Bill's Combine Research: Defensive Tackles

In Part 9 of our position previews, we tell you about the 31 defensive tackles. The Packers go into this draft needing a playmaker on their defensive line, and a few of the tackles listed here are perfect fits to play 3-4 end. Take our one-week free trial to enjoy the seven hours of research involved in this story.

Packer Report's Bill Huber is getting ready for the Scouting Combine, and is sharing some of his research of the 328 players who will be testing for and talking to the Green Bay Packers and the NFL's other 31 teams. Part 9, we look at the 31 defensive tackles. Of those, National Football Scouting lists four of them as nose tackles, though the "nose tackle" and "defensive tackle" tags have no correlation with the Packers' 3-4 scheme. All heights and weights are from the schools and, therefore, not official.

Nose tackles

— Josh Chapman, Alabama (6-1, 310): Chapman was voted second-team all-SEC by the coaches and was an honorable mention on Pro Football Weekly's All-American team. In 12 games, he had 23 tackles, including 3.5 for losses, and one sack. Not bad for a guy who played most of the season with a torn ACL, sustained against Florida on Oct. 1. "I didn't want to give up like that," he said, noting he was inspired by Ray Lewis saying it takes mental toughness to play through physical pain. He had surgery after the season, holding him out of the Senior Bowl. The two-year starter had 31 tackles, including 3.5 for losses, and one sack as a junior. He played a couple games with a torn labrum that season.

— Mike Martin, Michigan (6-2, 304): The three-year starter was a second-team choice in the Big Ten as a junior and senior. In his final game, he posted a career-high 10 tackles in a Sugar Bowl victory over Virginia Tech. For his career, he posted 10 sacks and 25 tackles for losses, including 3.5 and six as a senior. He was Michigan's Gatorade Player of the Year as a senior at Detroit Catholic Central High School. As a junior there, he won the Division 1 state wrestling title in his first year in the sport. He hopes to put up 50 reps in the 225-pound bench press. The record (49) was set by Oregon State's Stephen Paea last year. He recently benched 500 pounds.

— Kheeston Randall, Texas (6-5, 305): The all-Big 12 selection recorded 34 tackles, five tackles for losses one sack and eight pressures as a senior. He started 35 games in his career and finished with four sacks, 21 tackles for losses, 25 pressures, a forced fumble and two blocked kicks. He's been active off the field, visiting a local children's hospital and helping repair low-income homes. He's been mentored by former NFL standout guard Frank Middleton, who played for the Buccaneers and Raiders from 1997 through 2004.

— Christian Tupou, USC (6-2, 300): Tupou started as a sophomore and junior but tore ligaments in his left knee in the spring game in 2010 and took a medical redshirt for that fall's season. Tupou returned in 2011 and was named the Trojans' most inspirational player. He played in all 12 games and finished with 16 tackles but no other statistics. Mostly a two-down player on the Trojans' deep defensive line, he recorded 1.5 sacks for his career. His brother, Fenuki was an offensive lineman at Oregon who was drafted by Philadelphia in the fifth round in 2009 and spent last season on New Orleans' practice squad. The brothers squared off when the schools met in 2008, and they'd often battle in the family living room. Christian said those battles made him tougher and work harder.

Defensive tackles

— Chas Alecxih, Pittsburgh (6-5, 285): Alecxih walked on and redshirted in 2007 and was awarded a scholarship for the 2009 season. He started in 2010 and 2011 and was a disruptive force. He was first-team all-Big East as a senior with 5.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for losses. As a junior, he tallied 7.5 sacks and nine tackles for losses. Alecxih was an all-state defensive lineman as a senior at Penn Manor High School in Lancaster, Pa., and his grandfather played defensive tackle for Navy. Chas' brother, Alex, played basketball for powerhouse Oak Hill Academy, the school that has produced the likes of Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant and Brandon Jennings. Chas' parents, however, never played sports.


Combine Preview

Part 1: 19 Quarterbacks.

Part 2: 30 Running backs.

Part 3: 47 Wide receivers.

Part 4: 14 Tight ends.

Part 5: 20 Interior offensive linemen.

Part 6: 35 Offensive tackles.

Part 7: 22 Safeties .

Part 7: 37 Cornerbacks .

