Top 10 Eligible Defensive Ends In The 2014 NFL Draft

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Top 10 Eligible Defensive Ends In The 2014 NFL Draft

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Beth Hall-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive end has quickly become one of the most important positions on an NFL field. The most important position, without question, is the quarterback. So, it only makes sense that the second most important position would be the players who are the best at keeping them from sitting comfortably in the pocket.

Because of the new-found importance that teams are putting on the pass rush, athletic defensive ends are screaming up the draft boards of every team. They are the cornerstone of the modern professional defense, and you can’t expect to be a championship contending team if you can’t pressure the quarterback with your defensive ends.

Colleges have been putting out talented, pass-rushing defensive ends at a remarkably reliable rate in the last few years. The colleges have been dealing with high-flying passing offenses longer than their NFL counterparts, so they learned long ago that you put your best all around athlete at defensive end. Those talented players have been driving college defenses for almost 20 years now, giving the NFL pro-ready pass rushers year in and year out.

The 2014 draft has some of the best talent at the position that we’ve seen in a long time. Beginning with Jadeveon Clowney, possibly the No. 1 overall pick next spring, you have a long list of impact players available for teams to select. After Clowney you have several players who could have landed at the second place on this list. It’s a deep group filled with possible future All-Pros.

These are the top 10 defensive ends who will be eligible for the 2014 NFL draft.

Ben Sullivan is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bensullivan52, "Like" him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.

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10. Taylor Hart

Taylor Hart
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

An all-around 4-3 defensive end, Taylor Hart can stop the run and get to the passer.

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9. Jackson Jeffcoat

Jackson Jeffcoat
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Fast and quick off the edge, Jackson Jeffcoat has one of the best bursts coming off the line in this year's draft. If he can prove that his technique and motor are improving, he could find himself much higher up this list by the spring.

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8. Ed Stinson

Ed Stinson
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Stout against the run and well-versed in the 3-4 scheme, Ed Stinson will be a solid addition to any team that runs the popular defensive system.

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7. Morgan Breslin

Morgan Breslin
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

A quick pass rusher, Morgan Breslin has wreaked havoc on the pass-happy Pac-12 offenses the last two years. His size will be a question mark at the next level, but his ability to get to the passer will make most teams overlook his 250 pound frame.

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6. Trent Murphy

Trent Murphy
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Trent Murphy has been the leader of one of the best defenses in all of college football the last few years at Stanford. He plays well against the run but can rush the passer as well and will be drafted as either a defensive end or outside linebacker at the next level.

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5. Aaron Lynch

Aaron Lynch
Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Lynch started his college career at Notre Dame, impressing as a freshman with 33 tackles, seven for loss. Despite failing to live up to his potential after transferring to South Florida to be closer to home, he has the natural talent and Combine-ready athleticism to stay at the top of draft boards this spring.

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4. Vic Beasley

Vic Beasley
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

A bit undersized at 6-foot-3, 235-pounds, Vic Beasley has the speed and strength that teams are looking for in the next generation of pass rushers. If he can put on a few more pounds between now and the draft, he could find himself sneaking into the first round.

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3. Za'Darius Smith

Za'Darius Smith
Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

A pass-rushing specialist, Za'Darius Smith has been skyrocketing up draft boards this fall after racking up five sacks in the first three games of the 2013 season.

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2. Stephon Tuitt

Stephon Tuitt
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

A classic, big-bodied defensive end, Stephon Tuitt will be at the top of the board for teams looking for a 3-4 defensive end.

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1. Jadeveon Clowney

Jadeveon Clowney
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Jadeveon Clowney is unquestionably the most talented defensive player in the draft this year. He has all the tools to be a dominant player at the next level, but he has some serious question marks as well.

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