March 3, 2011

Defensive Tackle Prospects

This is part 1 in the series of prospects, next week will be the Defensive Ends. You may notice I left a few guys out because I don't think we will be targeting these guys. Hope you find the information useful. I tried to cut it down so this post wasn't massive.

Nick Fairley
Height: 6-4. Weight: 291.
Hand size: 9 ¾ in.
Combine 40 Time: 4.82.
Bench: N/A Vertical: 31. Arm: 34 3/4.
Projected Round (2011): Top 8 Pick.
Date of birth: January 23, 1988 (age 23)

Fairley is the top defensive tackle prospect in the 2011 class and projects to be incredibly disruptive against the pass and run. Nightmare to pass protect against. Possesses great burst, hands that never stop moving, brute strength to push the pocket and a vast arsenal of moves. Against the run, keeps blockers away from his body, uses his height to find the football, or simply beats lineman with his quickness. Can sniff out screens and draws. While there are almost no flaws with Fairley's physical tools, his character and work habits should be checked out. Regardless, he'll vie for the top spot and is certainly a top-five talent.

Displays tremendous get off. Can get to the quarterback with the bull rush, by shooting the gaps, can counter when initially stopped, and has a wide variety of moves. Gets penetration against the run.

There are some questions about his character and off-the-field work-ethic. Was academically ineligible out of high school and attended junior college. Needs to watch his pad level against the run. Can be pushed back by the double team. Doesn't always keep his emotions in check. Committed multiple personal foul penalties during junior season. For late hits and there have been instances when he has speared ballcarriers with his helmet, banged into their lower legs purposely and pushed off downed players to lift himself up.

Pass rush: Explosive initial burst off the snap. Good flexibility and balance to "get skinny" and penetrate gaps. Uses his hands well to slap away blockers' attempts to get their hands on him. Possesses a rare combination of long arms and quick feet, helping him avoid cut blocks. Good swim move. Locates the ball quickly and has the lateral agility to redirect. Good short-area closing burst. Good effort in pursuit. Surprising speed for a man of his size.

Run defense: Relies on his quickness to penetrate gaps and make plays behind the line of scrimmage more than his strength to hold up at the point of attack. Long, relatively thin limbed for the position and can be knocked off the ball due to his lack of an ideal anchor. Good flexibility to twist through double-teams. Locates the ball quickly and pursues well laterally.

Strength: Good, but not elite strength, especially in his lower body. Has a tendency to come up at the snap and can be pushed back because of it. Possesses very good natural strength, however, including in his core as he can twist through double teams. Very good hand strength to rip through blocks. Good strength for the pull-down and trip-up tackle.

Tackling: Possesses a good closing burst and brings his hips to supply the big hit. Good strength for the drag tackle. Willing to lay out and has good hand-eye coordination to trip up the ballcarrier running away from him.

Intangibles: Former high school basketball player who shows surprisingly quick feet. An ascending talent, but is nonetheless labelled as a player with some true bust potential, as there are concerns about his work ethic. Carries a little bit of extra weight around his middle and is more "country" strong than weight-room defined.

Copiah-Lincoln Community College
Fairley attended Copiah-Lincoln Community College from 2007 to 2008. After being redshirted in 2007, he played in seven games in 2008. He recorded 63 tackles and seven sacks.

Auburn University
Fairley transferred to Auburn University in 2009. He finished the season with two starts in 13 games and recorded 28 tackles.

My take:
Has made a number of cheap shots and has been penalized a lot. Many believe he plays nasty and is a hard player, others believe he is a dirty player. I have to reserve judgment on that. He was very dominate in the bowl game, but still got flagged for penalties. Seeing his body shape at the combine, he has a terrible lower half and is very lanky. Carries a lot of his weight in the gut. Slow first 10 yard split. Might be better served at DE? But I say no to Fairley, bad body shape, red flags, too much of a boom or bust prospect.

Marcell Dareus
Height: 6-3. Weight: 319.
Hand size:
Combine 40 Time: 4.92.
Bench: 24. Vertical: 27. Arm: 33 3/8.
Projected Round (2011): Top 3 Pick.
Date of birth: November 18, 1989 (age 21)

Dareus is one of this class' finest prospects. Possesses the athleticism and explosiveness to be consistently disruptive against the run and pass. Hands that don't stop, sheds blockers quickly, and uses the frequently uses the swim move to get to the quarterback. Also has great power to push the pocket and stand his ground adequately when run at. Blessed with great feet and outstanding lateral quickness. Comfortable playing in space and likely capable of dropping into coverage. Only question is his endurance and stamina. Played in a rotation early and dealt with injuries as a junior. Dareus will likely be and early first round selection.

Dareus has a rare blend of size and speed. Can hold his ground at the point of attack. Gets off blocks in a hurry and shows excellent pursuit from the backside. Explodes off the ball when rushing the passer. Gets to the quarterback with power, quick moves and closing burst. Good intangibles.

In his true freshman season at Alabama, Dareus played in eight games, making his debut in the Crimson Tide's season opener against Clemson. He registered four tackles while recording three quarterback hurries. Dareus saw playing time at nose tackle in third-down-and-long situations, replacing the pure run-stuffing Terrence Cody.

As a sophomore, a big contributor all season at defensive end for Alabama. He played in 14 games and made four starts while serving as the Tide's top pass rusher. He totaled 33 total tackles, 9.0 tackles for loss (−49), seven quarterback hurries, an interception and two pass breakups. He finished eighth in the Southeastern Conference and ranked tied for 90th nationally with 6.5 sacks (−44) or .46 per game.

