Defensive Tackles to Watch

I've intentionally been pretty quiet when it comes to possible draft targets, mostly because there are very good resources for this that know way more than me when it comes to college players.  The places I visit most for draft breakdowns are SeahawksDraftBlog, CBSSports' draft coverage, WalterFootball, DraftBreakdown, and Drafttek.  These guys do a great job of breaking down who might go where and giving detailed scouting reports on each player. I tend to take everything that Mel Kiper and Todd McShay say with a grain of salt because they change their reports and analysis of each guy so often it gets annoying. Players' stock goes up and down week in and week out for the simple reason that they need something new to talk about everyday on TV.  I understand it's an around the clock news era, but guys rise and fall so often it really makes you scratch your head. Regardless, it's such a crapshoot anyway that it's more important just to know what types of prospects are out there than to try and guess where they'll go.

I decided to take a look at some of the players that all these outlets have going to the Seahawks and give you a general overview of each guy from these sites so you can have an idea of who the Hawks might be looking at.

I'll start with a big-need position for the Hawks, Defensive Tackle.

----DT Drake Nevis, LSU
6'1, 298

Nevis is a guy I've seen on a few mocks that could really be a possibility for the Hawks in Round 2.  He's a 3-Tech guy that possesses a quick first step and uses his hands well. He's regarded by some as the most dominant lineman in the SEC after Nick Fairly. He's a high-motor guy that recorded 56 tackles, 13 for a loss, 6 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, and an interception. In other words, he's disruptive. This type of player is exactly what the Hawks need at 3-tech: someone that will disrupt the QB and not allow him to sit in the pocket but at the same time be able to stuff the run. He lacks some size but makes up for it in technique and quickness.

CBS Sports Analysis:
Pass rush: Good initial burst off the snap. Comes off the ball a bit high, but has good leg drive to push the guard back into the pocket as a bull rusher and has active, strong hands to disengage from blocks. Lacks the straight-line speed to chase down athletic quarterbacks, but has some lateral agility and good balance to keep his feet for stunts and twists.
Run defense: Classic 3-technique whose squatty, powerful frame and good quickness make him difficult to block one-on-one. Can get pushed off the line due to his lack of bulk, but uses quick, strong hands to disengage and has the agility to slide off blocks and make the play when the ballcarrier is near. Locates the ball quickly.
Explosion: Good initial burst off the snap. Has the lateral agility and explosiveness to split gaps and ruin the play before it has a chance to get going. Flashes some explosiveness as a hitter, though he has only one forced fumble over his career.
Strength: Boasts good weight-room strength (535-pound squat, 475-pound bench), though this strength doesn't always show up on the field. Despite his natural leverage advantage, has a tendency to play high and can be contained by weaker and less athletic blockers.
Tackling: Productive defender. Has a short-area burst to close, allowing him to make the play against quicker athletes. Generally tackles low and hard, wrapping his arms around the legs of the ballcarrier for a secure stop. Flashes some explosiveness as a hitter.
Intangibles: Was only a starter for one season (12 games). Only has four starts in his previous 34 games; two each coming in 2007 and 2008. Runs hot and cold. Seems to play his best football when he's pressured and has to perform well to earn playing time.
Here is a video showing some highlights for Nevis in a game against Florida:

Matt McGuire of Walterfootball.com had him going to the Hawks back in January in the first round; I'm not sure if he'll go that early, but it's worth a mention.  McGuire added this comment to his pick:
"The Seahawks lack a playmaking, penetrating defensive tackle on the interior. Nevis is a high-energy, athletic linemen who gets off the ball quickly and is always around the football."

I've seen his name in relation to the Hawks in a few places so he could be someone they're looking at.

----DT Muhammed Wilkerson, Temple:
6'5, 305

Projected as a possible 5-tech to add depth behind Red Bryant or a 3-Tech to mix it up with Mebane (if they sign him), Wilkerson has been mentioned in several mocks in relation to the Hawks.  Drafttek had him going to the Hawks at #25 and had this to say about it:
The Hawks have made it clear that resigning Brandon Mebane is a top priority. But even if it does the Seahawks could use another quality DT to rotate in the trenches. Wilkerson is abnormally agile and quick for a lineman of his size. He also showed better than expected speed by running 4.95/5.0 40's at this years Combines. He does however lack the dominating strength necessary to overcome most opposing linemen by sheer force. Of course a year or two of NFL level weight training could change all that in a hurry. If Wilkerson or Corey Liuget are on the board when the Hawks are on the clock they could find it difficult not to pull the trigger on either one of them.
By all accounts he's very fast for his size but lacks the strength to immediately contribute. I'm not sure where the Hawks would see him fitting in to their defense, whether it be at the 3-tech or 5-tech, but Wilkerson is an intriguing prospect.

