Sometimes things happen for a reason.
Yesterday I wrote the following:
Louis Nix is a stud at Notre Dame and could be a top ten pick at the all important nose tackle position. After that, the options aren’t great. Some people like Will Sutton at Arizona State but I’m not a big fan. I’ve not seen enough of LSU’s Anthony Johnson to judge but watching the Tigers last year, nobody looked as good as 2012 first rounder Michael Brockers.
Florida State’s Timmy Jernigan is the only other player (defensive tackle) currently on the radar until others emerge.
I didn’t expect a player to emerge later that same night.
Really, there’s no true emergence in this case. It’s more a case of a guy (me) who happens to write a blog about the NFL Draft finally getting around to noticing a certain prospect who deserves attention.
Because a lot of people know about Florida’s Dominique Easley already.
And it’s time he got some attention.
When I watched Easley’s performance against Miami last night, I got excited.
Excited enough to fantasise about him playing against the Niners on Sunday.
(We could probably use him)
There are a few things I want to see in a defensive tackle. Easley pretty much ticks every box.
I want to see a high motor. He has that.
I want to see evidence of a nasty streak. Evidence that a guy just lives and breathes the war that is line play. Somebody who thrives on the scrappy, dirty, horrible nature of football at its purest sense. In the trenches.
I want to see someone who has at least solid hand technique and enough speed and raw athleticism to shoot gaps to stack up splash plays.
If I’m not seeing constant swim or power moves into the backfield, I at least want to see a guard or center being consistently pushed into his quarterback.
I’ve found the guys I like the most are nearly always five star recruits. Hey, at the end of the day, this needs to be a guy with rare athleticism weighing around 300lbs. Not many 18-21 year old’s fit that criteria.
On the evidence of the Miami game from Saturday, Easley does all of these things. Now it’s a case of tracking his season to see if this is a flash in the pan or truly what the guy is offering to NFL teams.
A few months ago we looked into a series by Matt Waldman discussing the characteristics Bill Walsh looked for in a player. Pete Carroll is obviously highly influenced by Walsh, and there are several obvious Walsh characteristics within Seattle’s current roster.
Here’s what Waldman wrote about Walsh’s ‘ideal’ defensive tackle:
Ideal size: 6-2, 290
Must have the girth, strength, ballast to hold off the guard, or to step into a tackles’ block without being knocked off the line of scrimmage.
Quick, strong hands to grab and pull are critical. This is common with the great tackles. The hands, the arms, the upper body strength and then the quick feet to take advantage of a moving man, just getting him off balance.
You are looking for somebody who can move down the line of scrimmage and make a tackle, pursuing a ball-carrier. That would be lateral quickness in a short area, being able to get underway and move over and through people. If you get knocked off the line, or get knocked sideways or knocked off balance, you cannot play this position. You must be able to work your way through people, so that kind of strength is a must.
The best defensive tackles move the offensive guard back into the quarterback. (emphasis mine) They won’t have nearly as many sacks as others, but if they can move the guard back into the quarterback, then the quarterback has to avoid his own lineman as if he were a pass rusher before he throws the ball. So this is a key ability.
Easley is 6-2 and 285lbs. Watch the video above and tell me you don’t see a Walsh defensive tackle. The one thing he probably lacks is girth. He doesn’t have a large rump (no giggling) or powerful base. He looks small.
But he plays big.
He’s a senior so he’ll definitely be in the 2014 draft. He’s a former five-star recruit (like it).
Perhaps tellingly, he never had an offer from Carroll’s USC in 2009 (he did get an offer from UCLA). Easley’s originally from New York. Sharrif Floyd — originally from Philadelphia — had an offer from USC in the same year and also ended up with the Gators. This doesn’t mean Pete Carroll necessarily had no interest in Easley, but it’s food for thought.
It’s also worth noting that Seattle has been anything but orthodox at the three technique. They keep trying bigger, leaner tackles at the position. Jordan Hill was perhaps the most orthodox they’ve been so far, but even he seems to have been tagged with the ‘passing downs’ label.
Even so, I find it hard to ignore pure three technique prospects. I think the Seahawks need one. And the likes of Michael Bennett are only here on one-year deals.
So what else do I like?
He seems to have a knack of jumping the snap and getting off the line quickly. He can switch quickly from power-to-speed and has good hand use. Easley plays end as well as tackle, which is testament to his athletic quality. He’s a brawler. I cannot stress how much that matters at this position.
Most importantly he has the ability to have a major impact on games. When he wasn’t in the backfield against Miami, he was being held. Like Vic Beasley, I’m not going to come out and say this guy is a nailed on first rounder. I don’t know what round he’ll go in. At this stage we’re merely identifying which players to monitor over the next few weeks.
Beasley and Florida need to be on your schedule.