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NFL Draft 2013 Preview: Early-Round Defensive Line Prospects

With the draft approaching, we take another look at some prospects playing a position of need who could be available for the Packers in the first and second round.

Jamie Sabau

After Greg Jennings' departure from the Green Bay Packers, we broke out a look at some wide receivers who may be targets for the Packers in this year's draft. With the draft approaching and mock drafts going on left and right, we think it's time to revisit this idea at various different positions across the field. Today we begin with the defensive line.

First-Round Candidates (26 overall)

Johnathan Hankins, DE/DT, Ohio State

"Big Hank" is a junior who played tackle in the Buckeye's 4-3 defense. While there are some questions about his ability to consistently eat up multiple gaps in a 3-4, many (including our resident defensive line evaluator Packattack88) think that he could project to a 5-technique end or nose tackle with some development time. He has measured in around 6'3" and 320 pounds, and has the strength to take on multiple blockers, but has some trouble with consistency.

John Jenkins, NT, Georgia

Jenkins is a true 3-4 nose tackle, playing the position at Georgia. He's a mountain of a man, standing 6'4" and weighing in at a little over 350 pounds. He had a terrific performance at the Senior Bowl, looking like the strongest and even the quickest defensive lineman at the game, according to Rob Rang of CBS Sports and Jenkins is as ideal a candidate as you'll find to be a 3-4 nose tackle, and appears to have all the necessary tools to succeed.

Jesse Williams, DE/DT, Alabama

Another prospect who Packattack88 has profiled is Williams, the Australian anchor for the Crimson Tide's line. However, in that assessment it didn't appear that Williams would be a big-play guy who could consistently split double-teams or make big plays in the backfield. His strength is evident, but inconsistently used, and he is more likely to occupy blockers rather than actually break through them to stop a run for a loss or provide pass-rushing help.

Datone Jones, DE, UCLA

Jones is a potential end candidate, but he would likely need to add some weight to his 6'4", 280 pound frame. He is faster than a typical 3-4 end and had a very good Senior Bowl as well. He's extremely versatile, playing a number of different positions on the line in college, but the concern is present about occupying multiple blockers and being a truly disruptive force in the backfield.

Possible Second-Round Candidates (55 overall)

Margus Hunt, DE, SMU

Hunt is a physical freak of nature; he ran a 4.62-second 40 at 6'8" and 280 pounds. But with that tall frame comes concerns about him keeping his pad level down. And then there's the experience factor, as he's relatively new to football in general and will be looked at as a prospect that will need some patience as his football mind and instincts catch up to his physical tools. He could easily be taken earlier than this, but I would feel much more comfortable drafting him in the second round than the first.

Brandon Williams, NT, Missouri Southern

Another true nose tackle prospect is Williams, who addressed concerns about the quality of his competition by performing very well at the Senior Bowl. Packattack88's profile on him just went up recently, and I encourage you to check it out. It appears that he understands how to use his leverage and balance in the trenches and anchoring himself against double-teams. Like Hunt he may be a prospect who needs some seasoning before getting truly comfortable, but I would love to see him in Green and Gold this year as a potential successor at the nose tackle position.