2010 NFL Draft Watch: Defensive Tackles (part 2)

As I stated in PART ONE, a full analysis can get very lengthy so I have had to split this into two parts.  This will focus on the guys in the 3rd - 5th rounds.  Hopefully we can find a gem or two in there that fit the Broncos' plans.  I promise, this will be the last time I infringe on your patience and split up the project.  I will force myself next time to KISS -- Keep It Simple, Stupid.  Also, be sure to check our Vortex's excellent post in a similar vein, for another set of eyes.

Now to address a couple points of confusion: First of all, I want to reiterate what my goal is here, which I initially described in the Introduction.  I want to look at each of these players with a Bronco filter, evaluating them for their potential fit into McDaniels & Co.'s plans for the team.  That means, for example, this will NOT be an evaluation of how Player X fits into a 3-4 defensive scheme, or an evaluation of how much skill/potential Player X has.  It will rather be primarily a look at how Player X fits into the mold that Josh McDaniels and his staff have made it clear they are looking for.  I will take the player's fit in a 3-4 defense or Amoeba offense into consideration, but I will not use that as my primary determinant.  I am not interested in making a Big Board... yet.

Second, I want to clarify why I have classified the players into the position categories I have.  I am considering each player at their listed position (according to, and will note in the write-up what position they would play for the Broncos.  Strictly speaking, in a 3-4 defense the only DTs I would consider would be NT prospects, while several guys listed at DT would actually be DGs.  This is to alleviate confusion -- if you want to find out what I think of Player X, rather than speculate on where I think he will fit in you can just look him up and then locate the corresponding write-up I've done on that position.

Finally, thanks for the positive comments.  They are greatly appreciated, since it tells me that this is not just an exercise in futility for my own sake.  Thank you also for the negative comments.  I want to improve this by checking my opinion against others', and that is why I have made some changes already.

So, here is a cheat sheet, and happy reading!

Gerald McCoy 5 stars 3-tech LDG
Arthur Jones 4.5 stars 3-tech LDG
Mike Neal 3.5 stars 3-tech LDG
Boo Robinson 3 stars 3-tech RDG
Geno Atkins 2.5 stars 3-tech RDG
D'Anthony Smith 2 stars 3-tech RDG
Earl Mitchell 2 stars 3-tech RDG
Tyson Alualu 5 stars 5-tech LDG
Jared Odrick 4.5 stars 5-tech LDG
Corey Peters 4.5 stars 5-tech LDG
Lamarr Houston 4 stars 5-tech LDG
Ndamukong Suh 5 stars 5-tech RDG
Brian Price 4 stars 5-tech RDG
Vince Oghobaase 3.5 stars 5-tech RDG
Terrell Troup 4.5 stars NT
Dan Williams 4 stars NT
Cam Thomas 3.5 stars NT
Terrance Cody 2.5 stars NT

Tyson Alualu  (6-2, 291 lbs)  California, #44

Projected pick: 3rd round 4-star prospect



It is nearly impossible to say too much about this guy's character on the football field:

High-intensity player who plays with reckless abandon. Seems to enjoy the physical aspect of the game and is willing to throw his body into the pile. Team captain. Given the team's Brick Muller Award as the defensive line MVP the past three years. Played in all 51 games of his career. Earned Joe Roth Award for best exemplifying courage, attitude and sportsmanship

Besides that, he has played 3-4 DE all through college.  The ratings on Alualu are all over the map, ranging from 1st-round material to 4th round.  Here's a fascinating set of facts: In 2009, Alualu got a school-record 62 tackles at Cal.  Whose record did he beat?  None other than current Washington Redskin (and Denver-born) Andre Carter, who was drafted 7th overall in 2001.  Why the discrepancy in projections?  Ultimately, due to the inherent bias for pass-rushers.  While Alualu is competent in this department (3.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks), he got what he did mostly on sheer effort.  His strength is vs. the run, where he has excellent recognition and above-average pursuit.

Let's see: intense, physical, team leader who is a run-stopping 3-4 DG (most likely 5-tech).  What do you think?

You Tube video



Mike Neal  (6-3, 293 lbs)  Purdue, #92

Projected pick: 3rd-4th round 4-star prospect



The guys at TheNFLDraftSite summarize him pretty well:

He doesn’t necessarily wreak havoc in backfields or tear apart double teams but with a lot of work on technique he will have the ability to plug up running lanes and apply pressure to the quarterback every now and then in the NFL.

Essentially, he is a quality depth player whose strong suit is strength and run support.  He is a bit of a "tweener" for the Broncos' purposes, though: not quite big enough for NT, just shy of athletic enough for DG.  His best fit is in a Tampa-2 type defense; for the Broncos he projects as a 3-4 DG.  His best recommendation is this: "the best thing about him is his tenacity and his hustle on the field" (  If we miss out or pass on the top prospects, Mike Neal is a solid pick for us.



