The South Florida Sun Sentinel ends its 10-part series in the upcoming NFL Draft (April 28-30) by watching top prospects with defensive tackles, players who set the table for everyone on defense. There are half a dozen defensive tackles in this draft class who have the necessary traits to start, and another dozen who should be viewed as rotational players.
Jordan Davis of Georgia
This 6-foot-6, 340-pound defensive tackle is a giant human, running with the agility of a cat (4.78 times in a 40-yard dash). Davis has started well, and plays with a consistent pad level. His ability to double-team eats frees up linebackers, allowing him to do the job. However, he is a limited pass rusher (seven sacks in four seasons) and benefited from playing in heavy rotation, which allowed him to stay fresh.
Devonte Wyatt of Georgia
Wyatt is an impressive athlete who has the functional strength to play at a high level in the NFL. It doesn’t hurt that he has heavy, violent hands and a tireless motor. He is basically raw and would benefit from good coaching as his lack of length and poor use of the arm is visible in the film. But that means he has a lot of upside left.
Travis Jones of Connecticut
Jones has the size and strength needed to devour detractors. He has impressive speed and direction skills and has a motor that is rarely idling. While he is respected for being a physical player, he needs better coaching to hone his game as he should be able to do more than bull-rush.
Fiderian Mathiso of Alabama
Taking on an Alabama defensive lineman in the draft is like buying blue-chip stock because you know it’s a safe investment. Despite being 6-foot-4, 320 pounds, Mathis plays the quickest of a much smaller player. He has some issues in the run game, and that limits what plan he can play in the run going forward.
Perrian Winfrey of Oklahoma
Winfrey is a Twitch athlete who is about to shoot through gaps as a rusher. He has sharp hands and a low center of gravity, which allows him to play with good pad level. His lack of length means he struggles to keep up in traffic against punctuality. He is best suited for a one-gapping scheme.
the best of the rest
Texas A&M’s DeMarvin Leal, Ohio State’s Haskell Garrett, Tennessee’s Matthew Butler, and Florida’s Zachary Carter all have the talent to become NFL starters, not rotational players if they don’t get into the right plan. And there are talents like LSU’s Neil Farrell Jr., Michigan’s Christopher Hinton, Arkansas’ John Ridgeway, Minnesota’s Aseji Otomevo, and Texas A&M’s Jaden Peevey who can steal Day 3.
Class Grade: D
In this situation the defensive tackle class falls off a cliff after the first half-dozen possibilities, and most cases in this class are plan-specific players. This means that a run is expected at this position throughout the draft as no team wants to be left empty handed when the draft is over.
The Packers, Vikings, Buccaneers, Ravens, Bengals, Browns, Raiders and Chargers are among the teams desperate to add starting-caliber players to their defensive line. But there are about half a dozen other teams that would benefit from selecting one to improve their team’s depth in the trenches.
While the Dolphins have four defensive linemen, all starting-caliber talents, none of them have proven effective, requiring a dual team. And the Dolphins will struggle if there is an injury to this unit, which explains the team’s slow start last season when Raekwon Davies missed four games. Miami need to add a young nose tackle who can be crafted as a rotational player. This will benefit the team in the long run.
Miami Dolphins’ NFL Draft Alternatives: Quarterback
Miami Dolphins’ NFL Draft Alternatives: Running Backs
Miami Dolphins’ NFL Draft Alternatives: Offensive Linemen
Miami Dolphins’ NFL Draft Choices: Tight Ends
Miami Dolphins’ NFL Draft substitutes: Receiver
Miami Dolphins’ NFL Draft Alternatives: Linebacker
Miami Dolphins’ NFL Draft Alternatives: Cornerbacks
Miami Dolphins’ NFL Draft Choices: Safety
Miami Dolphins’ NFL Draft Alternatives: Pass Rushers