2015 NFL Draft Rankings: Defensive Tackle

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5.) Jordan Phillips, Oklahoma (6’6 | 334 | 5.21)

Scouting report – Massive nose tackle prospect, who is only a redshirt sophomore but has a good shot to be drafted in the first round. Phillips has unusual athleticism for a man his size and already has experience playing NT in a 3-4 which will help his transition to the pros. With his size he is going to be a force against the run, but Phillips has a surprisingly quick first step which could generate some inside pressure as well.

Projection: 1st-2nd round 

6.) Carl Davis, Iowa (6’5 | 315 | 5.24)

Scouting report – Powerful run-stuffer with enough athleticism to eventually develop some pass rush ability. Davis moves very well for his size and was strong enough to break some weight-room records at Iowa. He uses that strength to hold up well against double-teams and should be a solid 1-tech at the next level. Despite his unusual athleticism, Davis wasn’t very productive as a pass rusher. He can get to the QB if a lane is there, but hasn’t shown the moves to make things happen on his own. Davis helped his draft stock with a dominant showing at the Senior Bowl and the talent is there for him to develop into a beast inside. Worst case, Davis will be a force against the run which will get him drafted no later than the 2nd round. If Davis can develop some pass rush moves and give a more consistent effort he has an All-Pro ceiling.

Projection: 1st-2nd round

7.) Michael Bennett, Ohio St (6’2 | 288 | 5.09)

Scouting report – Quick, disruptive 3-technique DT who has good balance, footwork and football instincts. Bennett has shown the ability to get to the QB with 13 sacks over the last two seasons. He’s a little small for an NFL DT so he will need to put on weight and may struggle initially against the run, but his solid instincts and sure tackling should allow Bennett to be effective inside. Bennett should be able to contribute immediately at least as a 3rd down pass rusher.

Projection: 1st – 2nd

8.) Grady Jarrett, Clemson (6’1 | 288 | 5.03)

Scouting report – Squat, explosive 3-tech DT with the ability to be disruptive inside against both the run and pass. Jarrett has elite quickness but occasionally gets swallowed up by larger blockers which will happen more often at the next level. He has surprising strength despite being undersized, regularly driving blockers into the backfield and uses his hands well to disengage. Jarrett has good play recognition instincts and plays hard all the time, but would be probably better off as a rotational player early in his NFL career until he can get stronger.

Projection: 2nd-3rd round

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9.) Christian Covington. Rice (6’3 | 295 | 5.09)

Scouting report – A bit of an unknown after missing most of his junior year with an ACL injury and then declaring for the draft after only playing two seasons of college ball. Covington dominated in short stretches as a sophomore with an explosive burst off the line and was a buzzy prospect before his injury. He had a sack and a couple flash plays as a sophomore against Texas A&M and their 4 future NFL lineman. I thought Covington would come back to Rice to solidify his draft grade, but he declared for the draft despite the fact that he may not be healthy enough to work out at the combine. It will be risky for teams to spend a high pick on a player with Covington’s limited resume, but his quickness off the line, strength and athleticism will be tempting. He has the potential to be a force and has the versatility to play DT in a 4-3 or DE in 3-4. With some technique work Covington could develop into a solid starter at either position as soon as 2016.

Projection: 2nd – 3rd round

10.) Xavier Cooper, Washington St (6’4 | 298 | 5.02)

Scouting report – Quick first step, good strength, surprising closing burst and agile feet for a big man. Cooper has been playing out of position in the Cougars 3-4 scheme, but has an ideal build and skill set for the 3-tech position in a 4-3 . His experience as a 5-tech will help his draft stock as he can play in either scheme at the next level. With more teams implementing hybrid schemes, Cooper’s versatility will be in demand. He needs to improve his hand play to shed blockers and get better at finishing plays, but he’s a solid day two prospect with upside.

Projection: 2nd-3rd round

11.) Ellis McCarthy, UCLA (6’3 | 330 | 5.08)

Scouting report – Heralded recruit out of high school who hasn’t quite lived up to expectations. McCarthy shows flashes of dominance, but they are inconsistent and he seems to tire quickly. Despite a lack of production, McCarthy moves well for a man his size and has a surprisingly quick first step. He would have been better off staying in school, but has the potential to be a very good 3-4 NT which will get him drafted earlier than his college performance deserves.

Projection: 2nd-3rd round 

12.) Gabe Wright, Auburn (6’3 | 299 | 4.98)

Scouting report – Disruptive player against both the run and pass due to his explosive first step. Wright is kind of a one-trick pony who doesn’t have much to offer if he can’t win with his burst off the line. Wright also struggles against double-teams and has trouble disengaging from blockers. He is a solid 3-tech prospect who has the potential to be a starter if he can add strength over the next few seasons while maintaining his burst off the line.

Projection: 3rd round

13.) Tyeler Davison, Fresno St (6’2 | 309 | 5.30)

Scouting report – Very productive DT with 15.5 sacks over the last two seasons. Davison is solid against the run with the ability to shed blocks and find the ball carrier. He doesn’t have any physical traits that stand out, but he still found a way to be consistently productive. Good instinctive football player who should be at least a rotational DT at the next level, but could surprise and earn a starting job.

Projection: 3rd-4th round