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One of the quickest ways to ensure success in the NFL is to win up front on the defensive line. So often it's the defensive ends that receive the credit, making most the most noise as they come off the edge to make the big plays. But the interior linemen play just as important a role. Nose tackles such as B.J. Raji of the Packers or Casey Hampton of the Steelers attack the offensive-line from the inside. Often drawing double teams, their job is to clog the trenches and push the line backwards. In the 27th installment of the Draft Dose series, PFW looks at nose tackle prospects in this year's draft, broken down into players that fit the role of 4-3, one-gap defenders and 3-4, two-gap tackles:
4-3 nose tackles:
Corey Liuget, Illinois
Expected to be selected late in the first round, Liuget is quick off the snap and extremely active on the line. He has an eye for the ball and is an above-average tackler that makes plays many defensive linemen aren't capable of making.
Stephen Paea, Oregon State
Paea broke the NFL Combine record with 49 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press. The Tonga native's strength is among his best assets, as is his mobility at 300-plus pounds. He is projected to come off the board sometime in the draft's first two rounds.
Jurrell Casey, USC
Casey has surprising speed for his size and has shown an effective swim move in the trenches. He can generate some push as a pass rusher, but Casey's main strength will be against the run. He's expected to be a second- or third-round pick.
Jarvis Jenkins, Clemson
Another player expected to be taken in the second or third round, Jenkins has the range necessary to track down ball carriers. He's a good tackler but needs to get stronger to reach his full potential.
Terrell McClain, South Florida
McClain's strength separates him from the pack, but spurts of inconsistency have kept him from reaching his full potential. A projected second- or third-rounder, McClain appears to have the potential to become an NFL starter if he can stay focused.
3-4 nose tackles:
Phil Taylor, Baylor
Taylor's long arms and hands — along with his 6-3, 334-pound frame — make him an imposing force in the middle. Taylor is both strong and athletic, making him a candidate to come off the board in Round One.
Kenrick Ellis, Hampton
At 346 pounds, Ellis is the heaviest player on this list. He plays violently, has the ability to handle double-teams and is a heavy hitter. Ellis has a lot of potential but is lacking in instincts, which could push him into the third or fourth rounds.
Ian Williams, Notre Dame
Williams projects as a fifth-rounder because of his size, but he makes the most out of what he has. At 6-foot-1, Williams regularly gets more leverage than opposing O-linemen and consistently demands the attention of multiple blockers.
Sione Fua, Stanford
Fua, who is heralded for his dedication and hard work, is expected to be drafted in either the fifth and sixth round. The former prep wrestling state champion is quick on his feet and has good agility for a defensive lineman.
Chris Neild, West Virginia
Neild is a high-energy type player that is willing to do the dirty work in the trenches. He is a strong player with a solid work ethic, but his lack of athleticism should push him into the draft's final two rounds.
Other NTs that could be considered: Mississippi's Jerrell Powe, Oklahoma's Adrian Taylor and Texas Tech's Colby Whitlock.