Draft 2001: Defensive Tackles Analysis

2001 POSITIONAL ANALYSIS

DEFENSIVE TACKLES


POSITION OVERVIEW
With the loss of John Randle and Tony Williams, the Vikings have a need for good young talent at the position and this is their lucky year in that regard. The DT field is as deep as it’s been in years, with talent running 10 deep and well into the third and fourth rounds. Because of that, the Vikings may opt to hold off on taking a tackle early and doing their scouting homework in hopes of gleaning a gem in the third or fourth rounds. Seeing as the Vikings used two picks in the first two rounds last year to take a couple of defensive tackles, it isn’t likely they’ll use a high pick in this area.


THE BEST OF THE BEST
GERARD WARREN, Florida, 6-4, 325 — Fourth-year senior...Two-year starter who was All-SEC First Team pick last year...In two years as a starter, he had 128 tackles, 18 tackles for a loss and 6-1/2 sacks...Played next to Jevon Kearse early in his college career...While he didn’t record a lot of sacks as a senior, he was credited with 23 QB hurries...Dominant both as a run stopper and interior pass rusher...Huge, with a combination of strength and speed for his size...Not a finesse player, he depends on his power to be effective...Did not work out at the Combine.
PROJECTION: Many view Warren as the top pure DT to come out of the draft in the last couple of years and he’s almost assured of going in the top five, perhaps at No. 2 to Arizona.


RICHARD SEYMOUR, Georgia, 6-6, 299 — Was only 17 when he joined the Bulldogs and won’t turn 22 until October...Two year starter who was a two-time All-SEC selection...In two years of full-time play, he had 152 tackles, 20-1/2 tackles for a loss and 5-1/2 sacks...Has played both defensive tackle and nose tackle...Tends to be a little lazy at times and it has dropped his stock, as did some turmoil over a one-game suspension for fraudulently using a school phone card for long distance calling to friends...Hasn’t been sidelined with injuries at all during his college career...Has the power and speed to play defensive end if called on...His only downside could be that has not the size of pure defensive tackle or has the sudden burst of a pass rushing defensive end...Didn’t work out at the Combine.
PROJECTION: He doesn’t fit the prototype mold of a DE or a DT, but his athletic ability will turn heads and he’ll likely go in the middle of the first round.


MARCUS STROUD, Georgia, 6-6, 320 — Fifth-year senior who spent three seasons as a starter...Played alongside Seymour last year, giving Georgia the best interior tandem in college football...All-SEC last year...In last two seasons, he had 94 tackles, 13 tackles for a loss and 6-1/2 sacks...Blows away centers and guards and is a good straight-line pass rusher...Very large and takes up space in the middle...Faced a lot of double teams in college but was able to blow his way through them...Saw his stock go up considerably by blowing scouts’ minds at the Senior Bowl practice sessions, although he wasn’t special in the game itself...Ran a 5.09 40, did 21 reps with 225 pounds and had a 30-inch vertical jump at the Combines.
PROJECTION: He blows hot and cold sometimes, but, because of his pure athletic ability, most see him going in the first round — with Buffalo appearing to be the best fit.


THE NEXT BEST THING
DAMIONE LEWIS, Miami, 6-2, 292 — Fourth-year senior who started all four years with the Hurricanes, a rarity for Miami...A three-sport athlete is high school who was the Defensive Player in the Year in Texas for football and also excelled as a shot putter and basketball player...Hampered his senior season with a broken toe...In four seasons, he had 222 tackles, 30 tackles for a loss and 15-1/2 sacks...Has great explosiveness off the snap and burns double teams on a regular basis...A little smaller than the prototype defensive tackle, both in height and weight...Viewed as a poor man’s Warren Sapp...Didn’t run or jump at the Combine, but did 22 reps.
PROJECTION: A mixed bag, because he wasn’t as effective as a senior as many hoped, but considering he played almost the entire season with a painful broken toe, he impressed scouts with his willingness to play hurt. Likely to go toward the end of the first round.


