2014 NFL Draft Positional Rankings Defense

The 2014 NFL Draft is now two days away. The excitement is building in New York City as 30 invited prospects visit the Big Apple today. There are quite a few defensive standouts and today we will take a look at the 2014 NFL Draft positional rankings on defense.

There has been a premium placed on pass rushers. Getting pressure on the quarterback is something that teams look to do. The NFL is a copycat league and the Seattle Seahawks showed that if you can get to even the best of quarterbacks, you can neutralize their abilities. Here are the top five defensive ends:

1. Jadeveon Clowney South Carolina
2. Kony Ealy Missouri
3. Stephon Tuitt Notre Dame
4. Scott Crichton Oregon State
5. Trent Murphy Stanford

Under The Radar: Kareem Martin North Carolina
Draft Gem: Aaron Lynch South Florida
Rising Prospect: Scott Crichton Oregon State

The NFL has seen more teams switch to the 3-4 defense. As a result, more and more players are coming into the NFL with the need to switch from defensive end to a pass rushing outside linebacker. There are some instant impact players at this position this year. Here are the top five pass rushing outside linebackers:

1. Khalil Mack Buffalo
2. Anthony Barr UCLA
3. Dee Ford Auburn
4. Demarcus Lawrence Boise State
5. Jeremiah Attaochu Georgia Tech

Under The Radar: Will Clark West Virginia
Draft Gem: Larry Webster Bloomsburg
Rising Prospect: Marcus Smith Louisville

The in flux of athletic tight ends has called for more athletic linebackers that can cover and be a force against the run. Teams that use 4-3 defenses will utilize run and hit linebackers. Here are the top five outside linebackers for 4-3 defenses:

1. Kyle Van Noy BYU
2. Ryan Shazier Ohio State
3. Jordan Zumwalt UCLA
4. Telvin Smith Florida State
5. Jordan Tripp Montana

Under The Radar: Carl Bradford Arizona State
Draft Gem: Jordan Tripp Montana
Rising Prospect: Kevin Pierre-Louis Boston College

Middle linebackers are the heart of the defense. These are the guys that are the vocal leaders of the team and they are the ones that set the tone. Here are the top five middle/inside linebackers:

1. C.J. Mosely Alabama
2. Chris Borland Wisconsin
3. Preston Brown Louisville
4. Shane Skov Stanford
5. Max Bullough Michigan State

Under The Radar: Christian Jones Florida State, Avery Williamson Kentucky
Draft Gem: Brock Coyle Montana
Rising Prospect: Yamin Smallwood Connecticut

Getting an inside pass rush is a key part in disrupting the passing game. This draft certainly has some guys that can do just that. A few of them are scheme flexible whereas they can be plugged into a 3-4 or 4-3 base defense. Here are the top five defensive tackle/nose guards:

1. Aaron Donald Pittsburgh
2. Louis Nix Notre Dame
3. Ra’Shede Hageman Minnesota
4. Timmy Jernigan Florida State
5. Dominique Easley Florida

Under The Radar: Kelcy Quarles South Carolina
Draft Gem: Zack Kerr Delaware
Rising Prospect: Caraun Reid Princeton

This draft is especially deep at the corner back position. This has also become a money spot for young prospects. There is a need to be able to go against big, physical receivers along with smaller, speedy ones. Here are the top five corners:

1. Kyle Fuller Virginia Tech
2. Bradley Roby Ohio State
3. Justin Gilbert Oklahoma State
4. Darqueeze Dennard Michigan State
5. Jason Verrett TCU

Under The Radar: Walt Aikens Liberty, Jaylen Watkins Florida
Draft Gem: Nevin Lawson Utah State
Rising Prospect: Pierre Desir Lindenwood

The final position that we will rank is the safeties. These are the quarterbacks of the defense. They have to be able to run like the wind but hit like a mack truck. This draft class certainly has it’s share of that type of player. Here are the safety rankings”

1. Deone Bucannon Washington State
2. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix Alabama
3. Calvin Pryor Louisville
4. Jimmy Ward Northern Illinois
5. Terrence Brooks/Lamarcus Joyner Florida State

Under The Radar: Kenny Ladler Vanderbilt
Drat Gem: Marqueston Huff Wyoming
Rising Prospect: Jonathan Dowling Western Kentucky