- Will Anderson Jr. is the undisputed choice for IDP1: Anderson figures to be a landing spot-proof, NFL-ready prospect who should the most valuable IDP asset in this draft.
- Jack Campbell leads the linebackers: The Iowa product heads up six linebackers within the top 10 as an expected every-down tackling machine in the NFL.
- DT-required leagues should value Jalen Carter highly: Georgia’s Carter is one of the best defensive prospects in this class and despite his defensive tackle role, he will be worthy of a top-10 IDP rookie pick.
Estimated reading time: 12 minutes
It’s NFL draft week! So, before landing spots and draft capital turns everything upside down, get to know how this IDP writer expects to value each defensive player (no cornerbacks!) before they find new homes in the NFL.
The following rankings are based on the scoring laid out below:
|Defensive line (EDGE/DI)||2.5||1.75||6||2||6|
|Defensive back (CB/S)||2||1||6||2||6|
1. EDGE Will Anderson Jr., Alabama
Anderson is the clear choice as the top IDP in this year’s draft, and that’s unlikely to change post-draft. The Alabama star figures to be as NFL-ready of a prospect as there is in this year’s defensive class, as he posted 28 sacks, an 18.1% pressure rate and a 90.1 pass-rush grade over his final two college seasons. Anderson should immediately step into an every-down role wherever he lands and not just offer significant pass-rush upside but is also one of the more polished run defenders, earning a 91.2 run defense grade (second in the class) and an 8.53% run-stop rate (fifth) since 2021.
2. LB Jack Campbell, Iowa
This year’s linebacker class offers a lot of different potential outcomes, whether it’s due to size concerns, specific usage and deployments or just projected draft capital and how the NFL will value each player’s specific traits. Campbell is arguably the only linebacker in this class whose usage and production should immediately translate to IDP, and he should land on a team that needs a starting linebacker. He offers strong zone coverage ability, earning an elite 92.9 coverage grade in 2022 and a very strong 87.0 run defense grade that shows he can be a true asset on every down. He's one of the safest bets for future IDP production.
Jack Campbell scored a 9.98 RAS and was the best LB on the field in this class — here he is stealing CJ Stroud’s lunch money in coverage
— Thor Nystrom (@thorku) April 16, 2023
3. LB Trenton Simpson, Clemson
4. LB Drew Sanders, Arkansas
Simpson and Sanders are ranked closely pre-draft, so it will likely come down to the landing spots to separate the two. Both players offer versatility in how they can be deployed, especially as blitzers, with both rushing the passer on over 100 attempts this past season. Nonetheless, Sanders was the more effective of the two, racking up 11 sacks versus Simpsons’ two.
Simpson does offer more experience as a coverage player, however, playing nearly 40% of his defensive snaps out of the slot in 2021 for Clemson. Pre-draft, the tie-breaker comes down to Simpson's potentially stronger tackle ceiling and slightly less boom/bust dependence on big plays that puts him just ahead of Sanders in these rankings.
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