Draft outlook: Defensive tackles

For the third draft in a row it looks like another solid crop of defensive tackles will be available this April with as many as five players at this position hearing their names called in round one and another seven falling off the board before the first day ends. Here's a closer look at the top 10:


1—Jimmy Kennedy, Penn State

The Good: Big, powerful athlete that dominates the game in many aspects. Quick off the snap, fluid and light on his feet, moving well for a huge man. Plays low with leverage, smooth running laterally and has absolutely no problem immediately changing his angle of attack and getting to the action. Keeps his pads low to the ground, makes plays out to the flanks and chases down ball carriers from behind. Displays that same closing burst of speed bearing down on the quarterback in the backfield. Powerful in his lower body and doubled or sometimes triple teamed by opponents yet still gets up field push.

The Bad: At times easily wired in blocks or slow to shed when he should annihilate opponents. Hesitant locating the action and not the most instinctive ball player. A nice kid, maybe too nice, and needs to develop a mean streak.

The Skinny: Possesses all the physical skills needed for an "impact defensive player" and has the talents one looks for in the first pick of the draft; problem is he does not always play to them. Would not consider him lazy or one that takes plays off rather a prospect that must focus on the task at hand and turn up the intensity level a few meters. All Pro potential should he do that at the next level.

Projected order in draft: Early 1st round.


2—William Joseph, Miami

The Good: Productive lineman hat can be used at either end or tackle in a one-gap or two-gap scheme. Powerful at the point, gets a lot of up field push and bull rushes opponents off the line. Redirects well, rarely off his feet and squares into his tackles, easily bringing the ball handler down on initial contact. Fluid changing his angle of attack, gets out laterally and makes plays stuffing the run or rushing the passer. Improving quickness off the snap of the ball and constantly doubled by opponents. Gets tall not always playing with leverage and as a result, easily neutralized at the point by lesser opponents.

The Bad: A little awkward and off balance at times. Must be more effective using his hands to keep opponents off him. After his freshman season we though he was a star in the making and would overshadow established teammates like Damione Lewis, but it did not happen.

The Skinny: Must turn it up all on all fronts; conditioning, fundamentals, instincts, if he's to realize his potential and become the dominant force he is capable of being.

Projected order in draft: Early 1st round.


3—Kevin Williams, Oklahoma State

The Good: Collegiate defensive tackle that may project to a defensive left end at the next level. Good athlete that transfers his physical skills onto the football field. Quick off the snap with an explosive first step, plays low with leverage and deceptively strong. Gets a lot of momentum up the field, rushes the edge with speed and quick moving to the flanks, stringing plays out laterally to the sidelines. Flashes on the scene and plays with a good degree of explosion. Effective dropping off the line of scrimmage into pass coverage. Redirects well, displays solid playing range and works very hard.

The Bad: Must protect himself better as he's not strong in the upper body and neutralized at the point once engaged in a block.

The Skinny: A player we've felt has been underrated the past three seasons and one that could slip through the cracks yet end up starting at the next level.

Projected order in draft: Middle 1st round.

4—DeWayne Robertson, Kentucky

Projected order in draft: Middle 1st round.

5—Johnathan Sullivan, Georgia

Projected order in draft: Middle 1st round.

6—Ty Warren, Texas A&M

The Good: Athletic lineman with a large degree of upside potential at several positions. Quick, beating opponents with a terrific first step off the snap, gets a lot of push up the field and fights with his hands to stay off blocks. Breaks down well, plays with leverage for the most part and effective in a straight line or laterally. Smooth changing direction and displays the ability to pursue the action from behind. A disruptive force when he his pads are low to the ground and the intensity meter is on high. Has the athleticism and body type to be used as a two-gap 3-4 lineman or tackle in a 4-3.

The Bad: Gives half-hearted efforts at times, rather easily ridden out of his attack angles by lesser opponents or lazily lets blockers inside him. By no means overpowering. Must learn to work on the finer details of his game and improve his body strength.

The Skinny: A lot of physical skill that must be applied on a consistent basis if he's to be successful at the next level and meet his uppermost potential.

Projected order in draft: Early 2nd round.

7—Rien Long, Washington

Projected order in draft: Middle 2nd round.

8—Kenny King, Alabama

The Good: Explosive and athletic interior lineman that can be used in several spots up front. Quick off the snap with a nice first step, plays low with leverage and makes plays up the field or out to the flanks. Effective off the line of scrimmage in space, can twist or stunt and displays a smooth change of direction with the ability to pursue the play from the backside. Works very hard for sixty minutes looking to get involved in the action. Deceptively strong and gets a lot of up field push.

The Bad: Not big or bulky, lacks strength at the point of attack and engulfed by opponents. A few minor injuries have slowed his development and after looking like a star early in college has yet to meet the expectations placed upon him.

The Skinny: Could be effective at the next level if placed beside a wide body or used in the ever popular three technique.

Projected order in draft: Late 2nd round.

9—Jarret Johnson, Alabama

The Good: Tough, interior plugger that plays with great effort, hustle and leadership intangibles. Quick off the snap displaying a nice first step, plays exceptionally low to the ground and gets leverage on opponents. Effectively uses his hands to keep linemen off him, slides off blocks laterally and works hard to get involved in the action. Constantly around the ball making positive plays against the offense. Rarely off his feet.

The Bad: Lacks the strong base and overall power at the point, slow shedding blocks once engaged with opposing lineman and for the most part, handled in one-on-one blocking situations. Has potential at end or maybe even in a two-gap scheme if he adds bulk. Plays smart football but not always up to the athletic numbers he possesses.

The Skinny: A good lineman to have around for a team that rotates its' players up front. Productive at the next level but do not feel he has star potential.

Projected order in draft: Late 2nd round.

10—Nick Eason, Clemson

The Good: Solid athlete whose football development has been slowed by injuries. Possesses a great first step off the snap of the ball and very quick, plays with forward lean, balance and redirects well. Immediately alters his angle of attack, stays on his feet and works to get involved in the play. Used at both tackle and end.

The Bad: Tends to get tall, slow shedding blocks and not quick to recognize the action.

The Skinny: Inability to stay healthy will send up red-flags but a solid player for the next level if he can stay on his feet.

Projected order in draft: Middle 3rd round.

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