Torrell Troup  (6-3, 310 lbs)  University of Central Florida, #98

Projected pick: 3rd-4th round 3-star prospect



One of the things I've discovered doing this series is just how thin the NT position is in this year's draft.  To be fair, that is somewhat typical since a true NT is a very unique blend of height, weight, strength, and conditioning.  Still, there's Cody, Williams, and... and... hmmm...  well, Troup for one.

He was the main reason UCF's rush defense was ranked in the top 5 in the nation, and why the two starting DEs beside him got 24 sacks between them.  Ready for the best part?

Hard-working, unselfish leader with a quiet sensibility. Consistently gives good effort inside whether rushing the passer or stopping the run. No major character issues. Worked off 30 pounds of weight during his career to gain stamina.  []

 He is still far from elite, since his production dipped significantly his senior season facing more double-teams (and he's a bit undersized for a NT).  That being said, he fits as arguably the next-best NT after Dan Williams, and a heck of a lot cheaper.

You Tube video



Cam Thomas  (6-4, 331 lbs)  North Carolina, #93

Projected pick: 3rd-4th round 3-star prospect



Thomas was rated much lower until the offseason.  He impressed in Senior Bowl practices and got a sack in the real thing.  His mediocre production can be easily explained by the system he played in at North Carolina, which emphasized patience, reading the offense, and reacting more than applying heavy pressure.  That's a plus for the Broncos.  He has already played in a 3-4 system, so that's a plus.  Finally, while he is a bit raw and unproven, by all accounts he has plenty of strength to play the NT position for us.  FFtoolbox says this about him:

While the numbers may not be eye popping, Thomas is an experienced defensive tackle who has a great size. Most opposing offensive linemen have a difficult time moving his 6-3, 330 pound frame and that makes it very difficult to run against Thomas. Despite being so large, Thomas is surprisingly athletic and has good footwork

I couldn't find much either overwhelmingly positive or negative about his personal qualities, so I'll call that a wash.  In a draft thin at NT, Thomas is likely to be picked before his talent/production/promise says he should be.  Still, he will come cheaply.  And yes, that is Pat White he is chasing down.

You Tube video



Boo Robinson  (6-2, 295 lbs)  Wake Forest, #96

Projected pick: 3rd-4th round 3-star prospect



Opinions on Boo Robinson are all over the map (Interestingly, his given name is Shaunteryous, an amalgam of his mother's and father's names... just like our own Knowshon).  He posted similar numbers in his first 3 years in college to 1st-round pick Evander "Ziggy" Hood, but had nowhere near the final season Hood did.  That could be attributed to the scheme he was playing in -- an aggressive blitzing type that had just lost Aaron Curry and Alphonso Smith.

While he is listed at 295, he has been as heavy as 340 lbs.  His coaches claim he plays best in the 300-310 range.  That would make him undersized for an NT, but not horrendously so.  The question is, can he keep this up at 310 lbs?

Good initial quickness off the snap. Flashes the burst to slip through gaps and collapse the pocket from the inside... Relatively good agility to break down in space and make the tackle against smaller, quicker athletes. Athletic enough to drop into coverage in this scheme as an occasional zone defender. Cerebral player. Keeps his head up and sniffs out screens and draw plays well. Not an explosive hitter, but can catch runners as they go by inside and shows some burst to close behind the line of scrimmage. Good effort in pursuit

Personally, I think his best bet is as a 3-4 DG in our scheme, due to his lack of serious upper-body strength.  His versatility, agility, intelligence, and awareness are all positives.  He's just stuck in physical no-man's land.

You Tube video



Vince Oghobaase  (6-5, 305 lbs)  Duke, #3

Projected pick: 4th round 4-star prospect



Oghobaase is a name showing up on many mock drafts on this site as a late-round value pick.  I'm fine with that evaluation.  Just don't expect him to be the anchor of our defensive line starting next year.  While his athletic ability is fantastic -- 305 lbs and almost all of it muscle/height, he has been plagued by injuries during his career, and like Dan Williams there are questions about his motor/effort:

The only concerns would be his motor which is not always 100%. His stats last year and the impact he had on the team were good, but not great and he’s shown flashes of brilliance which lead me to believe that if is motor is on 100% more he could do some amazing things in the NFL.  []

That caveat being said, he is a disruptive pass-rushing force with excellent upper and lower body strength, good speed, adequate awareness, and a project with great upside as a 5-tech DG.  Since he has played under-tackle, he is also a potential rotational NT on obvious passing downs.  He is not a liability vs. the run, but this is certainly not his strong suit.  Finally, we see this from Scouts, inc.:

A competitor who plays with an edge and doesn't back down from confrontation but appears to wear down at times and lacks ideal endurance

I'm starting to rethink calling the motor of 300+ lb guys into question, since... well, they're over 300 lbs.  Especially in Oghobaase's case, where that is also coupled with positive comments about his intensity.  Still, when you're almost always the best athlete on the field, why the disappointing senior season?  He is an enigma I am willing to give the benefit of the doubt to due to his potential role on the line rushing in tandem with Doom.

