Stacking up the Pile: Defensive Tackles Ranked

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I have reached my next to last evaluation stage on all the DTs that I intended to cover for the 2009 draft.  All that is left at this point is to answer any questions related to these prospects that can be addressed at the combine.

Some notes about how I am going to line out this list:  First, I am listing them in the order that they are likely to go off the board, not how I have them personally rated against eachother.  To get this inital order I have averaged a sample of mock drafts and draft analysis sites with histories of proper valuation, including WalterFootball.com and NFL DraftCountdown.com.  I then rank the players by a star (***) system, with more stars meaning a better fit, or more clearly addresses a need,  etc.  For the most part I have thrown out players that I do not care to evaluate for the purposes of the Broncos roster.  DTs like Chris Baker, Hampton, are not worth my time, no matter their talent.  If you feel otherwise, by all means cover them!

The profile pages for many of these prospects, while included, are sparse on information, and many of them are late round guys with only my own information provided, as no one else has any info up for them yet.  Two points about this:  One, that means some bias.  You would do well to keep tabs on players I rank highly, in order to stay objective about them.  Two, the short notes in the profile page are only the tip of the iceberg, from scanning my handwritten notes.  It takes time to get them into a database, so copy/paste isn't available to me on most of them yet, and space is limited in the profiles.  That means if you have additional questions about the prospects, Please Ask! Overall, I would say this DT class is much deeper than last years class, and I see prospects in every round that could find roles and good fits in Denver.

Lets check out the rankings:

 

DT-BJ Raji 

1st

BJ Raji, Boston College: Raji looks to have stormed into the top ten, and with any luck, he will be gone before we pick.  The reason I say that, is despite how well he fits what we are doing scheme wise, he is a poor fit for a team looking for character and defensive leaders.  Motivation issues abound with him, and he plays inconsistently.  Some team will get a talented, but high-maintenance player, and I just hope it isn't us, because if he is there at #12, it will be tough to find anyone else who rates higher than five stars.

DT-Peria Jerry

1st

Peria Jerry, Mississippi: Peria has the motivation and high motor that Raji lacks, but is less than ideal to anchor a 3-4.  As a 4-3 3-tech he is an undeniable talent.  Does he rate, high enough to be drafted at #12?  Depends on who is left.  I rate him at four stars, and I think the Broncos should be targeting 5 stars or better with the #12.

DT-Evander Hood

2nd

Evander Hood, Missouri: The middle of the second round may be too early for Hood, but he has a tremendous football attitude and ethic.  But as a NT he may not be the ideal choice.  Sliding him over to DE in the 3-4 would suit him well, and provide a significant runstopping and pocket collapsing presence.  My guess is that we would end up weighing his value against any number of talented safeties and LBs at this spot, but his four star rating may be hard to beat.

DT-Sen'derrick Marks

2nd-3rd

Sen'derrick Marks, Auburn: This prospect should only be looked at as a rushing DE.  Spotty track records with character and injuries make me lean towards dismissing him altogether, but he has legitimate talent with good speed.  As a two star fit with the Broncos he won't be able to slip down the boards far enough for Denver to consider him.

DT-Ron Brace

2nd-3rd

Ron Brace, Boston College:  Brace looks and plays much like Raji, though he has much less talent.  He, too, suffers from motivation issues, and benefitted greatly from routine one-on-ones.  He did show an ability to handle double teams, but a recurring back injury makes me uneasy about competing for his services.  Not enough talent here to pursue him aggressively, but if he slips to the middle of the fourth, his three star fit at NT could net us some needed size and depth.

DT-Fili Moala

2nd-3rd

Fili Moala, USC: While Fili may have the size to be considered a NT (and he could easily add more), the Broncos would be better off passing on this limited prospect.  Moala has an amazing motor and intensity, but is reckless, and will undoubtedly have problems absorbing the playbook of a 3-4 scheme.  He lacks the versatility to be both run and pass as a NT, and has limited value at DE.  He would however be a tremendous help in the run game, and he is one of the few NT prospects that I am confident would adjust well to altitude.  As a mid third round pick, his four star value should hold its own against possible oline considerations.  Earlier than that and Denver is taking a chance on a rotational player that is doubtful to start from day one.

DT-Dorell Scott

4th

Dorell Scott, Clemson: If Scott's late season injuries check out, and Denver hasn't looked at significant tackle depth to this point, Dorell should draw a long hard look.  Some of the best dline coaching in college occurs at Clemson, and he shows a high technical grasp of his position.  He could be an easy choice to move to DE in the 3-4, where he would provide both rush and pass support.  My one worry is that he seems to need more conditioning, an issue that will be overlooked at the combine.  As a fifth or later his three star value could net us a powerful hybrid for the 3-4/4-3.

