CFB Recruiting 200: Top 20 Defensive Tackles in Class of 2016

Bleacher Report College Football StaffFeatured ColumnistJuly 31, 2015

CFB Recruiting 200: Top 20 Defensive Tackles in Class of 2016

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    The 2016 class of defensive tackles arguably is one of the best collective units in a few years. This year's crop is led by the nation's No. 1 player, Rashan Gary (right).
    The 2016 class of defensive tackles arguably is one of the best collective units in a few years. This year's crop is led by the nation's No. 1 player, Rashan Gary (right).Credit: 247Sports

    After thorough study using specific scoring criteria, Bleacher Report National Recruiting Analysts Damon SaylesSanjay Kirpalani and Tyler Donohue have graded the top 200 players in the 247Sports composite rankings and provided in-depth analysis on each young athlete. Bleacher Report will run a position-by-position breakdown series of the best college football recruits in the class of 2016. Here we present the Top Defensive Tackles.

    Other Positions

    The talent level of the Class of 2016 defensive tackles is beyond impressive. The numbers speak for themselves.

    Of the top 20 players in the 247Sports composite rankings, seven are defensive tackles. Three of those seven are in the top 10, and the nation's top-ranked player is Rashan Gary, arguably one of the most complete defensive tackles to come through recruiting in a few years.

    Bleacher Report's CFB Recruiting 200 series breaks down the top defensive tackles in the 2016 class and grades them on key factors such as pass rushing, tackling, explosive strength, run defense, hands and motor.

    All analysis provided by B/R National Recruiting Analyst Damon Sayles. All player rankings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite rankings.

20. 4-Star DT Cedric Wood

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    Credit: 247Sports

    Height/Weight: 6'4", 285 pounds

    High School: Amos P. Godby High School; Tallahassee, Florida

    247Sports Ranking: No. 19 DT; No. 190 overall

    Bleacher Report Score: 92/100

    Committed to Florida State on Feb. 22, 2014

    Cedric Wood is a longtime Florida State commit. He's been committed since February 2014, and it doesn't look like the Seminoles have anything to worry about.

    Wood is attracted to the idea of playing for a Florida State program that has produced quality NFL defensive linemen in previous years. You can believe head coach Jimbo Fisher and the Seminoles coaches are excited about working with him in the near future.

    Wood is strongly committed to Florida State but also has offers from Florida, Alabama, Auburn and South Carolina.

    Bleacher Report Analysis

    Wood has good size and plays with a high level of intensity. His frame can support additional weight, which will mesh well with his deceptive speed.

    His strength will allow him to be a solid run-stopper in the trenches. His length assists in closing to quarterbacks and running backs. Wood has a high ceiling and could be a big name in the ACC in a couple of years.

19. 4-Star DT Raekwon Davis

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    247Sports.com

    Height/Weight: 6'7", 315 pounds

    High School: Meridan High School; Meridan, Misssissippi

    247Sports Ranking: No. 19 DT; No. 182 overall

    Bleacher Report Score: 92/100

    Committed to Alabama on August 11, 2014

    When you look at Raekwon Davis, the first thing noticed often times is his size. He's a physically imposing athlete who plays with a chip on his shoulder.

    The Alabama faithful was excited to get his commitment last year. He chose the Crimson Tide over offers from Ole Miss and Mississippi State, among others.

    Alabama is hoping to keep him committed after all this time, but you can bet head coach Nick Saban and his staff are making sure they do their part.

    Bleacher Report Analysis

    A big, tall defensive lineman, Davis plays with a high motor and a will to win every play. He's an athlete who uses his length well against opposing offensive linemen. 

    In addition to being a solid rusher off the line, Davis also is someone who can disrupt pass plays with his height and long arms. Add in the fact that he plays with an infectious level of intensity, and he's expected to be a major contributor in the SEC.

