Pass-rushing ability is what gets defensive linemen drafted early in the first round of the NFL draft, and in turn, that's where the money is for NFL D-linemen in general. But stopping the run is a skill not to be overlooked, and the 2015 draft includes some stout run stuffers who should be able to make a rookie impact in that regard alone. Below are five of the best available. These are all interior types who won't spend a day in the NFL at defensive end. They might not be on the field on third-and-long plays, but they'll help create third-and-long situations by shutting down the run.
The 340-pound monster from UW can stop the run like nobody else in the draft, and has drawn comparisons to Vince Wilfork. In fact, you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone in recent drafts who measured up to Shelton as a prospect in that regard. An ideal 3-4 nose guard, Shelton can control the gap on either side of the center, hold his own against double-teaming and generally make life a lot easier for inside linebackers. Even if Shelton doesn't stay on the field in third-down passing situations, he'll bring an invaluable skill to any 3-4 defense that leaks between the tackles.
NFL fit:Cleveland Browns. Shelton could make a big difference in what was the worst run defense in the NFL last year (141.6 ypg). In the AFC North, run stopping is imperative. All three of Cleveland's divisional foes ranked in the top half of the NFL in rushing offense last year.
At the beginning of last season, Mario Edwards, Jr. was the most talked about pro prospect on the FSU defensive line. By the end of the year, it was Goldman, who proved to be a wrecking ball of a defensive tackle for the Seminoles. At 6-foot-4, 335 pounds, he's best suited to play nose guard in a 3-4 defense. He made eight tackles for loss and four sacks, but his pass-rushing skills are in need of development. After Shelton, there isn't a better option in the draft for a nose guard who can help control an opposing running game.
NFL fit:Green Bay Packers. Goldman could be available when Green Bay picks at No. 30 overall, and NFL Media's Lance Zierlein sees the match. Goldman's presence could also make things easier on the Packers' inside linebackers.
In Phillips, the Sooners are sending a massive interior presence into the NFL with more athleticism than a 6-6, 335-pound man should be allowed to have. He bloomed as a player in 2014, making 40 stops and seven tackles for loss despite dealing with his share of double-teaming, after a back injury limited him the year before. He's an easy choice for an NFL club with a 3-4 defense looking to get younger, more athletic, and better at the nose guard position.
NFL fit:Chicago Bears. Phillips' late-first-round projection puts him squarely between Chicago's first two picks (No. 7 and No. 39), so a move up or down could be required. But while the pick fit needs some imagination, the player/club fit doesn't.
Davis isn't as explosive as some others and won't be the penetrating, disruptive type as much as, for instance, Texas' Malcom Brown. But if you're looking for an interior presence who can't be moved out of the hole and won't be knocked off the ball, the 320-pound Senior Bowl standout is your man. As a playmaker and pass rusher, Davis will be a work in progress as an NFL rookie. As an early-down anchor against inside runs, he should be a force from Day 1.
NFL fit:New York Giants. Something's wrong when a Tom Coughlin team gives up an NFL-worst 4.9 yards per rush.
Unlike others listed here, Jarrett gets the job done as much with quickness and technique as with size and brute strength. He's also not as highly-regarded as a prospect and should be available well after the other four are gone, but run stopping is definitely his specialty. At 6-1, 305 pounds, he's not a classic 3-4 nose guard but is more active than the above-listed Davis, and can make plays beyond his assigned gap. He made 10 tackles for loss for the No. 1-ranked defense in college football last year, and was a key reason Clemson gave up just 103 yards per game on the ground.
NFL fit:Dallas Cowboys. This from NFL Media's Lance Zierlein on the Cowboys' needs: "Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli demands upfield talent from his interior D-linemen, and that is missing from this roster." Jarrett could bring that.