Richner: Top DTs
Top 5 Defensive Tackles
This is one of the deepest, most talented positions in this year's NFL Draft class. With players like Kendall Reyes, Jerel Worthy and Fletcher Cox leading the way, this unit has the ability to create some damage next season.
1. Kendall Reyes (Connecticut): Using the statistical benchmarks set forth in the DT Report for both an individual and team level, Reyes meets most of the individual requirements for a high round draft pick as well as ALL of the team rush defense benchmarks. With 110 tackles, 35 tackles for loss and 18 sacks for his career, Reyes shows the skill set required of a future dominating interior defensive lineman. Combined with his individual statistics, his team defensive stats are just as impressive. Last year, with Reyes leading the charge, Connecticut only gave up 1,028 yards rushing, an average of 85.7 yards per game and 11 TDs. With his production and skill set, he can be a destructive force in the NFL. Stat comp: B.J. Raji.
2. Devon Still (Penn State): A 6'5" and 303 lbs., Still was consistently being double and sometime triple teamed by opposing offenses. He was still able to make plays in the backfield and his run stuffing abilities are evident in his 33.5 career tackles for loss. Penn State's defense gave up 1,733 rushing yards last season - roughly 133 yards-per-game - and 13 rushing TDs. Though Penn State has had a recent history of draft busts at the defensive tackle position (Jimmy Kennedy and Anthony Adams in 2003, etc.). Still might be the Nittany Lion to make the jump into the NFL and produce at a high level. Stat comp: Brandon Mebane.
3. Jerel Worthy (Michigan State): His game tape is a lot of hot and cold, meaning sometimes he springs to life and makes some amazing plays, and, other times, he disappears from the game altogether. He does possess a high degree of football intelligence and that is evident in a number of cases. Worthy will call hot-routes and line shifts to his teammates. From an individual stat level, he doesn't measure up to some of the elite DTs in the NFL. From a team standpoint, he showed his true colors. Last season, Worthy led his Michigan State Spartans in holding opposing offense run production to 1,407 yards - 100.5 rushing yards per-game - and 11 rushing TDs. These are very impressive figures considering he was going against some of the nation's top rushing offenses in the country (Wisconsin, Michigan, Nebraska and Georgia).
4. Fletcher Cox (Mississippi State): As a junior, Fletcher Cox could have used another year in college and he would have been the top rated player at the defensive tackle position next year. His individual stats miss the benchmark set in all categories. Cox, does show an impressive skill set as he has been adept at blocking kicks with a career total of five. With a few years of solid coaching and working on his craft, Cox could turn out to be a quality pick. Some scouts rave about his pass rushing ability, but, with only 7.5 sacks in his career, it is more talk than action.
5. Josh Chapman (Alabama): Someone in the Alabama defense was eating up offensive blockers while Courtney Upshaw and Dont'a Hightower roamed the field and made highlight plays. Josh Chapman was the silent hero of that dominant Alabama defense. Alabama had a defense so stingy against the run that the Crimson Tide only gave up 938 yards all season - an average of 72.2 yards per game - and 3 rushing TDs. In fact, Alabama only gave up 200 yards rushing in one game all season and it just happened to be the game which Chapman sat out with an injury. You probably won't see his name on the top of any stat sheet next season, but his teammates will love him and so will his coaches. Stat comp: Kris Jenkins.