Defensive Tackles


2003 Draft Prospects

Pudge's Notes: People talk a lot about how wide receivers and other positions take time to develop a player. But you will notice over the years that only a select few defensive tackles make big impacts in their rookie seasons. Even the best guys will be solely rotational guys as rookies. This was the case with Damione Lewis and Marcus Stroud of 2001, Wendell Bryant and Al Haynesworth of 2002, John Thornton and Reggie McGrew in 1999. But then usually by their second or third year, they are playing at the level initially envisioned. You wonder why teams are so reluctant to spend high first rounders on wide receivers, citing their limited impact as rookies, when it's the same for defensive tackles. And usually they are considered to be impact players right from the start. You will also notice over the years, that it is tough to find competent reserve defensive linemen after Round 5. Of the 23 defensive tackles taken after Round 4 in the 1998 and 1999 drafts, only six have survived to take prominent roles in rotations: Martin Chase (5th, 1998), Rod Coleman (5th, 1999), Kelly Gregg (6th, 1999), Derrick Ransom (6th, 1998), James Cannida (6th, 1998), and Jermaine Haley (7th, 1999). Although teams have no problems taking defensive tackles in the draft, the basic assumption could be that most of those selected in the final 100 picks won't be in the league by their third or fourth year.

 


FIRST ROUND


Jimmy Kennedy

6'4" 322 Penn State (5.12) Senior

Pros: Big body that that is just as adept at rushing the passer as he is stopping the run. Possesses uncanny quickness for his size. Huge mismatched and must be double-teamed.
Cons: Does not consistently dominate and could improve versus the run.
NFL Forecast: Kennedy is not a Gilbert Brown-type vs. the run, which is what you want him to be. But he is not. But he is good against the run and handles himself well in double teams. Has the ability and strength to anchor at the point of attack and create a plug in the middle. Has good quickness and athleticism to be a top-notch pass rusher. Won't overwhelm you in either areas, but is good enough to tally 5-8 sacks consistently in the pros. Kennedy has great upside because he is not completely developed. He has the potential to be the league's most dominating tackle and could become that right from the start. It really depends on how much he wants it.
Value: Worth a Top 5 selection. One of better tackles to enter draft in recent years.

William Joseph

6'5" 308 Miami FL (5.16) Senior

Pros: Has good quickness and creates troubles for any lineman as a pass rusher. Good size, strength, and wingspan.
Cons: Not very strong at the point of attack and only average run stopper.
NFL Forecast: Joseph is one of those rare tackles that is probably going to be a double-digit sack guy much like Sapp and Trevor Pryce. Like Sapp, a former Hurricane, Joseph should immediately have a big impact on the league. Although he still has a long ways to improve as a run stopper, most teams will overlook that deficiency because of his production elsewhere. Has size and strength to be a force vs. the run, but right now doesn't seem to put much emphasis on that area. Struggles to free himself from double teams.
NFL Comparison: Warren Sapp, Buccaneers.
Value: Not a complete package yet, but excels so much as a pass rusher, he deserves to be selected in the Top 10.

Kevin Williams

6'4" 304 Oklahoma State (4.81) Senior

Pros: Has good upfield quickness and trouble for any quarterback. Has good strength.
Cons: Is only average vs. the run.
NFL Forecast: Williams bulked up a lot in the off-season, since during the season I believe he was playing at about 285. Prior to the season there were concerns if he would stick at tackle or move to end on the next level, but he answered those concerns with great off-season workouts. But he does have the ability to move to end and could make a very good two-gap end. Has great quickness and athleticism, matched with edge speed to play left end on many teams. Doesn't have great strength and is only adequate vs. the run. Similar to Joseph, in that he should be so productive as a pass rusher, most teams will overlook his deficiency vs. the run.
Value: As a pass rusher, he's a step below Joseph. Worth a Top 15 pick.

Johnathan Sullivan

6'3" 303 Georgia (5.10) Junior

Pros: Has good size, base, strength, and quickness. Complete defensive tackle.
Cons: Not as powerful as his size indicates.
NFL Forecast: Sullivan should be a solid NFL player. Heís not as good as Richard Seymour, and lacks the upside of Marcus Stroud, but like his two ex-teammates should be solid NFL players. Sullivan shows solid base as a run blocker, but despite his size, may not be a great nose tackle. Needs some work there since he is not a plugger in the middle. Has good upfield quickness and burst so he should be a solid pass rusher also.
Value: Definitely worth a first round pick, and should be good value between picks #15 and #20.


