Second Round: 49th Pick
One of the biggest defensive linemen in this year's draft, Johnathan Hankins shows surprising balance and grace for a man his size. While he does not (and won't ever) offer much as a pass rusher, Hankins has the size, feet, and balance to play multiple positions along the line in a 3-4 defense, although he is still under-developed as a true nose tackle and is more comfortable in space at defensive end and at three-technique right now.
+ Impressive size
+ Relatively light feet for his build
+ Good balance
- Lacks burst in all phases
- Slow, winding punch and inconsistent hand use
- Not great at the point of attack inside
Tools ( + )
The fourth-heaviest defensive lineman at the combine, Hankins has a squatty, fire-hydrant-like build, which will immediately make him attractive to 3-4 teams. He has light feet in relation to his size (his 7.59 Three-Cone and 4.61 20-Yard Shuttle times were in a range for much smaller defensive linemen) and allowing him to chase well in pursuit and make plays in space.
While Hankins has light feet in relation to his size, his game lacks explosiveness in all phases. Once he gets tired he has a tendency not trust his center of gravity, bending at the waist and leaning into his opponents.
A junior entry, Hankins has no known character concerns. As noted by Dane Brugler ofNFLDraftScout.com, “[Hankins’] coaches talk positively about his football character.” His motor will likely come into question from looking “fatigued and worn down throughout games”, but he’s a very big man who was forced to play too many snaps on a mediocre Ohio State defense.
Hankins played multiple interior defensive line spots in the Buckeyes’ 3-4 defense. He lined up at both nose tackle and defensive end in the base defense, as well as the three-technique and one-technique spots in sub packages.
Pass Rush ( - )
Hankins’ skillset leaves him limited as a pass rusher, and it’s unlikely he’ll ever have much impact there in the NFL. He has slow and undeveloped hands and lacks both a first step and closing speed. Despite having light feet for his size, he’s somewhat linear and deliberate in his movement, making him ineffective on twists and stunts.
Against the Run ( + )
Hankins is not a tremendously dominant or overly physical player at the point of attack. He’s at his most comfortable one-gapping in space and getting upfield, even if it’s not the best overall use of his talent.
He takes good angles in pursuit and his light feet allow him to make plays down the line of scrimmage from the backside. While he doesn’t deal well with compressed spaces or bodies at the point of attack, he’s shown the capability of dominating one-on-ones when he’s fresh.
As is the case with most big men, Hankins is tackling ability comes down to compressed space. His lack of length sometimes makes it difficult to reach out and grab runners trying to get by at the line of scrimmage. When he feels fresh, he makes a lot of tackles down the line in pursuit.
Handfighting ( - )
Hankins’ hand use is the most concerning part of his game. While he was able to overwhelm some college offensive linemen with size and strength, he too often fails to get inside hand placement on blockers as he winds his punch up slowly and takes bad aiming points. Hankinsalso has very deliberate hand use after the initial contact, struggling to chain his movements together (or to move his feet while punching simultaneously). Once he gets tired, he has a tendency to lean on blocks.
Hankins’ wide-body is going to make him very attractive to 3-4 teams. Since he does not deal with congestion and traffic inside overly well yet, it will likely take time before he can consistently play as a two-gapping nose tackle.
He’ll likely make a quicker impact in a one-gap 3-4 at either defensive end or one-technique. Other than improving the quickness of his punch and chaining up moves to disengage, most of his problems seem to be fatigue-based from playing too many snaps.
It’s unlikely he’ll play much in sub packages or on passing downs and will have a more limited snap count than he did in college which eases concerns some have about his motor.