2021 NFL draft defensive tackle rankings: Alabama’s Christian Barmore is top DT prospect

The 2021 NFL draft will occur across downtown Cleveland locations that include FirstEnergy Stadium (home of the Browns), the Great Lakes Science Center and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and a select number of prospects will take the stage.

The first round will be held on Thursday, April 29. Rounds 2-3 will take place on Friday, April 30. Rounds 4-7 will be held Saturday, May 1. The draft will be broadcast on ABC, ESPN and NFL Network.

USA TODAY Network NFL reporters break down the draft position-by-position. Here are the top defensive tackle prospects:

1. Christian Barmore, Alabama

Pros: Has a tool set that promotes a high-end potential and ceiling. Can get off the ball in a hurry. Shoots gap with big-time quickness. Creates speed when getting off blocks, showing the ability to close a gap in a hurry. Has all the tools to be a dominant every-down player. 

Cons: Inconsistent technique and hand use. Doesn’t maintain his hip bend and loses

leverage on blockers by playing too high. 

Alabama's Christian Barmore sacks Western Carolina quarterback Tyrie Adams. (Photo: Mickey Welsh, Montgomery Advertiser)

2. Alim McNeill, North Carolina State 

Pros: A two-gapper with immense power and strength. Has sneaky speed and quickness; will chase action down from behind. Can get out of his stance in a hurry, putting a blocker on his heels and gaining the initial advantage. 

Cons: Struggles to adjust his weight laterally. Won’t always maximize leverage and leg drive after the initial engagement. Won’t offer much as a pass rusher.

3. Marvin Wilson, Florida State 

Pros: Big and wide frame that comes with speed and short-area burst. Chases a lot of action down from behind; will make impact plays far away from the point of attack. A truck when he gets going that will inflict damage on contact. Brings elite force and power to the table. 

Cons: Comes off the ball too high and leans on guys. Looks much more athletic and

comfortable in space than he does in traffic.

4. Daviyon Nixon, Iowa 

Pros: Shows outstanding quickness and acceleration to factor in the tackle box. Rangy

defensive lineman who will make plays away from his starting point. Powerful hands that get a solid grip on blockers and ball carriers alike. Adjusts well post contact. Instinctive approach that will diagnose in a hurry. 

Cons: Needs to strengthen and refine his lower-body mechanics. Hand techniques are

inconsistent. Will give up too much against the double team. 

5. Tyler Shelvin, LSU

Pros: Disruptive off the snap. Won’t give up much ground against the double team. Shows quick hands when he stacks and sheds against the inside run.

Cons: Can play a little heavy footed at times. Doesn’t have much in his pass rush arsenal beyond push up the middle.

6. Osa Odighizuwa, UCLA 

Pros: Uses his combination of physical traits to his advantage in between the tackles. Can read the action post-snap, showing a quality stack-and-shed technique. Active against the inside run. Versatile skill set that can be moved around the line based on the situation and matchups. 

Cons: Will play off balance too frequently. Can be easily moved by the double team.

Upper-body-dominant player.

7. Levi Onwuzurike, Washington 

Pros: Has a quality athletic profile with a wide frame that should be able to handle more

muscle mass. A disruptive interior pass rusher who can make himself thin and slippery along the inside gaps. Shows fast and twitchy hands when engaged with the blocker. Has explosive closing burst when he gets near the ball.

Cons: Plays too high off the ball and struggles to maintain lockout positioning. Doesn’t play to his physical gifts often enough. Gets ridden out of plays.

8. Tommy Togiai, Ohio State 

Pros: Athletic and fast-footed; can change his direction in a flash. Twitchy with a top-heavy frame. Explosive hands that he knows how to use with techniques and shedding. Can bend back late to miss the blocker’s punch, showing plus reaction speed. Will take advantage of an overaggressive off-balanced blocker. 

Cons: Lacks a true and dependable base to anchor his position. Pad level is inconsistent. Just a one-year starter who lacked top-end production.

9. Jay Tufele, USC 

Pros: Solid punch and lockout. Will work through traffic well, showing awareness and reaction time. Can dip and bend at the last moment and close a short gap with surprising speed. Shows a lot of desire and hustle.

Cons: Athletically limited, which will put a cap on his potential to impact the passing game. Will play with heavy feet in the lateral game. 

10. Bobby Brown III, Texas A&M

Pros: Plays wide and long with surprising speed and burst. A comfortable mover in space who can get all over the field with balance and control. Takes up a lot of space inside. Has a different level of force on contact when he has a head of steam. 

Cons: Slow off the ball. Hands aren’t twitchy. Seems to lack awareness and needs technique work.

NEXT BEST

11. TaQuon Graham, Texas

12. Marlon Tuipulotu, Southern California

13. Khyiris Tonga, BYU

14. Darius Stills, West Virginia

15. Tedarrell Slaton, Florida

16. Milton Williams, Louisiana Tech

17. Marquiss Spencer, Mississippi State

18. Austin Faoliu, Oregon

19. Mustafa Johnson, Colorado

20. Quinton Bohanna, Kentucky

21. Carlo Kemp, Michigan

22. O’Bryan Goodson, Memphis

23. Jaylen Twyman, Pittsburgh

24. Roy Lopez, Arizona

25. Naquan Jones, Michigan State

26. Jordon Scott, Oregon

27. Jack Heflin, Iowa

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