18. 4-Star DT Keyshon Camp

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    Credit: 247Sports

    Height/Weight: 6'3 ½", 269 pounds

    High School: Lake Gibson High School; Lakeland, Florida

    247Sports Ranking: No. 18 DT; No. 171 overall

    Bleacher Report Score: 92/100

    Committed to USC on June 27, 2015

    Keyshon Camp can be a perfect fit in the Pac-12. He is an athletic big man who has a lot of characteristics that made USC head coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff go all-in on him.

    A one-time Miami commit, Camp finished his junior season with 71 tackles and five sacks. He made 19 of his tackles behind the line of scrimmage.

    In-state schools Miami, Florida and Florida State were hoping to land him. Camp also has offers from Oregon, Michigan, Alabama, Tennessee and a host of other programs.

    Bleacher Report Analysis

    Camp is a taller defenders who can put on 10-15 pounds and not have it hurt him. He plays with a high level of intensity and uses his strength and pad level well.

    Camp, additionally, is a mobile and agile athlete. He moves from side to side well, and he's deceptively quick. Add those traits to his power game, and Camp has the tools to be a solid college football player.

17. 4-Star DT Ellison Jordan

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    Credit: 247Sports

    Height/Weight: 6'0", 270 pounds

    High School: Gilman School; Baltimore

    247Sports Ranking: No. 17 DT; No. 161 overall

    Bleacher Report Score: 92/100

    Committed to Penn State on June 26, 2015

    Ellison Jordan loves the game of football, and despite the fact that some consider him a tweener, it's apparent that he can play at the next level.

    Jordan committed to Penn State in June, choosing the Nittany Lions over offers from Maryland, Boston College, Michigan State and numerous other programs. He has more than 20 offers.

    There's a level of explosiveness that makes Jordan an attractive get. He'll show it early and often at Penn State.

    Bleacher Report Analysis

    Jordan plays with a motor and a level of physicality that may catch a larger offensive lineman off guard at first. He is fearless when he lines up one-on-one situations.

    Jordan is shorter than most of the defensive linemen considered elite, but his lack of height is quickly dismissed with every play made. He has a great nose for the football, and he never expects to lose any battles.

16. 4-Star DT Karamo Dioubate

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    Credit: 247Sports

    Height/Weight: 6'3", 279 pounds

    High School: Prep Charter; Philadelphia

    247Sports Ranking: No. 16 DT; No. 149 overall

    Bleacher Report Score: 92/100

    Uncommitted: Considering Alabama, Ohio State, Penn State and Rutgers

    Karamo Dioubate is that proverbial mold of clay every college coach hopes to get.

    He already has the size to be a defensive end and is good enough to play either defensive end or defensive tackle. Many are recruiting him as a defensive tackle because of his ability to bully offensive linemen inside.

    Penn State appears to be in the driver's seat for Dioubate, who has 25 reported offers, according to 247Sports. Ohio State, Alabama and Rutgers are three schools to watch as he goes deeper into his recruiting process.

    Bleacher Report Analysis

    A shade under 280 pounds, Dioubate is something of a tweener on the line. In this case, it works as an advantage, as he is versatile enough to be a disruptive run-stopper or a solid pass-rusher off the ends.

    Dioubate has great pad level and lateral movement, which helps him cover a lot of field in run plays. He's also versatile enough to play on the offensive line, if a school is in need of an athletic interior guy.

15. 4-Star DT Chris Daniels

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    Credit: 247Sports

    Height/Weight: 6'3 ½", 299 pounds

    High School: Trinity High School; Euless, Texas

    247Sports Ranking: No. 15 DT; No. 148 overall

    Bleacher Report Score: 93/100

    Uncommitted: Considering Alabama, Baylor, Oklahoma, TCU and Texas A&M

    Playing for a high school with a reputation for producing quality offensive linemen, Chris Daniels gets plenty of practice honing his skills at the defensive tackle spot.

    Part of that has helped his stock grow as a 2016 recruit. He finished his junior year with 45 tackles and seven sacks. As the season progressed, teams began to run plays on the opposite side from where he lined up.