SHAUN ROGERS, Texas, 6-4, 321 — Has a pro bloodline, since his father Ernie played in the CFL and USFL...Played four years with the Longhorns...Two-year full-time starter in which he had 86 tackles, 26 tackles for a loss and 6-1/2 sacks, despite missing three games with an ankle injury that slowed him most of the season...Extremely big and strong and has the body type to get even larger...Quick for his size and can break down the pocket when he gets a jump off the ball...Has had trouble controlling his weight and has weighed as much as 350 pounds...Tends to wear down in games and will have to improve his conditioning to be a full-time NFL DT...Was not able to work out in the postseason and before the draft, which has dropped his value...Did not work out at the Combine.
PROJECTION: Because of his nagging injuries his senior year, scouts must look at his junior season to get a true look at his ability. Those who do will likely make him a late-first or early second-round pick.


WILLIE HOWARD, Stanford, 6-3, 292 — Fifth-year senior who started every game — 45 in all — in his four years with the Cardinal...Played in the Rose Bowl despite having knee ligament injury is his right knee that needed surgery...Has played DE, DT and NT...In last three seasons, he had 159 tackles, 38 tackles for a loss and 20-1/2 sacks...Two-time All-Pac 10 player who won the 1999 Morris Trophy, given to the conference’s best defensive lineman...Had knee surgery before his senior season...Had a down senior season, or he would surely have gone in the first half of the first round...Has great speed for a man his size...Didn’t run or jump at the Combine, but did 23 reps.
PROJECTION: The fact he can play all defensive line positions will help his stock, but not coming back as dominant in his senior year will likely drop him into the second round.


CASEY HAMPTON, Texas, 6-1, 318 — Became a starter midway through his freshman season with Texas...Was a redshirt in 1997 because he tore his right ACL...Had to have hernia surgery after the 1999 season, but played in every game...Started every game the last three years and was a two-time All-Big 12 and two-time All-America selection...Named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year last season...In three full seasons as a starter, he had 239 tackles, 47 tackles for a loss and 8-1/2 sacks...Played alongside Rogers for three years...Incredible weight room man who bench presses 460 pounds and squats more than 600...His only problem is his height. If was 6-4, he’d be up with Gerard Warren at the top of the draft...Never lets up late in games...Won’t ever be a ferocious pass rusher, but plays the run extremely well and works harder than those around him...Didn’t run or jump at the Combine, but did an eye-popping 34 reps with 225 pounds.
PROJECTION: Will be a great pick for whoever gets him, likely in the first half of the second round.


KRIS JENKINS, Maryland, 6-5, 318 —
Three-year starter...Huge and strong, he looks like a prototype DT, but has never lived up to the capabilities he has...In three years as a starter, he had 137 tackles, 23-1/2 tackles for a loss and 9-1/2 sacks — almost all of the numbers produced his senior year...Is pretty chiseled for a guy who weighs 320 pounds...Improved his stock by showing up ready for Blue-Grey Game and the Senior Bowl...Isn’t nearly as fast since he gained weight in preparation for NFL...Still a little raw, but has a lot of upside...Ran a 5.01 40, did 33 reps and had a 31-inch vertical jump at the Combine.
PROJECTION: He made some fans at the Combine and the all-star games and will likely now find himself in the second round of the draft.


ENNIS DAVIS, USC, 6-4, 304 — A three-year starter who was All-Pac-10 and USC Defensive Player of the Year as a sophomore...Has a relatively long injury history, with surgeries on his shoulder, left knee ligaments, a left knee scope and left elbow...In three years as a starter, he 131 tackles, 30 tackles for a loss and 14 sacks...Has been more tentative since the knee surgery...He was dominating before the injury and, while he showed flashes of that ability in his final two years, he wasn’t the same...Has the ideal size for a DT and is excellent vs. the run...Viewed as a little too lazy for all of his ability...Did not run at the Combine, but did 23 reps and had a 27-1/2 inch vertical jump.
PROJECTION: He’s a guy who could have gone in the late-first or early-second round if he worked a little harder, but has the ability to be a steal in the third round or late in the second.



KEEP AN EYE ON

Ryan Pickett, Ohio State, 6-2, 310
Willie Blade, Mississippi State, 6-3, 315
Tyrone Robertson, Hinds Junior College (Miss.), 6-3, 278
Kenny Smith, Alabama, 6-3, 300
Ron Edwards, Texas A & M, 6-3, 293
Mario Fatafehi, Kansas State, 6-2, 295
Daleroy Stewart, Southern Mississippi, 6-3, 309
John Schlecht, Minnesota, 6-0, 295
Eric Downing, Syracuse, 6-3, 303

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