Top 5 Defensive Tackles In The 2010 NFL Draft

April 21, 2010

When two of the projected top three picks in the NFL Draft involve players at the same position, you know there is some quality depth at that spot. Such is the case with this year's class of defensive tackles, as there are several talented prospects capable of stepping in and making an immediate impact with their new teams.

Here is our list of the Top 5 Defensive Tackles in the 2010 NFL Draft:

1. Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska (6'4", 307 pounds; 12 Sacks/24 TFL/85 Tackles)

Strengths: Suh is a physical powerhouse who can shed double-teams and make plays. His brute strength allows him to easily play 2 gaps, and should make him a superior run-stuffing anchor on first and second down. Suh also is athletic and explosive, allowing him to get into the opponent's backfield or chase down ballcarriers on the perimeter. He has a devastating bull rush and a nice swim move when rushing the passer. More importantly, the intangibles are there as well - Suh is a max-effort player with a high motor.

Weaknesses: When compared to Gerald McCoy, Suh does not appear to be as good a pass rusher. He tends to rely too heavily on his strength by bull-rushing blockers, and at the professional level, he will need to mix it up a bit more. Still, Suh is exceptionally gifted and should be able to put his fair share of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. He also has a history of knee injuries.

Outlook: Suh will be picked in the first three selections, and is a potential Rookie of the Year candidate. His strength, size, and athleticism make him versatile enough to play in almost any scheme. Suh has been more consistent and productive than McCoy in college, and thus, we have ranked him higher. Expect Suh to immediately improve his new team's run defense, and earn Pro Bowl selections in the years to come.

2. Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma (6'4", 295 pounds; 6 Sacks/15.5 TFL/34 Tackles)

Strengths: McCoy has tremendous potential as an interior pass rusher due to his ability to explode into the backfield with his lethal swim move. He is a powerful, athletic guy, who plays with a high motor and great effort. McCoy has a great first step, agility, and a quality spin move. He is quick in pursuit and is versatile enough to line up occasionally on the outside. His leadership qualities, impressive strength, and athleticism should make him a disruptive force as a 3-technique guy.

Weaknesses: McCoy lacks the size to play as a 2-gap nosetackle, so he must be drafted by the right team. If deciding between him and Suh, McCoy is a bit more of a reach because much of his worth is based on his upside as a pass-rusher. Also, his college stats were less impressive than those of Suh.

Outlook: McCoy will get snapped up in the first three picks, and should produce immediately if used as a one-gap penetrator. With his ability to disrupt backfields, McCoy looks like a future Pro Bowler.

3. Brian Price, UCLA, (6'1", 303 pounds; 7 Sacks/23.5 TFL/48 Tackles)

Strengths: Price has great quickness, athleticism, and an excellent burst up the field, all of which equate to big play potential. Despite drawing frequent double-team attention on a mediocre UCLA front, Price was able to amass an astounding 23.5 TFL. He routinely split double-teams and got into the backfield thanks to his explosion and outstanding upper-body strength (34 bench press reps at the Combine). Price has a low center of gravity and good leverage in short yardage scenarios, and also possesses a variety of pass-rushing moves.

Weaknesses: Price's conditioning and stamina are average, as he often requires a breather on longer drives. Price also lacks the strength to be a two-gap plugger, so he must be drafted by a team using a scheme that fits his skills. Price is not very tall, and thus, does not bat down many passes.

Outlook: Expect Price to be selected in the late first or early second round. If used in the right scheme, Price can be a true steal due to his athleticism and ability to penetrate and get up the field. Price projects as a 3-technique guy, with the ability to play some nose if used on slants or one-gap schemes.

4. Dan Williams, Tennessee(6'2", 327 pounds; 2.5 Sacks/9 TFL/70 Tackles)

Strengths: Williams is clearly the best nosetackle in the draft. A physically strong guy with good leverage and a strong base, Williams can occupy multiple blockers. Excellent against the run, Williams also has the awareness to sniff out and chase screens. He is a big hitter, who will prove difficult to block one-on-one.

Weaknesses: Williams needs to improve his hand techniques, and is not much of an inside pass rusher.

Outlook: Williams blossomed last year under Monte Kiffin's coaching, and should be selected in the first round by some team with a need at nosetackle. While his big play and pass rush abilities might be limited at the next level, at a minimum, he will be a solid run plugger on first and second down.

5. Jared Odrick, Penn State (6'5", 304 pounds; 7 Sacks/11 TFL/43 Tackles)

Strengths: Odrick's best asset is his versatility, as he projects as either a 3-technique tackle in a 4-3 scheme, or perhaps as an end in a 3-4. Odrick is a long, good athlete with a high motor, who will make the effort to pursue plays on the edge. He has good initial quickness off the snap, and keeps himself in good condition.

Weaknesses: Odrick is somewhat of a late bloomer whose consistency and game took a big leap in his senior season. Because he plays tall at times, Odrick is best when slanting in gaps to make plays. Although he has displayed a good bull rush, Odrick has yet to develop a variety of reliable moves and counters in his pass rush. He also lacks elite closing speed and lateral mobility.

Outlook: Odrick will be selected either in the late first or early second round. His versatility will make him a solid contributor to any defense, but Odrick is not necessarily a Pro Bowl player absent some improvement in his technique.

Others To Watch:
Terrence Cody, Alabama
Tyson Alualu, Cal
Arthur Jones, Syracuse
Lamarr Houston, Texas
Cam Thomas, North Carolina

By Mike Elliott
Staff Editor for

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