Draft Watch: Defensive tackles
By Dan Pompei
An analytical look at the top defensive tackles in the 2006 draft:
1. Haloti Ngata, Oregon, 6-4 1/8, 338. Is enormous with a rear end as big as a billboard. Has rare power and can toss aside blockers. Has a good first step. Can collapse the pocket. Blockers can't budge him. Has good balance. Hits ball carriers like a ton of bricks. Must be in a two-gap scheme or play nose tackle in a 3-4. Weight could be an issue. Is raw and needs to learn to use his hands. Isn't very explosive. Doesn't always read as quickly as he should. Doesn't offer much pass rush; his main value is on first and second down. Lacks change of direction. Needs to play harder. Tends to wear down. Hasn't been much of a playmaker. Plays too high and allows blockers to get leverage.
2. Brodrick Bunkley, Florida State, 6-2 5/8, 304. Is explosive and disruptive. Makes plays. Has some pass-rush ability plus power. Is quick off the snap. Has shock and power in his hands. Shows athleticism and can redirect well. Can squeeze through double teams. Has good play strength for his size. Plays hard. Had a good Combine. Sometimes plays too upright and gives up leverage. Is a better fit in a one-gap scheme.
3. Claude Wroten, LSU, 6-2, 302. An effective one-gap tackle who comes off blocks well and penetrates. Can penetrate to make plays in the backfield. Has a nice array of moves and knows how to use his hands. Is quick and explosive. Has a great first step. Shows good instincts. Is strong and tough. Former junior college transfer should continue to improve with experience. Doesn't have great anchoring ability. Teams have concerns about character; he could drop like a rock as a result, but he still is the draft's most gifted gap-shooting tackle.
4. John McCargo, NC State, 6-1. 305. Tough player who gets overlooked because he came out early and missed six games with a broken foot last season. Has the quickness and power to be disruptive. Changes directions and moves well laterally. Is effective vs. both run and pass. Has some pass-rush moves. Finds the ball. Is getting better each week and should continue to improve.
5. Gabe Watson, Michigan, 6-3 1/2, 336. Is a huge underachiever with considerable ability. Can flash Pro Bowl-caliber talent on one series and then disappear for the rest of the game. Has a great combination of strength and quickness. Excels in short-yardage situations. Is stout at the point of attack. Doesn't play hard, however. Is more of a run plugger than pass rusher. Has good lateral movement skills. Could be a fantastic nose tackle if he puts his mind to it. Helped himself at the Senior Bowl. Has weight control issues.
6. Rodrique Wright, Texas, 6-5 1/8, 300. Has nice athleticism, size, strength and range, but doesn't always show it all. Has been an inconsistent performer and an underachiever. Plays too upright and can get pushed around. Doesn't fight through blocks, but can tackle well. Scouts question his toughness and desire. Potential is tremendous if he decides he wants it.
7. Orien Harris, Miami, 6-3 1/4, 301. Is quick with some pass-rush savvy. Can be slippery. Is effective on the move. Stunts well. Shows a nice first step. Is athletic and strong. Plays the run well. Shows instincts. Is more solid than flashy. Plays hard.
8. Kyle Williams, LSU, 6-1 3/4, 299. Is a scrappy overachiever with great awareness. Sniffs out reverses and screens. Is decisive and instinctive. Disengages well. Has some pass-rush skills with quickness and power. Holds up against double teams. Gives second effort. Is more of a football player than a fluid athlete. Works best in a one-gap scheme. Doesn't offer much speed. Is short-armed.
9. Jesse Mahelona, Tennessee, 6-0 1/4, 310. A disruptive defender, he would fit well in an upfield scheme. Shows some initial explosion and pass-rush ability. Is agile and has good range. Gets push. Goes all out. Has a feel for finding the ball. Is on the ground often. Gets knocked around some. Is on the short side. Plays a little like the Buccaneers' Anthony McFarland.
10. LeKevin Smith, Nebraska, 6-2 7/8, 316. Shows quickness, athleticism and acceleration in getting upfield. Uses hands well. Has some nasty in him. Is neither very explosive nor agile. Is raw and has potential to get better. Can develop as a pass rusher. Would be a good fit in a one-gap scheme. Stock is rising.
11. Babatunde Oshinowo, Stanford, 6-1 3/4, 305. Athletic prospect works better as run defender than pass rusher. Plays hard. Is a little tight in the hips, so he doesn't always get under blocks well. Uses hands to disengage. Is instinctive. Didn't have great workouts, and stock is down as a result. Probably is better equipped for a two-gap scheme.
