DE­FEN­SIVE TACK­LES

Packer Plus - - News - LORENZO REYES USA TODAY SPORTS

Alabama’s Jonathan Allen leads the way

1. JONATHAN ALLEN

Alabama, 6-3, 286 There’s no doubt who tops this list. Allen has it all: pro­duc­tion, ver­sa­til­ity, size, ath­leti­cism, speed, and he should be a starter with who­ever drafts him from Day 1. He ar­rived at Alabama as an out­side line­backer. Though his role shifted, the skills stayed the same. As a se­nior in 2016, Allen won the Chuck Bed­narik Award and the Bronko Nagurski Tro­phy, both of which cel­e­brate the best de­fender in col­lege foot­ball. He recorded two first-team all-SEC place­ments, and leaves Alabama second in pro­gram his­tory for sacks (281⁄ 2). There may be some con­cern about his size at the next level, but Allen’s unique tal­ent to rush the quar­ter­back and stop the run should make him a Top 10 draft pick. At the NFL scout­ing com­bine, pre­vi­ous shoul­der surg­eries got a closer look and may give teams some pause about his long-term dis­abil­ity Allen, how­ever, said in a press con­fer­ence in In­di­anapo­lis that he has “no con­cerns at all” about the is­sue.

2. CALEB BRANT­LEY

Florida, 6-3, 307 He is closer to the pro­to­typ­i­cal size NFL eval­u­a­tors look for in the po­si­tion, but the big ques­tion on Brant­ley is whether he could han­dle the full load of an NFL sea­son. The Ga­tors ro­tated their de­fen­sive line­men, so Brant­ley – while one of the stars of the group – stayed fresh and wasn’t a three-down player. The po­ten­tial, how­ever, is there. Brant­ley is ex­plo­sive out of his stance, and com­manded dou­ble-team blocks at Florida. He may not have posted eye-pop­ping sack to­tals, but Brant­ley showed sev­eral dif­fer­ent pass rush moves – his ini­tial push to the chest of line­men is the most lethal – and at the very least, should be able to dis­rupt the tim­ing of op­pos­ing NFL of­fenses.

3. CHRIS WORMLEY

Michi­gan, 6-5, 298 The big­gest as­set Wormley brings is ex­pe­ri­ence and lead­er­ship, as his coaches at Michi­gan have gushed about the three-year starter’s char­ac­ter. At his size, Wormley is ath­letic enough to flash ex­plo­sive­ness and speed off the snap, as seen by his first-team, all-Big Ten 2016 sea­son in which he recorded nine tack­les for loss and six sacks. The one glaring is­sue Wormley suf­fers from is a mo­tor that some­times shuts down. But be­cause of his phys­i­cal

gifts, Wormley could even­tu­ally step in as a starter.

4. LARRY OGUNJOBI

N.C. Char­lotte, 6-3, 305 Ogunjobi is a player who has huge po­ten­tial, but is more of a project. He’d be best­served by div­ing into a strict weight-train­ing pro­gram in the NFL to add some strength to his frame. Be­cause he doesn’t have ideal size, he’ll need to fine-tune his tech­nique, so he should ben­e­fit from coach­ing at the next level. Ogunjobi first played foot­ball as a high school sopho­more, so he’s still a lit­tle un­der­de­vel­oped. That also means his ceil­ing could be sky­high.

5. MA­LIK MCDOW­ELL

Michi­gan State, 6-6, 295 He could be ranked much higher, and would be, if not for two things. He has ex­pe­ri­ence in play­ing mul­ti­ple po­si­tions along the de­fen­sive line, but he still hasn’t fully grasped the in­tri­ca­cies of tackle. Second, he re­lies far too much on his ath­leti­cism to make plays, com­pro­mis­ing his form. That may have worked at times at Michi­gan State, but in the NFL, McDow­ell will need to show more con­sis­tency in his tech­nique. His dip in pro­duc­tion in 2016 (34 tack­les, seven for a loss, and 1 1⁄2 sacks) may have been due largely to an an­kle in­jury, but he could have the frame to be­come great. It will take work, how­ever, to get there.

6. DALVIN TOM­LIN­SON

Alabama, 6-3, 310 It shouldn’t be a sur­prise to see two Alabama tack­les in the Top 6 here. The Crim­son Tide con­stantly churn out elite-level de­fen­sive play­ers. Tom­lin­son is much more of a run-stuffer than a pass-rush­ing Dtackle. He’s not go­ing to blow past line­men off the snap, but uses his strength and lever­age to oc­cupy block­ers very well. Tom­lin­son has torn his an­te­rior cru­ci­ate lig­a­ment in both knees, but be­cause of his size and un­der­stand­ing of com­plex de­fen­sive front Alabama coach Nick Sa­ban used, he could find play­ing time as a rookie in the right sys­tem.

7. JALEEL JOHN­SON

Iowa, 6-3, 316 Af­ter com­ing on strong in his fi­nal two years with the Hawkeyes, es­pe­cially in his se­nior sea­son this past fall, John­son has shot up sev­eral draft boards. He earned a first-team, all-Big Ten se­lec­tion in 2016 af­ter lead­ing Iowa in sacks (71⁄ 2) and tack­les for loss (10). The one thing NFL coaches are go­ing to love about him is that he doesn’t give up on plays. John­son, though, he could still work on keep­ing his frame lower to the ground to max­i­mize his lever­age against blocks.

8. ELI­JAH QUALLS

Wash­ing­ton, 6-1, 313 A first-team all-Pac-12 sea­son in 2016, in­clud­ing a solid show­ing against Alabama in the Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off semi­fi­nal, helped se­cure Qualls’ place among the top de­fen­sive tack­les in the draft. De­spite his size Qualls flashes ath­leti­cism and an abil­ity to stuff the run along the in­te­rior of the de­fen­sive line. The con­cern with Qualls is that he needs to re­dis­tribute his weight, and that he some­times takes some plays off. But if sur­rounded by the right coach­ing staff at the next level, Qualls could be­come an early-down con­trib­u­tor as a rookie.

9. MONTRAVIUS ADAMS

Auburn, 6-4, 304 A three-year starter for the Tigers, Adams’ best as­set may be a thick and pow­er­ful lower body that helps him drive into line­men and dis­rupt the tim­ing of both rush­ing and pass­ing plays. His ju­nior sea­son un­der­whelmed, but he bounced back with a strong 2016 (43 tack­les, eight for a loss, four sacks) that show­cased much more con­sis­tency. His ath­leti­cism isn’t among the top for other play­ers at the po­si­tion and likely won’t be one to gen­er­ate much pass pres­sure, but he has the po­ten­tial – and size – to be­come a steady run-stuffer.

JA­SON GETZ / USA TODAY SPORTS

Alabama’s Jonathan Allen is ex­pected to be a top 10 pick with his abil­ity to stop the run and rush the quar­ter­back.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Florida’s Caleb Brant­ley has shown the abil­ity to be a pass-rusher.

MIKE CARTER / USA TODAY SPORTS

Michi­gan State’s Ma­lik McDow­ell played mul­ti­ple po­si­tions along the de­fen­sive line, but will likely be a tackle in the NFL.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Larry Ogunjobi could be a project.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.