— Michael Brockers, LSU (6-6, 306): Brockers entered the draft following a redshirt sophomore in which he was named second-team all-SEC. He started 13 games in 2011 (and 14 in his two seasons) with two sacks, 9.5 tackles for losses and made a diving interception against Northwestern State. Brockers was a four-star recruit out of Chaves High School in Houston, measuring 6-foot-6 and 260 pounds and arrived on campus at 266.

— Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State (6-4, 295): Cox entered the draft following an All-American junior campaign in which he tallied 56 total tackles, 14.5 tackles for losses and five sacks. He was named SEC Defensive Player of the Week a school-record four times in 2011 — including three weeks in a row. He started for two-and-a-half seasons and finished with 8.5 sacks, 24.5 tackles for losses and a whopping five blocked kicks. When he was a 240-pounder at Yazoo City (Miss.) High School, he reportedly ran a 4.47 40; he competed on the 400- and 800-meter relays in high school.

— Jared Crick, Nebraska (6-6, 285): Crick's senior season ended with a torn pectoral. He played in five games (he also missed a game with a head injury) and recorded 22 tackles in one sack. That's a far cry from his production as a sophomore and junior, when he recorded 9.5 sacks in each season. Even while missing more than half of his senior season, his 20 sacks rank eighth in school history. He was a second-team All-American as a junior, when his 5.0 tackles per game led the Big 12's defensive linemen. Crick would have been a first-round pick last year but never seriously considered it, in part because he wanted to get his degree but also because of "insight" from former teammate Ndamukong Suh, who also returned for his senior year.

— Mike Daniels, Iowa (6-1, 280): Daniels started all 13 games as a senior, earning second-team honors in the Big Ten with team highs of nine sacks and 13.5 tackles for losses. In all, he started 21 games and recorded 15.5 sacks and 27 tackles for losses. At Highland Regional High School in Blackwood, N.J., the 220-pounder rushed for 1,029 yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior. Even with career high school totals of 25 touchdowns and 27 sacks, he was barely recruited by major schools. The Hawkeyes got him just before signing day.

— Loni Fangupo, BYU (6-1, 331): Fangupo was a five-star recruit coming out of Mt. San Antonio Community College — where he played after a two-year mission to Manila, Philippines — and landed with USC. He would have been a starter as a senior there but someone broke into the apartment he shared in Los Angeles with his wife, Rebekah. As he told the Deseret News, Rebekah said, "That's it, we're moving to Provo." So, they moved and Fangupo was allowed to play immediately in 2011 by the NCAA because of sanctions against USC. He played in all 13 games as a defensive end in the Cougars' 3-4 scheme, finishing with 28 tackles, including six for losses. Coach Bronco Mendenhall called Fangupo the strongest player he's ever coached.

— Marcus Forston, Miami (6-3, 300): Forston elected to enter the draft despite playing just three games as a junior before a season-ending knee injury. He also missed the 2011 opener because of improper benefits in the scandal involving former Miami booster Nevin Shapiro. Coming off a season-ending shoulder injury that required surgery in 2009, he started 12 games in 2010 and contributed a team-high 12 tackles for losses.

— Dominique Hamilton, Missouri (6-5, 305): Hamilton wrapped up his career with his best season yet, with a career-best 56 tackles, seven tackles for losses and three sacks. He started seven games as a junior before being sidelined by a broken ankle — the snap was audible on the field — with doctors telling him only about 65 percent of athletes of all levels get back in the game. He drew "oohs" from scouts at the East-West Shrine Game, when he tipped the scales at a chiseled 320. He's considered one of the top defensive end prospects for teams running 3-4 schemes. If you like Twitter, follow him @DomHamilton.

— DaJohn Harris, USC (6-4, 310): Playing in 11 of 12 games as a senior, Harris tallied 22 tackles, seven tackles for losses and 1.5 sacks. He used his height and athletic ability to deflect six passes — only defensive back Nickell Robey had more. As a redshirt freshman, Harris was a reserve defensive tackle and tight end. During his USC career, he was diagnosed with sleep apnea, exercise-induced asthma and a sickel-cell trait. The sleep apnea led to some academic troubles that sidelined him for the final four games of 2008.