As of July 2010, Dareus is under an investigation by the University of Alabama in conjunction with the NCAA into whether Dareus paid his own expenses when attending a party in Miami, Florida hosted by a sports agent, and whether the circumstances constitute an NCAA violation. He made his return against Duke.

Pass rush: Good initial quickness off the snap. Doesn't possess the burst up field to cross the tackle's face and turn the corner. Quick enough, however, to split the gap and collapse the pocket from the interior. Explosive hands to disengage from blocks. Needs a clear lane to close, but shows a late burst toward the ball when he has it. Flashes some legitimate pass-rush technique, including a swim move and good inside rip. Possesses surprising lateral agility and balance to track down elusive quarterbacks.

Run defense: Stout at the point of attack. Plays with good leverage and can anchor to create a pile. Cognizant defender who works hard to keep containment. Good lateral agility and balance to slide while fighting blockers. Long arms and good strength to lock-out. Explosive hands to disengage. Won't shed the block until he reads where the ballcarrier is going. Good effort laterally and down field in pursuit. Surprising speed for a man his size.

Strength: Thick lower body, which helps him anchor well against the run. Powerful bull rusher with good hand strength to disengage quickly. Good upper-body strength to pull down ballcarriers while occupied with a blocker.

Tackling: Shows surprising lateral agility and balance to break down against elusive athletes. Isn't always capable of making the tackle in the open field himself, but often does a good enough job of forcing elusive ballcarriers to dance in an effort to elude him that secondary defenders are able to get there and help make the play. Good strength for the pull down tackle inside. Good effort laterally and down field in pursuit. Will lay out for the diving tackle, showing good hand-eye coordination to trip up the ballcarrier. Flashes some explosiveness as a hitter.

Intangibles: Suspended by the NCAA for the first two games of the 2010 season when it was discovered that he'd accepted inappropriate benefits from an agent. Endured a troubled childhood. Father died when Dareus was six, leaving mother to support six children. Dareus has lived with others throughout much of his life, including an assistant coach in high school and a sponsor family while in college.

My Take:
Dareus I think is the most complete tackle and NFL ready in this years draft. At the combine I think he jumped ahead of Fairley. Not much more to say but he very well could be the Broncos first pick.

Kenrick Ellis
Height: 6-5. Weight: 346.
Hand size: 10 ½ in.
Combine 40 Time: 5.19.
Benchx: 26. Vertical: N/A Arm: 35 1/8.
Projected Round (2011): 3-5.
Date of birth: December 10, 1987 (age 23)

Kenrick Ellis (born) is an Jamaican American football defensive tackle. He currently attends the Hampton University in his junior year. A two-time All-Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference performer, Ellis is considered one of the best defensive tackle prospects for the 2011 NFL Draft, and has been compared to Shaun Rogers by NFL scout.

Ellis is an intriguing prospect who could develop into a complete starting defensive tackle capable of clogging up the middle, making plays in the backfield off penetration, and collapsing the pocket. Has a pretty rare combination of size and explosiveness. Can be disruptive with his power or quickness. Counters and the screen game can be used to beat him at times. Plays with some fire and has a solid motor.

Ellis is blessed with NFL-ideal height and weight at defensive tackle. Holds up really well at the point of attack and can take on the double team and eat up space inside. Does a very good job pushing the pocket with his bull rush and uses a few hand moves to get off blocks. Excellent burst for a big man.

Has character flags after being suspended and later dismissed by South Carolina. Needs to do a better job of watching his pad level at times. Can be fooled by crisp ball-handling and ball-fakes. Can be neutralized by trap blocks he fails to recognize. There are some concerns about his conditioning level.

Pass rush: Might not put up huge sack numbers as quarterbacks will be aware of his presence inside. Shows good quickness off the ball in obvious passing situations. Can bull rush when single-blocked by extending his arms or swim over defenders reaching to engage him using quick hands. Uses long arms and big hands to cloud passing lanes but hasn't actually tipped many passes (one in his first two seasons at Hampton). Keeps his eyes in the backfield while engaged by a blocker. Will go to the sideline to chase scrambling quarterbacks or get off blocks to follow screens. Wants to play finesse game, as if he's a light and agile tackle, trying to spin or run around blockers, instead of overpowering and destroying blockers. Runs by mobile or pocket-savvy quarterbacks on his initial burst but does show hustle on secondary rush.

Run defense: Looks like a run-stuffer and can play the part, but surprises with his agility and foot quickness. Agile enough to move with blockers on zone plays; can disengage to prevent cutback lanes. Holds up double teams to eat space but can also penetrate into the backfield. Can push back two defenders when keeping his hips low and churning his feet. Good hustle for his size, especially when rested as part of a regular rotation. Chases down plays to the sideline, as well as from behind even if they go 15-20 yards down field when rested (even in the fourth quarter); he is not credited with many stops in those situations, but is in position if his teammates can't stop the ball. Spins off double-teams to grab ballcarriers coming through the hole or funnel toward linebackers. Has nimble feet to jump over fallen blockers but is susceptible to the cut block because of his height. Has difficulty regaining his balance. Runs past ballcarriers because he fails to break down quickly.

Explosion: Average NFL first step, but it's quick enough to pressure the pocket when focused on getting to the quarterback.

