Taco Charlton DE, Michigan
This might be a surprise for some of you, more likely because you were expecting me to pick Tennessee defensive end, Derek Barnett. However, based on their drafting history, the Saints will likely follow the same pattern that they've done for the last two drafts. In 2016 and ‘15, the Saints drafted two players in the 1st round (Sheldon Rankins and Andrus Peat) who both share the same characteristics: athletic with high upside, yet both are inconsistent—the exact opposite of how Barnett himself is described. Michigan's Taco Charlton, on the other hand, perfectly fits the bill with their 11th pick. In addition, there have been reports stating how the Saints have had high interest in the Michigan pass rusher throughout the entire pre-drafting process.
First, let's look at both his spider graph and his measurements:
Weight: 277 lbs.
Arm Length: 34¼"
The first thing I noticed was his impressive combination of both his size and length, measuring better than at least 74% of the defensive end prospects, in all three categories. This rare combination of physical traits is not easy to find in prospects these days.
Despite his traits, however, you'll never know when Taco performs to his expectations on gameday. His inconsistency has always been his main issue since he has come to Michigan, and it doesn't help either when he has only had one season of starting experience in college. Part of this issue is because of his lack of strength and toughness to battle against inside o-linemen; however, this can improve with sometime in the weight room. Another issue to his consistency is the fact he doesn't always utilize his length. If he can learn to use it effectively, this can certainly help him shred his blockers and maybe even make some plays against the run from the outside, although he's not much of run stopper.
Now it's time to highlight some of Taco's strengths, in which his true talent can clearly be seen on tape:
This gif pretty much displays Taco's greatest strength: his burst. Thanks to his instant reaction time, Taco possesses the ability to blaze right around the tackle and grab the sack in less than 3 seconds of the play.
This gif is one of my favorites because of how the Ohio State offense attempts to limit Taco's burst by utilizing their center to fall back against him. Despite their clever attempt, Taco is once again able to utilize his size and athletic ability in a multitude of ways. First, he stops and hesitates for a brief second, leaving the blocker to stop and guess what he does next, giving him the opportunity to burst around his blocker again. Finally, he utilizes the strength of his calves to turn a tight corner around the quarterback and uses his tremendous arm length to grab ahold of the QB's left side and finish the sack.
Finally, this is another one of my favorite gifs because, despite how rare he has managed to do this, he shows some of his strength and toughness to go one on one against an inside o-lineman. Here, Taco (top left) possesses the ability to use both his hips and shoulders to slip and swerve around his teammate in an instant and go one on one with his blocker. There, he once again utilizes his burst along with his (raw) power to brutally bypass his blocker for the sack. Considering how power against guards/centers has been one of the reasons for his inconsistency, this gif really shows that if he is willing to build his strength in the weight room, he can certainly become a threat from the inside of the offensive line too.
Overall, his rare size, burst, and athletic ability are what makes Taco one of the top pass rushers in his draft class and there is no doubt that his traits give him the highest upside amongst his position too.
2017 BGN Mock Draft Order
1) Browns (JALupowitz): Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
2) 49ers (sports00fan00): Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford
3) Bears (gubby): Jonathan Allen, DT, Alabama
4) Jaguars (TheWhalwing): Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
5) Titans (drc242): Jamal Adams, S, LSU
6) Jets (boomorbust): Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
7) Chargers (NowWhat?): Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
8) Panthers (B-Potts): Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
9) Bengals (Kiko’s Delivery Service): Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
10) Bills (jimmyrustler): O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
11) Saints (NotSoSlick): Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan
12) Browns (Straight Edge Sid):
13) Cardinals (Paulie97):
14) Eagles (ablesser88):
15) Colts (mconner96):
16) Ravens (The Man, The Myth, the Matthews!):
17) Washington (kbruneault):
18) Titans (mchiodo):
19) Buccaneers (ei78):
20) Broncos (NVEaglesShark):
21) Lions (Shark Fighter):
22) Dolphins (J. Wil):
23) Giants (BigWardy59):
24) Raiders (big DUB):
25) Texans (GotFunds):
26) Seahawks (Rogmcc23):
27) Chiefs (B1G Cat):
28) Cowboys (RegalEagle):
29) Packers (Wutang_):
30) Steelers (General_Lee12):
31) Falcons (SirJon):
32) Saints (Huffs_cellmate):