NFL Comparisons for Top DT Recruits in Class of 2014
Comparing prospects to more familiar college or NFL players is always fun. It helps the reader get clearer picture of the player. Recruiting fans won't see every prospect play, so the can only go by what they read or hear.
The key to making such comparisons meaningful, however, is to not be generic. Just because a prospect plays defensive tackle does not mean he automatically compares to Ndamukong Suh.
The nation's top defensive tackle actually compares to an NFL rookie. A great nose tackle prospect resembles a former star at Alabama who now plays in the AFC East. Also, a 'tweener defensive line prospect from Louisiana should study a defensive tackle who plays in the NFC North.
Khairi Clark is an explosive defensive tackle prospect who is committed to Florida. He does not waste time at the snap, as he fires out of his stance looking to cause problems for an offense.
Clark, who is 6'2" and 325 pounds, is strong at the point of attack. He can press blocks, use his hands to shed and has the power to toss offensive linemen aside to make tackles. Clark is not a stiff athlete, as he flashes good agility and short-area quickness when pursuing the football.
He can play both defensive tackle positions in a 4-3 scheme, as well as end and nose tackle in a 3-4 defense. Clark compares to Marcell Dareus of the Buffalo Bills.
Although Thomas Holley has limited experience as a football player (ESPNU, subscription required), he is one of the top prospects in the country. Holley has a high ceiling and will blossom in college once he receives personal coaching.
Holley, who is 6'4" and 285 pounds, is an explosive athlete who can hold his own in the trenches. He has the quickness to be a disruptive force inside.
Holley also has the strength to powerfully walk a blocker back deep into the pocket as a pass-rusher. He must continue to learn how to use his hands and develop more moves, but this is a recruit who could be a terrific college defensive tackle.
Holley has a great motor, which is reminiscent of Domata Peko of the Cincinnati Bengals.
Bijhon Jackson is a space-eating defensive tackle who is committed to Arkansas. He is at his best when he can defend the run, as he shows good strength.
Although Jackson, who is 6'2" and 334 pounds, is not as explosive at the snap as some of his peers, he can—at times—quickly get out of his stance. He has great strength, uses his hands well and can anchor with power. Jackson can play the nose tackle position, but also has the skills to be a good 3-4 defensive end.
His best move as a pass-rusher is the bull rush, as it allows Jackson to attack the passer while using his strength.
He can power through blockers, as he is rarely fazed by short-setting offensive linemen. Jackson stirs up memories of a young Johnathan Hankins, the former Ohio State star who is now with the New York Giants.
Malik McDowell will become a defensive tackle in college, as he will outgrow the defensive end position. He is 6'7" and 290 pounds and is a solid athlete for his size.
McDowell has good range in pursuit, as he shows the ability cross the line of scrimmage and explode to the ball-carrier to make a tackle.
He is a powerful player who has the length to stay clean versus blockers. McDowell can play in a read-and-react system, as he has the strength to stack blocks and anchor in the trenches.
He will attempt to use his hands as a pass-rusher and can sprint upfield with solid leverage. McDowell, who can convert speed to power, can play defensive tackle in a 4-3 defense or defensive end in a 3-4 alignment.
He compares favorably to Chris Canty of the Baltimore Ravens.
Josh Frazier is a defensive tackle prospect who can play various positions in various defensive schemes. He has the ability to play nose tackle, or 0/1-technique in a 4-3 defense. Also, Frazier flashes the ability to be able to hold his own as a defensive end in a three-man front.
Frazier, who is 6'2" and 334 pounds, is a strong player with good anchor strength. He has good snap quickness, can sink his hips to hold his ground and makes a mess in the middle. Frazier can operate as a stationary space-eater who takes on double-teams.
He is not an impressive pass-rusher, but Frazier possesses the ability to beat up centers on passing downs, especially when they're snapping in shotgun formations.
A good comparison for Frazier is B.J. Raji of the Green Bay Packers.
Elisha Shaw is another versatile defensive tackle who can also fit in a 3-4 defense. He has excellent strength, as he can be punishing to offensive linemen.
Shaw, who is 6'5" and 295 pounds, displays great snap quickness. He can shoot out of his stance, stack a block, shed with power and has solid range in pursuit. Shaw has the ability to play in an attacking defense, as well as a read-and-react scheme.
He flashes good pass-rush ability, as he can convert speed to power in tight spaces. Shaw has an NFL future due to his strength and power. Even if he doesn't develop into a play-maker, he still should be able to eat up blocks and keep linebackers clean.
He is a similar player to Michael Brockers of the St. Louis Rams.
Gerald Willis has the quickness of a defensive end, but he fits better as a defensive tackle. Doubters will label him a "'tweener," as he weighs just 275 pounds. But Willis has the potential to develop into a menacing 3-technique defensive tackle.
Willis, who is 6'3", has excellent snap quickness and is a tough player. He does not shy away from contact, as he has deceptive power to take on blocks. Willis is a good athlete, has solid agility to change directions when pursuing the ball and can explode in short areas to make tackles.
His quickness also helps him as a pass-rusher, as he requires an offensive lineman to get out of his stance quicker than he would like. Willis will develop a better pass-rush plan with college coaching, which should make him a dangerous defensive tackle.
He is on the same career path as Chicago Bears defensive tackle Henry Melton.
A defensive tackle with dominant potential, Bryan Mone is a violent player who is headed to Michigan. He is a 6'4", 338-pound beast who causes many problems for an offensive front.
Mone will attack a blocker with force, as he will use his hands and strength to his advantage. He can read a running play and quickly anchor down to clog an alley. Mone has no issues stacking blocks, as he has the upper-body strength to get under an offensive lineman's pads and walk him off his spot.
He has the athleticism, quickness and strength to be moved all around the defensive line. Mone can play nose tackle, defensive tackle and even a few snaps at defensive end.
When you think of Mone, think of Baltimore Ravens defensive lineman Haloti Ngata.
Defensive tackles who want to play the 3-technique position must be explosive. They have to be able to fire out with leverage, play with a flat back and consistently terrorize an offensive front.
Lamont Gaillard, who is 6'3" and 310 pounds, has those traits and more. He displays an impressive burst of quickness at the snap, as he can routinely jump on top of offensive linemen.
Gaillard also possesses excellent strength, if he can't penetrate a gap, he will then use power to anchor versus plays coming directly at him.
He can fight to pressure a passer by bull-rushing an opponent. Gaillard also is capable of using the speed-to-power move and will keep pressuring the pocket until he reaches the quarterback.
Gerald McCoy is an NFL defensive tackle who is a great comparison for Gaillard.
Virginia is getting a tremendous talent at the defensive tackle position in Andrew Brown. Playing in the trenches as a true freshman is tough, but Brown may be ready to contribute immediately in Charlottesville.
The 6'4", 282-pounder has terrific quickness at the snap. Brown can sprint out of his stance and shows outstanding strength at the point of attack. He can play both defensive tackle positions in a 4-3 scheme, and can also play defensive end in certain alignments.
Brown can combat blockers with his hands, is physical in the trenches and has great short-area quickness. He will penetrate gaps and makes plays by chasing down ball-carriers from the backside.
Brown has explosive ability as a pass-rusher, showing the athleticism to work his way around or through offensive linemen to finish off the quarterback. He will need to develop a better pass-rush plan, but Brown has playmaking potential.
He compares favorably to former Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, who is now with the Minnesota Vikings.