Positional Analysis: DTs

From easy first-round picks to potential late-round steals, the Vikings will be looking for defensive tackles at all points during the draft. We break down the positive and negative comments on the top 18.

VIKINGS DEFENSIVE TACKLES – Chris Hovan, Fred Robbins, Billy Lyon, Willie Howard.

VIKINGS DRAFT EXPECTATIONS – Only Hovan is guaranteed to be on the roster when the 2003 season starts. All indications are that, if Dewayne Robertson or Jimmy Kennedy is still on the board at No. 7, the Vikings will select one of them on the first round. If both are gone, there is a strong likelihood the team will trade down and still take a DT with their first selection. It's very possible the team will take more than one DT in the draft – one to start immediately and one to push guys like Howard and Robbins for a roster spot.

THE CLASS OF '03 – The deepest class of any position in the draft, it starts high with Robertson and Kennedy – both of whom will be gone after the first seven or eight picks and quite possibly both gone before the Vikings get on the clock at No. 7. Beyond them, there could be as many as a half-dozen DTs gone in the first round and as many also off the board in the second and into the early third round. This is the year for teams to grab run-stuffing DTs because there may not be a class like this coming around again for years.


Dewayne Robertson, Kentucky, 6-1, 324 –
Third-year junior…Started every game he played in college, missing just two games as a sophomore with an ankle injury…In three years, he had 114 tackles and nine sacks…Great size for a run-stuffing nose tackle…Needed to be double-teamed in college because he beat almost every one-on-one matchup…Very good lower body strength…Has improved pass-rushing skills each year…Is on the short side and has struggled against tall, beefy interior offensive linemen…Didn't have a great 2002 season, but that was credited to playing through nagging knee and ankle injuries…Didn't work out at the Combine, but at an individual workout in March, he did 30 reps with 225 pounds and ran a sparkling 4.84 in the 40. PROJECTION: Viewed as the No. 2 DT until his private workout, Robertson's combination of speed, strength and upside have vaulted him up draft boards league-wide. Don't be shocked if the Bears take him at No. 4 or somebody makes a trade to get into the top five picks to grab him. Unfortunately for Vikings fans, barring an early run on quarterbacks, he won't be available at No. 7 when the Vikings pick.

Jimmy Kennedy, Penn State, 6-4, 322 – Fifth-year senior who was a bloated 400 pounds coming to Penn State out of high school…Began as redshirt freshman and a regular even since…In three years as a full-time starter, had 180 tackles, 33 tackles for a loss and 13 sacks – including a 87-16-5-1/2 year in 2002…Incredible size…Surprising agility for a man his size…Controls two gaps when clogging the middle…Good upper-body and lower-body strength…Good first step in pass rushing…Excellent durability, has never missed a game since becoming a starter…Does a lot of work in the weight room to keep upper-body strength at its best…Enormous size has led to him wearing down late in games…Inconsistent…Weight is always going to be a concern…Has been compared to former Pro Bowler Sam Adams…Did not work out at the Combine, but did 23 reps in a private workout. PROJECTION: Consistency (or lack thereof) is the biggest concern of scouts, who think he could be a bust for as high as he's going to go. But, he has all the requirements for a starting nose tackle and would look very good stretching out a purple uniform as the Vikings' selection with the seventh pick in the draft.

William Joseph, Miami, 6-5, 308 – Fifth-year senior…Started every game in four years with the Hurricanes…In four years, he had 198 tackles, 40 tackles for a loss and 16-1/2 sacks…Excellent initial quickness on the snap, he can beat double-teams before they can set up…Has more height than a lot of DTs and long arms to hook blockers and get past them…Good penatrator who gets in the backfield quickly in passing situations…Doesn't have ideal lower body strength a lot of scouts look for in DTs…Has been compared by those at Miami to Warren Sapp, but, to this point, that may not be a fair assessment…Had a much better season as a junior than he did in 2002…Had an impressive 29 reps at the Combine. PROJECTION: Likely to be the third DT to go off the board, he will likely be available after the top 10, but not much later than that. Could land with Seattle at No. 11.

