Category: Defensive Tackle

DT Trysten Hill, Central Florida*

6’3” – 308 lbs. – 5.04
Has been a defensive line starter since his first season with the Knights, starting all thirteen games in 2016 and posting 15-5.0-1.0. Started along the line again the following year and went 20-4.5-2.0. Was only a one-game starter as a junior but enjoyed his best season, going 36-10.5-3.0 before declaring for the draft. Big defensive lineman with solid length (just under 33.5”) and 10.25” hands; may be a little shorter than teams like if considered as a five-technique. Often lined up right over the center as a zero-technique, but would play in the A-gap as well; plays on the end when the team goes into an odd defensive front. Physical, high-motor player who provided energy and disruptiveness in the defensive line rotation. Explodes out of the stance with good leverage and is capable of overpowering opposing offensive line and barreling into the backfield on slants, blowing up rushing attempts before they start. Does a good job of anticipating snap counts and getting quick penetration. Too aggressive to be considered a read-and-react player, but gets good extension with his arms and has strong, heavy hands to stack and shed. Good lower-body strength to dig in at the line of scrimmage. Has sound instincts to flow toward the play direction and is a pretty good athlete when scraping down the line to defend off-tackle runs; can sometimes lose track of the ballcarrier, however. Would like to see a little bit more discipline in his run fits; some tendency to overpursue. Offers a good combination of power and activity as a pass-rusher, although he has just six career sacks. Creative with good technique in his hands. In addition to his bull-rush, rip, and swipe moves, also flashes a violent spin move with clear potential and was also asked to run twists and try to find outside rushing lanes. Was able to draw some additional attention on passing downs, creating opportunities for others. Chases quarterbacks who flee the pocket but may not be quite fast enough to finish his rushes with sacks. Considered to potentially have some maturity/coachability concerns. Has just one year of high-level production under his belt but looks like a real handful who combines snap-count anticipation, an explosive first step, a varied approach, and most importantly plenty of power. Currently looks like he might not come off the board until the mid-rounds, but has the potential to outperform that. Sleeper.

DT Terry Beckner Jr., Missouri

6’4” – 296 lbs. – 5.19
Five-star recruit who started five of ten games but sustained a season-ending torn ACL and MCL in his right knee, then tore his other ACL seven games into the following season. Posted 27-8.0-3.0 and 24-2.0-0.0 in those two campaigns, respectively. Finished his collegiate career with lines of 35-11.0-7.0 and 34-11.0-3.5, playing in thirteen games in each of the final two years. Tall three-technique with long arms and solid bulk; carries his weight well. Flashes impressive get-off at the line of scrimmage to threaten gaps, but reaction times are inconsistent. Gets good extension with his arms to lock out blockers. Has quick, active hands to prevent opponents from getting into his frame. Works different moves into his game; overhand swim move and swipe are two of his more effective moves, but uses a spin move as well. Frequently uses the spin as a way to disengage from opponents more than as a go-to move, but it may not be the most efficient option. Range is a little bit limited; more explosive in a short-area than fast in space and looks a little bit plodding at times. Nonetheless, has a wide tackling radius and enough strength to pursue and tackle ballcarriers between the tackles. Doesn’t seem like he always trusts his instincts, which can cause him to pull up and miss some opportunities. Aggressive gap-shooting can cause him to overpursue to commit prematurely. Needs to do a better job of staying square and preventing opponents from getting to his shoulder and driving him off the line. Appears to have enough power to threaten to collapse the pocket, but typically tries to shoot gaps with his initial quickness. Gets his hands up to contest passing lanes, although he only batted four passes over the course of his career. Pass-rush production fell off as a senior despite weighing ten pounds more during his junior year; sometimes, it seemed like opposing linemen found it too easy to push him past the passer. Reportedly has good character, but was arrested and suspended in 2016 after being caught with marijuana. A very highly-regarded recruit with an interesting combination of size, length, quickness, and hand-use, but who really only produced at a high level for one year in college and who will have to undergo thorough medical evaluations at the Combine in order to investigate the structural integrity of both of his knees. Consequently, runs the risk of being lost in what is considered a particularly deep defensive tackle class.

