Breakdown: Defensive Tackles

April 2nd, 2009

Boston College defensive tackle Ron Brace will work out for the Bucs today, reports the Associated Press. Learn all about him and 11 defensive tackles who could be on the Bucs' radar in the exclusive draft coverage here at

Right now the Bucs may be begging the Broncos to take their first round draft pick, maybe next year’s too, for Jay Cutler.

That said, the Bucs still need to prepare to pick at No. 19.

And that pick is likely to fill their most glaring weakness: defensive line.

Boston College’s Ron Brace is scheduled to work out for the Bucs today.

Draft guru Justin Pawlowski, of The Sports Animal, 620 WDAE-AM, examines the potential impact on the Bucs roster of Brace and 10 more defensive tackles below. Get a comparison of their games to a current NFL player or two and a full breakdown of each.

Defensive Tackles – By Justin Pawlowski

BJ Raji – DT – Boston College
6’1’’ – 337 lbs – 5.13 (40 yd. dash)
Top 10 pick

Why I’m taking him: I want Raji on my team simply because opposing teams must game plan for him. He’s obviously got the size, but also possesses excellent quickness for a man his size. The thing that sticks out to me most about his play is the use of his hands. Hand usage is very important along both sides of the line. Raji does a great job of getting opposing linemen’s hands off him. He’s equally dominant against the run and pass.

Why I’m staying away: Can Raji’s game translate to the NFL? We’ve seen many big-bodied defensive tackles with loads of potential fail in the NFL. Another concern is his lack of conditioning. He has shown a lack of effort later in games. His character has also come into question with him being suspended for punching another player and being academically ineligible for the 2007 season.

Impact on the Bucs roster: Well, the odds aren’t very good that Raji will fall to the Bucs, but you never know. Maybe the Bucs trade up to grab him? Anyways, I’m not quite sure one could put into words the impact Raji would have on the Bucs. Defensive tackle might still be the biggest need for the Bucs and Raji is the best one available in the draft. I’m sure you can figure it out.

NFL Comparison: Shaun Rogers (Browns) or Casey Hampton (Steelers): I’m sure people see Rogers’ name and turn away, but when Rogers is at his best, he’s unstoppable. I see that same comparison in Raji. There are some slight concerns with effort and conditioning, but Raji has the ability to dominate a game. If he does what he’s supposed to do, he’ll be just like Casey Hampton. If not, expect problems similar to what Shaun Rogers brings.

Evander Hood – DT – Missouri
6’3’’ – 300 lbs – 4.89
1st Round

Why I’m taking him:  The more research I do on Hood, {+++} the more I like him. This guy does everything. The reason I like him most is his attitude. Hood is extremely coachable, a regular in the weight room, and a leader. With most of these defensive tackles equal in talent, Hood’s character stands alone. He’s quick in getting into the backfield, and uses his hands extremely well. He also went to the combine and was one of the big winners after blowing away scouts with his combination of size, strength, speed, and athleticism. Also, Hood showed his toughness in 2006 when he missed just 3 games after breaking his foot. He came back to play 7 straight games after having a screw surgically placed in his foot just 3 weeks before.

Why I’m staying away: For some reason, Hood never dominated games or turned into a star at Missouri. Actually, he was under the radar until scouts and people like me went back and watched him play. He does tend to play too high at times, giving up his leverage.

Impact on the Bucs roster: The big question is, “what do the Bucs want out of their defensive tackles?” The thought is that the Bucs will go with bigger run-stopping tackles, and I’m not so sure Hood would fit that mold. However, Raheem the Dream said he wants a physical team both offensively and defensively. Hood is a physical player who just loves the game of football, and is willing to do whatever it takes to succeed. I’m not sure if it would happen, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Hood’s name was called with the 19th selection. He has continued to move up draft boards over the past month and a half, and I expect that to continue up to draft day. I see some people now have Hood ranked as a fringe 1st round selection. This is a guy with firm 1st round ability!!!

NFL Comparison: Rocky Bernard: Bernard, one of the stalwarts on the Giants’ defensive line has gone his entire career going under the radar. Hood has done that his entire collegiate career. I think these two players might have identical paths once it’s all said and done. Bernard has done the little things to turn into one of the more consistent defensive tackles in football. The one criticism of Hood is that he might never become one of the best. If he flies under the radar and plays like Bernard, that would be more than enough for me.

Peria Jerry – DT – Ole Miss.
6’2’’ – 299 lbs – DNP
1st Round

Why I’m taking him: I love penetration (that’s what she said) from my defensive tackles. Well, that’s what you get with Jerry. He is very quick off the ball with excellent agility. He does a good job at getting into the backfield and disrupting a play. Also, we can’t forget that his competition was the SEC over the course of his career. That can’t hurt. By the way, his first name is pronounced, “pa-RAY”.

