NFL teams like to see an abundance of quality defensive linemen available every draft. They will not be disappointed in 2010. Three to five senior linemen could be first-round picks, and the pool almost doubles when juniors are factored in. Here's a brief look at the top NFL prospects from the defensive side of the ball. For the top offensive prospects, click here. (*Denotes underclassmen)
Greg Hardy/DE/Mississippi: A tremendous athlete with a basketball background, Hardy constantly wreaks havoc in the opponent's backfield. If he has a healthy senior campaign, he'll grade out as a top-six selection.
Corey Wootton/DE/Northwestern: . The 6-6, 275-pound Wootton will be compared to Tyson Jackson, the third pick in April's draft, because he can be used in a four-man front or as a two-gap end.
Gerald McCoy*/DT/Oklahoma: Like his predecessor (Tommie Harris), McCoy is slightly undersized but must be double-teamed. Athleticism allows McCoy to be used in a variety of defensive schemes, which is why he'll be a top-12 pick if he enters the draft.
Ndamukong Suh/DT/Nebraska: The Blackshirts leader on defense, Suh plays with a nonstop motor, chasing the action sideline to sideline. He also offers potential in a number of defensive alignments. Suh grades out in the top 15 pick and could move into top 10 if he has a big senior season.
Arthur Jones/DT/Syracuse: Jones gave serious thought to entering the 2009 draft, where he would've been a first-round pick. He's a one-man wrecking crew and is likely to be selected in the top 15.
Ricky Sapp/DE-OLB/Clemson: Sapp has been a difference maker the past two seasons at Clemson. He's very athletic and slightly undersized, which makes a move to outside linebacker very possible.
Carlos Dunlap*/DE/Florida: Dunlap is an imposing figure at 6-6, 285. He plays to his size, easily defeating double team blocks to make plays in the backfield. Dunlap offers a great amount of upside but must learn to consistently play at a high level, rather than just tease scouts with flashes of dominance.
• UNDERRATED: Brandon Graham/DE/Michigan: The Wolverines top defensive player is an outstanding pass rusher and run defender. His size, 6-1 and barely 274 pounds, will get him knocked down on draft boards, yet Graham's approach to the game and nonstop motor will make him an asset on an NFL roster.
• OVERRATED: Terrence Cody/DT/Alabama: Cody has immense physical skills and enters the year as the top nose tackle prospect in the nation. He tips the scales at 373 and occasionally takes plays off, which concerns scouts.
Brandon Spikes/ILB/Florida: Spikes enters the season as the most dominant linebacker in the nation. Florida's recent first-round prospects have not lived up to expectations. Spikes is set to break that trend.
Rod Muckleroy/OLB/Texas: Muckleroy is one of the lesser-known names on the Longhorns roster yet one of the team's best pro prospects. He's effective in pursuit as well as in pass coverage.
Bruce Carter*/OLB/North Carolina: Carter is a dual threat on as a playmaking linebacker and special teams ace. He's fast, fluid and covers a lot of area. Carter also blocked four punts and a field goal as a sophomore in '08.
Sean Weatherspoon/OLB/Missouri: Weatherspoon was considered by many as Missouri's top NFL prospect last season. He could hear his name called in the late part of round one.
Sean Lee/ILB/Penn State: A strong run defender, Lee returns after sitting on the sidelines last season with a torn knee ligament. He can make scouts de-emphasize the injury if he has a solid season.
Jerry Hughes/OLB/TCU: The pass-rushing menace led the nation as a junior with 15 sacks and six forced fumbles from his defensive end position. He possesses the body type, athleticism and speed to transition to outside linebacker, and a number of 3-4 defenses in the NFL will be interested in him in April.
• UNDERRATED: Joe Pawelek/ILB/Baylor: Pawelek was handed a free-agent grade by NFL scouting services despite being a three-year starter at Baylor and averaging 104 tackles per season. He's a stout run defender with outstanding football instincts. Pawelek is not very big nor fast yet is quite reminiscent of former Detroit Lions linebacker Stephen Boyd; a middle-round pick who went on to become a starter and Pro Bowl player.
• OVERRATED: Antonio Coleman/OLB/Auburn: Coleman's play leveled off as a junior after an outstanding sophomore campaign. He's a prototypical "tweener" who lacks the size to stay at defensive end and doesn't have the speed to play outside linebacker.
Taylor Mays/S/USC: Mays made a late decision in January to return to USC for his senior season and now enters the scouting process as one of the top overall prospects in the nation. He's a large safety who plays to his size, forcefully defending the run or pass. Mays could go in the first five picks.
Eric Berry*/S/Tennessee: Berry does not possess the same frame as Mays yet plays with many of the same skills. He's a terrific centerfielder who ably handles man coverage assignments when placed over slot receivers. Berry also displays plenty of toughness in run defense and grades out as a top-12 pick.
Brandon Ghee/CB/Wake Forest: Ghee has been a consistent force on a Wake Forest defense that has placed plenty of talent in the NFL of late. He has first-round potential.
Major Wright*/S/Florida: The leader of the Gators secondary, Wright has a complete game. He's effective against the run, efficient defending the pass and offers starting potential on the NFL level.
Charles Brown*/CB/North Carolina: This dynamite young corner has a nice blend of athleticism and instincts. He possesses terrific ball skills and offers a good degree of upside.
• UNDERRATED: Kurt Coleman/S/Ohio State: Coleman is often overlooked due to the quantity of talent the Buckeyes put on the field. He displays a lot of toughness in run defense and can be trusted with man coverage assignments.
• OVERRATED: Kam Chancellor/S/Virginia Tech: Chancellor is an imposing figure in the secondary and awes many with his size, yet he's a straight line defender with limited ball skills. A move to outside linebacker may be in the offing.