Strength: Man among boys at the FCS level due to his size and strength. Anchors against double-team, not moved backward easily. Rips off single blocks with strong hands and downward motion, though he will stand around when he tires. Holds off linemen with one shoulder when slanting and is able to spin in the opposite direction to make tackles. Will have more difficulty maintaining leverage against NFL interior linemen unless he sinks his hips to hold his ground consistently.

Tackling: Swallows running backs in the hole with great mass and length. Pure size and strength make him an explosive tackler that ballcarriers don't want to feel hit them. Good change-of-direction agility with quick feet, but struggles to stay low and break down in space. Has some up field burst. Can work against him in that he cannot stop his forward momentum when rushing up the field.

Intangibles: Dismissal from South Carolina for multiple rules violations is a major red flag, and his one-game suspension in 2010 also added to those worries. On-field effort is not an issue.

In his first year at Hampton, played in 11 games for the Pirates while starting in nine. He recorded 39 tackles on the season, including 16 solo tackles, and ranked second on the team with 3.5 sacks. He earned subsequently earned second-team All-MEAC honors as voted on by the league's head coaches and sports information directors.

As a junior, Ellis was fifth on the team with 51 tackles, and also ranked second on the team with 15.0 tackles for loss on the season. He received first-team All-MEAC honors by the league's coaches.

My take:
Ellis interests me based on size alone. Could be a good player to take with a late flier for some depth.

Jurrell Casey
Height: 6-1. Weight: 300.
Combine 40 Time: 5.07.
Hand size: 8 7/8 in.
Benchx225: 26. Vertical: 27.5. Arm: 32.
Projected Round (2011): 3-4.
Date of birth: December 5, 1989 (age 21)

Casey is not the most impressive player on the hoof, but he has the strength and foot quickness to develop into a disruptive force at the next level. His stocky build and lower body strength make him very difficult to move out of holes, and he uses his quick hands to effectively shed blockers. He is not a refined pass rusher, but he has a relentless motor and will become more effective with improved hand placement and technique. Casey is not athletic enough to be a three-technique at the next level, but he is a great run stopper and should be an early second-day pick.

Casey is thickly built with good speed. Quick off the ball, plays with good leverage and anchors against the run. Utilizes a strong punch to knock offensive lineman back on their heels and has fast hands to quickly disengage. Powerful bull rusher that can collapse the pocket. Flashes the ability to make tackles in space.

A bit on the short side and struggles to get his hands inside the blocker's pads. Lacks the ability to anticipate the snap and is a step late on occasion. Does not show a repertoire of pass rushing counter moves and lacks a closing burst. Tires quickly and must work on his physique and stamina.

Pass rush: Flashes good initial quickness off the snap. Can get skinny to penetrate through the gap and is surprisingly light on his feet. Developing hand usage. Can shock the pass blocker with his initial punch and shows a variety of pass-rush moves, including an effective swim technique. Good balance and lateral agility to change direction. Pursues hard and has a legitimate late burst to close to finish plays. Good motor.

Run defense: Short, squatty defender. Tough to move off the line. Maintains his natural leverage advantage by playing low and showing very good leg drive and balance to keep his feet. Good lateral agility and balance to slide down the line of scrimmage. A bit inconsistent with his run fits. Will freelance and pick the wrong gap to attack, opening up rushing lanes. Good strength to slip off blocks and drag the ballcarrier down as he attempts to run past. Good effort laterally and down field in pursuit.

Strength: Good lower-body strength to hold up to drive blocking. Has the sand in his pants to anchor, even showing the ability to hold up to the double-team. Good upper-body strength to slide off blocks and drag down runners.

Tackling: Makes most of his tackles while still engaged with a lineman, showing good upper-body strength. Surprisingly light on his feet. Can be evaded by quickness, but can hold his own in tight quarters and forces ballcarriers to elude him. Good effort laterally and down field to make the tackle in pursuit. Good strength for the drag down tackle. Has a late burst to close and can arrive with a pop. Has three career forced fumbles.

Intangibles: Has a bowling ball body type with a thick, wide trunk and short arms and legs. Is tough to block because of his build and strength, but may have trouble disengaging against NFL blockers due to his short arms. Started at nose guard and defensive tackle. Recognized his freshman season as USC's Service Team Defensive Player of the Year for his part on the scout team.

My view:
Casey is interesting, I think he will be a good 3-gap player. But I not a fan of his body type, reminds me on Bannan a bit. Not the quickest first step but finds himself in the right position often. Good run defender. Would be a depth player with upside to maybe be a starter.

Drake Nevis
Height: 6-1. Weight: 294.
Hand size: 9 3/8 in.
Combine 40 Time: 4.97.
Bench: 31. Vertical: 30.5. Arm: 31 1/2.
Projected Round (2011): 2-3.
Date of birth: May 8, 1989 (age 21)

Nevis has a chance to become an active 3-technique in a 4-3 defense with his combination of initial burst, toughness and motor. Surprisingly solid at the point of attack and against double teams despite lack of size. Has the quickness to be disruptive but doesn't have the agility or closing burst to always finish. Has some upside as a pass rusher because of his get off but again lack of top-end speed limits his productive and he's not a bull rusher. Constantly moving his hands and doesn't stop working hard until the whistle. Nevis will likely be taken on Day 2.

Nevis holds up against the run using low center of gravity to get good leverage. Can take on the double and get off blocks. Possesses good initial quickness and burst. Uses hands well against the run and rushing the passer. Durable. Has a good motor and some nice intangibles.

