2010 NFL Draft Watch: Defensive tackles (part 1)

 So, the community has spoken, and its wishes are as follows:


1. Defensive line

2. Offensive line

3. Linebacker

4. Quarterback

5. Receiver

6. Offensive backfield

7. Special teams

8. Defensive backfield


This is the order in which I will proceed with my analysis of 2010 Draft prospects.  If you need a refresher on the rules of the game, the original post is HERE.  In brief, I will be looking at guys at each position category with a Broncos filter, taking into account their fit into the Broncos' scheme and/or player profile.  The end goal is to create a "short board" of Bronco-friendly players that may help make draft day a little easier for all of us, so comments and rec's are highly... well, recommended.  And greatly appreciated.

I initially was going to only look at rounds 1-3, but then I realized that one of the major reasons why I wanted to do this for myself was to increase name recognition for the guys picked in the later rounds, before they actually became Broncos.  Rounds 1-3 wasn't going to do anybody much good.  So, I expanded the search to Rounds 1-5, outside of which it will become pretty much a crapshoot for us fans without inside knowledge and one-on-one contact with the players.  The downside to this is that an already daunting project will get bigger.  So, I'm going to split this into pieces as space dictates.  I will begin with the defensive tackles and will move on to defensive ends when the conversation dies down.

I scoured mock drafts and "expert" (I feel like I need a shower all of a sudden) opinion and compiled a more or less consensus of opinion regarding when player X will be available.  We all know the vagaries of Draft Day, so take that with a grain of salt, but it is as good of a starting point as we can get.  After a few brief words, I will offer a final analysis on each player, giving them a "star" grade: 5 means they were born to wear Orange and Blue, 4 means they are an excellent fit, 3 means they are a good but not great fit, and anything below that I'll just list the players along with some quick thoughts as to why I think they don't fit McDaniels' somatotype.

This will be long enough as it is without me yammering on, so let's begin!


Ndamakong Suh  (6-4, 302 lbs)  Nebraska, #93

Projected pick: Top 5 5-star prospect



We all know the hype, and in this case it is justified.  Mel Kiper, the best financially backed foremost draft guru out there, says this:

Suh has become maybe the most dominating defensive tackle I've seen in 32 years of breaking down tape and analyzing prospects year-round. He'll make an instant impact for whichever team is lucky enough to land him.

I'll not beat a dead horse here; the only way we really have a shot at him is a long-shot trade with either the Rams or the Bucs for B-Marsh.  That being said, he projects as a 3-4 DG in our scheme, in my opinion in the 3-tech position, but he has the ability to play NT just as well.  While he has a quick first step, he is not quite as explosive as McCoy is, which puts his best strength as a run-stopper.  Scouts, Inc. has this to say about his abilities here:

Plays with a great motor. High-effort player... Displays good lower-body strength and excellent upper-body power... He keeps separation, finds the ball quickly and then disengages in a hurry in order to pursue the ball carrier. Displays good overall awareness. Will work down the line of scrimmage and make more plays than most DTs. Works hard to the whistle.  

Don't mistake me, however: he is still a superb bull rush-style pass rusher who has top-end speed to track down mobile QBs.  All signs point to a great fit with the Broncos, but the chance of him actually donning orange and blue are slim. 



Gerald McCoy  (6-4, 298 lbs)  Oklahoma, #93

Projected pick: Top 5 5-star prospect



McCoy is the flip side of the coin to Suh.  Some people (Mike Mayock, for one), rank McCoy higher but they are in the minority.  The general consensus is that Suh's game is more polished and balanced (Suh had 4 INTs, for example).  McCoy possesses the elite quick step off the snap that Suh lacks, but is not as bulky as Suh.  In short, he is a better pass rusher but not as good of a run-stuffer.  In our scheme, he projects to a 5-tech 3-4 DG.

I might be tempted to give him 4 1/2 stars, since we need a run-stuffer more than a pass-rusher on the line.  What is great about him, however, are his personal qualities:

Shows toughness to play through nagging injuries... He is a well-respected leader and was voted a team captain. Serves as president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Also a member of the AFCA good works team

Like Suh, we're not likely to get him.  But believe me, it would be really nice for us if we did.



