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New York Giants 2017 NFL Draft Preview: Defensive Tackles
by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56
WHERE THEY STAND
After the departure of Hankins for IND, we can now label this group the significant hole on the team. Last year’s free agent signing Damon Harrison is a Pro Bowl talent that will be locked in for the next few years. Big time player. Next to, and behind, him is a whole lot of nothing. NYG was pretty fortunate last year with Harrison and Hankins playing so many snaps. One injury and thus group becomes one that could lose games. I’m sure NYG will sign a veteran free agent between now and training camp but there is a reason those guys are still available. I don’t see Jay Bromley as a difference maker, although it appears we will find out this year what he’s got.
TOP 15 GRADES AND ANALYSIS
1 – Chris Wormley – Michigan – 6’5/298: 84
Summary: Fifth year senior, four year letterman. First team All Big 10 selection in 2016. One of the most versatile defensive linemen in this class that could fit in to any scheme. Wormley has the size, power, and flexibility combination that simply won’t come around very often. His NFL-ready technique and high on-field IQ will get him on the field early and often. He is an assignment-based player that may not make a lot of plays on his own, but he will be an-ever reliable presence that can be moved around based on the situation and matchups.
*Like Demarcus Walker, some are saying Wormley can be considered in round 2. For me, he is a very real option for the pick at #23 overall. Wormley is a freak and nobody talks about it. Baffling. This guy has the frame you dream for and lower body flexibility that you won’t see in most defensive ends. He is a naturally big, powerful presence that can play assignment football exceptionally well. He can do multiple things for a defense, including shifting outside to LDE in certain situations. First class individual that pays attention to details. You know what you are getting from a guy like this.
Upside Pro Comparison: Richard Seymour – RET
2 – Caleb Brantley – 6’3/307 – Florida: 80
Summary: Fourth year junior entry. Two year starter that was more disruptive than the stat sheet suggests. Brantley lost about 15-20 pounds prior to his senior season and showed he can be a disruptive three technique in the league. He is very quick and borderline hard to touch for some interior blockers. His hustle and short area pop can be a difference maker in some 4 man fronts. His limitations as a stay at home, space and blocker eater defender are apparent, though.
*Brantley used to play heavier He was 315+ in 2015 and played a little more of a run stuffing role. He can do that well, but the 10-15 pounds he lost prior to 2016 made a huge difference in his burst off the snap. He is a really disruptive guy but also shows the staying power to handle double teams and keep linebackers clean. He is a true every down threat that will contribute early. There is a strong chance he goes in round 1.
Upside Pro Comparison: Kawann Short – CAR
3 – Dalvin Tomlinson – 6’3/310 – Alabama: 78
Summary: Fifth year senior. Tore one ACL in 2011 and the other in 2013. One year of starting experience for the Tide, but has been a steady rotational contributor since 2014. Tomlinson is not your average kid off the field. He’s been through more adversity than most, losing both parents before he turned 18. He is very accomplished in the classroom and actually had an opportunity to go to Harvard, but chose Alabama instead. The former three-time state champion wrestler has the ideal size and power to play inside in any scheme. While he may be limited, his ability to control inside gaps will be there right away.
*One of the more interesting and impressive kids in the class when it comes to the off the field story. Tomlinson doesn’t have standout physical traits but you know you are getting a guy that will get the job done. While he is a different sized player than Linval Joseph, I feel he will have a similar impact early in his career. Just a reliable presence inside that makes guys around him better with the potential to blossom in to more. Really watch some Alabama tape and you’ll see him do things you didn’t think he could do. 2nd round is where I strongly consider him.
Upside Pro Comparison: Ahtyba Rubin – SEA
4 – Montravius Adams – 6’4/304 – Auburn: 78
Summary: Four year contributor, three year starter. First Team All SEC and Second Team All American in his senior season. Adams was always a talented player but he didn’t take in coaching very well until his final offseason. That resulted in him being a consistent week to week dominant force rather than the occasional flash in a pan. His experience in multiple fronts and roles will only help his overall outlook around the league. He can be a factor in any defensive scheme. His man strength is already here and despite not having ideal measurables, Adams will be a more-than-solid player in the NFL.
