1. Louis Nix III, Notre Dame 6-23⁄8, 331, Round 1
Redshirt junior entry is a wide but quick-footed inside run stopper ready made for a two-gap, 3-4 scheme. “Strictly a nose guard,” one scout said. “If you’re a 3-4 team, then yeah, maybe you covet Nix more. (Notre Dame teammate Stephon) Tuitt has more versatility than Nix.” Doesn’t have a role conducive to stats — in 24 games over three seasons had only 2½ sacks and 14 tackles for a loss. Has had weight issues and played his best in ’12 (two sacks, 7½ tackles for loss) when he was in his best shape, though a meniscus knee injury cost him five games last year also. Was overweight at times in ’13 and lost 20 pounds for the scouting combine. Extrovert and resistant to authority, which bothers some teams. “He doesn’t practice when he doesn’t want to, lazy and all that,” another scout said. “Very talented but real lazy. Buyer beware on this guy.” Mediocre in physical testing at the combine with a 5.39-second 40, 25½-inch vertical and 8-1 broad jump. Did 24 bench reps at his campus workout.
2. Justin Ellis, Louisiana Tech 6-1½, 334, Round 2/3
Redshirt junior entry is a wide body with the strength to two-gap as a nose tackle plus some quickness to disrupt. “I think he’s a hell of a player, I liked his game,” one scout said. “That’s exclusively what he is, a nose tackle. He’s a good player. They call him Jelly. A 3-4 team will like him. At his Pro Day, he ran under 5 (seconds), which is impressive.” Reportedly was 390 pounds when he enrolled at Louisiana Tech, so weight always will be a potential issue. Had ankle injury that ruined his ’12 season, and last year had 1½ sacks and 5½ tackles for a loss. At the scouting combine, ran the 40 in 4.98 seconds, had a 28-inch vertical, 7-8 broad jump and did 25 bench reps. “He’s quick off the ground when he gets cut, and he stays active for a big man,” another scout said. “Hard man to move one-on-one. Knows how to squeeze the hole. He gets some push up the field with his power, and he can really push the pocket. Ideally, he’s a 3-4 nose tackle but I wouldn’t rule out his ability to play as a one technique in a 4-3. Moves very well for his size.”
3. Daquan Jones, Penn State 6-3¾, 322, Round 2/3
Large, low-cut run stopper. “He was all right,” a scout said. “I wasn’t real crazy about him. Wasn’t a sudden guy. He’ll play for somebody, don’t get me wrong. But I think he’s more of a one-speed guy.” Two-year starter who last season had 11½ tackles for loss and three sacks. Ran the 40 in 5.37 seconds, had a 27½-inch vertical, 8-5 broad jump and did 25 bench reps. “He can get the stalemate at the point (of attack),” a second scout said. “He can walk the blocker back and plays with some power. I liked that he can play all over the place. Not sure if he’s a 3-4 end or (nose) tackle.”
4. Dan McCullers, Tennessee 6-6¾, 352, Round 3/4
Massive run stopper with gargantuan arms (365⁄8 inches) and hands (11 inches). Extremely difficult to move but poorly conditioned. One scout said he weighed more than 400 pounds as a 10th-grader. “Can’t run, but he’s a big man,” the scout said. “I think he should be an offensive tackle. Great kid, raised by his grandfather. He has to be a zero nose. He’s not going to get any pass rush at all. He’s a one-down player, but he’s a big man, and I think the guy could be an offensive tackle.” Played at Georgia Military College for two seasons, transferred to Tennessee and in 24 games the past two years had three sacks and 18 tackles for a loss. Had hamstring injury at the combine, then at his campus workout reportedly ran the 40 in 5.31 seconds, had a 23-inch vertical, 8-3 broad jump and did 27 bench reps. “I thought he was too slow,” another scout said, “but maybe a 3-4 team will mess with him later. I’ve been wrong before, but he’s an O-line candidate to me.”
5. Ryan Carrethers, Arkansas State 6-1¼, 337, Round 4/5
Was a high school wrestler in Tennessee and plays with great leverage and strength. Also has an uncommonly good motor for a player his weight. “He’ll be a good nose guard in the 3-4,” one scout said. “Plays hard, makes plays. He’s a man now. Guy was a tackling machine. A short, heavy, stout dude. Stud.” Bad physical tester — 5.45-second 40, 26-inch vertical — but with big nose tackles, that rarely matters. Did 32 bench reps, which tied for third most among defensive linemen at the combine. Last season had 93 tackles, which is a huge number for a defensive lineman, plus four sacks and eight tackles for a loss. Blocked the potential game-tying field on the final of the GoDaddy Bowl against Ball State. “He’s a later (round) guy,” a second scout said. “Not a bad player.”
— pdougher@pressgazettemedia and follow him on Twitter @PeteDougherty.