With Bennie Logan weeks away from hitting free agency, the Eagles might have to turn to the draft to find a defensive tackle, whether it be to find a guy who can compete for a starting job right away (doubtful, but you never know), or someone to develop while a veteran free agent keeps the seat warm, like when the Eagles drafted Logan. Even if they were to sign a long term starter such as Logan, a late round pick might be in play after Taylor Hart spent the entire season inactive then was moved to offensive tackle after the season.
So let’s take a look at the top DTs, and guys who will go later in the draft that are big thick gap cloggers. (Height/weight from Senior Bowl or Shrine Game weigh-ins where applicable.)
Montravius Adams, Auburn 6’3” 308
Three year but inconsistent starter. Had a down junior year, but bounced back in 2016 with a strong senior season, then followed it up with a great week at the Senior Bowl. He’s got size and athleticism teams will love, and if they feel his inconsistency is behind him, he could be one of the top DTs taken.
Jonathan Allen, Alabama 6’3” 290 (listed)
The best defensive tackle in the draft…. if he’s a DT. He might be a DE in either a 3-4 or a 4-3, his versatility will have him in play for any team. There’s already Fletcher Cox comparisons and there will be more as we get closer to the draft. He could be on the board when the Eagles are on the clock, and he would be one of the best players available.
Caleb Brantley, Florida 6’2” 314 (listed)
Ascending player who rotated on a deep line at Florida, and could be in play for both 4-3 and 3-4 teams. Brantley’s combination of strength and quickness might make him one of the top DTs taken, or he could go later due to being a little undersized and not a lot of playing time to evaluate, which would make him a “steal of the draft” candidate.
Jaleel Johnson, Iowa 6’3” 309
Big and fast (had the highest recorded top speed by far at the Senior Bowl, which is a bit of a flawed data point, but you don’t dominate that without notable quickness). Following a solid week at the Senior Bowl, and he’s likely to go on day two of the draft. Keep an eye on him as a late “riser” as the draft nears. A duo of Cox and Johnson could…. well, you just finish the joke on your own.
Jarron Jones, Notre Dame 6’5” 315 (listed)
A once big time recruit who has dealt with injury problems throughout his career. Missed all but the Fiesta Bowl in the 2015 season with a torn MCL, then got injured in that game, and has missed time in other seasons. With size, long arms and great athleticism, he’s got loads of potential that some team will feel they can untap if they can keep him healthy and get him to play more consistent.
Malik McDowell, Michigan State 6’6” 276
He’ll need to add bulk if he’s to stick at DT in a 4-3, though he slimmed down a little in 2016 so that he could slide all over the line for the Spartans. He should garner plenty of interest from 3-4 teams looking for big, athletic DE, but he’ll also be in play for 4-3 teams, especially if he adds some weight at the Combine. His lack of a bonafide position will have him “rise” and “drop” as draft season progresses.
Larry Ogunjobi, NC Charlotte 6’2” 304
One of the better FCS prospects in the draft. Despite being a four year starter, he’s still raw as he only started playing football as a sophomore in high school. For a team that can afford to wait and develop him, his quickness and strength will be appealing. Helped himself out with a solid week at the Senior Bowl. Larry is just a nickname, his real name is Olumide. If football doesn’t work out, he plans to go to medical school.
Elijah Qualls, Washington 6’2” 293
Jason Pierre-Paul dazzled at the Combine with backflips, so backflips by the 313 pound Qualls should really impress. He’s undersized and isn’t much of a pass rusher, making him a later pick, but he could step he could help a team out as a late round pick.
Vincent Taylor, Oklahoma State 6’3” 310 (listed)
Productive pass rusher, leading the Cowboys in sacks, combining good size with athleticism to get into the backfield. He’s another who will be a “late riser” or “sleeper” as we get closer to the draft. Can contribute right away on special teams, having blocked four kicks in 2016.
Dalvin Tomlinson, Alabama 6’3” 312
If you can’t get Alabama’s top defensive linemen, maybe settle for a lower ranked one? Probably one of the more interesting recruiting approaches for the Crimson Tide as he was also offered a scholarship to… Harvard. Not a lot of tape on him as he was buried on the depth chart, but at Alabama that’s nothing to hold against anyone. Potentially room to grow after not cracking the starting lineup until his senior year. Earned rave reviews for his week at the Senior Bowl, taking home DL Practice Player of the Week honors. He’s yet another that will be seen as a “riser” as the draft build up progresses. Tear-jerking story as his mother passed away right after he committed to Alabama.
Stevie Tu’ikolovatu, USC 6’1” 350
At 26 when the season starts, Tu’ikolovatu is ancient for a draft pick, and really heavy for one too. He’s a late round pick at best who won’t’ be much more than a situational run stuffer, but he can fill a back of the roster hole and a running lane.
Josh Tupou, Colorado 6’2” 362
Another big, thick run stuffer, Tupou will have to convince teams that he’s cleaned up his act after missing the entire 2015 season due to suspension for assault. Even if he can, he might only be a priority UDFA.
Eddie Vanderdoes, UCLA 6’3” 320
A top recruit out of high school, Vanderdoes was living up to it until he tore his ACL in 2015. Returning from injury in 2016, he struggled. He’ll be a guy pegged as a “late round steal” assuming that 2016 was nothing more than injury recovery problems and if continues to shed some more weight (he ballooned to 340 at one point in the season) to get back towards his 2014 peak.
Carlos Watkins, Clemson 6’3” 312
Fifth year senior after a medical redshirt in 2013, Watkins finally clamped down a starting job in 2016 and excelled, leading the Tigers in sacks. He needs polish, but with a good athleticism, a breakthrough year as a starter and a good week at the Senior Bowl, he’ll find a home.