NFL mock draft: Ranking the top interior defensive linemen

Profile Picture: Andrew Champagne

April 20th, 2021

We're charging headlong toward the 2021 NFL Draft, which kicks off April 29. It's always fascinating, and we'll have a few articles this week devoted to specific position groups.

This time around, we'll focus on interior defensive linemen. Here is a look at five prospects to watch!

5. Tyler Shelvin, LSU

Does your team need a big guy in the middle? If so, don't be surprised if the 346-pound Shelvin is a target.

His build may mean he'll solely be used as a nose tackle at the next level, but if the Shelvin who started for the Tigers' championship team two seasons ago shows up, he'll be an asset.

4. Jay Tufele, USC

Tufele is a versatile defensive tackle who plays to the whistle and can test interior offensive lineman with his lateral quickness.

We saw this a lot in 2018 and 2019, though not so much in 2020, when he opted to skip the season.

3. Levi Onwuzurike, Washington

Onwuzurike is a fascinating prospect. He started as a sophomore and junior, but is the third straight player on this list who opted to sit out the 2020 season, and that could be seen as a negative.

He's also not as big as several of his rivals at the position, but he also possesses deceptive quickness and athleticism. He can shine in a 4-3 scheme if he is ready to play.

2. Daviyon Nixon, Iowa

Nixon earned a starting role with the Hawkeyes in 2020 and did not disappoint. He tallied 5.5 sacks and showed plenty of athleticism for a man of his size.

He is still a bit raw, as he started just one season in college, and he may not be the ideal interior lineman for 3-4 teams, but there is no doubt a place for him in the league.

1. Christian Barmore, Alabama

Universally considered the top defensive tackle prospect in this year's draft, Barmore was a major problem for opposing teams in the College Football Playoff and helped the Crimson Tide win a national championship.

He recorded eight sacks in 12 games last season and has every right to emerge as an impact player early in his NFL career.