    In-state schools TCU, Baylor and Texas A&M are three to keep an eye on in Daniels' process. Alabama, Michigan, Oklahoma and Ohio State are among the out-of-state schools in the hunt.

    Bleacher Report Analysis

    Playing with power is something Daniels does very well. He counters solid pad level from an offensive lineman with his strength, which intrigues many college coaches.

    Even though he's a meal away from the 300-pound mark, Daniels moves extremely well off the ball. Additionally, he plays the game with a mean streak.

14. 4-Star DT Michail Carter

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    Credit: 247Sports

    Height/Weight: 6'4", 302 pounds

    High School: Jackson High School; Jackson, Georgia

    247Sports Ranking: No. 14 DT; No. 137 overall

    Bleacher Report Score: 93/100

    Uncommitted: Considering Alabama, Auburn, Florida and Georgia

    If anyone passes the eyeball test of a defensive tackle prospect, it's Michail Carter. He has a great frame, and he's all about getting better on the field.

    With a dozen reported offers according to 247Sports, Carter could be on his way to the SEC. Georgia is trending as a school to watch, but Florida, Auburn, Alabama and Clemson are programs to keep an eye on.

    The winning school will get a player who could be a dynamic athlete at the next level.

    Bleacher Report Analysis

    Carter is far from a sloppy 300-pounder. He has nice muscle mass and is a chiseled lineman. His strength and toughness are advantages on the football field.

    Carter also has good footwork and lateral movement. He can beat an offensive lineman using power or finesse. Keeping the linemen guessing will work in his favor.

13. 4-Star DT Garrett Rand

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    Credit: 247Sports

    Height/Weight: 6'3", 275 pounds

    High School: Hamilton High School; Chandler, Arizona

    247Sports Ranking: No. 13 DT; No. 125 overall

    Bleacher Report Score: 92/100

    Uncommitted: Considering Arizona, Arizona State, Nebraska and Stanford

    With roughly a dozen offers on the table, Garrett Rand is an athlete who coaches feel can be an all-conference selection sooner than later.

    Part of the reason is his motor. He plays every snap like a man on a mission, and he also plays with no fear. No challenge goes untested with Rand.

    The Pac-12 could be a great spot for him. Arizona State likes him a lot, as does Arizona, Stanford, Washington and UCLA. He also has offers from Nebraska, Michigan State and others.

    Bleacher Report Analysis

    Rand is a player who can be a solid bull-rusher at the next level. He plays with good leverage and uses his hands well to evade offensive linemen.

    Rand may be seen as a tweener, but he plays each snap as if it's his last. College coaches like the fact that he's a physical football player who will play until the whistle blows.

12. 4-Star DT Jordan Elliott

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    Credit: 247Sports

    Height/Weight: 6'4", 305 pounds

    High School: Westside High School; Houston

    247Sports Ranking: No. 12 DT; No. 95 overall

    Bleacher Report Score: 93/100

    Committed to Houston on May 22, 2015

    When discussing Jordan Elliott, one thing that isn't an issue is confidence. Elliott expects to dominate in every one-on-one battle.

    A one-time Baylor commit, Elliott finished his junior season with 78 tackles and 12 sacks. Of those 78 tackles, 31 were behind the line of scrimmage, which says something about his quickness off the line.

    Elliott made the hometown fans very happy when he committed to Houston on May 22. He has 36 offers overall, according to 247Sports.

    Bleacher Report Analysis

    An old adage in sports is "speed kills." Elliott is a 300-pounder who has run the 40-yard dash in 4.86 seconds. He has outstanding speed and acceleration and uses it well to stymie offensive linemen.

    Additionally, Elliott has great hands and feet, and he plays with a chip on his shoulder. He's an athlete who can be special in the American Athletic Conference.

