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Draft Snapshot: 10 Takes on DEs in 2017 NFL Draft

The clock is ticking on the 2017 NFL Draft.

One of the league's most important events kicks off with the first round at 7 p.m. (CT) on April 27 in Philadelphia. The second and third rounds begin at 6 p.m. (CT) on April 28. Rounds 4-7 start at 11 a.m. (CT) on April 29.

The Vikings currently have eight selections in the draft, beginning with the 48th overall pick, which is the No. 16 spot in the second round.

Vikings.com is taking a glance at the top prospects at each position leading up to the draft.

Up next: defensive ends.

Where the Vikings Stand

The Vikings have one of the deepest defensive end groups on the league. Danielle Hunter recorded 12.5 sacks in 2016 in just his second season in the NFL. Veterans Everson Griffen (8.0 sacks) and Brian Robison (7.5 sacks) were members of the NFL's only trio of defensive ends with 7-plus sacks each in 2016. Minnesota added former first-round pick Datone Jones in free agency. Stephen Weatherly played in two games on special teams during his rookie season, and Sterling Bailey spent part of the 2016 season on the practice squad. B.J. DuBose missed the entire 2016 season with a torn ACL.

Recent Draft History (over past five years)

Total number of defensive ends taken: 106 

Round 1: 16

Round 2: 18

Round 3: 14

Round 4: 15

Round 5: 17

Round 6: 9

Round 7: 17 

NFL teams have selected defensive ends early and often through the first five rounds of the draft. The Vikings, however, have fared well by waiting a bit. Hunter was a third-round pick, and Robison and Griffen were selected in the fourth-round.

The Prospects (based on rankings by CBS Sports)

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1. Myles Garrett

Texas A&M, Junior, 6-foot-4, 272 pounds

Combine numbers

40-yard dash:* *4.64 seconds

Bench press: 33 reps of 225 pounds

Vertical jump: 41 inches

Broad jump: 10 feet, 8 inches

2016 stats: Played in 11 games; recorded 33 tackles (18 solo), 15 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and a pass breakup; First-Team All-SEC selection by coaches; Second-Team All-SEC selection by Associated Press; unanimous All-American

Hot take: According to Dane Brugler of CBS Sports, Garrett has "freakish athleticism and body control for his size. Sudden first step, but the quickness of his second and third steps are just as effective, using long, strong strides. Loose-hipped with the elastic flexibility to bend, spin and get underneath blockers. Fluid movements to drop and handle space."

Brugler also noted Garrett has "various moves in his pass rush arsenal, but his move-to-move transition requires polish to better counter. Overaggressive and needs to maintain proper position vs. the run to contain the edge and keep the ballcarrier inside."

2. Solomon Thomas

Stanford, Junior, 6-foot-6, 295 pounds

Combine numbers

40-yard dash:* *4.69 seconds

Bench press: 30 reps of 225 pounds

Vertical jump: 35 inches

Broad jump: 10 feet, 6 inches

3-cone drill: 6.95 seconds

20-yard shuttle: 4.28 seconds

2016 stats: totaled 62 tackles (41 solo) with 15 tackles for loss, 8.0 sacks, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble; scooped up a fumble and returned it 42 yards for a score against UCLA; named the MVP of the Sun Bowl; named as Second-Team All-American by Football Writers Association of America and USA Today; the Associated Press listed him as a Third-Team All-American; named to All-Pac-12 First Team; won the Morris Trophy, which is given to Pac-12's best defensive lineman

Hot take: According to Rob Rang of CBS Sports, "while shorter than ideal, Thomas sports a power-packed frame with excellent overall weight distribution including broad shoulders and heavily muscled limbs that serve as a testament to his commitment to the weight room. He possesses excellent initial quickness to slip gaps, exploding off the ball and showing good core flexibility and strength to get skinny and fight through tight spaces." 

Rang also noted Thomas "will be viewed by some as a 'tweener lacking the bulk to be an every-down defensive tackle or the burst and bend of a classic defensive end. Production may be inflated due to Stanford's willingness to run stunts and loops to free him up."

3. Derek Barnett

Tennessee, Junior, 6-foot-3, 259 pounds 

Combine numbers

40-yard dash: 4.88 seconds

Broad jump: 9 feet, 9 inches

Vertical jump: 31 inches

3-cone drill: 6.96 seconds

20-yard shuttle: 4.44 seconds

2016 stats: started all 13 games for Tennessee in 2016. He recorded 56 tackles (40 solo), 19 tackles for loss, 13.0 sacks, five passes broken up, one forced fumble and one interception. Barnett was named First-Team All-American by CBS Sports, *Associated Press *and Walter Camp in addition to Second-Team honors from three other platforms. He was named the SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week on three occasions and in October was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week.  

