2015 NFL Draft: A Scout's Eye View:Top Defensive Tackles
Defensive Tackle Rankings
*Writers note: These rankings are of players I was able to get enough game film on to scout, other top prospects who I was not able to scout thoroughly enough to rank are listed at the end.
1. Leonard Williams USC 6'5 302: Best overall prospect regardless of position in the draft, has the overall skills to play anywhere along the line, incredibly skilled pass rusher, could actually be a 300 pound edge rusher if asked he has that kind of athleticism and acceleration...Very quick, strong and skilled hands...Turns speed into power exceptionally well...Has rare lateral quickness, quick twitch and explosive burst for a 300 pounder...Has the flexibility to dip, flatten and make plays in the backfield off the edge...Rare closing speed in pursuit...Has tremendous arm length and knows how to use it...Has ability to get skinny and slice through the gap...Very high scheme versatility...Pass rush ability is far beyond his years, very savvy at setting up blockers, reading what the blocker does and using the ideal pass rush move to defeat him, he's like a counterpuncher in boxing...Rushes the passer like a veteran, can win in a wide variety of ways...Creates seperation from the blocker by gaining inside hand position, controls his man from a distance, stacks and sheds.
2. Malcom Brown Texas 6'2 320: Thick and powerful, well proportioned 320 pounds, stacks and sheds as well as any defensive lineman, very powerful hands...High motor...Has the skillset to succeed in any defense despite lack of ideal length.
3. Danny Shelton Washington 6'2 339: Extremely thick and extremely powerful run stuffer, instantly upgrades a defenses run defense with his presence...shockingly productive as a pass rusher for a 340 pounder..Active powerful hands...Great eyes and instincts...Strong wrap up tackler...Nearly impossible to move
4. Grady Jarrett Clemson 6'1 290: very impressive speed, moves like an ILB...Outstanding burst off the ball, Perfectly suited to be a penetrating 3 technique...Relentless motor, pursuses sideline to sideline..Explosive hitter and tackler for D-lineman...Quick, strong, active hands...Plays with great leverage...Lacks ideal length and size for many base schemes...Great balance and agility...Very disruptive in the middle of the defense, constantly in the backfield
5. Arik Armstead Oregon 6'7 294: Production doesn't match physical tools...Ideal length and overall size...Flashes dominance but has an inconsistent motor...Technique is inconsistent but when it's right he's a force...No idea how to beat double teams...Very high ceiling but hasn't come close to it yet, best football is ahead of him.
6. Eddie Goldman Florida State 6'4 314: Prototype size length and body type, carries 314 pounds very well...Flashes dominance but lacks consistency...Heavy powerful hands, able to control and shed sometimes at will...Pad level is inconsistent, plays too high too often...Disappears for too long of stretches...Struggles to defeat double teams
7. Henry Anderson Stanford 6'6 294: Unimpressive looking in shorts, but much more impressive in pads, a better football player than he is an athlete...Very skilled with his hands as a pass rusher...Ideal size and length for five technique in the NFL...Very tall, but comes off the football low and hard, leads with his hands and shoots the gap with surprising burst...High motor in pursuit down the line...Plays with good leverage, consistently gets inside hand position...Great flexibility, shows ability to dip under and get past blocker...Lacks the bulk to anchor down consistently against double teams, but holds ground well against the run most of the time...Wide array of pass rush moves...Very productive, disruptive with great instincts and reaction...Sound wrap up tackler
8. Xavier Cooper Washington State 6'3 293: Impressive burst and closing speed...High motor and high football IQ, reads blocking very well...Unique speed and lateral quickness for his size and position...Great burst off the ball...Size limits his scheme versatility
9. Michael Bennett Ohio State 6'2 288: Great burst off the ball, fires out of stance low and hard...Excellent closing speed on the ball...Lacks prototype size, length and bulk...Consistently productive past two seasons at Ohio State...Quick one gap penetrator...Scheme versatility is limited, too easy to move in the run game by one blocker and gets completely washed out by double teams, poor fit for a two gap scheme...Quick, strong hands...Refined wide array of pass rush moves and knows how to set them up...Impressive lateral quickness and short area burst...Inconsistent motor...Impressive push/pull move...Good feel for blocking schemes, feeling the line flow, but needs to keep eyes up more consistently.
10. Carl Davis Iowa 6'5 320: Ideal size and length, thick from head to toe...He's tall and plays too high at times, exposes chest too often...Worked quite a bit as a tilted nose...Leads with his hands well, gets inside position and does nice job stacking and shedding, using his immense wingspan to control his opponent in flashes...Lacks explosiveness, more of a leaner and hand fighter...Possesses an overwhelming initial punch off the ball, very heavy hands...Takes himself out of too many plays by overpenetrating and overpursuing down the line, doesn't read blocking well, lacks consistent gap integrity, susceptible to counters and traps...gets consistent push up the middle...Has good scheme versatility, has a role on a 4-3 base or a 3-4...His weaknesses are correctable while hsi strengths are God given, giving him a higher ceiling than most.
11. Mario Edwards Jr Florida State 6'3 279: Good burst for his size...Good natural knee bend and overall athleticism....Played all over the place on the Florida State front line...Ideal size and skills for a base 4-3 end...Uses his big strong hands well to control, stack and shed versus the run...Impressive athlete for his size, unique package of size, strength and quickness...Doesn't possess a wide range of pass rush moves, he's best as a bull rusher...Production didn't match his immense potential, was a five star recruit coming out of high school.
12. Jordan Phillips Oklahoma 6'6 329: Rare size, a massive presence in the middle with great length, long arms and a thick powerful trunk...Impressive burst and short area quickness for a 330 pounder...Very raw as a pass rusher and not nearly the bull rusher you'd expect...Size commands double team, difficult to move in the run game...Plays too high too often, inconsistent pad level...Conditioning is an issue, best utilized in short spurts, play drops off noticably late in games and on long drives...Doesn't disengage or shed on time consistently...Had a serious back issue in 2013, could be a long term issue, could explain inconsistent pad level...Great natural athletic tools for his size, seemed to improve as season wore on best football is very much ahead of him, very high ceiling.
13. Rakeem Nunez-Roches Southern Mississippi 6'2 305: Imprssive athletic build for a 300 pounder...Explosive acceleration off the ball, comes off low and hard..Quick penetrator...Good wrap up tackler...Lacks strong initial punch at point of attack...Good instincts reads blocks and sniffs out screen well...Has some suddenness and twitch to his game...High motor player...Lacks lower body strength to anchor down consistently against the run...Upper body strength is far ahead of lower body...Very good natural athlete plays with good easy knee bend...Wins with burst, lacks a wide range of pass rush moves.
Other top unscouted prospects: Bobby Richardson Indiana 6'3 283, Anthony Chickillo Miami (Fla) 6'4 282, Marcus Hardison Arizona State, Tyeler Davison Fresno State, Christian Covington Rice, Joey Mbu Houston