2012 NFL Draft - Defensive Tackles
Clemson DT Brandon Thompson
Clemson DT Brandon Thompson
Posted Apr 13, 2012

By far, defensive tackle is the deepest position in the 2012 NFL Draft. From a college football perspective, here's the analysis of all the top DT prospects.

2012 NFL Draft Position Rankings

Defensive Tackles

By Pete Fiutak
- 2012 NFL Defensive Tackle Rankings - No. 11 - 25

- Inside LBs
- Outside LBs
- Cornerbacks
- Safeties


2011 NFL Prospect Rankings & Breakdowns
- QBs | RBs | FBs | WRs
- TEs | OTs | OGs | Cs 
- OLBs | ILBs | DTs | DEs
- CBs | Ss

2011 NFL Post-Combine Draft Rankings
- Top 32 Talents
- 2nd Rounders
- 3rd Rounders
- 4th Rounders
- 5th Rounders
- 6th Rounders
- 7th Rounders & Top Free Agents  


2010 CFN Talent Rankings
- 1st Rounders
- 2nd Rounders
- 3rd Rounders
- 4th Rounders
- 5th Rounders
- 6th Rounders
- 7th Rounders 
- Top Free Agent Talents 

2010 CFN Position Rankings & Analysis

- QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs
- Cs | OTs | OGs | DEs
- DTs | ILBs | OLBs
- Ss | CBs
This Class Is … Phenomenal. By far this is the deepest and best position in the draft with a little something for everyone. There will be some tremendous misses and lots and lots and LOTS of second guessing with some great mid-round values who'll pan out over some hit-or-miss types who'll go in the first round.
By far, the deepest spot in the first round is defensive tackle with as many as seven in the mix to go in the first round or at worst, the top 50, but it's LSU's Michael Brockers and Memphis' Dontari Poe who have the freak of nature-type skills to make a great class of tackle special. However, they're both the textbook definition of boom-or-bust picks.

Brockers is still a work in progress. Young, he's still filling into his frame and needs at least a year or two of seasoning with an NFL strength and conditioning coach. His pro day was great, but his Combine was awful. It's that inconsistency that makes him a wild-card, and considering how LSU defensive linemen haven't exactly torn up the NFL, he's a risk.

Poe is the central casting nose tackle with massive size and rare strength, but he'll need someone to keep the motor going and, like Brockers, is just scratching the surface. They're both too good not to take somewhere in the top 15, but it'll be buyer beware, especially with so many other great tackle talents available.

The Best Value Pick Will Be … Jared Crick, Nebraska
Most Underrated … Jerel Worthy, Michigan State
Most Overrated … Devon Still, Penn State
The Deep, Deep Sleeper Is … Chigbo Anunoby, Morehouse

1. Dontari Poe, Memphis (Jr.) 6-3, 346
Forget about the quarterbacks; Poe is the biggest call in the draft. His skills, upside, and talent are so great that no team will be faulted for taking him too early, and several general managers are going to have to answer why they didn't go with a potential franchise-making talent. Massive, he's a true space-eater with the inside presence to swallow up everything against the run and become an anchor for everyone else to work around. Quick for his size, he's stunningly athletic and could be used as a 3-4 end depending on the situation. With 44 reps on the bench at the Combine, strength isn't an issue and he should collapse the pocket on a regular basis. However, he didn't exactly sit on quarterbacks' heads during his Conference USA career and wasn't the superstar force he should've been in a mediocre league. Even so, this is a once-every-ten-years prospect tools-wise, but it might take a little bit of seasoning to unleash a superstar.
CFN Projection: First Round

2. Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State (Jr.) 6-4, 298
While other tackles might have a greater upside, and there are some phenomenal specimens others will take a chance on, Cox has the potential and the talent to be the steadiest all-around playmaker of any of the prospects. While he's not massive, and he doesn't have too much room to get any bigger, he's a tremendous interior pass rusher with stunning quickness and the cut-on-a-dime ability of a speed end. Perfect for a 3-4 line, he's going to be asked to get into the backfield and shine, but he might need a massive anchor on the nose. He'll be okay against the run, and he might be a bit of a finesse defender from time to time, but there's a high floor on his abilities and there's almost zero bust potential.
CFN Projection: First Round

3. Jerel Worthy, Michigan State (Jr.) 6-3, 308
A top-five overall talent, he could be a steal if he puts it all together. He has the NFL size, the right base, and the type of talent that can anchor a defense. The Pro Bowl skills are all there with the size to hold up against the run and enough quickness to collapse the pocket when he needs to crank things up another level. If he wants it and he can ramp up his motor to a consistent level, he has the upside to be the best tackle in the draft and a perennial star. However, he doesn't always jack up the intensity and he went bye-bye way too often during games. Conditioning is an issue and he'll have to get with an NFL-caliber strength and conditioning coach to tighten things up and get his wind up, however, the potential is there to become a whale of a 3-technique defender.
CFN Projection: First Round