SECOND ROUND


Kenny Peterson

6'3" 298 Ohio State (4.80) Junior

Pros: Good quickness and ability to penetrate as a pass rusher. Has good strength.
Cons: Lacks ability at point of attack. Can be pushed around. Won't blow you away with his quickness and explosion upfield.
NFL Forecast: Peterson is another undersized tackle prospect. Projects well in 4-3 scheme that puts emphasis on rushing the quarterback than stopping the run. Does not have amazing quickness, but is a solid pass rusher that should be able to rack up 5-8 sacks on a consistent basis in the pros. Some think he can play end, but I'm not sure if he's got enough edge speed to play there. Could move there in nickel situations, but would be average at best if he played there full-time.
Value: A solid tackle that in the right scheme would be worth a late first round pick, but really a second round prospect.

Colin Cole

6'2" 309 Iowa (5.22) Senior

Pros: Has good quickness and explosion upfield. Size is tough to block.
Cons: Not as good vs. the run as size should indicate.
NFL Forecast: Cole looks the part when you want a hole plugger, but he will make his NFL living by creating havoc for quarterbacks. He has good quickness and ranks up there with the first rounders in terms of pass rush ability. I really like Cole and think that he could join the elite guys and be a star from this draft. Has size and strength to be a force against the run, but probably will never be more than above average there. Wouldn't be surprised at all if he develops into a better pro than some of the first rounders.
NFL Comparison: Oliver Gibson, Bengals.
Value: A second round pick, but has first round upside.

Rien Long

6'6" 302 Washington State (5.08) Junior

Pros: Technician with great motor along with good strength and quickness.
Cons: Lacks great first step and does not have much power.
NFL Forecast: Long is intriguing because he doesn't really fit anywhere. His play on the field is excellent and he is both a good pass rusher and run stopper. But if you evaluate his abilities, you question how he does it. He uses his hands well and is a good effort pass rusher. He uses leverage well vs. the run, but is not endowed with great strength. He looks somewhat stiff and not as athletic as the other DT prospects. He could struggle on the next level because he does too much engaging with blockers and they can get their hands on him. But he could also do well on the next level. He is an enigma with high upside, but also the potential to be a bust. At the least, he'll be a good rotation player. At most, he should be one of the better tackles in the league. Has a tall frame and probably could put on another 10 or so pounds if he wanted to. Could play some at end although he lacks edge speed. Probably would have been best served staying another year.
Value: Is an enigma, but has first round potential, but too much of a question mark to go that high.

Jarrett Johnson

6'3" 284 Alabama (4.84) Senior

Pros: Good motor and has good upfield burst. Pretty solid vs. the run with his ability to anchor.
Cons: Lacks size and a bit of a tweener. Looks soft at his size and needs more muscle.
NFL Forecast: Johnson slipped a lot in the off-season as at one point near the end of the season he was looking like a late first rounder, but now would be happy to see his name called on the first day. Johnson has a good combination of quickness and strength and is solid on the field. But he is not an overwhelming presence and lacks the flashy ability of some of the other top prospects. Basically he gets it done on the field although his numbers are deficient. Probably has enough quickness to play some spot end, but is truly a tacle. Johnson's body fat is what you would expect out of 320-pounder, not someone who is barely pushing 280. That raises a red flag since you might question his durability.
Value: Definitely has first round ability, but there are some concerns that push him into the late second.


THIRD ROUND


Anthony Adams

6' 299 Penn State (5.13) Senior

Pros: A wide body that is good plugging the middle. Has good quickness for his size.
Cons: Struggles at the point of attack somewhat.
NFL Forecast: Adams has good upside, but is not there yet. You see him as a potentially solid run stuffer, but he needs to use his strength and base better to get leverage at the point of attack. When he puts it together, he should be one of the league's better run stuffers. Lacks height but that shouldn't be too much of a problem. Projects well for the nose tackle spot in the 3-4, but still needs some polish as a run stuffer. Benefitted a lot from having Kennedy beside him, so he needs to answer questions of how good he really is, and how much of it was having a future All-Pro beside him.
Value: Has good upside as a run stuffer and would be a good value late in the third round.