— Jaye Howard, Florida (6-3, 303): Howard started 21 games, including all 13 as a senior, when he was second on the team with 10 tackles for losses and 5.5 sacks. For his career, he tallied 25.5 TFLs. He thought about entering the draft following his junior year but returned to school and got his degree. He helped Jones High School in Apopka, Fla., to a state championship in basketball, but baseball was his first love. He didn't begin playing football until his freshman year at Jones.

— John Hughes, Cincinnati (6-4, 300): Hughes turned in a big senior season with five sacks and 12.5 tackles for losses, giving him nine sacks and 25.5 TFLs in 50 career games. An all-state tight end at Lincoln High School in Gahanna, Ohio, he averaged 18.2 yards per catch as a senior.

— Malik Jackson, Tennessee (6-5, 270): Jackson was first-team all-SEC as a senior, when he led the Vols with 2.5 sacks, 11 tackles for losses and 10 quarterback hurries. Because of sanctions against USC, he was allowed to transfer from Southern Cal without sitting for a season. He was a backup for two years with the Trojans. Jackson's twin brother, Marquis, just finished his junior season as a defensive end at Texas Southern. They were co-defensive MVPs as seniors at Birmingham High School in Van Nuys, Calif.

— Markus Kuhn, North Carolina State (6-4, 303): As a senior, Kuhn tallied 4.5 sacks and 9.5 tackles for losses. Kuhn, who will turn 26 in May, is from Weinheim, Germany, and played in the highest division of the German Football League before coming to NC State. Kuhn became interested in football while on vacation in Florida when he was 15. In 2006, Kuhn and his father flew to the States and handed highlight DVDs to coaches at different universities. One hobby he's picked up is hunting. "It would be absolutely impossible in Germany to be like all right, ‘Let's buy a gun and just shoot things.' Umm, no, we can't do that. But here, you can."

— Vaughn Meatoga, Hawaii (6-2, 295): Meatoga was a second-team choice in the WAC as a senior, when he finished with 38 tackles, three sacks and four tackles for losses. Meatoga's mom died of breast cancer before Hawaii's trip to the Sugar Bowl during his freshman season. Lynette would tell him to imagine the lineman on the opposite side of the line of scrimmage being the cancer.

— Rennie Moore, Clemson (6-3, 275): Moore started 11 of 13 games as senior, finishing with four sacks, nine tackles for losses and a team-high 18 quarterback pressures. Moore, who was born in Germany but moved to Georgia as a child, arrived at Clemson as a speed-rushing defensive end but was forced to bulk up to play inside.

— Dontari Poe, Memphis (6-5, 350): Poe, the Tigers' MVP and a second-team choice in Conference USA, was an honorable mention on Pro Football Weekly's All-America Team as a junior and entered the draft a year early. He started all 12 games in 2011 and 30 games in his three seasons. As a junior, he recorded 33 tackles, including eight for losses, and one sack. If he's a first-round pick, he'd be only the third in school history, joining running back DeAngelo Williams and safety Jerome Woods. At Wooddale High School in Memphis, Poe won back-to-back state titles in the shot put and won the discus as a senior.

— Tydreke Powell, North Carolina (6-3, 310): Powell was an honorable mention on the all-ACC team as a senior. He recorded 46 tackles, including 4.5 tackles for losses, one sack, one interception and a forced fumble. He made 27 career starts and tallied 135 tackles, including 6.5 tackles for losses, seven pass breakups, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. Powell began playing football as a freshman and had a combined 24 sacks in his final two years at Hertford County High School in Ahoskie, N.C.

— Kendall Reyes, Connecticut (6-4, 295): Reyes was a two-time all-Big East first-team selection and two-year captain. He started 41 games and ranks 10th in school history with 32.5 tackles for losses. As a senior, he posted 4.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for losses. It's not unusual to play one position in high school but another in college, but Reyes was a 220-pound wide receiver and linebacker at Nashua (N.H.) North High School. He showed his hands and wheels with an interception that he took 84 yards for a touchdown in 2010 against Cincinnati, though an illegal block took the six points off the board.

