football Edit

NFL Draft stock report: Defensive tackle

Eleven weeks into the college football season, many top players have seen their draft stock rise, fall or stay steady. In our latest NFL Draft series, we take a look at some of these prospects. Today we move to the defensive tackle.




Recruiting: Auburn seemed to be the early frontrunner for Adams, but after then-coach Gene Chizik was replaced, it looked like Georgia, Clemson and Alabama had inched into his recruitment. But after a visit to Auburn right before Signing Day, Adams decided to pick the Tigers.

Performance: Adams has accumulated 34 tackles (eight for loss) including four sacks so far this season. The former five-star also has 13 quarterback hurries, two recovered fumbles and he’s blocked two kicks.

Farrell’s take: We had Adams as a five-star and the No. 3 player at his position back in 2013 behind Kenny Bigelow, who has been injured most of his USC career, and Eddie Vanderdoes, who has also battled injuries. The only question about Adams really was level of competition because he was very athletic and could shoot the gap. He missed numerous events with minor injuries, so I guess toughness was questioned as well, but he’s the best defensive tackle in the 2017 NFL draft ahead of Malik McDowell and others. He’s a freak of nature.

Recruiting: Jones, a former Penn State commit, picked Notre Dame in the summer before his senior season. Prior to his Irish pledge, Jones had a top five of Virginia Tech, Louisville, Notre Dame, North Carolina and Penn State.

Performance: Jones has 28 tackles (8.5 for loss) and two sacks in 2016. The former four-star also has forced a fumble, recovered a fumble and blocked two kicks.

Farrell’s take: This is an interesting one because I saw Jones quite often. He was originally ranked by some of our competitors as a five-star, mainly because of how big and long he was, but when I first saw him, I saw nothing close to that ranking. He dropped a bit throughout the process, including 40 spots after an average showing at the U.S. Army Bowl, and he had a big boom-or-bust tag on him. In fact, we thought he’d be a better offensive tackle at the next level than defensive tackle. It’s taken some time, but he is starting to play more physical. His breakout game against Miami has scouts more intrigued than ever before.


Recruiting: McDowell picked Michigan State over Michigan, Ohio State and Florida State on National Signing Day, but it wasn’t so simple. According to reports, there was some family disagreement about McDowell’s decision and his signed LOI didn’t arrive in East Lansing until early April.

Performance: McDowell has recorded 34 tackles (seven for loss) with 1.5 sacks so far this season. The former five-star also has five quarterback hurries.

Farrell’s take: The first time I saw McDowell I thought he was a bit soft and too raw to be special despite his size and amazing physical gifts. But everyone told me to wait and watch his progress. He was at our first Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge Presented by Under Armour in Atlanta, and I was underwhelmed considering the hype. The next year in Chicago, he was a different player and he played lower and more physical. Now he’s one of the best gap-shooting defensive tackles in college football with a first-round NFL ceiling. The Spartans are struggling and McDowell is clearly being keyed on more than ever, but he’s still been very solid and scouts love his ability to get into the backfield.

Recruiting: A few weeks before National Signing Day, Lotulelei committed to Utah over Oregon State, BYU, Cal, Utah State and others. He is the younger brother of Star Lotulelei, who played for the Utes and is now a defensive tackle with the Carolina Panthers.

Performance: In nine games, Lotulelei has recorded 19 tackles including five tackles for loss and two sacks.

Farrell’s take: I remember there was some hype about Lotulelei either because of his brother Star, who was excellent at Utah and became a first-rounder, or because he was athletic for a big guy. So when I first saw him, I expected more. He had good size, but I didn’t see a ton of athleticism or pass-rushing ability at all at the Top Gun event in Virginia in the heat of the summer of 2012. That’s why we had him outside our top 30 defensive tackles in 2013 and as a high three-star. We just didn’t feel great about putting a fourth star on him due to a lack of athleticism and the level of competition he faced. But like his brother, who was also a high three-star, he’s proven to be better than expected and still has a late first round grade from many.


Recruiting: Shortly after landing his offer and going on his official visit, Walker committed to the Sooners in January and shut down his recruitment. LSU was a childhood favorite, but the Tigers did not offer. Colorado State, Houston, Iowa State, New Mexico and others were involved.

Performance: Because of injuries, Walker has only played in four games this season. He has seven tackles (two for loss) with four pass deflections and two quarterback hurries.

Farrell’s take: It’s not a great year at defensive tackle for the 2017 draft as Walker isn’t considered anything close to a top two-round guy, at least to me, and he’s slipping even further. But he’s in the mix in the top three rounds when healthy and he can make some big plays. He was a three-star guy who did push up a bit at the end of the recruiting cycle after overcoming some injury issues and some bad weight, but he has played better than that so far. Multiple concussions will drop anyone’s draft stock.

Recruiting: The former five-star defensive tackle signed a letter of intent with Notre Dame but asked to be released for family reasons. Irish coach Brian Kelly decided not to release him, but Vanderdoes won a ruling in front of the NCAA appeals committee so he could play at UCLA. Vanderdoes was committed to USC early in the recruiting process.

Performance: In 10 games this season, Vanderdoes has recorded 21 tackles with 1.5 sacks.

Farrell’s take: It took me awhile to be sold on Vanderdoes but he finally won me over late in the process as he slimmed down a bit, showed more quickness and still dominated the middle against the run. When everyone else was making him a five-star after The Opening the summer before he signed with Notre Dame, I didn’t see the domination others did. In his career at UCLA, he’s been too up and down to be as high as I’ve seen him in some projections and injuries have hurt him.