At the conclusion of the 2005 college football season, when scouts and player personal executives began their preliminary evaluations, Oregon's Haloti Ngata was clearly the No. 1 defensive tackle on most draft boards and graded out as a Top 10 overall pick.
Ngata could still become one of the first 10 players selected in the 2006 NFL Draft; however, he'll get competition from Florida State's Brodrick Bunkley for the distinction of being the first defensive tackle off the board. Bunkley wowed scouts at the Combine with his outstanding display of quickness, agility, and strength. (He had unquestionably the best physique of all the prospects at Indy.)
Other tackles who have a chance to land in Round 1 include Michigan's Gabe Watson, N.C. State's John McCargo, and LSU's Claude Wroten.
Below is a ranking of the Top 10 defensive tackle prospects for the 2006 NFL Draft, which will be held on April 29–30 at New York City's Radio City Music Hall:
1. Haloti Ngata, Oregon (6'4 3/8", 340, 5.12)
Ngata is a mammoth DT capable of occupying double and triple-teams and will be a brute force up the middle versus the run for the team that drafts him. He lacks pass-rushing skills, however, and may need to be replaced on passing downs.
2. Brodrick Bunkley, Florida State (6'2 5/8", 304, 4.94)
Bunkley, who possesses good lateral quickness and is explosive out of his stance, has great potential as a pass rusher at the next level. His sub-5.0 speed and agility will allow him to play on the edge on early downs.
3. Gabe Watson, Michigan (6'3 ½", 336, 5.29)
Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr benched Watson during part of the 2005 season due to his lackadaisical effort on the field, causing some scouts to lower the massive tackle's draft grade. Knowing that NFL teams were questioning his work ethic and passion for the game, Watson put on a show at the Senior Bowl that should elevate his stock once again.
4. John McCargo, N.C. State (6'1", 305, 5.11)
Although the Wolfpack's heralded defensive ends, Mario Williams and Manny Lawson, have overshadowed him, McCargo impressed scouts at N.C. State's pro day and could join his fellow linemen in the first round on April 29th. McCargo lacks ideal height but makes up for it with good burst out of his stance, ideal for gap penetration.
5. Claude Wroten, LSU (6'2", 302, 5.09)
Wroten is arguably the most talented DT of the bunch, but his character came into question following a run-in with the law last January. Still, his talents are too great for him to remain on the board for long; one team's GM will take a gamble on him late in Round 1 or early in Round 2.
6. Rodrique Wright, Texas (6'4 ¾", 303, 5.12)
Due to his large frame and explosive first step, Wright is best suited to play the three-technique in a 4-3 front. The knock on the former Longhorn is his commitment to the game; he doesn't always give maximum effort.
*7. Babatunde Oshinowo, Stanford (6'1 ¾", 305, 5.25)
Oshinowo displays good balance and body control at the point of attack, and projects to nose tackle in a 3-4 or 4-3 front at the next level. Oshinowo is also an intelligent player of high character who should effortlessly ascertain an NFL defensive scheme.
8. Dusty Dvoracek, Oklahoma (6'2 ¾", 306, 4.79)
Dvoracek's best trait is his high motor, which makes up for his lack of natural athleticism. An off-the-field incident led to his suspension from the football team for most of 2004; however, he played all of '05 without incident and the Sooner coaches speak highly of his character. Dvoracek will be off the board mid-to-late second round.
9. Orien Harris, Miami (6'2 7/8", 298, 5.27)
Harris is slightly undersized for a DT but plays with great leverage and has the upper-body strength to shed blockers. Although he didn't live up to his pre-season billing as a top draft prospect, a team will select Harris on Day 1 based on his vast potential.
10. Jonathan Lewis, Virginia Tech (6'0 ¾", 311, 5.05)
Due to his short stature, Lewis will be drafted as a one-gap penetrator in the NFL. He's a high-motor tackle who gives great effort and is very disruptive in the backfield. Lewis will be a steal if he lasts until the third round.
OTHER NOTABLE PROSPECTS:
- Titus Adams, Nebraska (6'3 3/8", 303, 5.09)
- Manaia Brown, BYU (6'3", 301, 5.08)
- Barry Cofield, Northwestern (6'3 7/8", 306, 4.99)
- Johnny Jolly, Texas A&M (6'3 ¼", 317, 5.43)
- Jesse Mahelona, Tennessee (6'0 ¼", 310, 5.34)
- Montavious Stanley, Louisville (6'2 1/8", 313, 5.24)
- Kyle Williams, LSU (6'1 1/8", 298, 4.99)