Defensive Tackles Analysis
By Dave Te Thomas
This is the year if your favorite team needs to drastically upgrade at the defensive tackle position. There are four certain first rounders here, with at least two more vying for attention at the end of that round. This is the deepest position in the draft, yet the talent base here offers quite a variety for teams looking to plug holes in the middle of their defensive line.
After Haynesworth, look for Wendell Bryant and Ryan Sims to be selected before Henderson hears his name called. Bryant had a simply sensational workout for teams recently and many feel that he is the toughest and most-ready talent available here. Sims was the teams' darling after an impressive Senior Bowl, but he did not light it up in recent workouts. Still, he's secured a first round selection based on postseason action.
Trying to break into the first round, but more likely to be taken in the second, Eddie Freeman and Larry Tripplett are garbage-man types who seem to thrive on taking on double team coverage. Tripplett is more suited for nose guard in a 3-4 alignment, as he has an explosive burst coming off the center's head. Freeman was the touted "golden child" at Alabama-Birmingham, but did not get his act together until late in the season. His inconsistency allowed end Bryan Thomas to emerge from Freeman's shadows. Anthony Weaver has been touted as a possible late first rounder, but a so-so senior year could see him slip to two.
After that sextet, the quality takes a bit of a dip, but there is still plenty of quantity in these players with some redeeming value. Dorset Davis, Rocky Bernard and Justin Bannan all should hear their names called early on the draft's second day. Davis, a Tim Bowens type, has a world of potential, but just seems to go through the motions at times. Bernard's agility could see him shift to end, but his run containment skills are more suited inside. Bannan is very effective shooting the gaps and has the sudden burst needed.
Later in the draft, Mike Collins, Alan Harper, Nate Dwyer, Charles Hill, Brandon Moore and Aaron Kampman are all expected to go. Collins came on strong as a senior, but Harper has been a huge disappointment after a stellar junior campaign. Dwyer appears better suited to play nose guard, much like Hill. Moore put on an impressive performance in the weight room at the Combines while Kampman set a school record for tackles for losses.
Free agent gems may be found in a group headed by Clenton Ballard, David Pugh, Chad Beasley, Curry Dawson, Jerry Togiai and Antwan Lake.
MAKING THE GRADE…A+…Albert Haynesworth, Wendell Bryant, Ryan Sims and John Henderson should all go in that order during the first round.
Cream Of The Crop
Positives: Physical inside player with solid legs & thick arms…Moves well for a player his size, showing fluid lateral movement to make plays down the line…Holds his ground firmly & attacks blockers with aggression…His quick first step allows him to slant through & has the strong power charge to effectively get into the backfield…Punishing run defender with the quickness needed to slip blocks & penetrate gaps…Has the power to push the pocket & chases at a high intensity level…Out-muscles blockers with his strong, low charge… Quick & active with his hands in pass rushing situations…Very effective in clogging the rush lanes and appears very comfortable playing the one-gap system…Generates a crunching hand punch into the blocker's chest…Has the sudden burst off the snap to quickly collapse the pocket.
Negatives: Very inconsistent in his play, looking great on minute and then disappears for stretches…Gets too upright coming off the snap, negating his strong leg drive…Needs to extend his arms quicker coming off the ball to prevent blockers from getting into his chest…While he can collapse the pocket, he needs to recognize the play better, as he tends to overrun in pursuit… acks an array of spin moves to elude on the pass rush, spending too much time trying to out-muscle the blocker…Needs rip-&-swim move technique refinement.
Unheralded athlete who forced his way into the starting lineup as a junior, filling the void as All-American John Henderson struggled with injury problems…Was such a highly regarded reserve earlier in his career, that he earned Freshman All-American honors… Finished his career with 66 tackles (41 solos), five quarterback sacks and 20 stops behind the line of scrimmage…ook advantage of his impressive leaping ability to deflect nine passes during his three years with the varsity.
REMINDS YOU OF… Dan Wilkinson, Washington Redskins. Much like Wilkinson, this kid has it all, but unfortunately, he's just as inconsistent.
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL… He will be the first defensive tackle taken, with both Minnesota and Arizona vying for his services.
