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2021 NFL Draft: Top 10 Defensive Tackles

By Michael Stewart/@golferbad

This will be part 9 in a series of 13 as we take a look at the Defensive Tackle position for the upcoming 2021 NFL draft. The term “Where’s the Beef” is the perfect sag way into describing this year’s class at the Defensive Tackle position. NFL teams will have an option of run stuffers, duel threat and very athletic defensive linemen who can be a force in their rookie season in the right situation. Let’s take a look at my Top 10 Defensive Tackles in the 2021 NFL draft.

  1. Christian Barmore (Alabama)-6’5/310: Barmore utilizes his hands well to keep separation from his opposing lineman and to gain penetration. Barmore has the highest ceiling among the DT in this draft and it should be the 1st Defensive Tackle taken late in the 1st round in the 2021 NFL draft.
  2. Daviyon Nixon (Iowa)-6’3/305: Nixon has been a solid performer in 2020 and is turning heads with his ability to shoot the gaps effectively and make plays behind the line of scrimmage. Nixon is slated to go late on Day 2.
  3. Levi Onwuzurike (Washington)-6’3/293: Onwuzuike games is purely relied on speed as he possesses a quick burst off the line; which enables him to gain penetration and collapse the pocket . Onwuzurike is projected to go on Day 2 or possibly early on Day 2 in the draft.
  4. Jay Tufele (USC)-6’3/315: When NFL scouts talk about a player with a high motor, the name of Jay Tufele always seems to be among the names mentioned. On film, it’s not unusual to see Tufele 20 yards down field making a tackle or go sideline to sideline to make a play. Tufele should be an early Day 2 selection in the 2021 NFL draft.
  5. Marvin Wilson (Florida State)-6’5/311: Wilson is a devastating defensive tackle that can plug the hole and also get to the quarterback on occasion. Wilson’s combination of physicality and a high character on and off the field will bold well for him on draft day as he could be selected late on Day 2.
  6. Alim McNeill (North Carolina State)-6’2/320: McNeill has surprising quickness and good lateral movement in pursuit. McNeill has been compared to former Wolf Pack Defensive Lineman B. J Hill and should hear his name midway or later on Day 2.
  7. Jaylen Twyman (Pittsburgh)-6’2/290: Twyman opted out of the 2020 season. Twyman is a duel threat with the ability to stuff the run and also rush the passer. Twyman should be a late Day 2 pick.
  8. Darius Stills (West Virgina)-6’1/285: Stills is not a mammoth defensive linemen, but is arguably the quickest off the line of scrimmage and he utilizes that advantage often and effectively. Stills can collapse the pocket and pressure the quarterback and can also a solid run stuffer. Stills has been projected to go late on Day 2 or early on Day 3.
  9. Tyler Shelvin (LSU)-6’3/362: Shelvin is massive and knows how to utilize his large frame in the trenches. Shelvin clogs up the middle of the line and eats space; which enables others around him to make plays. Shelvin is projected to be a Day 3 pick in the upcoming draft.
  10. Tedarrell Slaton (Forida)-6’5/358: Slaton is well proportion and carries his weight well. Slaton has good mobility and makes plays in open space.  Slaton should hear his name called on Day 3.

I recently found an interesting stat regarding Defensive Tackles taken in the draft over the last 20 years. There has been a total of 67 defensive tackles selected in the 1st round; which translates to an average of 3.4 per year. That trend hasn’t slowed down as 11 have been taken over the last 3 drafts. This year’s defensive tackle prospects might fall short as currently only two defensive tackles have been viewed as 1st round talent, but possibly only one could be selected in the 1st round.