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2014 NFL Draft Rankings and Scouting Reports: Defensive Tackles

February 27th, 2014 at 7:00 AM
By Anthony Raia

The NFL season is finally (and sadly) complete, so now it's officially time to discuss the offseason. Over the next few weeks, Giants 101 will provide draft rankings and scouting reports on all positions — not just the ones the New York Giants are looking to draft. The rankings are a combination of production, skill set, and potential at the NFL level. The second defensive position we will take a look at is defensive tackle. If Linval Joseph leaves via free agency, the New York Giants could look to shore up the position this May.

mjpeacecorps / Foter / CC BY-NC

Timmy Jernigan, JR Florida State

  • Average height, a little light; good speed for the position.
  • Elite run stopper; uses strength and low center of gravity.
  • Sheds double teams easily; can improve in his hand to hand skills.
  • Impressively strong; drives offensive lineman back.
  • Average pass rusher; above average closing speed.
  • Has the tool to become a very good pass rusher if he puts in the work.
  • Doesn’t have elite speed for the position but has an excellent quick burst off of the line of scrimmage.
  • Quick; often beats blockers to the point of attack.
  • Excellent motor; plays with an edge and mean streak.

Ra'Shede Hageman, SR, Minnesota

  • Excellent height and weight; average speed for the position, quick 10 yard burst (1.57).
  • Remarkable athlete; combining that with his strength his ceiling is extremely high.
  • Needs to play with better leverage versus the run; plays too high at times.
  • Quickness allows him to chase some plays down from the backside.
  • A little late on snap anticipation.
  • Athletic enough to come of the corner on stunts.
  • Inconsistent motor; took plays off at times.
  • High ceiling player, but also bust potential.

Louis Nix III, JR, Notre Dame

  • Good size and weight for a two gap tackle; good speed for his size.
  • Powerful and stout versus the run.
  • Good instincts versus the run; uses hands well.
  • Drives offense lineman in the backfield often.
  • Conditioning is a concern; probably should drop to 325-330 pounds.
  • Knee tendonitis in 2013, had surgery on meniscus; could be a concern.
  • Variety of pass rush moves; won’t rack up sacks but is very disruptive as a pass rusher.
  • Tends to get locked up 1 on 1 in pass rushing situations at times; good be a result of fatigue.

Aaron Donald, SR, Pittsburgh

  • Below average height, solid build; good speed for the position.
  • Stout versus the run with good leverage; size prevents him from being a consistent run stuffer.
  • Exceptional burst off of the line of scrimmage; tracks ball well in the backfield.
  • Trouble with double teams at times; strictly a one gap player due to his smaller frame.
  • Excellent at shooting gaps and making plays in the backfield.
  • Good bull rusher despite smaller frame; average closing speed.
  • Appears on film to consistently beat blockers to the point.
  • Good motor and effort; turns it up on certain plays.

Anthony Johnson, JR, LSU

  • Typical height and weight for a 4-3 DT; above average speed for the position.
  • Strong upper and lower body; very well built.
  • Plays with a very good pad level; appears on tape to be consistent with his pad level..
  • Very good change of direction and athleticism for the position.
  • Needs to improve on anticipating the snap; can be late too often.
  • Lacks burst off of the line of scrimmage when playing the 3 technique.
  • Despite lack of burst he has very good speed once he gets himself going.
  • Possibly the best combination of athleticism and strength of all the defensive tackles in this class.
  • Could be a very productive player in the right system.

Ego Ferguson, JR, LSU

  • Good height, can afford to add muscle to frame; good speed for the position.
  • Suspended for bowl game; no reason was given.
  • Very good snap reaction and initial quickness.
  • Very good instincts; also seems to find himself around the football.
  • Excellent run stopper; easily the best part of his game.
  • Plays very physical and aggressive; shows ability to toss blockers aside while trying to shoot the gaps.
  • Very raw and inconsistent pass rusher; has a lot to learn in terms of pass rushing moves.
  • Wasted movement when rushing the passer; doesn’t have a plan.
  • Needs to learn how to set up blockers throughout the game.
  • High ceiling; could be very productive if he develops his pass rushing.

DaQuan Jones, SR, Penn State

  • Around average height and build; impressive speed for the position.
  • Lacks any type of quick initial burst and first step.
  • Needs to improve his tackling; prone to using arm tackles instead of wrapping up.
  • Incredibly strong; most offensive lineman will have trouble stopping him one on one when he bull rushes.
  • Impressively athletic for a player his size; can chase down plays in the backfield.
  • Versatile; can play defensive end in 3-4 and defensive tackle in a 4-3.
  • Athletic enough to win one on one battles as a tackle.
  • Makes up for a lack of a quick first step with strong active hands.
  • Inconsistent versus the run; tends to stand up too high against the run.
  • Can be a very productive player in the right system.

Will Sutton, SR, Arizona State

  • Short for a defensive tackle, came into the season 40 pounds heavier than last season; could be a concern about character and dedication.
  • Plays with very good leverage; stays home and shows very good football instincts.
  • Needs to improve tackling form.
  • Quick at shooting through gaps.
  • Uses hands well; will struggle versus the run against bigger offensive lineman.
  • Consistently beats blockers to the point on tape.
  • Average strength as a bull rusher; shows a variety of pass rush moves.
  • Lack of size limits his upside; could be a productive player in the right system.

