As expected, the D-line and edge rushers dominated this year's class of defenders.
Devin White and Devin Bush left the board at 5th and 10th overall, respectively. Just 1 other true off-the-ball LB followed by the end of Round 2. Then we got 4 more such players in Round 3 before a bunch more joined the party on Day 3.
Up front, meanwhile, we watched teams draft 11 players in just Round 1 who will play DT or DE. That included Josh Allen landing in a Jacksonville defense that will make him a DE rather than LB. It does not, however, include Rashan Gary or Montez Sweat, who are expected to line up at LB.
I've ranked my top 30 defenders overall below, with 70 total players ranked across the 3 position groups beyond that. The order, of course, can vary depending on your league's scoring and/or format. If you don't have DT-specific lineup slots, for example, then Ed Oliver and Quinnen Williams lose some luster. If your scoring weighs tackles more heavily and downplays sack scoring, then it might make more sense to take a shot on 1 of the Day 2 LBs than to grab an edge rusher.
Keep such factors in mind as you go through and build your own draft plan. And always feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions as you go.
Top 30 IDPs
1. Nick Bosa, DE, 49ers
I don’t care at all what Bosa and Donald Trump think of each other. I do care that Bosa averaged 1.3 tackles for loss and 0.7 sacks per game over the past 2 years.
2. Devin White, LB, Buccaneers
3. Devin Bush, LB, Steelers
White gets the nod over Bush because of greater college production and a clearer path to NFL numbers. But the NFL Draft emphatically confirmed the gap in expectations between this duo and the rest of the LB class. If you favor Bush over White, that’s fine. Both are supreme athleticism-speed prospects.
4. Josh Allen, DE, Jaguars
Landing in Jacksonville saves Allen from a LB designation that would have dinged his fantasy value. He might begin as a rotational player but should see full-time snaps by 2020. Yannick Ngakoue is in the final year of his rookie deal. Calais Campbell’s contract runs through 2020, but he’ll turn 33 on Sept. 1. Allen enjoyed nice sophomore and junior seasons and then blew up as a senior: 88 tackles (56 solo), 21.5 tackles for loss, 17 sacks, 4 pass deflections, 5 forced fumbles.
5. Ed Oliver, DT, Bills
Look only at the sack numbers, and you might not think Oliver’s ready to make much of a fantasy impact. He totaled a mere 13.5 across 3 college seasons -- which is fine for a DT, but not a thrilling number. The tackles for loss, on the other hand, tell the story. Oliver racked up 53 of those, trailing only Sutton Smith among all D-line/EDGE players in the class. And his 1.66 TFL per game career led the group.
Oliver also led the crew in solo tackles per game by a wide margin: 3.8 vs. 3.0 for #2 Jamal Davis (EDGE from Akron). Thirteen other players sat within 0.8 behind Davis.
Oliver delivered 54+ total tackles in each of his season, including an 8-game 2018. He even deflected 11 passes. And he maintained his production despite playing much of his final season out of position at NT, according to Pro Football Focus. Oliver has a chance to become a beast in the appropriate role next to Bills incumbent NT Star Lotulelei.