NFL Draft Prospects: DT

Ah, defensive tackle.  Its a position that realistically could go in any of the seven rounds.  More importantly, its a position that could go in the first two rounds, the most important of the draft.  With two prospects a possibility at first overall and several projected to maybe be around at the end of the 1st round, the Rams are likely to go either way.   

Personally, I wouldn't mind going Sam Bradford-Brian Price/Jared Odrick.  At least I prefer that over Nkadamong Suh-Colt McCoy (I've heard we have to trade up; Not only do I not think he's worth 1st overall in 2nd round, but I think trading up to get him would be a disaster).  Or the Rams go neither way and decide to draft a wideout, tight end, or any of there million needs.

I'm also under the opinion that a good 4-3 OLB won't be available until the 3rd round and only Demaryius Thomas impresses me among the wideouts enough to get them in the second round.  Gresham seems like a big risk with that injury bug to go with too.  The safe pick would be Price or Odrick (if available).  Don't scoff at safe picks, it worked to perfection last year (James Lauranitis).

Before I get started, let me clarify.  These are defensive tackles, not nose tackles.  Although I will still grade the nose tackles, in my preview, I will effectively say that they aren't going to get drafted because they are strictly a nose tackle.  Similar to how the Rams won't draft a 3-4 defensive end, they won't draft a nose tackle.

Let's get started.  These are based off my eye and scouting reports.

                                                   1. Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska Cornhuskers


Why He Belongs Here: 19.5 sacks past two seasons as a DT, top-end speed, won't come across work ethic issues, rare upper body strength, can literally toss aside offensive lineman, quick hands, very instinctive, makes impact even when he doesn't sack QB, playmaker
Why He Doesn't Belong: suffered two knee injuries early in college career, needs consistency with leverage
Upside: This is a no-brainer, even though I'm a Bradford supporter, if we go DT, it'd better be Suh, because the impact he makes in games is ridiculous.
Projected Round - Top 5

                                                       2. Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma Sooners


Why He Belongs Here: well-respected leader, mentally and physically tough, exceptionally quick, good snap anticipation, shows balance and awareness to find ball, elite first-step quickness, oustanding closing burst for DT
Why He Doesn't Belong: lacks ideal size needed to stop run, will never be suited to play two-gap hole
Upside: Do you know how hard it is to find weaknesses for these guys?  Man alive, according to scouting reports you'd think they'd be sure things.  But he's apparantly better against pass but he doesn't have same playmaking ability.
Projected Round - Top 5

                                                         3. Dan WIlliams, Tennessee Volunteers


Why He Belongs Here: wins most one-on-one battles, moves well in space, strong tackler, powerful bull-rusher, plays with good balance, durable

Why He Doesn't Belong: has some weight issues, work ethic is in question, lacks elite quickness, motor can run hot and cold

Upside: Williams is ideally suited for a 3-4 defense as he perfectly fits the description of a nose tackle: run stuffer, huge body, moves well in space.  I'm sure a 4-3 defense good settle for him though.

Projected Round - Top 15


                          4. Jared Odrick, Penn State Nittany Lions


Why He Belongs Here: great size at 6'5, 304, above average speed, extremely competitive, quick first step, quick hands
Why He Doesn't Belong: missed some of 2007 season with ankle injury, disorderly conduct in 2008, struggles changing directions, needs to do better getting through traffic
Upside: On second thought, I doubt Rams will draft him because of his character issues (which I was previously unaware of).  Not to mention, he's not real great at any one thing which means he probably won't be elite.
Projected Round - Top 25

                                                          5. Brian Price, UCLA Bruins


Why He Belongs Here: durable, anticipates snap count well, excellent use of hands, good awareness, effective one-gap pass rushers
Why He Doesn't Belong: missed first 3 games of freshmen season for NCAA eligibity reasons, lacks ideal base, lacks elite range, can get caught lunging
Upside: Price seems like a safe pick whose pass rush and run defense skills are about equal and consistent.  He's a tad undesized, but his lack of issues should give him a look from the Rams
Projected Round 1st-2nd round

