3.15.2011

Defensive Tackles to Watch Cont...

To continue in what will be a series of posts concentrated on a few prospects that Hawks fans should keep their eye on as the draft gets closer, I'll take a look at a few more Defensive Tackles that could be selected in the early rounds:

----DT Phil Taylor, Baylor
6'3, 334lbs

The first thing that jumps out at you about NT Phillip Taylor is his size. At 6'3, 334lbs, the immediate comparison to make is to Big Red Bryant (6'4, 323lbs). Since Taylor is not known for his elite pass rushing skills, the 5-tech position or the 1-tech might just suit him better, and he could provide depth along the line at both. Because the Hawks so desperately need a 5-tech to back up Bryant in the case that he gets hurt again or doesn't fully recover from his knee injury, Taylor may be at the forefront of the Hawks' front office's mind.




Rob Staton of SeahawksDraftBlog.com has had Phil Taylor mocked to the Hawks on several occasions and I can really see this happening as well.  Check out what Rob had to say about Taylor for a very good look at the prospect of him becoming a Hawk (and read the comments section too for some great points).  I'll quote a small portion of the article but it's a must read for any Hawks fan that's interested in the draft (and even if you've already read it, it may be worth a second look as we get closer to the draft):
[T]his guy can play the 5-technique (or Red Bryant role). If he can show speed ...off the edge and provide excellent run support, it means he can absolutely play the two most important positions on Seattle’s defensive line (5-tech and nose tackle). At the five he has the size of Bryant but could be an upgrade as a rusher. As a nose tackle he carries blocks and eats up space. Realistically you could start or spell him as a rookie for either of Seattle’s current starters – Bryant or Colin Cole.
As Staton of SDB mentions in his article, Taylor may be a perfect candidate for the Hawks because of his versatility at both the 5-Tech and the 1-Tech positions. He even says that he could see Taylor at the 3-tech as well, meaning he could spell for any of our starting offensive linemen and immediately get some playing time. The Hawks' defense took a big hit when Red Bryant and Colin Cole (and later Brandon Mebane) went out against the Raiders in week 8 and never fully recovered. This proved that the Hawks will need to upgrade their depth at the position and should be one of their top priorities this offseason.

CBS Sports had this to say about Taylor's skillset:
Pass rush: Though his job is usually not to provide primary pass rush, he can push the pocket with strength and flashes quickness off the snap and a swim move to get past lesser centers. Gives good effort to reach the quarterback if he sits in the pocket too long. Tries violent hands to shed blocks. Not very effective on inside twists, though he can take out the left tackle when twisting outside to free up the defensive end. Once stood up by initial contact, it's tough for him to re-start his rush.
Run defense: Shows excellent strength and mobility as a run defender. Plays with leverage against double-teams and keeps his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage. Pushes back his man and spins off single and tandem blocks with balance to make the play. Moves down the line well, stays low despite his height to wrap up shorter backs. Willing and able to reach the sideline, takes deep angles to prevent huge runs. Defeats cut blocks and maintains balance to track down ballcarriers. Gets low in short-yardage and goal-line situations. Does not dominate smaller centers. At his best when used in a rotation.
Explosion: Explodes from four-point stance into blockers, consistently getting push up front. Gets off low and quick near goal line to set the line backwards. Despite his size, flashes the quickness to penetrate the "A" gap. Requires double-teams to keep him out of the backfield.
Strength: Huge frame and upper-body development give him the strength to be a 3-4 nose tackle at the next level. Moves offensive linemen to either side with relative ease when covering two gaps. Forces fumbles with one hand punching at the ball while ballcarrier comes through the hole. Uses leverage to hold the line against double teams.
Tackling: Running backs get swallowed up when crossing his path, and he can separate the ball from a ballcarrier with pure strength. Stays low despite his height and will capture backs from behind if they have not yet hit their stride. Chase and hustle are impressive for his size, will chase backs down the line, help linebackers make stops at the second level, and takes deep angles to chase down running backs 20 yards down the sideline.
And now for some gametape (provided again by DraftBreakdown.com) and also can be seen with great play by play analysis in the article I linked to by Rob Staton at SDB.


