This is a pretty deep class of defensive tackles in the 2018 draft class. We should certainly see at least 3 defensive tackles come off the board in round 1. Today’s offenses in the NFL are demanding these hybrid run stuff and pass rush defensive tackles. In the past it was usually either/or, but in this draft class there is a handful that can be that disruptive force up the middle no matter what play the offense is running.
1. Maurice Hurst – Yes I know ill get jumped on for this, but I do these off of ability and not potential. Speaking of ability, Hurst is one with many abilities. As soon as the snap starts and hes into a gap before blockers can recognize to put their hands up while getting skinny even as a big as he is. Throws his hands like a boxer in flurries to throw interior linemen off balance. Has light feet, speed, and agility to do stunt/twist blitzes with linebackers. That characteristic for a defensive tackle will be welcomed by any defensive coordinator in the NFL.
2. Vita Vea – The athletic freak of nature award belongs to this years defensive tackle, Vita Vea. At 350 pounds and 6 foot 4 inches he ran a 5.1 second 40 yard dash. A man that big isn’t supposed to move at half that speed. Hulk like strength was also shown at the combine with 41 reps at 225 pounds, I repeat…41 reps at 225 pounds! His tape shows that strength bull rushing offensive linemen straight into their QB’s with the linemen. Only knock is being more gap aware at the point of attack and brushing up his game when entering the pro level. He is this high because of major upside in a lot of scout’s eyes.
3. Da’Ron Payne – Payne had quite a year in being Second Team All SEC Honors. This is the top dog in run stuffing defense, also has the ability of polished pass rushing to his forte. We saw both on display in the National Championship game against Georgia. Always has his eyes in the backfield and two gaps with his long arms. He did enter Alabama at 350 pounds, but has dropped down in 3 years to 311 pounds. Even though he’s now leaner, he still has the strength with more quickness and burst dropping the excess fat.
4. Taven Bryan – At 6 foot 5 inches, Bryan is an above size defensive tackle, but he fires with explosion off the snap under the pad level of offensive linemen that seems get him in the backfield quite a bit. Bryan with his length could play defensive end, but I cant get this picture out of my head of him playing the five-technique position. He has drawn comparisons to Derek Wolfe and even J.J. Watt from scouts. I wouldn’t say as far as J.J. Watt being he’s still too raw and needs to polish up his instincts and his techniques.
5. Tim Settle – This massive defensive tackle is surprisingly nimble and has the ability to run down plays in pursuit for being a 330 pound mammoth. Has shown he can take double teams and drive them into the backfield making a play dissolve even before it develops. Also has a nice pass rush swim move of getting around defenders. Needs to be coached up and developed, but still has the size, speed, and instincts that cant be taught. One big knock is in stretches he has a problem disengaging from blockers.