The Broncos saw a lot good play out of the defensive tackle position this past season. Terrance Knighton ascended to a Pro Bowl level in the post season. Kevin Vickerson played solid until he was injuired as well. However, a storm is brewing around the position. Knighton apparently wants a new deal, and we all know how that can end up (Elvis, I'm looking at you).
Just to note, this is not a list of the top prospects at the defensive tackle position. This list represents a more realistic view of who the Broncos could draft.
Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
6-6 - 318 pounds, 5.37 40 yard dash
It's nearly impossible to talk about Ra'Shede Hageman without saying the word explosive. Explosive isn't even the strongest word to describe Hageman either, perhaps nuclear would do the trick. Hageman clocked a 1.57 second split in the forty yard dash. To give you some comparison, J.J. Watt clocked a 1.64 at his combine. Also, with a 465 bench press underneath his belt, Hageman is a guy you need watch at the Combine.
Hageman is a red shirt senior, so he exhausted all of his eligibility. With a lot of games underneath his belt, nearly 50, one would figure Hageman would consistently shine. However, Hageman spent his time in games flashing big plays and then disappearing into the crowd. A man with all of those physical tool sets should have been more dominant at the position. This lack of consistency can be concerning to scouts. Despite the lack of consistency, Hageman still produced solid numbers. Over the past two seasons Hageman has notched 18.5 tackles for a loss, eight sacks, and 11 pass breakups.
Outlook: Hageman is a gamble, as he is a classic boom or bust prospect. Hageman is best suited going to a team with already solid defensive line play, as they can provide him the opportunity to use his skills to win more consistently. A team like San Fransisco or Seattle would be interested in picking up Hageman to add to depth at the position. As for the Broncos, they could roll the dice on Hageman, but the window is short in the Mile High City and that gamble is better spent prospects who have a better chance to contribute sooner.
Aaron Donald, DE/DT/OLB, Pittsburgh
6-0 - 288 pounds, 4.70 40 yard dash
Undersized, but extremely productive. Aaron Donald may not look the part of a defensive lineman, but he sure knows how to play one. This ACC Defensive Player of the Year may lack the ideal size for the position, but he plays with great instincts. Totaling 63 tackles and 27.5 sacks in the past three seasons, Donald has been a force to be reckoned with. Donald wasn't just a force in the ACC, he absolutely dominated at the Senior Bowl and many consider him to be the star of the week down in Mobile.
Outlook: For every rule there is an exception and Aaron Donald fights to be that exception. Donald will get knocked on for his size, but coaches and scouts will be enamored with his motor and college stat sheet. The Broncos have a history in taking players who were highly productive in college as well. Donald is small, but that also makes him highly versatile in a 4-3 scheme.
DeAndre Coleman, DT, California
6-5 -315 pounds, 5.34 40 yard dash
Big, tough, and powerful. DeAndre Coleman draws a lot of comparisons to the Broncos' own Kevin Vickerson. Coleman possess the size of the quintessential defensive tackle and showed extreme durability in college. Coleman played in every possible game in college (49 total), exhausting his eligibility completely. Coleman was very productive in college notching 125 tackles, 26.5 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks and three pass breakups. Coleman regressed a bit his senior season which is concerning to some scouts. Fortunately for Coleman, he was able to put on a solid performance at the combine.
Outlook: Coleman possess the size the play in any scheme in the NFL. Scouts will have to analyze the reason behind his regression during his senior year for any potential red flags. At the end of the day, Coleman is just to much of a specimen to be ignored in the draft. A team looking to bolster up the defensive line depth in the later rounds will look to snatch him up. The Broncos just so happen to be on of those teams.
Keep your eye on...
Kelcy Quarles, DT, South Carolina
6-4, 298 pounds - 5.05 50 yard dash
Pop Quiz: who led the South Carolina Gamecocks in sacks last season? Was is it Jadeveon Clowney? Nope. The that man was Kelcy Quarles with 9.5 on the season. That is an impressive amount of sacks for a guy who plays on the interior. What might be even more impressive is that those 9.5 came during seven different games, showing consistency. Quarles has a decent size, but could stand to put on more weight to play inside at the NFL. Scouts will certainly be impressed with his pass rush ability, but will have concern in the run stopping department.
Outlook: Quarles looks to be an instant contributor on most NFL teams. Where his pass rush is more than impressive, he will need help learning to stop the run. The Broncos have defensive tackles who were quite successful this past season at stopping the run. However, getting those defensive tackles to the quarterback was a bit more of challenge in Denver. Quarles could provide a nice contrast and add the the abilities of Denver's defensive line.
|Player||Pos.||Pos. Rank||School||Class||Ht.||Wt.||Proj. Round|
|Louis Nix||DT||1||Notre Dame||Sr||6-3||340||1|
|Timmy Jernigan||DT||2||Florida St.||Jr||6-2||298||1|
|Kelcy Quarles||DT||5||South Carolina||Jr||6-4||298||2-3|
|Will Sutton||DT||8||Arizona State||Sr||6-0||315||3-4|
|DaQuan Jones||DT||10||Penn State||Sr||6-3||323||3-4|
|Calvin Barnett||DT||16||Oklahoma St.||Sr||6-2||300||5-6|
|Derrick Hopkins||DT||18||South Florida||Sr||6-0||285||5-6|
|Kerry Hyder||DT||23||Texas Tech||Sr||6-2||281||6-7|
|Jacobbi McDaniel||DT||25||Flordia State||Sr||6-0||286||7-FA|