12. Montavious Stanley, Louisville, 6-2 1/8, 313. Is a disruptive defender with decent athleticism. Helped free up end Elvis Dumervil to rack up sacks. Can play both the run and pass. Hustles and shows good range. Is a steady performer; just needs to diagnose plays more quickly. Worked out well at the Combine. Has been a late riser.
13. Dusty Dvoracek, Oklahoma, 6-2 3/4, 306. Is a hardworker with a passion for the game. Has a blue-collar mentality. If a blocker makes a mistake, Dvoracek capitalizes. Shows good instincts and outthinks opponents. Doesn't offer much pass rush. Is a limited straight-line athlete. Looked good at the Senior Bowl. Has had off-field issues, but they appear to be behind him.
14. Barry Cofield, Northwestern, 6-4, 304. Is a disruptive athlete. Shows good quickness and change of direction. Is an inconsistent performer. Scouts question how badly he wants it. Plays with an end's mentality, but his skills are better suited for tackle. Could be a swingman as a pro. Shows good leadership qualities.
15. Johnny Jolly, Texas A&M, 6-3 1/4, 317. Is athletic and strong but doesn't always show it. Is quick and has good body control. Uses hands well. Up-and-down performer sometimes appears soft. Has been an underachiever. Can penetrate and also pursue plays from sideline-to-sideline. Turned in a disappointing Combine performance. Also has played some end. Could be a backup at any line position.
16. Tony McDaniel, Tennessee, 6-7, 300. Is a tall tackle with some good hands and moves to slip blockers. Early-entry junior is more of a finesse rusher than a power rusher. Has had limited production but has good room to develop.
17. Marcus Green, Ohio State, 6-1 1/4, 295. Is a tough, high-effort player with some disruptive skills. Shows strong hands. Can split double teams and chase down ball carriers. Shows nice athleticism. Is an adequate pass rusher. Plays a bit soft at the point of attack.
18. Jonathan Lewis, Virginia Tech, 6-1 1/8, 309. Although short, is strong and tough. Plays hard. Provides a little pass rush but is better suited for a read-and-react system. Stacks the point of attack well. Has been productive. Can chase plays laterally. Gets good leverage. Is limited athletically.
19. Melvin Oliver, LSU, 6-3 3/4, 276. As an end/tackle 'tweener, he could fall between the cracks. His best spot might be as a 3-4 end. Shows functional strength and some athleticism. Knows how to use his hands. Takes plays off.
20. Domata Peko, Michigan State, 6-2 5/8, 310. Is strictly a run stuffer. Offers little in the way of pass rush. Has some quickness. Doesn't run very well. Gets good leverage. Plays with a good base. Knows how to use his hands.
21. Sir Henry Anderson, Oregon State, 6-3 7/8, 306. Has talent but doesn't always show it. Shows pop at the point of attack. Is better at occupying blockers than making plays. Didn't show much in workouts.
22. Kedric Golston, Georgia, 6-4 1/8, 299. Raw player has some nice athleticism. Can move and slip blockers. Is a little tight in the hips. Can chase laterally. Plays hard. Struggles against double teams. Also has potential at end. Has a medical issue.
23. Steve Fifita, Utah, 5-11 1/3, 323. Short tackle with short arms can be disruptive. Shoots the gap with power. Plays low; blockers have a hard time getting leverage on him. Is not very athletic. Sometimes disappears and can get overpowered. Is more of a football player than an athlete. Is underrated on most boards.
24. Steve Williams, Northwest Missouri State, 6-3, 300. Is a sleeper. Got himself noticed at the postseason all-star practices in Las Vegas, but hasn't faced elite competition. Is a jump-around style of defensive tackle. Has some strength. Probably has the ability to play in a one-gap or two-gap scheme. Has some character concerns.
25. Larry Dibbles, Texas, 6-1 3/8, 290. Is a hardworking, tough, blue-collar tackle who lacks ideal size and athleticism. Overachieves with quickness and aggressiveness. Can be disruptive. Is a better football player than pure athlete. Sometimes gets knocked off the ball. Would fit well in a one-gap system.
26. Tommy Jackson, Auburn, 6-0 3/8, 304. Another short tackle who has some good quickness. Flashes some pass-rush skills. Is limited outside the box as far as chasing down plays. Always hustles. May have been a better college player than he will ever be as a pro.
Senior writer Dan Pompei covers the NFL for Sporting News. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org