2013 NFL Draft: Johnathan Hankins Scouting Report
In a top-heavy class of defensive tackles, Johnathan Hankins stands out as one of the more physically-imposing specimens. At slightly over 6’3” and 320 pounds, the big junior is taller and heavier than all but a handful of prospects. He’s considered a top-15 prospect by most experts, but there is some debate about whether he deserves to be drafted that high. He didn’t stuff the stat-sheet, only accumulating 15.5 tackles for a loss (11 in his sophomore year alone) and four sacks in his college career. And his motor appears to run hot and cold, leading some to question his fitness and work ethic.
However, when watching him play, he often stands out as the most dominating player on the field, which is saying something when you consider that he played on a very talented Ohio State defense. He always commanded double-teams and routinely stoned them and blew up plays in the backfield, even if he wasn’t directly credited by the scorekeeper. So what do we make of him?
Size: He’s an enormous man, and he carries his weight well. He even looks like he could play at 15 pounds heavier and not lose much in terms of quickness. He knows how to use his weight and anchors well against the run. As the most physically-imposing defensive lineman on the Buckeyes’ roster, he was nearly always double teamed, which he took in stride. He fights through blocks with powerful hands, and has the strength to toss aside an offensive lineman and stop a running back in his tracks. When he was on the field, he controlled the point of attack, and teams rarely ran at him.
Agility: He’s also extremely agile, especially for a massive defensive tackle. He has light, quick feet, and a surprisingly quick first step. He looks comfortable and fluid dropping in space, which Ohio State had him do once or twice a game. Though his bull-rush is probably his biggest asset as a pass-rusher, he has the foot technique and agility to sidestep blockers and pressure the quarterback, though he lacks the straight-line speed to be a real threat off the edge.
Versatility: Most players with his size and skillset are limited to nose tackle and one-technique defensive tackle, but Hankins can (and did) line up all across the line. He spent most of his time alternating between three-tech and five-tech in Ohio State’s hybrid 3-4 scheme, usually moving inside on passing downs. As previously mentioned, he often dropped in space, and on a couple of occasions, he even lined up as wide as the nine-technique and generated decent edge pressure for his size.
Work Ethic: Hankins’ attitude drew rave reviews from his coaches, who spoke highly of his passion for the game. He was the first player on the practice field and last one to leave.
Endurance: As is often the case for men his size, he wore down throughout games. He really isn’t built to play 65-plus snaps a game, but he did it regularly in his career at Ohio State. He clearly wore down toward the end of games and started to noticeably take plays off. He’ll need to have his snaps monitored closely in the NFL, and may not ever be an every-down player, despite his flexibility. He also tends to lean into blockers and let them get into his body, rather than holding them off with his hands.
Health: He’s had knee issues, likely related to his size. He wears braces on both knees and will need to keep himself in good shape at the next level to avoid exacerbating those problems.
Technique: He got by on brute strength in college, despite lacking some technique with his hands. He’ll need to refine his spin and swim moves, and a develop a rip and club move or something similar to make an impact as a pass-rusher at the next level.
Because of his size and athleticism combination, his versatility and experience in 4-3 and 3-4 scheme concepts, and the fact that he’s only 20 years old, he should be drafted in the top 15. He has great upside as a force to be reckoned with who frees up other players on the defensive line. However, his questionable motor and the strength of the top of the defensive tackle class could push him down a little bit. It’d be very surprising to see him slide past Indianapolis and Minnesota and Green Bay AND Houston AND Denver AND San Francisco in the first round, so the bottom of the first is probably his floor.