Inside the War Room Defensive Tackle Edition
In this week’s Inside the War Room I take a look at the top senior defensive tackles, talk about the changes we will see in this year’s draft process, and much more.
Top Senior DT’s
This year’s defensive tackle class is one of the weaker senior positions, and there are no stand outs at this position. With that being said there are several players who have intriguing potential including my top senior defensive tackle Leon Orr.
- Leon Orr Florida 6-5 305
Orr has yet to produce like a first round draft pick only recording 21 tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss. However, his potential screams first round draft pick. He has a very quick first step for someone 6-5 305 pounds, and also shows good overall strength. He needs to get off blocks better, and produce more if he wants to earn a first round draft grade.
- Gabe Wright Auburn 6-3 284
Wright reminds me a lot of former Pittsburgh Panther, and current St. Louis Ram’s defensive tackle Aaron Donald in that he is a quick, and very active defensive tackle.
- Carl Davis Iowa 6-5 315
Davis is a big defensive tackle who holds up very well vs. the run. However, to earn a first round grade he must prove he can be a threat to rush the passer.
- Michael Bennett Ohio State 6-2 288
Bennett is one of the most overrated prospects in the 2015 NFL Draft. He lacks great athletic ability, and is on the smaller side coming in at 6-2 288 pounds. That being said he has produced solid results at Ohio State recording 11.5 tackles for loss, and seven sacks last season.
- Luther Maddy Virginia Tech 6-1 291
Maddy is another undersized active defensive tackle who produced strong results last season recording 13.5 tackles for loss, and 6.5 sacks. He needs to add bulk and hold up better at the point of attack in order to raise his draft grade.
Elkino Watson South Florida 6-2 289 #11 DT
Watson is a quick athletic defensive tackle who recorded nine tackles for loss last season. He needs to get stronger so he can hold up better vs. the run.
Charles Tuaau Texas A&M-Commerce 6-4 316 #15 DT
Tuaau is my highest rated small school defensive lineman, and the second highest rated small school defensive player on my board behind CB Devante Bausby of Pittsburgh State. Last season Tuaau recorded a very impressive 25 tackles for loss, and 12.5 sacks.
Xavier Williams UNI 6-4 311 #19 DT
Williams is a big defensive tackle who should be a great fit for a two-gap defense. He will also be a benefit to any specials teams unit having blocked five field goals in 2012.
NFL Draft Changes
The NFL made some significant announcements about the NFL process this week including some that affect the College Advisory Committee, and one about where the draft will be held. The first change is that the College Advisory Committee will now give prospects three grades which are potential to be drafted as high as the first round, potential to be drafted as high as the second round, and should remain a student-athlete. The College Advisory Committee used to have five draft grades which were, potential to be drafted as high as the first round, potential to be drafted as high as the second round, potential to be drafted as high as the third round, they do not have the potential to be drafted in the first three rounds, and they do not have the potential to be drafted. The NFL made this change since a lot of players who were receiving third to fifth round grades were going undrafted, and the NFL feels these players are better off staying in school for their senior season.
The second major change and one I am not in favor of is that only five players from each school can enter their name to the College Advisory Committee. The NFL will make some exceptions to this rule, but can say no to prospects after five players from their school have entered their name. In my opinion this is a move that requires the NFL to do less work, and could lead to more players entering the draft. More players could enter the draft, since they don’t get a grade from the NFL and don’t know where they stand in with NFL personal. Since prospects don’t know where they stand they will be much more likely to listen to agents who can fill them full of false information so that they will declare for the NFL Draft.
The third change the NFL announced is where the draft will be held. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced last week the NFL Draft will be held in either Los Angeles, or Chicago next year. The change was made partly due to the fact Radio City Music Hall in New York City did not have available date in April, or May this year. This will be the first time the NFL Draft has not been held in New York City since 1965.
One other significant change the NFL is still looking at is expanding the draft to four days, instead of three days. The dates for this year’s draft according to NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport will be either April 22nd to the 25th or April 29th to May 2nd.
Prospect of the Week
This week’s Prospect of the Week is one of the more intriguing receiver prospects in the 2015 draft in Arizona WR Austin Hill. What makes Hill such an intriguing prospect is that he did not play a game in 2013 due to a torn ACL. However, he had one of the most productive seasons in school history in 2012 hauling in 81 passes for 1,364 yards and eleven touchdowns.
Hill has a lot of positives with his game and the first one is his prototypical size coming in at 6-3 210 pounds. He uses his size to his advantage as well shielding defenders from the ball, and using his size to go up and get the jump ball. Hill has consistent hands and very rarely drops a pass, and has the ability to go catch the ball in traffic. One more positive with this prospect is his strong work ethic Arizona WR coach Tony Dews has praised Hill for his strong work habits in the weight room, and also for leadership ability.
The biggest concern with Hill is how will he comes back from his torn ACL. While he returned to action this spring it will be interesting to see if his injury has any lasting effects on his performance. This injury could affect both his speed, and overall athletic ability which are two areas he can’t afford to be affected in. When watching Hill one area that kept catching my attention is how he allows the ball to get to his body on a regular basis instead of plucking the ball out of the air with his hands. Hill also had some trouble with low passes, due to his lack of great flexibility.
