Should The Lions Draft Taco Charlton With The 21st Pick In The Draft?
If the Lions want to be a better team next season they need to get more pressure on opposing quarterbacks. They finished the season tied with the Cleveland Browns for 30th in the league in sacks. Finishing tied with the Browns in any statistical category is generally a bad thing. If the Lions look to add a pass rusher in the draft one potential option could be Michigan’s Taco Charlton.
Charlton came to Michigan as a four-star recruit out of Pickerington, Ohio. It took awhile for Charlton to be able to get consistent playing time. As a senior he was finally able to do that, starting 11 games for the Wolverines.
Michigan’s defense was one of the best in the country and Charlton was one of the best players on it. He led the team with nine and a half sacks. His performance in 2016 earned him a spot on both the media and coaches first team All-Big Ten team.
NFL teams will find a lot to like about the Michigan standout. Possibly his biggest asset is his size and length. He stands at 6’5” and weighs in at 272 pounds. Anybody that tall will usually have long arms but Charlton’s still looks longer than normal for his height. Having long arms gives him the ability to keep offensive linemen from getting their hands on him.
One of the reasons that Charlton was able to have success this season was that he improved as a pass rusher. The best move in his arsenal is his spin move, which is one of the harder moves to master. He can win with quickness or power so opposing lineman have to be prepared for either.
As a run defender Charlton has shown some promise as well. His long arms help him deliver a strong initial punch, shed blocks and grab onto ball-carriers.
During his time at Michigan he’s shown the ability to set the edge however it is something that he will have to do more consistently. Occasionally he gets caught guessing where the ball is going to go and takes himself out of plays.
Another thing working in the favor of Charlton is versatility. Michigan asked Charlton to line up all over the defensive line. He mostly played defensive end but also played on the interior and occasionally as a 3-4 style stand-up linebacker.
Like every NFL draft prospect Charlton isn’t perfect. There are areas of his game where he’s inconsistent. The biggest area is his initial burst off the ball. On some plays Charlton displays a very good burst, blows by opposing offensive lineman and gets to the quarterback. And on other plays he is the last guy out of his stance and has no impact on the play.
If the Lions end up selecting Charlton in the first round they will likely be doing so with the hopes that he isn’t a finished product. If he could become more consistent at timing snaps and bursting off the ball, he could become a much better pass rusher than he is already. If he stops trying to guess where the play is going and simply focuses on setting the edge, he could be a more consistent run defender.
The Lions defense needs to find someone to play opposite of Ansah who will get after quarterbacks. Charlton could be that guy. He could end up being a really good player at the next level if he becomes more consistent and continues to develop.