The 2013 NFL draft class is defined by a batch of quality defensive tackles. There is a credible interior lineman prospect available for every style of defense.
For instance if your team needs a quick interior pass-rusher, they should be tempted by Missouri's Sheldon Richardson. But if a team needs a big body to anchor a 3-4 scheme, they could target Alabama linchpin Jesse Williams.
Richardson and Williams are very scheme specific. At the top of the class are two defensive tackles versatile enough to be dominant playmakers in any system.
Choosing the best between Star Lotulelei and Sharrif Floyd, is no easy task. Lotulelei may get the edge in the mind of many scouts.
That's because he offers truly multipurpose skills. His massive frame and aggressive technique make Lotulelei a stout force against the run.
But he's also quick enough off the snap to consistently pressure the pass-pocket. Lotulelei can play anywhere along a defensive front.
He can dominate the interior as a true nose tackle over the center. Or he can line up between an offensive tackle and guard and attack gaps.
That multiplicity and a dream combination of size, power and agility could make Lotulelei a top five pick on April 25th. His raw talent is considerable enough to keep him at the top of most draft boards, despite a health scare.
Prior to the combine in February, doctors discovered he was suffering with a heart condition. Since then Lotulelei's health has been cleared, putting him back among the most coveted prospects on draft day.
If he has competition to be the first defensive tackle selected, it is from ex-Florida Gators standout Floyd. You could not look at Floyd and mistake him for anything other than an NFL-ready defensive tackle.
He is powerfully built and moves his solid frame with alarming quickness. What Floyd does best is split the gaps between offensive linemen.
He practically lives on the offensive side of the line of scrimmage and demands a double-team almost every play.
Floyd is a rock-solid force against the run and a versatile pass-rusher. As a former defensive end, he knows how to rush around the outside.
His first-step speed often gets him past the ball before his initial blocker has time to react. Yet Floyd's main tactic is to crush the pocket from the inside.
He is the kind of dynamic tackle who will make every other member of his defensive line look good. Floyd and Lotulelei are dream picks for any defense.
Here's a brief breakdown of the best of the rest:
Best pass-rushers: Sheldon Richardson and Sylvester Williams
Richardson is a quick-twitch interior lineman. He's fleet of foot and at his best aligned as a 3-technique.
That means he attacks the B-gap between the offensive guard and tackle. His speed off the snap sometimes belies deceptive strength and he's dangerous on the bull rush.
Richardson is probably the most natural pass-rusher of this rookie defensive tackle group. Although Sylvester Williams isn't far behind him.
He is a power and leverage rusher who made 13.5 tackles for loss in 2012. Williams boasts a nice repertoire of moves to get to the passer.
Any teams relying on a four-man front to create a pass rush should strongly consider selecting Richardson and Williams.
Best run-stuffers: Jesse Williams and John Jenkins
Williams is the ideal big-bodied run-stuffer for the middle of a defensive front. He is solidly built and manhandles blockers in the trenches.
Williams can force offensive linemen back into the backfield and he can also command and hold double-teams. He's flexible enough to be moved along the line and could operate at nose tackle or 2-gap end in a 3-4 scheme.
Georgia's John Jenkins is an intimidating man-mountain who uses his massive size to stand up blockers. He combines that with shiftier than expected footwork to slide off blocks and flatten ball carriers.
With either Jenkins or Williams in the middle, a defense instantly becomes stingier against the run.
No defensive scheme can function without stellar play from the tackles. The 2013 NFL draft offers rich pickings for every team needing help along the interior.
Expect the first two rounds to be littered with defensive tackle selections.
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