2018 Yearbook – Defensive Tackles
Draft Insiders’ – 2018 NFL Draft Yearbook
Draft Insiders.com – 27th Season –
Published by NFL scout Frank Coyle & staff
“The NFL Draft Publication Pro Scouts Buy”
Defensive Tackles – Grade: A
This year’s tackle class is a very strong group after an average draft class last spring. It is especially deep overall through the top 100-125 prospects, though not an especially top-heavy position. Vita Vea and Da’Ron Payne are two highly rated prospects who figure to go in the top 15 selections. Both are NFL ready and should press for rookie starting roles. Harrison Phillips, Taven Bryan, Maurice Hurst and Tim Settle are first round bubble prospects. Phillips and Bryan are tweener linemen and scheme diverse to play inside and outside. Hurst worked out well on his pro day after some medical heart issues arose at the NFL Combine. He is a high level three technique tackle with an early starting grade. Settle is a huge lineman who fits the zero and one technique to become an anchor in the middle. He is expected to be selected in the top 40 overall choices. They could see 8 to 10 chosen from the middle of the first round through the top 100 picks. The highest rated prospects are all graded from the mid-1st through the 3rd round area. Juniors head this class with seven of the top ten prospects underclassmen. B.J. Hill and Nathan Shepherd are fast rising defenders with some scheme flexibility and well-rounded talent who figure in the 2nd day. Shepherd is an impressive small college prospect with an excellent skill set to play inside and outside. He is the highest rated small college defender in this class and ranks in the top 100 prospects. Hill is a fast rising prospect who had an impressive final performance which has him rising in the early rounds. Juniors R.J. McIntosh, Trenton Thompson and Kendrick Norton have NFL starting talent and are fine middle round additions. Small college prospects, Bilal Nichols and P.J. Hall were impressive vs top competition and performed well in workouts. They have moved into the middle rounds in this deep class. This tackle group should provide many 3rd day selections who can become good value choices – like Justin Jones and Greg Gilmore. All carry starting grades and expected to be available in the 3rd day. As many as 15 prospects chosen in the top 150 overall picks. Expect as many as 25 DTs chosen over the 7 rounds.
NFL Teams in need:
- 1 Cowboys 5. Browns
- 2 Patriots 6. Jets
- 3 Colts 7. Bengals
- 4 Dolphins 8. Broncos
NFL Premier Player
Blue Chip – Vita Vea
Blue Chip – Da’Ron Payne
Red Chip – Harrison Phillips
Rising – Nathan Shepherd
Falling – Derrick Nnadi
Underrated – Justin Jones
Overrated – Folorunso Fatukasi
Sleeper – P.J. Hall
Boom/Bust – Trenton Thompson
Ready to Play – Da’Ron Payne
Hidden Gem – Nathan Shepherd
Over drafted – Tim Settle
Best Athlete – Vita Vea
Best Pass Rusher – Maurice Hurst
Best Run Stuffer – Vita Vea
Pursuit – Taven Bryan
Shed Blocks – Da’Ron Payne
Recognition – Maurice Hurst
Best Intangibles – Harrison Phillips
Ball Instincts – Taven Bryan
Strongest – Da’Ron Payne
Toughest – Harrison Phillips
Most Developed – Vita Vea
Top Defensive Tackles
1 * Vita Vea – Washington
2 * Da’Ron Payne – Alabama
3 * Harrison Phillips – Stanford
4 * Taven Bryan – Florida
5 * Tim Settle – Virginia Tech
6 Maurice Hurst – Michigan
7 B.J. Hill – North Carolina St
8 Nathan Shepherd – Fort Hays St. (Ks)
9 * R.J. McIntosh – Miami
10 * Trenton Thompson – Georgia
11 Deadrin Senat – South Florida
12 Justin Jones – North Carolina St
13 * Kendrick Norton – Miami
14 Derrick Nnadi – Florida St
15 Lowell Lotulelei – Utah
16 Bilal Nichols – Delaware
17 P.J. Hall – Sam Houston St.
18 Folorunso Fatukasi – UConn
19 Greg Gilmore – LSU
20 John Atkins – Georgia
1 * Vita Vea #50 – Washington 6-4 345 Sp. 5.10
Player Comparison: Haloti Ngata Rating 91
Huge wide body nose tackle declared for the NFL Draft after an excellent 2017 season for the talented Huskies’ defense. Stout with powerful base and hips along with thick legs that translate well for either front to hold up vs the double team blocks. Rare interior athlete with HS time also at running back along with a basketball history. Very active, flexible tackle has been a valued part of a tough Huskies’ front. Incredibly strong and it translates very well to the field where his amazing pure strength translates to top functional field power to stack vs double team blocking. Plays with excellent leverage to fully utilize his natural strength. His game is based on power, quickness and penetration with similar skill set of Haloti Ngata. Explodes off the ball and displays the ability to use his punch and quick feet. Needs some technique development to take his game up a level and earn three down duty. Mobile space eater with shorter than ideal arms (32 5/8”) though that is not a big liability for him. Quick instincts and initial burst to penetrate a gap and be very difficult to move off his spot. Hands are active and strong. Shows a good bull rush with improving moves to counter and win late on the down. Can be very effective on stunts and twists where he uses impressive lateral quickness and above average straight-line speed to move along the line and wreak havoc. Fine acceleration with the flexibility and alertness to avoid cut blocks and close. Good motor, showing the willingness and ability to pursue outside the box. Strong force vs the run where his low center of gravity allows him to hold the point well with consistently sound leverage and hip explosion to use his powerful frame. At times, he is able to split the double team and penetrate into the backfield. Needs work to improve his redirect. His weight room strength ranks among the best in recent years and will allow him to play both pro fronts inside. Though shorter than ideal, he holds the point well even vs double teams and rarely driven off the line. Depends on his power and quickness to consistently defeat the phone booth hogs. As a junior, he started 13 games and made 44 tackles with 5.5 TFL, 4 PBU and 3.5 sacks, earning Pac-12 first team honors. He was the anchor in the Huskies’ nationally ranked defense. As a sophomore, he started 14 games and posted 39 tackles, 6.5 TFL, 2 QB hurries and 5 sacks. At the NFL Combine, he came in at 6’4”, 347 lbs. with short 32 5/8” arms and 10” hands. Ran a fine 5.10 time and did 41 reps to complete a very good short workout. Similar to Haloti Ngata and Dontari Poe in size, AA and explosiveness. Prospect with big game experience and high production to become a rookie starter. Body type and AA to man the one, two and three technique spots in either scheme. Good fit for the 49ers, Packers and Chargers. Top 15 prospect with an NFL ready starting grade and probably goes in the mid-1st round. Talent to be a nice rookie fit for line rotation before becoming a starter. Tough nose tackle to become an anchor to a front line.
Draft Projection: 1st Round
2 * Da’Ron Payne #94 – Alabama 6-2 311 – Sp. 5.0
Player Comparison: Kawann Short Rating 90
Stout wide body true junior has been a force on the inside of the Tide’s defensive front over the past three seasons. Five-star recruit in 2015 and earned Freshman All-American honors on a line which produced many high draft selections since his arrival. Earned first team SEC and 2nd team All-American honors in 2017 and 2nd team SEC honors as a sophomore. Fine all-around athlete was a very coveted recruit entering Bama. Excellent overall size with a big bubble butt, and thick thighs and calves. Fine balance, agility and footwork to get the most from his imposing physical talent. Very little unnecessary weight on his thick frame and moves well for his size. Keen instincts and plays with a good motor with the ability to chase hard outside the tackle box and make plays. Well-schooled in the Nick Saban brand of defense and technique. Stands his ground very well versus double teams and works hard to maintain gap integrity. Able to fend off angle blocks and fights back to play side. Holds the point exceptionally well even vs two blockers that has allowed Bama backers like Reuben Foster and Rashaan Evans to run to the ball and finish. Good instincts and awareness vs zone read or spread offensive rushing attacks. Aware to sniff out misdirection and constraint plays. Shows raw power in his bull rush and can walk interior linemen back to the QB. Works his hands to get past blockers and can close on the QB and make the big play. Gets under a blocker’s pads, forcing them to retreat and fight to contain his push. Stacks and sheds very well in the hole with active hand usage and sound play recognition. Finds the ball quickly and gives good effort moving laterally and stays clean to make plays down the line. Rarely gets pushed off the point Shows good effort as a pass rusher with an excellent combination of explosiveness and power, though needs technique development. His career sack totals do not reflect his ability as he was rotated often among many highly regarded future pros over the past three draft classes. As a pass rusher, he needs more moves to separate and win late on the down. Very effective run-stuffer and quickly comes on the snap with good pad level and savvy instincts to locate the ball. Extends his long arms consistently to keep blockers off his frame and disengages quickly to get into the play. Fine blend of power and quickness and could fit on defenses that play either three or four-man fronts. In 2017, he started all 14 games and posted 53 tackles, 1 TFL, 8 QB hurries,1 sack and 3 PBUs, earning 1st team SEC. Earned first team All-American from DraftInsiders.com. He was instrumental in their title victory over Georgia and semi-final victory. In 2016, he had 36 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 1 PBU and 8 QB hurries. Over his career, had 102 tackles, 5 TFL and 3 sacks in 44 games with 30 starts. Similar to Kawann Short in body type, AA and development. At the NFL Combine, he came in at over 6’2” and 311 lbs. with 33” arms and 9 3/8” hands. He did 33 reps and ran a 4.95 time with a 28 1/2” VL and an 8’11” BJ. He added 4.71 shuttle and a 7.58 three cone. Tough developed three down tackle with the ability to push the pocket consistently, though needs further technique on his counter moves to disengage. NFL ready tackle to tackle run stuffer with nice durability and scheme diverse. Powerfully quick with the physical tools to start as a rookie in the right setting and may be best suited for three technique role. Top 15 prospect with developed skills and extensive big game experience. Clubs like Redskins, Bengals, Dolphins and Ravens interested. Future Pro Bowler.
