Raiders Draft Radar 2021: Defensive tackles

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Levi Damien
·4 min read
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Defensive tackle was my top need position for the Raiders coming into this offseason. And they went after it hard, adding the likes of Solomon Thomas, Quinton Jefferson, Darius Philon, and Matt Dickerson. They also brought back David Irving.

The thing about those guys is they all play the same defensive tackle position. They are all three-tech defensive tackles.

Now, they did bring back Johnathan Hankins as well to play the nose tackle spot, but he’s really it for that position. Leaving the need for adding another lane clogger to the mix to rotate in now and potentially take over as the starter down the road.

The good thing about nose tackles is you can often find a good one after the first couple rounds, and even a few on day three of the draft. This is great considering the Raiders have a few more pressing needs to focus on with their first few picks.

Here are a few defensive tackles who could fit in with the Raiders and which round the Raiders could select them.

Alim McNeill, NC State -- Round 3

Oct 10, 2020; Charlottesville, Virginia, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack defensive tackle Alim McNeill (29) celebrates with Wolfpack linebacker Isaiah Moore (1) and Wolfpack linebacker Payton Wilson (11) after returning an interception for a touchdown against the Virginia Cavaliers in the fourth quarter at Scott Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

You don’t see many 320-pounders who can run a sub-five 40-yard dash. The 6-2 run-stuffing tackle McNeill did though, putting up a 4.96 40. The former linebacker and running back was a two-year starting nose tackle for the Wolfpack. McNeill was named first-team All-ACC last season, a fitting end to three years with 17.5 tackles for loss and ten sacks.

Bobby Brown III, Texas A&M -- Round 4

Texas A&M defensive back Brian George (16), Texas A&M defenisve lineman Bobby Brown III,and Texas A&M defenisve lineman DeMarvin Leal (8) celebrate during a game between Tennessee and Texas A&M in Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020.

One of the more well-rounded interior defenders. The 6-4, 321-pounder not only clogged run lanes but put up 5.5 sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss in nine games last season. That season earned him first-team All-SEC honors. He is just 20 years old and his extreme leap in performance last season could have some NFL teams seeing his best football in front of him. But that's their prerogative.

Tyler Shelvin, LSU -- Round 5

Dec 28, 2019; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; LSU Tigers nose tackle Tyler Shelvin (72) runs out through the fog before the 2019 Peach Bowl college football playoff semifinal game between the LSU Tigers and the Oklahoma Sooners at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Shelvin is well-rounded in a more literal way. The 6-2, 350-pounder is easily the largest presence on the interior defensive line in this draft. He became a full time starter in 2019 before opting out of the 2020 season. In his full season as a starter, he put up 39 tackles, three for a loss and batted down two passes. If not for character and weight control concerns, he would probably be rated higher. But in round five, he’s worth the shot as one of the better run stoppers in this draft.

Khyris Tonga, BYU -- Round 6

Sep 26, 2020; Provo, UT, USA; BYU defensive lineman Khyiris Tonga (95) looks on after sacking Troy quarterback Gunnar Watson in the first half during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020, in Provo, Utah. Mandatory Credit: Rick Bowmer/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

There is a lot of tape on Tonga, having appeared in 50 games over four seasons for the Cougars, including three years as a starter. He put up 130 tackles, 15 for a loss, 7.5 sacks, and 12 batted passes over those four seasons. He’s also older than most prospects at the age of 24. The 6-2, 325-pounder put up 19 run stops last season.

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