The defensive tackle position has been tremendously undervalued in recent years. Remember when Andrew Billings slipped in the fourth round a few years ago? During the present day, however, players like Aaron Donald and Fletcher Cox are wreaking havoc on a weekly basis. Although I’m not suggesting that any of the players listed in this article will be as good as Donald or Cox, they could still be serviceable defensive tackles at the next level.
Kendrick Norton, Miami (FL)
As I was watching Norton’s tape, he reminded me of a throwback player who will punch you in the mouth. He’s got some feisty in him and can play in different sub-packages on the defensive line.
Projected Round: 5th Round
Projected Team: Carolina Panthers
Norton embodies the “Keep Pounding” mantra. Star Lotulelei signed with the Buffalo Bills this offseason, so they’ll need to fill in some depth at the defensive tackle position in this year’s draft.
Poona Ford, Texas
I’m surprised that people are not talking about Ford, considering he had a decent Senior Bowl and he was a space eater at his time in Texas. He’s a prototypical nose tackle, but he’s athletic enough to play in a 4-3 defense.
Projected Round: 4th Round
Projected Team: Chicago Bears
Chicago has an underrated defensive line, but they need to add depth and competition at the defensive tackle position. Is Eddie Goldman the best the Bears could do? Ford can compete for starting snaps day one.
Bilal Nichols, Delaware
Every year, there’s a handful of small-school defensive tackles that get some buzz. This year, Fort Hays State Nathan Shepherd is that guy, but Bilal Nichols is the true under the radar prospect in this draft. He’s athletic and a dominant force at the small-school ranks, and it should translate in the NFL.
Project Round: 6th Round
Projected Team: Indianapolis Colts
The Colts have a bunch of needs, but the defensive tackle position is one that they need more competition, rather than an immediate upgrade. Hassan Ridgeway and Grover Stewart are underwhelming, and they’ll need someone like Nichols to push them further.