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NFL Draft 2017: Ranking 15 defensive tackle prospects

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

One of the Eagles' more underrated needs is the defensive tackle position. Even with Fletcher Cox as the centerpiece of the defense and Timmy Jernigan now in the fold, there are holes left by Beau Allen's injury and Bennie Logan leaving in free agency. It is certainly not as pressing as a need as skill players on either side of the ball or adding an edge rusher, but it is definitely the team should consider addressing later in the draft. While this class lacks a ton of star power at the position, the defensive tackles have some solid players among them who could be contributors down the line.

2016 Stats as according to CFB Stats (Besides Larry Ogunjobi. Numbers from Sports Reference).

  1. Malik McDowell, Michigan State, 34 tackles, 7 TFLs, 1.5 Sacks, 5 QB Hurries: In a weaker interior line class, Malik McDowell stands out massively. The 6'6" linemen was moved around the Spartan defense, but has the leverage to be an impact player inside. His rare burst and strength allow him to disrupt the pocket when he is on, but he needs to improve his technique and motor in the league. He has exciting upside and his flashes are incredible, but he will need to overcome infield inconsistencies and off field questions before getting closer to his massive NFL potential.

  2. Jaleel Johnson, Iowa, 55 Tackles, 10 TFLs, 7.5 Sacks, 5 QB Hurries, 2 PBUs: Jaleel Johnson is just a damn good football player. No other way of putting it. His combination of motor, technique and awareness make him a disruptive player on every down. He may not have McDowell's ceiling, but his floor is much higher.

  3. Caleb Brantley, Florida, 31 Tackles, 9.5 TFLs, 2.5 Sacks, 3 Hurries, 1 FF: Caleb Brantley has played a relatively small amount of snaps for the Gators during his career, which is a bit of a red flag, but his play during that time stands out. Brantley is a shorter, well built tackle who plays with excellent strength and leverage. He is not a polished pass rusher, but his ability to shoot upfield and power through offensive linemen creates opportunities for defenders around him. It is to be seen if he can handle a bigger snap load, but Brantley has exciting potential anywhere inside a defensive line.

  4. Chris Wormley, Michigan, 30 Tackles, 8.5 TFLs, 5.5 Sacks, 5 Hurries: The 6'5" and nearly 300 pound Wormley brings everything to the table a team would want from a player physically. A three year starter, Wormley had lots of moments that showed his high potential but also tended to have lulls in his play due to lack of technique, but not lack of effort. Wormley could play 5 Tech in a 3-4, but his athletic ability would give him a high ceiling as a penetrating tackle in four man fronts.

  5. Dalvin Tomlinson, Alabama, 62 Tackles, 5.5 TFLs, 3 Sacks, 7 Hurries, 4 PBUs, 1 FF: Alabama's defense has a lot of awesome players on it and Dalvin Tomlinson played a big part in creating opportunities for the talent around him. Tomlinson is a consistent technician with a high motor and stout frame. He does a great job eating up space, but can also disrupt plays as well. Tomlinson plays like a prototypical nose guard, but he is also a better pass rusher than given credit for. While he will never be a flashy player, he could absolutely be a very good piece on a line.

  6. Larry Ogunjobi, Charlotte, 65 Tackles, 13.5 TFLs, 3 Sacks, 2 PBUs: Larry Ogunjobi is one of the best stories in this draft class. After taking up football relatively later in life, Ogunjobi was offered a scholarship with Charlotte's newly started football team. In his four years as a 49er, Ogunjobi started every game in school history. Pretty cool! Not only is he an iron man of a football player, he is also pretty damn good too. Ogunjobi is still a bit raw in his technique, but his athleticism was apparent in how he consistently rag-dolled lower level competition. He may have a steeper learning curve as a raw, smaller school tackle, but his ability to show he can consistently improve year to year and his physical skill set make him an exciting prospect.

