Nick Sitro’s 2020 NFL Draft Defensive Tackle Rankings

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After reading the title, I know what some of you might think. What happened to the tight end and interior offensive lineman? We will get to those positions, but I first want to highlight players that the Buccaneers could be targeting. I’d be shocked if they take a tight end in an overall weak class in this draft. So with that being said, let’s jump in.

1. Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina

Javon Kinlaw is the best interior defender in the 2020 draft. Perhaps Derrick Brown, but I think Kinlaw provides more versatility to a defense. He can play three-technique or five-technique depending on the front, and he has the skill set to counter any offensive lineman. He is a day one starter in the NFL and should be drafted in the first 14 picks.

2. Derrick Brown, Auburn

Derrick Brown is an explosive freak who possesses the power to dominate NFL guards. His short-area of quickness is lacking, but I really don’t hold that against a defensive tackle. Rumors have surfaced that Brown’s work ethic is suspect, which admittedly worries me. This shouldn’t stop Brown from going high in the draft, however.

3. Raekwon Davis, Alabama

When you turn on the tape of the Alabama defense, Raekwon Davis‘ burst off the ball is one of the first things you will notice. His quickness reminds me of Gerald McCoy, but Davis does not possess the pass-rushing ability of a player like McCoy. His hand technique needs work, but if put in the right situation, Davis can use his athleticism to overwhelm offensive lineman.

4. Justin Madubuike, Texas A&M

Another versatile defender, Justin Madubuike, can line up as a nose tackle in an odd front, and a three-technique in an even front. This slight shift in positions and versatility is an underrated trait when assessing defensive lineman, and it allows you to use different blitz packages, stunts, etc. Madubuike is explosive, but his relatively shorter arms worry me against bigger interior lineman. Just think of it in a boxing context. The man with the longer reach has an advantage.

5. Marlon Davidson, Auburn

I see many analysts putting Marlon Davidson in the bottom half of their top 10 rankings, and even outside of them entirely. I just don’t get it. Even when Derrick Brown was out because of injury, Davidson didn’t miss a beat. He can line up everywhere on the defensive line, including on the edge, and absolutely abused Andrew Thomas on multiple reps last season. Like every player, he has his weaknesses, including slow feet, but I like what I see so far.

6. Ross Blacklock, TCU

Ross Blacklock comes in at number six, but it is more a testament of the entire defensive tackle class. Blacklock has a great first step, powerful hands, and short-area agility that should translate well to a three tech role. He can sometimes start contact higher than he should, but this is easily correctable in the NFL.

7. Neville Gallimore, Oklahoma 

Neville Gallimore projects as a solid one technique in an odd front scheme. He will not rack up big numbers, but he is a big body that can disrupt the front of the pocket. His short-area quickness also allows him to make tackles in space, but his length is something that I worry about at the next level.

8. Leki Fotu, Utah

I like Leki Fotu more than other analysts. He has incredible power and the length to counter bigger interior defensive lineman. He will not make plays in space, but you don’t need him to. His first step is fast given his size, and his tackle radius is incredible with runs up the middle. I expect Fotu to make an impact as a nose tackle.

9. DaVon Hamilton, Ohio State

Another player who projects as a nose tackle at the NFL level, DaVon Hamilton, has all the power you are looking for. Even if stonewalled, he will push opposing lineman back to create pressure on the quarterback. I don’t think he is an immediate starter in the NFL, but when he gets his chance, Hamilton will make some noise.

10. Rashard Lawrence, LSU

I love Rashard Lawrence’s toughness on film. He never gives up on a play and has the motor you look for in a defensive lineman. He can hold the point of attack for blitzing linebackers to get free, but he won’t and shouldn’t be relied on to get the quarterback. I think Lawrence is a solid day-three prospect.

 

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