Best Of The Rest
Positives: Long-armed defender who has the ability to add at least 25 pounds to his frame with no losss of quickness…Shows a quick initial burst off the snap, with the sudden moves to gain advantage…Alert and aware of the plays, tracking the ball quickly…Has the leg drive and lower body strength to disengage from blockers at the point of attack…Also shows good functional power in his arms and hands to create separation, shed and maintain balance through the pile…Flashes power when anchoring to neutralize the combo blocks…Displays good effort in his lateral pursuit, exploding behind his hits with arms extended to wrap and secure…His hand punch is one of his best assets, using it very well to collapse the pocket…Shows the acceleration and surge to close on the quarterback in a flash…Very nimble moving his feet when flashing from the backside…Stays at a low pad level to split the double team and shows natural bull rush ability… as the knee bend to stack with good effect.
Negatives: Has good functional strength, but his frame lacks compact muscle definition… Has a small chest, shoulders and neck, a soft mid-section, average bone structure and adequate calf muscles…Seemed to have taken the rest of the 2001 season "off" after his five-sack performance vs. Penn State…While he flashes a very powerful hand punch, he has to show more consistency getting his hands into the blocker's chest…Seems to take too many plays off, though he's hard to handle when he puts his mind to it (makes plays in spurts)…Can be turned away from the play when he gets his pads up high.
Big-play specialist with tremendous quickness for a player his size…Started 37 games for the Badgers, recording 189 tackles (122 solos) with 24 quarterback sacks for minus 145 yards and 41 stops for losses of 187 yards…Caused and recovered three fumbles…Also deflected eight passes…His 24 sacks rank fifth on the school's career-record lists.
REMINDS YOU OF… John Randle, Minnesota Vikings. Much bigger than Randle, but he has those sudden moves to be a constant disruptive force in the backfield.
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL… Arizona won't cry losing out on Haynesworth if Bryant is still around. The only problem is, both Kansas City and Jacksonville, picking ahead of the Cardinals, also want Bryant playing for them.
Positives: Thick-framed athlete with large hands and great leg drive…Shows power in his initial burst off the ball…Locates the ball carrier quickly when stepping in to fill the rush lanes…Very effective at plugging the gaps at the line of scrimmage…Gives total effort when flushing the quarterback out of the pocket…Very active pass rusher who maintains balance while using his hands forcefully to gain leverage…Shows his nimble foot speed as he spins and turns in order to disengage from blockers on the rush…Gets his arms up immediately in passing situations, riding the blockers wide with his hands in their chest… Productive undersized hustler who is very effective in a one-gap system…Very effective making the plays on the move…Chases plays down the line with his strong lateral pursuit.
Negatives: Lack of height makes it tough for him to locate the ball…Strictly a one-gap, as he has to be moving to be effective…Has problems vs. the larger blockers, as his speed can not overcome his lack of size…Gets smothered at the point of attack, but can defeat blocks with his lateral agility.
Unheralded athlete who joined the Hawkeyes after a stellar career at Kilgore (Tex.) Junior College…Did not join the program until August, 2000, but quickly won a starting job… Recorded 111 tackles (68 solos) with 13 sacks for minus 57 yards and 21 stops for losses of 73 yards in 22 games as a Hawkeye.
REMINDS YOU OF… La'Roi Glover, Dallas Cowboys. Will probably not even be drafted, but is an ideal nose guard.
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL… Yes, he's short. Yes, he only has one year as a starter under his belt. Ask any offensive lineman in the Big Ten who they don't want to face the most and Pickens' name is generally mentioned.
Positives: Typical defensive tackle's body - big in the stomach, hips and chest…Has an explosive burst to instantly penetrate the backfield…Has a good feel for the ball and gets good leverage and pad level to hold at the point of attack and split the combo blocks… Shows proper rip moves, quickness and hand usage to defeat blocks…Plays at a high intensity level and has the range to pursue plays at the opposite end of the field…Drag- down tackler who will face up and drill the blocker in his quest to get to the ball carrier… Constantly is double-teamed, so uses that to his advantage by getting a strong push to flush the quarterback out of the pocket…Very adept at using his hands to cross face, shed and control his man…Has a fast burst when in pursuit.
