2019 NFL Draft Position Rankings: Defensive Tackle

UPDATED 5/6/2018

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1. DT Ed Oliver, Houston Houston

Likely a 4-3 defensive tackle, could get a look as a 4-3 end. Active in the trenches with constant motion and hand play. Frequently double-teamed as a result of being the best player on his team. Gets skinny in gaps. Does not give up on plays – runs down quarterbacks outside the pocket and chases ballcarriers who have gotten to the second level. Great speed for a player at his position. Sometimes caught out of position. Not the best run stuffer. Despite weighing almost 300 lb, looks skinnier than a normal tackle on tape.

First-ever five-star recruit to commit to a non-Power 5 school. Graduated from Westfield High School in Houston, Texas. 6’3”, 290 lb. True junior who has been a full-time starter each of his two seasons at Houston. First-Team All-American each of his two seasons at Houston. Won the Outland Trophy (nation’s top interior lineman) in 2017. Suffered a sprained MCL in 2017, but did not miss time. Recorded 65 tackles, 22 TFL, 5.0 sacks over 12 games as a freshman; logged 73 tackles, 16.5 TFL, 5.5 sacks over 12 games as a sophomore. Born December 12, 1997 (age 21 on Opening Day 2019).

Grade: First Round

2. DT Christian Wilkins, Clemson clemson.png

Probably a 4-3 tackle or 3-4 end. Outstanding bull rush against the pass. Routinely drives offensive linemen into the backfield. Possesses a quick first step. Secure tackler. Average speed, but pursues the football well. Often in the right position. Holds gaps as well as any defensive lineman in the NCAA. Solid instincts and moves well in space. May look better on film as a result of playing on college football’s best defensive line.

Five-star recruit who graduated from Suffield Academy in Connecticut. Born in Massachusetts. 6’4”, 300 lb. Senior who was a rotational defender as a freshman and full-time starter as a sophomore and junior. Recorded 48 tackles, 13 TFL, 3.5 sacks over 15 games as a sophomore; followed up with 60 tackles, 9 TFL, 5.0 sacks as a junior. First-ever scholarship player at Clemson to graduate in 2.5 years. Born December 20, 1995 (age 23 on Opening Day 2019).

Grade: First Round

3. DT/NT Derrick Brown, Auburn Auburn

3-4 nose tackle who can play 4-3 under tackle. Incredibly strong player – overpowers offensive linemen and bullies ballcarriers. Turns inside run blocking schemes into a mess. Plays to the whistle. Average first step; can sometimes get beat off the ball. Executes stunts awkwardly. Frequently gives up on the pass rush to put up his hands and try to swat down pass attempts. Playmaker.

Five-star recruit who was among the most coveted players in the nation. Graduated from Lanier High School in Sugar Hill, Georgia. 6’5”, 316 lb. True junior. Member of the SEC Football Leadership Council. Overcame bullying as a child. As a true freshman, played in 8 games, recording 11 tackles, 1.5 TFL, and a sack. Came onto the scene as a sophomore, putting up 57 tackles, 9.5 TFL, and 3.0 sacks over 13 games. Born April 15, 1998 (age 21 on Opening Day 2019).

Grade: First Round

4. DT/NT Dexter Lawrence, Clemson clemson.png

Possible 4-3 under tackle, 3-4 nose tackle. Plays with great leverage and rarely gets driven back. Holds the line of scrimmage but has some trouble disengaging from blocks. Pushes the pile and can overpower offensive linemen. Speed and lateral quickness are well below average. Sometimes jogs in the middle of the play when the ball is flowing away from him. May look better on film as a result of playing on college football’s best defensive line.

No. 2 overall recruit in the Class of 2016. Graduated from Wake Forest High School in North Carolina. 6’4”, 340 lb. True junior who has been a full-time starter each of his two seasons at Clemson. Battled an ankle injury in 2017, causing him to miss multiple games. Logged 62 tackles, 8.5 TFL, 6.5 sacks over 14 games as a freshman; dropped to 33 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 2.0 sacks over 11 games as a sophomore. Born November 12, 1997 (age 21 on Opening Day 2019).

Grade: First Round

5. DT Raekwon Davis, Alabama Bama

Can play multiple positions along the defensive line. Versatility is a major plus with this player. Manages to stay low throughout engagement with block, despite extraordinary height. Plays to the whistle. Good repertoire of pass-rush moves, including a nice spin. Penetrates into the backfield, but sometimes gets too far upfield and allows running lanes to open up. Incredible size.

Four-star recruit who also played basketball in high school. Graduated from Meridian High School in Mississippi. 6’7”, 305 lb. True junior who played sparingly as a freshman, but was a full-time starter as a sophomore. Suffered a gunshot wound to the leg in 2017, but did not miss any time. Recorded 69 tackles, 10 TFL, 8.5 sacks as a sophomore. Born June 10 (not certain of year).