*From early on in the season, Adams has been a favorite of mine. He was a fun dude to watch, pure gamer. He played the role of bully week in, week out and purely relished it. Adams doesn’t have top tier talent or tools, but he gets off the ball looking to physically dominate his opponent. Really good assignment guy that will also make plays far away from the point of attack. Hustler that is constantly on. The light switch turned on for him in 2016 and it put him in to day 32 territory and I would strongly consider him in the 2nd.
Upside Pro Comparison: Cedric Thornton – DAL
5 – Carlos Watkins – 6’3/309 – Clemson: 76
Summary: Fifth year senior. Missed all of 2013 because of injuries sustained in a fatal car accident and didn’t make much of an impact in 2014. He started to blossom in 2015, earning 2nd Team All ACC honors but really turned it on his senior season. The 1st Team All ACC and 2nd Team All American showed what he can do on any down, any situation. He presence in the middle was too much for almost every lone opponent he faced up against. Not only did blockers have a hard time moving him, but he showed he could make an impact behind the line of scrimmage. He may not win athletically and there are technique flaws, but Watkins is a brute-force champion. He is a difference maker.
*If a team is looking for a guy that can press the pocket and occupy double teams, Watkins may be their guy. Even though I have a borderline day 2/3 grade on him, I think he can be a 2nd rounder because his specialty is near top tier. Watkins was simply stronger and more powerful than everyone he played against. He isn’t a dynamic athlete and there are some long term injury red flags, but this guy is a plug and play force that can compliment a pass rushing DT very well.
Upside Pro Comparison: Chris Baker – TB
6 – Larry Ogunjobi – 6’3/305 – Charlotte: 75
Summary: Four year starter and the poster boy for a program that was brought in to college football his freshman season. He has been the team’s top player from the beginning, never missing a start and repeatedly producing behind the line of scrimmage. The 1st Team All Conference USA honoree has excellent short area quickness and easy change of direction. In the right role he can be a solid rotational tackle. He shows some serious pass rush potential but won’t be an every down player.
*I wasn’t really turned on to this kid until the Senior Bowl, actually. He immediately jumped out to me during the practices and I found out some guys were talking day 2 on him. I’m not quite there with him, but I’m close. He moves really well off the snap and I think there is still some rawness to his game that a quality coach and situation can really work with.
Upside Pro Comparison: Jay Ratliff – FA
7 – Ryan Glasgow – 6’3/302 – Michigan: 74
Summary; Fifth year senior. 2nd team all Big Ten in 2016. Brother, Ryan, is a starting guard for the Lions. After missing some time in 2015 with a torn pectoral muscle, Galsgow came back strong and won Michigan’s Defensive Lineman of the Year award. He is a blue collar, dirty work guy that will play to his assignment and make a lot of hustle plays He may be a little short on talent, but he can be part of a rotation in most schemes.
*You know those prospects that you really like, through the grading process you can’t really justify a high grade? Guys that you know will impact the team they are drafted by and will out-play several plays drafted head of them? That is Glasgow. He doesn’t have a ton of talent and he won’t ‘wow’ you, but he is such a steady, consistent blue collar type. Draft him and at worst you have a #3 DT that will play his heart out when a starter needs a blow.
Upside Pro Comparison: Nick Hayden – CLE
8 – Nazair Jones – 6’5/304 – North Carolina: 74
Summary: Fourth year junior entry. Football career was almost ended his junior year of high school, as he suffered from complex regional pan syndrome. Under the radar high school recruit that managed his disease and gained over 40 pounds in his redshirt year. Jones is a naturally gifted player that has a high ceiling. He proved he can be a disruptive interior force but needs to clean up his technique in time.