Draft Projection: 1st Round
3 * Harrison Phillips #66 – Stanford 6-3 305 – Sp. 5.15
Player Comparison: Kyle Williams Rating 88
Intense fourth year junior improved significantly over his final seasons while recovering from an ACL injury that occurred in the opening game of 2015. Declared for the NFL Draft after showing a dominant performance in 2017. Marked improvement as 2016 progressed. Finished with a very good postseason where he performed well at the Senior Bowl. Entered Stanford as the highest recruit from Nebraska. Played very well as a sophomore when he made 49 stops with 9.5 TFL and 6.5 sacks, earning Pac-12 honors. Good size and athleticism with an incredible motor that maximizes his fine skill set. Thoroughly prepared athlete with a keen understanding of hand use, balance and leverage. Very coordinated movement between hands and feet. Excellent functional strength when combined with his quickness makes him very difficult for one blocker to contain. Plays generally the Zero or one-technique. Often double-teamed and therefore ties up two blockers and clogs the middle. Savvy to tie up two blockers that frees up his teammates to finish. As a pass-rusher is able to walk a single interior blocker right back into the QB’s lap. Despite the double-teams he so regularly faces, he is able to spin away with decent frequency and make stops along the line. Shows very good hustle and motor, and never quits on a play. Will fight, scrap and claw from snap to whistle. Very strong, especially for being only around 300 lbs. He holds his ground as if he were 40 lbs. heavier. Able to defeat double-teams at times and make tackles for little or no gain. Best features are his Herculean strength and incredible motor. Combines quick feet and good body control with sound leverage and core strength. Able to use his sudden initial push and developed hand usage to rip and pull past blockers. Possesses fine first step to generate movement at the point to disrupt blockers. Great motor with raw strength to dominate his opponent in close quarters. Holds the point vs double-team blocks and is very difficult to uproot. His counter moves have improved, but are still a work-in-progress and he can struggle if his initial step is contained. At times, he overruns the pocket and needs to stay under control in tight spaces. Scheme diverse and good versatility. Disruption skills make him an interesting 3-technique possibility for a standard 4-3 alignment. In 2017, he started 14 games and recorded 102 tackles, 16.5 TFL, 2 FF, 6 QB hurries and 7 sacks, earning Pac-12 first team honors. In 2016, he started 12 games and recorded 46 tackles with 9.5 TFL, 3 QB hurries and 6.5 sacks. Two-year starter with great majority of production during those seasons. At the NFL Combine, he came in at over 6’3” and 307 lbs. with 33 7/8” arms and 10 3/8” hands. He ran a 5.21 time with 42 reps, a 32” VL and 8’7” BJ. He added a 4.50 shuttle and a 7.28 three cone to complete a very good workout. Underrated prospect gives the 4-3 clubs a top line rotational defender. Similar to Kyle Williams in body type, AA, temperament, development and also in scheme and technique diversity. Combination of quickness and power to be a penetrating force especially in a three-technique role. Shows a good work ethic, smarts and dedication to get the most from his athleticism. Quick strong tackle with the physical tools to start fairly early and an excellent addition. Rising top 30 prospect to be a fixture in the right setting. One of the gems in this excellent class and a first round bubble prospect.
Draft Projection: 1st Round
4 * Taven Bryan #93 – Florida 6-5 295 – Sp. 4.95
Player Comparison: Malik Jackson Rating 88
Athletically gifted redshirt junior is one of the most interesting and biggest enigmas in this draft class. Considered the #1 recruit out of Wyoming, he chose Florida over other SEC and Pac-12 clubs. Only started three games entering 2017 yet provided impact along the Gators front this past season. Tweener size with long athletic frame and lean body with less than ideal arm length (32 ¾”). Shows impressive flashes of dominance as an interior pass rusher. Potential to be one of the top defenders in this draft class despite only one season at a high level. Capable of being scheme diverse, though very limited time in both schemes. He is very quick off the snap and consistently gains good penetration when he is one-gapping. Often uses an arm over, swim or rip move to work past blockers. Draws a lot of attention from offensive blocking schemes due to ability to create havoc with his quickness and athleticism. Regularly double-teamed no matter where he lines up along the front, and the Gators had him playing various techniques from play to play. Very effective bringing pressure up the middle on passing plays. Never quits working, capable of stringing moves together and forces offensive linemen to hold him. One of the fastest, most active three-technique tackles to come along in several years. Possesses an athletic and naturally powerful skill set for a player of his dimensions. Verified this with a very impressive NFL Combine workout. Divided his time between defensive end and defensive tackle and capable of playing three and five techniques in either pro front. Provided impact for the Gators’ defense in 2017 and was a disruptive force despite marginal talent around him. Outstanding physique with the ideal frame for five-technique. Carries no excess body fat and has power through his hips, thighs and calves. Very impressive movement ability and runs well laterally quickly with fine foot speed to get outside. Possesses good explosion, balance and range. Reliable effective tackler around line and wraps up well. Usually wins crossing the face of blockers. Improved performance at point of attack and able to be a one-gap penetrator early. Despite special attention, he was a noticeably improved pass rusher in 2017 with a developed spin move and good use of his power to get past interior blockers. Developing raw talent and athleticism, though his production was excellent over final season. At times, he can lose sight of the ball and raise his pads which negates his quickness and footwork. Inconsistent counter moves after his initial pass rush move is stalled and needs to improve his pass rush repertoire. In 2017, started 11 games and made 40 tackles with 6 TFLs, 3 QB hurries and 4 sacks and earned first team SEC honors. In 2016, he started 2 of 13 games played with 17 tackles with 3 TFLs, 2 FF, 1 sack and 1 PBU. At the NFL Combine, he came in at 6’5” and 291 lbs. with 32 3/4” arms and 9 3/4” hands. He ran a 4.98 time and did 30 reps, 35” VJ, a 9’11” BJ and 4.48 shuttle and 7.12 three cone. Excellent overall performance. Similar to Malik Jackson in size, quickness and scheme fit as a versatile technique defender. Displays fast developing AA with an explosive burst to make big plays. Late 1st round or early 2nd round. One of the biggest boom or bust prospects in this class. Huge ceiling, but also a low floor and one of the biggest ranges on player evaluation over recent years. Possible rookie starter with the nice combination of AA and versatility. Blue-chip athlete with limited big game experience, though productive. Inside/outside lineman and flexible for either front. Teams like Eagles, Falcons and Jaguars interested. Top 30 talent.
Draft Projection: 1st-2nd Round
5 * Tim Settle #4 – Virginia Tech 6-3 330 – Sp. 5.35
Player Comparison: Vince Wilfork Rating 87
Massive wide body interior run stuffing tackle was an unsung performer on the Hokies’ defensive front. As a redshirt sophomore, he earned ACC honors in 2017 and decided to enter the NFL Draft. Former five-star HS recruit who earned Freshman All-American honors in 2016. Physical two-gap tackle fits the 3-4 front where his huge girth, agility, powerful base and work ethic fits well. Naturally thick defender with massive thighs and a wide base, though average (33”) arms. Nice agility to be effective within the tackle box and shows a powerful hand punch that will be lethal if he uses it consistently. Thick athlete and fits well in zero or one-technique roles with the mobility to get outside. He plugs the middle and will neutralize double-teams but needs consistent hand technique to separate effectively. Reminiscent of a young Vince Wilfork. Brutally strong and incredibly quick, especially for his size. Comes off the snap in a flash. Tosses blockers aside like they were rag dolls. Even for double-teams, trying to move him off the ball is like trying to move a brick wall. Can cover short areas of turf like a blur. When he hits a ball carrier, they go down as if hit by a Peterbilt. Carries a little extra weight around the midsection, but it does not seem to negatively affect him. Besides his powerful bull rush, he is able to pressure the passer using accomplished swim, arm-over, or rip moves. Gets into a QB’s face in a flash and is not just a tackle box area disruptor. Hustles very well in long pursuit and will make tackles far down the field at times. Though not generally mentioned in the same breath with Vea and Payne, he will often show reasons why he should be. Started since early in his freshman season. He will disappear from games at times and endurance is a concern. Good initial quickness on the snap, relies on power to win, though is heavy-legged and can struggle consistently to make plays outside the box. Gets a powerful push in the middle to force teams to double team him when he plays with a low pad level. Inside he can push the pocket, though he has a limited array of moves and gets wired too often to blockers. Strictly an interior defender who is capable of starting at nose tackle and being a space eater that can clog the inside, allowing backers to stay clean and finish. Stays on his feet well and has the ability to move down the line. As a sophomore, he started 13 games and made 36 tackles with 12.5 TFL, 2 QB hurries and 4 sacks, earning ACC first team honors. As a freshman in 2016, he played in 14 games and made 17 tackles with 7 TFL and 2 QB hurries. Reliable ironman participating in 27 games over his short career. More effective if he could lose a few pounds and stay under 330 lbs. where he can be a force. Needs to work on improving his pass rush especially his hand punch and counter moves and overall technique. At the NFL Combine, he was just under 6’3 and 329 lbs. with 33” arms. 9 1/8” hands and 79 7/8” wingspan. He did not lift and ran a 5.37 time and added a 23.5” VJ and an 8” BJ. Capable of starting in the 3-4 on the nose. Similar in skill set, body type and athleticism to Vince Wilfolk and Haloti Ngata, but not in rookie level of development. Good early role defender for a line rotation in package defenses. Possible early starting NT. Tough defender with nice production at a high level. Rising top 50 prospect with huge upside potential if he continues to refine his awesome physical skills.