CBSSports analysis:
Pass rush: Overwhelms college tackles with size and strength, then chases down quarterbacks with his length and nimble feet. Lacks a quick first step, but flashes a swim move and closing speed to the passer. Feels cut blocks, keeps his hands involved and watches for the quick throw in his direction. Must improve his hand usage to consistently get off blocks inside. Eats up multiple blockers on inside twists to free up other defensive linemen. Effective bull-rushing college tackles when coming from outside the tackle, but rarely pushes back interior linemen. Not sudden or flexible enough to get the corner.
Run defense: Agile five-technique who lines up on either side of the formation. Patient and keeps his eyes in the backfield to contain; very solid in his outside assignment. Comes off outside path or double teams inside to spin/shed, catching back running through the hole. Uses shoulder to hold off blockers while slanting into the backfield. Not exceptional change-of-direction agility but his length allows him to get a hand on ballcarriers trying to get through the hole. Not a dominating interior player despite his size. NFL blockers will win the leverage battle until he gets stronger and more physical inside.
Explosion: Has the potential to be very explosive off the snap, but comes off a bit slow and must use his strength to pop into the chest of blockers. Can utilize his strength and length to hit hard and squeeze the football from a ballcarrier.
Strength: Flashes strong hands, playing with leverage, and the ability to push off linemen to make tackles. Gets stood up at the line too often instead of bull-rushing his man backward or pushing his way through the double-team.
Tackling: Tall, thick frame and long arms make him difficult to avoid in tight quarters and to shed once latched on. Gets a lot of tackles with hustle, keeps his feet moving when chasing from behind. Lacks superior straight-line speed but gives excellent effort to the sideline. Must drop his hips to bring down more elusive pro ballcarriers.
Intangibles: Plays a lot of snaps given his size but gives good effort throughout the game. Attended Hargrave Military Academy. Temple's defensive MVP in 2010. No known character issues.
Check the tape for yourself:

----DT Cory Liuget, Illinois
6'3, 300

I like this guy immediately because of his name, pronounced "Legit". He's a penetrating 3-tech that specializes in disrupting the QB. His senior season he had 63 tackles, 12.5 for a loss, 4.5 sacks and 10 QB hurries. He's got a good motor, is consistently in good position, has a knack at recognizing the screen pass, gets his hands up to disrupt the pass, and has quick hands that help him to get off blocks effectively.  He's good against the run. He'd be a great candidate for the Hawks' 3-tech position and would provide depth at other positions on the line as well.

Here's what CBSSports said about him:
Pass rush: Tough for many college interior linemen to handle one-on-one in pass protection. Quick enough to beat lesser linemen off the snap at three-tech, uses his hands to free himself from block when there is enough space to do so. Gets his man on skates or pushes through a block (or double) to the quarterback to get pressure. Also strong and quick enough to play on the nose in obvious passing situations. Recovers from strong punch to run through a gap immediately. Does not have elite closing speed, but his hustle and ability to stay low make him difficult to escape within or outside the pocket.
Run defense: Stout defender who plays with a strong base. Penetrates into the backfield with quickness. Lines up at three and five-technique spots. Capable of stack-shed inside or outside. Gets past reach blocks on inside runs with quick feet and strength to keep blocker on his shoulder. Usually keeps his head up to find the ball. Lacks acceleration to keep outside containment as a five-technique. Not consistent defeating cut blocks with his hands.
Explosion: Not elite in his first step, but has enough to be a pass rush and penetrating run-stopper inside. Ballcarriers feel every bit of his strength when he tackles them, and blockers are bruised up with his punching and swiping throughout the game.
Strength: His ability to play multiple positions not only comes from his quick feet, but also his strength. Lands a big punch into the chest of his man, swipes with aggression to move the blocker aside. Uses his low center of gravity to his advantage, getting leverage to stack one-on-one and shed to either direction when playing two-gap at nose tackle. Senses zone block, uses blocker's inertia against him with a strong push to get into the backfield. Usually anchors well against single and double blocks, but can get moved by NFL-caliber linemen.
Tackling: Strong upper body, hustle, and good length make him an excellent tackler. Engulfs running backs in the backfield when able to penetrate. Built low to the ground, displays excellent change of direction ability to stay in front of backs cutting against the grain. Hustles 10-15 yards downfield to make or help on tackles. Adds himself to piles when able. Lacks elite closing speed to chase down backs from behind. Tends to run out of steam when playing a lot at the end of games.
Intangibles: Coaches say Liuget is a leader in the locker and meetings rooms. Chose Illinois over southern schools because of head coach Ron Zook. Wished to transfer after two years in Champaign due to home sickness; mother said he would not be welcome home if he transferred.
It would be a good pick for the Hawks because it looks like he could play multiple positions on the line, from the 5-tech backing up Big Red Bryant to the 1-tech spot filling for Colin Cole. His most natural position would probably be the 3-tech where he could rush the QB and disrupt the pass. I like Liuget a lot.

Check out the tape (brought to you by Aaron Aloysius over at DraftBreakdown.com; Aaron does awesome prospect vides, check out his Youtube Channel)

These are a few D-Tackles to keep an eye on. There are several others in play that I'll take a look at tomorrow; for now take a look at the tape and see what you think.

Looking forward, I'll take a look at a few other key positions for the Hawks: CB, QB, DE, and OL.


  1. Nice summary.

    Phil Taylor?

  2. Yeah, I'll have a post up this afternoon about Phil Taylor and Stephen Paea. Another two guys that are most likely on the Hawks' radar.