Ranking the Prospects in the NFL Draft: Defensive Tackles
Like I said in the defensive end article, the defensive line is becoming increasingly important to NFL teams. Defensive tackle is becoming a very highly touted position with guys like Ndamokung Suh becoming game changers. This year’s class features a lot of guys who can contribute right away in what is a deep defensive tackle class.
1. Devon Still, Penn State- Still has definitely come on very strong this season, and to me will solidify his spot atop through the draft process. The top 3 DT’s on here are all capable of being the top one selected, but I believe Still will be the guy based on his consistency this season. Still is a massive 6’5, 310 pound defensive tackle that has shown his ability to penetrate through double teams all year. He is a destructive run stopper and has shown the ability to be a decent pass rusher as well.
2. Michael Brockers, LSU- Brockers is one of those picks based on potential, opposed to a production pick. He has great size at 6’6 and had a big blocked kick in the first game against Alabama. He is very active on the defensive front and can develop into a very nice run stuffing defensive tackle.
3. Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State- Cox is moving up boards after a very impressive end of the season. He ended up with 14.5 tackles for loss and 5 sacks. He could potentially be a 3-4 defensive end, because of his pass rushing abilities.
4. Dontari Poe, Memphis- Poe fits a growing need in the NFL, which is massive nose tackles. Poe is a monster at 6’5, 350. He could have a Phil Taylor like impact his rookie season, clogging running lanes up the middle with ease.
5. Brandon Thompson, Clemson- Thompson is a prototypical defensive tackle at 6-2, 310, and has finally showed that consistency many expected from him when he came to Clemson. Thompson is a penetrating run stuffer, but doesn’t feature any outstanding qualities like the guys above him, which is why I have him dropping to 5.
Guys on the outside looking in:
- Alameda Ta’amu, Washington- Like I said with Poe, a massive 3-4 nose tackle is becoming a necessity now that around half the league is running 14 a 3-4 defense. Ta’amu is not as big as Poe, but at 6-3, 330 pounds he presents a large almost immovable object on the line.
- Jared Crick, Nebraska- His injury this past season is an issue, but I think a team will overlook that and get a draft steal. He put up 9.5 sacks as a defensive tackle his sophomore and junior seasons. He’s a legit pass rusher from defensive tackle and if not for an injury would be ahead of Thompson.
- Derek Wolfe, Cincinnati- The two Cincy games I watched this past season, I expected to be impressed with their high flying offense, but it was Derek Wolfe, who continually caught my eye. He was constantly in the backfield and disrupting passes and racking up tackles. He finished with 70 tackles, 21.5 tackles for loss, and 9.5 sacks. He has a non-stop motor and is one of my personal favorite players in the draft.
- Jerel Worthy, Michigan State- I’ve never been a fan of him like Kiper and McShay are. I think he’ll be a bust. I’m probably wrong, but from the games I’ve watched Michigan State play, I’ve always come away unimpressed. He lets his emotions get the best of him and it can result in poor play and/or penalties.
- Mike Martin, Michigan- In the words of Michigan student and Taking Bad Schotz Writer/Editor Josh Langer, “Mike Martin is an absolute beast. He has set nearly every lifting record at the University of Michigan and has benched over 500 pounds. He faced double teams most of the year, so his numbers were lower. He was the leader of the defense, but he has had ankle problems over the past few years.”
- Kendall Reyes, UConn- Reyes has been a quick riser due to his impressive Senior Bowl. He had 13.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks for the Huskies this past season.