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These guys will be brought in to plug up the hole in the defensive line and be a forceful run stopper. Today I rank the top five defensive tackle prospects for the upcoming NFL Draft.
1. Jordan Davis- Georgia
Bio: Despite not playing football until his junior year of high school, Jordan Davis was able to immediately as a true freshman at Georgia. By his senior season, he established himself as a dominant defensive tackle by winning both the Outland Trophy and the Chuck Bednarik Award while helping the Bulldogs to a National Championship victory.
Strengths: Beefy, monstrous nose tackle with the size and power to clog up lanes and should require at least two blockers at any given time. Assignment oriented, but could thrive in most schemes. Squares up single blocks and tosses linemen aside. Very fluid through the edge when positioning is on point. Pure strength to drive through smaller guards and centers. Agile enough to shed blocks and still make a play in the gap. Has shown he can beat double team blocks. Accurate hand strikes into the blocker's pads. Swats away opponents hands and slides past. Won't ever find him on the ground. Pure size will overwhelm some linemen. Must be game planned for.
Weaknesses: Occasional leverage issues due to his height. Legs are a little stiff when moving laterally. First step off the snap is a tad slow. Lacks knee bend to be a consistent bull rusher. Can be redirected due to lack of leverage when rushing. Slow change of direction speed. Hasn't shown he can disengage and tackle instantly.
Pro Comparison: John Henderson
Projected Round: 1
Possible Landing Spot: Philadelphia Eagles
2. Logan Hall- Houston
Bio: Only receiving three FBS offers due to his smaller frame, Logan Hall chose to play at Houston where he saw playing time immediately as a defensive end. By his senior season he developed into an ideal defensive tackle's body and was named first team All-AAC.
Strengths: Steadily grew into frame with room for more added mass. Good burst off the snap. Generates power from hips to hands into initially contact. Can bull rush, turn, or toss blockers. Decent pursuit speed in the open field. Fluid spin move to get free from blocks in the run game. Keeps feet driving as a pass rusher. Aggressive hand swipes and nimble feet clear the edge. Swims past linemen to the ball carrier. Looks for blocker's edge instead of staying bottled up. Capable of playing 4-3 tackle or 3-4 end.
Weaknesses: May take time to find ideal position. High cut build with stiff lower half. Struggles to maintain leverage and control his assignment. Too passive forcing contact and shedding blocks. Erratic and lacks necessary body control. Neutralized by double team blocks. Gets redirected on counter rushes due to leg stiffness. Rush attack lacks smooth flow.
Pro Comparison: Margus Hunt
Projected Round: 1-2
Possible Landing Spot: Detroit Lions
3. Phidarian Mathis- Alabama
Bio: After redshirting as a true freshman, Phidarian Mathis made it to the All-SEC freshman team the following year. He honed in his skills as a pass rusher as a senior with nine sacks in 2021 and was named a second team All-American.
Strengths: Was the team's permanent captain for 2021. Incredible combination of mass and length. Instant ground to shoulders hand placement off the snap. Can punch and disengage with one or both hands. Three position versatility in any defensive scheme. In sync hand and feet to strike and shift laterally. Two gap tackle with skillset to stay home against inside runs. Collapses the pocket with bull rush or edge moves. Non stop motor and tenacious play style gives him value on obvious passing downs.
Weaknesses: Limited range away from the line. Poor at getting to the spot on reach plays. Struggles to keep the pace on wide, outside runs. Response to down blocks needs to be more consistent. Early block shed gives smart runners a chance to improvise. Takes time to gather himself after strikes from stronger blockers. Upfield rush his missing the necessary quickness for the edge.
Pro Comparison: Derrick Brown
Projected Round: 2
Possible Landing Spot: Las Vegas Raiders
4. Devonte Wyatt- Georgia
Bio: After spending a season in junior college, Devonte Wyatt signed on at Georgia and played in 25 games over his first two seasons. As a senior, he was a second team All-American while helping the Bulldogs to a National Championship victory.
Strengths: Initial strike is accurate and powerful. Lateral quickness to get past blocker and onto the ball carrier. Utilizes arm swim to penetrate the gap. Quickly finds the ball carrier in two gap sets. Motor to stay active and is always looking to make the play. Urgently looks to get into blockers edge. Lower body strength to bulldoze through redirect moves. Surprising change of direction agility around the pocket.
Weaknesses: Below average length and shows up in his pass rush. Burst at the line is just average. Bad habit of dropping head into contact. Lacks base to consistently handle down blocks. Hands and block shed quickness need refinement. Rush energy slows downs when strong punches land in his frame. Missing rush moves to constantly win.
Pro Comparison: Larry Ogunjobi
Projected Round: 2
Possible Landing Spot: Dallas Cowboys
5. Travis Jones- Connecticut
Bio: Arriving at Connecticut in 2018, Travis Jones took on a big role at nose tackle in his first two seasons. By his senior season, he developed skills as a pass rusher with 4.5 sacks.
Strengths: Good length with giant hands. Wide body built to man the middle. Lost nearly 25 pounds to improve flexibility. Core strength to press and stabilize when setting edges. Controls gap as nose tackle. Looks into the backfield and utilizes counters to toss aside blockers. Traits to elevate his game even further. Power to fight through seal blocks that try to neutralize him. Most centers will need guard help to block him. Overwhelming bull rush.
Weaknesses: Heavy footed. Not very quick off the snap and into contact. Fails to gain control early with hand placement. Hand and leverage technique needs coached up. Erratic awareness and and reach against zone schemes. Lacks a plan of attack against pressure from down blocks. Average hip fluidity to setup anchor against double teams. Hands and feet aren't in harmony. Lacks agility to get into blockers edge.
Pro Comparison: Eddie Goldman
Projected Round: 2-3
Possible Landing Spot: Green Bay Packers
Other Notable Prospects
John Ridgeway- Arkansas
- Tackle machine, lacks burst off the ball
Perrion Winfrey- Oklahoma
- Explosive athleticism, lacks disciplined run game plan
Otito Ogbonnia- UCLA
- Natural girth nose tackle, poor balance
Matthew Butler- Tennessee
- Coached up hands, stiff lower body
Christopher Hinton- Michigan
- NFL bloodlines, struggles maintaining leverage
Zachary Carter- Florida
- Active hands, undersized and lacks room for more growth
Thomas Booker- Stanford
- carries weight well, poor lower half fluidity
Eyioma Uwazurike- Iowa State
- Versatile lineman, over leaner
Josh Paschal- Kentucky
- Strong finisher, tweener frame
Haskell Garrett- Ohio State
- Reliable anchor, poor lateral mover
DJ Davidson- Arizona State
- Wide frame and good core strength, lacks athleticism
Neil Farrell Jr- LSU
- Good initial quickness, short arms
Matt Henningsen- Wisconsin
- Naturally strong, poor burst and body control
LaBryan Ray- Alabama
- Capable of playing across the line, injury history
Tayland Humphrey- Louisiana
- Enormous build, high leverage
Marquan McCall- Kentucky
- Blasts off the ball, weight management issues
Damion Daniels- Nebraska
- Natural knee bender, lacks instincts
Jayden Peevy- Texas A&M
- Long frame, inconsistent play
Dion Novil- North Texas
- Stout frame, average quickness
Glen Logan- LSU
- Good size and length, limited to run downs
Kevin Atkins- Fresno State
- Darkhorse prospect, lacks ideal length
Ralfs Rusins- Liberty
- Long and athletic, still raw