Negatives: Very slender in his legs, which makes it tough for him to get good balance and leg drive when redirecting…Lack of height makes him lose vision on the ball at times…Seems to lack the instincts to quickly digest the plays, but has a relentless nature…While quick to penetrate, it results in more pressures than sacks as he does not consistently close on the quarterback…May have problems digesting a complicated playbook, due to his "less than stellar" approach to academics…Lacks the quickness needed to make plays out of the box…On his own "program" off the field, lacking maturity in his approach to classwork, but is regarded as a leader on the field.
Senior defensive tackle who has proven to be one of college football's premier defensive players…Called a "Warrior" by his coaches, he was awarded the most inspirational award last year by his teammates…A pass rusher who defends the run very well, he is very quick off the ball…Moved into the starting lineup early in his freshman season, finishing his career with 233 tackles (126 solos), 21 sacks for minus 132 yards and 54 stops for losses of 211 yards…Only Jethro Franklin (31.5, 1986-87) and Ron Cox (50, 1987-89) had more sacks in a career for the Bulldogs…Also caused and recovered three fumbles…The three-time All-Western Athletic Conference choice started 45 of 50 games he played in at Fresno State.
REMINDS YOU OF… Oliver Gibson, Cincinnati Bengals. Can be as good as the elite, but he just seems to go through the motions.
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL… Let's hope his horrible Combine workout convinced this kid that time is running out for him to produce. More likely, he's in for a shock on draft day.
First Day Possibilities
Positives: Has thick muscle mass, with a broad upper frame, wide butt and hips…Strong, aggressive defender with impressive lower body strength…Generates a strong surge off the snap, showing the explosive first step to gain advantage on the blockers…Has a good feel for blocking schemes, using his hands with force to keep opponents from attacking his feet…Has the overall strength and short area quickness to flash into the backfield to flush out the quarterback and the bulk to fill the inside gaps…Shows urgency getting to the ball and the balance to defeat blocks coming off the edge…Keeps his feet when chasing down ball carriers in the backfield…Closes with speed and uses his hands effectively to slip past blockers…Keeps very active with his arms when engaging and can quickly adjust to chase, showing an explosive burst when closing.
Negatives: Played tackle, but seems to struggle too much with multiple blocks to be effective playing inside in a two-gap system (motor shuts down vs. combo blocks)…Gets tied up and stuck on blocks at times, especially when his initial move does not work…Has the speed to make the chase in lateral pursuit, but needs to take better angles to the ball as he tends to fall to the ground a lot when trying to move through tight quarters…Lack of sustained speed is a concern past the line…Has to develop better arm swipes to prevent blockers from stranding him at the line of scrimmage.
Emotional leader who had the most experience on the defensive line…A very strong and physical player, he earned the highest honor in the school's weight room during the 2001 offseason…The three-year starter concluded his career with 167 tackles (83 solos), 14 sacks for minus 87 yards and 28 stops for losses of 117 yards.
REMINDS YOU OF… Trevor Pryce, Denver Broncos. His strength easily defeats combo blocks.
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL… Will go early in the draft, with both Indianapolis and Kansas City willing to bring him on board.
Positives: Flashes good explosiveness coming off the snap…Uses his hands effectively to neutralize combo blocks…Has that raw power needed to quickly shed, recovering off blocks in an instant to disrupt the plays in the backfield…Has excellent lateral agility in pursuit, closing with an explosive burst along the line of scrimmage…Uses his strength to work the offensive guards on the edge…Can accelerate into the backfield and quickly closes in on the ball…Has a very quick swim move and is very comfortable in either the one-gap or two-gap system…Uses his height and leaping ability well to disrupt the quarterback's vision when passing…Can create separation with his arm swipes…Has the wingspan to extend, wrap and secure the ball carrier at the perimeter.
Negatives: While instinctive, he tends to hesitate at times trying to diagnose the plays… Has had stamina problems, wearing down late in the games…Gives up too much of his body due to improper hand placement on the blocker (does not combat the blocker getting his hands into his chest)…Plays a little upright in his stance, which causes balance problems when trying to counter move…Showed inconsistency in his overall play as a senior, citing ankle and back injuries as the cause…Needs to show more dedication in the weight room and better eating habits, as he tends to get a little soft around the midsection.
One of the most decorated defensive players in Tennessee annals…The standout pass rusher suffered through an assortment of injuries as a senior, but still garnered most national post-season honors…The three-year starter collected 165 tackles (130 solos) during his career…His 20.5 quarterback sacks, rank fifth on the school's all-time record list…Also registered 39 stops behind the line of scrimmage and deflected seven passes, while recovering five fumbles and causing four others.