  7. Eddie Vanderdoes, UCLA, 27 Tackles, 1.5 TFLs, 1.5 Sacks: It feels like Eddie Vanderdoes has been in college forever but the former five star recruit is finally on his way up. At 6'3" and 325 pounds, Vanderdoes is a massive player and that size shows when he plays. While he is not a dynamic player overall, he is an outstanding run defender and he does a good job eating up space for other defenders in the passing game. Vanderdoes' career has been hampered by injuries, but if he can stay healthy he has a solid career ahead of him in the NFL.

  8. Carlos Watkins, Clemson, 50 Tackles, 13.5 TFLs, 10.5 Sacks, 4 Hurries, 4 PBUs: Watkins is a smart, polished pass rusher who moves well for his size. However, his motor runs hot and cold more often than the average defensive lineman and he lacks the strength to consistently impact the running game. Watkins benefited playing on the same line as Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence last season, but that does not mean has no place in the NFL. Watkins would be a solid role player as a third down rusher and he could develop into something more if his conditioning improves.

  9. Nazair Jones, UNC, 70 Tackles, 9.5 TFLs, 2.5 Sacks, 1 Hurry, 3 PBUs, 1 FF: Nazair Jones is a name that deserves a bit more recognition. The massive UNC defender has the length and strength to control offensive linemen and make a great impact in the run game. He lacks consistent pass rush, but his bullish strength is overwhelming for most linemen and that creates opportunities for players around him.

  10. Vincent Taylor, Oklahoma State, 51 Tackles, 13 TFLs, 7 Sacks, 2 Hurries, 1 PBU, 2 FFs: Vincent Taylor is a twitched up pass rusher who made an impact for the Cowboys during his time there. His leverage is inconsistent, which especially hurts his run defense, but the talent is there for him to succeed in the NFL with the right coaching.

  11. DeAngelo Brown, Louisville, 41 Tackles, 14 TFLs, 1 Sack, 1 Hurry, 1 Forced Fumble: Brown is a guy who is built like a brick, moves like a mountain and is just as hard to block out of the way. Brown will probably never be a very good pass rusher, but he can make an impact as an NFL nose tackle as he is an outstanding run defender. A bit of a one trick pony, but a trick that still sells in the NFL.

  12. Tanzel Smart, Tulane, 67 Tackles, 18.5 TFLs, 5.5 Sacks, 2 Hurries, 1 FF: Tanzel Smart is an undersized but quick tackle who dominated at Tulane with his first step quickness and use of leverage. His size hurts him against the run, although he still can make plenty of slash plays. If he can gain weight and maintain his quickness, Smart has a nice chance to stick around for a while.

  13. Charles Walker, Oklahoma, 7 Tackles, 2 TFLs, 2 Hurries, 4 PBUs: Charles Walker left Oklahoma early this year due to injuries and wanting to avoid aggravating his concussions before getting to the NFL. Walker's health is a massive red flag, but his upside is enormous. A truly gifted athlete with immense upside, a team will be taking a big risk by drafting Walker, but the payoff could be monumental.

  14. Montravius Adams, Auburn, 44 Tackles, 8.5 TFLs, 4.5 Sacks, 15 Hurries, 2 PBUs, 1 FF: Montravius Adams has the size and potential to be a very good football player and the production speaks to the flashes he has, but there are long stretches of play where he can be incredibly underwhelming and essentially a liability. Adams' inconsistency is maddening between a lacking motor and bad technique. A good coach could unlock his potential, but I worry it may be too far out of reach.

  15. Davon Godchaux, LSU, 62 Tackles, 8.5 TFLs, 6.5 Sacks, 3 Hurries, 1 PBU: Godchaux's strong motor helped into production during his time at LSU, but he lacks any sort of traits that translate to the NFL immediately. He is a smaller tackle with below average ability and inconsistent technique. He is not particularly strong and lacks the length to fight through double teams in the run game. Godchaux could make it onto a roster as a rotational guy, but his ceiling is low and where he is at now is not the caliber of an NFL contributor.

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