DT Renell Wren, Arizona St.

6’5” – 318 lbs. – 5.01
Was actually a 230-pound weakside defensive end recruit in high school. Redshirted, then appeared in four games as a freshman. Rotated into the defense over the following two seasons, totaling a combined 37-9.0-2.0 over that span. Became more of a full-time starter as a senior and went 43- to conclude his collegiate career. Massive defensive lineman with an excellent combination of size, bulk, and length; really looks the part. Was usually playing as a zero-technique nose tackle in the team’s odd base defense, although he also played some one-technique when they went with four down linemen. Offers plenty of brute force. Surprisingly explosive off the line, with good ability to anticipate/react to the ball being snapped. Is able to convert that explosiveness into power to walk back opposing linemen with his bull-rush, keeping his legs churning to reset the line of scrimmage. Arm extension is a little bit inconsistent. Capable of anchoring at the line of scrimmage and functioning as a read-and-react player. Has heavy hands to ragdoll blockers. However, tends to stand up instead of firing out, and pad level is too high as a result; was able to compensate with pure size and strength at the college level but as a very tall nose tackle, could become an issue at the pro level. Could stand to improve awareness of the ballcarrier while engaged. Plays with a high motor. However, as his (lack of) production indicates, isn’t a very dynamic pass-rusher despite his above-average athleticism. Can be a handful with his bull-rush, driving back centers like blocking sleds, but is more likely to create congestion in the pocket than find clear lanes to the passer. Comes from a team with two-gap principles, so there wasn’t a lot of gap-shooting on tape, and he uses a straightforward power-based approach on passing downs. Willing to give some pursuit toward the sidelines on screens. Still a very raw prospect who has a straightforward approach to the game, but comes with pro-ready size and strength and should be a highly sought-after commodity for odd defensive fronts with two-gap principles. Pro projection might be interesting, as he played the nose in college but his frame might be better-suited to a five-technique defensive end in those schemes. Looks like a solid candidate to come off the board on the draft’s second day.

DT Quinnen Williams, Alabama**

6’3” – 303 lbs. – 4.83
Arrived weighing 285 pounds and after redshirting, rotated into the defense, recording 20-6.5-2.0. Broke out this past year, posting 71-19.5-8.0 with twelve hurries, then decided to declare for the draft. Tall, well-built defensive lineman who often played nose tackle on Alabama’s line regardless of whether they were using three or four down linemen; has a little bit of a different build than your typical nose, so some teams may view him as more of a five-technique on an odd line. Very capable run defender who physically overwhelms opponents and executes Nick Saban’s two-gap, read-and-react defensive fronts effectively. Has good functional strength to anchor when run at, but can also attack blockers with his bull rush and use brute force to reset the line. Does a good job of extending his arms to lock out opposing linemen. Disciplined player who can keep his head up, read keys, and flow toward the ball, with heavy hands to shed blockers at the appropriate time in order to make tackles; good awareness and technique, especially considering that he’s only a redshirt sophomore with essentially one year of starting experience. Has the length and strong grip to bring down ballcarriers while engaged, with a wide radius. Not quite the explosive athlete that his eye-popping production would indicate, but comes out of his stance low, which is important given his height. More sudden once he gets going, with active hands and the strength to create pressure on the inside. Works an overhand swim move into his game and flashes the ability to squeeze through double teams and get into the backfield; frequency with which he found a lane to the quarterback was especially surprising considering that he frequently drew double-teams from opposing lines. Can walk back interior linemen with his bull-rush when left one-on-one, preventing quarterbacks from stepping into throws. Able to get depth on his rushes and spin back to the passer. Impressive fluidity when pursuing quarterbacks. Currently projected to be one of the top prospects off the board, and for good reason: has pro-ready size and strength, and comes ready to control blockers in the run game and create pressure on the inside in the passing game; projects as a potential every-down nose tackle, a rarity at the pro level. Consistently puts himself in position to make plays and looked unstoppable at times even against regular double-teams. Lacks the eye-popping first step of fellow top prospect Ed Oliver but might be a more well-rounded prospect overall.