Draft Projection: 2nd Round
6 Maurice Hurst #73 – Michigan 6-1 292 4.95
Quick mobile senior interior player was one of the best performers in the Big Ten over his final season. One-year starter produced a dominant 2017 campaign where he earned consensus first team All-American honors. Earlier in his career, he was a key rotational defender from his freshman season on the highly regarded Wolverine defense. Strong and explosive and able to deliver a powerful surge in the middle. Wide base and plays with excellent leverage to hold the point very well or fight off the combo block. Lacks great size for the inside, though he graded out high there and certainly appeals to the 4-3 clubs in a three-technique role. Best suited for the one-gap three-technique where his initial quickness and fine functional strength are ideal. Moves very well for his size with the diverse skill-set to be effective in both rush and run defense. Instincts and anticipation are very good and he developed keen recognition skills facing double team blocking often. Explosive quickness off the snap to penetrate and get a shoulder past blockers. Shoots gaps and disrupts blocking angles and a very active worker who can win late on the down. Strong hands keep blockers off his body and allows him to string out plays down the line. Makes it difficult for linemen to get angles on him to lock on and sustain due to his lateral agility and quickness. Fast development in his technique may be the key reason for his impressive late career improvement. When his initial rush is thwarted, he has developed an assortment of moves to counter effectively and get off blockers. Fine ability to change directions and can chase down runners on the perimeter. Works well through trash with a nice combination of balance, vision, agility and power. Despite his marginal size, he combines the core strength and technique to stack and hold his ground at the point of attack. Uses his strong hands to tie up blockers and separate quickly. Gets in on a lot of tackles due to effort, quickness and lateral agility. Consistently able to beat single blocks. Hard hitting tackler who drives through runners to finish. NFL ready in many respects with the developed instincts and recognition skills after facing many double team situations. Alert for draws and screens and always flows well to the ball. Fluid mover for an interior defender with the skill set to overcome marginal size. In 2017, started all 13 games and recorded 61 tackles, 14.5 TFL, 3 QB hurries and 5 sacks, earning 1st team Big Ten honors. In 2016, started 12 games and totaled 33 tackles, 11.5 TFL, 7 QB hurries and 4.5 sacks. In 2015, started 13 games and had 35 tackles, 6.5 TFL and 3 sacks. Similar to Mike Daniels in body type, AA, development and also in scheme and technique diversity. At the NFL Combine, he came in at under 6’2” and 292 lbs. with 32” arms and 9 1/2” hands. Did not workout due to a heart condition discovered at the event’s physical. Medical exam discovered heart irregularities that terminated his NFL Combine workout. At his pro day in April, he ran a 4.97 time with 29 reps. Added a 31” VJ and an 8’8” BJ with a 4.62 shuttle and 7.74 three cone. It was an excellent effort. Combination of quickness and power to be a penetrating force especially as a pass rusher with good technique and instincts. Best suited and maybe limited for the three-technique role. Physical tools to start early in the right setting and fine 2nd day addition, though maybe not more than a #3 early. Falling top 50 prospect after the medical red flag. Great value on 2nd day if healthy. Teams like the Giants, Bucs, Lions and Bengals interested.
Draft Projection: 2nd-3rd Round
7 B.J. Hill #98 – North Carolina St 6-3 311 – Sp. 5.0
Stout fourth-year senior was a key defender on the talented NC St. front four starting since midway of his true freshman season. Earned ACC honors his final two seasons. Good height, naturally strong and very coordinated. Projects as a three-technique tackle in a 4-3 alignment or possibly a five-technique end in the 3-4. Fine combination of size, quickness, strength and motor to defeat blocks and penetrate the backfield. Good movement skills to make plays outside the tackle box with sound technique and fine play recognition. One of the pound for pound, strongest defensive linemen in this draft. Very impressive functional football strength, as well as weight room strength. He does a fine job of absorbing blockers, tying up double-teams and messing up blocking schemes. Able to create a big roadblock in the middle of the line. As a pass-rusher, he shows a good bull rush, by keeping his legs driving and pushing the blocker back into the pocket. When he cannot get home, he is alert to get his hands up and working to deflect the pass. Displays very active hands and overall, generally good usage to keep blockers from tying him up and disengaging. Motor and effort in long pursuit appears inconsistent at times, especially later in games. Though he is certainly capable of making plays outside the tackle box area. Reminiscent of former Bama DTs A’Shawn Robinson and Jarran Reed who are now playing regularly in the NFL Formidable force when he plays with leverage and uses his long arms to keep blockers off his body. Slow to locate the ball when raising his pads and gives blockers good angles to get into his core. If his initial quickness or rip move is stymied by the blocker, struggles to disengage and can let runners get past him. Tendency to raise his pad level negates his natural strength and gets sealed inside and washed out of the play. Good snap quickness and plays with the field speed out of his stance to make plays outside the box. Good motor with consistent effort, seldom off his feet with the talent to play a few techniques on both fronts. Best inside in a 4-3 set to play three technique, he also projects to five-technique where his long arms, base and mobility fits as a possible starter with development. As a senior, he started 13 games and made 57 tackles with 5.5 TFL, 1 FF and 3 sacks, earning first team ACC honors. As a junior, he started 13 games and made 39 tackles with 2 TFL, 1 FF, 1 FR and 1 sacks. For his career, totaled 186 tackles, 26.55 TFL, 9 sacks, 2 FF, 1 FR and 10 PBUs in 51 games. At the NFL Combine, he came in over 6’3” and 311 lbs. with 33” arms and 10 5/8” hands. He did 35 reps and ran a fine 4.99 time with a 26.5” VL and an 8’5” BJ. Added a 4.53 shuttle and 7.28 three cone to complete an excellent workout. Shows the measurables and career development to be one of this class’s real hidden gems. Similar to A’Shawn Robinson in body type, AA and development. Shows raw explosiveness for a 300 lb. athlete and can be a solid inside/outside lineman. Most effective at the three-technique or a five technique after improvement in both. Fine 3rd round addition capable of filling a key role in a line rotation and physical skills to provide a reliable early backup. Rising top 100 prospect with NFL starting talent and interesting potential. Best football ahead of him and a kid with the talent a defensive coordinator would like to work and develop further.