Brian Price  (6-2, 300 lbs)  UCLA, #92

Projected pick: 1st round 5-star prospect



A lineman who is considered just behind Suh and McCoy in terms of NFL readiness.  His stats jump out at you: 23 1/2 tackles for a loss and 7 sacks in 2009.  Price's skill is getting into the opposing backfield, doing it quickly, and reliably dropping the guy with the ball.  The Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year, New Era Scouting says this about him:

Flows to the action well and is often found in or near the play. Will shoot the gaps and alter the lane of a running back. Does get locked on to if the intitial explosion off the snap isn’t there. Not a stout run defender that eats up blocks or space, rather a penetrator that can make plays in the backfield... Savvy when he breaks in to the backfield. Times his pursuit well and can easily take a runner down by himself. Shows good form and attacks the waist of a running back. Wraps up well and doesn’t let go

As good as he is vs. the run, he is just as good vs. the pass.  Not only does he have elite upper-body strength, he has a wide repertoire of pass rush moves.  The knock against him is his lower-body strength, which coupled with his lack of serious mass projects him to a 5-technique 3-4 DG.  And what do you know?  We need one of those.  His motor is described as "relentless", so check that box as well.  Would you like to have the next Reggie White in Orange and Blue?  Well, that's who Price models his game after and wants to be.

You Tube video


Edit alert: dropped 1/2 star from Price's score


Dan Williams  (6-2, 329 lbs)  Tennessee, #55

Projected pick: 1st round 5-star prospect



An MHR favorite, Dan Williams is guy who based on his career path invites comparisons to a current Bronco: Robert Ayers.  At Tennessee, he came into college without much hype but exploded into the consciousness of draft gurus during his senior year.  Based on his size and his low center of gravity, he projects as a 3-4 NT in our scheme.  In fact, he is unquestionably the top NT prospect in this draft.

His strengths are his leverage and upper-body strength, which Scott Wright of describes as "fantastic".  Due to his ability to occupy two blockers and clog running lanes, Wright calls Williams' talents vs. the run as "outstanding".  Still, there are some serious red flags:

Extremely inconsistent --- Effort / Motor runs hot and cold ... Talented prospect who can be as good as he wants to be but shaky intangibles are a big concern

Also, the consensus is that he is one-dimensional, having limited pass-rushing ability and essentially relying on his brute strength to be effective.  Personally, I think that many "motor" issues can be rectified in the NFL, due to the higher level of competition, higher stakes, and better coaching.  Much will depend on the personal interview.  For now, however, he gains major points for filling an area of need (run-stuffing NT) but loses signficant points for lacking the desire that McDaniels & Co. usually look for.  At his position, that is more than a little disconcerting.

You Tube video


Edit alert: added 1/2 star to Williams' score


Jared Odrick  (6-5, 301 lbs)  Penn State, #91

Projected pick: 2nd round 5-star prospect



The Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, Odrick has an excellent combination of height, bulk, weight, and speed.  His best asset is his pre-snap anticipation, followed closely by his strength and versatility.  He has played the 3 and 5-technique, the latter in 2009.  For the Broncos, he would play the 5-technique 3-4 DG.  Whereas Price is a disruptive force in the backfield, Odrick's specialty is holding his position and not getting taken out completely by double-teams.  I hope other NFL teams are scared off by his lack of production, because he has all the physical tools and some excellent McDaniels-favored qualities:

Extremely competitive and works hard to fight through blocks.   (Scouts, Inc.)

Active with a non-stop motor... Aggressive --- Competitive --- Smart with superb instincts and awareness --- Hard  worker --- Some schematic versatility  (

I'll make no secret that I like this guy a lot for the Broncos, because he fills a position of extreme need (quality 5-tech), does so cheaply, and has some very good upside with coaching.  Being an Illini fan, that endorsement should mean a lot.  While he might not be 100% ready to step in right now, targeting him should allow us to get a few other guys that could step in right away, and he's not far off.

