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NFL Draft: Top five defensive tackles

Levi Onwuzurike
Levi Onwuzurike (USA Today Sports Images)

The NFL Draft will be a bit different this year without a combine but the scouting must go on and evaluations are as important as ever with millions on the line. Here’s a look at my top five defensive tackles heading into March and a few sleepers to keep an eye on.


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1. LEVI ONWUZURIKE, Washington

Experts are all over the map about who they think the top defensive tackles are in this draft and it’s not a top-heavy group. I think Onwuzurike has the best athletic upside and ceiling. He may lack elite power but he has length and plays with excellent leverage. His brief Senior Bowl appearance helped after he opted out of 2020. He’s either a first- or a second-rounder.

Possible teams: Arizona Cardinals, Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers.

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2. CHRISTIAN BARMORE, Alabama

Just pop in the national title game tape and you see Barmore’s upside. It’s immense. He can win with speed or power and chase the quarterback well. The issue? He is just starting to emerge so it’s hard to tell if this is his ceiling or part of his progression. He won't slip past the second day.

Possible teams: Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers, Las Vegas Raiders, Arizona Cardinals, Cincinnati Bengals.

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3. ALIM MCNEILL, NC State

I like McNeill more than many as a run-plugger and physical tackle who will take up blockers and disrupt plays. Some have him as a mid-rounder and some as high as the second round. It will be interesting to see where he ends up.

Possible teams: Green Bay Packers, Carolina Panthers, Dallas Cowboys, Miami Dolphins, Las Vegas Raiders.

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4. JAYLEN TWYMAN, Pitt

Twyman opted out of the 2020 season but he has shown to be very effective in the offensive backfield and as a pass rusher. The issue? Size against the run. He’s not the biggest tackle around and some feel he can be pushed. I still think he’s a second day selection for a team that needs an interior disruptive.

Possible teams: Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers, Green Bay Packers, Arizona Cardinals.

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5. DAVIYON NIXON, Iowa

No one aside from Barmore raised their stock this past season more than Nixon who is now in the second round discussion. He is a 3-tech who has show balance as a run defender and as someone who can run outside to the sidelines.

Possible teams: Dallas Cowboys, Atlanta Falcons, Las Vegas Raiders.

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SLEEPERS

Who would have thought Wilson would be a sleeper heading into this season but his stock has fallen quite a bit. With his motor and hustle he could be an excellent mid-round steal despite being pushed off the ball too often. The Notre Dame game was especially telling as he was blown off the ball often. His season ended with a leg injury.

Possible teams: Buffalo Bills, LA Rams, Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys

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Odighizuwa is an excellent athlete who can wow you with his ability to make plays upfield and chase the passer but can also be dominated by longer linemen with the reach advantage. Some feel he has the most athletic upside at DT in this draft but he’s not consistent.

Possible teams: Minnesota Vikings, Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars, Buffalo Bills

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A very good 2020 season helped Togiai quite a bit and his strength and leverage are the keys to his game. He’s not great in pursuit but does have a hustle factor about him and he can play in a couple of different schemes which helps.

Possible teams: Jacksonville Jaguars, Green Bay Packers, Atlanta Falcons, Las Vegas Raiders

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