REMINDS YOU OF… Santana Dotson, Green Bay Packers. Once compared to Reggie White, the luster has disappeared off of this falling star.
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL… I just think his best play was left on the field at Tennessee. Still, a team like the Colts or Cardinals will settle for him as a consolation prize if the top three are gone.
Positives: Compactly built, with a thick neck, chest, shoulders and body frame that would be ideal in a 3-4 defensive alignment…Mature leader who has the sudden burst off the snap to quickly gain advantage…Holds his ground firmly vs. the trap blocks and double teams…Shows good second effort in pursuit…Has the functional strength needed to stop the ball carrier at the line of scrimmage…Uses his hands effectively to disengage when bull rushing…Has the short burst and extra surge needed to close on the quarterback… Has the lateral agility to step up and slip past blocks…Gets his hands up quickly to block the passer's vision at the line…Stays on his feet working through trash and shows a strong burst on the pass rush…Delivers a strong hand punch to prevent blockers from getting into his chest…Explodes through blocks and is very effective creating havoc coming off the edge.
Negatives: Has good power in his lower body (despite being knock-kneed), but runs upright and lacks the change of direction agility in pursuit (more suited for a straight-ahead charge)…Late to react coming off the snap, showing only adequate ability to locate the ball instantly…Has the arm strength, but will struggle to break through the contain- ment as he has problems with his rip-&-swim moves working when trying to disengage (keeps his arms too close to the body rather than extending to jolt)…Does not have the suddenness to adjust on the move, needing to restart in order to get back to the play when he over-pursues…More comfortable diagnosing pass plays, as he is very slow to locate the ball carrier when moving inline…Better playing in the box, as he tends to miss too many tackles working in space…His lack of lateral agility and size will see him move from college defensive end to tackle.
One of four captains for Notre Dame in 2001, Anthony is a tough, hard-nosed defender who has blossomed with four full seasons of experience behind him…Always a factor in the Irish pass rush, he is very physical and plays with great quickness and technique… Has become more comfortable and confident with his hand on the ground…Finished his career with 160 tackles (95 solos), 17 sacks for minus 71 yards and 42 stops for losses of 121 yards…Also caused six fumbles, recovered another, deflected ten passes and had three interceptions…His 42 stops behind the line of scrimmage rank second on the school's career-record list behind Ross Browner (77, 1973, 1975-77).
REMINDS YOU OF… Dana Stubblefield, San Francisco 49ers. Effective run stuffer, but like Stubblefield, only seems to be effective when surrounded by a strong supporting cast.
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL… The Jets are making noise about taking Weaver in the first round, but if Jason Ferguson is healthy, they will have to look on the offensive line first. Besides, I feel Weaver is more of a second rounder anyway.
Positives: Has solid upper body development with a wide chest and the frame that can add at least fifteen pounds with no loss of quickness…Combative type with outstanding explosion off the snap…Quick twitch player with the ability to quickly diagnose the plays…Has a strong anchor vs. the run, using vicious arm swipes to combat constant combo blocks…Uses his hands with aggression to shed and disengage…Active in pursuit, showing a fluid lateral slide…Strong tackler when he stays low in his pads…Intense pass rusher with excellent power behind his initial thrust…Keeps his hands active to prevent blockers from latching on…Will close and deliver the big hit flushing out the quarter-back…One-gap type who will chase down plays with vigor.
Negatives: Gets too high in his stance at times, losing balance when trying to anchor…Tends to get over-aggressive at times as he tries to out-muscle rather than using his array of spin moves… ometimes loses concentration during the game…Lacks the wide, natural base to play in a two-gap system…Will over-pursue, losing leverage in the process.
A four-year starter and one of the top-rated defensive linemen in the nation…One of the anchors of UAB's "Steel Shield" defensive front, Freeman is a terrific pass-rusher who played every position on the defensive line during his UAB career…Finished with 184 tackles (107 solos), 14.5 sacks for minus 134 yards and 36 stops for losses of 187 yards while also causing four fumbles, recovering three others and deflecting 15 passes.
REMINDS YOU OF… Marcus Stroud, Jacksonville Jaguars. Takes out the inside trash, but will struggle in passing situations.
