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Under-The-Radar Defensive Tackles for the Colts in the 2021 NFL Draft

Which defensive tackles fit the Colts in this draft?

Arkansas v Texas A&M Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Continuing with the Under-The-Radar series, we are taking a look at a few day three defensive tackles in this draft class. While it may not be likely that they take one in this class, it never hurts to look at all positions as Chris Ballard always surprises us with a few selections. The defensive tackle depth was strong in 2020 as DeForest Buckner was among the best defenders in the league, Grover Stewart proved to be a stout run defender, and Taylor Stallworth was valuable depth on the interior. Robert Windsor and Kam Cline are also two young players who could make the roster this year as well.

So, even though it is unlikely, who are some defensive tackle prospects that fit the Colts’ mold?

Jonathan Marshall, DT, Arkansas

Alabama v Arkansas Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Starting with the most athletic defensive tackle in the draft, Jonathan Marshall is a really interesting name in a weak class. While it took him a few years to really make an impact at Arkansas, he broke out his senior year and put some good film on display for evaluators. For his career, he finished with 71 tackles, 11.5 tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles.

It is hard to start with the positives in his game without mentioning how he tested this offseason. Marshall put up all time, elite numbers for a defensive tackle prospect at his Pro Day. He weighed in at 6’3” 310 pounds and ran a 4.88 forty yard dash, 36 reps on the bench, and had a 32 inch vertical. These athletic traits show up on film too, as he is explosive and fast off the ball. His stats are a bit underwhelming but that’s likely due to the fact that Arkansas played him at nose tackle quite a bit. He is a bit of a project but in the Colts’ one gap scheme, he could thrive as a pro.

Tedarrell Slaton, DT, Florida

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 30 Orange Bowl - Florida v Virginia Photo by Douglas Jones/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Getting to more of a one technique player, Tedarrell Slaton is one of the better run stuffers in this draft class. A steady contributor for the Gators in his college career, Slaton has slid under the radar a bit in this draft class. He finished his college career with 99 tackles, 10.0 tackles for a loss, 3.5 sacks, and 1 interception.

Slaton is the classic two down run stuffer but I think he has the ability to be one of the best in the league in this area. He had a great Pro Day at his size, highlighted by his insane 1.68 ten yard split in his forty yard dash. He is a powerful player who drives offensive linemen back with great hands and a strong base. He breaks double teams with ease too, as he has great technique in withstanding those blocks. He isn’t a great pass rusher but he has shown flashes to at least be a serviceable one in the NFL. He is currently at 330 pounds and I think he is a guy who could cut weight down to 310 or so, much like Grover Stewart did prior to 2020. He reminds me a lot of Grover a bit as a prospect in how he wins.

Darius Stills, DT, West Virginia

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 05 Texas at West Virginia Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

One of the more athletic and energetic defensive tackles in this class is Darius Stills. He put together an excellent career at West Virginia, and he broke out with huge production during his final two seasons. He finished his career with 81 tackles, 23 tackles for a loss, 10.5 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles.

Stills is everything the Colts like in their defensive tackles. He is a high level athlete with great explosion and bend for the position. He is versatile too, as he moved across the West Virginia front and is well versed in multiple roles on the defensive line. He is a high energy player who chases down nearly every play on the field. He could stand to add some more strength to his frame but he would be perfect as a rotational three technique behind Buckner. His skill set could be a bit redundant with Robert Windsor but it never hurts to add competition through the draft.

Troy Lopez, DT, Arizona

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 29 Arizona Bowl - Utah St v New Mexico St Photo by Chris Coduto/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

One of the most underrated players in this entire draft class is Roy Lopez from Arizona. Lopez was a stout defensive tackle for New Mexico State to start his career and went on to continue his strong play at Arizona as a senior. He finished his career with 154 tackles, 23.5 tackles for a loss, 9 sacks, and 4 pass deflections.

Lopez is an experienced defensive tackle who plays with excellent strength at the point of attack. He is a tad undersized for his 1-Tech role (6’1” 304 pounds) but he plays with great leverage and power to accommodate for that. He also brings great energy in run defense and is very nimble and quick in one on one pass rush situations. A strong and explosive defensive lineman always has a place in the league and I think Lopez is going to be a very solid pro.

Honorable Mentions

  • Khyiris Tonga, BYU: An older prospect in this class, Tonga has some of the more dominant film. Big, powerful player who is going to be a very good two down player in the league.
  • Drew Wiley, Kansas State: Athletic player who can play either 1-Tech or 3-Tech. Plays with high energy as well. Definitely a lot of raw traits to work with in his game.
  • Kenny Randall, Charleston: I admittedly haven’t seen much of his film but he posted an elite 40 time, broad jump, and agility scores at his Pro Day. Certainly somebody to keep an eye on.
  • Mustafa Johnson, Colorado: Undersized defensive tackle but he has outstanding bend and quickness for his size. Could be a good depth 3-tech in the league.