DT Kingsley Keke, Texas A&M

6’3” – 288 lbs. – 4.95
Recorded eight tackles as a reserve during his freshman season, then started the last nine games of his sophomore season, finishing with a 37-7.0-4.0 line. Retained his starting job over the two subsequent seasons to conclude his career, posting 54-2.5-1.0 and 51-11.0-7.5. Thickly-built lineman who spent this past season playing as a five-technique on the end of A&M’s three-man defensive fronts; also has excellent length with 34.5” arms. Slow reaction to the ball being snapped; frequently the last player off the line of scrimmage. However, once he gets going, looks like a talented player with a good combination of power and suddenness. Has a strong bull-rush with good leg drive to generate push as a two-gapper, resetting the line of scrimmage. Not strictly a one-trick pony, with a nice-looking swim move that he works into his game from time to time to penetrate. Flashes a violent spin move (see sack against North Carolina St. this past year). Light on his feet, with pretty strong hands to shed blockers (if not the most active). Was asked to slide inside on some obvious passing downs to create pressure from the outside. In pursuit, redirects well and looks like a pretty good athlete in space for his size to force quarterbacks out of the pocket and chase them toward the sidelines. When he’s not able to reach the quarterback, is pretty consistent about getting his hands up to contest passing lanes. Instincts aren’t where you’d think they’d be given his extensive starting experience. Has some trouble locating; gets fooled too often by misdirection and flows in the wrong direction or gets washed down the line of scrimmage. Would like to see him set a harder edge instead of going horizontal and creating gaps for opposing running backs. Looks better when he’s able to get aggressive than he does digging in near the line of scrimmage; can also be ground down by double-teams. Effort level waxes and wanes. Was able to put himself back on the map this past season after a relatively unproductive junior year and will attract some interest because of his combination of size, strength, and suddenness, but there are enough holes in his game regarding his ability to locate, his discipline in run fits, and his motor to cause him to slip into the third day of the draft.

DT Khalen Saunders, Western Illinois

6’0” – 324 lbs. – 5.01
Redshirted, then played heavily in thirteen games the following season, posting 27-4.5-2.5 for the Leathernecks. Stepped into the starting lineup the following year, posting 48-5.0-1.5, then enjoyed two productive campaigns to conclude his career (57-12.0-7.5 and 72-13.0-6.5). Thick, compact defensive tackle with excellent bulk but just adequate height and length (32.25” arms). Tended to line up in either the A-gap as the team’s left defensive tackle, or as a zero technique over the center in each of the games reviewed; projects as a pro nose tackle in either type of defensive front. Does a good job of two-gapping in the run game, which was his primary responsibility in school. Demonstrates solid instincts/recognition skills to flow toward the ball in the run game, gets good extension with his arms to keep opposing blockers at bay, and does a good job of holding the point of attack as he flows toward the ballcarrier. Has strength in his hands to shed blocks at the appropriate time in order to make tackles. Not the fastest player, but exhibits a good motor to pursue the play horizontally, although his overall range is still limited. Wasn’t asked to shoot gaps too often in the run game, but flashed the ability to disrupt attempts with his overhead swim move. More likely to dig in at the line of scrimmage than to reset it with his bull-rush. Stayed on the field for passing downs in college and uses a pretty diverse approach as a pass-rusher, mixing in different moves rather than relying on a strict bull-rush approach. Doesn’t really have the first step to threaten gaps after the ball is snapped, instead relying on those moves or his ability to find an open lane to the passer. Appears to lack the type of closing burst to finish his rushes at the pro level, which may limit him to creating pressure rather than picking up sacks. Consequently, might end up as more of a rotational run-stuffer type than an every-down option. A prospect whose raw bulk, strength, and ability to hold the point as a two-gapper should earn him interest even in a class which features plenty of intriguing defensive line talent, he will look to follow in the footsteps of recent small-school nose tackles such as Javon Hargrave, a 2016 third-round pick.

