Tagged: Defensive Tackle

DT DANNY SHELTON, WASHINGTON

DT #71 DANNY SHELTON, WASHINGTON

6’2” – 332 lbs. – 5.35e

Massive nose tackle who usually lined up in the middle of Washington’s three-man fronts, but took snaps as a five-technique left defensive end as well; played the one-technique when the Huskies fielded an extra down lineman. Capable of using his sheer size and strength to overwhelm single blockers, with an initial jolt which can decisively determine engagements; demands additional attention from opposing offensive lines. Has a knack for wiggling between two blockers when faced with a double-team, although teams did indicate a willingness to attempt to engage him with a single blocker more often than might be expected given his physical attributes. Consistently holds his ground or resets the line of scrimmage in the run game, very rarely gives up ground to opposing blockers. Mentally-sound player who locates the ball well and avoids compromising his defense’s run fits by freelancing. Quality block-shedder who positions his hands well and is capable of tossing blockers aside quickly and exploding into contact on runners. Possesses the height and weight of a two-gap nose, but appears to lack ideal arm length, which constrains his ability to make tackles away from his frame; runners often slip out of his grasp. Also has a tendency to get a bit high in his stance, something which has not had a significant effect on his play in college, but might pose problems against pro linemen, who are physically and technically superior to their NCAA counterparts. However, should be considered a “plus” run defender who is capable of handling nose tackle responsibilities in any defensive scheme, preferably a two-gap 3-4. When attempting to penetrate into the backfield, employs an underrated swim move, mixing in a rip and a swim on occasion as well. Faster than his frame would seem to indicate, with the ability to put some pressure on quarterbacks, although perhaps not enough to pursue and finish his rushes; additionally, gives good effort and displays unexpected stamina on passing downs, but is likely only a two-down player at the next level. Does what he does well, but fills a role which is being increasingly marginalized in today’s game, as evidenced by Notre Dame nose tackle Louis Nix’s slide into the third round in 2014. Should benefit from the recent success of former Huskies nose tackle Alameda Ta’amu.

Games watched: Colorado (’13), Stanford (’13), UCLA (’13)

DT MICHAEL BENNETT, OHIO ST.

DT #63 MICHAEL BENNETT, OHIO ST.

6’2” – 288 lbs. – 5.15e

Was a first-year starter in 2013. Listed height and weight are barely adequate for a pro defensive tackle, but looks bigger on tape and may weigh in higher than expected at the Combine; however, doesn’t look like he has the frame to effectively handle much more bulk. Typically lined up as the three-technique under tackle in Ohio State’s defense, but has also lined up in the nose tackle spot on occasion; in three-man fronts, plays five-technique defensive end. Possesses a bit of a squat build and predictably does a nice job of staying lower than the offensive linemen he’s up against. Lack of ideal height and length should prevent him from receiving too much consideration from teams with 3-4 defenses, though. Lacks the elite first-step quickness of a top interior rusher, as he is often the last Buckeye off the line of scrimmage; more successful because of his leverage, power, and tenacity than because of his initial explosiveness. As a pass rusher, is capable of mixing in a few different moves, including spin and swim moves, but is most successful when he’s bull rushing his opponent; is more powerful than he looks and is capable of reestablishing the line of scrimmage or walking blockers back into the quarterback. Gives good effort on a consistent basis, even when faced with extra attention from blockers. Effective block-shedder thanks to his natural strength; can knock blockers off-balance with his initial punch and ragdoll them around to clear himself a path to the ball. In run defense, he flashes the ability to dig in against a double team, but can be driven off the ball on occasion. Looks more comfortable when he’s allowed to try and penetrate into the backfield than when he’s asked to hold his ground against double teams. Could exercise a bit more gap discipline; attempts to reach the backfield occasionally carry him out of his assigned area, opening a path for runners to easily maneuver through. Also appears to lose track of ballcarriers at times and miss opportunities to make tackles away from his frame. When in position, is a reliable wrap tackler who exhibits a high motor in pursuit versus the run; above-average range for the position. Much stronger and stouter than you’d expect given his measurables and could start at either 4-3 tackle spot.

