With as many as nine defensive tackles projected to be taken by the end of the second round, the 2010 draft class may be the deepest we've ever seen at the position. That said, there's no doubt whatsoever who's on top of that list – the same two who have been competing for the No. 1 spot on their position lists all last season, and perhaps the first pick in the draft. Ndamukong Suh was good enough in 2009 to win most possible defensive awards (and probably a few that haven't been invented yet) and make a legitimate run at the Heisman Trophy, based on his historic performance in the Big 12 championship game. Gerald McCoy trumps Suh on the cards of some experts because his first step is so quick, and he's able to penetrate front lines so well.
Both players stand to make immediate impact on their future teams, but does one of them stand apart?:
Pros: Suh has every tool needed to become an absolutely dominant all-purpose defensive tackle in the NFL. His upper body strength is astonishing; he will occasionally use his rip moves and swat two offensive linemen out of the way – one with each hand – like a grizzly bear dealing with a couple of hikers. Excellent footwork and speed in space; soccer background shows in his agility, pass drops, and ability to redirect in a hurry. Has a killer instinct when it comes to getting his hands on the ball – has six career blocked kicks and always has his eye on a way to deflect the pass at the line of scrimmage. Has a variety of moves to deal with double- and triple-teams – will go around, bull through, knife through, and use an extensive variety of hand moves against blockers. Outstanding at taking the initial block from a center or guard and peeling off to one side to continue pursuit. Knows how to corner mobile quarterbacks in the backfield. He has incredible closing speed – even when he is punched back on a block, he'll make up the gap in a big hurry. Excellent side-to-side speed. Indomitable work ethic; Suh went to the NFL scouting combine and participated in all the drills at maximum effort despite his lead-pipe lock status as a top-three pick.
Pros: McCoy comes off the ball in a big hurry; even when he loops to evade a block, he's very fast with his first step. Shows a lot of agility when using hand moves to stack and shed at the line of scrimmage, and he's tough to stop when he gets behind the line of scrimmage. He's able to immediately exploit any negative position by a blocker – unless he's stood up right at the line, he will win that first step battle and it's all over from there. Has nice short-area agility and will push off a first block and move to the left or right to blast through to the quarterback or ball carrier. When lining up in a gap alignment, he's extremely quick past a blocker to one side or the other – he's much more effective firing through a gap as opposed to taking a blocker straight on. Outstanding agility and pursuit speed in a short radius. Has an effective drag-down tackling style. Great teammate with an admirable personality, and a very active player from snap to whistle.
Cons: Was occasionally befuddled by wide blocking splits in college spread offenses. Doesn't have a first step to blow people away, though this has something to do with a defensive scheme that had him reading the blockers and then making his move.
Cons: While McCoy has an excellent at-all-costs motor to get to the quarterback, his momentum can be used against him at times. He's easily redirected by double teams, such as a guard coming over to help a center push him out of the way. Doesn't always "snap" the blocker back with his first strike, and as a result finds it more difficult to pursue on those particular plays. Doesn't always have elite strength at the point of attack; you'd like to see him wriggle out of blocks in space more often. Doesn't have strength to shake off outside blocks when he's going after a ball carrier behind the line.
Conclusion: Barring injury or some other catastrophe, Suh has about 10 Pro Bowls in his future. He has the rare ability to be an immediate impact player in just about any front: 3-4 end or tackle, 4-3 nose or three-tech, though he'd probably do the most damage as a three-tech. It's hard to find weak spots in his game, just as it's difficult to sound objective when putting together a scouting report. Quite simply, he's the best player in this draft class – and it isn't even close.
Conclusion: McCoy is a prototype three-tech tackle in a 4-3 front – while he will attract extra blockers with his disruptive ability, he's not strong enough in his base to push people back consistently. He eludes more than he overpowers, and as long as he's in the right defense for that, with an elite nose tackle to help free up obstructions, he'll play at a Pro Bowl level.
Pro comparison: Joe Greene, Pittsburgh Steelers (circa 1974-1976)
Doug Farrar is a regular contributor to Yahoo! Sports' Shutdown Corner