Draft Projection: 3rd Round
8 Nathan Shepherd #97 – Fort Hays St (Ks) 6-4 315 – Sp. 5.10
Powerful senior defender has been a key performer on the FH St. front, starting since midway of his freshman season. Earned back to back D2 All-American honors and was three-time MCAA first team. Big well-built athlete with muscular frame and the fine mobility and natural athleticism and agility to play either pro front line. Over his late career, he impressed the Senior Bowl staff that earned him an invitation to Mobile, Al in January. Thick frame and strong lower unit and capable of holding the point nicely, even vs the double team blocks. Proved this at the Senior Bowl where he was impressive in his only action at two practices before breaking his hand which terminated his playing time. Possesses the athletic package NFL scouts seek in an interior three-technique or zero, one or five-technique lineman. Three technique is probably his best position. Combines quick hands and footwork with the speed to make plays sideline to sideline. Flashed big play ability vs NFL caliber linemen in limited time at Senior Bowl, relying on his initial power and quickness to jolt blockers. Shows the burst to gain penetration and beat blockers early on the down. Active defender and strikes with fast hands to get past blockers and foot speed to close on the ball. Counters well with an array of maneuvers to move along the line with the ability to stay clean and find the ball. Big bulky frame with average arms to keep blockers off his body. Stacks well at the POA and anchors vs the double team blocks. On the snap, he can defeat blockers with fine leverage, balance to gain penetration into the backfield with a good short area burst. His fine COD skills allow him to pursue down the line and make tackles outside the box. Speed to work in space and avoid the double team. As a pass rusher, he wins on both power and quickness with developing technique, though usually wins early on the down. Transfers his skill set well to the field with very good speed and power for a huge athlete. Plays with sound pad level and is effective in gaps, gaining nice experience as both a three and zero technique defender. Relies on active hands to rip and stay clean. Strong bull rush using fine leverage and functional strength. Very good three-technique tackle using strength and initial penetration that puts him in a position to make plays. For a D2 prospect, shows a high level of development combined with the athletic skill set especially agility and good functional power to be an early factor in any line rotation. During the 2017 season, he started 12 games and totaled 38 tackles with 12.5 TFL, 4 sacks and 4 QB hurries, earning 1st team D2 All-American honors. During the 2016 season, he started 12 games and posted 61 tackles, 9.5 TFL and 3 sacks, earning 2nd team D2 honors. At the NFL Combine, he came in at just under 6’4” and 315 lbs. with 32 3/8” arms and 10 1/8” hands. He did not lift, but ran a fine 5.09 time with a 31” VL, 9’4” BJ and a 4.53 shuttle and 7.50 three cone for an excellent effort. Similar to Packers’ former #1 pick, Kenny Clark in size, scheme versatility, AA and explosiveness. As a five-technique end, he also compares to Muhammad Wilkerson in many respects. He can explode off the ball and displays the ability to use his punch and quick feet. Needs further technique development to take his game up a level. Body type and AA to man the three-technique spot in the 4-3 scheme and a good fit for the Bucs, Seahawks, Giants and Lions defense. Rising top 100 prospect with talent and versatility to give all 32 coordinators many options along front lines. Early line rotation defender with fast developing talent to push for rookie time. Fine interior addition with the complete makeup to become a core front line starter within a short period and a very high ceiling for a small college defender. Draft Projection: 3rd Round
9 * RJ McIntosh #80 – Miami (Fl) 6-4 295 – Sp. 5.2
Explosive stout true junior has been a rising performer for the Hurricanes, earning ACC honors his final two seasons. Started in his sophomore season and became one of the emerging playmakers on the program during his final two seasons. Well-built athlete with a tapered frame strong punch and good arm length (33 7/8”). Shows nice burst and uses his hands well to separate from blockers. Understands leverage well and shows fine torque to utilize his terrific functional strength. Incredibly quick off the snap and able to split double-teams. His game is all about being a disruptive penetrating thorn for blockers. Lacks bulk compared to other DT’s in the draft, but very strong and athletic with a high ceiling. Shoots gaps well to get ball carriers immediately after they would get the handoff. Pursues from sideline to sideline and possesses an outstanding closing burst. Played on a talented front wall and was able to take advantage of offenses not always being able to make him the primary focus of their blocking schemes. He uses a quick get off to shoot gaps and create tackles for loss, though is only adequate vs double-teams and must prove he can hold his ground in the NFL. High motor defender uses his initial contact to gain a fast advantage and follow with good power to get consistent movement. Possesses a big strong angular frame and base and carries his weight well. Usually the quickest off the snap and able to penetrate well when he gets on the edge of the blocker. He needs to play with good pad level to win and allows his pads to rise at times and usually fails to separate to finish. Developing into a solid interior pass rusher, evidenced by his sacks and QB hurries over his final two years. Able to bull rush well, discard the blocker and make plays. Gets under a blocker’s pads and can walk him back to the QB and collapse the pocket. Late in his career, he added more moves and began to use his long reach to be disruptive. Needs to find the ball more quickly at the snap and flow to the ball sooner. Hands are strong and quick and his usage is developing. Once he engages a blocker, he uses his long arms well to control, direct and react to the play. Good motor and once clear of the blocker, he shows good acceleration to close on the ball. On outside runs, he can move well laterally down the line and make stops outside the box. Quick and active feet to become a three-down defender. Strength and athleticism makes it tough for single blockers to handle well with any consistency. Improving his limited array of pass rush moves which can allow him to finish better. Wins by overpowering blockers with his quickness and strength. During the 2017 season, he started 13 games and made 52 tackles, 12.5 TFL, 4 QB hurries, 2.5 sacks, 1 FR and 1 FF in a solid performance that earned him ACC 2nd team honors. As a sophomore, he started 13 games and made 47 tackles with 9.5 TFL and 2.5 sacks. At the NFL Combine, he came in over 6’4” and 286 lbs. with 33 7/8” arms and 9 3/8” hands. He did not workout due to a groin strain. Similar to Cam Hayward as a five technique and Gerald McCoy in size, quickness, AA and scheme fit as a three technique. Displays fast developing AA with a burst and sound instincts to make plays, though not fully refined to start in the NFL. Will most likely come off the board in the mid-2nd day and is a rising top 60-75 prospect. Needs the right set and best suited to play three or five technique roles. Versatility to fill roles in sub packages. Intriguing prospect with the skills, production and experience to be a playmaker. Durable warrior with a nice combination of athleticism and upside potential to start in time and be a valuable rotational defender. Best suited for the 4-3 front with Jaguars, Bucs and Eagles interested. Draft Projection: 3rd Round
10 * Trenton Thompson #78 – Georgia 6-4 295 – Sp. 5.10
Strong quick true junior has been a solid performer on the tough Bulldog defense since his sophomore season. Super blue chip five-star HS recruit entered Georgia as one of the nation’s top freshmen. Two-year starter earned SEC honors during the 2016 seasons with that performance clearly his best effort. His final season was slightly disappointing after the huge sophomore campaign that culminated with an MVP award in the Georgia bowl win over TCU. He registered 3 sacks in that bowl victory and looked forward to the 2017 season. Sustained a MCL sprain early in his final season which limited his production especially as a pass rusher. Long limbed muscular athlete with little fat on his strong frame. Very impressive athleticism and movement skills. Built more like a large linebacker than your typical defensive tackle. He has the lateral quickness and change-of-direction of a linebacker. Very quick off the snap and works hard to create penetration. Lined up as both a five-technique end and a three-technique tackle from play to play and often the focus of offensive blocking schemes. Drew more than his fair share of double-teams. Outstanding in long pursuit and was often seen chasing down ball carriers far down field and from sideline to sideline. Possesses a fine motor and makes a lot of his plays from sheer hustle. Played hurt through much of his college career and while his willingness to play with pain is impressive, it also affected his production. Participated in just 35% of the defensive snaps in 2017. Career injuries besides the aforementioned MCL sprain, included both ankles and a shoulder injury after his sophomore campaign that required surgery. Fine skill set to be a better pro than collegian after flashing good playmaking ability at times. Angular body plays high at times and allows his pads to rise and natural leverage to utilize his strong base. Shows explosiveness on the snap with good initial quickness to shoot the gap. Fine penetrator with the burst to be disruptive and create blocking problems from an inside position. Usually the first to move off the snap with good explosion and fine body flexibility to upset timing. Stays under control in space like a smaller athlete and smooth when breaking down in space. Thick base and quick hands and can shed single blocks in a blur. Gets good arm extension and works to squeeze his run gap. Developed hand usage when utilized with an effective swim and arm-over move. Good in pursuit and can run down ball carriers in the tackle box, though only marginal instincts and needs to trust his eyes better and respond more naturally. When he wins early, he needs to use good counter moves to finish. Good lateral quickness for stunts and twists in his pass rush. Most effective as a one-gap, three-technique on early downs. Limited ability to counter on passing downs and needs to use his long arms more often to disrupt passing lanes. His up the field charge makes it a chore for guards to recover if beaten early. Some experience at NT, but is much better in three technique. Similar to Nick Fairley is size, AA and as an active undersized penetrator, best suited for 3-technique in a 4-3. In 2017, played in 13 games and recorded 38 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 1 QB hurry and no sacks. Earned 2nd team SEC honors in 2016, started 13 games and totaled 56 tackles, 9.5 TFL, 1 QB hurry and 5 sacks. Over his career, he totaled 119 tackles, 15.5 TFL, 4 QB hurries and 5.5 sacks. At the NFL Combine, he came in at just under 6’3” and 288 lbs. with 34” arms and 10 5/8” hands. He ran a 5.06 time with a 32.5” VL and 9’3” BJ. He added a 4.56 shuttle and a 7.68 three cone. Talent and AA to give a line rotation an immediate boost. Combination of quickness and power to be a penetrating force especially on passing situations, though technique is not ready for reps in that role. Must settle into a position and best suited for three-technique. Flashes playmaking ability as a penetrator. Quick angular tackle with the physical tools to start in the right setting and 2nd day gamble. Top 75 prospect to be a surprise in time.