Why I’m staying away: I’m unsure about Jerry. He seems to be a favorite among some people, especially ones who votes on my web page, but I just don’t see a dominant lineman. He definitely lacks the ideal size I want in my defensive linemen, and I’m not quite sure he has the frame to bulk up much more. Jerry’s very good against the pass, but I feel he could get buried in the run. The reason I say that is because he doesn’t play very physically. He also tends to play upright at times and loses his leverage. Last, but not least, Jerry has serious injury concerns. 3 of his 4 seasons required attention to injuries he had, including knee surgery before the 2008 season. Sure, he came back and played well, but will he stay healthy in a much tougher “NFL”.

Impact on the Bucs roster: To be honest, I’m not so sure Jerry is the right fit for what the Bucs are doing on defense. First, we’ve heard that Jim Bates wants bigger defensive tackles. Jerry is undersized. Next, we know that Raheem the Dream wants a physical team. Jerry is a finesse player. Finally, The Dream wants his team to practice hard everyday. Jerry has had injury issues. This isn’t me crushing Jerry; I just don’t feel he’s what the Bucs want at defensive tackle. Hell, I could be wrong, and that wouldn’t be a first. If the Bucs do draft Jerry, he’d still be one of the more talented lineman the Bucs have on the defensive side of the ball.

NFL Comparison: Anthony “Booger” Macfarland: I’m guessing this comparison is rather obvious. Jerry, much like Booger, is a much better pass rusher than run stuffer coming out of college. Both players are undersized for defensive tackles. They also both deal with numerous injuries. Actually, both players were rated very similar coming out of college from an SEC school.

Ron Brace – DT – Boston College
6’3’’ – 330 lbs. – 5.52
1st – 2nd Round

Why I’m taking him:  Well, I’m taking Brace to stop the run. This mammoth does a great job at gaining penetration up the middle and clogging the line of scrimmage to stop the run. His initial quickness off the snap is surprisingly good for a man his size. Strength is not a question as he is strong enough to take on double teams and hold his own. He can be extremely quick in short spaces.

Why I’m staying away: I’m worried Brace benefited from the attention paid to BJ Raji. Was Brace as dominant against the run as we are believed he is? He’s also not going to add much in regards to sack totals. Conditioning and stamina might be an issue. Also, he dealt with a back injury throughout the entire 2008 season.

Impact on the Bucs roster:  Jim Bates has always had defensive tackles that are big and take up multiple blockers. Brace fits that mold. Conditioning shouldn’t be a problem if the Bucs are truly going to run a rotation with their defensive tackles in the middle. Brace would finally be a physical presence in the middle of the Bucs defensive line. Do you take Brace with the 19th pick? He won’t last to the Bucs next pick in the 3rd round. By the way, does anyone know who Brace’s head coach was last year at Boston College? Yep, it was new Bucs offensive coordinator, Jeff Jagodzinski. Hmmm.

NFL Comparison: Pat Williams: When thinking of Brace, I think of typical nose tackles like Ted Washington, Sam Adams, and Pat Williams. A big body in the middle of a defensive line can make all the difference in whether or not your defense can stop the run. Since Pat Williams arrived in Minnesota, the Vikings have had one of the top run stopping defenses in the NFL. It might not happen immediately, but Brace could have that same affect, draw double teams, and allow other players to make plays.

Fili Moala – DT – USC
6’4’’ – 305 lbs – 5.10
2nd Round

Why I’m taking him: I’m excited about the potential of Moala. I know that the word “potential” rubs some of you the wrong way, but I believe Moala is already a good player. I’m anxious to see just how good he can be. His height and frame tells me there is still plenty more room for growth. When watching his film, I’m very impressed with his quickness off the ball. He darts into the backfield disrupting the play whether it be a pass or run. He’s got nice bloodlines as well as his cousin is Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle, Haloti Ngata.

Why I’m staying away: Uh oh, did I use the word potential? Am I willing to risk waiting for that potential to be reached? Moala was quite inconsistent during his career at USC. He’s also just a space eater. You won’t get much pass rush out of him. The difference between him and Ron Brace is that Brace has the size and build for a run stopper. With Moala’s height and weight ratio, he looks lanky at times. I know, a 300 lbs man looking lanky? But it’s true!!!

Impact on the Bucs roster: First, I don’t see the Bucs taking Moala unless they trade back and acquire a 2nd round pick, or Moala falls to the 3rd round. I’m not so sure the Bucs can afford to wait and see if Moala reaches his potential. Although, he is a big run stopping defensive tackle that SHOULD get bigger and better in the NFL.