This season will be a big season for Hill to prove that he can still produce despite missing the 2013 year due to a torn ACL. If he can prove that he is the same player that he was before the injury look for him to earn a third round draft grade.
Ten Football Thoughts
- I think Colorado cornerback Greg Henderson will break the school’s drought of no defensive back drafted since 2011 when Jimmy Smith went in the first round, and Jalil Brown went in the fourth round. Last season Henderson recorded 68 tackles and led the team in interceptions with four picks. He also has put up outstanding numbers in the weight room posting a 4.47 40-yard dash, a 40-inch vertical jump, and 315 pound bench press.
- I think one player I will take off my draft board is West Virginia cornerback Travis Bell. I am taking him off my board for a couple of reasons with the first one being the fact he has been in legal trouble too much for my liking. In December he was arrested for DUI, and was arrested in February of 2013 and charged with domestic battery. The second reason I am taking him off my board is due to a lack of production. He started only nine games last year, and only recorded one interception.
- I think one of the biggest sleepers in this year’s draft is Pitt State CB Devante Bausby. Bausby is a big corner (6-2), who shows excellent athletic ability, and overall speed (4.44). He has the ability to hold up extremely well in man to man coverage, and also shows the ability to play zone coverage when called upon. One other positive with this prospect is his ball skills. Last season, he led the team in pass breakups with ten, and tied for the team lead with three interceptions. I currently have Bausby rated as my top small school defensive player, and think when it is all said we will see Bausby drafted on the second day of the draft.
- I think another small school defensive back to keep an eye on is Tennessee State cornerback De’Ante Saunders who is currently NFL Draft Diamond’s number one small school cornerback. Saunders is a physical corner who could project to either safety or cornerback in the NFL. The biggest concern I have with Saunders is that he was kicked off the Florida football team after being suspended on two separate occasions.
- I think with Miami RB Duke Johnson adding 20 pounds of muscle this offseason he will be considered one of the top running backs in the draft if he declares. Johnson is a powerful running back who averaged 6.3 yards per carry last season. If he can stay healthy look for him to compete with Georgia junior running back Todd Gurley for the top running back spot.
- I think the fact Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice only got a two game suspension for assault is absolutely ridicules. The fact you can be suspended more for smoking marijuana which is legal in some states, then you can be suspended for assault on a female is sending a very bad message to NFL players, and the young people who follow the game.
- I think Brandon Carter needs to get his act together if he wants a shot in the NFL. The TCU WR has been ruled academically ineligible this season, and TCU coach Gary Patterson believes it is time for Carter to move on. It has yet to be determined if Carter will go to an FCS school, sit out this year and transfer to an FBS school, or sit out the year and try his hand at the NFL after the season. Whatever he decided to he needs to start taking his academics more seriously, since he will more than likely have to earn a living in something other then football.
- I think the Offensive Rookie of the Year will be New Orleans WR Brandin Cooks. I think Cooks landed in a great situation with having Drew Brees as his quarterback, and having the offensive minded Sean Payton as his head coach.
- I think the Defensive Rookie of the Year will be Houston Texans DE/OLB Jadeveon Clowney. Clowney was by far the most talented player in the draft, and joins one of the top defensive lines in the NFL led by J.J. Watt. The fact he plays on such a great defense will make it very hard for NFL offenses to double team Clowney, which should free him up to make plenty of plays.
- I think I would like to send my condolences to the family of former Milford Academy football player Brendan Munnerlyn who tragically passed away this week in an automobile accident.
According to NFL.com Clemson DE/OLB Vic Beasley has been working on dropping into coverage this summer, which is my biggest concern with this prospect. … Idaho WR Dezmon Epps has been dismissed from the football team. … Fresno State S Derron Smith enters the 2014 season with 14 interceptions which is the most of any active FBS player. …Florida State QB Jameis Winston has worked on speeding up his delivery this offseason. … More people watch the NFL Draft then watched the MLB All-Star game. … Texas A&M DE Gavin Stansbury has decided to leave the Texas A&M football program. Stansbury was arrested in April for assault. … TCU sophomore DE Devonte Fields is being investigated by police for allegedly pointing a gun at his ex-girlfriend and threatening to shoot her, and has been separated from the University. … Look for Iowa State to use tight end E.J. Bibbs out wide more this season. Bibbs is currently my number six senior tight end. … Texas QB David Ash has been medically cleared to resume practicing, and has been named the Longhorns starting QB. … Texas junior WR Kendall Sanders has been charged with sexual assault, and is currently suspended from the team. … The following NFL Draft prospects were named to the Beyond Sports Network D3 All American Team RB Domonique Hayden of Thomas More, WR Holton Walker of Hampden-Sydney, and LB Sosthene Kapepula of Wesley.
Inside the War Room is presented by NFL Draft Diamonds via John Blair. John Blair is our NCAA Division 1 Scout, and he is one of the best up and coming Draftnik’s in the business. Please go follow him on twitter @NFLDraftITWR
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