The "Triple Take" team breaks down of the defensive tackles. In this installment of this draft prospect preview by position, the Steelers Radio Network trio of Matt Williamson, Dale Lolley and Mike Prisuta give their takes on the top prospects at the defensive tackle position. If you want to hear the audio version of "The Triple Take" click here.
The opinions of these Steelers Radio Network personalities do not reflect the views of the Steelers organization.
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Dale's Take …
Run stuffers. Massive people movers who are capable of getting to the quarterback. Explosive athletes who are something in between. This draft has all shapes and sizes when it comes to defensive tackles.
Want a classic nose tackle-type? They're available. Looking for a bigger-bodied guy capable of being disruptive up front. There are those, as well.
The interesting thing are the smaller guys. This draft has several 280-pounders who could be used at defensive end or tackle. They're just athletes who can get after the passer.
#5 - Keanu Benton, Wisconsin (6-4, 309 lbs.) - A classic plugger in the middle. But this plugger also has some movement to him. A four-year starter at Wisconsin, Benton got better and better. Last season, he had a career-high six sacks, showing he can power his way to the quarterback. The question teams will have with players such as Benton is how high do you take them. He played just over 400 snaps in each of the past two college seasons because he isn't a premium pass rusher. He can rush the passer, but most teams will have at least two guys who are better at it. Still, he's a good football player.
#4 - Calijah Kancey, Pitt (6-1, 281 lbs.) - If not for the performance of Adetomiwa Adebawore at the NFL Scouting Combine, Kancey would have been the talk of the town. He came in a little taller than advertised and then ran a 4.67-second 40, which was just a tick faster than former Pitt star Aaron Donald. Kancey had 17 sacks the past two seasons at Pitt. He can get to the quarterback. His first step is devastating and his hands are just as quick to get into linemen.
#3 - Adetomiwa Adebawore, Northwestern (6-2, 282 lbs.) - Adebawore (pronounced add-E-BAR-eh) was the most impressive athlete regardless of position at the Combine. This followed a very good performance at the Senior Bowl where he opened eyes. He played mostly outside the tackles on the edge at Northwestern, but did see some time inside. And his lack of length at the NFL level might make him more effective there as a player who can shoot the gap. He ran a ridiculous 4.49-second 40 at the Combine with a 1.61-second 10-yard split and posted a 37.5-inch vertical jump. He had 11 sacks the past two seasons at Northwestern. Adebawore won't be a fit for everyone, but his athletic testing is off the charts.
#2 - Bryan Bresee, Clemson (6-5 ½, 298 lbs.) - Needed to have a solid Combine after dealing with some injuries and personal issues in college, and he did that. Bresee was the top recruit in the country coming out of high school and made an impact at Clemson as a true freshman. But he's had a torn ACL, needed shoulder surgery and then dealt with the death of his younger sister last September from cancer. He's seen a lot for a player who just turned 21. Really knows how to run games up front that maybe don't have him making plays, but frees up teammates to do so. His 4.86-second 40 and 1.71-second 10-yard split are great for such a big man.
#1 - Jalen Carter, Georgia (6-3, 314 lbs.) - Measured in at 314 pounds at the Combine, but doesn't look it. He moves and plays like a smaller player but has the power of someone who is much bigger. Carter might be the most talented player in this draft, but he did have involvement in the crash that saw one of his Georgia teammates and a school recruiting coordinator killed. Will that affect his draft status? Even if it does, he won't fall far.
Mike's Take …
Edge rushers remain a premium commodity, but quarterbacks aren't rushed by edge pressure alone.
In addition to helping lead the Rams to a Super Bowl championship two seasons ago, Aaron Donald reminded one and all about the impact a dominating interior defensive lineman can have.
And this season the Eagles signed veteran defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Linval Joseph in-season, this after they had drafted defensive tackle Jordan Davis 13th overall, to complement defensive tackles Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave. The Eagles were intent on ensuring they'd have all the run-stuffing presence and interior pressure they could get on their way to the Super Bowl.
Difference-making players at the position are as invaluable as they are hard to find.
#5 - Calijah Kancey, Pitt (6-1, 281 lbs.) - Kancey turned heads at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis with a 4.67-second 40-yard dash, the fastest in the position class (Donald ran a 4.68 back in the day). Kancey's not the next Donald, at least not yet, but NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah sees similarities with Ed Oliver (6-1, 287, 4.73, drafted ninth overall by Buffalo in 2019). And NFL Network analyst Peter Schrager calls Kancey a "unicorn." He'll continue to garner attention at Pitt's Pro Day after not working out in Indy (shoulder).