Hot take: According to Dane Brugler of CBS Sports, Barnett has a "stout body type with broad shoulders and well-distributed mass. Natural flexibility to dip, stay low and get underneath blockers. Great snap anticipation to time up his get-off. Not an elite speed rusher, but controls his momentum well in short spaces to make stops. Flashes violence in his hands to free himself from blocks."

Rang also noted that Barnett "can bend off the edge with his flexibility, but lacks explosive twitch to win the corner on athleticism alone. Initial quickness based more on timing than burst, leading to offsides penalties or late movements out of his stance when he misreads the snap."

4. Taco Charlton

Michigan, Senior, 6-foot-6, 277 pounds

Combine numbers

40-yard dash: 4.92 seconds

Bench press: 25 reps of 225 pounds

Broad jump:  9 feet, 8 inches

Vertical jump: 33 inches

3-cone drill: 7.17 seconds

20-yard shuttle: 4.39 seconds

2016 stats: recorded 43 tackles (19 solo), 13 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, two pass breakups in 11 games during his first year as a starter; named First-Team All-Big Ten by coaches and media; ranked 14th in FBS with 9.5 sacks; recorded a sack in seven of final 10 games

Hot take: According to Dane Brugler of CBS Sports, Charlton "passes the eye test with a moldable NFL frame and long arms. Powerful upper body and uses his reach to extend and put blockers on skates. Heavy hands to control the edge and quickly reset his eyes to find the ball carrier."

Brugler also noted that Charlton "allows his pad level to rise and can be washed out of the hole. Needs to better protect his lower body from cut blocks. Unimaginative pass rush sequence with a predictable spin move. Needs to improve his reaction time and pursuit angles to take away edge runs."

5. Charles Harris

Missouri, Junior, 6-foot-3, 253 pounds

Combine numbers

40-yard dash: 4.82 seconds

Bench press: 21 reps of 225 pounds

Broad jump: 9 feet, 1 inch

Vertical jump: 32 inches

3-cone drill: 7.47 seconds

20-yard shuttle: 4.42 seconds

60-yard shuttle: 12.48 seconds

2016 stats: Harris finished second on the team with 61 tackles (35 solo) and led the Tigers with 12.0 tackles for loss and 9.0 sacks while adding two passes broken up and two forced fumbles over 12 games played. Despite Missouri finishing just 4-8 in 2016, Harris' individual performance earned him Second-Team All-SEC honors from league coaches.

Hot take: According to CBS Sports, "whether out of the two or three point stance, Harris fires off the ball, giving would-be blockers a legitimate speed threat to worry about. His burst forces tackles wide and Harris complements his speed with an effective spin counter back inside, showing lateral agility and balance." 

CBS Sports also noted Harris "lacks the ideal length and twitchy change of direction that gives top NFL offensive tackles problems. He played heavier in 2016 and lost some of the quickness which made him so productive. Lacks the bulk to play regularly inside at the NFL level."

6. Carl Lawson

Auburn, Junior, 6-foot-2, 261 pounds 

Combine numbers

40-yard dash:* *4.67 seconds

Bench press: 35 reps of 225 pounds

Vertical jump: 33 inches

Braod jump: 9 feet, 6 inches

3-cone drill: 7.46 seconds

20-yard shuttle: 4.19 seconds

2016 stats: Started all 13 games; recorded 28 tackles with 12.5 tackles for loss and 9.0 sacks; First-Team All-American (FWAA, Phil Steele); First-Team All-SEC (coaches, Phil Steele); Second-Team All-SEC selection by Associated Press; semifinalist for Bednarik and Lombardi Award

Hot take: According to Rob Rang of NFL.com, "while shorter than scouts would prefer for an edge rusher, Lawson's compact, powerful build makes him a difficult draw for opposing linemen. He possesses the explosive burst to challenge the corner and can overwhelm would-be blockers with strength as a bull-rusher once he senses them leaning."

According to Rang, "while powerfully-built, Lawson lacks ideal height and length, limiting his potential to impact passing lanes, as his zero career passes defensed and blocked kicks suggest. Further, while swift in a straight-line, Lawson does not show ideal flexibility when turning the corner or changing directions."

