The dynasty community is always changing and looking for new league styles to challenge the players more and more. The flavor of the year seems to be DEVY leagues where we are drafting players before they are even finishing their college careers. “DEVY”, short for developmental leagues, are becoming more and more popular and I’m here for all of it. Most of the standard DEVY leagues hold drafts that are typically only a few rounds, 1-5 in most cases with most of the focus being on the offensive side. As the head of our IDP team here at Dynasty Nerds It’s only right to give the defensive side of DEVY some love. I would be doing my readers a disservice if I didn’t break down the defensive guys to watch. If you are drafting IDPs in a DEVY league it would more than likely be in a five-round or more draft, in my experience hitting on successful IDP players in DEVY leagues includes a tremendous amount of film watching and a little bit of luck as well. The fact that defensive players are more scheme dependent than offensive players makes picking IDPs much riskier in this format. This breakdown is for the more hardcore IDP and DEVY players but hopes you all can enjoy. Now let’s talk IDP!
Ohio State, DE, 6’5 265 lbs.
- 2018: 33 Tackles/14.5 TFL/9.5 Sacks/5 PD/1 FF
Chase Young is a former five-star recruit who has made a name for himself in his first two seasons as a buckeye. When you think of a prototype for an elite pass rusher in the NFL, Chase Young fits that description perfectly. Young has 12 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss in his career, 14.5 tackles for loss and 9.5 of those sacks were in 2018. The injury to Nick Bosa last season opened the door for the next great pass rusher to step up for Ohio State and Young did. Young has true breakout potential this season and projects to be a top-five NFL draft pick. The last stat I’ll leave you with is the most telling for me in his last four games played Young has compiled five sacks and six tackles for loss.
LSU, S, 6’3 203 lbs.
- 2018: 74 tackles/9.5 TFL/5 Sacks/9 PD/1 FF/1 FR
It didn’t take long for a hot take from your boy but I’m officially a fanboy of Delpit as I have him ranked over both A.J. Epenesa and Dylan Moses. I’m usually a subscriber to waiting on DB in startup drafts if the price isn’t exactly right for me to get a top tier safety but in this case, I just can’t help but think Delpit might be the player to make me rethink that strategy. I honestly see little to no weakness in his game in his first 26 games at LSU, Delpit has 82 solo tackles and 17 passes defended. The LSU star is the next man up at DBU and he might be one of the best to play in Death Valley he can play in both deep coverage as well as in the box in run support. I don’t have the exact history of college football records, but I’d bet Delpit putting up five sacks and five interceptions in 2018 put him in extremely rare company amongst the game’s greats at the collegiate level. Taking a DB in a DEVY draft comes with a ton of risk but the way the NFL offenses are using more spread concepts and getting more speed on the field it’s as safe as a pick is there is on the defensive side of a DEVY draft. Do it all defensive backs like Delpit will soon replace athletic linebackers more often than they already do. Get ahead of the wave and lock up an elite level safety while your league mates are taking a shot on flier RBs and WRs.
Iowa DE/OLB, 6’5 277 lbs.
- 2018: 37 Tackles/16.5 TFL/10.5 Sacks/3 PD/4 FF/1 FR/1 TD
Make no mistake about it, although he’s 3rd on my list A.J. Epenasa is arguably one of the most dominant defensive players in the country. The craziest stat on the future first-round pick is that he’s never started a collegiate game due to the nature of defensive line rotation used at Iowa. Even more amazing than that is Epenasa has produced at an elite level with 15 sacks in his first 24 college games that’s more than 2019 2nd overall NFL draft pick Nick Bosa. When you think of elite-level IDP on the defensive front you’re looking for guy who lives in the backfield exactly like Epenasa does of his 29 solo tackles in two seasons 22 of them were for a loss, the 11 sacks from him in 2018 led the Big Ten conference and was good enough for #9 all-time in NCAA history. The ability for the future first-rounder to play 4-3 DE or 3-4 EDGE makes him a safe bet as far as NFL schemes go and he should test great at the combine with a current report of him running a sub 4.7 forty-yard dash. The battle for top pass rusher between Chase Young and Epenasa is going to be fun to watch in 2019.