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL… Certain to go on the draft's first day, the Eagles would not mind getting him in the second round to team with Corey Simon inside.
Positives: Solid, compactly built with a hard torso and long arms…Looks and plays like former Husky and St. Louis Rams' D'Marco Farr…Low in his stance, simply exploding off the snap to generate sudden movement into the backfield…Uses his arm swipes like clubs when defeating combo blocks…Feels and fights pressure with aggression, quickly penetrating to pursue, flush out and wrap up the quarterback…Holds his ground firmly at the point of attack and shows the lateral slide to make plays on the perimeter…Has a variety of rip-&-swim moves to elude and shed…Gives an intense effort on every play and constantly disrupts the flow in the opponent's backfield…Destroys interior blockers with his strong straight-line charge, using his quick swim moves to dominate on the bull rush…Very active with his hands, quickly getting into the blocker's chest to control and separate…His hand slaps effectively knock the blocker off-balance… Relentless and intent on getting to the quarterback…Rare lineman with the foot speed to drop off in the zone.
Negatives: Lacks the ideal height you look for in an interior lineman, but compensates with quickness and all-out effort…May be better suited for a one-gap scheme due to his size, as he needs to add more lower body power in order to be effective in the two-gap… While he penetrates to flush out the quarterback, he does not extend his arms properly to get his share of sacks…Can defeat combo blocks, but had difficulties splitting the double team as a senior.
All-out battler who is an extremely effective run stopper…Developed into a dominant pass rusher the last two years…Started 33 consecutive regular season games…Led a defensive unit known for its ability to dominate vs. the run…Recorded 115 tackles (74 solos) with 9.5 sacks for minus 80 yards and 32 stops for losses of 107 yards in 37 contests as a Husky.
REMINDS YOU OF… Grady Jackson, Oakland Raiders. It is his sudden burst off the snap and low center of gravity that makes him the disruptive force he is.
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL… For a team like New England, he'd be a perfect fit in the second round to take over at nose guard.
Positives: Imposing physical specimen with outstanding body thickness and good muscle tone…Strong run stopper who is very active in the middle, anchoring with strength while using his hands well to defeat combo blocks…Has the lateral agility to pursue down the line…Extends his arms properly to wrap and secure the ball carriers…Very powerful in his upper body, using his hands to jolt blockers back on their heels…Three-technique tackle who has the ability to cross the blocker's face to make the plays…Plays the double team well, using his hands to destroy that coverage…Reacts and finds the ball quickly when penetrating into the backfield…Has the balance and body control to stay on his feet when moving upfield…Has the lateral quickness to shoot the gaps and an explosive short burst to the ball carrier.
Negatives: Lower leg strength could use improvement, as he relies on his upper body power to get the job done…Gets cut too often as he tends to stay too high in his stance (has poor knee bend)…Better moving laterally, as he lacks linear quickness…Dominates the action early in the game, but as the game progresses, his lack of stamina prevents him from maintaining explosion and he gets exposed…When he tires, he will generally just reach out with his arms to make plays rather than wrap…More of a bull rusher, but while he flashes strong hands, he does not always extend them properly, causing him to struggle in attempts to shed…Left knee could be a medical concern…Tends to take a lot of plays off…Pass rushing skills are limited, as he is better suited for run containment due to a lack of a straight-line burst.
Came to MSU as one of the most highly recruited defensive linemen in the nation out of Mississippi Delta Community College…Two-year starter with great desire and intensity in his game…Recorded 150 tackles (79 solos) with four sacks for minus 28 yards and 13 stops for losses of 55 yards in 32 games as a Bulldog.
REMINDS YOU OF… Tim Bowens, Miami Dolphins. Like Bowens, he's a talented player, but you need a four-alarmer sometimes to light a fire under him.
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL… I think he's better suited for defensive end, as he seems to get caught up in the trash too much inside.
Second Day Possibilities
Positives: Thick-framed defender who reacts quickly coming off the snap, showing no hesitation reacting to the scheme…Has the strength to hold ground firmly at the point of attack…Uses his size well to anchor…Works well closing on the ball in the closed area, using his size and power to grab and wrapup inside…Has effective countrer moves on the pass rush…Shows effort working through the crease, using his hands properly to steer and turn the blockers.
