If Demarcus Ware (Cowboys) and Shawne Merriman (Chargers) count as outside linebackers, the position both rookies currently play in the NFL, the 2005 draft did not see a defensive lineman come off the board in the first 15 selections.
Florida State DT Travis Johnson (Texans) was the first, at pick No. 16, and only five other defensive linemen followed him in the the first round. While the 2006 defensive line class does not compare to the record-setting group in 2003 (11 first-round picks), it has potential to be a much more fruitful class than last year's, with as many as nine players hoping to be selected in the first round.
As far as the seniors are concerned, Boston College DE Mathias Kiwanuka remains the premier defensive line prospect. Kiwanuka has been a bit overwhelmed versus constant double-team attention this season and also has been battling through a lingering MCL sprain (knee) that stemmed from a chop-block he took against Virginia. However, Kiwanuka's past productivity and exceptional combination of size, speed and athletic ability give him the edge over the rest of the competition.
After Kiwanuka at the DE position, Florida State's Kamerion Wimbley, Penn State's Tamba Hali and Louisville's Elvis Dumervil are all potential first-round selections. Wimbley has always had the explosive athletic ability to emerge as a top pick, but it took until his senior season for him to put it all together. With seven sacks in as many games, Wimbley is soaring up the draft board.