Best Fits for the Top 10 Uncommitted DT Recruits in Class of 2014
If a defense finds itself a dominant defensive tackle on the recruiting trail, it can soar to new heights. Big, strong, quick and physical interior defensive linemen can be difference-makers. The 2014 class has a solid group of defensive tackle prospects and they could be great fits at certain schools.
From the gap-penetrating defensive tackle prospects needing to get into a scheme predicated on quickness to the powerful guys who could be good fits in a 3-4 scheme, it is imperative they are a good fit in their future school's defense.
A recruit in Virginia could man the defensive trenches well for one of his in-state schools, while there are talented big men in Michigan, Florida and Georgia who are in search of the right fit.
10. Ainuu Taua
Taua, who is 5'11" and 287 pounds, is not the tallest defensive tackle, but he uses his lack of height to gain leverage on blockers. He has good snap quickness, plays with solid athleticism and is at his best when he is on the move.
A bit underrated as a recruit, Taua resembles the type of player who goes to Washington and plays with a chip on his shoulder. Look for him to end up in Seattle and play with the intent to show national recruiting programs that they made a mistake by not recruiting him.
9. Derrick Nnadi
Nnadi gets overshadowed by fellow Virginia native and defensive tackle Andrew Brown, but he is a good player. Nnadi has the ability to play in various fronts, be it a three-man or a four-man front. Virginia is expected to be his choice and Nnadi would fit well in Mike London's defense.
Nnadi, who is 6'1" and 305 pounds, is quick at the snap and plays stout at the point of attack. He could be on track to become a nose tackle/one-technique or he could be a guy who attacks B-gaps.
8. Travonte Valentine
Valentine is a potential solid fit at several different schools who employ several different schemes. He could be a good defensive end, as a five-technique, at Alabama. He has the quickness to be a good interior defensive tackle at Florida State and growing into a nose tackle at Georgia is not out of the question.
Valentine, who is 6'4" and 297 pounds, has good strength at the point of attack. He comes off the ball quickly enough, can stack blocks and flashes good short area quickness.
7. Josh Frazier
Frazier, who is from Arkansas, fits best in the SEC. The Springdale native could be just what the doctor ordered for Bret Bielema and Charlie Patridge, who are trying to change to style of play in Fayetteville.
Alabama could also be a great fit, as Frazier's 6'2", 325-pound frame make him an ideal nose tackle candidate for Kirby Smart. USC is employing a new 3-4/5-2 defense and Frazier would give Clancy Pendergast a class zero-technique defensive tackle.
6. Thomas Holley
Holley has traits of a three-technique defensive tackle who explodes upfield through gaps. He's an athletic defensive tackle who can play in the Pac-12 or Big-12. and even the SEC.
Holley, who is 6'4" and 285 pounds, could also play defensive end in a three-man front. A Brooklyn native, Holley is a versatile trench man who can be plugged in at several schools.
5. Elisha Shaw
Shaw, who is from Georgia, has to be the apple of the eye of Bulldog defensive chief Todd Grantham. The Dawgs run a 3-4 scheme and Shaw is a prototypical 30-front end.
Shaw, who is 6'5" and 295 pounds, has excellent strength at the point of attack. He plays like a giant in the trenches and also has explosive quickness. Any team who runs a 3-4 scheme has Shaw near the top of its defensive board.
4. Khairi Clark
Clark can be a little inconsistent with his snap quickness, so it makes it tough to evaluate and project the best fit for him. At times, the 6'2", 325-pounder can be explosive and other times he can be slow off the ball and merely lean on blockers.
Miami is expected to land Clark, but the Canes have a traditionally speed-and-quickness-based defense. Clark could fit in Coral Gables as a zero-technique or go to Alabama and become a nose tackle.
3. Malik McDowell
It is challenging to project a proper for McDowell. He passes the hoof test with flying colors, but he does not always to his 6'6", 290-pound frame.
McDowell is not as strong as his size would indicate and appears to enjoy playing defensive end more. Projecting him to be a defensive tackle may be a mistake. McDowell could develop into a 3-4 end or a strong side end in a 4-3.
If not, he is going to have to get stronger at the point of attack so he can be prepared to play defensive tackle.
Gaillard is just too downright explosive and strong to have any fit limitations. He can slide into any scheme and hold his own due to great snap quickness and power.
Gaillard, who is from North Carolina, is 6'4" and weighs more than 300 pounds. Whether he signs up to be a defensive tackle in a 4-3 scheme such as Miami, plays in a 3-4 defense at Georgia or Alabama, or is asked to play a specialty role at South Carolina, Gaillard will not have many problems.
1. Andrew Brown
Brown, who is from Virginia, is the nation's top defensive tackle prospect and has no scheme limitations. Brown can play up and down the defensive front in any kind of scheme.
He has the explosiveness and snap quickness of a three-technique, the size of a 3-4 end at 6'4", 295 pounds, and the strength of a nose tackle. Brown can go anywhere in America and be an early contributor in the defensive trenches.
However, he will likely stay home and play at Virginia.
Edwin Weathersby is the College Football Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. He has worked in scouting/player personnel departments for three professional football teams, including the New York Giants and Cleveland Browns.