Negatives: Seems to still be favoring his knee injury from 2000…Plays a little too upright coming out of his stance…The knee injury depleted his lateral agility, relying more on his strong initial straight-ahead burst…Gets into the backfield with power, but has problems splitting the double team…Needs to get more aggressive with his arm tackles…Lacks the second move needed when penetrating…More of a push-&-shove type when squaring up vs. the blocker, rather than trying to maul his opponent.
The only member of the Aggies' defensive line to start every game in 2001, Rocky returned to action with a vengeance, after sitting out the 2000 campaign with a knee injury…One of the defense's most experienced players with 33 starts under his belt, he totaled 170 tackles (89 solos) with 12 sacks for minus 59 yards and 33 stops for losses of 106 yards during his career.
Positives: Has thick muscle development in his arms and chest…Recognizes the plays and shows awareness getting to the ball…Holds his ground firmly at the point of attack and shows the power to stack…Uses his arms to defeat blocks…Wrapup tackler with explosiveness behind his hits…Can control combo blocks with his hand punch…Has a sharp burst to close on the quarterback once he gets past the blocker….All-out effort type with good functional power.
Negatives: Does not show that explosive initial step coming out of his stance…Has trouble disengaging from blocks, as he tends to try and outmuscle the opponent…He seems sluggish in his lateral movements, appearing to hesitate before sliding down the line…"Short arms" at times, which prevents him from gaining leverage on the pass rush as blockers quickly get into his chest…Not used much as a pass rusher due to a lack of quickness when closing.
Four-year starter who proved to be "tough as nails" in 2001, playing in every game despite a torn hamstring…The recipient of the 2001 Regiment Award, given by the coaches to the player who gave the greatest contribution with the least recognition, Justin closed out his career with 158 tackles (103 solos) with six sacks for minus 40 yards and 26 stops for losses of 87 yards in 44 games…Experienced every lineman's dream in 2000, as he lined up as a tight end vs. Missouri and caught a 12-yard touchdown.
Positives: Thick-body type who plays at a low pad level, firing off the snap with explosion and force…Redirects quickly and is very fluid when changing direction to slide down the line…Very alert to the play developing, easily diagnosing the action while searching out the ball…Uses his hands with impressive force to defeat combo blocks and extends his arms properly to keep blockers off his feet…Uses his sharp initial burst to penetrate and flush the quarterback out of the pocket…Has the speed needed to track the ball carrier down along the perimeter…High effort type whose motor is constantly going…Reads the pass scheme well and will get his hands up to block the quarterback's vision.
Negatives: Needs to add more bulk and muscle tone (short legs and soft stomach)…Has marginal foot agility when asked to cover in the short area passing game…Struggles at times to shed, as he does not consistently deliver the strong hand jolt needed to shed… His shorter than ideal arms prevent him from stacking the blockers at the line…Used mostly in a read scheme, rather than unleashing him to attack the ball.
Co-captain who is a big, strong, physical player who runs well and gives tremendous effort on every play…Three-year starter who has been a tremendous force in the middle…All-out competitor who commands respect from his opponents, as he constantly faced double team coverage…Closed out his career with 154 tackles (101 solos), 11 sacks for minus 58 yards and 25 stops for losses of 81 yards.
Positives: Wide-body type with excellent initial explosion off the snap…Quick through the gaps, using his hands effectively to defeat low blocks…Reacts well to combo blocks, maintaining a wide leg base to prevent opponents from knocking him off stride…Strong, physical inside rusher who has the lateral agility to make plays down the line…Uses his natural strength to gain leverage… His quickness and stocky frame makes it very hard for blockers to handle him in isolated coverage…Has the strength to lock up and the nasty nature to punish…His first step quickness allows him to get an edge on the blocker and he has that short area burst needed to flush the quarterback out of the pocket…Reads blocking schemes instantly and will bring his hips to square and wrap when tackling.
Negatives: Relies more on brute strength than technique…Has to be prodded constantly to stay in shape, as he does tend to run out of gas late in games…Lacks the acceleration needed to close on the ball, with his penetration into the backfield resulting in missed shots at the quarterback at times…Lacks body control when changing direction, needing to gather himself before taking off again…Needs to use his hands better to neutralize the double team…Best working in the short area, as he does not display the burst to get to the second level…Looks simply unstoppable on one play, then he will lean on blockers and take several series off.