7. Jordan Willis

Kansas State, Senior, 6-foot-4, 255 pounds

Combine numbers

40-yard dash:* *4.53 seconds

Bench press: 24 reps of 225 pounds

Vertical jump: 39 inches

Broad jump: 10 feet, 5 inches

3-cone drill: 6.85 seconds

20-yard shuttle: 4.28 seconds

2016 stats: started all 13 games; recorded 52 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks; Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year; Second-Team All-American selection by Sporting News; Third-Team All-American honoree from the Associated Press and Phil Steele; Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year by the league's coaches; First-Team All-Big 12 performer by the coaches and Associated Press

Hot take: According to Dane Brugler of CBS Sports, Willis is "built for the NFL game with his developed physique and long arms. Strong hands to engage and toss at the point of attack. Not only has long arms, but understands how to use his reach to extend, drive his feet and create push. Calculated with his initial punch to break the rhythm of blockers."

According to Brugler, Willis is a "stiff, upright rusher with mechanical movements in space. Ordinary edge acceleration and not a true speed rusher. Rounds off the edge and often over-runs the pocket, going the long way to the quarterback." 

8. Tarell Basham

Ohio, Senior, 6-foot-4, 269 pounds

Combine numbers

40-yard dash:* *4.70 seconds

Bench press: 15 reps of 225 pounds

Vertical jump: 31.5 inches

Broad jump: 9 feet, 1 inch

3-cone drill: 7.27 seconds

20-yard shuttle: 4.35 seconds

2016 stats: started all 14 games; recorded 50 tackles and a team-high 16.0 tackles for loss with 11.5 sacks; Mid-American Conference Defensive Player of the Year; First-Team All-MAC selection

Hot take: According to CBS Sports, Basham "looks the part of an NFL edge rusher with broad shoulders and a v-shaped frame. He shows terrific initial quickness off the ball, surging out of his stance and dipping with his shoulder to get underneath the reach of tackles and immediately threaten the corner."

CBS Sports also noted "Basham was a man amongst boys in the MAC but will need to gain more strength to duplicate his success in the NFL. He is overly reliant at this time on his speed and agility and must incorporate a better bull rush to his game."

9.Derek Rivers**

Youngstown State, Senior, 6-foot-4, 248 pounds

Combine numbers

40-yard dash: 4.61 seconds

Bench press: 30 reps of 225 pounds

Vertical jump: 35 inches

Broad jump: 10 feet, 3 inches

3-cone drill: 6.94 seconds

20-yard shuttle: 4.40 seconds

60-yard shuttle: 12.43 seconds

2016 stats: started all 16 games; recorded 58 total tackles with 19.5 tackles for loss and 14 sacks and a forced fumble; Second-Team All-American selection by Associated Press; finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award for the nation's top FCS Defensive Player; First-Team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference selection for the third straight season

Hot take: According to Dane Brugler of CBS Sports, Rivers is a "flexible athlete with natural bend to dip around the corner. Easy burst off the edge. Extends with a quick punch to engage and create spacing while maintaining his balance and low pad level. Uses his hands well to fend off counter jabs, showing various snatch and rip techniques."

Brugler also noted Rivers is "slightly undersized frame and lacks ideal length. Doesn't have the upper body power to press blockers off his frame and can be engulfed by wide-based blockers. Tends to get lost on inside runs and can be sealed from lanes."

10. DeMarcus Walker

Florida State, Senior, 6-foot-4, 280 pounds

Combine numbers

Bench press: 18 reps of 225 pounds

2016 stats: totaled 68 tackles (46 solo) with 21.5 tackles for loss; recorded 4.5 sacks in the season-opener against Mississippi; ranked second in FBS with 16 sacks; added three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries and a blocked extra point attempt; named as consensus All-American; earned First-Team All-ACC honors; finalist for Hendricks Award and semifinalist for Lombardi Award; named as team's Defensive MVP

Hot take: According to Lance Zierlein of CBS Sports, Walker "ties quick swim move to his jump-step in order to climb over top of pass protection. Attempts to play past the blocker rather than giving in. Always searching for new opening when original rush move is stymied. When rush stalls, he spies quarterback and gets hand in alleys."

Zierlein also noted Walker has an "inconsistent motor. Allows backside tackle opportunities to escape his grasp when he's not hustling. Range as a tackler is average. A step slow when sliding down line to constrict cutback lanes. Needs to show quicker feet."

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