You Tube video



Corey Peters  (6-3, 295 lbs)  Kentucky, #91

Projected pick: 5th round 3-star prospect



Peters is not on many people's radar, but he might need to be.  His height and weight are good, his speed is adequate, but his best quality is how he continues to gain accolades from his coaches.  In 2007 (soph), he won the Most Improved Defensive Player award.  In 2009 (senior), he won the Most Outstanding Defensive Player award and the Jerry Claiborne award, presented to a senior offensive and defensive player for "academic success and a team attitude".  Peters' high school coach said of him: "Corey is a disciplined, mentally tough player who is very coachable, very attentive, and an excellent student."  Still, something is awry:

Peters is one of the quickest linemen in the SEC, but he has shown a tendency over the course of the year to struggle when engaged with physical interior linemen []

But it's hard to argue with his production: 49 tackles, 11 for a loss, 4 sacks.  This is my opinion: Peters is steadily improving, but has had poor coaching on his technique at Kentucky.  Now he gets the chance to learn in the NFL -- and he's smart and a team player.  I think he is a great fit for us as a 5-tech DG.




D'Anthony Smith  (6-2, 300 lbs)  Louisiana Tech, #5

Projected pick: 3rd round 4-star prospect

I almost gave him the benefit of the doubt when I read raves about his "coachability" and "good football intelligence", in addition to accolades for how great of an athlete he is despite his size.  Still, while projected scheme (i.e., 3-4 vs. 4-3) is not the prime metric here, it is still significant.  And, with a prospect like Smith, it is a deal-killer.  Scouts, Inc. says "Will never be a good fit in a two-gap defensive scheme" -- which ours is -- and concurs:

Doesn't play with the nastiness you'd expect from a defensive tackle. Might lack the intensity and self motivation to maximize his talent

Intriguing, but a raw prospect (played in the WAC) that is a poor fit for us despite his personal qualities.



Geno Atkins  (6-2, 286 lbs)  Georgia, #56

Projected pick: 3rd-4th round 4-star prospect

First the positives: Scouts, Inc. -- "Hard worker on and off the field. Very good student... Above-average overall quickness. Does not display elite initial burst, but he shows the consistent ability to penetrate as a 3-technique and also has closing burst to the ball carrier."  Now the negatives: -- "Short, stumpy defender with limited room for additional muscle mass... Hasn't proven the work ethic or determination to take advantage of his skill set. Seems to have the tools to be a difference-maker, but needs constant prodding from coaches."  He was voted Florida 5-A Defensive Player of the Year his senior year of high school and his sophomore year appeared to be a superstar: 41 tackles, 15 for a loss, and 7.5 sacks -- starting only SEVEN games.  But then the bottom fell out and his last two years were... mediocre, at best.  In 2009, he only started 3 games due to inconsistency.  He would be a good late-round (6th/7th) flier based on talent and smarts, but it's likely some other team more desperate will grab him before then.  Random interesting note: he got a sack in the Senior Bowl... against none other than Mike Iupati



Earl Mitchell  (6-1, 289 lbs)  Arizona, #49

Projected pick: 5th round 3-star prospect 

First the good: he played H-back and TE his first two seasons, then played DT his final season where he excelled -- 48 tackles, 12.5 for a loss, and 6.5 sacks.  Obviously a versatile player.  Now the bad: "He's not too big at 290 pounds, but he can hold his own in a one-gap scheme" [].  His strengths are power and leverage.  Unfortunately, we need a guy who can push back instead of just simply hold his ground.  He fits great as a 4-3 DT but is a 3-tech DG for us at best.



Well, that's the end of the guys listed primarily at DT.  A few links are in order to help solve some confusion you might be having.  If you want to know what the heck a defensive lineman does, and what in the world I mean by 5-technique or 3-technique, I am indebted to Hoosierteacher Steve Nichols for his excellent article DL Gaps and Techniques.  If you wondered why I am using the designation of DG -- defensive guard -- instead of the traditional DE -- defensive end -- I want to direct you to Steve's other great article The Denver Broncos' 5-2 Formation.

As always, the more comments the better.  If there is someone I missed in here and you want to know what I think of him, please let me know and I will dig a little.  Other than that, enjoy! 

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

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