Draft Projection: 3rd-4th Round
11 Deadrin Senat #10 – South Florida 6-0 314 – Sp. 5.15
Explosive mobile interior senior has been a disruptive force on the SF front over his three starting seasons. Two-time AAC honors with his final season a 1st team nominee. May be played his best career game in his finale vs Texas Tech when he recorded 3 sacks in the SF 38-34 victory. Quick penetrator excelled despite double team blocks regularly over his late career. Thick low based defender brings a well-rounded skill set and NFL ability to the table. Legitimate NFL starter in a three-technique role with development. Despite his short arms, he has a strong thick base to explode through gaps and get into the backfield consistently. Finishes with strong tackling, including on the perimeter. Uses his lack of ideal height to his advantage with natural leverage to get under blockers, penetrate and separate. Shows very good initial quickness to threaten gaps and use his strong powerful punch to jolt blockers and penetrate. Able to use his strong hands to counter and push off big blockers with his initial thrust. As a pass rusher, he wins on his initial charge and totaled 7 sacks over his final two seasons. At times, gets wired to blockers when his initial burst is contained and he can struggle to get sacks late in the down. Displays fine flexibility and the ability to stay low, use leverage and move his opponent off the line of scrimmage. Understands hand usage and capable of controlling an opponent when he uses sound inside placement. Very light on his feet and is able to adjust and redirect to finish. Reliable wrap up tackler and capable of exploding to the ball carrier with the range to make plays outside the box. After extensive playing time and facing much double blocking, he has developed sound instincts and awareness for draws, misdirection and screens. Good sense of timing to peel off blockers to get to the ball. Relies on his initial quickness and natural leverage to defeat blocks, but can also be overwhelmed by sheer mass and power when a blocker locks on. Works hard to rush the passer, but needs additional moves. Well suited to play the three-technique role in a 4-3 front that focuses on playing one-gap and penetrating. As a senior, he started 11 games and had 66 tackles with 10.5 TFL and 6 sacks. Earned 1st team AAC honors. As a junior, he started 12 games and registered 49 tackles along with 7 TFL, 1 sack and 1 FF. At the NFL Combine, he came in at 6’ 314 lbs. with 31 5/8” arms and 9 3/4” hands. He ran a 5.16 time and did 35 reps. Added a 26” VL 8’4” BJ, 4.79 shuttle and 7.77 three cone. Similar to Jurrell Casey in size, AA and quickness to play tackle in a 4-3 scheme. Progressed nicely learning his position. Contributes early in a line rotation and can a key factor as a situational pass rusher. Early rotational tackle presents a fine change of pace to starters. Good early 3rd day selection with upside to surprise and be a quality starter in time. Top 120 prospect here, though may fall beyond the top 125 picks on the 3rd day and one of the best bargains of the entire draft.
Draft Projection: 4th-5th Round
12 Justin Jones #27 – North Carolina St 6-2 310 – Sp. 5.10
Mobile senior has been a reliable unsung performer, starting every game over his final two seasons. Part of the best front four in recent college football with four seniors expected to be drafted in April starting with top five pick Bradley Chubb. Earned some ACC honorable mention, though other teammates earned the high accolades, his relentless performance was vital to the NC St success. Emerged as an inside force his final two seasons, playing mainly as a 3-technique defender. Possibly also, projects as a five-technique end. Comes with low pad level off the snap and usually gains leverage advantage over his opponent. Uses his strong lower body and heavy-hands to strike blockers. Wide base to stack at the point and plays with nice leverage to get under an opponent. Developing in twists and stunts with effective quickness to come off a pick and close quickly. Strong burst to finish when he separates. Keen sense for angle blocks and shows fine technique to negate combo blocks. Struggles controlling the point of attack if he loses early. Improving pass rusher with burst to get through gaps and close on the passer. Wins with both speed and power, though he needs additional moves to be a three-down defender. Good instincts and reacts quickly to what he sees to utilize his speed to gain an advantage. Consistent recognition skills to help compensate for average size for the interior. Offenses have been able to run at him, when he allows upright pad level and tendency to get wired to blockers. In 2017, he started 13 games and recorded 33 tackles, 8.5 TFL and 2.5 sacks, earning ACC honorable mention. In 2016, he started 13 games and recorded 43 tackles, 6.5 TFL and 3 sacks, earning ACC honorable mention. For his career, he played in 49 games and totaled 115 tackles, 21.5 TFL, 8 QB hurries and 7.5 sacks. At the NFL Combine, he came in under 6’3” and 309 lbs. with 33 1/2” arms and 10” hands. He ran a 5.09 time with 24 reps, a 29” VL and 8’8” BJ. He added a 4.74 shuttle and a 7.82 three cone. Tenacious lineman flashes playmaking ability. Talent to give 4-3 fronts a high level rotational lineman with the ability to play in sub packages. Combination of quickness and power to be a penetrating force especially in a three-technique role. Quick strong tackle with the physical tools to start in time in a 4-3 scheme. Early situational defender. Top 125 prospect with good tools to be a factor in line rotation and eventually start. Best inside in the three-technique spot.
Draft Projection: 4th-5th Round
13 * Kendrick Norton #7 – Miami (Fl) 6-3 315 – Sp. 5.25 Rating 75
Strong true junior tackle has been a playmaker over his short Hurricane career, starting his final two seasons. Formed an awesome interior with R.J. McIntosh in a program with a great legacy for developing top NFL linemen. Earn ACC honors his final two seasons with honorable mention in 2017 after a 2nd team honoree in 2016. Athletic prospect with fine skill set to start in the NFL in time. Displays the agility and quickness to fit at a few positions. Good strong frame with the footwork to easily change directions and move laterally. Uses his quick initial burst, arm length and agility to penetrate the backfield. Disruptive force inside to gain a fast advantage with the burst to finish. Shows big play ability when he is technically sound and utilizes quickness and power to penetrate gaps. Mobile defender who makes plays outside the box and has the talent to move along the line and play different techniques. On the snap, he can gain a fast advantage, relying on his quick first step and strong hands consistently to continue to separate and finish. Needs development on additional moves to counter more consistently. As a pass rusher, he shows a burst to pressure the pocket from the interior. Flashes explosiveness on the inside with the hip flexibility to move easily down the line to finish. Developing athlete can succeed as a three-technique where he made most of his plays and is best suited for as a pro. In that position, he is very effective when isolated in single matchups where he wins early often and can use his power and quickness to penetrate. Struggles to push the pocket when he faces double team block despite fine lower body strength. Relies on his initial quickness to win on the down. Gets wired to blockers if his initial move is thwarted and can struggle shedding later on the down. Needs to develop his instincts and vision to recognize and react sooner. Must run his motor consistently. During the 2017 season, he started the 13 games and made 26 tackles, 6.5 TFL, 2 sacks and 1 PD. As a sophomore in 2016, he played in 13 games and totaled 39 tackles with 10 TFL, 1 FF and 2 sacks, earning ACC honorable mention. At the NFL Combine, he came in at 6’2” and 314 lbs. with 33 3/4” arms and 10 ¾” hands. Ran a 5.25 time and did 25 reps. Similar to Tim Jernigan in size, quickness, AA and scheme fit as a three-technique one-gap defender. Active defender flashed the ability to shoot gaps and be a disruptive interior force. Likely gets drafted on the early 3rd day and marginal top 150 pick. Fast developing prospect with big upside in time, though still raw and maybe only a #3 early. Quality three technique starter. Underrated gem in this deep class.
14 Derrick Nnadi #91 – Florida St 6-1 315 – Sp. 5.35 Rating 75
Naturally powerful senior has been a full-time starter on the Seminoles talented defensive line since his true freshman season. Three-year starter and two-time ACC honoree with 1st team accolades in 2016. Short wide body tackle fits both schemes, yet best for the nose tackle role in the 3-4 front. Thick muscular legs and calves with powerful core and good flexibility and balance. Space eating nose tackle with fine natural strength and flexibility to anchor well in the middle, occupy two blockers and neutralize them consistently. Clogs up and controls the middle of the line and rarely uprooted. Displays the raw power to simply rag doll undersized centers who try to single block him. Redirects well showing foot quickness and flexibility to adjust to fakes and misdirection plays within the tackle box. Shows he can gobble up double teams and stonewall the interior. Fine instincts and reactions to close the hole on backs trying to come through his gap. Flashes the athleticism to be a decent inside pass-rusher, though mainly a bull rusher. Carries some excess weight in the midsection, though did not tend to get fatigued in full time starting duty. Limited range for an interior player. Lack of foot speed and fails to make tackles on the flanks. Limited moves as a rusher to win late on the down. His power would be even more effective with more consistent hand usage. As a senior, he started 13 games and recorded 53 total tackles with 10 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 1 FF and 1 PBU. Earned 2nd team ACC honors. In 2016, he started 13 games and made 49 tackles with 10.5 TFL, 6 sacks, 1 PBU and 1 FF. Earned 1st team ACC honors. At the NFL Combine, he ran a 5.38 time and did 25 reps with a 27” VL and an 8” BJ. Added a 5.02 shuttle and an 8.15 three cone. Hard-nosed tough defender with starting talent. Limited to a two-down defender initially and may be never more than that role. Needs to stay fresh to play his best and be most effective. Developed run stuffer with strong frame and capable of projecting to either scheme. Good addition with the physical skills to develop and play a key role in a line rotation and probably start for 3-4 clubs in time. Marginal top 150 prospect.