*For what it’s worth, I’ve been told Jones is a guy NYG has zeroed in on. When? Not sure. I would imagine the round 3-4 area. He fits the profile of what they have been chasing off the street lately and what they have drafted in the past. Tall, long, and a frame that can handle more weight with ease. Jones is raw but when he’s on, he can be very hard to move. I’m not sure I see a starter type, but you can’t deny the tools and upside.
Upside Pro Comparison: Michael Brockers – LAR
9 – Malik McDowell – 6’6/295 – Michigan State: 73
Summary: Third year junior entry. 1st Team All Big 10 defender in 2016 despite missing 3 games with an ankle injury. Has seen starting experience at DT and DE. Freakish physical traits and abilities that can take over games for stretches but marked down by inconsistency. McDowell is a gifted athlete that, when playing hard, can dominate. His speed, quickness, and aggression off the snap is a weapon that any team could use along their line. However his motor isn’t always on and the technique issues can make him a very beatable player. High upside, low floor prospect.
*I’ll be the first to tell you this is a guy that has first round talent and could be a major factor in the league. At his size, his movement off the ball is rare and when he has everything on, he can slip through small creases and really disrupt a passing game. However his inconsistency from an effort point of view really bothers me and when he’s not on, he can absolutely kill a defense. He needs to clean up a lot of techniques and I’ve been told his interviews were among the worst. Immature but woefully talented.
Upside Pro Comparison: DeForest Buckner – SF
10 – Jaleel Johnson – 6’3/316 – Iowa: 73
Summary: Fifth year senior, two year starter. Named to the First Team All Big 10 team after a strong 2016 performance. Johnson shows solid one-gap penetration as a pass rusher. His 7.5 sacks were among the nation’s leaders from interior defensive linemen. Johnson shows flashes of dominance that can wreck havoc from the inside. He has a quick first step and developed hand moves that can prevent blockers from gaining inside position. He will need to work on play-to-play stoutness and awareness before he can be considered an every down player, however.
*Here is another role-guy that could warrant a higher draft position if a team is looking for an extra stout guy for their interior. Johnson stands out as a guy that won’t be pushed back. He is always at the point of attack and he showed more promise as a pass rusher in 2016. I think he has a high floor.
Upside Pro Comparison: Brandon Williams – BAL
11 – Charles Walker – 6’2/310 – Oklahoma: 73
Summary: Fourth year junior entry. Did not start until 2016 but he was still a 2nd team All Big 12 player in 2015, as he proved to be a penetrating force that could be moved inside/outside. Walker only played in 4 games in 2016 before suffering a concussion. In a somewhat controversial move, Walker opted to not return for the rest of the season despite being recovered because he wanted to prep for his NFL career. Walker doesn’t have a ton of tape to show scouts and coaches, so teams will be forced in to projecting him more so than others. He can fit in to any scheme.
*What I like about Walker is that you can pretty much do anything you want with him. He is a very solid, very versatile presence that can expose different matchup problems. The lack of experience has to worry anyone at least a little, and there seems to be some smoke off the field with him. He’s a major mystery but one with a big potential reward.
Upside Pro Comparison: Corey Peters – ARI
12 – Tanzel Smart – 6’1/296 – Tulane: 73
Summary: Three year starter. Two time 1st team all American Conference selection. Can use his low to the ground frame and initial quickness to his advantage consistently against blockers that have a hard time bending well. Smart may not be the most physically imposing player on the field, but he can make a difference as a rotational tackle. He is a hard guy to lock up at times and knows what to do when he is free within the tackle box.
*Some smaller DTs play to their size very well without losing out too much on presence. Smart is one of those guys. He can be borderline annoying for some of the more sizable blockers in the league. He has powerful legs and a quick first step. In addition he has some wrestler in him, meaning he fully understands leverage and angles to take advantage of a blocker that won’t bend well. Smart is a rotational guy at best but one that can make a difference.