#4 - Keanu Benton, Wisconsin (6-4, 309 lbs.) - Benton showed off his productivity as a pass rusher at the Senior Bowl, something he had developed while registering nine sacks in 21 career starts at Wisconsin. Benton played up and down and all across the line for the Badgers and had a habit of penetrating and playing on the opponent's side of the line, as well, as evidenced by his career-high 10 tackles for a loss in 2022.
#3 - Gervon Dexter Sr., Florida (6-5 ⅝, 310) - NFL Network analyst Charles Davis described Dexter Sr. as a player who would "intrigue a lot of people." Reportedly that's already been taking place in meetings with teams in Indy and on pre-draft visits. Inquiring minds will want to know more when you run a 4.88 40 at 310 pounds, broad jump 9'2" and reach 31" on the vertical leap.
#2 - Bryan Bresee, Clemson (6-5 ½, 298 lbs.) - Bresee is a high-profile, high-pedigree player coming off of a couple of hard-luck seasons littered with injury, illness and adversity. But he showed up to the Combine intent on showing everyone "a healthy me out there." Mission accomplished, apparently. Davis maintained Bresee's "best football is ahead of him" after Bresee ran a 4.86 40. Jeremiah also said Bresee had impressed during interviews in Indianapolis. "Bryan Bresee is on bis way back," Davis announced.
#1 - Jalen Carter, Georgia (6-3, 314 lbs.) - Carter has off-the-field issues that must be investigated, assessed and resolved to a drafting team's satisfaction. On the field, he's been the next big thing on the horizon for quite a while now, to the extent he might have gone first overall last year had he been available for the draft. "He's an incredible talent," Jeremiah gushed. He might have been under-selling it.
Matt's Take …
Jalen Carter is as good of a defensive tackle prospect as you will see entering in the NFL. But after Carter, this group is pretty underwhelming.
It is an athletic defensive tackle class with several intriguing undersized penetrators. There could be some finds in the later rounds but there might not be a high number of interior defensive linemen drafted in the first 50 picks.
#5 - Keanu Benton, Wisconsin (6-4, 309 lbs.) - Picking the fifth player for this list wasn't easy, but Benton's game translates well to the NFL as an interior power player with strong athletic traits and a desirable playing demeanor. Benton is a brawler. He has powerful hands, long arms, and good overall strength in both his upper and lower body. At times, Benton gets too caught up fighting offensive linemen rather than disengaging from blocks, but his performance in this capacity at the Senior Bowl was very encouraging.
#4 - Calijah Kancey, Pitt (6-1, 281 lbs.) - Kancey ran his 40-yard dash in 4.67 seconds at 281 pounds at the Combine. And you see his explosion immediately on tape. This is an interior player that thrives at winning at the snap and beating his opponent with quickness and leverage. He is a bit of an outlier though at his size and Kancey's arm length (30 5/8") is concerning, as he will constantly be doing battle in the NFL against much bigger men with better length. Kancey won't be for everyone, but at a bare minimum, he will be an interior pass-rusher that makes an impact on throwing downs.
#3 - Adetomiwa Adebawore, Northwestern (6-2, 282 lbs.) - Adebawore could just as easily be listed with the defensive ends/edge rushers, which is the group he worked out with in Indianapolis. But at 282 pounds, most teams will probably just view Adebawore as a "Defensive lineman" with the intentions of using him all over the line of scrimmage. Speaking of his performance at the Combine, even though Adebawore is much bigger than just about everyone he worked out with, his testing numbers were as good as anyone's. Adebawore isn't a finished product in terms of technique and there will be debate on how to best use him at the next level, but his upside is through the roof.
#2 - Bryan Bresee, Clemson (6-5 ½, 298 lbs.) - Bresee had had to deal with several injuries as well as the tragic death of his younger sister early in the 2022 season. And the 2022 season was somewhat uneven for him-which is totally understandable. But it is easy to see why Bresee was one of the most highly recruited players in the country coming out of high school. He has great size, power, and athletic ability. Clemson lined him up outside the tackle at times, but Bresee really profiles as a 3-4 defensive end or 4-3 defensive tackle that can be an impact player on all situations and down and distances. As a true freshman, Bresee was Clemson's best defensive player.
#1 - Jalen Carter, Georgia (6-3, 314 lbs.) - Carter can a transcendent player. He is the best prospect at any position in this entire draft. When watching Georgia's historically great defense in 2021-a defense with very high picks (including the first overall selection) all over the place-it was clear that Carter was pretty much always the best player on the field. When he doesn't want to get blocked, Carter doesn't get blocked. He handles double teams and plays the run very well, but Carter just totally wreaks havoc in the passing game. He can destroy an offensive game plan. His combination of explosion off the snap and power is simply rare. Carter could be a Pro Bowl player as a rookie.