Wednesday, April 15, 2009

NFL Draft Averages - DTs

Previously: QBs, RBs, FBs, WRs, TEs, OTs, OGs, OCs

The offensive positions have been completed. Now it's time for the group that wins championships: the defense. To kick off the defensive profiles lets take a look at the big boys, the DTs. Defensive tackle is the general term for the player along the middle of the offensive line. DTs are used differently in different schemes and a certain type of DTs are better suited for each scheme. Generally teams that use a 4-3 alignment call their DTs, um, well, DTs. In a 3-4 alignment - gaining popularity in the NFL - the man in the middle is called an NT (nose tackle). No matter the alignment or title, DTs are usually expected to do two things: stop the run and take up blockers. Their third optional objective is collapsing the pocket providing a pass rush. Generally teams don't rely on the big guys for that, but it's a bonus if it happens!

Let's stray away from definitions and semantics. What are the trends? Below are statistics from the past 10 NFL drafts. See how DTs have been valued recently in professional football.

Draft trends for DTs (1999-2008).

There have been over 200 DTs drafted since 1999, an average of 20 per year. That's a lot. Of the positions chronicled already, DTs average/draft is second to only WRs (average of 33/draft) and tied with OTs. As you can see, the men in the middle are important. Their value is pretty even throughout the draft. You can see the there are about three DTs taken per round. In a given draft you can expect three first rounders and 20 overall. There were only 16 selected in 2002 and 2005, the 10-year minimum. On the flip side there were 24 taken in 2001, the maximum during the study period. Based on these statistics we can "guarantee" that 16 DTs will be taken, another four are likely, and an additional four are borderline. Anyone outside that top 24 will certainly be sweating come draft weekend.

Using The Football Expert and NFL Draft Scout rankings we can attempt to predict how will hear their name called 10 (and 11) days from now. Here's the aggregated list.

Will Be Picked

B.J. Raji, Boston College

Peria Jerry, Mississippi

Evander Hood, Missouri

Jarron Gilbert, San Jose State

Sen'Derrick Marks, Auburn

Ron Brace, Boston College

Fili Moala, USC

Dorell Scott, Clemson

Alex Magee, Purdue

Mitch King, Iowa

Ricky Jean-Francois, LSU

Terrance Taylor, Michigan

Vance Walker, Georgia Tech

Roy Miller, Texas

Chris Baker, Hampton

Corvey Irvin, Georgia

Should Be Picked

Sammie Lee Hill, Stillman

Darryl Richard, Georgia Tech

Myron Pryor, Kentucky

Terrance Knighton, Temple


Terrill Byrd, Cincinnati

Clinton McDonald, Memphis

John Faletoese, Cal-Davis

Ra'Shon Harris, Oregon


Nader Abdallah, Ohio State

Khalif Mitchell, East Carolina

Demonte Bolden, Tennessee

John Gill, Northwestern

It's important to point out that some of these college DTs will shift 3-4 DEs.

MY PREDICTION: This is a pretty strong class. It isn't the best over but is far from mediocre. Raji, Jerry, and Hood are all first round prospects while Gilbert down through Magee could all go in the second round. With some many teams implementing the 3-4 scheme you'll see more collegiate DTs converted to professional DEs, meaning more DTs selected. I think we'll see 21 DTs from this list taken come draft weekend.

UP NEXT: On Sunday I'll be profiling the defensive ends followed by the linebackers, my favorite position.

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