Lacks some height and bulk you like to see for a defensive tackle. Doesn't possess the range or top-end speed to always finish when penetrating or make plays outside the box. Not overly comfortable moving laterally. Does not consistently push the pocket with a bull rush.

Pass rush: Good initial burst off the snap. Comes off the ball a bit high, but has good leg drive to push the guard back into the pocket as a bull rusher and has active, strong hands to disengage from blocks. Lacks the straight-line speed to chase down athletic quarterbacks, but has some lateral agility and good balance to keep his feet for stunts and twists.

Run defense: Classic 3-technique whose squatty, powerful frame and good quickness make him difficult to block one-on-one. Can get pushed off the line due to his lack of bulk, but uses quick, strong hands to disengage and has the agility to slide off blocks and make the play when the ballcarrier is near. Locates the ball quickly.
Strength: Boasts good weight-room strength (535-pound squat, 475-pound bench), though this strength doesn't always show up on the field. Despite his natural leverage advantage, has a tendency to play high and can be contained by weaker and less athletic blockers.

Tackling: Productive defender. Has a short-area burst to close, allowing him to make the play against quicker athletes. Generally tackles low and hard, wrapping his arms around the legs of the ballcarrier for a secure stop. Flashes some explosiveness as a hitter.

Intangibles: Was only a starter for one season (12 games). Only has four starts in his previous 34 games; two each coming in 2007 and 2008. Runs hot and cold. Seems to play his best football when he's pressured and has to perform well to earn playing time.

My View:
Nevis is again another 3-gap only DT. Has got speed and a nice first step. But I am worried about two things, first he is an LSU lineman, they don’t have a good track record. Second he isn’t always motivated, when on his game he is unstoppable, but is he a paycheck guy? But I like his potential and would take him in the 3rd if he falls there.

Marvin Austin
Height: 6-2. Weight: 309.
Hand size: 10 ¼ in.
Combine 40 Time: 4.80.
Bench: 38. Vertical: 30.5. Arm: 32 5/8.
Projected Round (2011): 2-3.
Date of birth: January 1, 1989 (age 22)

Austin has first round talent, but he did not play football last season and there are concerns about his character and work ethic. He appears to be a prototypical 3-technique defensive tackle, as he is a big boy with outstanding athleticism. He has great feet and the lateral agility to move quickly down the line and make tackles on the edge. He uses his quick heavy hands to shed blocks and has the closing burst to make plays in the backfield. Austin's off the field issues may prevent him from being a first round pick, but he could be a major steal in round two.

Austin has great size and speed for the position. Explodes off the ball and shows great foot quickness. Possesses superb lateral agility and the range to make plays outside the tackle box. Strong player with a thick lower half that flashes a powerful bull rush to collapse the pocket.

Plays too high and struggles to fend off double teams. Takes too long to locate the ball and can be engulfed by down blocks. Does not have an extensive repertoire of pass rushing moves. Will take plays off and has a questionable work ethic. Missed entire 2010 season after being deemed ineligible.

How did the adversity you faced at UNC help build your character? It was a tough situation. A lot of guys missed a lot of time playing football so it hurt a lot, having to sit the whole season out. It was just something that made you sit back and think about the opportunity and makes you realize that you have to take every day as if it may be your last, because it possibly could be. Going through that has made me and my teammates grow and I think we'll be better professionals because of it. Should the NCAA change it's rules and give you guys a monthly stipend? That's an extremely hard question to answer, because you do get a scholarship, you do get certain privileges that some other non athletes get, but at the same time its' extremely hard, for me, being a 300-pound guy, to eat lunch and it's only $10. That doesn't go very far with inflation and it's still the same since like 1997. So I think there's ways it can be improved and I think that some of the things that the NCAA is doing is good. Just like I said, going through the situation and seeing how some of these situations happened, the NCAA they have a decent handle on it but there can be room for reform. How much do you think you lost in draft stock because of all that? I don't really know. I can't really answer that, because I don't know where the teams had me rated before the season and I don't know now. All I can do is go and work hard and perform and show them what I can do as a player and who I am as a person. I don't' really know. I try to stay away from all the blogs and stuff like that, because the draft is not an exact science. All you have to do is be impressive to one team. And it all started from a tweet? That's the rumor, that's what's been said, that it started from a tweet, but I don't believe that. The NCAA came and they had like 15 guys in the room and so you know it didn't just all come from a tweet. - Marvin Austin, NFL Combine Transcript

Pass rush: Good initial burst off the snap. Strong hands to grasp and discard the blocker and demonstrates good use of swim and rip moves to gain clearance. Good straight-line speed, agility and balance to track the quarterback. Good use of leverage and boasts a powerful leg drive for the bull rush. Cognizant of passing lanes and will get his hands up. Not always disciplined or assignment sound. Anticipates the snap count and will occasionally be drawn offside.

Run defense: Quick enough to slip through a gap and disrupt the timing of running plays. Good size and power to control his gap responsibility. Has a tendency to play too upright, negating his own power. Strong, active hands to disengage from the block as the ballcarrier nears. Reacts quickly to the attempted cut block, sprawling and re-gaining his balance quickly by pushing off cutting offensive lineman. Good hustle laterally and down field. Good vision and footwork to keep his feet while making his way to the ballcarrier.