15 Lowell Lotulelei #93 – Utah 6-2 315 – Sp. 5.25 Rating 70
Powerful thick senior started since his freshman season when he earned All-American honors. Younger brother of Star Lotulelei who was a #1 pick of the Panthers. Lowell is a naturally strong athlete with the frame and base to matchup with strong interior blockers and hold the point consistently. Understands and uses good leverage with the strong hands to contest blockers and stack two blockers. As a senior, his performance regressed as he was out of shape which cut down on his ability to react quickly on the interior and limited him to plays only between the tackle box. His conditioning was a critical issue and the main culprit in his reduced production. Usually plays with a low center of gravity and uses his natural strength fairly well. Displays a proportioned frame with the girth to stack inside, though he carried too much bad weight in 2017 which effected his quickness and overall performance. He has enough length to extend and control blockers when he uses good technique. Very strong athlete with good burst into gaps with the balance and body control to stay on his feet. Good snap quickness and plays with adequate field speed out of his stance. His inconsistent motor must be addressed to take the next step to the NFL, though he has the skill set to develop into a pro starter. Seldom off his feet with the talent to play a few techniques on both fronts. Best inside in a 4-3 set where he can play three-technique and under tackle positions. Also, has graded out high in a zero-technique alignment where his base and mobility project him as a nose tackle. Good in pursuit when he reads the play properly. Racked up good career tackle totals (103 stops) for an interior lineman with sound instincts and play recognition to be an anchor. Natural leverage technician with good footwork in the tackle box. Forces teams to combo block him often as he protects inside lanes for linebackers to run to the ball. Tough guy needs to commit to conditioning and details to ever realize his potential. As a pass rusher, he mainly wins with power and forces teams to double him to maintain a clean pocket. As a rusher, he needs more technique to separate quicker. Shows the brute strength and bulk to consistently hold the point and stuff the run, but lacks quick twitch ability to be effective outside the box. As a senior, he started 13 games and posted 16 tackles with 3.5 TFL and 1.5 sacks. As a junior, he played in 12 games and posted 28 tackles with 8.5 TFL, 1 QB hurry and 3.5 sacks. Similar to Star Lotulelei in body type and AA, but not in development and temperament. At the NFL Combine, he came in under 6’2” and 315 lbs. and 33” arms and did not run. Added 28 reps and stopped workout due to an injury. Strong prospect and interesting addition with talent and production, but several inconsistencies in his game. Clubs will consider him off his skill set, strength, technique, experience and production. Capable of being a good backup initially as a run stuffer who can give the starter a breather for periods. Solid tackle with the physical tools to start in the right setting, though a huge boom or bust prospect. Falling defender off a lackluster late career. Marginal top 150-200 prospect.
16 Bilal Nichols #92 – Delaware 6-4 310 – Sp. 4.95 Rating 70
Long powerful two-year starting defensive tackle has been an anchor in the middle of the Blue Hens’ defense. Highly active prospect improved annually, earning CAA honors his final three seasons. That earned him invitations to the East-West and Senior Bowl all-star games. Big frame with growth potential and long arms (33 3/8”) that projects him both inside and at five-technique in a 3-4. Flashes fine functional strength when he plays with proper pad level and uses his powerful hand punch. High cut athlete failed to add weight or muscle earlier in his career. At times, struggles bending his knees consistently which allows blockers to get into his long frame. Shows the ability to penetrate and can beat blockers using his charge and good athleticism. Only average laterally, showing the effort to pursue vs the run, though slow to read plays and blocking angles. While his stats are somewhat average, he was constantly facing double-teams on the nose or under tackle role. As a pass rusher, he has improved nicely, though still inconsistent in his technique especially trying to push the pocket and finish. Inconsistent getting off blocks to win late on the down and needs to improve hand usage and arm extension to separate and win with his secondary moves. Will surprise an opponent with his initial burst, showing quickness to shoot gaps, though fails to counter well consistently. Shows the flexibility and balance to re-direct laterally in pursuit. Able to sometimes use his power to stack and shed when he plays with good knee bend. At times, he will play with high pad level, hurting his ability to hold up well especially vs double teams. Best in three-technique, though could project to the five-technique. Shows the potential to be an above-average run stuffer and should be effective in either pro front. As a senior, he started 11 games and posted 56 tackles, 6.5 TFL, 1 FR, 4 PBU, 1 BK, 1 interception and 5.5 sacks. Earned first team CAA. In 2016, he started 9 of 10 games played and posted 25 tackles with 7.5 TFL, 1 FF, 5 PBUs, 1 safety and 5 sacks. Over his career, he started 21 of 44 games with 104 tackles, 17.5 TFL, 3 FF, 2 interceptions, 10 PBU and 10.5 sacks. Earned three CAA honors including first team in 2017. At the NFL Combine, he came in at just under 6’4”, 306 lbs. with 33 3/8” arms and 10 1/4” hands. He ran a 4.95 time and did 29 reps. Stopped workout due hamstring pull in forty. Combination of length, power and agility gives him a chance to make it as a quality backup in either set. Consistent motor, though still raw in his technique development. Fits the two-down run stuffer role and goal line defender. Capable of being a backup early with the potential to develop and realize his natural talent. Good 3rd day gamble with the skills to improve especially as a pass rusher. Marginal top 150 prospect with upside and possible starter with the necessary technique development.
17 P. J. Hall #92 – Sam Houston St 6-0 305 – Sp. 4.55 Rating 70
Quick, undersized, rotational three-technique tackle was a key part in SH St success over his fine career. Earned first team Southland honors all four season with two Defensive Player of the Year awards. Compact physique and a low center of gravity that helps him play with natural leverage. Shows marginal height and weight with average arms and strong hands. Fires off at the snap very quickly, showing good pad level and nice natural power. Displays sound hand usage and the ability to split gaps and usually shows good alertness and quickness to get to the ball. He can prove to be a difficult for linemen to handle in single matchups and he often wins on the snap. Displays adequate core and lower unit strength. Smooth coordinated movement skills when in space and an active hustler in pursuit. Possesses adequate size for the NFL, though smallish frame with little growth potential. Shows the quickness with the strength to succeed in the NFL, especially in a rotational situation as a 3-technique tackle in a 4-3 front. Penetrating and disrupting with the ability to close. Needs improved hand technique and add extra moves to counter once his initial move is controlled, though he developed a good punch. Can be engulfed if blockers get their hands on him and contain his initial moves. He can be a disruptive presence in the middle, but needs to develop a better swim and rip moves. Improved footwork to counter and worked stunts well along the front. As a senior, he started 12 games and finished his career as a three-time Southland performer. He made 60 tackles with 19 TFL, 6 PBU, 1 FF, 1 pick and 6 sacks. Earned 1st team honors. At East-West Shrine week, he flashed explosiveness and the ability to penetrate. As a junior, he started 13 games and totaled 56 tackles with 24.5 TFL, 3 QB hurries, 7 PBU, 3 FF and 13 sacks and DPY in the Southlands. Over his career, he earned first team honors three times along with Freshman of the Year honors. For his career, he started 56 games and posted 284 tackles with an incredible 86.5 TFL, 42 sacks and 9 FF and 1 FR. He did not attend the NFL Combine. At his pro day in April, he came in at just under 6’1”, 308 lbs. He ran a 4.83 time and did 36 reps. Added a 38″ VL and a 9’8″ BJ to compete an outstanding performance. Factor in a line rotation probably as a pass rusher. Fast rising top 200 prospect. Interesting talent with good motor and talent to be a factor in package defenses. Explosive burst and natural leverage performer overcomes marginal size for the inside. Sleeper with make it grade as later pick for sub packages. Situational pass rusher.
18 Folorunso Fatukasi #93 – UConn 6-4 318 – Sp. 5.30 Rating 65
Big powerful physical three-year starting defensive tackle has been an anchor in the middle of the Huskies’ defense. Highly recruited prospect and played immediately while starting his final three seasons, earning honorable mention AAC in 2017 and 2015. Huge frame with long arms (34 1/8”) and wide base to project to both inside and also five-technique in the 3-4 scheme. Flashes fine functional strength when he plays with proper pad level and uses his powerful hand punch. Powerful bull rusher with extension to walk guards back to the QB. While his stats may appear fairly average, he was constantly facing double-teams as the offenses focused on neutralizing his presence. Displays the ability to penetrate and can beat blockers using his charge and good athleticism. Only average laterally, showing the effort to pursue, though slow to read plays and blocking angles. He can raise his pads and expose his big frame to blockers and must be disciplined in his technique to be effective. Will sometimes surprise an opponent with his initial burst, showing quickness to shoot gaps, though fails to counter well on a consistent basis. Lacks the flexibility and balance to re-direct laterally in pursuit. Able to use his power to stack and shed at the line. At times will play high, hurting his ability to hold up well vs double teams. Limited as a pass rusher with inability to consistently counter and finish. Inconsistent getting off blocks to make tackles and needs to improve hand usage and arm extension to control the line of scrimmage and play up to his size. Shows the potential to be an above-average run stuffer and should be effective in either an odd or even front. At the East-West week, he displayed interesting skills with versatility and physical talent to intrigue scouts. As a senior, he started 12 games and posted 45 tackles, 7.5 TFL and 4 sacks. In 2016, he started 12 games and posted 43 tackles with 2.5 TFL and 2.5 sacks. At the NFL Combine, he came in just under 6’4”, 318 lbs. with 34 1/8” arms and 10 1/4” hands. He ran a 5.29 time and did 33 reps. He added 30” VL, a 9’4” BJ, 4.53 shuttle and 7.44 cone. His massive size creates problems in the middle and is an anchor that is difficult to uproot even with multiple blockers on him. His combination of power and bulk gives him a chance to make it as a quality backup in either set. This is a prospect with developing skills as a run stuffer to be an anchor in the middle, though little other than a bull rusher. Still raw in his technique and suspect football IQ. Fits the two-down run stuffer role and goal line defender. Capable of being a backup with the potential to develop his natural talent. Good later round gamble with the skills to improve and make it. Marginal top 200 prospect with some upside, though a boom or bust prospect.
