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 its 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 isnt likely theyll
use a high pick in this area.
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 didnt 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
PROJECTION: Many view Warren as the top pure DT to come out of the draft
in the last couple of years and hes 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 wont 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...Hasnt 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...Didnt
work out at the Combine.
PROJECTION: He doesnt fit the prototype mold of a DE or a DT, but
his athletic ability will turn heads and hell 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 wasnt 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.
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 mans Warren Sapp...Didnt run or
jump at the Combine, but did 22 reps.
PROJECTION: A mixed bag, because he wasnt 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 conferences 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...Didnt 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, hed be up with Gerard Warren at the top of the
draft...Never lets up late in games...Wont ever be a ferocious pass
rusher, but plays the run extremely well and works harder than those around
him...Didnt 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...Isnt 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
wasnt 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: Hes 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