11. 4-Star DT Benito Jones

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    Credit: 247Sports

    Height/Weight: 6'2", 260 pounds

    High School: Wayne County High School; Waynesboro, Mississippi

    247Sports Ranking: No. 11 DT; No. 70 overall

    Bleacher Report Score: 93/100

    Committed to Ole Miss on Aug. 17, 2014

    Benito Jones is an enigma of sorts as a defensive lineman. Some coaches are wondering if he makes for a better defensive tackle or defensive end in college.

    But that's what makes Jones such an attractive get for Ole Miss. He has offers from Alabama, Florida State, Georgia and others but chose to stay close to home.

    The "Landsharks" will get a defender who could be a major player to watch in a couple of years.

    Bleacher Report Analysis

    Jones plays with a fire that will fit well with what head coach Hugh Freeze is doing at Ole Miss. He's a versatile defender who is fueled by his hands, footwork and overall quickness off the snap.

    Jones is a strong lineman who can use his lower center of gravity to his advantage. He always seems to be around the ball as well.

10. 4-Star DT Boss Tagaloa

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    Credit: 247Sports

    Height/Weight: 6'2", 295 pounds

    High School: De La Salle High School; Concord, California

    247Sports Ranking: No. 10 DT; No. 70 overall

    Bleacher Report Score: 93/100

    Uncommitted: Considering Alabama, Arizona, Cal and UCLA

    It's fitting that "Boss" is the first name—the real first name—of Boss Tagaloa. When he's on the field, he's just that.

    Tagaloa always finds a way to be in the middle of a play. He's an emotional player whose passion can be infectious.

    UCLA is a school to watch for the uncommitted lineman. Cal, Alabama, Arizona, Arizona State and Washington State are some other programs to keep an eye on.

    Bleacher Report Analysis

    When discussing Tagaloa, his high level of play often comes up. He has an outstanding motor, as he plays to the whistle on every play. He also has good feet and hands.

    Although not the tallest athlete, Tagaloa makes up for the height with his football IQ. He also brings a lot of athleticism to the table, which helps him win one-on-one matchups against larger athletes.

9. 4-Star DT Kendell Jones Jr.

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    Credit: 247Sports

    Height/Weight: 6'4 ½", 361 pounds

    High School: Shoemaker High School; Killeen, Texas

    247Sports Ranking: No. 9 DT; No. 65 overall

    Bleacher Report Score: 93/100

    Committed to Alabama on May 22, 2015

    You don't get the nickname "Hulk" for being pint-sized. Kendell Jones Jr. is the extreme opposite of "pint-sized."

    Arguably one of the trimmest 361-pound athletes walking, Jones is the perfect example of someone who can turn on the charm off the field and be a dominant force on it. When he's locked in, he's more than a handful to contain as a defensive lineman.

    Jones verbally committed to Alabama on May 22, choosing the Crimson Tide over Texas, LSU and several other schools.

    Bleacher Report Analysis

    In short, Jones is a load to defend. He is naturally strong and deceptively quick. When he plays with a chip on his shoulder, he's one of the most feared individuals in the 2016 class.

    Jones is a physically gifted athlete but knows he can be even better with the right tutelage. Alabama could be the program that turns a great defensive lineman into an extraordinary one.

8. 4-Star DT Antwuan Jackson

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    Credit: 247Sports

    Height/Weight: 6'2 ½", 285 pounds

    High School: Cedar Grove High School; Ellenwood, Georgia

    247Sports Ranking: No. 8 DT; No. 47 overall

    Bleacher Report Score: 94/100

    Uncommitted: Considering Auburn, Florida, Georgia and Ohio State

    Antwuan Jackson is fun to watch on the football field. For starters, he doesn't look like a 285-pounder.

    When he makes a play, however, he's like a giant among men; it's easy to see why he has 42 reported offers, according to 247Sports.

    Georgia would love to keep him in-state but will have to battle schools like Auburn, Alabama, South Carolina and Ohio State as Jackson continues his recruiting process.

    Bleacher Report Analysis

    Jackson is a well-balanced defensive lineman who can do a lot of things well. He has good speed, strength, athleticism and explosiveness off the line. His first step may be what gets him early playing time in college.