Alabama, LB, 6’3 233 lbs.
- 2018: 86 Tackles/45 Solo/10 TFL/3.5 Sacks/1 PD/1 FF
There’s simply one thing you cannot teach or coach and that’s speed which the junior LB has in spades. Dylan Moses might just be the fastest LB to ever play under Nick Saban and that’s saying something with the talent that has come out of Tuscaloosa over the past five years. As a true freshman, he was named to the All-SEC Freshman team even though he only played eight games that season. Moses solo tackles jumped from 19 to 45 in just one season his high motor and instincts seem to have him around the ball on every play. The infamous clip of Moses chasing down a Louisville WR on a screen pass about 40 yards down the field is just a taste of how athletic he is. In 2018 Moses led the Crimson tide in tackles with 86 playing the Will LB spot he slides to the Mike in 2019 and his true potential should be unleashed this season. Nick Saban will rely on the junior LB to call plays and lead the defense in 2019 by the time the college football playoffs start Dylan Moses will be a name everyone knows.
Clemson, S/OLB, 6’3 225 lbs.
- 2018: 88 Tackles/53 solo/ 9 TFL/ 2 Sacks/ 1 INT/6 PD/3 FF/1 TD
Simmons is the new rare breed of combo safety/linebacker that fits perfectly into the new style of NFL defenses. Clemson is one of the most dominant programs at developing NFL talent and Simmons will be the next great defensive player from the reigning National Champions to be playing on Sundays. Simmons played both WR and safety while in high school, he’s always around the ball whether he’s asked to play LB or deep safety. In the two most important games of the year the dynamic playmaker stepped up the most he posted 14 tackles, 1.5 TFL, .5 sack, and 2 passes defended in the BCS playoff games against Notre Dame and Alabama. Another solid season at Clemson for Simmons and he should be hearing his name called in the first round of the draft next April.
Auburn, DT/DE, 6’5 325 lbs.
- 2018: 48 Tackles/10.5 TFL/4.5 Sacks/2 PD/1 FF/1 FR
The former five-star recruit enters the 2019 college football season as the most dominant interior defender. Brown finished the 2018 season with an 89.9 Pro Football Focus grade while he continued to dominate against the run, he showed his potential to get after opposing QBs as well with 4.5 sacks. The Auburn Tigers have a very strong defensive line and Brown is a big reason why but overall his numbers aren’t as dominant because of the limited snaps. In DT mandatory leagues Brown is the guy to watch for the 2019 season he can be a potential top five pick in the draft.
Northwestern, LB, 6’4 241 lbs.
- 2018: 116 Tackles/63 solo/5 TFL/1 Sack/1 INT/2 PD/4 FF
In a world where athletic sideline to sideline LBs seem to rule the IDP top tier, it’s important to remember there’s still a place for the tackle monster LB like the Northwestern star. Paddy Fisher is one of the nation’s most underrated linebackers despite him having back to back 100+ tackle seasons in both his freshman and sophomore seasons. There have been comps to Dallas Cowboys LB Leighton Vander Esch and while I think LVE is a more complete LB, I can see comparisons in their games. Paddy brings a buckle your chinstrap style of LB play to the Northwestern defense but it’s important to note he has a flair for the dramatic by making huge plays. Eight forced fumbles and five passes defended in two seasons show he’s talented enough to play all three downs at the next level. As productive as he is Fisher is likely a LB that may be team or scheme dependent at the next level to reach his true potential as a consistent IDP producer.
Oklahoma, LB, 6’2 238 lbs.
- 2018: 155 Tackles/71 Solo/12.5 TFL/4.5 Sacks/2 PD/1 FR
Back to back LB prospects for your viewing pleasure. Kenneth Murray totaled 155 tackles in 2018 which was best in the Big 12. Murray is a rare prospect that we have a confirmed report of a 4.55 forty-yard dash, the Oklahoma star is an all-purpose sideline to sideline LB. The Oklahoma offense gets all the press and rightfully so as Lincoln Riley does a masterful job with his offense, but the Sooners do have a potential NFL rising star on their hands on the second level of their defense. Murray projects to be a day two pick in the NFL Draft, it’s likely he can fit as either a 4-3 OLB in a 4-3 or 3-4 Edge. As fun as it is to watch Murray rack up tackles for the Sooners, he likely will need another monster season to improve his draft stock by seasons end.