NFL Comparison: Marcus Spears: Much like Spears, Moala’s best fit is going to be as a defensive end in a 3-4 defense. This will limit the number of teams looking at him. Of course, there is still a chance that a team that runs a 4-3 defense could still be interested in his potential.

Sen’Derrick Marks – DT – Auburn
6’2’’ – 306 lbs – 5.03
2nd – 3rd Round

Why I’m taking him: Marks is an interesting prospect. What stands out most to me about him is his ability to do many things well. He gets good leverage due to his strong lower body. His quickness is exceptional both off the ball and in close areas. Another thing I really like about him is that he has good character.

Why I’m staying away: Marks has a nice frame, but I’m unsure how much bigger he could get. I feel that if he puts more weight on, it might slow him down and make him sluggish. Durability is a major concern of mine with Marks. He has had numerous ankle injuries over the course of his collegiate career, and I fear those might continue in the NFL. He is not elite in any area of his game.

Impact on the Bucs roster: With the Bucs moving to a bigger defensive tackle set, I’m not so sure Marks is the type of defensive tackle the Bucs are looking for. As I stated above, Marks might be limited in how big he can get. Also, with the Bucs lacking a 2nd round pick, the only way I see the Bucs drafting Marks is if they trade down and acquire extra draft picks including one or two in the 2nd round. If Marks falls to the Bucs pick in the 3rd round, the Bucs should take him. That would be very good value and worth a shot.

NFL Comparison: John McCargo: Much like McCargo, Marks looks to be a “rotation defensive tackle.” What I mean by that is that I don’t view him as “the man” but more of a valuable guy off the bench. I thought the Bills drafted McCargo way too early, and they did. The best value for a player like Marks will be in the 3rd round, but expect some team to take a shot on him in round 2.

Mitch King – DT – Iowa
6’1’’ – 280 lbs – 4.89
3rd Round

Why I’m taking him: This guy’s mean. That’s a good thing. King possesses all the intangibles you want in a defensive tackle. He is mean. He is a leader. He is a hard worker. He will do everything in his power to win. His outstanding leverage makes it tough to move him off the line of scrimmage. King is the type of player that makes players around him better. The guy’s nasty!!!

Why I’m staying away: He’s too small. Is he a defensive tackle or defensive end? That’s his biggest flaw. With that lack of size, he tends to get engulfed by bigger more powerful offensive linemen. Another flaw is that he tends to let his emotions get the best of him.

Impact on the Bucs roster: I love the type of player King is, but he isn’t right for the Bucs. He’s not just undersized for a defensive tackle; he is anorexic for a defensive tackle. That’s the exact opposite of what the Bucs need. I’d stay away if I were Mark Dominik.

NFL Comparison: Matt Roth: It seems like this is the type of defensive lineman they produce at Iowa. Although Roth has much better size and a true position, him and King possess ideal intangibles that you just can’t coach.

Alex MaGee – DT – Purdue
6’3’’ – 298 lbs – 5.07
3rd – 4th Round

Why I’m taking him: After playing his senior season out of position at defensive end, MaGee opened eyes at the senior bowl being back at his natural position inside. He possesses excellent quickness to get penetration and does an equally nice job against the run and pass. He has an excellent motor making him good in pursuit and is a reliable tackler. Magee also never missed a game due to injury.

Why I’m staying away: I’m not sure I know who Alex Magee is. The reason I say this is because he has been inconsistent over his career, and didn’t help himself by playing defensive end last season. His natural position is inside at tackle, but he doesn’t seem to be stout enough to handle double teams. Moving back inside to tackle, Magee might have trouble locating the ball and ball carrier.

Impact on the Bucs roster: Once again, another defensive tackle who’s slightly undersized. Even though his size isn’t ideal yet, Magee has the frame to put on another 10-15 lbs which could make him a possibility. Because of his time at defensive end last season, Magee could slip a little due to his lack of film at defensive tackle. If he does slide, I feel the Bucs should definitely consider him in the 3rd round, and should draft him if he’s available in the 4th round. The talent is there, Magee just needs the coaching to help him bloom.

NFL Comparison: Jovan Haye: Both these players are undersized, but play with a lot of heart. I’m not quite sure if Magee can be a flashy player, but like Haye, he might fly under the radar and be a solid player.

Chris Baker – DT – Hampton
6’2’’ – 326 lbs – 5.03
4th – 5th Round

Why I’m taking him: Baker’s got a lot of talent. He has excellent size for the position, but has the quickness to match it. One of his biggest strengths is his quickness off the snap and penetration into the backfield. He has shown the strength and quickness to split a double team, agility to avoid a cut block, and tenacity to play with such a physical nature.