    Jackson isn't the tallest defensive lineman but makes up for lack of height with a high level of energy and an even higher level of confidence. There isn't an offensive lineman he believes he can't conquer.

7. 5-Star DT Julian Rochester

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    Credit: 247Sports

    Height/Weight: 6'5 ½", 315 pounds

    High School: McEachern High School; Powder Springs, Georgia

    247Sports Ranking: No. 7 DT; No. 19 overall

    Bleacher Report Score: 94/100

    Committed to Georgia on May 28, 2015

    A guy like Julian Rochester can be easy to like immediately. He passes the eyeball test of the prototypical college defensive tackle.

    Add in the fact that he has the skill set of one, and it's easy to see why he has 20 offers. Rochester, however, ended his recruiting process with a commitment to Georgia on May 28.

    Auburn, Alabama, Clemson and Florida are among the schools showing interest, but it doesn't look like Rochester will waver from Georgia.

    Bleacher Report Analysis

    Size-wise, Rochester is everything you want in a defensive tackle. He's a big, tall defender who uses his length well in one-on-one matchups. Strength is also a major asset.

    Rochester brings athleticism to the line too. He moves well laterally for a big guy and is able to make plays to help shut down his side of the field.

6. 5-Star DT Edwin Alexander

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    Credit: 247Sports

    Height/Weight: 6'2", 310 pounds

    High School: St. Thomas Aquinas High School; Hammond, Louisiana

    247Sports Ranking: No. 6 DT; No. 15 overall

    Bleacher Report Score: 95/100

    Committed to LSU on April 18, 2015

    Part of Edwin Alexander's junior season was cut short because of a knee injury, but LSU saw enough out of him to offer, and he committed to the Tigers in April.

    As a sophomore, Alexander had 64.5 tackles and 11.5 sacks. His numbers were cut roughly in half as a junior, but when healthy, he is a solid college prospect with a high ceiling.

    Even though he's considered a strong LSU commit, Alexander has additional offers from Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Florida State, Ole Miss, Florida and a few other programs.

    Bleacher Report Analysis

    Alexander is the kind of defensive lineman LSU always looks for. He's got decent size and possesses good speed and strength. When the ball is snapped he has a good burst, and he finds a way to produce multiple tackles for loss.

    Alexander has good hands and plays the game with a high motor. He will only get better under Les Miles' defensive staff.

5. 5-Star DT Rashard Lawrence

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    Credit: 247Sports

    Height/Weight: 6'3", 305 pounds

    High School: Neville High School; Monroe, Louisiana

    247Sports Ranking: No. 5 DT; No. 14 overall

    Bleacher Report Score: 96/100

    Uncommitted: Considering Alabama, LSU, Oklahoma and Ole Miss

    Rashard Lawrence is a wanted individual for a lot of reasons.

    A primary reason is Lawrence's approach to the game. He's an athlete who never expects to lose a one-on-one battle. That attitude has made him one of Louisiana's best athletes and a major target for Power Five schools.

    Lawrence has 23 reported offers, according to 247Sports. LSU and Alabama are two schools to which he is paying heavy attention.

    Bleacher Report Analysis

    Lawrence is a strong athlete who plays with a high motor. His quickness off the ball is a strong point, but the way he uses his hands may be what's best about him when he lines up for a play.

    Lawrence is fun to watch because he plays with a mean streak. He has the no-nonsense attitude that every coach wants in his defensive lineman.

4. 5-Star DT Ed Oliver

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    Credit: 247Sports

    Height/Weight: 6'2", 277 pounds

    High School: Westfield High School; Houston

    247Sports Ranking: No. 4 DT; No. 11 overall

    Bleacher Report Score: 97/100

    Committed to Houston on May 21, 2015

    He may be one of the smallest defensive tackles of the elite linemen, but Ed Oliver is proof that size doesn't matter when you have talent. And Oliver has tons of talent.

