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Scouting Notebook: Underrated Defensive Tackle Prospects

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Colts need more youth in the defensive front and these are some capable additions through the draft.

NCAA Football: Oregon State at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

The Indianapolis Colts recently defeated division rival Houston Texans to improve to 7-6 on the year. The defensive line has propelled Indy in recent weeks, led by Denico Autry with five sacks in the last two games.

Margus Hunt finally appears healthy too. He is due to hit free agency and could opt to bank in on his career season. He is top ten in the NFL in QB hits and a team with a lot of cap space may take a chance on the 31 year old.

Behind them is Al Woods— also slated to hit free agency— and former 4th round pick Grover Stewart, who has had a rough season. With only Autry as a likely shoe-in to return at defensive tackle, the Colts will likely look to add talent in the draft.

Luckily, the 2019 defensive line class is quite deep with many calling it one of the best positional groups in years. With guys like Quinnen Williams, Ed Oliver, and Raekwon Davis

eating much of the attention, we turn our focus on other defensive linemen who may be available when at the Colts pick in the draft.


Dre’Mont Jones, DT (6’3” 286)

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Penn State James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

Background

Due to the hype around guys like Oliver and Williams, people are over looking the stout Ohio State lineman. The former high school basketball player has transformed himself over the years as one of the best defensive players in football. He finished his career with 111 total tackles, 22 tackles for a loss, and 9.5 sacks. He was named First Team All-Big Ten his Junior season after his dominant 8.5 sack season.


Analysis

Very quick off of the line, natural athlete with excellent burst. Shows an array of pass rush moves that will work at the next level. Has the quickness to win with speed up the gut and the hand usage to beat experienced linemen. Should excel with twists and stunts as his bend and speed will be nightmares for offenses. Great range in run defense as he tracks running backs down all over the field.


Film Review

Way too quick off of the line here as he shoots the gap for the sack.

Able to rip and pull his way past the guard and then accelerate to the quarterback here. Look at that speed on display.

Not consistently the best run defender, but when he gets a good jump and keeps his head up, he can make plays like this.


Fit with the Colts

Jones would be an excellent fit up front with Autry. Autry was signed mainly due to his athleticism and range as a defensive tackle. Jones is similar in this regard and may be an even better athlete overall. Jones offers more size, which could give the Colts the benefit of playing both players at the same time. Jones is a pure athlete who can get after the passer. The Colts would be wise to draft this athletic tackle if he falls to their first round pick.


Renell Wren, DT (6’4” 295)

Arizona v Arizona State Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Background

This dominant senior lineman may be the biggest riser in this draft. Making Bruce Feldman’s “Freak List” in the off-season, Wren was reportedly clocked at a 4.85 40 yard dash to go along with a 34.5 inch vertical jump. He also reportedly can squat 600 pounds and bench 430. For his on field career, Wren tallied 75 tackles, 14.5 tackles for a loss, and 3 sacks.


Analysis

Stout run defender with insane strength and power. Dominates linemen at the point of attack and drives them back into the backfield. Plays with great leverage. Bendy and explosive as well, maybe the best burst off of the line in the entire class. Sack numbers are not great but he has the athleticism and physical traits to be a dominant pass rusher in the league.


Film Review

Wren drives the center straight back into the quarterback’s lap, forcing a scramble on third down with only a three man rush.

Wren bull rushes the guard into the ground en route to a huge sack against Washington.


Fit with the Colts

Wren would be the perfect Margus Hunt replacement— or a great candidate to rotate with Hunt if he re-signs. Wren is is a similar athlete, in that he and Hunt both win with burst off of the line. However, Wren is stout enough as a run defender and adept enough at using leverage to find playing time early in his career. He should be able to find instant success in the Colts’ scheme as well as he would use his burst and quickness to fire through gaps.


Ricky Walker, DT (6’2” 304)

NCAA Football: West Virginia vs Virginia Tech Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Background

A former three star recruit, Walker has risen to become the leader of a very good Virginia Tech defense the last two seasons. The veteran defensive lineman has piled up quite the list of accomplishments with the Hokies. For his career, Walker has 127 total tackles, 30.5 tackles for a loss, and 8 sacks. He earned 2nd Team All-ACC Honors in 2018 and Honorable Mention All-ACC in 2017.


Analysis

Really nice burst off of the line and balance when engaged with blockers. Very strong at the point of attack as he controls lineman with strong hands. Maintains run fits very well as he understands gap discipline and the importance of filling space. Solid athlete who can win at times by flying past slower linemen. Displays flashes of pass rush productivity with a wide array of moves.


Film Review

Relentless rush here as he fights his way through two blockers to get the sack on the quarterback.

Great balance and strength here as Walker (#8) fights through the traffic and a double team to make the stop.

Walker (now wearing #25 as most Virginia Tech Captains do at least once in their careers) splits the double team again for the big run stuff.


Fit with the Colts

Walker could easily step in and fill the void that will be left by Al Woods this off-season. Woods has been a bit of disappointment for the Colts this season but he is still a decent athlete who understands how to fill space. Walker would be one of the bigger linemen in the Colts’ defensive scheme but he would be perfect as the run stuffing, big lineman up front. With Walker’s ability to also flash pass rush productivity and the fact that he is a better athlete overall than Woods, Walker would be an upgrade in every facet.


Terry Beckner Jr, DT (6’3” 305)

NCAA Football: Purdue at Missouri Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Background

The physically gifted Beckner has been through a lot throughout his collegiate career. After coming into Missouri with high expectations of a 5-Star recruitment rating, Beckner tore up the SEC his Freshman year en route to First-Team Freshman All American Honors. After that though, Beckner suffered two season ending knee injuries. For his career, Beckner tallied 117 total tackles, 30.5 tackles for a loss, and 12 sacks.


Analysis

Powerful player who excels at getting his hands inside and dominating at the point of attack. Tough, physical player who flashes some impressive pass rush moves including a very nice swim move. Although knee injuries have slowed him a bit, he still possess above average quickness and athleticism at the snap of the ball. Team leader who does the dirty work along with making highlight plays.


Film Review

Effortlessly swims past the center and has to be held to prevent the sack. Nasty nasty swim move.

Good swim off of the snap here and then strafes down the line for the backside tackle.

Throws the guard multiple times here and is able to draw the hold on the play.


Fit with the Colts

Beckner would be an excellent addition to the Colts defensive line from a talent and leadership perspective. He has the athleticism and strength to excel in a gap shooting scheme like the Colts, where he can easily maneuver around one-on-one blocks. He also would be a great asset in the twist game as his natural strength and motor would harass opposing QBs. From a locker room perspective, Beckner would just add another hard working high character guy to the team.


Final Thoughts

Overall, the Colts need more youth and depth on the defensive line next season. Hunt and Autry have played much better than expected and adding youth to the rotation behind them will only make them stronger as players. Each one of the players above are very talented, young defensive lineman who would be excellent fits with the Colts defense.

So far this year we have done full length Scouting Notebooks on wide receivers and defensive tackles, the Colts’ biggest needs heading into 2019. Which position group should be the next focus for a future Notebook? Running back? Safety? Cornerback? Comment below which position you’d like to see featured in a future Scouting Notebook.