Johnathan Sullivan, Georgia, 6-3, 312 – Third-year junior…Split time at DE and DT in 2001 after Bulldogs suffered injuries that forced him to spit time…Played full season at defensive tackle in 2002, with 74 tackles, 15-1/2 tackles for a loss and four sacks…Good, almost prototype size for a DT…Very good vs. the run…Very good football instincts – is always around the ball…Relentless player who gives 100 percent at all times…Doesn't come out of his stance quickly like a Chris Hovan does – always seems a little late to react to the snap…Despite his size, isn't viewed by NFL scouts as your typical nose tackle…Didn't lift at the Combine, but did 24 reps in an individual workout. PROJECTION: In terms of the things scouts look for – size, height, weight, intensity, speed and strength – he grades out well on all of them and is as complete as any DT in this class in that respect. That being said, he likely wouldn't be a guy the Vikings would necessarily want because they have a player similar to him in Hovan and want a pure nose tackle. He'll likely slide to the middle of the first round and end up in the AFC East as a pick by the Patriots or Jets in the middle of the round.

Kevin Williams, Oklahoma State, 6-5, 304 – Fifth-year senior…Started all but four of the 46 games in his college career…Not your typical college football player, since he's married and has three kids…In his final three years, he had 134 tackles, 32 for a loss and 16 sacks – all three numbers that grew each year…Blew scouts and coaches away at the Senior Bowl and his stock has been on the rise ever since…Good speed for a 300-pound DT…Was a team leader, durable and has an excellent work ethic…Has very long arms (34-1/2 inches) that he can use to swim past offensive linemen…Can play both DT and DE…Doesn't have great bulk like a prototype nose tackle…Has good first step on the pass rush, but can get stood up by good centers and guards…Some see him as too lean for a pure nose tackle and may want to convert him to a DE…Did 23 reps at the Combine. PROJECTION: Only Robertson has seen his stock rise as much as Williams. If the right team likes him, he could easily be the third DT off the board and, even if he isn't, he's too promising a prospect after setting himself apart at the Senior Bowl to still be on the board late in the first round.

Rien Long, Washington State, 6-6, 302 – Fourth-year junior…Two-year starter and two-time All-Pac 10 selection…Won the Outland Trophy given to the best defensive lineman in the country in 2002…In two years as a full-time starter, he had 85 tackles, 31-1/2 tackles for a loss and 16 sacks – with impressive 52-21-1/2-13 numbers in 2002 alone…Extremely quick off the ball…Viewed by many as the best pure pass-rushing DT in this year's class…His numbers in 2002 were more impressive considering that he spent much of the year nagged by a knee injury…His knee still may need to be scoped…His knee isn't the only concern – he had shoulder surgery already in his career…Doesn't have the best upper body strength, but continually splits double teams with his speed…Doesn't have great lower body strength…Did not lift at the Combine. PROJECTION: Once thought to be in the crosshairs of the Vikings, he has now been a player who has slipped down to the end of the first round if not the second round on some draft boards. He has the ability to add 20 pounds to his frame, which many think he will need to be an NFL success, but his pass rushing skills are the best of any DT coming out this year.


Kenny Peterson, Ohio State, 6-3, 298 –
Fifth-year senior…Didn't become a full-time starter until this season, recording 43 tackles, 9-1/2 tackles for a loss and six sacks…Had a very strong week at the Senior Bowl…Is viewed by many scouts as a ‘tweener, which means some teams may look at him as a tackle, while others may see him as an end..Has added about 20 pounds since the middle of last season in hopes of enhancing his draft stock…Has good combination of size, speed and power…Hustles until the whistle is blown on almost every play…Can chase down plays, especially strong as a pass rusher, where he has a quick first step and gets to the QB in a hurry…Doesn't have the prototype DT body…With only one year of full-time playing time, he has some durability concerns…Didn't lift at the Combine, but did 27 reps during an individual workout. PROJECTION: His ability to play and play well at both DT and DE will likely be enough for someone to take late in the first round or, more likely, early in the second round. His lack of long-term playing time is a concern to some teams, because they just haven't seen enough of him to make a clear judgment – a must for a first-round pick these days in the NFL.

