Thursday, November 21, 2013
Top five defensive tackle comparisons
By Craig Haubert
As each and every new evaluation period begins for our staff, we always try and use today’s college football stars and apply some of their best traits when describing the next generation of prospects.
All prospects are different from one another, but many share similar characteristics that stand out in relation to their styles.
In this edition of the series, we take a look at the top-five defensive tackles in this class and who they remind us of in college football at this time.
Andrew Brown -- LSU DT Anthony Johnson: With the No. 1 rated DT Brown, the 2011 class came to mind as the five-star invoked thoughts of the top two D-tackles in that class.
Like current Florida State defender Tim Jernigan, Brown can be an explosive and disruptive player in the backfield, though he possesses much better natural size. While he strikes some similarity to Jernigan, the better overall comparison is arguably with Johnson, the top-rated DT in that class. Physical players in the trenches, they both can be tough and stout run defenders who are powerful and athletic enough to be dangerous as interior pass rushers as well. Watching his weight and improving hand usage are areas Brown can work on, but he is a talented prospect with the tools to be an excellent college player.
If he can watch his weight, Lamont Gaillard can be a disruptive force in the trenches in college.
Lamont Gaillard -- Southern Mississippi DT Khyri Thornton: Gaillard needs to watch his weight, but like Thornton, he can be a disruptive big man in the heart of the trenches. Both are capable of quickly getting off the ball and can move well on their feet for their size and create problems. The promising 2014 DT needs polish, but like Thornton, he can be active and explosive with his hands and big bodies. Both players can fire out low, uncoil, take on blockers and hold their ground. The No. 2-rated DT in this class, Gaillard could possess greater upside and could be more productive, especially as an interior pass rusher, if he manages his size and takes full advantage of his natural tools.
Gerald Willis III -- Oregon State DE Scott Crichton: Willis is listed as a DT, but he is a bit of a ‘tweener at this stage. Like Crichton, he could play DE in college with the ability to slide inside in pass-rushing situations, or he could also develop into a fulltime defensive tackle. The 2014 ESPN300 prospect will likely carry some more size at the college level with further physical development, but like the talented Beavers defender, he can play with a nasty edge and has good size and strength to set the edge as a run defender. Crichton has proven to be a disruptive player with a team high 14 TFLs and 6.5 sacks. And Willis, an explosive player active with his hands and flashing ability to transition from speed-to-power, can do the same. Scheme, need and physical development will determine where Willis best fits at the next level, but like the All-Pac-12 defender; he can be a productive and versatile player.
Malik McDowell -- Minnesota DT Ra’Shede Hageman: When Hageman came out in the 2009 class, we knew he was an athletic and promising prospect. Originally a TE entering college, he has developed into one of the top DTs in college football. McDowell displays some of that promising upside as well. Like Hageman coming out, the ESPN300 prospect out of Michigan is a tall, leaner big man with a basketball background who will likely fill out and play at around three-hundred pounds. Maybe not quite the athlete Hageman is, McDowell can move well for his size and has a good initial burst. When he keeps his pads down, he can hold his ground. As a pass rusher, he can create pressure with a bull rush and flash good ability to be active with his hands.
Bryan Mone – Penn State DT DaQuan Jones: The Michigan commit brings to mind current Big Ten DT Jones. Both are big bodies who can be a strong, stout presence inside against the run. The pair also has the ability to generate pressure as interior pass rushers, as they can press the pocket with a bull rush. Mone, like Jones possesses good initial quickness and lateral agility for his size to allow him to be active between the tackles. The No. 5-rated DT is a prospect in the mold of the Nittany Lions' senior defender. If he maximizes his abilities, Mone could be just as good a player, if not arguably have a better career in college.