Upside Pro Comparison: Jerrell Casey – TEN
13 – Isaac Rochell – 6’4/280 – Notre Dame: 72
Summary: Three year starter for the Irish and has played multiple roles along the defensive front. Team captain in 2016. Rochell recovered from an offseason back injury leading up to 2016 and didn’t get a lot of strength work. It appears that may still be his downfall. He has power off the snap but lacks the mass and strength to factor post-engagement. The tools and natural ability are there, but there is a lot of physical and skill development that need to be done.
*At his size, Rochell needs to be a better pass rusher if he is going to make a high grade. I do like his style, he does a lot of little things right and he has a very heavy pair of hands. He can stifle guys. But he isn’t a very powerful guy and he may be too much of a tweener to consider using anything more than a day 3 pick on him, more likely towards the 5th/6th round. There are better fits around the league for him.
Upside Pro Comparison: Mitch Unrein – CHI
14 – Deangelo Brown – 6’0/312 – Louisville: 71
Summary: Fifth year senior. Missed 2013 with an Achilles injury. Brown will be overlooked initially by any because he doesn’t have the ideal measurables. However after watching what he can do on a consistent basis when it comes to winning the line of scrimmage and doing a lot of dirty work, Brown can be viewed as a difference maker. He is a nightmare to block because of his elite playing strength and extremely low center of gravity. He may not be an every down player, but he is a guy that forces the offense to game plan around.
*Once again, Brown as an overall DT won’t grade out very high on anyone’s board. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t take him until the guys above are gone. As a short term run stuffer, Brown is among the best in this class. He isn’t a guy you want on the field for a long time, as his conditioning is poor and his pass rush skills are below average. But as a guy that sits over the center and creates a new line of scrimmage, Brown is a difference maker. If you need a run defending presence, Brown can be worth taking early day 3.
Upside Pro Comparison: Brandon Mebane – LAC
15 – Ralph Green III – 6’5/315 – Indiana: 71
Summary: Fifth year senior. A raging force inside with the mindset of a bully, Green can make an immediate impact as a rotational defender. His ability to fire off the snap and deliver a violent blow can be used in any scheme. If he wants to be a mainstay however, he needs to show more discipline on and off the field. If he can improve technique, Green has the tools to be a starter.
*If he checks out OK off the field, NYG is going to like this guy He fits the profile of what they have been going after at DT lately. Big, mean, physical. He occupies a lot of space and multiple blockers. He was one of the best players at the Shrine Game. He can be a solid backup that can get on the field in short running situations right away.
Upside Pro Comparison: Alan Branch – NE
BEST OF THE REST (16-25)
16 – Jarron Jones – 6’5/315 – Notre Dame: 71
17 – Grover Stewart – 6’4/347 – Albany State: 70
18 – Eddie Vanderdoes – 6’3/301 – UCLA: 70
19 – Josh Tupou – 6’3/353 – Colorado: 70
20 – Vincent Taylor – 6’3/310 – Oklahoma State: 69
21 – Davon Godchaux – 6’4/299 – LSU: 68
22 – Phil Ivie – 6’3/301 – Florida: 68
23 – Nick James – Mississippi State: 6’4/328: 67
24 – Stevie Tu’ikolovatu – 6’1/350 – USC: 66
25 – Cole Langer – 6’1/314 – South Dakota State: 65
As I said earlier, this is the one glaring hole on the roster and I think there needs to be a sense of urgency here. Obviously I am not saying to reach for a guy and neglect the grading process, but because of how the DT spot was approached this offseason, some of the NYG’s cards are out on the table. They will need to find a guy that can contribute in 2017. With that said, it doesn’t need to be an every down threat and considering how much easier it is to move a DE inside on passing downs, I would lead towards bringing in a run defender with one of the first 3-4 picks. Some names I am looking at are Wormley, Tomlinson, Watkins, Brown, and Johnson.