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The 2012 group of defensive tackles might be the deepest and most talented position in the whole draft. Different guys play in different schemes and some can play in any scheme they are put in. I will give you my five top rated prospects and another 5 to look out for.
1. Fletcher Cox 6-4 298lbs Miss St.
Strengths: The ordinary college football fan might not have known much about Cox until the combine, but he was the best interior defensive lineman in the SEC and arguably in the country in 2011. For a man his size, he is very quick and agile and gives guards and centers hell when trying to contain him in pass protection. Is just as good against the run, uses violent hands and leverage to defeat blocks and make plays. Even seen some time at the left end in a 4-3. He can clearly play the 3 technique in a 4-3 or the 5 technique in a 3-4.
Weaknesses: If a team is going to play him solely inside, he’s going to need to gain a bit more weight. Needs to take on the double team better.
Grade: Top Ten Pick
2. Michael Brockers 6-5 322lbs LSU
Strengths: Has great natural power and burst and causes havoc on the line of scrimmage. Sometimes a man his size has the habit of playing too high, but Brockers rarely is caught out of position. He routinely takes lineman and throws them around like its nothing. 90% of the time he uses the bull rush to push the pocket against the pass. Is scheme diverse can be effective in any defensive scheme.
Weaknesses: Needs to add more pass rush moves to his arsenal. He played effectively at LSU at that weight, but he could drop a few pounds to be in better shape for the long grind of a NFL season.
Grade: Top 10 to 15 Pick
3. Jerel Worthy 6-2 310lbs Michigan St
Strengths: Was very disruptive and productive in a Big Ten conference with quality offensive lineman. For a man his size, he uses more quickness than power against the run and rushing the passer. I hate to throw out comparisons, but he sort of plays like Warren Sapp in a way. Has a good first step off the ball and utilizes a vicious swim move.
Weaknesses: Doesn’t take on and hold up blocks as good as I think he could. At times he is more worried about getting into the backfield and making the play himself, instead of taking on blocks. Needs to be more consistent over the course of the season.
Grade:Late First Round
4. Devon Still 6-5 305lbs Penn State
Strengths: Very powerful interior defensive lineman. When he puts his mind to it, he can be a straight menace. Is great against the run, displays the ability to take on and defeat double teams. Is more of a bull rusher against the pass than anything.
Weaknesses: Missed a majority of his first two seasons on campus with injuries to his left leg (ACL and broken ankle). Isn’t the greatest pass rusher, needs to develop a counter move to go with his bull rush. Doesn’t always go full board during games. Gets tired and loses pad level and technique.
Grade: Late first early second round
5. Derek Wolfe 6-5 298lbs Cincinnati
Strengths: Maybe the best 5 technique lineman in the draft in my opinion. Has the typical size and length and plays with tremendous power and leverage. Played all over the defensive line while in college and that makes him even more of a intriguing prospect. Has 9.5 sacks from the interior, showing that he is just as effective against the pass as he is against the run.
Weaknesses: Isn’t the fastest or most explosive DT. He won’t make a living shooting gaps and playing in the backfield in the NFL.
Grade: 2nd round
Next 5: Kendall Reyes 6-4 299lbs UConn, Brandon Thompson 6-2 311lbs Clemson, Alameda Ta’ amu 6-2 1/2 348lbs Washington, Dontari Poe 6-4 346lbs Memphis, Mike Martin 6-1 308lbs Michigan
Up Next: Top 5 Inside Linebackers