Under the tutelage of new head coach Todd Graham, Arizona State defensive tackle Will Sutton finally tapped into his potential in 2012, wreaking havoc on opposing offenses while earning a consensus All-American selection and the PAC-12’s Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year award.
After opting to stay in school instead of going pro, Sutton is set to evolve into one of the nation’s elite defensive tackles in 2013.
Combining phenomenal athleticism and instincts with improving size and strength, Sutton is a headache for opposing offenses. He has the ferocious playing style and penetrating power to stuff the run, and the quickness and foot speed to collapse the pocket. No matter what the offense throws his way, Sutton always seems to prepared to hit in the mouth.
Throughout the Sun Devils’ 2012 campaign, Sutton racked up 13 sacks and 23.5 tackles for a loss, providing a dynamic boost to one of the best defensive units in the nation. Teamed with Carl Bradford in 2013, Sutton will be one half of arguably the most lethal defensive line duo in school history.
There are some concerns about his lack of size (6’1’’, 288 pounds) heading into his senior season, but by hearing the comparisons to Geno Atkins that he’s received, it doesn’t appear that scouts will be deterred. His phenomenal quickness and short-area explosiveness far exceed the impact that 20 extra pounds would have.
Overall, his production and standing as an elite prospect can’t be denied. Sutton is a special talent who can easily assert himself as the best defensive tackle in the nation if he builds on his 2012 performance. However, in order to do that, he’ll have to stay healthy – something that Sutton struggled with throughout his junior year.
This is the age of football where disruptive defensive linemen are almost as valuable as franchise quarterbacks. If Sutton can continue his dominant ways in 2013, he could very well be on his way to a Top 10 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.
For now, though, Sutton will be focused on helping Arizona State get their first Rose Bowl win since 1987.