2021 NFL Draft First Rounders: Defensive Tackles

We are moving over to the defensive tackle for today’s positional preview. Arguably one of the shallowest positions in the 2021 NFL Draft class is at this position. That being said it does not take away the importance of the DT to a team.

In terms of first round pick potential, there are not many names with a chance of going in Round One. Once we hit Day Two, we should see more players in the DT position fly off the board. For argument’s sake, I have picked 3 guys who I feel have a chance to go on Day One. There’s also some other names to look out for in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Christian Barmore, Alabama

Height: 6’5”
Weight: 310lbs

Barmore had another great season with Alabama in the disrupted 2020 season and continued to add to his tape leading into the 2021 NFL Draft. He is the sort of defensive tackle that leads the line in the middle, but is not expected to put in big numbers in terms of sacks. What he does offer is substantial physical presence and already seems to be at his ideal size and strength for the next level.

He possesses an impressive motor for his size, and can play all game long disrupting the line. He makes holes for his defensive teammates and dominates in 1v1 situations. His presence on the line can force multiple lineman to focus on him.

Christian Barmore’s stats will not often show up on many stat sheets, but he regularly provides pressure and QB hits that can sometimes go unnoticed. He also has impressive hands and can get under or over the offensive lineman, making it all the more difficult to move him.

One concern that some had for Barmore was his limited involvement. He was not a full timer in 2019, but in 2020 he grasped an increased role with both hands and didn’t look back.

An area of improvement is when he is double teamed: he can get too high and be out-leveraged. He has also been guilty of going for the big plays instead of sticking to his assignments, but this will be quickly ironed out by any defensive line coach that he works under in the NFL.

Jay Tufele, USC

Height: 6’3”
Weight: 315lbs

Jay Tufele offers something many DTs cannot: athleticism. The best aspect of his game is his run stuffing ability. His get off can leave offensive linemen flat-footed. Tufele decided to opt out in August, having felt he has already proved enough allowing the promising DT to focus on the upcoming combine and 2021 NFL Draft.

Tufele’s engine is incredible and is arguably a level above Barmore. This guy never stops. Despite being over 300lbs, he moves like an edge, but with the size to dominate at the DT position.

Opposing offensive lines have regularly required a double team to manage his explosive and disruptive play style. If he can continue to bring this in the NFL, he will be a wrecking ball that can play on all 3 downs.

One area of improvement I have seen is his vision for the ball. At times, he loses track and commits to the wrong blocker, allowing him to be passed. He can also come out of his stance too high, which will enable lineman to get under his pads and push him back. This was few and far between but at the next level will need to be worked on against the more wise and experienced interiors.

Marvin Wilson, Florida State

Height: 6’5”
Weight: 311lbs

Marvin Wilson was key DT in the 2021 NFL Draft class last year, before other names started to make the rise. Wilson has still maintained a high level of play, despite Florida State not having the best year.

Wilson is a big man, and you see that from just looking at him. He possesses incredible power and speed to add to that size. His hands are like boxing gloves, which he uses to devastating effect against both offensive lineman and quarterbacks. Evidence of this is the amount of pass deflections he has had in his college career.

Wilson’s best area is certainly against the pass, but that does not mean he is a slouch in the running game. He has the power and size to maintain his gaps and disrupt the line enough to stop oncoming running backs.

An area of improvement for Wilson to work on once he hits the NFL will be his get off from the snap, despite possessing good movement for a guy his size he needs to be more explosive out the gates to really make a menace of himself at the next level against NFL calibre lineman.

Other names to look out for:

Jaylen Twyman, Pitt
Daviyon Nixon, Iowa
Alim McNeill, NC State
Jordan Davis, Georgia
Tyler Shelvin, LSU
Levi Onwuzurike, Washington
Darius Stills, West Virginia

We may only see one DT go in the First Round of the 2021 NFL Draft. This is one of the weakest positional classes in the whole draft class. With many NFL teams requiring more urgent needs in other areas, do not be surprised if all of these guys fall into Day Two.

The @5yardcollege team continues the positional breakdowns throughout the week on the defensive side of the ball. Be sure to keep an eye out in the coming days.

Saturdays are for rushing, too!

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