LSU, LB/EDGE, 6’4 238 lbs.
- 2017: 27 Tackles/4.5 TFL/2 Sacks/ 2 PD
This should be a bit surprising to most but reading reports and watching the 2017 tape I’m all in on Chaisson returning from injury to dominate at LSU. NFL first-round pick and former LSU Tiger Devin White predicted a year ago that Chaisson would break the LSU single-season sack record which wasn’t meant to be as the sophomore LB suffered a season-ending knee injury in the opening game. This is extremely high praise from a very good player, but I believe he will back it up this season when he returns to wreak havoc on SEC quarterbacks. Chaisson has freakish athletic size, speed and agility to be a game wrecker at the next level. When you turn on the tape there are things the LSU pass rusher does that remind me of current NFL pros. If there’s no injury setback, I’ll be very excited to see him play in 2019 and it wouldn’t surprise me if he rose up draft boards before next year’s draft.
Auburn, DE, 6’5 282 lbs.
- 2018: 26 Tackles/13.5 TFL/7 Sacks/1 FF
The second Auburn Tiger makes my top 12. Nick Coe played in just nine games in 2018, but he nearly averaged a sack per game. While Derrick Brown dominates inside the versatile Coe put up his best season as a pass rusher with seven sacks. Auburn likes to keep their defensive linemen fresh or else the stats for both Brown and Coe could be even better. Scheme fit shouldn’t be much of an issue for the Auburn DE as he should be able to play 4-3 DT or 3-4 DE if asked. It’s important to keep an eye on the Tigers this year and see which of their two defensive linemen put up the more dominant numbers consistently in 2019.
Alabama, DE/DT, 6’7 316
- 2018: 55 Tackles/5.5 TFL/1.5 Sacks
The Alabama senior almost didn’t make the top 12 after his drastic dip in production from his sophomore to junior season. Ultimately it came down to me watching Alabama film from 2018 and realizing just how unfairly dominate Quinnen Williams was resulting in him being drafted 3rd overall in this year’s draft. The size of Raekwon Davis alone makes me think he can bounce back as a senior leader for the Crimson Tide. Although fantasy football is a “what have you done for me lately game”, I still remember the 2017 National Championship performance for the Alabama prospect where he dominated Georgia’s offensive line with 5 tackles, one sack, and one interception to help Alabama clinch another title. Double-digit tackles for loss and 8+ sacks will put Raekwon Davis back in the first-round conversation for NFL teams as we look forward to the 2020 NFL draft. Three DL from Alabama have been drafted in the 1st round in the past two years (Da’Ron Payne, Johnathan Allen, and Quinnen Williams) Raekwon Davis looks to join his former teammates at the next level.
Alabama, OLB/EDGE, 6’3 259 lbs.
- 2018: 50 Tackles/13 TFL/5.5 Sacks/11 PD/ 1 INT/2 FR/1 TD
It’s only right that another Alabama prospect closes out the top 12 DEVY IDPs to watch for the 2019 season. The senior Crimson Tide LB makes it three players in the top 12 and the sixth SEC player to make the list. While Jennings doesn’t appear to be an explosive athlete, he’s a disruptive EDGE player. The versatility that Jennings brings to the Alabama defense should get him drafted next April. Alabama asks a lot of their LBs and Jennings delivers his 5.5 sacks and 11 passes defended show his true versatility. The ability to set a strong edge as well as diagnose the play and be a reliable tackler for the Crimson Tide makes Jennings a very intriguing prospect. Although they lost the National Championship, Jennings showed up big with 3.5 tackles for loss and one pass defense. The big-game experience and four years of production should get Jennings drafted on day two of the NFL draft, likely to reach his max potential a dominant 3-4 defensive scheme will fit the Alabama LB best.
Best of the Rest
Michigan State, OLB/DE, 6’3 266 lbs.