Strength: Good upper- and lower-body strength to hold up at the point of attack. Has an explosive shove to knock pass blockers aside on his way to the quarterback. Lacks the bulk and power to split double-teams as a true nose guard, but can hold up long enough to create a pile. Good strength for the drag-down tackle.
Tackling: Surprising balance and lateral agility to break down in tight quarters and make the open-field tackle against small and quick athletes. Good strength to pull down ballcarriers while being occupied by blockers. Good hustle laterally and down field. Willing to leave his feet and lunge at ballcarriers, resulting in some big hits (as well as some wild misses).

Intangibles: Suspended for the entire 2010 season after an NCAA investigation found that he'd accepted gifts from an agent. Characterized by those close to the team as "talented, but selfish." Highly touted prep prospect that was rated the No. 1 at his position and top 10 overall by most recruiting experts.

My Take:
Austin is interesting, had a great work out at the combine. Does disappear when double teamed, has shorter arms. People were worried about if he had been working hard in the year off. I think he has been working hard, 38 reps on the bench show a guy that has been in the weight room. The quote I have above may suggest he has grown up but again I have issues with him and if he is another pay check guy, working hard to get back into good money? Either way I like him as a 3-gap lineman and would take him in the second.

Stephen Paea
Height: 6-1. Weight: 303.
Hand size: 10 in.
Projected 40 Time: 5.05.
Combine 40 Time: DNP.
Bench: 49. Vertical: n/a Arm: 32 7/8.
Projected Round (2011): 2.
Date of birth: May 11, 1988 (age 22)

Paea was invited to the 2011 Senior Bowl, but tore the lateral meniscus in his right knee on the opening practice, causing him to miss the remainder of the event.
Paea was a nominee for the Bill Hayward Athlete of the Year Award at the 2011 Oregon Sports Awards.

As a junior, he registered a team-leading 8.5 tackles for loss and was co-leader for sacks with three. He was named All-Pacific-10 First Team and received the Morris Trophy for the best defensive lineman in the conference.

Paea is a powerful run stuffer that plays angry and should contribute immediately at the next level. He is as strong as an ox and consistently knocks lineman back on their heels. He takes on double teams and is near impossible to move out of the hole. He lacks refined pass rushing skills, but has heavy hands and a good burst to eventually become a weapon on third down. He is still learning the finer points of the game, but he has unparalleled toughness and a tireless work ethic.

Paea is thickly built and runs well. Explodes off the ball and has great strength to jar offensive lineman. Uses his powerful hands to control blockers, sheds quickly, and closes fast. Delivers violent shots when tackling. Supremely tough, fights to the whistle every play and has excellent stamina. Gym rat with a great work ethic.

Not big enough to line up on the nose at the next level. Extremely raw as a pass rusher and lacks a repertoire of pass rush moves. A bit stiff in the hips and struggles to break down ball carriers in space. Relatively new to the game of football.

Pass rush: Doesn't provide much in terms of a pass rush. Is able to split gaps due to his burst off the snap, but doesn't have quick feet or agility to chase down the quarterback. Relies on his bull rush to knock interior linemen into the pocket and flush the passer into the arms of teammates. Lacks the height and arm length required in consistently altering passing lanes.

Strength: Ranks as one of the country's strongest players, reportedly boasting a 600-pound squat, 500-pound bench press and the ability to churn out 44 repetitions of 225 pounds. Is even stronger than his weight-room numbers indicate due to his natural leverage. Doesn't disengage from blockers as well as his strength would indicate due to the need to refine his hand technique and average lateral agility.
Tackling: Stays squared and low to knock down the ballcarrier near the line of scrimmage. Flashes explosive hitting ability, with a proven ability to knock the ball free. Tied the OSU record with four forced fumbles in 2009. Good upper-body strength to drag down ballcarriers as they attempt to go past him. Doesn't have the speed or change of direction to offer much in pursuit.

Intangibles: High-effort player was voted a team co-captain in 2009, in his second year in the program as a junior. Proved his toughness in 2008 by playing the final month of the regular season despite a painful bursa sac injury in his knee. Born in New Zealand, grew up in Tonga and dreamt of becoming a professional rugby player. Learned the English language after moving to the United States at age 16.

My take:
Blew the combine away with the bench record, but I think that was expected from him. Paea is a raw player with a lot of potential, his knee injury scares me a little but I think Paea well be a good 3-gap player if not great. But he will need a lot of work.

Phil Taylor
Height: 6-3. Weight: 334.
Hand size: 10 ¾ in.
Combine 40 Time: 5.18.
Bench: 31. Vertical: 29.5. Arm: 34.
Projected Round (2011): 1-2.
Date of birth: April 7, 1988 (age 22)

Taylor possesses the rare size and natural brute strength NFL front offices are looking for in a potential 3-4 nose tackle or two-gaper. Can anchor against the run, fight through double teams, uses his hands well, and doesn't necessarily need to come off the field on third down with his adequate pass rushing ability and good feet. A tendency to play high, limited range, in-game durability and some off-the-field red flags do hurt his stock. However, prospects with Taylor's size and ability don't grow on trees, so he shouldn't last past the middle rounds.

Taylor possesses rare size, has impressive strength, and good speed considering his weight. Very effective anchor at the point of the attack against the run and can take on the double team. Can be effective using the bull rush, coming off the ball and displays a jarring initial hand punch.

Can play high at times. Won't chase down many plays or make many tackles outside the box. Doesn't have the first-stop quickness to consistently penetrate. Stamina is a concern. Has he has a tendency to wear down late in games and during long drives. Has some off-the-field issues and was dismissed from Penn State.