Grade: Second Round

6. DT Marquise Copeland, Cincinnati  Cincinnati

4-3 tackle who can likely play some 3-4 end. Violent hitter whose takedowns resemble those of a fearsome linebacker. Difficult to move at the line of scrimmage, but does not guard specific gaps particularly well. Knifes through blocks to get to the ballcarrier. Speedy for his size in the open field; runs down backs. Not a very creative pass rusher. Playmaker.

Three-star recruit who was scouted as a middle linebacker and defensive end. Graduated from Bedford High School in Bedford, Ohio. 6’3”, 290 lb. True senior. Played in nine games as a freshman, recording 15 tackles and one TFL. As a sophomore, played the full year, with 59 tackles, 4.5 TFL, and a sack. In his junior year, Copeland improved his numbers to 63 tackles, 8.0 TFL, and 3.5 sacks.

Grade: Second Round

7. DT/NT Jeffery Simmons, Mississippi State Miss State

4-3 under tackle with potential at the 3-4 nose. Has trouble keeping his body square to the ballcarrier, and sometimes struggles with tackling as a result. Solid bull rush in passing situations – drives the center into the quarterback’s lap. For a nose tackle, could do a better job handling double teams. Has experience with defensive line stunts and takes solid angles when stunting gaps. Good awareness of where he is on the field. Productive player in a very good conference.

Five-star recruit (four-star in some rankings) at defensive end. Graduated from Noxubee County High School in Macon, Mississippi. 6’4”, 301 lb. True junior. As a true freshman, was suspended for the season opener after punching a woman in “an effort to break up a domestic fight between his sister and another adult woman.” Has played in every game since the one-game suspension. As a true freshman, played in 12 games, amassing 40 tackles and 3.0 TFL. As a true sophomore, played in all 13 games, with 60 tackles, 12.0 TFL, and 5.0 sacks.

Grade: Second Round

8. DT Dre’Mont Jones, Ohio State Ohio State

Likely a 4-3 tackle or 3-4 end. Uses hands well. Active player – can be difficult for offensive linemen to keep up with him. Gets off the ball quickly. Above average pass rusher, but benefits from playing alongside college football’s best pass rushers. Good size for a defensive tackle. Fine lateral movement. Rarely driven out of the play, but sometimes has trouble fighting against the tide of blocking on zone runs.

Four-star recruit who played high school basketball and only two years of high school football. Graduated from St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland, Ohio. 6’3”, 295 lb. Redshirted his first year on campus after a torn ACL, then became a full-time starter as a redshirt freshman after an injury to starter Tracy Sprinkle in the opening game. Recorded 51 tackles, 4.0 TFL as a redshirt freshman (led the defensive line in tackles). As a redshirt sophomore, dropped to 20 tackles, but had 5.0 TFL and a sack. Missed two games with a leg injury in 2017. Born January 5, 1997 (age 22 on Opening Day 2019).

Grade: Third Round

9. DT/NT Jerry Tillery, Notre Dame Notre Dame

4-3 tackle or possible nose tackle. Finds ways to get into the backfield, but can sometimes get caught upfield. Solid pursuit of ballcarriers, but lacks elite closing speed. Not light on his feet – plods around, but good instincts make up for difficulty changing direction. Great height. Productive player who had a breakout campaign in 2017.

Four-star recruit as an offensive tackle. Graduated from Evangel Christian Academy in Shreveport, Louisiana. 6’6”, 306 lb. True senior. Has had to “recommit himself to football amid his growing interests,” which include economics and travel. As a freshman, was suspended for the Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State for violation of team rules. Stepped on the leg of one player and kicked another in the head during sophomore year against USC. Recorded 12 tackles, 2.0 TFL, one sack as a freshman over six games; put up 37 tackles, 3.5 TFL, and no sacks over 11 games. In 2017, as a junior, improved to 56 tackles, 9.0 TFL, 4.5 sacks over 13 games. Born October 8, 1996 (age 22 on Opening Day 2019).

Grade: Third Round

10. DT Demarcus Christmas, Florida State FSU

4-3 tackle who has played some 3-4 end. Wide-bodied player who does not display great speed or lateral quickness on tape. Struggles to maintain the integrity of gaps and sometimes opens running lanes. Strong defender, however, who is a definite positive factor overall in the run game. Has room to improve his technique, but is a gifted athlete. Has a knack for swatting passes (11 passes defended in three years).

Four-star recruit. Graduated from Manatee High School in Bradenton, Florida. 6’4”, 308 lb. Redshirt Senior. Suffered a season-ending injury early in his true freshman year, and was granted a medical redshirt. As a redshirt freshman, played in 10 games, with 20 tackles, 1.5 TFL, and 0.5 sacks. In his redshirt sophomore year, Christmas played in 10 games again, with 21 tackles, 2.5 TFL, and 2.0 sacks. Broke out as a redshirt junior, with 36 tackles, 4.5 TFL, and a sack over 13 games.

Grade: Fourth Round

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