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2015 MEI Rankings, Part 2 (Defensive Tackles)

 
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Richter


Joined: 11 Feb 2010
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2015 4:16 pm    Post subject: 2015 MEI Rankings, Part 2 (Defensive Tackles) Reply with quote

The 2015 MEI Rankings (Part 2)

Continued from part one, here are the elite defensive tackles:

1. Kristjan Sokoli, DT/NT, MEI 84.02 – The closest thing we've seen to J.J. Watt since... J.J. Watt. There's no one like Watt, something I made abundantly clear once upon a time, but this guy is in the ball park athletically. His vertical leap is actually an inch higher, and his 10 yard split a few tenths of a second faster than Watt. He comes from the same school that produced Khalil Mack, my top ranked scorer last year, who had himself a solid rookie season with the lowly Raiders. Dunno what they're putting in the water up in Buffalo, but we should get it piped down to Foxboro. Sokoli played largely as a nose tackle at Buffalo, and improved consistently while increasing his production, despite the role he was tasked with in the defense. He started coming on as a behind the line disruptor late in his college career, while carrying the most weight he had to that point. He's a raw player still, being Albanian and having a family that discouraged him from playing football at first, but his best play is ahead of him. Exactly the kind of player I like to take with late round picks, I think I'd go into the 6th, maybe even 5th round to snag Sokoli.

2. David Irving, DE/DT, MEI 78.98 – Irving is yet another prospect with a checkered past and athletic traits that will make NFL talent evaluators willing to overlook his indiscretions. It was hard to know where to place Irving; he looks more like a defensive end, tall and fairly lean despite his natural bulk, but he plays like a tackle. He probably projects as a 5 technique that can play situationally all over the line, which will appeal to a lot of NFL teams that run multiple looks up front (including the Patriots, who were present at his pro day). He has freakishly long arms to go along with his nearly 6 foot, 8 inch frame, yet neither precluded him from playing inside and making an impact, albeit sporadically. Since he missed all of last season after being dismissed from the Iowa State team, it's hard to project his college production to the NFL, especially with only 3 career sacks to speak of. Had he kept his nose clean and produced in his final year of college ball, he'd probably be a first round pick. As it stands, he's at best a priority UDFA for me.

3. Henry Anderson, DE/DT, MEI 78.61 – Anderson is another gritty Stanford guy that'll get limited reps in the NFL, from the looks of things. Despite some solid physical tools, he doesn't show up on film through anything other than hustle and the occasional win with quickness. He'll grind and produce stats, and he's not a bad player by any means, but his athleticism just doesn't translate to the field the way you'd like it to. That may be in part because he doesn't really have a position. Anderson isn't quick enough or possessed of enough agility to play as a defensive end and regularly generate pressure in a 40 front, and while he has good bulk, he's not stout enough to hold up inside reliably. That leaves him as a 5 technique, and he hasn't shown much to indicate he has an NFL level of proficiency at that position. It could happen, but it's a projection right now. I'm not as down on Anderson as I sound, I'd just rather take him in the 6th round than where he's likely to go a few rounds higher.

Just short of elite:

4. Tyeler Davison, DT, MEI 74.72 – A really underrated player from a school Belichick has gone to the well with before. Davison has solid size, but he's a 3 technique in terms of style. Can absolutely blow through the A gap, despite being built like a keg. Just a thick, well-built player with a quick get off and the burst to follow through. He can also play with leverage, given his very long arms and large hands, but he's not an end, and he's not going to be a 5 technique in the pros. Put him inside and turn him loose on rush downs, and he'll push the pocket and disrupt a lot of plays. At the point of attack against a single blocker, he has numerous moves at his disposal, all predicated on leverage and power, and once he gets his man off the spot, he can move. The one downside I see is that despite his natural strength and stout build, Davison is not really a power player. He could probably give you limited snaps at the 1 technique, and he's shown some ability to sustain against combination blocks, but it's not his forte. Davison reminds me of Geno Atkins in a lot of ways, but bigger and better built. I'd take him in the third round without hesitation.

5. Carl Davis, DT/NT, MEI 74.41 – Aside from being 3 inches taller, Davis is incredibly similar to Davison athletically. Their testing numbers were so close, I had to make sure I didn't make a mistake recording data. Davis' game is totally different though. He's probably the most similar player to Vince Wilfork in this draft as far as style, despite their physical differences. Davis is huge and imposing at the point of attack, and when he's on, he's not going to be moved. And, like Wilfork, he offers more than the ability to take on double teams, with some real rush ability and burst into the backfield. The downside is that he has serious questions about his motor. He'll play hard for a stretch and then disappear, showing nothing in pursuit. When he's tired, you might as well take him off the field. He won't give you the 75%-plus number of high quality snaps Wilfork would in his prime. In a stronger draft, Davis would be a solid second round pick despite the questions about his effort, but this year, he's a fringe first rounder. He's definitely the prize amongst the true nose tackle types, though.

