These are the 5 best defenders, in our opinion, in the 2017 NFL Draft. They are all projected top 5 or 10 picks so we will not rank them in any particular order. This class is extremely loaded with defensive talent so it was difficult to pick the top 5.
Myles Garrett-DE-Texas A and M
Myles Garrett might be the most athletic defensive end to enter the draft since Jadeveon Clowney. He is a physical freak and has unbelievable burst and explosion off the edge. He had a very productive three years in college and came out of high school as the number one rated prospect in the country. He is a rare blend of size, natural strength as well speed and quickness at the snap of the ball. In college, he relied too much on his natural skills and athleticism to rush the passer, and he needs to work on using his hands to get off blockers who hold him at the point of attack. His inside spin move is quick and lethal, but he must work on setting the edge as a run blocker as he got widened out at times by better offensive linemen and created big running lanes off tackle. He will most likely be the first pick in the draft because he is such an elite pass rusher with good size and great natural athleticism.
Solomon Thomas-DE- Stanford
Despite playing football in Australia when he was younger, Thomas became one of the best high school prospects in the nation once he returned to the United States. At 6′ 3″ 273 pounds, Thomas is very fluid and athletic for someone with his size. He is one of the most aggressive players in this draft and he only knows one speed. He can win at the line of scrimmage with a variety of moves, and he is great at off getting blocks with hands. Thomas is relentless and always around the ball. He can rip, spin, and bull rush in order to get to the QB. He might be too small to play inside and some say he is not long enough to play on the edge. He is known as a “tweener” so a team will have to find a place for him. We believe he will be a great player though, he may be a raw but his athleticism, natural talent and never ending motor will allow him to develop into a great pass rusher.
Jamal Adams-Safety- LSU
Adams is not the biggest safety in this draft class, but he makes up for it with great heart and an unbelievable will to win. He may only be 6′ 0″ and 215 pounds, but he is very aggressive and loves to attack the football. He is best when he is near the line of scrimmage as he reads run plays very well then comes with the hammer. He is a big hitter who enjoys unloading on RBs and WRs across the middle. He reminds me of Kam Chancellor with how he sets the tone for the defense with big hits and his willingness to attack downhill. He can struggle in coverage as he lacks top end speed and sometimes when dropping in a zone he drops his eyes and does not watch the entire field, causing him to lose WRs in coverage. He also struggles to anticipate routes and has a tendency to drop interceptions. We really like this kid as a hybrid safety who can cover in the slot when asked and who excels as an aggressive downhill enforcer in the box and around the line of scrimmage.
Malik Hooker-Safety- Ohio State
Hooker is the opposite of Jamal Adams. Adams excels in stopping the run and lowering big hits in the box, while Hooker is the best pure coverage safety I think in the last few drafts. He is very instinctive and trusts his instincts to flow to the football. He can play the single high robber covering the entire field. Hooker excels at reading QB eyes and then flying to the football. He does not have great speed, but his instincts allow him to have great range over the top of the defense. Go watch the play of his interception against Clemson last year, he is 25 yards away from the ball when it is thrown but his instincts allow him to get a step and his range allows him to make the interception. He is inconsistent in the run game and will sometimes lower his head when tackling, resulting in 17 missed tackles last season. We love Hooker because he is everything you want in a coverage safety. Hooker has great instincts, awareness, range and playmaking ability that will give opposing QBs fits in the NFL.
Reuben Foster- ILB-Alabama
Foster is our favorite prospect in this draft class. He is a great athlete that loves to just unload on anyone that comes his way. He plays the game with so much passion and energy that he really stands out every time he is on the field. He is a great sideline to sideline pursuit linebacker and has very fluid hips to get to the ball. Foster is the most aggressive player in this draft in my opinion and he is a great downhill player. He is also a great leader that will make others around him better and feed off his energy and intensity. He only knows one speed and is always looking to bring the boom. His coverage skills have improved and he lost weight to get better and faster. He can sometimes bite on play action passes as his aggressive nature gets the better of him and he can be prone to have poor tackling technique which led to minor head injuries early in his career. The bottom line is Reuben Foster is a great football player who is instinctive and not afraid of hitting people, his intensity and swagger will instantly improve any defense.
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