In the Film Room: Tyler Stockton

The time when Notre Dame struggled to land top flight defensive tackles is still fresh in the minds of Fighting Irish fans. The signing of Ian Williams, Brandon Newman, and Hafis Williams has made Irish fans feel better about the future of the interior of the defensive line. It's getting even better.

For the third year in a row the Irish have landed a short but talented defensive tackle prospect. This recruiting season that prospect is Tyler Stockton.

In similar fashion to the interior linemen from the last two seasons, Stockton is also a shorter player at a list 6-foot-1. Stockton uses his height to his advantage and plays with natural leverage. He stays low off the snap, and even against smaller high school linemen is able to be the low man. This will benefit him in college as a nose guard. Listed at 280 pounds, the Princeton, NJ native appears to have a frame to fill out another 15-20 pounds. He won't ever have the girth of Ian Williams or Brandon Newman, but will be plenty big to anchor the middle of the defensive line. While strength isn't a problem at this point, at the next level Stockton will need to continue to develop his lower body strength.

The 6-foot-1, 280 pound tackle has very strong and quick hands. This is important for interior defensive players. When he's right Stockton shoots his hands quickly into the blockers and is able to dominate them. Combine that with his strength and he just owns high school linemen. Stockton shows a nice swim move and a push-and-pull technique to get free from blockers.

At the next level Stockton will need to become more consistent with his hands. At times he will allow blockers to get into him. He's so much quicker, stronger, and talented than his opponents that he still makes plays, but in college he won't get away with that. That's not unexpected for a high school junior.

The Hun School standout also needs to develop a wider array of moves. His swim move is outstanding at this point, but in order to dominate in college he needs a greater repertoire. The first move I'd like to see Stockton develop is a better spin move. As he gets stronger in the lower body he'll be able to bull rush opponents with his ability to shoot his hands so quickly and get inside. He'll also need to develop either a rip or club move.

Stockton has very good quickness and snap anticipation. He is able to shoot gaps quickly. His quickness allows him to be quite disruptive and split double teams. He's never late off the snap. His feet and hands work well together, which even further utilizes his speed. He doesn't just fly off the ball out of control. He's able to fly off the ball while making moves to defeat blockers. This should allow him to be a solid pass rusher in college. Stockton also has good agility at this stage in his career. In order to become an even better player he will need to continue to improve his overall agility and flexibility. He has room for improvement in this area.

Another thing I like about Stockton is how quickly he closes on ball carriers and the quarterback. Once he beats his blocker he just explodes to the ball. He also changes direction relatively well. Stockton also has very good balance and stays on his feet. This trait should allow him to be effective beating low blocks and cut blocks in college.

There's room for improvement in Stockton's game in the technique department, but when you are talking about a high school junior, that's not a surprise. First and foremost Stockton needs to improve his pre-snap stance a bit. Stockton tends to lean back at times and will need to have better balance and a slight forward lean in his stance. That will allow him to use his quickness and explosiveness at the snap even more.

I mentioned earlier how good Stockton is with using his hands. He does a great job using his hands to create separation from blockers. With his quickness and strength in the upper body he is able to easily shed high school blockers and make a bunch of tackles. As with most of his other techniques, he needs to be more consistent. I mentioned this earlier, but Stockton needs to be more consistent. At times opponents are able to get inside of him because he doesn't bring his hands. He gets stalemated at times due to this. He's so athletic that he's able to still get away and make plays, but that won't be the case in college. Increased lower body strength will also help him improve here.

For a defensive tackle Stockton is a very good tackler. Stockton does a nice job keeping his eyes in the backfield and finding the football. He disengages his blockers and explodes to the ball carrier. He closes very well on the ball carrier. He has a nice extra gear when he has his man beat. When he gets a head of steam Stockton will destroys ball carriers. He usually wraps up well. This is another area where Stockton has room for improvement. He's good in open space making tackles as well. At times he will over pursue ball carriers, but that isn't an uncommon trait for players with his quickness and explosiveness off the ball.

At the high school level Stockton is almost impossible to stop one-on-one. He uses his quickness and strong hands to beat double teams. At the next level he will need to learn to anchor a bit more as a nose guard. This is another area where increased lower body strength will serve him well. Stockton also needs to continue to improve his spin move to use at times to beat double teams.

When you watch Stockton's film you have to love his motor. The kid never stops hustling and plays to the whistle. There are several highlights of him chasing down the line of scrimmage or down field to make tackles. While he is inconsistent with his technique, the effort is always there. The technique will get better as he matures as a player and continues to be coached up. Combine that with his outstanding athletic ability and motor you have to like the upside of the Princeton, NJ native.

One thing that separates Stockton a bit from Ian Williams, Brandon Newman, and Hafis Williams is his versatility. In a four-man line Stockton could play over the ball or as a three technique. In a three-man line he could play nose guard or defense end. He's similar to Trevor Laws as an end in that he uses his great first step, strength, and motor to be disrupting in passing situations at the end. I don't know if he could be as effective as Trevor as an every down linemen, but he does have some potential to play the position.

Getting a player of Stockton's caliber is a huge coup for the Irish staff. After going 3-9 I expected the Irish to struggle early on recruiting, but the Irish coaches have responded quite well and must be commended. I believe winning championships starts up front. Adding Tyler Stockton to the three young players I talked about earlier helps establish a foundation for a potentially outstanding defense in South Bend.

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