6. Arik Armstead, DE/DT, MEI 74.02 – This number feels just about right for Armstead, a perpetually underwhelming player that scouts keep wanting to embrace. For a player with his size and physical tools, Armstead should have been a more dominant college performer, but as it stands, he's just not much of a football player right now. He's a bundle of physical tools, some good, some mediocre, and a lot of unfulfilled potential. The talk of him as a first round pick is baffling to me. In the 4th or 5th, I can see it, but not before that. It's not like he didn't have talent around him at Oregon, so the excuses have run out in my estimation. The only upside is that we've seen players like him blossom in the pros after faltering in college (Calais Campbell, anyone?), because of the vastly different quality of training and coaching. Not a guy I'd pursue, though, given his draft stock; I like my lottery tickets in the late rounds, not the 1st.

7. Xavier Cooper, DT/DE, MEI 73.69 – Cooper is another tweener DT in this draft, and one I happen to like, but that carries a few significant flaws. Amongst the potential 3 techniques, Cooper is the most aggressive and quickest off the snap, and is very disruptive as a result. He's constantly moving, with unparalleled effort for a big man, and his ability to step, get small and burst through a gap is top notch. The downside is that he's short-limbed and not a power player, and will have a tough time dealing with blockers that get their hands on him. In college, this isn't as much of an issue, as his athleticism, burst and movement skills allow him to avoid engaging directly, instead threatening gaps, but in the pros, the linemen he'll face will be able to move too and stay in front of him, and he'll need the tools to overcome that level of blocking. He's not a fit as a 5 technique or in a two gap system, but as an end in a one gap 30 front or as a 3 technique, he could be an effective pass rusher. Somewhere between rounds 3 and 4 would be a good value to pick him up as a situational player with some upside.

8. Grady Jarrett, DT, MEI 71.94 – Jarrett has been linked to the Patriots for a while, and though I like his game, I have a hard time seeing him as a first round pick. Jarrett is, to use a clichι, the proverbial bowling ball with knives, and as a slightly undersized 3 technique, his combination of hustle, production and skill is near the top of this draft. His movement skills are so refined, that he looks more like a linebacker at times (and wearing number 50 in college doesn't hurt that perception). So why isn't he a first round pick? Size and power, or the lack thereof. He only has two potential positions, as a nose in a 30 front one-gap scheme like what Houston runs, or a three technique in a 40 front that asks him to penetrate. He's not going to hold up against consistent double teams, he makes his money by getting into the backfield and disrupting. As a second rounder, I wouldn't hesitate, but the 1st round feels a bit too rich to me.

9. Rakeem Nunez-Roches, DT, MEI 71.71 – Similar to Jarrett, but bigger bodied. A one gap player that fires up the field consistently, but that's about all there is to Nunez-Roches' game, as far as I can tell. When he gets an edge on the shoulder of his blocker, he's hard to contain, but he gets bullied when he's directly engaged far too often for my liking, so it's hard to see him as a one gap nose tackle. Well developed though, with a thick lower body, and most of the tape I saw of him was against superior competition, so there may be something there to mold. More one dimensional than I would like, but not bad for a late round selection.

10. Louis Trinca-Pasat, DT, MEI 71.62 – The other guy at Iowa, but not a bad athlete in his own right. Trinca-Pasat actually won his team's defensive MVP award over Carl Davis. He's fairly undersized, but has some quickness and burst, and that translated into production with 6.5 sacks in his final season. Has a knack with stunts and twists up front, and gets home on them surprisingly often. Sort of a slightly richer man's Chris Jones, probably a good value in the 6th round or so.

11. Derrick Lott, DT, MEI 70.07 – Remember when I cautioned earlier about following the trend when a player has a major outlier? Well, unlike Bud Dupree, who has out-of-this-world test scores and a middling short shuttle, Lott has mediocre test results but a very fast for his size short shuttle. Personally, I'll trust his other results more. For a guy that had success rushing the passer in college, he couldn't get on the field at Georgia, and went and beat up on lesser competition at UT-Chattanooga. Not to knock FCS schools, they've churned out some real talent over the years, but it worries me when a guy recruited for a major program flames out simply because he wasn't good enough to get playing time. 7th rounder at best.

Other names of note:

David Parry, DT/DE, MEI 68.98 – T-Rex arms and stiff. Not a guy I would draft. Rich man's Joe Vellano.

Jordan Phillips, NT, MEI 68.82 – Huge guy with consistency issues, a little burst but mostly a space eater. A 3rd rounder that's being discussed in the 1st.

Leonard Williams, DE/DT, MEI 66.75 – Amazing to me that he's at the top of the draft board. He was definitely disruptive in college, but I never saw him jump off the tape in the way people talk about. He's got plus quickness though, so he could be one of the outlier types that wins with size, length and initial quickness rather than burst and athleticism. I sure as hell wouldn't risk the second or third pick in the draft to find out, though.

