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NFL Draft: How do the top defensive tackle prospects compare to the NFL’s best?

Four defensive tackles with mouth-watering comparisons.

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

There are some fans who don’t keep an eye on NFL prospects coming out of college. Some simply don’t watch college football, and some don't know what to really look for in regards to prospects entering the NFL. A fun (albeit sometimes frustrating) way that some fans look at prospects is to look at potential NFL comparisons. Today, we want to look at some potential comparisons for prospects the Falcons are interested in.

When you think of the first round, the most mentioned guys are Vita Vea, Da’Ron Payne, Taven Bryan, and Maurice Hurst. So I will focus on those four key guys, and see how the media and draft heads perceive them.

Vita Vea, defensive tackle, Washington

NCAA Football: Washington Spring Game Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

Obviously, the first thing that stands out with Vita Vea is the size. 6’4 and almost 350 pounds. He is a massive force. So how does he compare to current NFL players? Let’s look. Haloti Ngata

Kyle Crabbs (NDT Scouting): Dontari Poe

Joe Marino (NDT Scouting): Haloti Ngata

Eric Galko (Optimum Scouting): Haloti Ngata

Haloti Ngata at one point was probably the best interior linemen in the NFL, with the Baltimore Ravens, so this is a flattering comparison. Like Vea, he is a huge player, but you couldn’t tell by the way he moves. He was an immovable object and that is a crazy comparison to have, even if he’s not quite as good now as he once was.

The Dontari Poe comparison isn’t a bad one at all either - if we’re assuming Vea pans out. As Poe is a two time pro bowler and came into the league as one of the athletic freaks out of college, due to his athletic testing at his massive size.

Maurice Hurst, defensive tackle, Michigan

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Michigan Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Maurice Hurst is a bit “undersized” at 6’2, 280. But where have we heard that before? (Aaron Donald, Geno Atkins, and our very own Grady Jarrett).

Maurice Hurst very seldom played as small as some make him out to be and many of these analysts agree, considering their NFL comparisons.

NFL.Com: Maliek Collins

Kyle Crabbs (NDT Scouting): Geno Atkins

Joe Marino (NDT Scouting): Geno Atkins

Eric Galko (Optimum Scouting): Grady Jarrett

The two Geno Atkins comparisons jump out right away. He was one of the first current players to break that whole “too small” mold and he is still playing at a high level. Maliek Collins is one of the bright pieces of the future for Dallas’ defense and we all know what Grady Jarrett is. Some question the fit for the Falcons, given Hurst’s size. I am not one of those people.

Taven Bryan, defensive tackle, Florida

NCAA Football: Florida State at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Taven Bryan is 6’4, 291 pounds. His size is right in line to be able to be an inside/out defensive lineman. Which is beneficial for him, because Quinn strongly covets versatility. He tested off the charts at the combine and it really improved his stock. Robert Nkemdiche

Kyle Krabbs (NDT Scouting): Robert Nkemdiche

Joe Marino (NDT Scouting): Ndamukong Suh

Eric Galko (Optimum Scouting): Fletcher Cox

First and foremost; wow. If you remember, Nkemdiche blew up the 2016 draft combine, testing in the 95, 97, 92, 88th percentiles in the broad jump, vertical jump, 40 yard dash and 10 yard split. Taven Bryan tested in the 95, 98, 97, 79, in the 3 cone, broad jump, vertical jump, and 40 yard dash. While also testing in the 80th percentile in the 20 yard shuttle. Athletically...incredible.

The Suh and Cox comparisons must be based on how they expect him to be on the football field in the NFL, because his college production is not up to par with those guys, and Nkemdiche is in some ways a worrying association. Still, strong comparisons, all around.

Da’Ron Payne, defensive tackle, Alabama

NCAA Football: Sugar Bowl-Alabama vs Clemson Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Da’Ron Payne is right in the middle of a guy like Vita Vea, and Maurice Hurst. Not as big as Vea, but not as small as Hurst. He may be stronger than Hurst, but not as quick. He may be quicker than Vea, but not as strong. He’s 6’2 311, and he’s the next toted first round defensive lineman out of Alabama. Ndamukong Suh

Kyle Crabbs (NDT Scouting): Corey Liuget

Joe Marino (NDT Scouting): Dalvin Tomlinson

Eric Galko (Optimum Scouting): Marcell Dareus

Okay, so none of these guys agree on any comparison like the previous 3 prospects. Breaking down the Suh comparison, it has to be based off of Da’Ron Payne’s outrageous strength. He is a huge kid, and he’s had weight lifting videos all over YouTube. Corey Liuget was a highly sought draft pick back in the 2011 draft and his stretch from 2012-2015 were pretty productive but he’s been kind of under the radar (and been suspended) since then. Dalvin Tomlinson is a fellow Alabama alumni and he had an impactful rookie year this past season with the New York Giants, and we all know the force that Marcell Dareus can be.

All in all, a good young player, a solid player, and two Pro Bowlers is very good company to be compared to.


Who knows if the Atlanta Falcons will even take any of these guys once the draft rolls around, and obviously comparisons should be taken with a grain of salt. It’s just a fun way of getting to know what other analysts think a prospect could be.

If we could have it our way though, it looks as if the Atlanta Falcons will end up with their version of Ndamukong Suh, Haloti Ngata, or Geno Atkins. I don’t think any of us would mind the comparisons, in this case.