Who are the best defensive tackles coming into the 2018 college football season? Here are the projected 30 top players.
Preview 2018: Top 30 Defensive Tackles
Based on projections for this college season and production – and not necessarily based on pro talent and potential – here are the 30 best defensive tackles coming into the season.
30. Shy Tuttle, Sr. Tennessee
Call this a projection. Can it all come together as a possible anchor for the Jeremy Pruitt defense? The former superstar recruit got hurt early in his career, and he hasn’t turned into a dominant force. However, he’s got the 6-2, 308-pound size and could be an anchor, coming off a 27-tackle season.
29. Chigozie Nnoruka, Jr. UCLA
The JUCO transfer wasn’t a rock for a porous run defense, but he made his share of plays. At 6-2 and 295 pounds, he might not be massive, but he got into the backfield, coming up with 49 tackles with two sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss. Now he’ll be a key part of the new look defensive front.
28. Miles Fox, Sr. Old Dominion
The anchor of a sneaky-great defensive front, the 6-1, 292-pounder was active enough to make 57 tackles with 5.5 sacks. He’s quick, active, and experienced for what should be one of Conference USA’s most productive lines.
27. Josiah Coatney, Jr. Ole Miss
Coatney loads up with Benito Jones as a part of a strong defensive tackle situation for an Ole Miss line that has to be far better. Coatney – a 6-4, 302-pound former JUCO transfer – finished third on the team with 65 tackles and was good behind the line, making 3.5 sacks with eight tackles for loss.
26. Matt Nelson, Sr. Iowa
Sort of and end, for of a tackle, the 6-8, 295-pound veteran will play where needed on the solid Hawkeye defensive front. A key force up front, he made 43 tackles with 5.5 sacks two years ago, and 23 tackles with a sack last season – but he was banged up. Expected to be healthy going into the season, he should be a force.
25. Walter Palmore, Sr. Missouri
A big body for the interior the 6-4, 320-pound former JUCO transfer was wanted by all of the big boys, but anchored the Tiger line right away. He only made 13 tackles with two tackles for loss, but like last year, he occupies blockers.
24. Anthony Johnson, Sr. FIU
He came into the program as a promising pass rusher on the end, and then he beefed up to 291 pounds on his 6-3 frame to become a factor by his junior year. He finished with seven sacks and 39 tackles as one of the strongest parts of the Butch Davis D.
23. David Moa, Sr. Boise State
One of the nation’s best interior linemen over the last few seasons, he’s not massive at just 6-3 and 279 pounds, but good luck finding a stronger tackle. Quick, too, he has made 51 tackles with 10.5 sacks over the last two seasons, but he dropped off a bit last year. The stats will bounce back.
22. Ed Alexander, Jr. LSU
The 6-3, 339-pound nose tackle in the middle of the Tiger D, he was great from the start, producing as a true freshman and following it up with an equally strong sophomore run. He only has 30 career tackles with a sack, but he fits what defensive coordinator Dave Aranda needs.
21. Olive Sagapolu, Sr. Wisconsin
You want a true anchor of a nose tackle for a dominant 3-4? Here you go. The 6-2, 338-pounder is a brick wall of a veteran who doesn’t get shoved off the ball. He might only have 38 career tackles in 36 games, but his job is to hold up so everyone else can shine. With three sacks, he started to get into the backfield a bit more last year.
20. Demarcus Christmas, Sr. Florida State
One of the bright spots in the Florida State season, the 6-4, 308-pounder made 36 tackles with a sack and four tackles for loss in his third year on the inside. A superstar recruit who’s playing up to the hype, he’ll be the active interior presence for Willie Taggart’s line.
19. Dre’Mont Jones, Jr. Ohio State
He hasn’t received a whole lot of the national limelight on a line with Nick Bosa and a defense with a whole slew of stars, but the NFL types are all over him. At 6-3 and 286 pounds, he’s not massive, but he’s a very smart, very good young tackle who started out his career with 52 tackles and followed it up with 20 more with a sack and five tackles for loss.
18. Lorenzo Neal, Jr. Purdue
A block of granite against the run, the 6-2, 315-pounder can get into the backfield from time to time, too, making 5.5 tackles for loss and two sacks to go along with his 22 tackles. For a defense that needs help up front after losing a slew of key linebackers, his role will only grow.
17. Daylon Mack, Sr. Texas A&M
A massive recruit for the program, he worked inside, Myles Garrett did his part on the outside, and the Aggie D line had its stars to build around. Last season, Garrett was off being a Cleveland Brown, but the A&M line was still great at getting behind the line. Meanwhile, the 6-1, 320-pound Mack did the dirty work on the inside, finishing with 16 tackles with a sack and five tackles for loss.
16. McTelvin Agim, Jr. Arkansas
An All-SEC Academic all-star as well as a good part of a good-looking Arkansas D, the new coaching staff needs Agim to be the leader up front. At 6-3 and 280 pounds, he’s got good size and he’s quick, making five sacks and 13 tackles for loss with 64 tackles in his his first two years.
15. Marquise Copeland, Sr. Cincinnati
A 6-2, 285-pound defensive end who acts and plays like a tackle, he doesn’t quite have a true position for the next level, but the NFL scouts are all in on the combination of athletic skills. Good as a sophomore, he took his game to another level under Luke Fickell and the new coaching staff, making 63 tackles with 3.5 sacks and eight tackles for loss.
14. Trysten Hill, Jr. UCF
The big man on the inside of the line for the new coaching staff, Hill has 35 tackles with three sacks and nine tackles for loss in his first two seasons. His role, though, is to hold firm in the interior, using his 6-3, 330-pound bulk to eat everything up.
13. Ira Lewis, Sr. Baylor
Used as a nose tackle, the 6-3, 295-pounder can work in a variety of roles on the Baylor defensive front. A part-time starter in his first two seasons, he was one of the few positives of last year’s team, making 34 tackles with 5.5 sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss as a too-quick interior pass rusher.
12. Youhanna Ghaifan, Jr. Wyoming
A great get for the program out of Nebraska, he took over the inside of the defensive line in 2016 with 33 tackles. Last season, the 6-4, 290-pound athletic playmaker was one of the Mountain West’s biggest defensive stars, making 69 tackles with seven sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss on the suffocating Cowboy D.
11. Greg Gaines, Sr. Washington
Vita Vea might have been the true anchor of the Husky line, but the 6-2, 313-pound Gaines more than did his part, earning All-Pac-12 honors both on the field and in the classroom. Active, he has six sacks and 13 tackles for loss over the last two seasons and 93 career sacks.