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2016 Draft Prospect Highlights: Interior Defensive Line

We're bringing you college highlights of the top interior defensive line prospects entering the 2016 NFL Draft based on Mike Mayock's top five position-by-position post-combine rankings.

DEFOREST BUCKNER, OREGON
Height: 6-7, Weight: 291

OVERVIEW FROM NFL.COM

It would be foolish for team to be wary of selecting Buckner because of the lack of success of former Ducks defender and number three overall pick Dion Jordan, as he's a completely different type of player. The 2015 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, Ted Hendricks Award finalist and member of multiple All-American squads (first team USA Today, second team AP, etc.) presents a thicker frame, portending an NFL career with his hand on the ground, rather than a stand-up pass rusher like Jordan. Buckner had become a name to note as a 2014 second-team All-Pac-12 pick (led team with 13 tackles for loss) after two seasons as a partial-year starter; he had 29 tackles and two starts, playing in every game as a true freshman in 2013, followed by a eight-start sophomore season (3.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks). He finished off his career in style (83 tackles, 17 for loss, Pac-12 leading 10.5 sacks), putting himself among the top prospects in the senior class.

SHELDON RANKINS, LOUISVILLE
Height: 6-1, Weight: 299

OVERVIEW FROM NFL.COM

In the Cardinals' three-man front, Rankins presents issues for both interior and outside blockers. His only start as a sophomore was in the team's bowl game, but he came on strong as a junior in the team's first year in the ACC (13.5 tackles for loss, eight sacks, two interceptions). ACC coaches elevated him from a third-team all-conference pick to second team this year (13 tackles for loss, six sacks) as he continued to terrorize ballcarriers. Rankins' versatility as a potential starting five-technique or three-technique makes him a fit in any system.

JARRAN REED, ALABAMA
Height: 6-3, Weight: 307

OVERVIEW FROM NFL.COM

The East Mississippi Community College transfer didn’t light up the stat sheet in 2014 (6.5 tackles for loss, one sack in 2014) but looked to be an ascending talent. Though his numbers weren’t much different this year (56 tackles, 4.5 for loss, one sacks), SEC media named him second-team All-SEC because of his utterly disruptive play whether playing between the guards or heads-up on a tackle in the Tide’s feared front line. Reed was arrested for DUI in the summer of 2014, but should overcome any character concerns to become a starter at the next level.

A'SHAWN ROBINSON, ALABAMA
Height: 6-4, Weight: 307

OVERVIEW FROM NFL.COM

Nick Saban has made a habit of creating NFL defensive lineman during his time in Tuscaloosa, recruiting the best of the best from the high school ranks and making the most of their potential. Robinson was another one of those five-star recruits who came in ready to contribute. He played all 13 games (starting two) as a true freshman, making 38 stops, eight for loss, and leading the Tide with 5.5 sacks. Robinson displayed versatility by playing inside and outside as a sophomore, earning honorable mention All-SEC honors from league media as a full-time starter (6.5 tackles for loss) by splitting his time between the nose tackle and five-technique spots. He first gained the true attention of scouts that season when racking up nine tackles, three for loss, against Missouri in the SEC Championship Game. Robinson's career reached its apex in 2015, as he garnered consensus All-American honors and was named a finalist for the Outland Trophy. He was one of the main cogs of the nation’s third-rated defense, making 46 tackles, 7.5 for loss, and 3.5 sacks in 15 games as the Tide won the national title.

ROBERT NKEMDICHE, OLE MISS
Height: 6-3, Weight: 294

OVERVIEW FROM NFL.COM

Nkemdiche (kim-DEECH-ee) presented elite athleticism and quick-twitch movement as the top defensive end prospect in the country coming into Oxford as part of the 2013 recruiting class. He's one of the more interesting prospects in the 2016 draft class, as well, because Georgia native never really had great statistical production despite his manifold pro-ready characteristics. He started 10 games for the Rebels in 2013, garnering Freshman All-American and Freshman All-SEC notice with eight tackles for loss and two sacks on the year. In Nkemdiche's sophomore year, he received second-team All-American honors from several media outlets despite making just four tackles for loss and two sacks in 13 starts. His junior year realized similar results, again being named second team All-American with statistics half as impressive as most others named to the team (seven TFL, three sacks). Nkemdiche's career at Ole Miss ended on a sour note, however, as he was arrested for marijuana possession after taking a fall from an Atlanta area hotel room. He was suspended from the team's bowl game after the incident, and decided to leave for the National Football League.

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