The Atlanta Falcons need some bodies in the interior of their defensive line. Tennessee Volunteer defensive tackle Daniel McCullers is the biggest body in the draft there at 6'8" and over 350 pounds. Atlanta could use him as a true 1-technique in its scheme.
The Falcons have already shown some interest in the massive defender. NFL Network's Chase Goodbread reported that McCullers has received the most interest during his time at the Senior Bowl from the Denver Broncos and the Atlanta Falcons.
That definitely isn't shocking. Atlanta's defense was mediocre against the run and worse in pass rushing. It needs to add someone who can help push the interior of the line and eat double-teams. McCullers can definitely be that guy.
University of Tennessee
6'8", 351 pounds
2013: 12 Games Played, 33 Tackles, 4.5 Tackles for Loss, 0.5 Sacks, 4 QB Hurries, 1 Pass Deflection, 1 Blocked Kick
2012: 12 Games Played, 39 Tackles, 5.5 Tackles for Loss, 1.0 Sacks, 2 QB Hurries, 1 Fumble Forced, 1 Pass Deflection, 1 Blocked Kick
2011: Played at Georgia Military College
2010: Played at Georgia Military College
Obviously, the first thing that stands out about McCullers is his enormous size. At 6'8" and 351 pounds, McCullers would be the biggest nose tackle to play in Atlanta since Grady Jackson in 2008. His size alone seems to command double-teams.
However, his true strength comes down to the power he can generate off the line. There's quite a few times you will see him push the pocket and force a double-team by beating a guard or center with a bull rush. More than that, he's able to do it in both pass rush and run defense.
The added girth that McCullers would bring isn't offset by his height, as he knows how to use both effectively. If he's asked to so, he has no trouble generating push and then extending to block a kick or deflect a pass. This is due to his additional length that most defensive tackles lack.
While McCullers sounds like an ideal player for the Falcons at their 1-technique nose tackle, he has an issue with consistency. He doesn't always maintain leverage when he's driving off of the ball, and it leads to hot and cold streaks.
There are times when McCullers looks like the second coming of famed nose tackle Ted Washington. Then, there are times where he looks like Peria Jerry has the past five seasons. If he can learn how to play more consistently, the Falcons could have a tremendous player should they draft McCullers.
How does he fit the Comrade Filter?
McCullers has never been arrested nor suspended. On top of that, he was a captain for the Volunteers during the 2013 season. He's definitely someone who is a hard worker, as he lost over 25 pounds from his junior to senior year. He also seems to accept coaching well, as he showed improvement from 2012 to 2013.
Atlanta has been missing a true space-eater in the middle for years. Despite Corey Peters filling the role well, he's better suited for 3-technique. They'd love McCullers' abilities to free up Peters, Jonathan Babineaux or whoever winds up playing the 3-technique role in 2014.
With Bryan Cox there to help teach McCullers how to properly play the position, Atlanta could get the most out of the Tennessee product. The only real question is about who would be joining him in the defensive tackle rotation.
How he would fit into the Falcons' plans
McCullers would likely have to be selected in the mid-rounds of the draft. He's likely to go anywhere between the third and fifth rounds, and could turn into an instant starter for whoever drafts him. He won't be someone who plays 100 percent of a defense's snaps, though.
Ideally, he'll only play 55-60 percent of the defensive snaps and play in the 1-technique. Atlanta would put him next to a hopefully re-signed Peters in base packages. In three-man fronts, it could put him at nose tackle. McCullers would be a good fit for the Falcons as a space-eater in the middle.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, College Football, NFL and the NFL draft. He also runs DraftFalcons.com.
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