DT Jerry Tillery, Notre Dame

6’7” – 295 lbs. – 4.93
Started three of twelve games played as a freshman, then spent the last three seasons as a full-time starter, posting 37-3.0-0.0, 56-9.0-4.5, and 30-10.5-8.0 over the past three seasons, respectively. Massive defensive lineman who plays different techniques on the inside for the Irish; projects as more of a nose tackle in an even defensive front, or potentially a five-technique on a three-man defensive line. Typically effective but inconsistent run defender who plays the game with a physical, aggressive demeanor. Primarily a two-gapper, and is probably best-suited to that type of defensive front at the next level because of his size and strength. Flashes the ability to fire out of his stance low and with explosiveness. Exhibits the raw power to reset the line of scrimmage. Generates pop on contact and keeps his legs driving afterward. Capable of dropping the anchor and digging in against double-teams, or even splitting them to penetrate into the backfield. Has the short-area quickness to threaten gaps as more of a penetrator when he’s hot. On less successful snaps, could do a better job of extending his arms and keeping his head up and his shoulders square; too many clumsy movements or snaps where he drops his head and loses track of the ball. Needs to wrap the ballcarrier more consistently. Pass-rushing production escalated over the course of his career; was on the field for a lot of third-down plays during the games reviewed. Above-average athlete for his size. Motor can wax and wane; can be seen idling around the line of scrimmage a little bit too much. Go-to move is a violent bull-rush, but can also grab opponents and ragdoll them. Does a good job of mixing up his rushes; not a major threat to get immediate penetration off the snap, but can collapse the pocket or disrupt opposing quarterbacks. Draws a lot of double-teams from opposing lines, creating opportunities for teammates. Has a good feel for sliding and locating clear paths to the passer. However, nearly a third of his career sacks came in one game (Stanford, four sacks in 2018). Has one of the highest ceilings of any defensive line prospect in this year’s class, with an excellent combination of size, power, and physicality. However, there are some instances in which he looks a little bit stilted and clunky, and technical problems which he’ll have to clean up. Looks like a top-ten pick in some games and just a guy in others.

DT Jeffery Simmons, Mississippi St.*

6’4” – 310 lbs. – N/A
Was a defensive end recruit out of high school, but has played defensive tackle throughout his collegiate career. Posted 39-2.5-0.0 as a freshman, starting three of twelve games played, then went 60-12.0-5.0 as a sophomore and 63-17.0-2.0 as a junior before declaring for the draft. Also blocked three kicks as a sophomore. Tall, thickly-built defensive tackle who has good weight distribution and really looks the part. Plays some different techniques and in different fronts; lined up at both tackle spots in even fronts and played both the nose and on the end of three-man lines. Probably projects best as a nose tackle on a four-man line. Disruptive player who made a lot of stops in opposing backfields over the past two years. Comes from a two-gap defensive front and has the lower-body strength to anchor at the line of scrimmage against power. Disciplined in his run fits. Does a good job of holding up against double teams. Gets good extension with his arms and can scrape down the line. Has heavy, active hands to shed blockers and make tackles. Gives pretty good effort in pursuit but may not really have the top-end speed to make many tackles outside the tackles. Balance issues crop up occasionally, especially when his shoulders aren’t square. Gives pretty good effort as a pass-rusher; played in a defense which incorporated some stunts and twists. Isn’t the most explosive player but can threaten to penetrate into the backfield with his swim move; good overall level of activity with his hands. When he is able to time the snap count, can get push with his bull-rush. There can be a little bit too much waste in his pass-rushing approach as he stutter-steps near the line of scrimmage looking for lanes instead of using his first step to threaten. Character will require serious investigation after video emerged of him pummeling a woman in 2016; other considered a good student who is active in the community, but many teams will likely cross him off of their board. Also tore his ACL recently and may need to begin his career on PUP. Offers two-gap run-stuffing ability out of the box, and has the tools to potentially stay on the field for some third downs in the future. Based on his tape alone, would seem like a solid candidate to come off the board in the first round, but his draft stock is a bit of a question mark because of the aforementioned character and injury issues.