FOURTH ROUND


Eric Manning

6'1" 303 Oregon State (5.10) Senior

Pros: Shows good upfield quickness and the moves to become a solid pass-rushing threat from the interior on the next level. He has good speed and can make stops in pursuit. His motor is good.
Cons: Lacks strength to play the point of attack, which is typically essential for defensive tackles. Can get engulfed and overwhelmed in the running game. Will sometimes look to get upfield to quickly, which can neutralize him.
NFL Forecast: Manning looks like a classic one-gap tackle. He's not much of a threat vs. the run, but can get stronger and better in that area. His ability as a pass rusher is his best asset and that's what NFL scouts will be looking at. As a rookie, he will probably be used in a rotation, but get most of his work on third and passing downs. Could eventually develop into a solid starter, although he doesn't look he'll ever be a solid run stopper, just adequate enough to start like a La'Roi Glover. Would be most effective if he played beside a massive tackle that could demand double teams, thus freeing him up.
NFL Comparison: Ellis Johnson, Falcons.
Value: If a team had the right pieces already in place, he would be worth a late third round pick.

James Lee

6'5" 327 Oregon State (4.98) Senior

Pros: Has great size and strength to plug the middle. Gets get penetration by using his upper body strength and power.
Cons: Only a part-time player at Oregon State. Would rather get up field than stay and anchor vs. the run.
NFL Forecast: Lee looks the part of a two-gap nose tackle, but he probably fits best as a huge run-stopper in the one-gap scheme like a John Parrella or Keith Traylor. Right now, he's more adept at rushing the passer than defending the run, although his strength should allow him to excel in both areas. Lacks quickness, but has nice explosion and uses his power to collapse the pocket. He needs some work because he is going from a rotational tackle to a full-time NFL tackle, which I think is a pretty big leap. Has great upside though.
NFL Comparison: Norman Hand, Saints.
Value: Has huge upside, but too raw and unpolished to be taken higher than the early fourth.

Nick Eason

6'3" 301 Clemson (4.95) Senior

Pros: Good quickness and ability to get upfield. Can play end or tackle.
Cons: Lacks ability to stop the run at the point. Reportedly some mental concerns.
NFL Forecast: I've heard rumors about Eason being bipolar which is what ended the careers of Alonzo Spellman and Dimitrius Underwood, so there should be a big buyer's beware on this guy, but otherwise is a good prospect. Has the quickness to play end and would be a load on the left side. Still needs to improve his ability at the point of attack, but is a competent run stopper. But you would prefer better from a guy his size. Has a good combination of strength and quickness, so if and when he puts it together he could be a very tough presence defensively. Would make a good one-gap tackle or two-gap end.
Value: Assuming his off-field issues are unwarranted, Eason could become a very good value for the fourth round. Has good upside, but is not as polished as you would like. But still could sneak late into the third round.

Ian Scott

6'2" 312 Florida (5.15) Junior

Pros: Possesses good motor, and has good size and strength to play vs. the run.
Cons: Looks stiff and not much of a threat to rush the passer.
NFL Forecast: Scott looks like he could develop into a solid nose tackle in a two-gap scheme. He doesn't have much quickness, so he's going to have to be exclusively a run stopper whether he plays in a 4-3 or 3-4. He has good strength, but is not as athletic as most of the other prospects. He could be a solid pro, or just a good rotation guy. Doesn't have huge upside and would have done himself a great service by staying in school for another year.
Value: Worth a look late in the fourth round.


FIFTH ROUND


David Upchurch

6'3" 283 West Virginia (5.05) Senior

Pros: Good strength and plays with good leverage and base.
Cons: Lacks great quickness and is basically an undersized run stopper.
NFL Forecast: Upchurch won't overwhelm you with his athleticism or quickness, but is a solid run stopper in the middle. He could play some at left end because of his lack of size, but is lacks the speed and upfield burst to play more than a situational role there. I could see Upchurch excelling as a run stopper at end in a 3-4 scheme. Should put on a few more pounds. Might only be a rotation guy for many but should be an overachiever that is good enough to start for most NFL teams.
Value: Doesn't have huge upside so he is an early fifth round prospect.

