The Square Pigeon’s 2019 NFL Draft Coverage – Defensive Tackles
Top 5 Defensive Tackles
When you combine these defensive tackles with the edge rushers, and this might be the best group of defensive linemen in history.
There is a very real possibility that more than 20 of these guys taken in the first two rounds.
Realistically, I believe there will 16 taken, and as a comparison, there were only eight defensive tackles/edge rushers taken last season.
1) Quinnen Williams Alabama
As a sophomore, Quinnen Williams earned a spot on the All-SEC team and the first team All-American team. Williams finished the season with eight sacks and 19.5 tackles for a loss. He clearly pops off the screen despite only starting one season.
I couldn’t find any offensive lineman that could block Williams by himself. A double team is required. Even against a double team, he can blow up the running back. Williams diagnoses the play quickly which makes him a huge asset in run defense. He also lined up at every position on the defensive line.
His burst off the line isn’t quite at an elite level which keeps him from being a dominant pass rusher. He managed eight sacks this season, but several of those sacks came against quarterbacks who held the ball ridiculously too long.
2) Ed Oliver Houston
As both a true freshman and sophomore, Ed Oliver was named a first-team All-American. Injuries demoted him to the third team this year, but Oliver was clearly one of the best talents in college football. He recorded 192 tackles in three seasons while playing defensive tackle including 53 tackles for a loss.
Oliver is a run stopping machine. He flies into lineman off the snap and easily pushes double teams into the offensive backfield. He is a freaky athletic big man who will easily start for any team next season as a rookie.
Despite his great burst off the line, Oliver failed to register an adequate number of sacks. He also struggles to get off the double team blocks. He might push them backward, but he can’t shred them and make the play. He is a raw talent who needs refinement to become a top-notch superstar.
3) Dexter Lawrence Clemson
Dexter Lawrence quickly became a force in college football when he shined as a freshman at Clemson. He earned ACC Defensive Freshman of the Year and continued his dominance for the next two years. In 2018, he was named to the first team All-ACC.
Like Quinnen Williams, Lawrence requires two blockers. Whenever he gets to face a single opponent, he wins the matchup. He is very fluid for a big man, and his athletic ability allows him to play multiple techniques on the line.
Lawrence’s statistical production dropped off after his freshman season. Other teams learned to key on him, and he gets locked up on double teams nearly every play. He needs to work on getting off the double teams because they take him out of the play; however, he does open up the chances for other players by taking two blockers consistently.
4) Christian Wilkins Clemson
Christion Wilkins deserves credit as a major contributor to Clemson’s defense over the past four seasons. The leadership and playmaking ability helped Clemson win two National Championships. As a senior, Wilkins was named a first team All-American.
Over four seasons at Clemson, Wilkins only recorded 16 sacks, but I believe that production will increase in the NFL. He looks like a pass rushing specialist playing the interior of the defensive line. Lateral movements and agility allows him to exploit small gaps.
My biggest concern isn’t so much about Wilkins. I’m concerned that Dexter Lawrence took many of the double teams which left Wilkins alone against a single blocker, and he didn’t put up the production that an elite player should have. On running plays, he gets owned by driving lineman.
5) Dre’Mont Jones Ohio State
After two seasons as a role player on the defensive line at Ohio State, Dre’Mont Jones exploded this year with 8.5 sacks and 13 tackles for a loss. These stats were enough to earn Jones a nod as an All-Big 10 team member.
His lateral quickness and agility is unbelievable for a man his size. This coupled with his hand striking ability allows him to beat lineman by avoiding direct engagement. He is a fluid runner who doesn’t move like any defensive tackle that I have ever watched.
Jones’ size is a little strange. He looks small despite being 6’3” and 281 pounds. It looks like he lacks the size to play defensive tackle at the next level. He might stay at that position, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he is moved to defensive end until he bulks up a bit more.