Danny Shelton, NT, MEI 66.65 – Shelton is a true nose, meaning his game is power and short area quickness. While I wouldn't take him in the first, this ranking wouldn't stop me from taking him in the second, because it's just not his game.

Malcom Brown, DT/NT, MEI 64.64 – Don't really see it with him. Some disruption and quickness, that's about it. He times the snap to get an advantage, which won't work in the pros. Has some power, but doesn't tend to use it because of leverage issues. Will stand straight up and let himself be blocked. Good in space though, can really run for a big guy, which is why I think he's rated more highly elsewhere. 3rd rounder to me.

Ellis McCarthy, NT, MEI 63.67 – Another true nose, but his height is a negative. When he's on, his power is overwhelming, but he's not blowing up the backfield shooting through gaps, ever.

Non-qualifying players of note (missing data):

Eddie Goldman – No short shuttle or broad jump. Projects similarly to Shelton and Phillips.

Davis Tull – No short shuttle due to injury, likely top scorer. I would draft him in the 3rd round as linebacker depth and a guy to groom as an edge rusher. Short, short arms though. Very interesting prospect, if you're interested in this stuff you should read about him on the 3sigma blog.

Non-qualifying players of note (size):

Randy Gregory, OLB/DE, MEI 77.70 – Gregory is simply too light to qualify for these rankings. He's not a defensive end right now, way too light and thin. He'll have to play linebacker and bulk up for the pros at first. Assuming he doesn't smoke his way out of the league.

Ben Heeney, LB, MEI 75.31 – Definitely a guy the Patriots will look at. Good scorer, fits their profile, great 3 cone time.
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patsfan25


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2015 4:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glad to see I'm not alone on Davison. Were you able to get anything on Joey Mbu?
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Richter


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2015 4:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

patsfan25 wrote:
Glad to see I'm not alone on Davison. Were you able to get anything on Joey Mbu?

51.75, one of the lowest scorers. I didn't think him worth a mention.
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patsfan25


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2015 4:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Richter wrote:
patsfan25 wrote:
Glad to see I'm not alone on Davison. Were you able to get anything on Joey Mbu?

51.75, one of the lowest scorers. I didn't think him worth a mention.


Laughing Laughing
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mcmurtry86


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2015 5:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pretty much my exact thoughts on Henry Anderson, Malcom Brown and Leonard Williams

Nice write ups as always
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LD696


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PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2015 5:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

After goldfishwars mentioned him in the Draft forum, I went to check out some games from Sokoli. I think he was quite out of place at nose (dunno why Tepper insisted playing him there). The 2013 Ohio State game was especially bad, he was destroyed by that squatty center. Should he learn to play with a consistently low pad level, he could be a great player though IMO.

I also liked Davison, but apparently we already picked up our 3rd round 3-technique. Smile Confused
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mission27


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PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2015 7:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting. I know you used to only do edge rushers. How well has this worked with interior players in the past?

I'd be interested to see how Big Vince graded out back in '04.
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24isthelaw


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PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2015 9:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

LD696 wrote:
After goldfishwars mentioned him in the Draft forum, I went to check out some games from Sokoli. I think he was quite out of place at nose (dunno why Tepper insisted playing him there). The 2013 Ohio State game was especially bad, he was destroyed by that squatty center. Should he learn to play with a consistently low pad level, he could be a great player though IMO.

I also liked Davison, but apparently we already picked up our 3rd round 3-technique. Smile Confused


Sokoli's first step is outstanding. He belongs at 3-technique in even fronts and 5-technique in odd fronts.
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Richter


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PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2015 12:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One more guy to mention, that I didn't have complete data for and thus didn't include, but that I like as a late round sleeper, is Tory Slater. Explosive leaper and very productive, albeit in D2.
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Donut


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PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2015 12:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How did Darius Kilgo from Maryland score out?
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Richter


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PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2015 12:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Donut wrote:
How did Darius Kilgo from Maryland score out?

56.84, due to abysmal leaping numbers and a slow 10 yard split. He has zero pass rush ability.
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keysersoze3421


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PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2015 1:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can you clarify why some of these players are in the "elite" category but profile as 6th round prospects for you? Most of that blurb about Henry Anderson you point out his flaws, but then you say you view him as a sixth round pick. It doesn't sound like the grading system numerical output is where you align them qualitatively.
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Richter


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PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2015 1:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

keysersoze3421 wrote:
Can you clarify why some of these players are in the "elite" category but profile as 6th round prospects for you? Most of that blurb about Henry Anderson you point out his flaws, but then you say you view him as a sixth round pick. It doesn't sound like the grading system numerical output is where you align them qualitatively.

The ratings are strictly for the explosiveness of the prospects. Just because a guy is explosive, does not mean he's a good football player. It's a very desirable trait for a pass rusher and defensive linemen in general, but if a player is lacking other traits or has serious off field issues, I'm not not going to evaluate them highly. This is one tool amongst many for deciding who can play and who can't. I've said all along, this tool is better for determining who can't play more than who can.
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