The other day on Twitter, I decided to poll the fanbase on their preferred option at defensive tackle from the list of the four “elite” options in this class. There would be no B.J. Hill or Harrison Phillips here, even if those guys wind up being likely selections for Atlanta, because they are typically considered to be in the second tier, and besides I only had four options to work with.
So I asked fans to weigh in on whether they’d prefer Michigan’s Maurice Hurst, Washington’s Vita Vea, Alabama’s Da’Ron Payne, or Florida’s Taven Bryan.
Which of these DTs would you want to wind up in Atlanta, if you had your druthers?— The Falcoholic (@TheFalcoholic) April 11, 2018
I’m a Payne booster—that’s probably not a secret—but even I’m a bit surprised by the results here. Hurst is a better pass rusher and slasher than Payne, while Vea is a better run stopper in the here and now. Payne has a ton of upside, in my humble opinion, and he’s likely to be a more impactful player out of the gate than Bryan. Even so, I figured Hurst and Vea would get more love here.
So why Payne? I’m guessing for a fairly significant number of respondents, it was watching Payne dismantle Georgia’s offensive line in the College Playoff national championship game. Payne put up numbers in that one game he basically didn’t put up in his college career, and while it’s worrying that he wasn’t more productive in college, I think everyone catching a glimpse of his true potential in that game was sufficiently intrigued to want him in Atlanta.
Honestly, any of these four would be massive potential upgrades over what the Falcons currently have, so I’d be happy with any of them. Sign me up for Hurst first, though, because of just how good a Jarrett/Hurst interior could be for this burgeoning defensive line. If you can’t get him, I’d be thrilled with Payne.
How about you?