NFL Draft Grades: Defensive tackle


I’m very excited about this crop of defensive tackles. There aren’t any elite once in a generation guys like Suh, but the depth is fantastic and Tennessee is in a perfect position to pluck one in the first few rounds. They need to be cautious however, because defensive tackle may be the highest boom or bust position in the NFL draft.

Fletcher Cox, DT, Miss. State

6’4″–298–34 1/2″

Fletcher Cox is the highest rated defensive tackle in this year’s class. He is very athletic, posting a 4.79 40 yard dash at the combine, and has the power to handle the massive guards and centers in the NFL. Cox is able to get great penetration because of his quick twitch movements off the ball. He uses his hands well and is able to dip and bend to get around his opponent. He has a high motor and shows the ability to chase a runner down the line. Fletcher Cox tends to get bullied around when doubled team, and his technique could stand improvement when anchoring the line in run defense. Nonetheless, Fletcher Cox is a wonderful prospect with upside.

Round: 1

Potential: 4/5

Instant Impact: 3/5

Jerel Worthy, DT, Mich. State


Jerel Worthy is a late first round prospect that would fit right in as a 43 DT. He has the ability to anchor the line and is explosive enough to occasionally get in the backfield, which will improve with coaching and learning rush moves. Excelling in run support, Worthy is a big guy that will take up blockers for linebackers to run free. His exceptional motor allows him to keep moving and push the pocket. Worthy uses his hands well to get off blocks and defend his gap. There aren’t many flaws in Worthy’s game, but his average agility accompanied with the other high rated tackles may push his draft stock down just a bit.

Round 1-2

Potential: 4/5

Instant Impact: 4/5

Michael Brockers, DT, LSU


Brockers has the elite frame and athletic ability that I, along with most scouts and coaches, dream about every night. His height and weight are fantastic, throw on the 35″ arms and you have basically made your prototypical all-pro DT. His run defense and gap control is the best I have ever seen on tape. Yes, read that again. Brockers does not get pushed backwards, even when double teamed. He is a strong tackler and uses a low pad level to drive his opponent off the ball. So why isn’t he a top 5 pick. Well, he might be. Brocker’s flaws in rushing the passer may be attributed to his lack of playing time. He is only a red shirt sophomore. He will improve, I promise you that. His talents are just to great to pass up. Who cares if he can’t rush the passer, the kid is only 21 years old. He has played one full season at LSU. Michael Brockers has a very bright future in the NFL.

Round: 1

Potential: 5/5

Instant Impact: 3/5

Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis


Poe is famous now after posting a 4.98 40 yard dash at this year’s combine. That is all good and dandy, but have you seen his tape? It is horrible. Maybe he was used improperly, but you would think someone with his tangibles would be a monster. His short arms affect his ability to rush the passer and get off blocks and he is virtually clueless when it comes to the concept of leverage. He plays to high for somebody that is only 6’2″. Besides running really fast and bench pressing the crap out of 225 (44 reps), Dontari Poe does possess a quality that GMs will like a lot. He has the power and tenacity to eat up blockers without budging. He will likely be picked by a 34 team and inserted into the nose tackle position directly over the center.

Round: 1

Potential: 5/5

Instant Impact: 2/5

Devon Still, DT, Penn State

6’5″–300–33 1/4″

Watching a Devon Still highlight video is like a flash back of Warren Sapp as a Buccaneer. His pass rushing skills are insanely good for a man his size. With that said, a breakdown of his film shows an average motor and a lack of the agility needed to bring down “plus” athletes in the backfield. Once the ball passes Still you can all but count him out of the play. He takes plays off and tends to get pushed back too often for my liking. I don’t know what his assignments were at Penn. State, but it seemed Still played his best, and hardest, when pinning his ears back and rushing the passer. Ideally, I see Still as a DE in a 34, but he would fit well in a 43 if he is inserted next to a gap eater. For me Devon Still is a luxury pick that someone other than the Tennessee Titans could afford to pick in the back half of the first round.

Round: 1-2

Potential: 4/5

Instant Impact: 3/5

The Tennessee Titans will likely use an early round pick on an every down defensive tackle. Jurrel Casey is a lock as a starter, and Karl Klug is a fantastic role player. The other guys, well they are expendable. If we get a big bodied guy next to Casey our defensive ends will receive less attention from the opposing offensive line. Here is how the Titans big board should look for DTs:

1. Fletcher Cox

2. Michael brockers

3. Jerel Worthy

4. Devon Still

5. Dontari poe

Brandon Thompson and Mike martin are guys in the 2-3 round range that I am also very high on.

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