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Top Defensive Draft Prospects at Each Position

Posted Feb 12, 2016

NFL Media's Mike Mayock breaks down the best players at each position on the defensive side of the ball.

On Wednesday, NFL Media’s Mike Mayock released his first set of position rankings for this year’s draft prospects. Leading up to April, Mayock will routinely break down the top five players at each position and periodically update his list as the combine, interviews and pro days progress. Below is a look at the top defensive player at each position, according to Mayock:

Interior DL - DeForest Buckner, Oregon

It’s early in the offseason, but Buckner has already been linked to the Buccaneers; in his second mock draft, ESPN’s Todd McShay predicted that the Bucs would select him No. 9 overall. Almost every mock draft currently available has Buckner rated as a top-10 prospect, with NFL Media’s Daniel Jeremiah ranking him in the top five. Buckner recorded 83 tackles in 2015, 17 of which were for losses. He also picked up 10.5 sacks. Mayock has Buckner listed as an interior defensive lineman, but will likely transition to a 4-3 defensive end in the pros.

Edge rusher - Joey Bosa, Ohio State

Many believe that Bosa will be the No. 1 overall pick to the Tennessee Titans. He picked up 51 tackles, five sacks, four passes defensed and an interception with the Ohio State in 2015. Several analysts believe that Bosa could be a productive outside linebacker in a 3-4 if he doesn’t line up with his hand in the dirt.

Linebacker - Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame

Just six weeks ago, Smith suffered a torn ACL and LCL in his left knee in Notre Dame’s final game of the season against Ohio State. If his injury hurts his draft stock, it won’t be by much. After recording 225 tackles in his final two seasons with the Irish, most mock drafts have him going in the first 10 or 15 picks.  

Cornerback: Jalen Ramsey, Florida State

The majority of draft analysts believe the Buccaneers will go one of two ways with their top pick – defensive end or cornerback. Mayock has Ramsey rated as his top corner, with Florida’s Vernon Hargreaves closely behind. Neither player is projected to make it to the second half of the first round. In his initial mock draft, ESPN’s Mel Kiper had the Buccaneers selecting Hargreaves at No. 9.

Safety: Karl Joseph, West Virginia

Should the Buccaneers choose to select a defensive end with their first-round pick and address the secondary in the second round, Mayock’s top-rated safety could still be around. Joseph had five interceptions in his first four games in 2015 before suffering a season-ending knee injury. He recorded 110 solo tackles in 2014 and 2013 combined. 

*For Mayock's full rankings, click HERE.