2012 Preseason Player Rankings - Def. Tackles
Utah DT Star Lotulelei
Utah DT Star Lotulelei
Posted Aug 22, 2012

CFN's Top 30 Players of 2012 By Position - Defensive Tackles

Preview 2012

Player Rankings - DTs

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Note: This isn't a ranking of the top pro prospects.

2012 CFN Preseason Player Rankings  
Preview 2012 | Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Receivers
Tight Ends | Offensive Tackles | Offensive Guards | Centers 

Defensive Ends | Defensive Tackles | Linebackers
Cornerbacks | Safeties | Punters | Placekickers | Returners 
1. Star Lotulelei, Sr. Utah
The tone-setter for a great defensive front will once again be the 6-4, 325-pound Lotulelei on the nose, the All-Pac-12 first-teamer with a first overall draft pick ceiling. The former Snow College star was also the winner of the Morris Trophy, given to the league's best D-lineman, despite being doubled for much of the year. The senior would be in the NFL right now had he left school early, but instead will be one of the first players chosen in the 2013 draft. Lotulelei's importance up front transcends numbers, 44 tackles, nine stops for loss and 1.5 sacks. He's a powerful anchor in run defense who's nearly impossible to move off his base.

2. Johnathan Hankins, Jr. Ohio State
One of the most active and productive all-around tackles in college football, Hankins tied for third on the team with 67 tackles to go along with three sacks and 11 tackles for loss. At 6-4 and 317 pounds he has tremendous size and shocking quickness off the ball, able to both be an anchor against the run while also dominating as an interior pass rusher. Steady, he came up with a great midseason stretch and was at his best in the biggest games. The defense will work around him once again, and with John Simon taking some of the attention away, he should once again be a statistical superstar.

3. Jesse Williams, Sr. Alabama
Alabama defensive tackles don't put up big stats and they're hardly the glamour stars, but they're the rocks who make the great defense go. The 6-4, 320-pound Williams is one again going to be the anchor who holds down the nose after starting in every game and finishing with 24 tackles. While he's not a pass rusher and he's not going to get into the backfield on a regular basis, his job will be to stick in the middle of the line and hold up against the run. The Australian started out his career as a JUCO transfer out of Western Arizona CC, but he quickly proved that he could handle the workload with a great season. Not even close to hitting his ceiling, he's just scratching the surface and should be a top draft pick in 2013.

4. Kawann Short, Sr. Purdue
The 6-3, 310-pounder had a big decision to make this offseason, putting off the NFL for another year to be the main man on the Boilermaker defensive front for one more year. With his size and tremendous quickness he can be used in a variety of ways. Strong enough to sit on the nose from time to time, he's at his best as a 3-technique able to use his burst off the ball to fly into the backfield and be disruptive on a regular basis making 54 tackles with 6.5 sacks and 17 tackles for loss. Great at breaking up passes, he has batted down ten throws over the last two years while coming up with two blocked kicks last season. All the tools are there, but now he has to be a wee bit better against the run while continuing to collapse things from the inside.

5. John Jenkins, Sr. Georgia
The defensive line was terrific against the run and decent at getting into the backfield, but the job of the front three is to hold up against the power teams with Jenkins the perfect anchor to be the main man to work around. The 6-3, 351-pound former superstar JUCO transfer wasn't a disappointment in his first year, but considering the hype and potential he wasn't quite the dominant force he was expected to be. Very big and very active, he made 28 tackles with three sacks and six tackles for loss showing the ability to hold up well against the run. Good last year, he appears to have upped his intensity and looked this offseason like he's ready to take his game to an All-America level.

6. Akeem Spence, Jr. Illinois
7. Aaron Donald, Jr. Pitt
8. Sharrif Floyd, Jr. Florida (DE)
9. Anthony Johnson, Soph. LSU
10. Louis Nix III, Jr. Notre Dame
11. Sylvester Williams, Sr. North Carolina
12. Scott Vallone, Sr. Rutgers
13. Jordan Hill, Sr. Penn State
14. Nikita Whitlock, Jr. Wake Forest
15. Everett Dawkins, Sr. Florida State
16. Jamarkus McFarland, Sr. Oklahoma
17. Sheldon Richardson, Sr. Missouri
18. Victor Gray, Jr. UCF
19. Kwame Geathers, Jr. Georgia
20. Khyri Thornton, Jr. Southern Miss
21. Ashton Dorsey, Jr. Texas
22. Mike Purcell, Sr. Wyoming
23. Taylor Hart, Jr. Oregon
24. Anthony Williams, Sr. Fresno State
25. Chris Jones, Sr. Bowling Green
26. Jamarcus Allen, Sr. WKU
27. Terrence Stephens, Sr. Stanford
28. Isame Faciane, Jr. FIU
29. Michael Atkinson, Sr. Boise State
30. Baker Steinkuhler, Sr, Nebraska