Moving on...

----DT Stephen Paea, Oregon State.
6'1, 303 lbs

Stephen Paea is a monster - just to give you an idea of his strength, he posted a NFL Combine record of 49 reps of 225lbs on the bench press. That's pretty impressive considering the types of guys that go to the Combine.  He's a run-stuffing nose tackle that would most likely play the 1-technique for the Hawks (or spell at the 5-tech).  He plays angry, has a good motor, and is extremely tough.  I'll let some of the experts give you a good review of him:

From NFL.com's Combine page:
Paea is a powerful run stuffer that plays angry and should contribute immediately at the next level. He is as strong as an ox and consistently knocks lineman back on their heels. He takes on double teams and is near impossible to move out of the hole. He lacks refined pass rushing skills, but has heavy hands and a good burst to eventually become a weapon on third down. He is still learning the finer points of the game, but he has unparalleled toughness and a tireless work ethic. Paea will likely not last past the middle of the first round.
From CBSSports draft page:
Pass rush: Doesn't provide much in terms of a pass rush. Is able to split gaps due to his burst off the snap, but doesn't have quick feet or agility to chase down the quarterback. Relies on his bull rush to knock interior linemen into the pocket and flush the passer into the arms of teammates. Lacks the height and arm length required in consistently altering passing lanes.
Run defense: Is quick enough to surprise his opponent with a burst through the gap, but will make his NFL millions due to the fact that he is a natural run plugger due to his short, squatty build and rare upper- and lower-body strength. Can be knocked off the ball when double-teamed, but flashes the ability to split them and is rarely pushed far before he's able to plant his legs in the ground and create a pile. Doesn't have the lateral agility and balance to beat runners to the sideline, but hustles in pursuit.
Explosion: Fires off the snap low and hard, flashing a sudden burst that surprises opponents. Burst is short-lived and only extends to his ability to go straight upfield. With his strength and bowling ball-like frame, Paea can explode into the ballcarrier if he gets a running start.
Strength: Ranks as one of the country's strongest players, reportedly boasting a 600-pound squat, 500-pound bench press and the ability to churn out 44 repetitions of 225 pounds. Is even stronger than his weight-room numbers indicate due to his natural leverage. Doesn't disengage from blockers as well as his strength would indicate due to the need to refine his hand technique and average lateral agility.
Tackling: Stays squared and low to knock down the ballcarrier near the line of scrimmage. Flashes explosive hitting ability, with a proven ability to knock the ball free. Tied the OSU record with four forced fumbles in 2009. Good upper-body strength to drag down ballcarriers as they attempt to go past him. Doesn't have the speed or change of direction to offer much in pursuit.
Intangibles: High-effort player was voted a team co-captain in 2009, in his second year in the program as a junior. Proved his toughness in 2008 by playing the final month of the regular season despite a painful bursa sac injury in his knee. Born in New Zealand, grew up in Tonga and dreamt of becoming a professional rugby player. Learned the English language after moving to the United States at age 16.
From these reports you can take away a few things: he's a beast against the run but has sub-par pass rush skills, meaning he won't be a 3-tech (maybe the position of most need for the Hawks on the defensive line); he channels his inner Tongan warrior and goes to battle when he's on the field - something that I would absolutely love to see on the Hawks' line. He would add an element of fire and toughness on the line that would up the intensity of players around him and make them better. I see him as the kind of guy you want in the trenches on your side.

He may not last to #25 because his stock has been rising as of late because of his impressive bench press performance, but on the other hand there's a good chance he could fall a bit due to a knee injury he sustained at the Senior Bowl. At #25, he's a guy that the Hawks could be looking at to provide depth on the line - I could easily see him at the 5-tech backing up Bryant and at the 1-tech behind either Mebane or Cole.


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