To be a good defensive tackle you need great quickness (Chicago’s Tommie Harris ), functional football strength (Baltimore’s Haloti Ngata ), instincts (Dallas’ Jay Ratliff), the ability to use one’s hands to shed blockers and the athletic ability to drop into coverage on zone blitzes. To be effective, defensive tackles need to have great stamina and be able to rush the passer late in the game, especially in warm weather early in the season. Many teams use a rotatation on the interior of the line to keep players as fresh as possible.
Did you know…
At one time, defensive tackles were one of the lowest paid positions. That’s changed over the years, especially with the contract of Albert Haynesworth last off season.
Only one defensive lineman has been selected league MVP, Defensive tackle Alan Page for the Minnesota Vikings in 1971.
Here are my top five Junior and Senior prospects.
5. Jerrell Powe, Mississippi, 6,2″ , 328 – 360 lbs, Senior.
Powe started 10 games at nose tackle in 2009. Named Mississippi’s Mr. Football in high school, Powe is a very strong and nasty player. He reminds me of Ravens second-round pick and former Alabama DT Terrence Cody. So far this season he has not hit the form he showed last season. Some of this can be attributed to the fact that Ole Miss rotates their defensive linemen. Some also may be due to the fact that he’s playing this season as much as 60 pounds lighter than he’s played in the past. I’m hoping for a rise in form soon or he may fall out of my top five. With the nose tackle position being so big in the NFL today with more teams switching to a 3-4 defense, Guys like Powe are very valuable. He’s had some academical problems but i’m not concerned with these as he’s proved to be the real deal on the field and in the training room but there was an instance when the police came to his house after giving him a written notice about the noise that was being created from some parties he had been throwing. Powe told the police that the reason he did not follow the warning is because he cannot read, which was first interpreted as a joke to avoid trouble. However, his mother has also been quoted as saying “Jerrell really is a good child, but he just can’t read.” Either his mom is hilarious or he really can’t read, or at least couldn’t at the time. Opposing fans got a kick out of that and held signs that said things such as “Jerrell Powe, can you read this sign?” at games. Say what you will about him but overall he is a great story and as he has lost the weight coaches asked him to. He has matured as a leader on the Ole Miss team, displaying a great work ethic on the field and in the classroom. He will likely be drafted in the first 20 picks of the 2011 draft if all goes well from here on in.
4. Marcell Dareus, Alabama, 6,3″, 318 lbs, Junior.
Marcell Dareus burst onto the national scene with his MVP performance in the BCS National Championship Game against Texas last season. He’s a powerful defensive end who can also slide inside in passing situations and in my opinion will play 3 technique defensive tackle in a 4-3 or 5 technique defensive end in a 3-4. He’s a tremendous pass rusher who can play the run very well. Dareus produced the two biggest plays of his Alabama career to date in the 2010 Citi BCS National Championship Game to earn Defensive MVP honors and vault the Crimson Tide to their 13th national championship. He had some trouble during the off season. Dareus had been declared ineligible for the first two games this season for receiving preferential treatment and agent benefits, including airfare, lodging, meals and transportation during trips to Miami in the off season. In my opinion I think It is important to note that Marcell never intentionally violated any NCAA rules and did not knowingly receive any benefits from an agent. I think many that made that trip had no idea they were breaking NCAA rules and I hope it does not hurt their draft status. At the end of the day Dareus was a force in Alabama’s defense last season and despite starting only three games had 6½ sacks and made some of the biggest plays of the game against Texas with the national title at stake. He knocked quarterback Colt McCoy out of the game with a shoulder injury and intercepted a shovel pass late in the second quarter and returned it 29 yards for a touchdown. He’s looked good since being back and I see him as a top 15 pick if he decides to turn pro after this season.
3. Marvin Austin, North Carolina, 6,3″, 310 lbs, Senior.
Add Marvin Austin to the list of top defensive prospects from North Carolina. Austin has ideal size for a defensive tackle and at 310lbs he won’t get pushed around by NFL offensive linemen. Austin couples his size with excellent strength which makes him a dominate run stuffer. He uses his strength to fight off blockers and make plays in the running lanes. He boasts good quickness which allows him to move down the line of scrimmage and make plays all over the field. His lateral quickness is what makes him a special player. When watching film you really notice Austin’s love of the game and passion. He is always going full speed. Unfortunately he’s also had problems during the off season but coach Butch Davis maintained that the defensive tackle wasn’t suspended for allegedly making improper contact with an agent. Instead, he indicated that Austin was disciplined for violating team rules and neglecting his responsibilities to the team. All problems aside, His ability to chase down the ball carrier and his freakish speed make him among the most dangerous defensive players in college football. He has the full arsenal of strength, size, speed and awareness that NFL General Managers are looking for in today’s defensive tackle. While Austin may not be the pure player Suh is, he does have a deadly combination of Suh’s ability to collapse the pocket and Gerald McCoy’s speed and athleticism. I think he’s going to be a great one and he would be ranked higher but for some off the field issues.
2. Jared Crick, Nebraska, 6,6 “, 285 lbs, Junior.
Jared Crick entered 2009 known mostly as the defensive tackle who played alongside senior All-American Ndamukong Suh. However, by mid-season Crick’s name stood on its own as he racked up huge numbers to earn a spot in the Nebraska record books. With Suh now in the professional ranks, Crick has stepped into the spotlight this fall as one of the leaders of a Nebraska defense that returns seven starters for 2010. Crick’s play as a sophomore helped the Nebraska defense rank as one of the nation’s most complete units. The Blackshirts finished first nationally in scoring defense and pass efficiency defense and ranked second in the nation in sacks. Crick and the starting front four accounted for 32 sacks and 67 tackles for loss. The Big 12 coaches honored Crick as a first-team all-conference choice, while nearly every other outlet listed him as a second-team all-conference selection in a league stacked with outstanding linemen. He has received numerous preseason accolades heading into the 2010 campaign. Some are pegging him as the best non-quarterback prospect for next year’s draft. I am sure he is hoping to follow in the footsteps of former Cornhusker Ndamukong Suh. Crick had a breakout season and put together good numbers with 9.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss. He has good quickness and is continuing to develop good pass rush techniques. I think he would best fit as a 3-4 defensive end where he would be asked to create pressure but also hold strong against the run. Regardless of Suh’s impact, Crick showed that he can be a disruptive force. He is going to face more double teams this season and he needs to find ways to make an impact. With his physical skills and football smarts there is no doubt that Crick will have a solid season and if he decides to turn pro be a top defensive prospect.
1. Stephen Paea, Oregon state, 6,2″, 310 lbs, Senior.
A native of New Zealand and born on the island chain of Vav’u (within the Tongan Island chain), Paea moved to the United States when he was 16. He did not learn English until he was seventeen, and he is one of the best players in recent Beaver history. He is short but well built, thick bodied but very quick and athletic. He has great penetrating skills and diagnoses plays well. Is more effective when on the move. Never stops hustling. Has quick swim and spin moves. Anticipates the snap well and explode off the football. Plays with good leverage and is able to win most battles with his first two steps. Despite his lack of experience, Paea is very mature on the field. He has played in 26 games over the past two years. He’s destined to become a first-round pick and should play at a high level for many years. Like Haloti Ngata has a rugby playing history and has a chance to break the bench press record in Indy with his strength. He can do 44 reps at 225 lbs consistently. He also has great speed and quickness having clocked a sub 4.9 40 so I can see him having a great combine for sure and elevating himself as one of if not the top defensive prospect in this class. I’m really excited to see him at the next level.
Tredegar, Wales, United Kingdom.