4. Michael Brockers, LSU (Soph.) 6-5, 302
There's a lot of work to be done and there are downsides, but he has the quickness and the versatility to become a major factor in a variety of defenses. He was a dominant force in the SEC wars and turned into an anchor of one of the nation's best run defenses, and while he could sit on the nose if needed, he'll be terrific as a 5-technique and can be used in several ways. Very big, very athletic for his size, and with a perfect frame, he's already big and still has room to add good weight without losing a thing. While he was awful at the Combine, he picked it up at his pro day and showed he could do everything an NFL defensive coordinator could want, but that's part of the problem; can he be consistent? Does he have the maturity and the fire to step up and do the work needed to be special? There's a limitless upside, but buyer beware with major bust potential if he doesn't take on a pro attitude.
CFN Projection: First Round

5. Brandon Thompson, Clemson 6-2, 311
A potentially fantastic run stopper, he's extremely strong on the inside and doesn't get pushed around. Considering his size and body type, he moves well and could work in a variety of schemes, but he's built to sit on the nose with a short, squatty body. He doesn't have a great frame and can't get any bigger with any good weight, but he has the lateral movement to stop things up against the run. Quick off the ball on tape, he was disastrous at the Combine around the short drills, but he plays fast and is disruptive when he has the motor running. A great leader and with the type of attitude a coaching staff will love, he could be a star a defensive front seven works around and will swallow things up against the run.
CFN Projection: Second Round

6. Devon Still, Penn State 6-5, 307
With the right frame and the right size he's a central casting 3-technique tackle with the ability to fly through the gap and get into the backfield in a hurry. A great technician, he has the finer points down and he's not going to need a whole bunch of work; he'll be ready to roll right out of the box. However, he was an overrated collegian, named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year even though he completely and totally disappeared in key games down the stretch, and didn't have the motor always running. When he was on, though, he was the best player on the field, and in the right system he could be fantastic, but he's not an anchor. There's no bust potential, but in a draft class full of potentially special tackles, he's in the middle of the pack.
CFN Projection: First Round

7. Mike Martin, Michigan 6-1, 306
Always working, he has the heart of a lion with a relentless motor and a non-stop ability to keep moving and keep trying to make things happen. The problem is that he was able to wear down college blockers on want-to and hustle, and that won't happen at the next level. Even so, he's the perfect tackle to work around several bigger players, and he'll be a pain in he'll be the pain in several offensive guards' sides with his activity. But there's a hard ceiling on what he can do. Short and with no room to get any bigger, this is it. Not a pass rusher, there's a limit on where he can play, but some coaching staff will love to have him.

8. Kendall Reyes, Connecticut 6-4, 299
With a great frame and a good body, he can play in almost any system and has the potential to get bigger and stronger with at least ten more pounds of good weight. More than anything else, he's a great character guy and a tremendous leader who a coaching staff will love to have as a key part of the defense. However, while he's athletic and strong – cranking up 36 reps on the bench - he can be erased and engulfed by bigger, stronger blockers. Okay as a collegian, he wasn't special and is more of a prospect than a producer. Great in offseason workouts, and a favorite personality-wise, he'll make himself into a good pro, but probably not an elite one.
CFN Projection: Second Round

9. Josh Chapman, Alabama 6-1, 316
Most of the top tackles in the draft can do several things and work in a variety of defenses. Chapman is a nose tackle – and that's about it. That's not a bad thing, though, with tremendous size and the build to sit in the middle of the line and not get budged. A tremendous run stopper, he's tough and holds up well. But again, this is it. He's not a pass rusher and he's not going to move too much. While he'll work, battle, and will always give an honest day's effort, he's mostly going to be a brick who everyone works around. Proven, he's the type of player who can sit on someone's defensive front and not be noticed by anyone other than the offensive interior that can't generate a push.
CFN Projection: Third Round

10. Billy Winn, Boise State 6-3, 294
A nice all-around player, Winn's an active run defender who can maul an offensive lineman, and he's athletic enough to be used as a strong interior pass rusher. Quick and with a nice repertoire of moves, at the very least he could be a specialist end in a 3-4 or could even be moved to the outside as a big 4-3. However, while he was a productive college player, he has limited tools and might have a hard-ceiling. A finesse defender, he's not an anchor and he has to get stronger, but he'll be a disruptive force if bigger defenders are doing the heavy lifting against the run.
CFN Projection: Fourth Round

- 2012 NFL Defensive Tackle Rankings - No. 11 - 25