    Oliver stunned much of the recruiting world when he committed to Houston over LSU, Texas, Baylor and others on May 21. He will join his older brother, Marcus, at Houston.

    Oliver finished with 84 tackles and seven sacks as a junior.

    Bleacher Report Analysis

    Oliver is a dynamic, explosive tackle who impresses scouts with his first step. He is slightly undersized as a defensive lineman, but his speed, athleticism and football IQ trump his size and silence his critics.

    Oliver isn't the most vocal athlete, but his game speaks volumes. He has the goods to be an all-conference defensive lineman at Houston as a freshman.

3. 5-Star DT Derrick Brown

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    Credit: 247Sports

    Height/Weight: 6'4", 322 pounds

    High School: Lanier High School; Buford, Georgia

    247Sports Ranking: No. 3 DT; No. 7 overall

    Bleacher Report Score: 96/100

    Uncommitted: Considering Alabama, Auburn, Georgia and Tennessee

    Derrick Brown showed his worth at The Opening, winning multiple battles against some of the best offensive linemen in the country.

    Brown is entertaining nearly 30 offers from schools from coast to coast. Georgia is considered a front-runner in his process, as he has established a relationship with the coaching staff.

    Even so, Brown isn't ruling out other schools. Alabama, Tennessee and Auburn are three schools that could ultimately sign him in February.

    Bleacher Report Analysis

    Brown, in short, is a load to defend. He's a big-bodied athlete who plays with a low center of gravity, making himself tougher to defend against offensive linemen.

    Brown has a great nose for the football. He finished his junior year with 101 tackles and 17.5 sacks. Combine that with his quickness, and Brown has the tools to be an outstanding college lineman.

2. 5-Star DT Dexter Lawrence

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    Credit: 247Sports

    Height/Weight: 6'5", 310 pounds

    High School: Wake Forest High School; Wake Forest, North Carolina

    247Sports Ranking: No. 2 DT; No. 4 overall

    Bleacher Report Score: 97/100

    Uncommitted: Considering Arkansas, Clemson, Florida and North Carolina State

    Football seems to come naturally for Dexter Lawrence. When he's on the field, he appears to go through the motions, but at the same time he's dominant as a defensive lineman.

    Florida, Florida State, Clemson, North Carolina and North Carolina State are some of the schools in which Lawrence is interested. His process, however, is wide-open.

    Lawrence has more than 20 offers and said he doesn't have a timetable set for a decision.

    Bleacher Report Analysis

    Lawrence makes playing defensive tackle look easy. He's a big, strong, elusive athlete who can either bully the offensive lineman or make moves around him.

    Lawrence is quick off the snap and deceptively fast. He's a player who can be a game-changing lineman at the next level. Look for him to make one school very happy when it's time for him to make a commitment.

1. 5-Star DT Rashan Gary

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    Height/Weight: 6'4", 311 pounds

    High School: Paramus Catholic High School; Paramus, New Jersey

    247Sports Ranking: No. 1 DT; No. 1 overall

    Bleacher Report Score: 99/100

    Uncommitted: Considering Alabama, Auburn, Clemson and Michigan

    Finding flaws in Rashan Gary's game is like finding needles in a haystack.

    Even against the nation's best players at The Opening, Gary showed his dominance. As a junior, he had 14 sacks to go along with 55 tackles. Opposing offenses did their best to run away from him.

    With 30 reported offers according to 247Sports, Gary is a wanted man. Michigan, Alabama, Auburn and Ohio State are among the teams in the hunt for his commitment.

    Bleacher Report Analysis

    Gary is a football phenomenon. Few 300-pounders can run the 40-yard dash in five seconds; he's run the 40 in 4.74 seconds. Gary's explosiveness off the ball and overall speed make him extremely difficult to defend.

    When you bring all of his characteristics to the table, it's easy to see why he's the top-ranked overall player. Gary has a bright college future ahead of him wherever he ends up.