Daniel McCullers, SR, Tennessee

  • Incredible size, needs to control his weight; above average speed for a player of his size.
  • Played out of position in a 4-3 defense this year at Tennessee.
  • Needs to improve his lower body strength; turn some of the fat into muscle.
  • Sometimes late disengaging; not going to get much penetration.
  • Prototypical two gap, space eating nose tackle.
  • Average agility and athleticism for a player his size; below average burst off of the line of scrimmage.
  • Strictly a run stopper; however will be difficult for quarterbacks to throw over if he collapses the pocket.
  • Displays good instincts; but is still raw; strictly a 2 down player.

Kelcy Quarles, JR, South Carolina

  • Very good height, but seems to have a thin lower body on tape; very good speed for the position.
  • Clearly benefited from playing on the same defensive line as Jadeveon Clowney.
  • Could possibly end up fitting best in the five technique in a 3-4.
  • Plays too upright out of his stance at times.
  • Very good tackler; good pursuit on plays, showing off impressive athleticism for his size.
  • Quick off of the snap and at shooting the gap; very good closing speed.
  • Needs to strengthen his base.
  • Needs to add a variety to his pass rush, however often finishes penetration with sacks.
  • Uses arms well when engaging with blockers; sheds blockers very well.


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Tags: Aaron Donald, Anthony Johnson, Daniel McCullers, Daquan Jones, Ego Ferguson, Football, Kelcy Quarles, Louis Nix III, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Timmy Jernigan, Will Sutton

10 Responses to “2014 NFL Draft Rankings and Scouting Reports: Defensive Tackles”

  1.  jerseyrich says:

    What’s up with the picture of Sam on the DT write-up? If we were picking 3-4 spots lower I think either of Jernigan or Donald would be a great pick. I believe that Donald is going to be the standout out of all of these guys.

  2.  Krow says:

    Of course we could always sign Linval. … then maybe use that pick for something else. I know it’s a crazy idea. And of course we don’t have the cap space to invest in players not related to the coach.

  3.  GIANTT says:

    Krow , you are a pip ! you never disappoint !

  4.  Dirt says:

    I’d be curious to see a list of current Giants that are on at least their second deal with the team. I’d then like to bump that list up with performance. Then I would attempt to draw a conclusion about the mindset in the locker room for guys nearing the end of their deals in light of the evidence.

    My guess is that it looks pretty bad. And it would make me (Linval, Nicks, et al) not really want to be here.

  5.  GOAT56 says:

    After looking at the whole picture I think many here have been too much up in arms about the importance of signing Beason. As one year fill ins guys like Dansby and Daryl Smith are very comparable. Guys like Erin Henderson or Donald Butler could be better long term solutions even if not as good today. And then you have a player like D’Qwell Jackson who might just be might as good or a better option than Beason. The draft pick we used for Beason is a sunk cost so we can’t look at it as Beason has to be re-signed. Add to that Beason is his own agent which is usually not good for negotiations.

    I’m not saying we shouldn’t bring back Beason. But he’s not in the position of power some think given his injury history. So JR is right to be a tough negotiator with Beason.

  6.  jb322 says:


    kujo says:
    February 26, 2014 at 9:03 PM

    Come to think of it, let’s look at Jerry Reese’s 4th round picks:

    2007: Zak DeOssie
    2008: Bryan Kehl
    2009: Andre Brown
    2010: Phillip Dillard
    2011: James Brewer
    2012: Adrian Robinson and Brandon Mosley
    2013: Ryan Nassib

    I mean, wow. It’s not so great when your best 4th round pick was a longsnapper that you drafted as a linebacker 7 years ago.

    I’d like to pick this one back up. Its way too naive to believe that you can get any better than 50% out of the fourth round. If you happen to get a pro bowl player, you are more lucky than good. Even if you do get a decent starter out of the fourth round, they usually take 3 years before they are good enough. If you look at the Giants picks in the fourth like Kujo did, you see the only true washout was Dillard. Everybody else is still in the league, by most teams standards, thats a pretty good track record. I’m am not a Reese apologist by any means, but if you are going to jump on his draft record, look at the second round, thats where his failures have come, and thats the main reason this team has so many holes.
    You may want to take a look at what other teams have done with their 4th rounders. Not much to see.

    Finally, here is an article with a little twist to it, that shows the futility rate beyond the second round;

    •  GOAT56 says:

      Thank you. I have been saying this to Kujo and others. No it doesn’t mean JR has been great lately but the draft is much more like a baseball average than free throw percentage in success rate.

  7.  Krow says:

    Looks like the Eagles will sign Riley Cooper to a deal before he hits free agency. Well done Eagles. Smart teams lock up their guys.

    •  GOAT56 says:

      It’s a two way street. Guys have to reasonable and want to return as well. The Eagles are also no longer paying a franchise QB salary so they just are going to have more money than us. Besides Joseph I’m not sure we are as eager for anyone else to return as you some seem to think.

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