A destructive interior lineman who has provided several memorable sequences during his time with the Jayhawks…Demonstrates surprising athletic skills for his size…Started 45 consecutive games…Boasts tremendous brute force, evident when he posted a personal-best 600-pound squat lift in the 2001 spring testing…Finished his career with 175 tackles (88 solos), 16 sacks for minus 106 yards and 31 stops for losses of 139 yards…Also had two interceptions, five fumble recoveries and three forced fumbles…His 16 sacks and 31 stops behind the line of scrimmage rank fourth on the school's career-record list.
Positives: Has the initial first step needed to gain advantage when engaging…Has the strength to hold ground at the point of attack…Shows good pursuit and lateral agility to string plays wide…Hits and wraps with authority, driving with his legs to push the pile back…Has the short area quickness to flush the quarterback out.
Negatives: Does not have the instincts to quickly locate the ball…Plays too tall coming off the ball, which prevents him from maintaining body control…Tends to struggle vs. double team and is very slow to disengage when stacked…Shows poor hand technique coming on the bull rush…Will only deliver a passive hand jolt.
Two-year starter at nose guard who boasts a 400-pound bench press and a 630-pound squat…In 39 games for the Terps, he delivered 165 tackles (84 solos) with six sacks for minus 46 yards and 17 stops for losses of 62 yards.
Positives: Has a wide upper body with good muscle tone in the arms…Has the strength needed to stack and hold with effectiveness…Good wrapup tackler in closed quarters… Uses his hands to jolt blockers upon contact…Tracks the quarterback with good quickness.
Negatives: Lacks lower body development…Has marginal change of direction ability and lateral agility…Spends too much time trying to disengage from blockers…Bit undersized and has a poor burst into the pocket…Works best in the short area when unblocked…Has durability and strength, but little explosion or consistency.
Three-year starter who is one of the strongest players on the team, boasting a 475-pound bench press…In 46 games, he recorded 155 tackles (96 solos) with 13 sacks for minus 65 yards and 23 stops for losses of 79 yards.
Positives: Has a frame that can add at least fifteen pounds with no loss in speed…Shows firm hips and a solid lower body definement…High character type who constantly works on improving his craft…Has the leg drive to hold his ground firmly at the point of attack… Shows a quick closing burst in pursuit, using his hands effectively to avoid the low blocks…Collegiate end whose straight-ahead quickness and good hand usage may be better suited for tackle in the pros…Has the arm flexibility to fight through blocks and uses his strong lower base to protect ground at the point…Moves low off the snap, making precise decisions as he reads and diagnoses the plays… Has good rip-&-swim moves to defeat blocks and the short area burst to flush the quarterback out of the pocket.
Negatives: Despite taking taekwondo lessons, he seems too passive taking on blockers… Needs to show more aggression coming out of his stance, as he "short arms" too much, which lets blockers get their hands into his chest too much…Needs to show much better dedication in the weight room…Has a lean body, with slight upper frame muscle develop- ment…Loses sight of the ball when engaging combo blocks…Will hustle in pursuit, but lacks the acceleration to get to the second level…Does not have the fluid change of direction ability needed to develop any consistency as a pass rusher…Lacks that sudden burst sliding down the line.
One of five seniors selected to team Leadership Group for 2001 season, he moved from linebacker to defensive end prior to 2000 spring practice, starting the last three years for the Hawkeyes…Finished his career with 342 tackles (209 solos), 18 quarterback sacks for minus 100 yards and 30 stops for losses of 135 yards…Also had three interceptions and eight pass deflections while causing four fumbles and recovering two others…His 342 tackles rank seventh on the school's career-record list.
Positives: Has a thick body frame capable of handling at least twenty more pounds of bulk… Comes off the snap with quickness, flashing the ability to adjust on the move…Has fluid lateral agility, showing the effort and aggression to get to the ball…Has the body flexibility to stack at the point of attack…Accelerates in pursuit, using his hands with power to jolt and fend off the blockers…Looks natural reacting to run plays, showing suddenness in his movements to close… Has the burst to close in the short area…Generates that extra surge needed after separation when closing, giving a good second effort to flush the quarterback out…Flips his hips properly and shows good balance moving through traffic.