Ty Warren, Texas A&M, 6-5, 307 – Fifth-year senior…The nephew of RB Curtis Dickey, who was the top pick of the Baltimore Colts in 1980…Can play DT or be a DE in a 3-4 system…Started eight games in 2000 and been a full-time starter ever since…In the last two years, he has 93 tackles, 24 tackles for loss 8-1/2 sacks…Has missed time with knee problems…Gives a team versatility as a power rushing DT or an end…Doesn't have the speed most coaches want from a DE, but is decent enough for a DT…Doesn't always play with the same intensity from one game to the next or, at times, one play to the next…Did 27 reps at the Combine. PROJECTION: Depending on when you saw Warren play, he looked dominant or like a lazy kid who played when he wants to (sound familiar?). Because of his versatility, he has an outside chance of sneaking into the first round if there is a huge run on d-linemen, but more likely he'll go early in Round 2.

Nicholas Eason, Clemson, 6-3, 298 – Fifth-year senior…Still has some health issues that could affect his draft status – missed time with an irregular heartbeat last year and didn't have surgery following an Achilles injury at the end of 2000 that hampered him much of the 2002 season…Started all but one regular season the last three years, posting 132 tackles, 27 tackles for a loss and 14 sacks…Is huge, with monstrous arms…Spends a lot of time in the weight room and can bench press 460 pounds and squat almost 700 pounds…Very strong in confined spaces…Is a bit undersized, despite a bodybuilder's physique…Durability questions will scare off some teams early…For all his upper body strength, his lower body doesn't have the big base scouts like in DTs…Did an impressive 29 reps at the Combine. PROJECTION: Could easily be drafted higher than we have him ranked, but he has some lingering concerns that will likely translate to him not going off the board until the middle to end of the second round.

Jarret Johnson, Alabama, 6-3, 284 – Fourth-year senior who played in every game as a true freshman…Two-time All-SEC selection…A three-year starter who posted 172 tackles, 23 tackles for a loss and 21 sacks…His senior year represented career lows in all three categories…Has a mean streak and gives his all on every play…Never missed a game, so durability isn't a concern…Like teammate Kenny King, some see Johnson as undersized for a tackle and think he may be better off moving to end to take advantage of his pass-rush abilities…Doesn't have the bulk and pure strength coaches want in NFL DTs…Had an iffy week at the Combine, running a slow 5.10 40 and doing 21 reps. PROJECTION: Whether a coach wants to play him at DT or DE, he has the intensity they will like, but his size and physical skills will likely drop him into the third round on draft day.

Anthony Adams, Penn State, 6-0, 299 – Fifth-year senior…Three-year starter who never missed a game…In that time, he had 162 tackles, 32 tackles for a loss and four sacks…Very hard worker who never lets up on plays…Excellent lower body strength…Gets off the ball quickly and disrupts a lot of plays…Viewed as undersized and doesn't have top speed…Not much of a pass rusher in college…Some think his recognition value comes from playing next to Kennedy, who drove most of the offensive attention away from him…A player who has been equated to being ideal in the type of the system the Vikings currently run as well as the type the team had when Tony Dungy was the defensive coordinator…Didn't lift at the Combine, but has a whopping 31 reps in a private workout. PROJECTION: Has a chance to go on the first day, because he does several things well. But his lack of height will drop into the third round, if not the second day, of the draft.

Ian Scott, Florida, 6-2, 310 – Third-year junior…Two-year starter who amassed 106 tackles, 17-1/2 tackles for a loss and 4-1/2 sacks…Two-time All-SEC second-team selection…A two-gap tackle who has good quickness for his size…Good lower body strength to plug up the middle run lanes…Was primarily a run-stuffer and wasn't asked to do a lot in pass rushing, which leaves him raw in that regard and raises questions about his durability of ever being an every-down DE…Has sustained two knee injuries and suffers from asthma, which could be enough to have some teams erase from Day One consideration…Did 28 reps at the Combine. PROJECTION: Some think he could be as effective as the man he replaced at Florida – DT Gerard Warren. If that happens, Scott will be a steal since most projections have him coming in late in the third round or perhaps even on the second day.