- 2018: 78 Tackles/ 20.5 TFL/8 Sacks/1 INT/4 PD/1 FF/1 FR
It’s very likely the 2018 Big Ten sack leader would be in the top 12 if not for an injury at the end of his junior season. Unfortunately for Willekes, he broke his leg in the Redbox Bowl against Oregon last December. Reports prior to that had him leaving for the NFL. It’s up in the air if and when then star EDGE player returns for the Spartans. In thirteen games played last season Willekes had at least 1 tackle for loss in 10 games, he can truly be disruptive off the edge without actually sacking the QB. Assuming he can return to form it’s possible one NFL team would get a great player late in a very loaded 2020 NFL draft.
Boise State, OLB/DE, 6’3 266 lbs.
- 2018: 43 Tackles/15 TFL/9.5 Sacks/1 PD/1 FF
Boise State finds a way to continue to produce legit NFL talent and they found another one in Curtis Weaver. Weaver led the Mountain West Conference in 2017 with 11 sacks and followed it up in 2018 finishing 2nd in the conference with 9.5 sacks. I have Weaver as one of the most underrated defensive linemen in the country and playing in the MWC is more than likely the reason why he’s overlooked. The Boise State EDGE has produced 28 tackles for loss and 20.5 sacks in 26 college games, he has all the tools to be successful at the next level and he’s the prototypical size for an NFL EDGE rusher. The instant success of Leighton Vander Esch should start to put more defensive players on the radar for NFL teams and we could see Weaver go earlier in the draft than some expect if he continues his dominance in 2019.
Texas, DB, 6’0 205 lbs.
- 2018: 62 Tackles/46 Solo/3 TFL/1 Sack/4 INT/4 PD
At one point in time, we were calling Texas “DBU”. While that hasn’t stood over time as the Longhorns have failed to produce elite NFL players lately, they may.have found a good one in Caden Sterns. The former four-star recruit came into Austin and put together what some are calling the best freshman season in Texas history. Sterns, although he’s not draft eligible until 2021, is a name that IDP players need to know. Sterns has NFL star potential in every sense of the word, he was all over the field for Texas in 2018 and was voted as the top defender in the Big 12 entering the 2019 season. Sterns had an off-season surgery on his patellar tendon, this is definitely something to be concerned about for his future, but by all reports he should be ready for camp in August. Watching Sterns play football over the next two seasons should be a joy if you enjoy defensive football.
Miami, LB, 6’1 228 lbs.
- 2018: 74 Tackles/11 TFL/3.5 Sacks/1 INT/2 PD/
I would think by now my readers know I’m a Miami Hurricanes fan and not including the best LB group in the country in my DEVY IDP breakdown simply wasn’t going to happen. Michael Pickney is the impact player of the fierce Hurricanes LBs, most of the country has seen him wearing the turnover chain, what most don’t know is Pickney is the vocal leader on the field, imploring his teammates to get the ball back for the offense. Pickney was 3rd in tackles for Miami in two of the last three seasons and while he’s not my favorite LB of the talented group he still has a chance to be a starter in the NFL. The ability to read, react and attack make Pickney an exciting prospect as he plays LB the right way.
Miami, LB, 6’1 240 lbs.
- 2018: 82 Tackles/45 Solo/14 TFL/5 Sacks/1 INT/2 PD/1 FF/1FR
Shaq Quarterman is easily my favorite Hurricanes LB his 80+ tackles, 2.5+ sacks and playing all 13 games in all three of his seasons in Coral Gables, Florida are just a few of the reasons. Quarterman finished 2nd in tackles all three of his seasons as a Hurricane, Shaq has shown how dynamic he can be under Manny Diaz who lined him up at DE during certain pass-rush situations. Mostly lining up as the MIKE backer has allowed Shaq to read and react and rack up the tackles over his career. Although Quarterman brings enough as a blitzer it is his coverage which is very underrated. I see a bit of a Denzel Perryman comp with Quarterman and while Perryman was able to put together multiple 100+ tackle seasons he never offered as much as Shaq does as a pass rusher. I’m biased towards the Hurricanes LBs so I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t make sure the Canes LB group was on your radar.
Miami, LB, 6’2 230 lbs.