Pass rush: Though his job is usually not to provide primary pass rush, he can push the pocket with strength and flashes quickness off the snap and a swim move to get past lesser centers. Gives good effort to reach the quarterback if he sits in the pocket too long. Tries violent hands to shed blocks. Not very effective on inside twists, though he can take out the left tackle when twisting outside to free up the defensive end. Once stood up by initial contact, it's tough for him to re-start his rush.

Run defense: Shows excellent strength and mobility as a run defender. Plays with leverage against double-teams and keeps his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage. Pushes back his man and spins off single and tandem blocks with balance to make the play. Moves down the line well, stays low despite his height to wrap up shorter backs. Willing and able to reach the sideline, takes deep angles to prevent huge runs. Defeats cut blocks and maintains balance to track down ballcarriers. Gets low in short-yardage and goal-line situations. Does not dominate smaller centers. At his best when used in a rotation.

Strength: Huge frame and upper-body development give him the strength to be a 3-4 nose tackle at the next level. Moves offensive linemen to either side with relative ease when covering two gaps. Forces fumbles with one hand punching at the ball while ballcarrier comes through the hole. Uses leverage to hold the line against double teams.

Tackling: Running backs get swallowed up when crossing his path, and he can separate the ball from a ballcarrier with pure strength. Stays low despite his height and will capture backs from behind if they have not yet hit their stride. Chase and hustle are impressive for his size, will chase backs down the line, help linebackers make stops at the second level, and takes deep angles to chase down running backs 20 yards down the sideline.

Intangibles: Sprained his knee in 2007 preseason at Penn State, losing starting job to future first-round pick Jared Odrick. Charged with felony aggravated assault during a fraternity function at a Penn State student union in October 2007; the charge was eventually dropped. Really turned up his game the second half of 2010; scouts could see that as maturity or wonder if he can maintain that level of play.

Issue about his work ethic, but he showed up to the Senior Bowl in shape and his mind seems to be in the right place.

Nevertheless, he’s so physically gifted that he can get away with it for the most part, but he has the upside to develop into a quality NFL lineman if he wants to. Also, weighed into the equation is his overall character concerns. However, if he can put that all behind him he seems like a guy who could play just about any interior defensive line position in the NFL including even the 5-technique as a 3-4 defensive end. But he strikes me as a real boom or bust type prospect who will likely be over drafted due to upside and will need some time to mature both on and off the field.

My take:
"Who will likely be over drafted due to upside and will need some time to mature both on and off the field." That is exactly what I think, I like Taylor as a big guy at 3-gap but I think he goes to a team that wants a nose. Really turned it on the second half of the season, hope it isn’t money motivated.

Corey Liuget
Height: 6-2. Weight: 298.
Hand size: 9 ½ in.
Combine 40 Time: 4.95.
Bench: 27. Vertical: 27.5. Arm: 33 1/4.
Projected Round (2011): Top 25 Pick.
Date of birth: March 18, 1990 (age 20)

Liuget belongs in the discussion with the other elite defensive tackles in this class. Arguably this year's most productive DT against the run and also very active rushing the passer. Fires off the ball, maintains sound positioning, has hands that never stop moving, gets off blocks quickly, and closes on ball-carriers and quarterbacks with speed and power. Has the size and strength to move offensive lineman into the backfield. Also comfortable tackling in space and has the awareness to diagnose screens and draws and bat down balls at the line. Liuget has skyrocketed up draft boards this season and should be gone by the mid first.

Liuget has a big, sturdy build and outstanding speed. Blessed with tremendous get off. Sheds in a hurry, finds the football and closes violently against the run. Does a great job pushing the pocket with a powerful bull rush. Never stops working. Tackles well in the open field and pursues from the backside. Great Football IQ.
Must nit-pick to find weaknesses in this kid's game. Does not possess ideal height but still active batting down passes. Lacks elite fluidity when getting to the quarterback but still a feared pass rusher.

Pass rush: Tough for many college interior linemen to handle one-on-one in pass protection. Quick enough to beat lesser linemen off the snap at three-tech, uses his hands to free himself from block when there is enough space to do so. Gets his man on skates or pushes through a block (or double) to the quarterback to get pressure. Also strong and quick enough to play on the nose in obvious passing situations. Recovers from strong punch to run through a gap immediately. Does not have elite closing speed, but his hustle and ability to stay low make him difficult to escape within or outside the pocket.

Run defense: Stout defender who plays with a strong base. Penetrates into the backfield with quickness. Lines up at three and five-technique spots. Capable of stack-shed inside or outside. Gets past reach blocks on inside runs with quick feet and strength to keep blocker on his shoulder. Usually keeps his head up to find the ball. Lacks acceleration to keep outside containment as a five-technique. Not consistent defeating cut blocks with his hands.

Strength: His ability to play multiple positions not only comes from his quick feet, but also his strength. Lands a big punch into the chest of his man, swipes with aggression to move the blocker aside. Uses his low center of gravity to his advantage, getting leverage to stack one-on-one and shed to either direction when playing two-gap at nose tackle. Senses zone block, uses blocker's inertia against him with a strong push to get into the backfield. Usually anchors well against single and double blocks, but can get moved by NFL-caliber linemen.

Tackling: Strong upper body, hustle, and good length make him an excellent tackler. Engulfs running backs in the backfield when able to penetrate. Built low to the ground, displays excellent change of direction ability to stay in front of backs cutting against the grain. Hustles 10-15 yards down field to make or help on tackles. Adds himself to piles when able. Lacks elite closing speed to chase down backs from behind. Tends to run out of steam when playing a lot at the end of games.