19 Greg Gilmore #99 – LSU 6-4 320 – Sp. 5.35 Rating 65
Tough, aggressive fifth senior has been an important part of the Tigers’ front wall, starting at times when healthy. Hard working tackle with good base and arm length (33 7/8”) utilizing his underrated athleticism to grade out well vs SEC talent. Gritty battler with the technique and functional strength to make plays. Shows good effort and technique that coupled with his bulk and mobility allowed him to grade out high vs SEC blockers. He can anchor against the run, using his natural leverage and his ability to consistently get under an opponent’s pads. Alert and aware, and able to locate the ball quickly. Strong to hold his ground, disengage from blockers and latch on to runners coming through gaps. Showed this at the Senior Bowl practices. Good tackler and finishes consistently between the tackles. Plays with a high motor, showing fine effort in pursuit, though range is limited to inside the box. Adequate off the snap and able to stun blockers with his strong punch. Refuses to remain blocked and fights to get free and make plays. Possesses heavy hands that combined with his lower unit strength, enables him to neutralize the combo blocks. Shows adequate COD in pursuit. Improving as an interior pass rusher with additional moves other than a power bull rush. He needs better hand usage especially late on the down to separate. Needs to do a better job of working the edge of a blocker. Tends to stay squared up and can get engulfed at times. When his initial push is stalled, he often stops moving his feet. Pursues acceptably down the line. Hard worker is tough and scrappy to move at the point of attack. Though not a quick-twitch type athlete, he could be a solid part of a defensive tackle rotation especially on running downs. As a senior, he started all 13 games at nose tackle and made 53 tackles with 10 TFL, 1 FF and 7.5 sacks. Earned invite to Senior Bowl where he performed well especially vs the running game. In the 2016 season, he started all 12 games and made 34 tackles with 1 PBU and 1.5 sacks. Over his career, he started in 26 of 43 games with the final 25 contests consecutive. He totaled 104 tackles, 13 TFL and 10 sacks. He did not attend the NFL Combine. At the LSU pro day, he came in at 6’4” and 320 lbs. with 33 7/8” arms, 9 3/8” hands and ran a 5.35 time with reps and 27.5” VJ and an 8’9” BJ. Added 4.50 shuttle and a 7.55 cone. Rugged tackle with a definite make it grade to win a roster spot and play in a line rotation. Physical skills and intangibles to surprise and be a key serviceable lineman. Prospect with nice experience to develop further. Fine power and instincts can be a disruptive presence to win a backup nose role while he learns the system. Possible three-technique tackle and fine marginal top 200 prospect. Major college sleeper who is coming on.
20 John Atkins #97 – Georgia 6-3 320 – Sp. 5.35 Rating 65
Wide body interior run stuffing tackle has been an unsung performer on the Bulldogs defensive front, starting since late in his redshirt sophomore season. Sixth year senior went JC route at Hargrave Military for one year before a redshirt 2013 season. Physical two-gap tackle who is at home in the 3-4 front where his fine strength and tough attitude fits well. Naturally thick defender with strong thighs, wide base and long arms (34”). Adequate agility to be effective within the tackle box and shows a powerful hand punch to jar an opponent. Thick and fits well in zero or one-technique roles with the mobility to move along the line. Plugs the middle, though struggles to neutralize double-teams and needs consistent hand technique to separate effectively. Good initial quickness on the snap, relies on power to win, but is heavy-legged and can struggle making plays outside the box. Gets a push inside, though fails to counter and disengage to finish. At times, gets engulfed by bigger linemen and will disappear from games. At times, he plays with a high pad level that stops him in his tracks. Inside he can push the pocket, though he has a limited array of moves and gets wired far too often to blockers. Wears down late in the game and needs better conditioning, though he has top weight room strength. Space eater interior defender capable of playing nose tackle and being a cog who allows backers to finish. Fine balance and stays on his feet fairly well and has the ability to make tackles. As a senior, he made 38 tackles with 3 TFL and 2 sacks, starting 14 of 15 games. As a junior, he made 22 tackles with 1.5 TFL, no sacks and 2 PBU, starting 9 of 13 games. Reliable defender with big game experience and play making. Needs to work on improving his pass rush, especially his hand punch and overall technique to be more than a run stuffer. At the NFL Combine, he was just under 6’3” and 321 lbs. with 34” arms and 9 1/4” hands and ran a 5.38 time. Did not lift and added a 24” VL, 7’5” BJ, 4.75 shuttle and a 7.95 three cone. Later addition capable of filling a backup role and possibly surprise to earn a starting NT job. Tough grunt defender with production and durability at a high level. Marginal top 250 prospect with some athletic limitations. Good rotational nose and serviceable tackle. Late pick or high priority FA.
21 Taylor Stallworth #90 – South Carolina 6-2 310 – Sp. 5.25 Rating 62
Agile strong senior tackle has been a playmaker on the inside for the Gamecocks’ defense the past two seasons, earning SEC honorable mention in 2017. Started since midway of his sophomore season. Low based athlete with average arms (32 1/2”) and the natural ability to create problems from the inside. Good size with wide base and fine functional strength and the ability to bend his knees to effectively to anchor. When he comes off the ball quickly, he presents a force on the inside and difficult for blockers to move. When technically sound, he displays inside penetration to disrupt blocking schemes and can be a force vs. the run. As a pass rusher, he creates inside pressure with a quick burst and a few moves that allow him to harass the passer. Relies on his strong bull rush to get past blockers, but can get wired if he fails to win early on the down. Shows a quick hand punch with nice initial power to jar blockers, but needs to use it more consistently and show he can counter to win late on the down. Flashes quickness when he reads the play properly and comes off the snap with good pad level. Anchors fairly well and occupies blockers when he uses his hands early to separate. Learned to better read blocking schemes and recognize plays with experience. Needs development on his hand and counter technique to further improve especially as a pass rusher. Stout at the point of attack can earn him a roster spot. Good balance and agility within the tackle box. Only average change of direction and foot speed to get to the perimeter. Quick power move may allow him to see time in rotation especially short yardage situations. His endurance over the course of the game has been questioned. At times, his technique becomes sloppy and he gets easily wired to blockers. As a senior, he started 12 games and recorded 29 total tackles with 2.5 TFL, 9 pass pressures. In 2016, he started 13 games and made 41 tackles, 3 TFL and 1 sack in a fine yet unheralded performance. At the NFL Combine, he came in at 6’2” and 312 lbs. with short arms (32 ½”) and big hands (10 1/4”). He ran a 5.28 time and did 18 reps with a 23.5” VL and an 8’5” BJ. He added a 4.75 shuttle and a 7.95 three cone to complete a good workout. Carries a make it grade, though he may not be better than a #3 tackle in a 4-3 scheme. Needs to get stronger to be stout at the point of attack to help in run support. Hot and cold defender with talent and experience to surprise with further refinement. Weak supporting cast around him. Top 200 prospect with the skills to fill a #3 tackle role and possibly push for starting time at some point. Marginal athlete with make it grade and early rotational run stuffer.
22 James Looney #9 – California 6-3 290 – Sp. 4.90 Rating 62
Athletic tackle has started his three seasons with the Bears, earning Pac-12 honorable mention his final two years. Transferred from Wake Forest after one season. Smallish frame with fine athleticism that played out at the NFL Combine workout. Active athlete with speed, quickness and agility to be a factor along a pro front line. Mobile quick defender has started since the second game in his sophomore season and flashed playmaking ability as a three-technique tackle. Penetrates the interior on the snap and capable of gaining a fast advantage in single blocking matchups. Displays nice inside penetration to disrupt blocking schemes and can be a force vs. the run. Creates inside pressure by relying on his initial burst to penetrate with the functional strength to gain an advantage. Quick hand punch with nice initial power to beat blockers, though fails to counter to sustain that advantage. Flashes quickness and comes off the snap with good pad level. Good at clogging the interior when he reads the play properly and gains an early advantage. Sound technique is vital to win early on the down. Usually plays with good leverage to utilize his smaller frame. His game is quickness and gaining an edge on blockers with fast reads. Active at the point of attack, though can be engulfed by bigger blockers or combo blocks. Fires off the ball with good burst and displays nice leverage, smooth footwork and good short area quickness. Shoots gap nicely to wreak havoc and force adjustments inside. Shows the ability to play on the other side of the line. Effective defending the run with strong active hands to separate and stay alive. Good lateral footspeed to go down the line. Struggles to anchor in the middle and raises his pads too often which gets him washed out. May surprise with some pass rush ability and earn time as an inside rusher. Must show consistently good technique and use his strong hands often to overcome some physical limitations. As a senior, he started all 12 games and made 41 tackles with 9.5 TFL, 1 FF, 2 FR and 3.5 sacks. In 2016, he started 12 games and totaled 54 tackles, 8 TFL, 1 FF and 3.5 sacks. Make it grade off his final two seasons. At the NFL Combine, he was just under 6’3” and 287 lbs. with 32” arms and 10 1/2” hands and ran a fine 4.89 time. Did 28 reps in the lifting and added a 35.5” VL, 9’5” BJ, 4.37 shuttle and a 7.32 three cone. Later addition capable of filling a backup role and possibly surprise to earn playing time. Quick defender with production and durability at a high level. Marginal top 250 prospect with some athletic limitations. Good rotational and serviceable tackle. Good late gamble but must continue to make strides in strength, technique and instincts to play in the NFL. Limited backup with make it grade.