Games watched: Northwestern (’13), Penn St. (’13), Wisconsin (’13)

DT AARON DONALD, PITTSBURGH

DONALD

6’1” – 285 lbs. – 4.68

STATISTICAL PROFILE:

2010: 11 – 3.0 – 2.0, 5 QBH, 2 PD
2011: 47 – 16.0 – 11.0, 11 QBH, 1 FF, 4 PD
2012: 64 – 18.5 – 5.5, 11 QBH, 1 FF, 2 PD
2013: 59 – 28.5 – 11.0, 16 QBH, 4 FF, 3 PD, 1 BK

OVERVIEW:

Appeared in all thirteen games in a reserve capacity as a freshman, then earned a starting job as a sophomore at defensive end in the Panthers’ 3-4 defense. Earned first-team all-conference honors in each of the two seasons afterward, as well as the Bednarik, Nagurski, and Outland awards as a senior defensive tackle.

POSITIVES:

  • Was perhaps the most productive defensive player in all of college football last season.
  • Somewhat compensates for lack of ideal bulk with relatively long arms for his height.
  • Freakish athlete who ranked near the top of the board in every major Combine workout.
  • Lined up at both defensive tackle in the 4-3 and defensive end in the 3-4 in college.
  • Does a good job of knifing into the opposing backfield; can win off the snap with burst.
  • Exhibits an impressive closing burst once he’s in range to make a tackle or a sack.
  • Also effective at bending the edge, redirects very smoothly for a defensive lineman.
  • Uses the bull-rush effectively to re-establish the line of scrimmage, strong on impact.
  • Mixes in a few other moves, most notably a swim move; has a diverse array of options.
  • High-motor player who took a ton of snaps and will pursue the play to its conclusion.

NEGATIVES:

  • Smaller than you’d like a defensive tackle or five-technique end to be; magnified in NFL.
  • Gap discipline is a bit lacking; can be too aggressive and gets washed past the hole.
  • Probably not someone who represents an ideal fit for teams seeking two-gap defenders.
  • Has a devastating initial move but doesn’t always get off of blocks if burst doesn’t work.
  • Despite being a shorter player, also tends to play a bit upright, doesn’t protect legs well.

SUMMARY:

Donald began this season considered by many to be a second-or-third-round pick, but enjoyed an outstanding senior campaign in which he earned virtually every major award possible, following with an incredible Combine performance which solidified his status as a likely first-round draft pick, perhaps as the second defensive lineman off the board following Jadeveon Clowney. A player who compensates for his lack of ideal size for either defensive tackle or five-technique defensive end with nearly unparalleled athleticism, tenacity, stamina, and variety as a rusher, Donald makes the most sense as a tackle/end ‘tweener for a team with one-gap principles and could come off the board in the first half of the first round, most likely in the early teens.

DT BRENT URBAN, VIRGINIA

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6’7” – 295 lbs. – 5.15e

STATISTICAL PROFILE:

2009: Redshirt
2010: N/A
2011: 16 – 3.5 – 1.0, 1 FF
2012: 20 – 2.5, 2.0, 1 QBH, 1 FF, 1 FR (1 TD), 2 PD
2013: 40 – 11.5 – 1.0, 1 QBH, 9 PD, 1 BK

OVERVIEW:

Redshirted in 2009, then appeared in three games in a limited capacity as a redshirt freshman. Contributed in a reserve role in 2011 over all thirteen games. Became a full-time starter in 2012, starting all twelve games. Started all eight games he played in in 2013, but missed the remaining time due to injury. Was a second-round pick in this year’s CFL Draft.

