Day 3 dandies? Defensive line

The 2016 draft has plenty of talent on the defensive line in the first two days of picks, but after that there are a lot of Day 3 projects that will need work and patient teams.

DEFENSIVE END

James Cowser, Southern Utah, 6-3¼, 246 – A highly productive small-college player who lacks ideal size to be a defensive end in a conventional sense. A special-teams core player who could develop in a big 3-4 system.

Jason Fanaika, Utah, 6-1¾, 271 – He is shorter than coaches want for an NFL defensive end but is a hard worker who will give you everything he has. But his lack of speed will keep him on the board for a long time.

Matt Judon, Grand Valley State, 6-3, 275 – A small-college player with intriguing intangibles, but a player most believe will need a year or two to grow into a position, which is often what becomes the standard for Day 3 prospects.

Bronson Kaufusi, BYU, 6-6½, 285 – A huge player who can fit in a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme, but needs a lot of technique work to improve his game.

Dean Lowry, Northwestern, 6-5¾, 296 – A very coachable player who gives everything he has on every play, but has athletic limitations that will likely keep him a part-time player in the pros.

Alex McCalister, Florida, 6-6¼, 239 – A talented player who was dismissed from the program and missed half the season with a foot injury. He has talent, but his red flags may rule the day on draft weekend.

Shawn Oakman, Baylor, 6-7¾, 287 – A big player with talent upside, but a recent sexual assault charge will take him completely off some draft boards.

Romeo Okwara, Notre Dame, 6-4¾, 265 – A very raw prospect who is only 20 years old, which may get a team that likes his skill set to draft him higher than his production would indicate he should go.

D.J. Pettway, Alabama, 6-2¼, 265 – A player with good strength but has serious red flags (was one of four players charged in a series of robberies) and has limited experience having played two years at community college.

Aziz Shittu, Stanford, 6-2¾, 271 – A fifth-year senior who sought to come back for a sixth year, he was a solid college player at a big program who will likely be limited to being a three-technique in a 4-3 system.

Ron Thompson, Syracuse, 6-3, 253 – A converted defensive tackle who spent just two years at end, he has an intriguing combination of strength and speed that will get teams looking for a developmental player to jump on him on Day 3.

Anthony Zettel, Penn State, 6-4, 277 – A productive player at PSU, but he has short arms and will need to redefine his game to be a regular contributor at the next level.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

Trevon Coley, Florida Atlantic, 6-1, 307 – A durable four-year starter who did a lot of things well, but projects as a career backup and role player at the next level who will need to develop more core strength and technique at the next level.

Maliek Collins, Nebraska, 6-2, 311 – A two-year starter who is stuck in the ’tweener zone – shorter than you want for a 3-4 nose tackle and will likely be forced to go only to a team that runs a three-technique 4-3, which limits his options.

Adam Gotsis, Georgia Tech, 6-4½, 287 – An Australian born player who is still learning the finer points of the American game and, while he has upside, a team will have to commit to grooming him if they draft him.

Javon Hargrave, South Carolina State, 6-1½, 309 – A short player with short arms who will likely have interest only as a rotational player in a 4-3 defense, but has a love for the game that shows up on film.

Willie Henry, Michigan, 6-2¾, 303 – He was never a full-time starter and, while he looked very impressive at times, he should have gone back for his senior year because he just doesn’t look ready to make the jump yet.

Matt Ioannidis, Temple, 6-3½, 299 – A two-down run stuffer who doesn’t have much in the way of value as a pass rusher. He will likely have to adapt to a role in a 4-3 scheme at the next level to stick.

Cory Johnson, Kentucky, 6-3, 292 – A high-motor player who is raw after spending two years in junior college. He has upside, but his lack of the size needed to handle NFL double teams will keep him on the board a long time.

Chris Jones, Mississippi State, 6-5¾, 310 – A player to watch. He’s a two-down run stopper who is always moving forward. His lack of speed will make him a specialist that will need the right fit to get the most out of him.

Nile Lawrence-Stample, Florida State, 6-1, 320 – A 3-4 nose tackle, he’s a good player but a bit pigeon-holed in a role for the next level.

Davis Onyemata, Manitoba, 6-3¼, 304 – A very raw talent who played lesser competition in Canada. Has the skill set to play in different schemes, but a team will have to be patient if they draft him.

D.J. Reader, Clemson, 6-2¾, 327 – A versatile player at a power school, he needs to refine his technique a lot, which will drop him deep into the draft.

Hassan Ridgeway, Texas, 6-3½, 303 – Didn’t play full-time in college and was told by the advisory committee to go back to school for another year. He has tantalizing upside but has to be viewed as a two- or three-year project.

Antawaun Woods, USC, 6-0¼, 318 – A high-character role player who has good upside, but will take time to accentuate what he does best because he doesn’t have great speed or natural athleticism.


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