The Lions have one young promising defensive tackle in A’Shawn Robinson. They may need to draft someone to pair with him during the offseason. Haloti Ngata’s contract is up after this season, and he is 33 years old.
Even if the Lions retain Ngata for another year bringing in a talented defensive tackle to add to rotation is never a bad thing.
2018 Draft Class- Defensive Tackle Prospects
This draft class looks like it will be much better for teams looking for a defensive tackle than the last few. Narrowing it down to three was a difficult task.
The three that made the cut were Clemson’s Christian Wilkins, Ohio State’s Dre’Mont Jones and Michigan’s Maurice Hurst
Christian Wilkins- Clemson
Right now Wilkins is probably the top defensive tackle prospect in the class. He’s 6’4” and weighs in at 300 lbs. and has some impressive dance moves. Wilkins performed well in 2016, recording 48 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, three and a half sacks and an incredible 10 pass deflections.
He is a very good run defender. The junior uses his strength to anchor the point of attack and he maintains leverage well, making it very difficult for lineman to push around. He can occupy blocks and make it easier for his teammates to make plays.
Wilkins is also great at penetrating the pocket to generate pressure. Clemson often lines him up at defensive end which hurts him to some extent because he’s a better pass rusher from the interior. He’s quick enough to beat lineman off of the ball and strong enough to bull his way to the quarterback.
Clemson has one of the most talented defensive lines in college football. His teammate Clelin Ferrell was featured in first edition of this series last week. Even though he has to do a lot of the dirty work, Wilkins still manages to stand out.
Dre’Mont Jones- Ohio State
Dre’Mont Jones is a player who sometimes gets overshadowed by the rest of the talent that Ohio State has on their roster. This will start to change when people start see more of him.
As a redshirt freshman last year, Jones was trying to learn how to play defensive tackle. He was a defensive end in high school. Then two games into the season Jones was moved into a starting role after the original starter was injured. The first few games weren’t great for him but he got better every game and led the defensive line with 52 tackles.
Jones is a solid athlete and is the type of player who never gives up on a play. He’s a very good run defender, capable of eating up blocks to open things up for other guys or using his long arms to disengage from blockers and make plays himself.
One area he needs to grow is rushing the passer. He didn’t record a sack in 2016. The tools are there for him to excel in this area but he hasn’t put them together yet. Also he was taken off the field in obvious passing situations last season. This is mainly because Ohio State has four future NFL defensive ends (Sam Hubbard, Tyquan Lewis, Nick Bosa and Jayln Holmes) that they want to get onto the field to harrass quarterbacks.
Maurice Hurst- Michigan
Hurst doesn’t have the size that you normally want a defensive tackle to have, he’s 6’2” and weighs 282 lbs. The reshirt senior still finds a way to get things done. Last season for the Wolverines he recorded 11.5 tackles for loss and four and a half sacks.
Where Hurst excels is his ability to fine of the ball and use his quickness to get penetration. He has a nice swim move he likes to use to get to the quarterback.
You would expect someone who is undersized to struggle in the run game. That’s not the case with Hurst. His quickness makes him an effective gap-penetrator. He does a good job of holding up at the point of attack. Also he has the athleticism and motor to make plays all over the field.
Obviously the biggest concern regarding Hurst is his size. He finds ways to make up for it right now but it could become more of an issue against NFL lineman.