POSITIVES:

•    Will graduate having started for the past two seasons, with escalating production.
•    Combination of height, length, and bulk are prototypical for a five-technique 3-4 end.
•    Gained fifteen pounds before his senior season, could potentially add even more.
•    Led the nation in batted passes as a senior, also blocked a kick on special teams.
•    Gets off the line pretty quickly, with a solid motor and active hand use to disengage.
•    Runs better than anticipated given his size, possesses a relatively impressive burst.
•    Generally does a good job of keeping his pad level down to gain adequate leverage.
•    Solid tackler, can stop a runner on impact and demonstrates sound wrap technique.
•    Strong anchor, can either re-establish line of scrimmage or hold his ground vs. run.

NEGATIVES:

•    Probably too tall to draw much interest from 4-3 teams as a defensive tackle prospect.
•    Not a threatening rusher, recorded just four sacks and two pressures over three years.
•    Doesn’t walk linemen back into the quarterback, relies on finding open rushing lanes.
•    Ends up on the ground more often than he should, more due to balance than strength.
•    “Lower extremity” injury which caused him to miss four games raises a medical flag.

SUMMARY:

Urban has flown under the radar a bit due to a combination of having played at Virginia and lacking eye-popping statistics, but teams which run odd fronts should give him some consideration as a five-technique end, as his overall length allows him to bat passes, while he also possesses the ability to anchor and to re-establish the line of scrimmage as a run defender. That he bulked up from 280 pounds to 295 as a senior indicates that he is capable of putting on weight quickly, and could end up playing at over 300 pounds in the pros. A likely third-day draft pick who could turn out to be a pleasant surprise relative to his draft position.

DT SHAMAR STEPHEN, CONNECTICUT

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6’5” – 313 lbs. – 5.25e

STATISTICAL PROFILE:

2009: Redshirt
2010: 27 – 4.0 – 2.0
2011: 17 – 1.0 – 0.0, 1 PD
2012: 26 – 2.0 – 0.0, 4 PD, 1 BK
2013: 60 – 10.0 – 3.0, 1 QBH, 1 PD

OVERVIEW:

Redshirted in 2009, then became a prominent member of Connecticut’s rotation in 2010, starting seven games of the twelve he played in. Was a reserve in 2011 over twelve games, then reprised that role in 2012, missing two games. Stepped into the starting lineup in 2013.

POSITIVES:

•    Made his senior season by far his best, blowing away previous statistical production.
•    Possesses an outstanding combination of height and bulk for a nose tackle or five-tech.
•    Strong enough to turn ballcarriers with one arm as they pass in two-gap run defense.
•    Capable of taking on double teams without losing much or any ground versus the run.
•    Remembers to get hands up and attempt to bat down passes when he can’t penetrate.
•    Typically does a good job of staying low when firing out of his stance to get leverage.
•    When he remembers to be active with his hands and feet, looks reasonably effective.
•    Could project to nose in an even front, nose or potentially five-technique in an odd one.

NEGATIVES:

•    Really only produced over one season in college, wasn’t a full-time starter until 2013.
•    Is confined to small spaces, doesn’t have the athleticism to pursue ballcarriers very far.
•    Not much of a pass-rushing threat, seems slow and lethargic in his overall movements.
•    Doesn’t always react very quickly to the ball being snapped, starting at a disadvantage.
•    Lack of consistent hand use/activity with feet prevents him from controlling blockers.
•    Probably doesn’t offer much value to a team with a one-gap defensive line philosophy.
•    A little bit taller than you’d like for a 3-4 nose, less athletic than you’d like for five-tech.

SUMMARY:

The type of player who will likely draw interest late in the draft because of his massive build, Stephen’s athletic limitations will prevent him from being of much interest to a team which likes their linemen to gain penetration, but his ability to eat blocks and hold up against double teams should intrigue two-gap teams who are willing to work with him on his footwork and hand use. However, they will also have to determine what his position is at the next level, as he is a bit taller than a typical nose tackle but not rangy enough to play five-technique for most teams. He may end up as a reserve who comes onto the field in jumbo packages, such as goal line units.