Tank Reese

5'11" 294 Kansas State (4.81) Senior

Pros: Can be a load in the middle. Has good strength and motor and a wide body that takes up space. Has outstanding athleticism f
Cons: Lacks height and does not play as well at point of attack as you would expect from someone his size.
NFL Forecast: Has a great nickname that fits him well. When he wants to, he can barrel through most offensive lines. Is tough to block one-on-one for even the good college linemen, so should be tough to handle in the pros. A little inconsistent and I question if he's durable enough to be ready for full-time status in the NFL. Has as much upside as any of the prospects. But has gone unnoticed by most draft analysts, which makes me a little weary about his prospects.
Value: Upside and ability could put him in the third round, but really a solid fifth round value.

Bernard Riley

6'2" 315 Southern California (4.95) Senior

Pros: Good strength and ability to get penetration upfield. Can anchor vs. the run.
Cons: A little stiff and lacks great motor.
NFL Forecast: Riley has good skills to be a run-stopper in a one-gap defense. He can penetrate the pocket, but that is not his forte. Doesn't have great quickness there, and is more of a bull-rusher. If he does not get upfield immediately, he lacks a great motor to continue to push and drive to get there later on in the play. Riley is nothing special, but projects well to the one-gap offense because he is solid both against the run and the pass. Has size to also play in the two-gap scheme, but probably would be miscast at nose tackle.
Value:

Matt Walters

6'4" 272 Miami FL (4.83) Senior

Pros: Good strength and base to get leverage at point of attack.
Cons: Undersized tackle without quickness to rush the quarterback.
NFL Forecast: A bit of a tweener with end size, but plays like a tackle. Purely a run stopper that projects well for NFL rotations at defensive tackle. Needs to put on more weight though since he plays like a 290 pound tackle, but looks the part of a pass rushing end. Could play some end on running situations, but offers little as a pass rusher.
Value: Worth a fifth round pick because he is a good player, but unless he puts on weight his upside is minimal.


SEVENTH ROUND


John Turntine

6'1" 278 Texas Christian (4.78) Senior

Pros: Has good quickness and gets good penetration upfield.
Cons: Lacks size and needs to bulk up.
NFL Forecast: If he adds weight could be a very good one-gap tackle. Turntine is a little undersized for the tackle position and may project to left end. But he lacks the height teams like at the end spot. Inititally he'll probably serve in a rotation under he adds bulk. Has great weight room strength, but has yet to apply his nearly 600-pound bench press to the field. I like Turntine's upside, but is too much of a tweener. Could ultimiately find himself as a good fit in a two-gap scheme at end.
Value: Too much of a tweener to be considered before the middle of the sixth round.


UNDRAFTED


Montique Sharpe

6'2" 296 Wake Forest (4.91) Senior

Pros: Does a good job taking up space in the middle.
Cons: Lacks quickness and lacks base to be a sufficient anchor in the middle.
NFL Forecast: Sharpe plays nose tackle in Wake Forest's 3-4 scheme, but is not a great anchor in the middle. He is good at eating up blocks, but still struggles at the point of attack. His prospects for the NFL is in a rotation as a run-stuffer. Could find a comfortable niche as a backup nose tackle in a 3-4.
Value: Limited upside makes him a marginal seventh round prospect.

Rayshun Jones

6'2" 289 Southern Mississippi (5.03) Senior

Pros: Has a good motor and size to play the run.
Cons: Lacks quickness and power.
NFL Forecast: Jones is basically an average player that does not excel as a pass rusher or run stopper. He probably plays better vs. the run, but is not that great at the point of attack. Would make a decent one-gap tackle, but that is because he doesn't fit in a two-gap scheme. Good enough to stick in an NFL rotation, but nothing more than a backup.
Value: Could fit as a backup, but only a backup. Productive enough to get some attention late in the seventh.

LaWaylon Brown

6'4" 300 Oklahoma State (5.21) Senior

Pros: Has nice size and strength to play the run.
Cons: Lacks quickness and looks stiff.
NFL Forecast: Brown is purely a run stopper that is good enough to get looks as a backup in the NFL. He could improve vs. the point of attack, since he is only adequate there. Benefitted greatly from playing beside a guy like Kevin Williams. Lacks upside to be anything more than a third tackle.
Value: Marginal seventh round prospect with future as a reserve.


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