This is a solid defensive tackle group that offers a little bit of everything. Utah’s Star Lotulelei leads this group and is on his way to a top 10 selection in the 2013 NFL draft.
If you’re a 3-4 team looking for NT’s, then there are several options, including a pair of SEC run stuffers in Georgia’s John Jenkins and Alabama’s Jesse Williams.
These rankings are extremely fluid, especially this early in the season and will change constantly throughout the process. Juniors will be added as they begin to declare for the draft.
1. Star Lotulelei, Utah, 6’4 315: 1st Round
– Lotulelei really came onto the scene last season and is looking more and more like a high pick in April. The massive run stuffer with great size, strength, and deadly first step is too much to handle one-on-one. He is still developing as a pass rusher, but his ability to hold up blockers and disrupt the offensive line is second to none. Lotulelei will fit in any scheme and is still getting better as a prospect.
2. Kawann Short, Purdue, 6’3 310: 2nd Round
– Short has been a very productive and consistent player in his time at Purdue. He has started ever since his freshman season and has totaled 33.5 tackles for loss in his three years. I think he can be just as effective in a 4-3 or as a 5 tech in a 3-4. While Short is consistent, he is less dynamic at time than you would like. Even though he will face constant double-teams this season, I would like to see Short become a true playmaker and work his way into round 1 consideration.
3. John Jenkins, Georgia, 6’3 351: 2nd Round
– Jenkins came to Georgia last season from the Junior College ranks and made an immediate impact for the Bulldogs. He’s a classic NT and fit perfectly in the 3-4. Jenkins didn’t necessarily fill up the box score, but he’s great against the run and very light on his feet for 351 lbs. Finished the season with 10 QB hurries and great in run defense.
4. Jesse Williams, Alabama, 6’4 319: 2nd-3rd Round
– Much like John Jenkins, Williams came to Alabama via junior college. Last season he played as a DE in Alabama’s 3-4 and showed great agility for his size. But with Josh Chapman now in the NFL, Williams will move to move NT, but it’s his versatility that will make appealing to NFL teams. He commands double-teams and holds his anchor really well due to his enormous strength, but he’s quick enough to add backside pressure and chase down ball carriers.
5. Jordan Hill, Penn State, 6’1 298: 3rd Round
– Hill doesn’t have elite size or athleticism, but his very consistent and knows how to play his position. Hill is very relentless and plays to the whistle. He doesn’t get knocked off the line and scrimmage and plays the run well. After playing next to Devon Still last season, it will remain to be seen if he can shoulder the load for the Nittany Lions.
6. Sylvester Williams, North Carolina, 6’3 315: 3rd-4th Round
– Williams is yet another DT who came from the Junior College ranks. Last season with Quinton Coples facing double-team, Williams was effective in the middle of the field. Scouts will love his motor and how technically sound is. He knows how to play with balance and leverage. He still developing as a pass rusher, and seeing that he didn’t play football until his senior year in HS, Williams is still raw as a prospect.
7. Josh Boyd, Mississippi State, 6’3 300: 4th Round
– With the departure of Fletcher Cox, Boyd’s draft stock will rise or fall depending on how Boyd can handle all the attention. Boyd is a well-built DT that shows plus athleticism for his size. Boyd constantly found himself last season behind the line of scrimmage and should be in-line for a solid season.
8. Everett Dawkins, Florida State, 6’2 301: 5th round
– Dawkins doesn’t fill up the stat sheet, but his presence is defiantly felt. Dawkins is a wide-bodied space eater who clogs up running lanes in the trenches. He’s not a dynamic pass rusher, but he is more athletic than you would think. 2012 will be a good opportunity as the Seminoles DEs will force a lot of attention away from him.
9. Joe Vellano, Maryland, 6’1 285: 5th Round
– Vellano isn’t flashy, but he gets the job done. He lacks the athleticism that other DTs posses, but makes up for it with a high motor and solid strength. He has started 25 games in a row, and has averaged 6.3 tackles per gameover his career. In 2011, he lead all Defensive lineman with an outstanding 7.8 tackles/game.
10. Aaron Tipoti, California, 6’2 274: 6th Round
– Tipoti is a versatile lineman who can play almost anywhere in any formation. He shows quickness and a nice first step. He doesn’t have ideal size, but he makes up for it his strength and speed combination. Don’t be surprised if you see Tipoti make a significant climb up these boards as the season wears on.
11. Austin Brown, Miami(OH), 6’2 270: 6th Round
12. Brent Russell, Georgia Southern, 6’1 291: 6th-7th Round
13. Scott Vallone, Rutgers, 6’3 275: 7th Round
14. Baker Steinkuhler, Nebraska, 6’6 290: 7th Round
15. Cory Grissom, South Florida, 6’2 316: 7th Round
16. Brandon Williams, Missouri Southern State, 6’2 328: PFA
17. Michael Brooks, East Carolina, 6’3 297: PFA
18. JaMarkus McFarland, Oklahoma, 6’2 296: PFA
19. Kaleb Ramsey, Boston College, 6’3 288: PFA
20. Montori Hughes, Tennessee-Martin, 6’4 327: PFA
21. AJ Francis, Maryland, 6’4 305: PFA
22. Chris Jones, Bowling Green, 6’1 295: PFA
23. Anthony Rashad White, Michigan State, 6’2 320: PFA
24. Dave Kruger, Utah, 6’5 295: PFA
25. Garrett Goebel, Ohio State, 6’4 285: PFA
26. DeQuinta Jones, Arkansas, 6’3 300: PFA
27. Omar Hunter, Florida, 6’0 312: PFA
Johnathan Hankins, Ohio State, 6’3 320
Bennie Logan, LSU, 6’3 295
Cassius Marsh, UCLA, 6’3 290
Akeem Spence, Illinois, 6’1 305
Shariff Floyd, Florida, 6’3 303
Dominique Easley, Florida, 6’2 280
Sheldon Richardson, Missouri, 6’3 290
Jeremy Cabler covers the NFL Draft and College Football for Rant Sports. Check out his Scouting Reports