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2015 NFL Draft defensive tackle rankings: Leonard Williams leads a bumper crop

There are a handful of defensive tackles who could get taken in the first round this year, and the risk with them is minimal.

There is a belief that defensive tackle is one of the riskier positions in the first round, but since 2010 that's mostly proven to be untrue. Sure, there are some disappointing players, but there are far more hits than misses at the position. That should bode well for this year's class of big-body defensive linemen.

At the top of the list is Leonard Williams of Southern California, the best player in the draft. Some have discounted Williams' impact early last season or knocked his pass rush skills. But don't forget that he played most of last season injured and still had 80 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks. Williams is a dominating force up front who can manhandle offensive linemen.

This may not be a popular choice, but I prefer Florida State's Eddie Goldman to Washington's Danny Shelton for the second spot among defensive tackles. It's razor-thin, but Goldman is the more athletic player and has more than enough power. There's a lot a team can do with Goldman, either having him play two gaps or use his athleticism and quickness to create pressure. Shelton is a similarly high-level talent. He can play nose in the NFL and is scheme transcendent. Despite playing at or near 340 pounds, Shelton is surprisingly athletic and played an incredible number for snaps for Washington last season. Shelton is nearly a top 12 lock.

After those three, Malcom Brown of Texas looks like a first-round lock as well. He's uniquely active for a defensive tackle and has a lot of range to chase after the ball carrier. Defensive tackles like Jordan Phillips of Oklahoma and Carl Davis of Iowa are also in the first-round consideration.

Under the radar: In 2013, there was rumbles of Rice's Christian Covington being a likely top 100 pick in the draft. He was slowed by left knee injuries last season, but has a nice combination of agility and quickness.

Position grade: A-

1. Leonard Williams, 6’4 5/8, 302 pounds, DT, Southern California
2. Eddie Goldman, 6'4, 320 pounds, DT, Florida State
3. Danny Shelton, 6'1 3/4, 343 pounds, DT, Washington
4. Malcom Brown, 6'2, 320 pounds, DT, Texas
5. Jordan Phillips, 6'6, 334 pounds, DT, Oklahoma
6. Carl Davis, 6'4 5/8, 321 pounds, DT, Iowa
7. Michael Bennett, 6'2, 288 pounds, DT, Ohio State
8. Grady Jarrett, 6'0 7/8, 288 pounds, DT, Clemson
9. Ellis McCarthy, 6’5, 325 pounds, DT, UCLA
10. Xavier Cooper, 6’4, 299 pounds, DT, Washington State
11. Marcus Hardison, 6'3 1/8, 311 pounds, DT, Arizona State
12. Joey Mbu, 6'2 3/4, 315 pounds, DT, Houston
13. Christian Covington, 6’2, 289 pounds, DT, Rice
14. Rakeem Nunez-Roches, 6'2 1/4, 307 pounds, DT, Southern Miss
15. Terry Williams, 6’1, 353 pounds, DT, East Carolina
16. Gabe Wright, 6'2 7/8, 299 pounds, DT, Auburn
17. Tyeler Davison, 6’1 5/8, 316 pounds, DT, Fresno State
18. Xavier Williams, 6’2, 309 pounds, DT, Northern Iowa
19. Darius Philon, 6’1 3/8, 298 pounds, DT, Arkansas
20. Louis Trinca-Pasat, 6'1 1/4, 291 pounds, DT, Iowa
21. Leon Orr, 6’4 7/8, 323 pounds, DT, Florida
22. Kaleb Eulls, 6'4, 295 pounds, DT, Mississippi State
23. Leterrius Walton, 6'5, 319 pounds, DT, Central Michigan
24. Chucky Hunter, 6'0 1/8, 298 pounds, DT, TCU
25. Derek Lott, 6’4, 314 pounds, DT, Tennessee-Chattanooga
26. James Castleman, 6'2 3/4, 311 pounds, DT, Oklahoma State
27. Darius Kilgo, 6'3 5/8, 320 pounds, DT, Maryland
28. Bobby Richardson, 6’3, 286 pounds, DT, Indiana
29. Davon Walls, 6’4 3/8, 301 pounds, DT, Lincoln
30. Angelo Blackson, 6’4 3/8, 318 pounds, DT, Auburn
31. David Parry, 6’2, 300 pounds, DT, Stanford
32. Warren Herring, 6'3, 294 pounds, DT, Wisconsin
33. Brandon Ivory, 6'4, 308 pounds, DT, Alabama