Intangibles: Coaches say Liuget is a leader in the locker and meetings rooms. Chose Illinois over southern schools because of head coach Ron Zook. Wished to transfer after two years in Champaign due to home sickness; mother said he would not be welcome home if he transferred.

As a true freshman Liuget started two of the 11 games in which he played, making 26 tackles, five for loss and 1.5 sacks. He received only four starting nods in 2009, but still managed eight tackles for loss (of 36 stops), 2.5 sacks and three pass break-ups. His performance in the 2010 Texas Bowl win was certainly impressive (5 tackles, 2.5 TFL, sack), but he already been named second-team All-Big 10 for his play during the regular season. He finished with 63 tackles, 12.5, 4.5 sacks and 10 quarterback hurries on the year.

My take:
Don’t think we will be in a position to get this guy, but he is good and would fit nicely on the line.

That is it for the Defensive Tackles, it is interesting to note that pretty much everyone of the tackles prospects has had some issue or red flag. It will interesting to see what the Broncos do in the draft ~ Aussie.


  1. I didn't include these two, because Fua I think is a nose and Wilkerson is a 5-tech.

    Sione Fua
    Height: 6-2. Weight: 308.
    Hand size: 10 ½ in.
    Combine 40 Time: 5.28.
    Bench: 30. Vertical: n/a Arm: 34 in.
    Projected Round (2011): 3-5.
    Date of birth: June 15, 1988 (age 22)
    Fua has the ability to contribute as a two-down wave player. Does not project to provide enough value as a pass rusher and runs out of gas during long drive and late in games. Will help out against the run, firing off the ball, staying low, establishing good position and holding up at the point of attack but isn't going to chase down many plays. Pass rushing could improve with more active hands and the addition of some more moves. Fua's solid against the run and shows enough effort to get selected in the middle rounds.

    Fua's a strong, stout defensive tackle. Gets off the ball well and appears to do a good job of anticipating the snap count. Plays low, can anchor at the point of attack, and get some push. Plays with a mean streak. Solid intangibles and character to our knowledge.
    Doesn't offer much as a pass rusher. Doesn't possess enough quickness to shoot gaps, is not a dominant bull rusher, and doesn't use his hands well to get off blocks. Also takes to long shed blocks against the run. Won't chase down many plays on the perimeter. Lacks stamina.
    Strengths: Is a thick, stout player who uses his low center of gravity and squatty build to his advantage. Keeps his base down when uncoiling out of his stance and does not allow offensive linemen to leverage him. Extends his arms and generates a violent punch on contact, jarring blockers and quickly getting into position. Strong, powerful bull rusher who jolts the offensive lineman and gets leverage early. Has a low firing point and possesses the leg strength to drive blockers into the backfield. Sits into stance and anchors well against double-teams while maintaining the balance and body control to shed inside blocks. Can clog two gaps, keep his base under him and stay off the ground. Has experience playing the nose in a 3-4 front and the three-technique in a 4-3 front. Plays with a high motor and relentlessly fights to hold his ground.
    Weaknesses: Lacks suddenness and is not the type of athlete who will knife through blocks to pressure the passer. Does not run well and struggles to work down the line to make plays away from his frame. Offers very little as a pursuit defender and cannot move quickly enough to track down a passer or runner from the backside. Can be run around and away from and lunges when trying to move laterally. Does not use his hands to beat blockers as a pass rusher and doesn't generate consistent penetration in the middle. Doesn't finish plays once he reaches the backfield and lacks the awareness to locate the football once he's through the line.

    My take:
    Fua I don’t think has the moves and the quickness to be a 3-gap lineman. I think he is better served as a NT. I say no to Fua. (If we were still a 3-4 I would take a flier on him)

  2. Muhammad Wilkerson
    Height: 6-4. Weight: 315.
    Hand size: 10 in.
    Combine 40 Time: 4.99.
    Bench: 27. Vertical: 26. Arm: 35 1/4.
    Projected Round (2011): Top 30 Pick.
    Date of birth: October 22, 1989 (age 21)

    As a junior in 2010 Wilkerson recorded 68 tackles and 10 sacks.

    Wilkerson is an elite 3-4 defensive end prospect with idea size, excellent shedding ability and the athleticism to pursue from the backside and rush the passer. Jolts offensive lineman at the point of attack, can beat the double team, finds the football and makes plays against the run. Does not have rare first-step quickness but can take a direct line through blockers to pressure the quarterback and has range against the run. Despite size, is a three-down guy who plays with a high effort level for four quarters. Wilkerson's stock has risen quickly and he could come off the board in the middle of round one.

    Wilkerson's a prototypical blend of height, bulk and speed for a defensive tackle or five-technique. Dominant against the run. Has great get off, holds up at the point of attack, shows outstanding ability to shed, and very good closing burst to the ball. Very effective power bull rusher. Has good hands. Good stamina.

    Hard to point out weaknesses in his game. Does not possess elite initial quickness off the ball as a pass rusher or penetrating against the run but still good in this area. Shows some nastiness on occasion but would like to see him play with a more consistent mean streak.

