When it comes to the NFL Draft, a few positions are more highly valued than the rest. One of those just happens to be an impact defensive lineman.
As the NFL continues to become a more pass-happy league, finding 6’4″ freakish athletes who can get after the quarterback has become even more critical.
Teams are always on the hunt for defensive linemen capable of both rushing the passer and stopping the run at a high level. Unfortunately, guys like that just don’t grow on trees.
Looking at the top defensive linemen around the league, it’s no coincidence that many of them are former first-round picks. Sure, you can find late-round success stories like Kyle Williams, Rob Ninkovich and Trent Cole, but the majority of the impact defensive linemen are top picks.
Let’s take a look at all the defensive linemen taken in the first round in the past five years and see where they stack up today.