This year at the NFL Combine, there is a plethora of talent. Defensive tackle is not an exception as some of these players will likely be called in the first round, and at least ten of them will be drafted in the top 100. There is a total of 26 defensive tackles in this year's combine, here is the top fifteen.
1. Louis Nix, Notre Dame
2. Dominique Easley, Florida
3. Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh
4. Ra'Shede Hageman, Minnesota
5. Will Sutton, Arizona State
6. Timmy Jernigan, Florida State
7. Caraun Reid, Princeton
8. Daniel McCullers, Tennessee
9. DaQuan Jones, Penn State
10. Anthony Johnson, Louisiana State
11. Justin Ellis, Louisiana Tech
12. Deandre Coleman, California
13. Ego Ferguson, Louisiana State
14. Zach Kerr, Delaware
15. Ryan Carrethers, Arkansas State
Drills to Watch
At the combine, everyone wants to see the 40 yard dash. For defensive tackles, the 40 time means a lot more than it may seem. During the sprint, each 10 yards presents a "split". The first 10 yards is an essential number for defensive tackles, as it shows the initial burst. Aaron Donald is expected to impress in the first 10 yards of his 40 yard dash, and will likely set the bar high for the defensive linemen. Another exercise to keep an eye on for defensive tackles is the broad jump. Some may ask, "Why would a football player need to broad jump?" They do not in a game, but the broad jump shows explosiveness in the lower body along with balance, which are two essential traits for these warriors in the trenches. The bench press is also always a good drill to keep an eye on. The longevity and muscle stamina of the pectoral muscles is huge for defensive lineman, who essentially are vertically bench pressing over 60 times per game.
Players to Watch
One player that would have "wowed" everyone this week was Dominique Easley, but unfortunately, he will not be able to participate in all of the drills due to injury. But, he will interview and take the physicals. Should he show that he is getting healthy, it will do wonders for him come draft time. Another player to watch for in terms of injury is Louis Nix. Should he check out healthy, he will likely be taken in the first round.
Zach Kerr from Delaware and Caraun Reid from Princeton are two players that are sure to impress this weekend, as each of them show incredible athleticism for their size. Reid was one of the favorites in Mobile, and will be fun to watch in Indianapolis this year as a defensive tackle. Kerr is an interesting prospect, because he was the most dominant player on the field for almost every game, but seeing his measurables will help gauge just how athletic he is, and if that will translate to the next level.
Keep an eye on the defensive tackles this year, because most of them will make an immediate impact in the NFL soon enough. Watch the explosiveness, strength, agility, and balance in the exercises, and watch how fluid the players are in drills. Defensive tackles are the key to disrupting an offense, and it all starts at the combine.