DT DEANDRE COLEMAN, CALIFORNIA

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6’5” – 315 lbs. – 5.20e

STATISTICAL PROFILE:

2009: Redshirt
2010: 18 – 3.0 – 0.0, 1 PD
2011: 18 – 5.0 – 1.0
2012: 44 – 7.5 – 2.5, 2 QBH, 1 PD
2013: 39 – 8.5 – 2.0, 2 QBH, 1 PD

OVERVIEW:

Redshirted in 2009, then appeared in all twelve games the following season, albeit as a reserve. Played in all thirteen games as a redshirt sophomore in 2011, making two starts over the final three games of the season. Assume a full-time starting role in 2012, starting eleven of California’s twelve games while appearing in the other. Started all twelve games as a senior.

POSITIVES:

•    Will graduate with two years of starting experience, with forty-nine career appearances.
•    Possesses an outstanding combination of size and bulk for a defensive line prospect.
•    Overall build makes him a possible nose tackle in an even front or end in an odd one.
•    Played five-technique during the Jeff Tedford era, then nose tackle for Sonny Dykes.
•    Powerful player; is capable of using his bull rush to re-establish the line of scrimmage.
•    Anchors well, doesn’t get blown off the ball even when he draws double-team blocks.
•    Reasonably quick to react to the ball being snapped, usually in line with teammates.

NEGATIVES:

•    Didn’t end up taking the next step as a senior, made the same mistakes as last year.
•    Struggles to locate the ball, preventing him from getting into position to make plays.
•    Not a penetrator, restricting value to teams which use two-gap defensive line principles.
•    Doesn’t employ many different moves in order to shed opposing blocks, gets tied up.
•    Not someone with the range to pursue screens to the sidelines, confined to short areas.
•    Looks like he’s playing on skates at times, needs to play with more consistent balance.

SUMMARY:

Coleman was hailed as a potential early-round draft pick following his junior campaign, but didn’t end up taking the next step as a senior, with his athletic limitations being further exposed by poor instincts and a limited collection of rush maneuvers. At this point, his size and strength are his only impressive qualities, the utility of both being limited by his inability to locate the ball, resulting in him removing himself from plays with far too much regularity. Two-gap defenses may give him some consideration as a late-round prospect or undrafted free agent, but Coleman is so raw mentally that it would come as quite a surprise if he were able to make any sort of contributions in the foreseeable future. Ceiling is probably as a reserve/rotational lineman.

DT KELCY QUARLES, SOUTH CAROLINA*

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6’4” – 298 lbs. – 4.90e

STATISTICAL PROFILE:

2010: Fork Union Military Academy (Va.)
2011: 28 – 2.0 – 0.0, 4 QBH
2012: 38 – 8.0 – 3.5, 1 QBH

OVERVIEW:

Originally signed with South Carolina, but ended up spending one semester at Fork Union Military Academy, joining the Gamecocks in the Spring of 2011. That season, he played in twelve of thirteen games, starting the final six. Started all eleven games he played in in 2012, missing the Florida and Tennessee games with a shoulder injury.

POSITIVES:

•    Has almost three years of starting experience, with escalating production in each.
•    Began his career listed at 271 pounds and has added considerable bulk since then.
•    Tall and long enough to conceivably transition to the five-technique in a 3-4 defense.
•    Strong enough to drive offensive linemen back into the pocket with his bull rush.
•    Quick off of the snap and is capable of shooting gaps to penetrate into the backfield.
•    When he gets past his man, closes quickly and can finish his pressures with sacks.
•    Anchor is good enough to hold his own against bigger blockers without losing much.
•    Does a nice job of using his long arms to make tackles when engaged by blockers.
•    Rangy; athletic and determined enough to pursue plays further than most tackles.

NEGATIVES:

•    Despite having gained weight, still has a top-heavy build with a thin lower body.
•    Has some problems with leverage due to his height, gets too upright out of stance.
•    Overall awareness as a run defender can create problems with one-gap approach.
•    Could stand to add some more variety into his repertoire of block-shedding moves.
•    Probably won’t have much appeal to two-gap teams with even defensive fronts.
•    Production has been inflated as a byproduct of playing next to Jadeveon Clowney.
•    May require some investigation into academic habits after playing at a junior college.

