In this NFL Scouting series, we will cover each position group, giving you insight into what NFL franchises look for. The real report I based this on, had pictures of the player(s) in various movements, with comments about each. You may want to read the companion piece on the Offensive Line to see their counterparts.
To keep anonymity for the Scout, I’m only using the words, no photos, or the handwritten notes used. Scouting defensive tackles does give you a glimpse into what happens in their world.
When scouting defensive tackles, not only do scouts put together these analyses, but visit games, watch film, analyze them at the combine, any bowls and often host them at their facilities. DTs include nose guard/tackles, basically (but not always) anyone who plays the techniques between 0-5.
Scouts go in-depth and beyond what the average fan would consider. Scouting defensive tackles gives the reader a chance to see inside the minds of what NFL general managers are looking for. Hopefully, this will help you watch the game with more detail and talk with knowledge.
Players break down film, do whiteboard work, talk to coaches, etc. The actual report below is based on a player, it had notes and photos showing:
Defensive Tackles TYPES
- 4-3 1 Tech
- 4-3 3 Tech (versatility?)
- 3-4 Tech (versatility?)
- 3-4 NT
- Ankle flexibility
- 2 gap (lockout & press) vs 1 gap
- strength to anchor?
- left & right side of the ball?
- strength & POA hand tech
How do they scheme him? (Chip, Double W/TE, etc?)
When it comes to defensive tackles, the amount of data they want on them is impressive. For most fans, the “big uglies” just stand there pushing. (POA=Point of Attack) There’s far more to it. For each bullet below, will be notes on each. Scouts looks for:
- Stack & control blocker w hands
- plays under pads
- pursuit/range/chase speed
- short area burst to close
- zone blitz pass drop
- counter technique
- can he play crossfire vs the cut?
- can sift through trash (to get to ball carrier?)
- has to win early? Or work to QB?
- can get washed at POA
- segmented as a pass rusher
- can he anchor/hold edge
- natural/fluid movements to QB
- can only win inside
- leaves a lot of sacks the filed
- more a rusher than a sacker
- gives up gap integrity
- tackle in space/tackle power
- take off
- push the pocket/press
- inside stunt/loop/twist
- quickness to bend corner
- close off blocks
- outside stunts
- snap count anticipation
- instinct – feel schemes
- read & react – awarness
- on field alertness – screens/draws/etc
- dip shoulder
- pad level/plays high
- exposes chest in run
- contact balance
- can bend and dip
- short area quickness
- clear hips
- hand strength/speed/activity/tight moves
- hands to shed
- initial quickness
- lateral movement/redirect
- strength to constrict the block – tm
- knee bend
- close speed
- range outside tackle box
- ankle tightness
- first step/feet quickness
- clears feet
- heavy feet
- win early or late or both
- play within the scheme vs free lance
- anchor hold vs double team
- natural bender
- can get skinny to split double
Below are notes from a scout concerning several players.
- explosive, high motor. Hits like brick shithouse. Low center of gravity, but plays high. Uses upper body strength. Is a closer in pass rush.
- Strong grip, but doesn’t hand fight at all. Plays pretty low. Very quick in the box. Can take on a double. Needs a fair amount of technical work done.
- Sheds blockers, low at point of attack. Stout, and fairly quick. Against a pulling guard, he’s a truck. Good awareness. Not quite sure on his hand strength and strike. Can play a little high. Not in love with his game/frame.
- Strong bull rush. Sheds blocks, ok. Explosive off ball. Decent COD (*editor note-change of direction). Very agile and nimble. Need to see more games. He wasn’t blocked against much.
- Explosive hips, off the ball and very quick laterally. Finisher. Strong. Knows how to use hands. Nice COD. Splits doubles, disruptive player.
- Raw, athletic, strong motor. Tendency to play high and can’t really tell his level of physicality. Definitely a 1 gap DL.
- Quick off the ball. Strong bull rush. Goes through OL to get in backfield. Sheds blocks well. Not a fancy player. Failry quick in the box. Skinny, needs to add weight. Powerful lower half. Flexible legs (was a HS kicker). No pass rush moves shown. Kid is a thumper.
Hope the above helped you look at the big uglies with more appreciation than being bulls in a china shop. As always, you can comment below or send a twitter DM to @DenverBroncosZ for any questions.
Thanks for reading!