Why I’m staying away: The guy was dismissed from Penn St. Penn St!!!!!! I thought Joe Paterno was criticized for being too lenient with his players? Hmmm. Baker pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault and criminal trespass following two fights in 2007. By July of 2008, he had been dismissed from Penn St. and on his way to Hampton. As for his play, his awareness needs to improved to find the ball carrier.

Impact on the Bucs roster: The question here is whether or not the Bucs might take a risk on a player with questionable character. Jim Bates, has shown his willingness to take chances on players with a lot of talent and questionable character. Without the character, Baker is the type of defensive tackle the Bucs are looking for. He is tough and physical, and equally good against the run and pass. He can take up multiple blockers allowing the linebackers to make the plays.

NFL Comparison: Marcus Thomas: Thomas is one of the players Jim Bates took a chance on while with the Broncos, and Thomas is a very good comparison to Baker. Both these guys have all the talent in the word, they just need to keep their nose clean. I’d expect Baker to be drafted around the same point Thomas was drafted, around the 4th round.

Sammie Lee Hill – DT – Stillman
6’4’’ – 329 lbs – 5.15
4th – 5th Round

Why I’m taking him: Boy, you have to love the size of Hill. Now the question is whether or not he can move that size. Well, for a man his size, Hill has excellent agility and quickness. As a senior in 2008, Hill recorded 7.5 sacks proving he can play the run and pass equally.

Why I’m staying away: Sorry, but I’ve never heard of an NFL player coming from Stillman. I might be mistaken, but still, the level of competition isn’t that good. He needs to play with better leverage or his career in the NFL might be short-lived.

Impact on the Bucs roster: It’s hard to teach this kind of size. It’s my understanding that the Bucs want to get bigger in the middle of their defensive line. Hill is the type of big man that could slip through the cracks and be had in the 4th or 5th round. His skills are there, the question is whether he’ll be able to compete with NFL offensive linemen. I believe that’s one risk the Bucs could be willing to take.

NFL Comparison: Corey Williams: Like Corey Williams, Hill is going to fly under the radar after going to a small school. Also like Williams, Hill can play defensive tackle in a 4-3 defense or defensive end in a 3-4. The big bodied Hill could really surprise the team that drafts him.

Dorell Scott – DT – Clemson
6’3’’ – 312 lbs – 4.95
4th – 5th Round

Why I’m taking him: I like Scott’s size and quickness combination, but he also has a frame that can add 10-15 lbs. With his big frame, Scott is a force against the run. With better coaching in the NFL, he can become much more consistent. There are times when he flashes the ability not just to take on double teams, but to split them. Injuries are not a concern with Scott.

Why I’m staying away: He’s just not a consistent all-around defensive tackle. As a defensive lineman, you have to come off the snap low and maintain good leverage, Scott fails at this. I see Scott as a rotational defensive lineman and never becoming an impact starter.

Impact on the Bucs roster: If Jim Bates is looking to run a rotation with his defensive tackles, I’d have no problem if the Bucs drafted Scott in the 5th round. I think at any point earlier than that, it might be a bit of a reach. Scott’s a player that could be paired with Chris Hovan and Ryan Sims to give the Bucs the beginning of a decent rotation.

NFL Comparison: Ryan Sims: Much like Sims, Scott will be a backup defensive tackle in the NFL. Similar skill set here, as both these players are much better against the run than they are the pass.

6 Responses to “Breakdown: Defensive Tackles”

  1. Mr Lucky Says:

    Nice reasoning Justin. I forgot about Ron Brace being under coach Jeff Jag’s last year and that will really help his cause – IF the bucs take a DT with their first round pick.

    PS – Rocky was the salwart with the Seahawks. He has yet to play with the Giants

  2. admin Says:

    Joe here.

    Mr. Lucky, by definition Justin is correct. Stalwart just means big and strong member. (that’s what she said.) 🙂

  3. Mr Lucky Says:

    JP – it’s all good.

    My question is this – with the Bucs #19 pick will it be a DT or should the Bucs wait until rounds 3-5 and try to get DT’s then – say a Hill or Scott player?

    You’re review of their abilities is great because not many people have watched them play – especially Hill. I guess the big question is how well do you think Ryan Sims will do at DT this year? Do the Bucs need someone to “step up” as a rookie or can they afford to “groom” a DT?

    PS – For readers who haven’t subscribed to Justin’s reviews it’s worth it 😀

  4. MTM Says:

    Can the “Pole” scout for the Buc’s. Maybe just as an interim scout. Give him the 3rd pick. Its not like he could do worse than the past years.
    JP can handle it.

  5. Mr Lucky Says:

    JP – which of these DT’s would you take in Round 3, assuming that the Bucs trade away their firstround pick?

  6. RastaMon Says:

    Does he come with a 15 yard penalty for hands to the QB’s face ?