Measuring the first line of defense

With the sophisticated passing games currently dominating the NFL, the ability to rush the quarterback  is more critical than ever. Teams looking to duplicate the Super Bowl-champion New York Giants’ depth and talent along the defensive line in 2012 will have some enticing options in April’s draft.

North Carolina’s Quinton Coples is the headliner of the class, but does Coples really project as an elite player on the defensive front? Is Illinois’ Whitney Mercilus a “one-year wonder”? How high will Michigan State’s Jerel Worthy and LSU’s Michael Brockers be drafted? Who are the sleepers to keep an eye on at next weekend’s combine?

NFL.com draft analyst Bucky Brooks looks at the top DEs and DTs in the draft, and projects which teams would be a good fit for their talents.

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