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NFL

Post-Combine NFL Draft Positional Rankings: Defense

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2013 NFL Draft Defensive Positional Rankings

NFL Draft
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY SPORTS

The 2013 NFL Draft is fast approaching. The college football All-Star games are wrapped up, all underclassmen are on board, the NFL scouting combine is in the books, and a clearer picture is forming as to not only how prospects compare at their respective positions, but also the strength of each individual positional unit are starting to show themselves.

The best way to describe this draft class as a whole for me, is to say that it's very deep at many positions but top heavy at few of them. There are only one or two positions that I would really consider weak, and two or three others that I would certainly qualify as loaded. Depending on the needs of your team, this draft could be considered quite average or a jackpot.

This group of defensive players are really very good. If you are in the market for a pass rushing defensive end/linebacker type, or a big stout defensive tackle, this is the draft for you. Even the inside linebacker spot, a position historically mediocre in many drafts has some very good top end players. Part of this is from the fact that many of these linebackers are able to play multiple positions and in different schemes.

The defensive secondary is also well represented at cornerback and safety. There are a half dozen cornerbacks who could be starting as rookies and nearly as many safeties as well. It seems that cornerbacks and safeties keep getting bigger and more athletic every year and this group continues that with a great bunch of big strong coverage players who can hit in the run game also.

But the position that everyone wants to talk about is the quarterback. It's the position of greatest attention every year, but this season, with no clear cut top prospect, but numerous teams in need, where the top quarterbacks grade out in term of draft positioning is of great debate.

So, let's take a look at the top prospects at all the defensive positions in the 2013 NFL draft.

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4-3 Defensive Ends

NFL Draft
Brendan Maloney-US Presswire

There is a log of debate about who the best defensive end prospect in this draft is, but I give the nod to Moore because he's so strong at the point of attack. Not as fast as Mingo or Werner but he never gives up on a play and has a much better all-around game. This group goes very deep and a 4-3 team needing an end will be in good shape here.

1. Damontre Moore, Texas A&M

2. Tank Carradine, FSU

3. Barkevious Mingo, LSU

4. Dion Jordan, Oregon

5. Bjoern Werner, Florida State

6. Datone Jones, UCLA

7. Ezekiel Ansah, BYU

8. Alex Okafor, Texas

9. Margus Hunt, SMU

10. Corey Lemonier, Auburn

11. Sam Montgomery, LSU

12. Malliciah Goodman, Clemson

13. Joe Kruger, Utah

14. Michael Buchanan, Illinois

15. Lavar Edwards, LSU

16. Devin Taylor, South Carolina

17. David Bass, Missouri Western

18. Cornelius Washington, Georgia

19. William Gholston, Michigan State

20. Quinton Dial, Alabama

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3-4 Defensive Ends

NFL Draft
Derick Hingle-US Presswire

Floyd leads this group for me. These players are primarily defensive tackles in college, but have the size, strength, and quickness to move outside to a 5 technique end in the NFL.

1. Sharrif Floyd, Florida

2. Sheldon Richardson, Missouri

3. Margus Hunt, SMU

4. Datone Jones, UCLA

5. Star Lotulelei, Utah

6. Jessie Williams, Alabama

7. Bennie Logan, LSU

8. Joe Kruger, Utah

9. Kapron Lewis-Moore, Notre Done

10. Craig Roh, Michigan

11. Quinton Dial, Alabama

12. Abry Jones, Georgia

13. Joe Vellano, Maryland

14. Josh Boyd, Mississippi State

15. William Campbell, Michigan

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4-3 Defensive Tackles

NFL Draft
Russ Isabella-US Presswire

Some people compare Lotulelei to Baltimore Ravens defensive lineman Haloti Ngata, but I'm not there yet. He's an excellent prospect along with the rest of this list, and the order they are drafted in will depend in large part of what type of scheme the team runs or what they ask of their defensive tackle.

1. Star Lotulelei, Utah

2. Sharrif Floyd, Florida

3. Jesse Williams, Missouri

4. Sheldon Richardson, Missouri

5. Sylvster Williams, North Carolina

6. John Jenkins, Georgia

7. Johnathan Hankins, Ohio State

8. Kawann Short, Purdue

9. Brandon Williams, Missouri Southern State

10. Akeem Spence, Illinois

11. Josh Boyd, Mississippi State

12. Bennie Logan, LSU

13. Everett Dawkins, Florida State

14. Anthony McCloud, Florida State

15. Montori Hughes, Tennessee-Martin

16. Cory Grissom, South Florida

17. William Campbell, Michigan

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3-4 Defensive Tackles

NFL Draft
Kevin Liles-US Presswire

A great nose tackle is a top priority for any 3-4 team. The nose tackle must be an anchor in the middle and can absorb double teams allowing players behind them to make plays. I give Jenkins the nod here, because I think nose tackle is his best bet, but he's struggled this season, so I don't expect him to be drafted in the first round.