DT Greg Gaines, Washington

6’1” – 312 lbs. – 5.16
Redshirted, then started six of thirteen games the following year (28-1.0-0.0) before taking on a full-time starting role as a sophomore and maintaining that throughout the remainder of his collegiate career, posting lines of 35-8.0-3.5, 30-5.0-2.5, and 55-6.5-3.5. Very heavy nose tackle with a massive torso and somewhat uneven distribution, appearing as though he’s ready to burst; seemingly carrying even more weight than it seems like his frame can handle. Projects as a zero-technique, but Washington’s defense often varies its fronts and even goes with a two-man line on a regular basis, so he played some different techniques. High-motor player with good stamina for someone his size. A lot quicker off the line of scrimmage that his size would indicate; has the ability to anticipate snap counts, get off the line pretty quickly, and use his suddenness and a swim move to penetrate into the backfield. Of course, his main value is as a run-stuffing, two-gap nose tackle, and as his size would indicate, has little trouble holding his ground against single blockers and even some double teams; does a good job of getting low, extending his arms, and digging in. Able to reset the line of scrimmage and create congestion on interior rushing attempts. Gives good effort in pursuit and can even make some tackles toward the sidelines if runners are funneled back inside when he’s chasing. However, could do a better job of keeping his head up to locate the ball, as he can miss out on some opportunities to shed blocks and make tackles by losing track of runners. Not the most active with his hands and tends to make tackles while engaged instead of discarding blockers. Length appears to be below-average, and balance issues sometimes crop up, possibly in an attempt to compensate. More of a threat to generate pressure than to finish his rushes with sacks, but has a little bit of variety to his rushes and can either walk back opposing centers with his bull rush or even threaten the gaps a little bit. The Huskies have a reputation for churning out massive space-eaters with underrated athleticism, and Gaines is cut from the same cloth. He’s not as freakish an athlete or as naturally-built as past alumni such as Danny Shelton or Vita Vea, but it wouldn’t be too surprising if he came off the board on the second day and worked his way into the starting lineup of a team which uses two-gap principles and a three-man defensive line.

DT Gerald Willis III, Miami (FL)

6’2” – 302 lbs. – N/A
Originally attended Florida. Appeared in eight games as a freshman (14-0.5-0.0), then was dismissed from the team; redshirted the subsequent season after transferring to Miami. Appeared in nine games as a redshirt sophomore (19-5.5-1.5), missing time due to a suspension and torn MCL, for which he underwent surgery. Missed the 2017 season to take a leave of absence, then enjoyed a productive senior campaign (59-18.0-4.0) to conclude his collegiate career. Has a solid combination of height and bulk for a pro three-technique, and carries his weight very well; also takes some snaps at other techniques, including the nose. One-gapper who can disrupt opposing rushing attempts when he chooses correctly, or allow himself to be sealed out of the play when he’s wrong; instincts are still a work in progress. Was able to blow up a lot of attempts this past season, but there’s a distinct feast-or-famine quality to his run defense which may irritate coaches who are looking for more disciplined play. Looks athletic in space and gives pretty good effort in pursuit toward the sidelines. Can scrape down the line or play laterally and flow toward the ball. Plays with a good motor/level of intensity and stays on the field on passing downs. Very impressive suddenness off the line of scrimmage, which allows him to penetrate into the backfield and create pressure in the passing game. Able to get low and walk back interior linemen to collapse the pocket with power; can be a handful to deal with given his impressive functional strength. Active with his hands, with a swim move being his go-to; doesn’t give up on a rush when his primary move is unsuccessful, but it would be nice to see a more varied initial approach. Was asked to run a lot of stunts at the college level and is a good fit for that type of role. Multiple suspensions, dismissal from Florida, and leave of absence in 2017 will make him the subject of a rigorous character evaluation. Reportedly had anger issues in the past; says his leave of absence was due to personal/family issues. A one-year wonder who has a lot of the traits teams look for in a penetrating defensive tackle, but who represents a pretty significant gamble relative to other high-end prospects. Well-suited to the modern game, the level of comfort teams have with his character will ultimately play a vital role in determining how high he goes in the draft.