Rashad Moore, Tennessee, 6-3, 324 –
Fifth-year senior…Missed part of 1999 season with an ankle injury, part of 2000 with knee problems and sustained a neck injury in 2002…Didn't see much playing time while behind 2002 first-rounders Albert Haynesworth and John Henderson…Was a full-time starter in a rotation last year and recorded 44 tackles, four tackles for a loss and two sacks…Has good combination of size, strength and speed…Has good power…Is hard to move off the ball vs. the run…Doesn't have a lot of experience – starting only three games prior to last year…Didn't work out at the Combine…Learned behind a pair of first-rounders, but suffered in their shadows, and his inability to get on the field – and getting injured when he did – will likely drop him into the fourth round with a team looking for a two-year project.

Eric Manning, Orgeon State, 6-1, 303 – Fourth-year senior…Three-year starter who had 99 tackles, 33 tackles for a loss and 7-1/2 sacks…Quick off the snap…Durability isn't a concern since he made 23 straight starts…Worked out in the team's off-season program as hard as anyone…Has several good, varied pass rush techniques…Led by example on the field…Viewed as too short for the NFL…Strength from the weight program doesn't always equate on the field…Did 26 reps at the Combine…Will have rely on his non-stop intensity and a good word from a valued scout to get selected before the fifth round or so.

Matt Walters, Miami, 6-4, 272 – Fifth-year senior…Two-year starter who had 130 tackles, 16 tackles for a loss and eight sacks in that time…Intelligent player who excelled in the classroom…Very coachable…Quickness hitting gaps off the snap…Combines quickness with power and initial burst…Excellent lower-body strength…Will get engulfed by NFL offensive linemen because of his lack of size…Has plenty of upper body strength which he showed off at the Combine – doing 30 reps…Got a lot of scouts looking at him while at Miami, but was overshadowed by flashier teammates. He's in a no-win ‘tweener situation, since he is viewed as too small for a DT and doesn't have the speed to be a pass-rushing DE. He'll likely go in the middle to late rounds and have to prove himself every day to stick in the NFL.

Dan Klecko, Temple, 5-11, 273 – Fourth-year senior…Son of former Jets great Joe Klecko…Freshman All-American…Has suffered ankle and knee sprains every year in college…Two-year starter who had 130 tackles, 42 for a loss and 16-1/2 sacks in that span…Played both DE and DT…All-Big East twice and was a unanimous selection both times…Excellent initial burst off the snap…Can change directions extremely well…Works out in the weight room all the time and boasts a monstrous 520-pound bench press…Considered much too short to be a DT in the NFL…Did a blistering 36 reps at the Combine…If he was four inches taller, he would be a first-round pick, but despite having a lot of on-field talent and a solid family bloodline, he doesn't look to go until well into the second day of the draft.

Matt Leonard, Stanford, 6-3, 305 – Fifth-year senior…Started at nose tackle as a sophomore and defensive tackle the last two years, mixing in some time as a situational DE…Suffered back problems much of his college career…Good strength at the point of attack and holds his ground well…Has a good mean streak…Doesn't have the build or ideal size for a NFL DT…Doesn't have great speed…Did 30 reps at the Combine…A guy who will have to fight the stigma of not being a prototype DT with an injury history, that should be enough to drop him into the later rounds.

Colin Cole, Iowa, 6-2, 307 – Fourth-year senior…Two-year full-time starter who had 140 tackles, 30 tackles for a loss and 13 sacks in that time…Played both tackle and end…Good upper body strength…Student of the game who spent a lot of time in film study with coaches – something NFL coaches love…Took longer to heal from injuries than scouts and coaches want…Would probably be better suited for DE, but doesn't have the height or speed needed for that…Did 29 reps at the Combine…Put together solid numbers at Iowa, but is viewed as a project to make in the pros and will likely be a late-round selection as a result.

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