You Tube video


Edit alert: added 1/2 star to Odrick's score


Arthur Jones  (6-3, 295 lbs)  Syracuse, #97

Projected pick: 2nd-3rd round 5-star prospect



A fascinating prospect, called him "a poor man's Ndamukong Suh... and that's not a bad thing" during the 2009 preseason (they ranked him #13 overall in the nation at that time).  Then he tore a pectoral muscle in February, underwent surgery in March, played while not fully healed for 9 games, and then had knee surgery.  Obviously, durability is a concern.  Still, his talent is impossible to ignore, as is his production his previous two years: 51 tackles (17.5 for a loss) as a sophomore, 60/13.5 as a junior.  He doesn't get a lot of sacks, but consistently commanded double-teams and collapsed the pocket despite this fact. raves about his "great hustle" and states:

Makes tackles just after disengaging from blockers, even if he only gets one hand on the ballcarrier. Hustles and chases plays down the line and downfield, which is why his tackle totals are so high for an interior lineman

He was a state champ in wrestling in high school, which is the source of much of his talent at creating pressure in the backfield.  He doesn't quite have as quick of a first-step burst as we really want in a 5-tech, but he would make an excellent 3-tech DG.  In fact, he could also rotate in and take snaps at NT with his tackling ability.  But he's got to stay healthy.  In fact, he reminds me a whole lot of Marcus Thomas, but with significantly better run-stopping ability and slightly less pass-rushing potential.  But here's the finishing touch:

Permanent positive attitude makes him a favorite of coaches and teammates. Has grown into a leadership role during his career

You Tube video



Lamarr Houston  (6-3, 302 lbs)  Texas, #36

Projected pick: 2nd-3rd round 5-star prospect



Compact, powerful, agile, and competitive.  That's Houston in a nutshell.  Those of you who liked Evander "Ziggy" Hood for 2009's draft, I give you your new man-crush.  Sergio Kindle and Earl Thomas got most of the press during the season at Texas, but Houston was no slouch.  At only 6-3 and still over 300 lbs, his agility belies his size. raves about him:

Extremely agile for a 300-pounder and works relentlessly to reach the quarterback...  Excellent pursuit down the line [on run plays]... strong and has a good punch with violent hands to disengage. Uses low center of gravity to keep leverage against the run... Very strong tackler, comes with aggression and does not let go once in contact with the ballcarrier

The two main problems he seems to have are: 1) unusual 3-point stance from the 5-tech position (see picture), and 2) fears that bigger NFL linemen will engulf him and/or negate his strength advantage.  These are legitimate, but I see in that a versatile lineman who will always work his butt off, even when "engulfed".  Some further notes about his personality confirm this:

Very competitive. Has an above-average motor and is willing to play hurt. Generally quiet, but took over vocal defensive line leadership role as a senior

Here is a guy who steps up when his team needs him.  His performance in the BCS Championship game speaks to that: 10 tackles, 2 for a loss, and a sack.  I see him as a 3-technique DG with 5-technique potential and very solid run-stuffing ability.





Terrence Cody  (6-4, 370 lbs)  Alabama, #62

Projected pick: 2nd round 5-star prospect

 Size, size, and more size.  Much like Taylor Mays, he had a stellar 2008 season and was exposed in 2009 for some glaring flaws in his game.  The questions haven't stopped, with a Senior Bowl weigh-in of 370 lbs -- up 16 from his listed weight at Alabama.  Maybe he learned from Andre Smith last year.  Just look at this picture.  This is more than just weight -- it's conditioning, motivation, drive, and character.  When you consider his two-down status at the college level and our otherwise relatively secure position at NT, "Mount" Cody is simply not a good fit for the Broncos.  And this is coming from someone who was a bit of a Cody apologist after theSEC Championship game.



Wow.  This is a much more daunting task than I anticipated.  Now we know why Brian Xanders gets paid the big bucks!  I will stop it for now, and continue later with the 3rd - 5th round prospects.  If you have any suggestions regarding how to improve the format, please give them to me in the comments.

It is amazing to me how much talent there is at this position in the draft, and how few prospects are poor fits for the Broncos.  Rather than jump over ourselves to get the best DT available as soon as we can, this to me means that we should carefully consider whether or not we can hold out longer on getting a DT, in the hopes that the depth of the talent pool will allow us to have only a slight drop-off.  Concurrently, we can hopefully get an elite prospect at another position that is not as richly stocked.  But that's just me.

Happy reading!

This is a Fan-Created Comment on The opinion here is not necessarily shared by the editorial staff of MHR

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