    Pass rush: Overwhelms college tackles with size and strength, then chases down quarterbacks with his length and nimble feet. Lacks a quick first step, but flashes a swim move and closing speed to the passer. Feels cut blocks, keeps his hands involved and watches for the quick throw in his direction. Must improve his hand usage to consistently get off blocks inside. Eats up multiple blockers on inside twists to free up other defensive linemen. Effective bull-rushing college tackles when coming from outside the tackle, but rarely pushes back interior linemen. Not sudden or flexible enough to get the corner.

    Run defense: Agile five-technique who lines up on either side of the formation. Patient and keeps his eyes in the backfield to contain; very solid in his outside assignment. Comes off outside path or double teams inside to spin/shed, catching back running through the hole. Uses shoulder to hold off blockers while slanting into the backfield. Not exceptional change-of-direction agility but his length allows him to get a hand on ballcarriers trying to get through the hole. Not a dominating interior player despite his size. NFL blockers will win the leverage battle until he gets stronger and more physical inside.

    Explosion: Has the potential to be very explosive off the snap, but comes off a bit slow and must use his strength to pop into the chest of blockers. Can utilize his strength and length to hit hard and squeeze the football from a ballcarrier.

    Strength: Flashes strong hands, playing with leverage, and the ability to push off linemen to make tackles. Gets stood up at the line too often instead of bull-rushing his man backward or pushing his way through the double-team.

    Tackling: Tall, thick frame and long arms make him difficult to avoid in tight quarters and to shed once latched on. Gets a lot of tackles with hustle, keeps his feet moving when chasing from behind. Lacks superior straight-line speed but gives excellent effort to the sideline. Must drop his hips to bring down more elusive pro ballcarriers.

    Intangibles: Plays a lot of snaps given his size but gives good effort throughout the game. Attended Hargrave Military Academy. Temple's defensive MVP in 2010. No known character issues.

    My take: Lanky defender, will be a 5 tech only.

  3. WOW That's a lot of material. Be back later to look closer.

  4. Hard not to like parts of all of them. I would love a trade down from #2 so we could get "to Liuget to quit". Seriously, I like him and we could pick up another 2nd. Won't happen though.
    Here's why I want Dareus or Fairley at #2 instead of Peterson; I feel our defensive backs are alright. Sure, IF one of either Champ or Goodman end up on IR it would be nice to have PP, but if they are only out for a couple of weeks if at all then I think Cox will fill in fine. However, if Thomas doesn't come back the only DT we have at all is Bannon who is older too. Jamal Williams will get cut, he may come back cheaper, but probably not. Everybody says we can take Peterson and get a good DT at #36. Sure, maybe. I want a sure thing at #2 right away. Get some relief knowing we got one. Another one at 36 wouldn't hurt either. Depends on who's on the board still. I like PP a lot. I just don't think we can take him. We have to go DT at #2. We still need another one in the draft also. And probably a FA or two too. Man I wish we would've just been here with EFX(Elway, Fox and Xanders)two years ago already and not had to endure this 4 year setback at the hands of McD. Switching back to 4-3 now leaves us with a lot of holes.

  5. Whoa! Bannon and JWilliams released. Now we have no DTs at all. WTF!

  6. Yeah just saw that! I now agree Dareus with no.2

  7. I was in the process of answering you, but this is huge, I don't get the Bannan cut, he is a solid player?

    But onto the other things I was going to say.

    I prefer the 3-4 as a defense but am happy we are going back to 4-3.

    Yes I wish we had the EFX ages ago.

    I still like PP (but with the news I think he goes out the window) or are we planning to trade picks (maybe next years?) and get a whole lot of DTs?

    Also looking back at Fox at the Panthers not once did he take an DT in the first, he prefered to draft lineman in later rounds and develop them.

    Again Bannan? WTF...

  8. We now offically have no DTs on the roster.

  9. Youth movement in full effect?

  10. Crazy huh.
    I think you got to stop trying to figure out what Fox HAS done in search of what he WILL do. Circumstances vary. I saw that on trading next year's pick in hope we get one for Orton later. Maybe.

  11. Yeah I know what your saying just throwing it out there. I hope we don't trade next years first because I think it will have a lot of value.

    I would be open to trading down a few spots and getting some more picks and still get Dareus, that would be good.

    Also 24 hour extension on the CBA, does that mean a deal is close? I hope so.

  12. DUDE... that's a massive article. You're worse than I am. LOL But a good read for what I did read, ha. Just read about a few players I've heard about, will look at the others later.

    Sounds like the staff is back to making questionable moves by getting rid of some vets, especially on our already troubled defense. I thought at least Bannan was a keeper. Stupid move on that one if you ask me. We need some vets on our D. Dawkins & Champ can't cover all the ground on that side of the ball.

    As for the CBA, sounds like the extension they agreed to is good. But you know they will wait till the very last possible minute to agree 100%. Bunch of procrastinators... putting me & millions of others on edge and wondering if we'll have a football season. Everyone knows my 2 cents on that... INSANE!!!

  13. I hope so too. Mainly because injured players need to keep up with rehab.
    Working on mock. Later.

  14. Haha sorry Princess, I did cut it down it could be a lot bigger. Plus you need to remember there are 4 more of these.

    It is questionable, I thought Bannan would be solid, but I guess they want more athletic and younger DTs. We still have one of the oldest Ds though.

    The CBA needs to get done, or else it is going to be a boring 6 months.

    Injured players still rehab but they have to it at their own cost and have to push themselves.

    And Digger can't wait for the mock, let us know where you post it.

  15. We resigned Vickerson at least.

  16. MHR of coarse. And I got 3 DTs.
    I like Vickerson.