                                                   6. Lamarr Houston, Texas Longhorns


Why He Belongs Here: above average balance, very competitive, excellent upper body strength, quick first step, active hands, above average lateral mobility, good motor
Why He Doesn't Belong: can get caught guessing snap count wrongly, inconsistent in shedding blocks, plays too high and not big enough to get away with it, lacks ideal closing speed
Upside: Houston doesn't have serious character issues (got arrested but is in several programs such as self-esteem group for young girls), but his real weakness seems to be his rushing the QB.  His effort is top-notch, but his skill lacks in 1st day talent
Projected Round - 2nd round

                                                       7. Tyson Alualu, California Golden Bears


Why He Belongs Here: experienced (played in every game possible), plays with edge, relentless motor, can hold ground agaisnt double teams
Why He Doesn't Belong: lacks elite first-step quickness, footwork is inconsistent, would struggle to turn corner in NFL, can get caught out of rush lane
Upside: Unfortunately, many of his weaknesses are hard to alter; seems like too big a risk for the Rams to take
Projected Round - 2nd-3rd round

                                                      8. Terrence Cody, Alabama Crimson Tide


Why He Belongs Here: he's massive... (poor guy in the picture will not be breathing in a few seconds), excellent upper and lower body strength, strong tackler, shows ability to push offensive lineman into backfield

Why He Doesn't Belong: lacks ideal endurance (surprise!), slow first step, lacks range and won't make many plays in pursuit

Upside: Well, the Rams seem like the opposite team he would want to go to because his weaknesses - lack of endurance and speed - would be maximized here

Projected Round - 2nd round

                                                                      9 . Cam Thomas, UNC Tar Heels



Why He Belongs Here: prototypical height and bulk, plays hard when he isn't gassed, great awareness in locating ball-carrier, good job of driving lineman into backfield, above average hand quickness

Why He Doesn't Belong: missed 5 games in '07, lacks explosive power, no sack production, will get fooled easily on screen pass

Upside: Thomas is purely a run specialist defensive tackle.... the way I look at it, if the Rams got him, they'd improve their run game and their defensive ends could provide pass rush.... but downside is to expect zero pass rushing ability on a consistent basis

Projected Round - 2nd-3rd round

                                                     10. Linval Joseph, East Carolina Panthers


Why He Belongs Here: good production (60 tackles... as a DT), huge size at 6'4, 319, runs a whopping 4.93 40 time, in shape for 300+ DT

Why He Doesn't Belong: sometimes lets guards overplay him, stamina may be an issue as he played in rotation at ECU

Upside: Joseph seems like a risk if only because his Combine and tape contradict each other (Combine says he's in shape; tape doesn't)

Projected Round - 3rd round

11. D'Anthony Smith, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

Why He Belongs Here: excellent speed for a DT, "coachable," excellent initial quickness, can change directions smoothly, good penetrating skills

Why He Doesn't Belong: needs to improve his lower body strength, needs a wider array of pass rush moves, needs more consistency

Upside: I'm not sure if he'll pan out, but his speed and improved strength could make him a starter in a few years.... plus develop better pass rushing skills

Projected Round - 3rd-4th round

12. Geno Atkins, Georgia Bulldogs

Why He Belonsg Here: hard worker on/off field, good closing burst on ballcarrier, uses quickness and power to become a good pass rusher

Why He Doesn't Belong: needs to add some bulk, undersized at 6'1, 293, needs to improve his tackling

Upside: Some teams may be scared off by his size, but he has decent enough pass rush and run defense that if he improved his bulk, he could be a starter

Projected Round - 3rd-4th round

13. Arhur Jones, Syracuse Orange

Why He Belongs Here: plays hard regardless of score, good initial quickness, can get under defenders pads, powerful tackler, good motor

Why He Doesn't Belong: had knee surgery after nine games in '09, lacks ideal range, may be out of position at times

Upside: Jones seems like one of those players who may have trouble adjusting to playbook because he guesses where he is supposed to be at times

Projected Round - 4th round

14. Al Woods, LSU Tigers

Why He Belongs Here: prototypical height-weight at 6'3, 309, plays with good balance, flashes explosion off the ball, can be disruptive if he stays low, uses hands well

Why He Doesn't Belong: lacks elite quickness, struggles to stay low, still developing pass rushing skills, closing speed is average 

Upside: Teach Woods to stay low and that eliminates half his problems and he'd probably be one of the first DTs chosen

Projected Round - 4th round

15. Torrell Troup, Central Florida Golden Knights

Why He Belongs Here: good production for a NT (27 tackles, 5 TFLs, 2.5 sacks), good height and weight at 6'4, 314, good speed for DT