- 2018: 44 Tackles/4.5 TFL/1.5 Sacks
It’s rare in college football to have such a talented group of LBs who play together for three years. While McCloud doesn’t have the accolades like his counterparts, he is still worth talking about. The senior LB is arguably the most athletic of the three Hurricanes which could make him very appealing to an NFL team as the game is moving towards more athletic coverage hybrid LBs. McCloud has battled injuries although he hasn’t missed a game in college, the reason for his lack of production is more related to the LBs he plays with. McCloud was relegated to the striker position in Manny Diaz’s defense which is normally occupied by an extra safety, this shows the talent and athleticism of McCloud who is comfortable in this role. It’s more realistic McCloud is a much better NFL player than collegiate. Always remember the situation is a very important factor when grading and breaking down a player.
LSU, LB, 6’4 229 lbs.
- 2018: 87 Tackles/32 Solo/5.5 TFL/1 Sack/1 INT/3 PD/1 TD
The amount of premier defensive talent that comes from LSU forces us to keep an eye on just about anyone that produces well for that defense. Jacob Phillips made huge progress from his freshman to sophomore season including playing 6 more games and racking up 69 more tackles. Phillips is built perfectly to play inside backer in the NFL, he reads and reacts well on run plays. Most LSU linebackers are asked to do it all and Phillips is no different; while he is strongest in run support, he can hold his own in coverage with four passes defended and one pick-six touchdown already in his first 19 games.
Alabama, DB, 6’1 198 lbs.
- 2018: 74 Tackles/45 Solo/6 TFL/3 Sacks/2 INT/10 PD/2 FF/1 TD
The sophomore Crimson Tide safety put on a masterful performance in 2018 capping it off by being named defensive MVP of the Orange Bowl. It’s not very often I include this many DBs in a DEVY watch list, but McKinney is as good as advertised. Anytime a DB can record 45 solo tackles, 10 PD and 3 sacks he absolutely needs to be on the radar. McKinney has proved he’s another versatile safety for Alabama who should be hearing his name called early in the 2020 draft.
Penn State, DE, 6’5 262 lbs.
- 2018: 54 Tackles/36 Solo/20 TFL/8 Sacks/2 FF/1 FR
One of the more interesting prospects for the 2020 NFL draft, Gross-Matos returns for his junior season after being selected to the first-team All-Big Ten in 2018. The Penn State rising star finished second to only Michigan state’s Kenny Willekes by half a tackle for loss to lead the Big Ten as a sophomore with 20. Last year the Penn State defense was highly productive as five different players had at least 5 sacks, the standout was YGM who had 8 sacks in 2018. Watching how the All-Big Ten performer handles his junior season as an impact player will be exciting to watch. Based on his size and production alone YGM has a very realistic chance to climb up draft boards quickly.
Miami, DE, 6’4 235 lbs.
- 2018: 60 Tackles/20 Solo/17 TFL/5.5 Sacks/5 PD/2 FR/1 TD
It wouldn’t be right to finish off my watch list with anything other than a Miami Hurricane. Manny Diaz has brought an effective attacking defense to Miami while the Canes returned all three LBs they have reshuffled the front four after losing both Gerald Willis and Joe Jackson to the NFL. The Hurricanes also lost their defensive line coach to the Atlanta Falcons, in his place the Hurricanes bring in Ex- North Carolina State defensive line coach Todd Stroud who managed to have three defensive linemen drafted in the first round in 2006 most notably Mario Williams who went 1st overall. Garvin will need to bulk up to be mentioned as a first-round pick but his frame and 17 TFL as a sophomore gives me hope that he can become a disruptive defensive lineman. It’s fair to say Garvin may need two more years of college football before he becomes a dominating player, nonetheless, his 2018 production gives me high hopes for him to one day be an NFL player.
While this was a blast to do for both my DEVY guys as well as the IDP crew let’s keep in mind we are discussing college players some of whom have yet to play an elite level of competition. As these breakdowns become more and more popular please remember the height, weight, and age of these prospects is not accurate. For the most part, things are not verified sometimes until the NFL combine so while there are sites that provide this data it’s not 100% accurate. This was very fun to do, and I look forward to continuing to break down more players in individual as well as group spotlights for the #NerdHerd.Follow @glosser13 Tweets by Glosser13
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