SUMMARY:

Quarles plays inside in South Carolina’s 4-3 defense, but at the next level his frame may be better suited to a 3-4 defense, where height is more valued. A player who has performed well when given both one-and-two-gap responsibilities, he may be better suited to the former, where his ability to shoot gaps would be highlighted, although he should draw some interest from teams with two-gap philosophies as well. With some time in an NFL strength program and work on his leverage/awareness versus the run, he possesses the potential to develop into a starter, or at least a prominent member of a team’s defensive line rotation.

DT DANIEL McCULLERS, TENNESSEE

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6’8” – 351 lbs. – 5.50e

STATISTICAL PROFILE:

2010: Junior College
2011: Junior College
2012: 39 – 5.5 – 1.0, 2 QBH, 1 FF, 1 PD, 1 BK

OVERVIEW:

Spent his first two seasons at Georgia Military College, then won the starting job at Tennessee in training camp during his first season, 2012, starting seven of the twelve games he appeared in.

POSITIVES:

•    Mammoth who absolutely dwarfs every other player on the field on a consistent basis.
•    Capable of handling double-teams, and draws them fairly frequently given his size.
•    Strong enough to extend and drive blockers back, reestablishing the line of scrimmage.
•    Anchors well against power, doesn’t seem fazed by opposing attempts at run blocking.
•    May not be a true 3-4 nose tackle but should be able to fit someone in a two-gap scheme.
•    Won’t win with speed but can create some pressure on the quarterback with his bull rush.
•    Does a good job of getting his hands up when he’s not able to reach the quarterback.
•    Was able to get his weight under control; coaches have praised his effort and work ethic.

NEGATIVES:

•    Reportedly weighed 395 pounds in junior college, creating weight/conditioning concerns.
•    Could very well be as tall as his listed height, and has problems with leverage as a result.
•    Has played primarily in a four-man front in college, not much odd-front film exists.
•    Height/leverage issues may prevent him from being the true 3-4 nose tackle some expect.
•    Plodding mover who won’t be confused with a one-gap penetrator any time soon.
•    Rather than firing out of his stance, often stands upright immediately after the snap.
•    Generally doesn’t react very quickly to the ball being snapped, one of the last off the line.
•    Doesn’t have very active hands or feet, struggling to quickly shed blocks as a result.
•    Was forced to spend two seasons in community college to become academically eligible.

SUMMARY:

McCullers comes with concerns about his weight, intelligence, and leverage, and he certainly won’t appeal to teams seeking a one-gap tackle, but he possesses rare size and a rare anchor, allowing him to easily hold his ground against single (and occasionally even double-team) blocks. Because McCullers is so tall, and because not much film exists of him in odd defensive fronts, it will require some projection to imagine him manning the nose tackle position in a 3-4 defense, although it’s also possible that he could work his way into a two-gap front as an oversized five-technique defensive end. The world theory should allow him to work his way into the third or fourth round despite the question marks which surround him. RD 3

DE DOMINIQUE EASLEY, FLORIDA

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6’2” – 280 lbs. – 4.80e

STATISTICAL PROFILE:

2010: 4 – 0.0 – 0.0
2011: 37 – 7.5 – 1.5, 3 QBH, 1 BK
2012: 26 – 8.5 – 4.0, 2 QBH, 1 FR, 1 PD
2013: 5 – 2.0 – 0.0, 4 QBH

OVERVIEW:

Appeared in a very limited role as a true freshman after joining the Gators as a five-star prospect, then took over as a starting in 2011, starting twelve games but sustaining a torn ACL in the twelfth contest. Started in eleven games in 2011, missing two games due to injury. Tore the opposite ACL during practice after three games of his 2013 campaign.