23 Poona Ford #95 – Texas 5-11 305 – Sp. 5.00 Rating 60
Squatty mobile senior tackle came on strong over his final two seasons, earning some Big 12 honors. Wide body athlete with bubble butt and the ability to anchor fairly well on the inside. Fires out decisively at the snap and strikes with a strong though inconsistent punch to gain an advantage. Locates the ball with good instincts. and shoots through gaps. Displays good agility and balance for the position and plays on his feet, relying on a low center of gravity and strong leg drive to maintain leverage. Can be very disruptive off the snap. Needs additional hand power to separate better vs stronger linemen. As a pass rusher, he gains an early edge and keeps working to collapse the pocket, though a limited array of moves. High-revving motor, works hard and pursues in the box. Shows good effort from play to play, though marginal size and skill set. Lacks ideal size and length and may be limited to the nose spot as a backup. Good strength to perform well and hold up as a two-gap tackle. Can get wiped out by down blocks or double-teams. In a scheme playing a one-gap system, he can line up as a three-technique tackle. Able to penetrate and disrupt with the tenacity and tools to be effective. May also be able to handle the nose as a shade 1-technique too. Needs extra rushing moves and improve his ability to separate from blockers. Wired to blockers too often if his bull rush is contained. As a senior, he made 34 tackles with 8 TFL, 1 FF and 1.5 sacks, starting 13 games, earning 3rd team Big 12 honors. As a junior, he made 54 tackles with 5.5 TFL and 0 sacks, starting 12 games. He did not attend the NFL Combine. Pro day, under 6′ and 306 lbs. Ran a 4.96, did 36 reps with a 29.5” VJ and an 8’4” BJ in a good workout. Though he may never be more than a backup in the NFL, he can be part of a line rotation and effective as a run stuffer. Late addition with the physical skills to make it and give a club a serviceable rotational defender. Definite make it grade and top 250 prospect with skill set and temperament to surprise.
24 * Kahlil McKenzie Jr. #99 – Tennessee 6-3 315 – Sp. 5.15 Rating 60
Athletic true junior became a mainstay on the Vols’ defensive line over his final season. Limited to one start by various nagging injuries earlier in his career. Despite the injury plagued down year in 2016, he returned and had a respectable 2017 effort playing in 11 games and becoming a factor in the box. Surprisingly decided to declare early for the draft, though the firing of HC Butch Jones was a big factor. Son of current Raiders’ GM Reggie McKenzie. Thick muscular legs and calves. When he was healthy, showed he could clog up and control the middle of the line. Displays the raw power to simply rag doll undersized centers that try to single block him. Shows he can gobble up double teams and stonewall the interior when he plays with leverage. Developing instincts and reactions to close up shop on running backs trying to come through his gap. Flashes the athleticism to be a decent inside pass-rusher. Carries no excess weight in the midsection and tends to move easily along the front. Struggles with blockers if they get their hands on him early on the down. Needs work to string hands and feet moves together especially countering if his first move is contained. His power would be even more effective with more consistent hand usage. At the NFL Combine, he came in just under 6’3” and 314 lbs. with 31 ½” arms and 10 1/8” hands. He ran a 5.15 time and did 26 reps with a 29 1/2” VL and an 8’9” BJ with a 4.68 shuttle and a 7.94 cone. In 2017, he played in 11 games and recorded 35 tackles with 3.5 TFL and 2 sacks. In 2016, he made 12 tackles in six games before his season ended with a pectoral tear vs Alabama in his first career starting assignment. Played in 13 games as a true freshman. Raw athlete with range and functional strength for an interior player. Needs to improve his technique and strength to play up to his athleticism. Young talent with good size frame and capable of projecting to a three-technique role. Good late addition with the physical skills to develop and play a key role in a line rotation in time. Late addition and ideal PS candidate to refine his natural talent.
25 Mike Ramsay Duke 6-2 290 – Sp. 5.1 Rating 60
26 Jamiyus Pittman Central Florida 6-1 285 – Sp. 5.2 Rating 60
27 Mike Hughes Jr. UNLV 6-2 305 – Sp. 5.2 Rating 60
28 Zaycoven Henderson Texas AM 6-1 300 – Sp. 5.15 Rating 60
29 Christian LaCouture LSU 6-4 290 – Sp. 5.2 Rating 60
30 Will Geary Kansas St 6-0 305 – Sp. 5.1 Rating 58
31 Matt Dickerson UCLA 6-5 295 – Sp. 5.1 Rating 58
32 Joshua Frazier Alabama 6-4 320 – Sp. 5.3 Rating 58
33 * DuVonta Lampkin Oklahoma 6-3 335 – Sp. 5.4 Rating 58
34 Henry Mondeaux Oregon 6-3 280 – Sp. 5.0 Rating 58
35 Curtis Cothran Penn St 6-5 290 – Sp. 5.1 Rating 58
36 Nathan Bazata Iowa 6-2 290 – Sp. 5.0 Rating 58
37 Michael Hill Ohio St 6-2 320 – Sp. 5.3 Rating 58
38 Nifae Lealao Vanderbilt 6-4 310 – Sp. 5.2 Rating 58
39 Tony Guerad Central Florida 6-3 305 – Sp. 5.2 Rating 58
40 Filipo Mokofisi Utah 6-3 295 – Sp. 5.1 Rating 58
41 * Eddy Wilson Purdue 6-3 300 – Sp. 5.4 Rating 58
42 Bruce Hector South Florida 6-2 300 – Sp. 5.3 Rating 58
43 Frank Herron LSU 6-3 310 – Sp. 5.1 Rating 58
44 DeQuinton Osborne Oklahoma St 6-0 305 – Sp. 5.3 Rating 56
45 Scott Pagano Oregon 6-3 295 – Sp. 5.2 Rating 56
46 Parker Cothren Penn St 6-3 295 – Sp. 5.2 Rating 56
47 Drew Bailey Louisville 6-5 295 – Sp. 5.1 Rating 56
48 * Courtel Jenkins Miami (Fl) 6-0 315 – Sp. 5.3 Rating 56
49 * Travonte Valentine LSU 6-3 356 – Sp. 5.6 Rating 56
50 Tracy Sprinkle Ohio St 6-2 295 – Sp. 5.1 Rating 56
51 Kendal Vickers Tennessee 6-2 295 – Sp. 5.0 Rating 56
52 Matt Elam Kentucky 6-6 360 – Sp. 5.6 Rating 56
53 Josh Fatu Southern Cal 6-2 315 – Sp. 5.4 Rating 56
54 Jeremiah Taleni Florida Atlantic 6-1 285 – Sp. 5.1 Rating 56
55 Sebastian Joseph Rutgers 6-3 305 – Sp. 5.3 Rating 56
56 Dee Liner Arkansas St 6-2 335 – Sp. 5.4 Rating 56
57 Steven Richardson Minnesota 6-0 292 – Sp. 5.1 Rating 56
58 Jamal Stadom Troy 6-1 280 – Sp. 5.1 Rating 56
59 Tyler Lancaster Northwestern 6-3 315 – Sp. 5.0 Rating 56
60 DeAsian Richardson Louisville 6-3 326 – Sp. 5.4 Rating 56
61 Bijhon Jackson Arkansas 6-0 339 – Sp. 5.4 Rating 56
62 Kellen Soulek South Dakota St 6-4 320 – Sp. 5.2 Rating 56
63 Nick Thurman Houston 6-3 295 – Sp. 5.0 Rating 56
64 Jon Cunningham Kent St 6-0 295 – Sp. 5.1 Rating 56
65 Jay Woods Vanderbilt 6-2 285 – Sp. 5.4 Rating 56
66 Chris Johnson W Kentucky 6-1 285 – Sp. 5.1 Rating 56
67 Tony Mekari California 6-1 290 – Sp. 5.3 Rating 56
68 Tashon Smallwood Arizona St 6-0 280 – Sp. 5.4 Rating 56
69 Arie Anderson Idaho 6-0 302 – Sp. 5.2 Rating 56
70 Teko Powell Alabama-Birm 6-2 320 – Sp. 5.3 Rating 56
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