I have seen a lot of people on MHR looking for that really rare species of DT that provides "pass rush." Unfortunately, these guys are few and far between and generally the guys who can do this from the big money conferences in the BS level go very early in the draft. That doesn't mean that guys like Geno Atkins can't be found later in the draft, but they are very rare. Atkins lead all defensive tackles in sacks in the NFL last year with 12.5 (tied for 7th in the league). He was a 4th round pick out of UGA in 2010. Atkins has 23 NFL sacks in 3 seasons. Vince Wilfork is probably the model for a 0/1 technique in terms of passing play disruption. He generally gets a few sacks each year, but his presence is felt more in his ability to push the center (or center and guard) back into the QB.
So how do you find that penetrating 3-technique or that pocket-collapsing 1/0-technique guy? I have tried to look at combine measurables for the past two years, but many of those have no correlation to a players ability to disrupt the passing game at the NFL level.
I think that a better way might be to just go by what the player was able to do in college. Using a couple of sites I was able to put together stats on the top 20 or so defensive tackles in this year's draft. This includes some smaller guys who would generally be 3-technique (or even 3-4 DEs) players as well as massive space-eating 1/0-technique guys.
In an effort to compare apples to apples as much as possible, I didn't list stats for guys who played below the BS level (Brandon Williams, Montori Hughes, Nick Williams and Jared Smith). One of those guys could end up being the next Geno Atkins. There is also a guy that has come out of nowhere (literally played no college football) that might get drafted late since he had a great combine at the super-regional - Lawrence Okoye. He was a discus thrower in the Olympics for the UK and is 6-6, 305 lbs. He is an accomplished rugby player but has never played a down of football in his life. Okoye here and here. Some team might be tempted enough by his physical measurables to take a flyer on this developmental prospect in the 7th - note his 36" vertical, 127" broad jump and 30 reps on the bench. His explosion number would would be tops among all of DTs in this year's draft (76.6).
Also remember that the impact a massive NT has on the passing game is generally not measured in sacks, but might be easier to see in terms of QB hurries where that player is given credit for disrupting the pass by pushing one (or two) blockers back into the pocket. Generally, though, 1/0 technique players have little or no effect on the opponent's passing game.
Career stats for the DTs in the 2012 draft
(note that Hughes, N. Williams, B. Williams and Jared Smith are all omitted)
Impacts/game is what we are looking for. Add up sacks, PBU, hurries and TFL and divide by the number of career games to get the number. Keep in mind that some of these guys where not starters so even though they got credit for appearing in a game, they may only have played a few snaps. A better data set would be to use defensive snaps instead of games played, but that data was nowhere to be found. You'll also note that I didn't include tackles.
Right off we see that Chris Jones (Bowling Green) was able to really dominate in the MAC, but his numbers should be taken in context because he played in the MAC (which is BS, but at the lowest level). Jones looked good at the senior bowl (both in the game and in practice). Sylvester Williams made a lot of impact plays in his two years at UNC. Kawaan Short was also very disruptive, but I was surprised to see that he was credited with 0 QB hurries during his career. On the other end of the spectrum we have Hankins, Geathers and Barnes - all of whom did very little that showed up in the stat sheet. This is not to say that they didn't have impact in the games where they appeared, but statistically they had little or no impact against the pass.
There were a couple of other little tidbits that came out of this study. Jesse Williams is getting a lot of love because he played for Bama and had a very good couple of games to end his career, but I was surprised at how few TFL he had in his 26 career games. Jenkins, while having very few sacks, did manage to get a lot of QB hurries in only 27 games. Having watched very little tape on him, I don't know if those are from pushing the pocket or outright beating his blocker. At 346 lbs I would assume that those are from pushing the pocket.
Maybe Wolfe turns into that, but right now he appears to have a future as our LDE and not primarily as a 3-technique DT.
Sound off in the comments on why you like who you like.