POSITIVES:

  • Will graduate with two years of quality starting experience for a major program.
  • Has lined up at both defensive tackle and defensive end during his time at Florida.
  • Plays with a high motor, seems to be giving his full effort throughout the game.
  • Demonstrates very active hand use, is difficult to block in one-gap situations.
  • Gets off the snap quickly, can win matchups inside with his initial explosion.
  • Lack of size may be mitigated by the league’s current emphasis on sub packages.
  • Actually possesses a better anchor than anticipated given his lack of size/bulk.
  • Doesn’t look out-of-place at defensive end despite being a little bit big for it.
  • Bends the edge pretty well as a run defender, dipping the shoulder effectively.

NEGATIVES:

  • Dramatically undersized for a pro defensive tackle, what is his true position?
  • Despite weighing just 280 pounds, it’s unclear how much more bulk he can add.
  • Playing in a two-gap scheme wouldn’t be ideal, especially as a defensive tackle.
  • Has torn both of his ACLs and missed some additional time due to injury.

SUMMARY:

Easley requires some imagination to project to the pro level, but despite not fitting the traditional mold at any one position, his game is surprisingly well-rounded, with outstanding burst off of the line of scrimmage, active hands, an arsenal of rush moves which features a devastating spin, and an underrated anchor. He has played defensive tackle and defensive end with the Gators, and should develop into a versatile, valued contributor for a team which emphasizes sub packages. If he checks out medically, he possesses a realistic shot of going in the draft’s first round this April. RD 1

DT ANTHONY JOHNSON, LOUISIANA ST.*

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6’3” – 294 lbs. – 4.90e

STATISTICAL PROFILE:

2011: 12 – 3.0 – 1.0

2012: 30 – 10.0 – 3.0, 2 QBH, 1 PD

OVERVIEW:

Rotated in as a reserve defensive tackle in all fourteen games as a freshman in 2011, then started three of thirteen games as a sophomore in 2012. Stepped into the starting lineup as a junior in 2012.

POSITIVES:

  • Started for one year with the Tigers, but was also an effective rotational player.
  • Overall height and bulk are adequate for a three-technique defensive tackle.
  • Looks to have above-average arm length, gets good extension on his bull rush.
  • Gets off the line of scrimmage in a hurry, pressuring interior linemen with his burst.
  • Exhibits a strong motor, has some range in pursuit and demonstrates active hand use.
  • Can shoot gaps in the run game, making him a reasonable one-gap defender.
  • Anchors better than anticipated; run defense issues are more due to recognition.
  • Draws double team blocks fairly often and is pretty talented at splitting them.
  • Looks good in pursuit and closes well when he gets a clear path to the passer.
  • Has some upside given that he’s started for only one full season with the Tigers.

NEGATIVES:

  • Has only started for one season and didn’t really produce like he was expected to.
  • Probably doesn’t offer much value to teams looking for personnel for a 3-4 front.
  • Will likely be restricted to playing in one-gap defensive schemes at the next level.
  • Plays a little bit high, could do a better job of keeping himself low to win leverage.
  • Awareness in run defense isn’t the most impressive, struggles to locate the ball.
  • Doesn’t create all that much pressure as a pass rusher despite his burst/athleticism.
  • Could be a little more creative when it comes to shedding blocks, needs more moves.
  • Needs some work on his balance, ends up on the ground more often than he should.
  • Tipped the scales at over 330 pounds in 2011, potentially creating weight concerns.

SUMMARY:

Johnson was highly productive as a member of LSU’s defensive tackle rotation as a sophomore in 2011, picking up ten tackles for loss and three sacks, but failed to make the strides he was expected to as a starter in 2013, failing to make a consistent impact. At this point, his biggest concerns are his struggles with leverage and difficulty locating the ball in run defense. However, those issues can be addressed with quality coaching, making him a somewhat-intriguing developmental three-technique given his burst, overall athleticism, and underrated anchor. Something of a boom-or-bust prospect. RD 3