— Travian Robertson, South Carolina (6-4, 303): Robertson played in 56 games with 31 starts, finishing his career with 6.5 sacks and 21 tackles for losses. As a senior, he tallied 2.5 sacks and 8.5 tackles for losses. He was named the SEC's defensive lineman of the week after his sack clinched a victory over Florida in November. He missed most of his junior season at Scotland County High School in Laurinburg, S.C., with a torn ACL, and he missed most of the 2009 season at South Carolina with a torn ACL, as well. His brother, Tony, played defensive line for Appalachian State.

— Brett Roy, Nevada (6-4, 280): Roy was named a first-team All-America by Sports Illustrated — the only player from a non-BCS conference — and was a first-team choice in the WAC. He led the conference with 10 sacks and 18.5 tackles for losses. All 18 of his sacks came in his final two seasons — not bad for a player who walked on at Nevada as a safety. and gained about 80 pounds during his five years at the school. On the tape that's wrapped around his wrists, he writes "RIP Big Vic 45" in honor of his former high school teammate, Victor Partnoff, who was killed in a car accident on his way home from football practice.

— Devon Still, Penn State (6-5, 310): The start of Still's career was derailed by a torn left ACL in 2007 and a broken ankle in 2008. He broke through in the Outback Bowl following his junior season, when he piled up seven tackles and 3.5 tackles for losses. As a senior, he won the Big Ten's Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year and the Smith-Brown Defensive Lineman of the Year and was a consensus All-American. The team captain paced the team with 17 tackles for losses and added 4.5 sacks. Cousins Art Still and Levon Kirkland enjoyed standout NFL careers. Going back to his ankle injury in 2008, he could have earned a medical redshirt had he missed the entire season. Instead, Still wanted to play — and he did, getting in for the final 10 snaps of the Nittany Lions' Big Ten-clinching win over Michigan State.

— J.R. Sweezy, North Carolina State (6-5, 293): Sweezy, a senior captain after six sacks and 13 tackles for losses as a junior, missed the start of his senior season with a broken foot. The injury limited him to nine games (seven) starts, with two sacks and four tackles for losses. However, he did post a career-high 13 quarterback pressures. His father, Roger, played linebacker and fullback for the school. He almost didn't get to play for the Wolfpack but his mom put together a highlight package and sent it to the coaches. In March 2010, he was suspended for allegedly assaulting a shuttle bus driver.

— Alameda Ta'amu, Washington (6-3, 337): The team captain earned honorable-mention all-Pac-12 honors as a senior. With four sacks and eight tackles for losses as a senior, he ran his career totals to nine sacks and 19 TFLs. His final collegiate game was the Alamo Bowl, and a highlight was getting to ride in a rollercoaster. That's no small feat for a 337-pound man. Of course, that's smaller than he was when he got on campus as a freshman. He was about 380, the result of a broken foot and a lot of eating.

— Brandon Thompson, Clemson (6-2, 310): Thompson was a second-team all-ACC selection after posting 77 tackles, eight tackles for losses, 2.5 sacks and a team-tying-high 18 quarterback pressures. For his career, he piled up 22.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, 47 quarterback hurries, nine pass breakups in 38 career starts. His nickname is "Yams" because of his big thighs. For the record, he doesn't like yams, though he does like the nickname.

— Billy Winn, Boise State (6-4, 300): Winn had three sacks and eight tackles for losses as a senior, giving him 15.5 sacks and 36.5 TFLs for his career. He was all-WAC following his sophomore and junior seasons. At Las Vegas High School, he won two state titles in football and threw the shot and discus and ran the 100.

— Derek Wolfe, Cincinnati (6-5, 300): Wolfe finished his career on a high note with nine sacks, 21.5 tackles for losses, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries — more than doubling his previous career totals. With that dominant performance, he was named the Big East's co-defensive player of the year. At the end of his junior season, he considered declaring for the draft. After all, he had $7 in his pocket.

— Jerel Worthy, Michigan State (6-3, 310): The consensus first-team All-American declared for the draft following his junior season. Worthy is the first Spartans defensive lineman to be named to The Associated Press' All-America first team since Hall of Famer Bubba Smith in 1966. In 2011, he finished with 10.5 tackles for losses, 3.5 sacks and 14 quarterback hits. In three seasons, he tallied 12 sacks and 27.5 tackles for losses. During spring practice before the 2011 season, Worthy got a tattoo showing a Spartan warrior stepping on a wolverine, with a helmet with an "M" on the ground next to the wolverine.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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