2012 NFL Draft: Dontari Poe and the Top 5 Nose Tackles
Nose tackle is a vital position for any team whose defense runs a 3-4 scheme. Simply put, their job is to be big.
They also have to be strong. It might seem like a common phenomenon, being big and strong in the NFL, but there's more that goes into being a great nose tackle.
Since not every team runs a 3-4, that means only the biggest and strongest prospects will get a chance to make an impression for an NFL team.
Examples of successful NFL nose tackles would be the Patriots' Vince Wilfork (6'2", 325 lbs), Steelers' Casey Hampton (6'1", 325 lbs) and Packers' B.J. Raji (6'2", 337 lbs). Over the past eight seasons, these nose tackles have a combined five Super Bowl titles.
What these three men are great at doing is taking on more than one blocker and making room for their linebackers to swarm in and make tackles.
Here are the five best nose tackles in this year's draft.
1. Dontari Poe, Memphis
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At this year's NFL Combine, Dontari Poe solidified his spot as the strongest player in the draft. He bench pressed 225 pounds 44 times, more than anyone else by three reps.
Poe's strength will already be at an NFL level once he hits the field. The fact that he played against subpar competition in Conference USA will not matter, because he is big enough to fit in the NFL.
Poe says he can fit in any scheme, but the 3-4 coaches are drooling in anticipation of getting Poe, who could clog up the middle for any team.
2. Josh Chapman, Alabama
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Josh Chapman is 6'1" and 310 pounds, which is actually seen as undersized for a nose tackle. He is still the second best option at the position in this draft.
Chapman hails from Alabama where he was part of the nation's best overall defense. He seemingly has no exceptional pass-rushing ability, but he's a definite run-stopper.
Coming from the mighty SEC should help teams see how skilled Chapman really is.
He is limited to only being a nose tackle in the 3-4, but that's exactly what some teams are looking to get.
3. Alameda Ta'amu, Washington
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Alameda Ta'amu has the natural ability to make himself a competitor with Poe as this year's best nose tackle. The problem is his inconsistency.
When Washington played big games, Ta'amu was quiet. He was a non-factor against Stanford and again during a high-scoring affair with Baylor.
The hope is that once Ta'amu enters the NFL, his focus will be more clear. The 6'3", 337-pound lineman could make a big impact for a team looking for a 3-4 nose tackle.
He played in a 4-3 scheme at Washington, so whatever team lands Ta'amu will have some work to do in order to fit him into their defense.
4. Nick Jean-Baptiste, Baylor
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Nick Jean-Baptiste had 36 tackles last season and 8.5 of them were for a loss. Tackles for loss is a big part of being a nose tackle, but eating up space is more important.
Jean-Baptiste definitely has the ability to do that weighing 335 pounds. He had a solid showing at the East-West Shrine game, which could mean he is ready to compete at the next level.
He also has the ability to play tackle in both the 3-4 and 4-3 scheme.
5. Delvin Johnson, Marshall
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Delvin Johnson only had one season with remarkable production at Marshall. After three quiet seasons, Johnson had 42 tackles and 10.5 tackles for a loss during his senior season.
Johnson has a raw talent that will need refining in the NFL.
He's 6'3" and weighs 312 pounds, so the size is there, but he will need to prove himself if he wants to become a starter in the NFL.