Why He Doesn't Belong: good upper body strength, projects better as a NT therefore in 4-3 defense might not be as effective

Upside: I don't see the Rams drafting him because he displays the qualities of a nose tackle and a defensive tackle normally has more responsibilities

Projected Round - 4th-5th round

16. Mike Neal, Purdue Boilermakers

Why He Belongs Here: above average upper and lower body strength, quick enough to make it into backfield, moves well laterallly, excellent stamina

Why He Doesn't Belong: tries to power through instead of shedding blocks, lacks elite range, inconsistent holding double teams

Upside: Neal needs to add some finesse to his game to go along with his power.... his reliance on his power game probably won't work in NFL

Projected Round - 4th-5th round

17. Vince Oghobaasse, Duke Blue Devils

Why He Belongs Here: good size at 6'5, 303 with good speed, excellent upper and lower body strength, flashes ability to make plays at or beyond line of scrimmage, gets hands up when he sees QB throwing motion

Why He Doesn't Belong: takes too long to re-set when offensive lineman knocks him backward, not a great athlete, takes to long to disengage to have any pass rushing abilities

Upside: He's not great at anything, but average at everything.... and that is getting him nowhere unfortunately

Projected Round - 5th round

18. Earl Mitchell, Arizona Wildcats

Why He Belongs Here: great production at AU (48 tackles, 12.5 TFL, 6.5 sacks), good speed for a DT, quick active hands

Why He Doesn't Belong: undersized at 6'1, 296 for DT, not versatile in where he plays, never gonna be a true run stuffer

Upside: Mitchell could work in the Rams 4-3 scheme, but I don't see him as much more than a rotating starter

Projected Round - 5th-6th round

19. Jeff Owens, Georgia Bulldogs

Why He Belongs Here: good upper, lower body strength, solid initial quickness, shows potential to be very effective run plugger, good motor

Why He Doesn't Belong: durability, needs to improve his stamina, struggles to split double team, if he plays too high, he loses ability to anchor

Upside: Owens is more of a nose tackle and at least for the first couple years, he'll need to be rotated in and out because he doesn't have the stamina to be a starter

Projected Round - 5th-6th round

20. Corey Peters, Kentucky Wildcats

Summary - Peters has good size to go with decent speed (4.90 40 time) and a good senior year to boost his draft status

Projected Round - 6th round

7th round prospects

21. Nate Collins - Collins is a little undersized at 6'2, 290, but his quickness and versatility could make him a quality backup

22. Malcom Sheppard, Arkansas Wildhogs - He's undersized and his speed of 5.09 doesn't really make up for it that much

23. Ricardo Matthews, Cincinnati Bearcats - Matthews is undersized a bit at 6'2, 290, but he's one of the quicker DTs in the draft

24. Ekom Udofia, Stanford Cardinals - Udofia should be a solid reserve NT, but injuries have derailed his career a bit

Undrafted Possibilities

25. Kade Weston, Georgia Bulldogs - Purley a nose tackle, Weston is huge at 6'5, 320 and has surprsingly good speed for his size

26. Swanson Miller, Oklahoma State Cowboys - A JUCO transfer, Miller has decent enough size and potential to warrrant getting drafted

27. Aleric Mullins, UNC Tar Heels - Mullins has some mental questions in his character, but his 320 frame might help erase that

28. Mick Williams, Pittsburgh Panthers - His specialty is pass rushing and his stats show that, but he's only 6'1so teams will avoid him

29. Boo Williams, Wake Forest - Yes, his name is Boo so somebody's parents got scared a bit too much when they predicted they'd have a child.. but he's undersized yet his work ethic led to a huge weight loss

30. Demarcus Granger, Oklahoma Sooners - Granger has work ethic problems with weight going up, injury problems, and character problems... its a whole lotta mess

31. Alan Michael-Cash, NC State Wolfpack - Cash shows potential but he probably will never be anything more than a backup if team signs him because he's undersized

32. Andre Neblett, Temple Owls - He's got decent speed, decent size, but he had zero sacks all year long... zero!

And that's all folks... Even if we don't get Suh, there are tons of other options, albeit less talented and with no playmaking skills BUT... anyone of these 32 men could be drafted/signed by the Rams so look out.

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