Jake Dixon continues This Is SportsZone’s 2014 Draft Preview, with his take on the top five Defensive Tackles prospects for the Draft.

1. Aaron Donald, Pitt HT/WT: 6’0” / 284 LBs

It was a tough choice between Aaron Donald and Timmy Jernigan, but it’s hard to argue with Donald’s consistent play and overall body of work. In 4 years playing for Pittsburgh, Donald amassed 115 solo tackles, 66 assisted tackles, for a total of 181 tackles. 66 of those, were TFL (tackles for loss); which is an incredible number, to go with those 66 TFL, he also had 29.5 sacks. His body of work stuck him out as the clear cut #1 defensive tackle. Although, depending on who he’s drafted by, could result in a move to the defensive end position.

Scouting Report:
-Super athlete
-Good mix of power and speed
-Elite hands and feet
-Very explosive
-Strong bull rush
-Good anchor for his size
-Good amount of collegiate experience
-Good motor
-Can be overpowered
NFL Player Comparison: Sheldon Richardson
Projected pick: Top 15

2. Timmy Jernigan, FSU HT/WT: 6’2” / 298 LBs

Jernigan has been a dominating force for the Florida State Seminoles since taking over the defensive tackles position in 2011. Although Jernigan had a down year in 2012, he had a nice bounce back 2013, where he had 63 tackles, 11 of which were TFL and 4.5 sacks. Jernigan was a big anchor for the Seminole defense which helped lead Famous Jameis and the Noles to a National Championship.

Scouting Report:
-Above average block shedder
-Stays in his lanes
-Quick hands
-Can split gaps and cut into the backfield
-Solid tackler
-Nimble, cut blocks don’t bother him
-Not many developed power moves
-Stamina issues, make take plays off
NFL Player Comparison: Glenn Dorsey
Projected Pick: Top 20

3. Ra’Shede Hageman, Minn HT/WT: 6’6” / 311 LBs

I think that with the emergence of athletic big men at the DT and DE positions like Sheldon Richardson, JJ Watt and Ndamukong Suh, teams are enamored with finding that kind of athleticism and talent all combined into one, with Donalds body of work, its hard to argue. Jernigan is the more solid prototypical DT. That’s why I have those two coming off the board over Hageman. Hageman was a 4-yr player for the Minnesota Golden Gophers, and began starting in 2011. Since taking over as a starter, Hageman has 86 total tackles, 24 TFL, 10 Sacks, 1 INT, and 7 PDF. Hageman solidified himself as a 1st round pick IMO (who could play 3-4 DE) after having a good week of practice at the Senior Bowl, and a solid NFL Combine performance.

Scouting Report:
-Good athleticism at his size
-Good frame
-Disruptive player
-Clogs the middle
-Fights through double teams
-Good hands (swats passes)
-Strong on the nose of the ball
-Needs developing
-Bad pad level at times
-Not very good backfield vision
NFL Player Comparison: Calais Campbell
Projected Pick: 1st Round

4. Ego Ferguson, LSU HT/WT: 6’3” / 315 LBs

Ego Ferguson is my sleeper pick at this position. Ferguson played 3 years at LSU, but only started games this past season, where he was a disruptive force for the Tigers defense. His junior season, he recorded 58 tackles, 3.5 TFL and 1 sack. He would have graded out better, had he returned to school for his senior season. He is deceptively quick, and agile; which are two parts of his skill set that catches opposing teams off guard. He grades out as a late 2nd round DT. But solid numbers at the combine should begin moving him up teams draft boards.

Scouting Report:
-Tall, with a good, proportionate body
-Good hands
-Deceptively fast
-Decent on POA
-Long arms
-Good instincts
-Decent footwork
-Not much collegiate experience
-Sometimes over powered by bigger lineman
-Can be easily pushed around if gassed
-Needs coaching
NFL Player Comparison: BJ Raji
Projected Round: Early 2nd Round

5. Louis Nix, ND HT/WT: 6’2” / 331 LBs

Nix was once considered a possible Top-10 pick. Nix was a 3 year starter for the Fighting Irish. He was hurt in this recent season, and missed a significant amount of time. In 3 years playing at Notre Dame, he compiled 122 tackles, 14 TFL, 2.5 Sacks, and 8 PD. He was a dominant force for a Notre Dame defense that needed just that. Nix had a decent combine, after slimming down from 357 LBs to 331 LBs. Nix had a torn meniscus in November of last year, and that has hurt his draft stock, along with a disappointing season. Look for Nix to be selected early in the 2nd round.

Scouting Report:
-Can set the edge
-Good run defender
-Collegiate experience
-Good upside
-Takes on the double teams
-Good power moves
-Sheds blocks
-Conditioning issues
-Concern with knee
-Needs coaching
NFL Player Comparison: Vince Wilfork
Projected Round: Early 2nd Round

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1 Comment

  1. Jon says:

    Nice piece.

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