1.Jesse Williams, Alabama

2. John Jenkins, Georgia

3. Brandon Williams, Missouri Southern State

4. Kwame Geathers, Georgia

5. Sylvester Williams, North Carolina

6. Montori Hughes, Tennessee-Martin

7. Anthony McCloud, Florida State

8. Cory Grissom, South Florida

9. Akeem Spence, Illinois

10. Jordan Hill, Penn State

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4-3 Outside Linebackers

NFL Draft
Derick Hingle-US Presswire

This isn't an ideal group for the 4-3 defense but fortunately the top of this class is athletic enough that they should be able to adapt. Again, it comes down to athleticism, with Mingo, Jones and Thomas at the top because they are so explosive and athletic.

1. Barkevious Mingo, LSU

2. Jarvis Jones, Georgia

3. Chase Thomas, Stanford

4. Khaseem Greene, Rutgers

5.Jamie Collins, Southern Mississippi

6.Sean Porter, Texas A&M

7. Meshak Williams, Kansas State

8. John Simon, Ohio State

9. Brandon Jenkins, FSU

10. Travis Long, Washington State

11. Sio Moore, Uconn

12. DeVonte Holloman, South Carolina

13. Jelani Jenkins, Florida

14. Zaviar Gooden, Missouri

15. Gerald Hodges, Penn State

16. Lerentee McCray, Florida

17. Brandon Sharpe, Syracuse

18. Michael Mauti, Penn State

19. Kenny Tate, Maryland

20. Brandon Magee, Arizona State

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3-4 Rush Outside Linebackers

NFL Draft
Dale Zanine-US Presswire

Here is the real strength of this class. I can see the top 8 on this list all going in the first round to teams looking for a player who can rush the quarterback from the edge. Jones is a disruptive force of nature who excels playing standing up and can chase down the quarterback on every play. He and Mingo will both be in the mid for the top rush linebacker in this draft.

1. Jarvis Jones, Georgia

2. Barkevious Mingo, LSU

3.Dion Jordan, Oregon

4. Bjoern Werner, FSU

5. Damontre Moore, Texas A&M

6. Ezekiel Ansah, BYU

7. Tank Carradine, FSU

8. Sam Montgomery, LSU

9. Chase Thomas, Stanford

10.Alex Okafor, Texas

11. Brandon Jenkins, FSU

12. Sean Porter, Texas A&M

13. John Simon, Ohio State

14. Corey Lemonier, Auburn

15. Lavar Edwards, LSU

16. Meshak Williams, Kansas State

17. Jamie Collins, Southern Mississippi

18. Travis Long, Washington State

19. DeVonte Holloman, South Carolina

20. Quanterus Smith, Western Kentucky

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Inside Linebackers

NFL Draft
Daniel Shirley-USA TODAY Sports

Inside linebacker is an interesting group because guys like Ogletree and Brown can also move outside which will move their draft stock up. And Te'o with his athletic shortcomings and off-field concerns gets pushed down a little on this list.

1.Arthur Brown, Kansas State

2.Alec Ogletree, Georgia

3. Kevin Minter, LSU

4. Manti Te'o, Notre Dame

5. Niko Johnson, Alabama

6. Kiko Alonzo, Oregon

7. Jon Bostic, Florida

8. AJ Klein, Iowa State

9. Kevin Reddick, North Carolina

10. Bruce Taylor, Virginia Tech

11. Albert Rosette, Nevada

12. Tom Wort, Oklahoma

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Cornerbacks

NFL Draft
Derick Hingle-US Presswire

There was a time when this group wasn't a point of strength in the first round, but several players have really impressed late in the season and on into the off-season and moved up. I expect to see 5 cornerbacks taken in the first and several more in the 2nd.

1. Desmond Trufant, Washington

2. DeMarcus Milliner, Alabama

3. Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State

4.Jordan Poyer, Oregon State

5. Xavier Rhodes, FSU

6. Logan Ryan, Rutgers

7.David Amerson, North Carolina State

8. Robert Alford, SE Louisiana

9. Darius Slay, Mississippi State

10. BW Webb, William & Mary

11. Blidi Breh Wilson, Uconn

12. Nickell Robey, USC

13. Jamar Taylor, Boise State

14. Tharold Simon, LSU

15. Will Davis, Utah State

16. Leon McFadden, San Diego State

17. Sanders Commings, Georgia

18. Tyrann Mathieu, LSU

19. Demontre Hurst, Oklahoma

20. Johnny Adams, Michigan State

21. Micah Hyde, Iowa

22. Terrence Brown, Stanford

23. Rod Sweeting, Georgia Tech

24. Steve Williams, California

25. Dwayne Gratz, Uconn

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Safeties

NFL Draft
Derick Hingle-US Presswire

The role of the safety continues to expand and this class is highlighted by an excellent group who can fit into practically any defense and in either a strong or free safety role. Vaccaro and Elam are the stars of this group and look to be pro bowl players very early in their careers.

1. Kenny Vaccaro, Texas

2. Matt Elam, Florida

3. Eric Reid, LSU

4. Phillip Thomas, Fresno State

5. Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma

6. DJ Swearinger, South Carolina

7. TJ McDonald, USC

8. Jonathan Cyprien, Florida International

9. Bacarri Rambo, Georgia

10. Robert Lester, Alabama

11. Shawn Williams, Georgia

12. Shamarko Thomas, Syracuse

13. Zeke Motta, Notre Dame

14. Earl Wolff, North Carolina State

15. Bradley Douglas, Kansas