Negatives: Needs to dedicate more hours in the weight room, as he has marginal raw power and could use some muscle refinement, as his body appears too smooth…Does not always locate the ball quickly when penetrating…Tends to get too high in his stance, causing blockers to knock him off-balance…Does not extend his arms properly, causing him to struggle to contain and disengage due to his lack of power…Shows too much inconsistency when shedding, getting his arms tangled up trying to get into the blocker's chest…Gives a good effort on the pass rush, but his minimal strength in this area prevents him from getting good penetration…Sluggish moving upfield and adjusting to the play outside the box…Does not get his hands up quick enough to prevent blockers from attacking his feet…Could be a medical concern, as he's recovering from a torn medial collateral ligament in his right knee…Has improved his work habits, but does tend to develop a "lazy" streak…Struggles to defeat combo blocks, getting knocked around on occasion.
Three-year starter who was having a fine senior campaign until being sidelined by a knee injury…Tough inline battler who constantly faced double-teaming throughout his career… The physical run stuffer recorded 214 tackles (106 solos) with three sacks for minus 18 yards and 24 stops for losses of 54 yards, starting 28 of 41 games he played in.
Positives: Well-built with solid muscle definition and the frame to add at least fifteen more pounds…Quickly diagnoses the plays and has above average lateral agility in pursuit… Plays at a good pad level, showing strength at the point of attack to gain leverage…Has good hand placement, using his jolt to press the gaps…Uses his leg drive well to push the pocket…Sees blocking schemes effectively and is very adept to pick up the screens…Has great character and is a dependable leader.
Negatives: Needs to improve his overall strength, as he tends to get pushed around by the larger blockers…Has narrow hips and shoulders…Lacks explosion coming off the snap and is slow to shoot the gaps…More of a push-the-pocket type than one that initiates contact…Does not have the closing speed to be effective as a pass rusher.
Two-year starter who was relied upon for his leadership ability…Comes from an excellent football background, as his father, Tom, starred at Virginia Tech as a defensive lineman before going on to play for Pittsburgh and Washington in the NFL and his cousin, Jake Houseright, was the Hokies' starting middle linebacker…In 44 games, he recorded 182 tackles (74 solos) with six sacks for minus 38 yards and 21 stops for losses of 68 yards.
Positives: Has very good agility, quick feet and solid balance…Smart player with a sudden burst off the snap…Has the strength to maintain position at the point of attack and split the double team…Reads schemes well and shows very quick hands with proper placement…Fluid in his lateral agility and is very hard to bring down…Has a quick closing burst and effective rip-&-swim moves for the pass rush…Gets his feet into the neutral zone and redirects instantly.
Negatives: Bit undersized, but makes up for it with his sudden moves…More of a finesse type of pass rusher, but plays at a good pad level…More comfortable coming on straight ahead rather than looping and twisting…Needs to add bulk in order to be effective at the next level vs. the larger blockers.
Good old country boy type who simply loves to play the game…Despite giving up size and bulk to the offensive lineman, he rarely is taken down and plays at a very high intensity level…Recorded 170 tackles (95 solos) with 13.5 sacks for minus 106 yards and 41 stops for losses of 192 yards in 43 games.
Positives: Wide-bodied athlete with thick arms and a massive chest…Very aggressive plugging the rush lanes, playing at a low pad level to slip past blocks…Shows the ability to quickly locate the ball and the awareness skills to get his hands up in passing situations… Has the power to stack and control at the line of scrimmage…Displays the lateral agility to ward off low blocks and accelerate to the ball…Will hit, wrap and stop the backs on contact…Flashes fluid swim moves to gain gap penetration…Uses his hands effectively to separate and disengage.
Negatives: Despite his ability to fill the holes at the line, he frequently gets high in his stance, causing him to look a little hesitant on the move…Reaches and grabs sometimes attempting to tackle…Plays too tall at the line of scrimmage, lacking the body control to consistently flush out the quarterback…Needs to play with steady consistency, as he struggles to come back when his initial move does not work.
Late bloomer who emerged as a run-stuffing force in his senior year…Versatile and quick enough to play any position on the defensive front wall…Recorded 170 tackles (104 solos) in 39 games, including seven sacks and 20 stops for losses of 73 yards.