We’ve already taken a look at the athletic profiles of the linebackers that have been mocked to the Detroit Lions, but linebacker isn’t even the most mocked position to the team. In fact, it’s not even the 2nd most mocked position to the Detroit Lions. The most often mocked position to the team, at least in sheer volume of players involved, is at defensive tackle where there have been at least six different prospects mocked at the 16th overall pick at some point.
Just like before, we’re going to use RAS and the pro bowl to try to give the best case comparison for the prospects linked to the Detroit Lions. Like linebacker, there is a pretty big correlation between RAS and pro bowl success. In fact, it’s an even more noticeable one, where linebacker was about 2:1, defensive tackle is 3:1, just over 75%. There were 17 DT who qualified for RAS and made a pro bowl, and only 4 of them fell below 5.00 RAS.
Robert Nkemdiche is the first up, as his elite athleticism puts him atop this year’s defensive tackle class that participated at the combine. I wanted to cheat a bit and put his closest comp up, but none of his closest comps made a pro bowl (Nick Fairley, Marvin Austin, and Kendall Reyes). Instead, I went with the closest pro bowler to his score, Aaron Donald, even though it sets up an unrealistic expectation.
Next up is a slightly undersized interior DL who is by comparison to his peers incredibly quick and agile. Jonathan Bullard isn’t as fast as Fletcher Cox, but he’s a more explosive athlete and has versatility to play inside and out. It’s possible Bullard has an impact as fast or faster than Cox, but regardless of how soon he pays off the upside is pretty clear.
One of the biggest “Big Men” to grace this draft class, Vernon Butler is a player I’ve been very cautious with. I like his tape, which flashes dominance at times, but his measurements were very poor even for a man of his significant size. A comparison I hadn’t made came up while doing this article, however, and if it panned out that way I know no one would be disappointed. Kyle Williams is at the tail end of his career, but he entered it in a very similar way as Vernon Butler, a big man who plays his size.
Ultimately, defensive tackle is a position that has leaned on athletic prospects more often than most (DE and DT rank 4th and 5th respectively in correlation for pro bowl). This is considered a stacked defensive tackle class for a reason, and as you can see there are plenty of great pro comparisons to make athletically. What do you think about the Detroit Lions drafting one of these prospects? Let us know in the comments or get ahold of us on Twitter @SideLionReport. Conversely, you can bug me about math or just give me a follow @MathBomb so I can bug you about numbers!