DT-Vance Walker

4th

Vance Walker, Georgia Tech:  With luck, Walker will draw teams fire if they are looking DT in the fourth, which would allow prospects like Scott and Taylor to slip to later.  Walker would suit the DT depth considerations of a 4-3, and he could possibly move to DE in the 3-4, but overall he is a poor fit for the Broncos going forward.  Two stars virtually guarantee that the Broncos will look elsewhere.

DT-Terrance Taylor 

5th

Terrance Taylor, Michigan: Denver would be very lucky to pick up this 4-star value in the fifth.  He should be the last "pure" NT prospect to come off the board, and thus represents Denver's last realistic chance to cull a starter who could start for many teams.  Taylor has significant conditioning issues, and if he addresses them before the combine, expect his stock to start to soar.  A fit and conditioned Taylor could be a good find even in the third.

DT-Corvey Irvin

5th-6th

Corvey Irvin, Georgia: This junior transfer to the Bulldogs filled in for an injured starter admirably, and should be strongly considered as a developmental prospect.  His natural speed and size, coupled with strident efforts to get stronger create a package of potential that will require teams to start considering him early.  In my opinion, Denver should pass and look for better value, but three stars may be hard to beat in the fifth round.

DT-Sammie Lee Hill

6th

Sammie Lee Hill, Stillman: This high character player is low value enigma.  Two stars may seem low for a player with the terrific character of Hill and the incredible size, but this may be a case where the Broncos need to stay true to the fundamentals of their (likely) system.  For all his girth and will, Hill has epic trouble beating double teams, and his coaches actually went out of their way to find ways to get him lined up one-on-one.  He can be taken out of the game very easily and altitude may be the wrong place to try to teach him to take on double teams.  A terriffic young man, but a poor fit for the 3-4 NT.  For the truly adventurous, trying him at End is a possiblity, but reeks of gimmick.

DT-Ra'Shon Harris

6th

Ra'shon Harris, Oregon: This high potential prospect rates out at two stars.  Limited playing time, a biceps tear, and delayed development should send his stock to the latest parts of the draft.  As a developmental prospect, he is a terrific fit and value for Denver in the sixth-seventh.  He struggles with many aspects of the game, like learning to use his hands, not letting his height count against him or sticking with the play.  But  his ability to handle double teams is for real.  He even shows flashes of being able to split double teams, making him even more versatile.  The sixth round isn't too early to look at Harris as a practice squader with a bright future at NT.

DT-Darryl Richard

7th

Darryl Richard, Georgia Tech: The most underrated player on the Yellowjackets line, he may also be its most legitimate.  The complicated attacking scheme has put his linemates high in the draft, where I feel they are overvalued, but Richard's leadership and intelligence, as well as his consistent production and ability to battle double teams as well as any player in the draft out side of the 1st round, make Richard my DT Steal of the Draft.  His intelligence can't be rated highly enough in my opinion, and he is a lockerroom leader who gets the most out of his teammates.  I have some questions about his conditioning which will be answered at the combine, as well as questions about his reconstructed knee (after freshman season).  But in the seventh round I think he is a surefire selection and a huge value.  3 stars in the seventh is going to be very hard to beat, and would make him a consideration even in the sixth.

DT-Khalif Mitchell

7th

Khalif Mitchell, ECU: Mitchell's size and athleticism are rare and will get a very serious look if he lasts until the seventh round.  Unfortunately he doesn't quite seem to have control of all his faculties at this time.  He was a late career transfer, but he flashes some terrific potential for such a late Dline pick.  I would actually bump him up to a three star, except that I think he would fit best as a 3-4 end, where he could adapt to his skills more naturally, and he has some ankle and foot injuries that need to be cleared.  As is, I believe he checks in at two stars.

DT-Roy Miller

7th-FA

Roy Miller, Texas: This one really intrigues me, and I would be 100% behind Denver going after him as a CFA.  But the risk may be too high if he starts to climb up into the earlier rounds.  The tape doesn't lie, and Miller made significant contributions to the Longhorns defensive efforts.  But he is a poor fit for Denver at NT, and I don't believe Denver should be targetting DE late in the draft, unless they have a history of beating double teams.  Miller plays on the lighter, quicker side of the 300-lb benchmark, and his special teams contributions alone would be worth the price.  With luck he could be one of the highest rated CFAs on Denver's board, but he won't remain unnoticed for long.  Two stars.

DT-John Faletoese

7th-FA

John Faletoese, Cal Davis: This one star CFA prospect is a pure football player, making up for what he lacks in size and strength with the tenacity and technical knowhow that could make him a good developmental prospect as a DT/DE hybrid.  Outside of college free agency I can't see Denver spending the time to acquire him, but there aren't likely to be a whole lot of fits of even one star caliber floating around at that point.  Denver will have to consider his level of competition however, and decide if his dominance is more a reflection of him, or them.

 

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