of potential. While he shows somewhat bad fundamentals, he shows the ability to get off blocks and make plays in the run game as well as be a disruptive force as a pass rusher. He is great in terms of height, weight, speed but needs to sure up his fundamentals if he wants to produce at the next level. Jones did not have an impressive senior bowl which may cause scouts to look into his inconsistency at Penn State. Regardless, he shows a lot of potential but seems to be more of a project to me. Jones has the potential to be a steal in the draft but could also be a huge bust.