Commentary

Linemen lead defensive positions

Updated: August 22, 2010, 1:29 PM ET
By Todd McShay | Scouts Inc.

If you're an NFL team looking for help along the defensive line, the 2011 draft class offers plenty of options.

Top pass-rushers and run-stuffers abound in next year's class, while the linebackers have all kinds of talent on the outside and the defensive backs are led by a bevy of first-round talent.

Here's a look at Scouts Inc.'s preseason cheat sheets for each defensive position group, which contain the top three prospects in a variety of position-specific categories, all draftable prospects at each position, last year's first- and second-rounders and three-year draft trends.

[+] EnlargeMarcell Dareus
AP Photo/Chris Carlson Marcell Dareus simply knows how to make plays.

Defensive line
Pass-rushers are always coveted on draft day, and the 2011 draft offers up plenty of options, including No. 2 overall prospect Robert Quinn. The defensive tackles are strong and versatile, led by impressive underclassmen like Marcell Dareus.

Linebackers
Mark Herzlich is atop the heap despite missing all of last season while batting cancer, and he is one of four outside linebackers with first-round grades. Quan Sturdivant leads a group of inside linebackers looking to move up the board.

Defensive backs
Cornerback is one of the top overall position groups with three players currently in the top 10 overall and plenty of others who could become immediate NFL contributors. Two of the three safety prospects at this point are underclassmen.

Todd McShay is the director of college football scouting for Scouts Inc. He has been evaluating prospects for the NFL draft since 1998. Scouts Inc.'s Steve Muench and Kevin Weidl also contributed to this report.