Mixed Bag At NT-DT For ’11 Draft

With the increased frequency of NFL teams using the 3-4 defense, nose tackle has become the toughest position to fill in the world of pro football.

GMs and coaches are in constant search from a mountain of a man to hold down the middle of the three-man line. They seek a mountain man who can move. They want big, fast, quick and strong – a home run of physical traits that doesn’t walk in the door on a regular basis.

There’s no better proof of that fact than the nose tackle-defensive tackle group that’s part of the 2011 NFL Draft class. There are about a half-dozen men with the type of size that NFL teams seek on the inside of their defense. Some are fast, some are quick and others are strong. None in the group comes with all the attributes teams want.

And this ’11 group brings question marks to the discussion. Just about every man has something that needs to be answered about their character or their body:

  • Alabama’s Marcell Dareus – talented inside force with the Crimson Tide, but will have to adjust his play to work out of the nose full-time. There are fewer questions about Dareus than any of the other defensive tackles that are draft eligible.
  • Auburn’s Nick Fairley – was quite a force in his team’s run to a national championship, but there are concerns about his attitude and work ethic.
  • Illinois Corey Liuget – is another player that did not reach the NFL radar screen until 2010, and some scouts worry that he might be a one-year wonder.
  • Baylor’s Phil Taylor – has to answer questions about why he left the Penn State program and transferred to Baylor. There are questions about why he allowed his weight to balloon to 400 pounds during the transfer season where he was forced to watch under NCAA rules.
  • Oregon State’s Stephen Paea – he suffered a knee injury at the Senior Bowl and had to undergo surgery.
  • LSU’s Drake Nevis – another possible one-year wonder, as he played the 2010 season like a first round talent that he did not show in previous seasons.
  • Hampton’s Kenrick Ellis – comes out of the ranks of the smaller colleges and there are questions about his dismissal from the South Carolina program three years ago.
  • North Carolina’s Marvin Austin – was suspended for the entire 2010 college season for violating NCAA regulations on dealing with agents and accepting gifts that violated the association’s rules.

That essentially is the top group of names teams are considering for the top three rounds when it comes to NT-DT types.

No matter the concerns, teams will draft defensive tackles and with 13 teams using the 3-4 as a base defense, they will grab them quickly. In the last 10 years, the position has averaged 20 picks a year. On average, at least a half-dozen DTs go in the first two rounds.

Last year, there were 10 DTs taken in the first two rounds. Here’s a listing of the draft choices that went for defensive tackles in the last 10 years.

The lines of demarkation between the NT-DT prospects are pretty well defined, even with the question marks. It sounds like it should breakout like this:

  • Dareus and Fairley will go in the top half of the first round, maybe even in the top five.
  • Liuget will go next, somewhere in the top 20 players.
  • Taylor, Paea, Nevis and Wilkerson should go in the top 50 picks.
  • Ellis, Casey, Powe and Austin will go before the end of the second round.

 

 

Rank

 

Player

 

School

 

HT

 

WT

40

Time

Bench

Press

1.

Marcell Dareus Alabama 6-3 319

4.93

24

2.

Nick Fairley Auburn 6-3¾ 291

4.84

Na

3.

Corey Liuget (NT) Illinois 6-2 298

4.97

27

4.

Phil Taylor (NT) Baylor 6-3¼ 334

5.09

31

5.

Stephen Paea (NT) Or. State 6-1¼ 303

na

49

6.

Drake Nevis LSU 6-0½ 294

4.92

31

7.

Muhammad Wilkerson Temple 6-4 315

4.96

27

8.

Kenrick Ellis (NT) Hampton 6-4¾ 346

5.19

26

9.

Jurrell Casey (NT) USC 6-0½ 300

4.97

26

10.

Marvin Austin UNC 6-1½ 309

4.84

38

11.

Jerrell Powe (NT) Ole Miss 6-1¾ 335

5.25

27

12.

Sione Fua (NT) Stanford 6-1½ 308

5.28

30

13.

Chris Neild (NT) WVU 6-1¾ 319

5.06

30

14.

Ian Williams (NT) N.Dame 6-1¼ 319

5.21

31

15.

Jarvis Jenkins Clemson 6-4 310

5.03

17

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