Just like their offensive counterparts, inside defensive lineman take on a lot of responsibility. They are tasked with stopping opposing runners, creating pressure from the inside, and, eventually, getting to opposing quarterbacks. As cornerstones of effective defenses, interior defensive linemen will be in high demand the 2021 NFL offseason.
Here are the top 10 available defensive tackles in 2021:
- Steve McLendon, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Jurrell Casey, Denver Broncos
- Damon Harrison, Green Bay Packers
Much like most athletic endeavors, age eventually becomes a major factor in how good a player is. These three available defensive tackles in the 2021 NFL offseason are towards the back end of their careers. Steve McLendon just earned a Superbowl ring for his efforts with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but the 35-year-old has lost a step. Jurrell Casey missed the large majority of 2020 with a torn bicep and is no spring chicken at 37. Damon Harrison practiced with three teams, but only made an appearance with Green Bay Packers in 2020.
2021 NFL Offseason: 10 Available Defensive Tackles
10| Darius Stills | West Virginia
As is the norm, we’re starting with the NFL draft for best available defensive tackles. The first is Darius Stills out of West Virginia. The senior prospect comes in a bit raw but has shown flashes of what he can bring to the table. He might be a nice sleeper acquisition for a team in the 2021 NFL offseason.
At times in college, Stills was able to simply dominate the guards he faced through pure strength and acceleration off the line. That ease of success made some of his other attributes suffer, namely his positioning and run-stopping. Stills is definitely a work in progress, but one that could certainly be worth the time.
9| Jaylen Twyman | Pitt
Jaylen Twyman has many of the same attributes as Stills but is a bit more refined in his approach. Before opting out of the 2020 season, Twyman was an incredibly productive defensive tackle. His mixture of athleticism and a growing toolbox of ways to get around blockers make him a valuable draft selection during the 2021 NFL offseason.
Twyman is explosive from the point of attack and used that much to his advantage in college. While he will be undersized as compared to other starting NFL defensive tackles, Twyman already has an impressive toolbox of moves, namely a strong swim move and push-pulls that make him a nightmare on the interior.
8| Levi Onwuzurike | Washington
Levi Onwuzurike, the defensive tackle for the Washington Huskies, makes for an interesting draft choice in the upcoming draft. However, he doesn’t have the gaudy stats or overly dominant attributes as some of his fellow peers in the 2021 NFL offseason.
Instead, Onwuzurike is a balanced, level-headed workhorse. He’s strong, athletic, disciplined, and has a good football IQ. He uses that IQ and his great leverage control to run stop at an incredibly high level. That, along with his ability to play in the trenches play after play, makes him one of the best defensive linemen available in the draft.
7| Christian Barmore | Alabama
Christian Barmore is the most highly-touted of available defensive tackles in the 2021 NFL offseason. He’s coming out of a program that routinely produces top NFL linemen, and led the Alabama Crimson Tide to yet another College Football Championship. Barmore is a raw prospect but is ready to perform at the professional level as just a redshirt sophomore.
His raw ability needs refinement. Barmore isn’t consistent just yet, but he has more than enough tools to be great. Barmore is a mountain of a man, standing six-foot-five and 310 lbs. He packs a huge punch at the point of contact, maneuvers laterally as well as any other defensive lineman in this draft, and creates pressure at will.
6| Johnathan Hankins | Las Vegas Raiders
Johnathan Hankins is the first NFL free agent on this list of available defensive tackles. Playing for the Las Vegas Raiders, He has made a name for himself as a strong two-way inside defensive linemen. Hankins has played for a trio of organizations and has been successful at each stop.
After breaking out his second year in the league, Hankins’ production fell from that high level but has been steady through his career. His play as both a pass rusher and run stopper has impressed at times, and his consistently strong play makes him a valuable addition to any defense during the 2021 NFL offseason.
5| Larry Ogunjobi | Cleveland Browns
Larry Ogunjobi is one of the younger defensive tackles available this spring. He has only been in the league since 2017, but at this point, he plays much more like a veteran. The athletic tackle had a down season for the Cleveland Browns, but he’s shown he has what it takes to perform at a high level in the NFL.
Ogunjobi’s 2020 performance was poor compared to the previous two seasons. In both 2018 and 2019, he put together five and a half sacks from the interior. Ogunjobi’s ability to pass rush from the interior makes him an interesting add in this 2021 NFL offseason.
4| Adam Butler | New England Patriots
These top four available defensive tackles are incredibly closely ranked, based on their production, age, and value. Adam Butler had a solid 2020 season playing on a depleted New England Patriots‘ defense.
The 27-year-old only started four games for Belichick but rewarded the team with four sacks and seven total quarterback hits. The young veteran is primed for a breakout year with whichever team picks him up during the 2021 NFL offseason.
3| Shelby Harris | Denver Broncos
Shelby Harris is truly a player in his prime. Out of the available defensive tackles, Harris has one of the highest Pro Football Focus grades, and his play on the field backs that up. He should be a strong signing for any team in the 2021 NFL offseason.
Last year, Harris had another strong season with the Denver Broncos. He started in all 11 games that he played in, had two and a half sacks, a forced fumble, and tied for the league lead with seven pass deflections.
2| Ndamukong Suh | Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Ndamukong Suh is coming off of a HUGE year for the Superbowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The 34-year-old had a rebound year, but it is hard to tell how long that production will last.
Suh was an awesome addition to the Bucs this year. He hit opposing quarterbacks 19 total times and had six sacks. I have him at number two based on his age and his cap hit going forward with a salary cap that looks to stay flat in the 2021 NFL offseason.
1| Dalvin Tomlinson | New York Giants
Dalvin Tomlinson is my number one among available defensive tackles this offseason. He may not have the shiniest stat sheet, but he does everything to a high standard. He should be high on the list of franchises searching for interior defensive linemen in the 2021 NFL offseason.
Tomlinson plays most like a traditional nose tackle, right at the heart of opposing offensive lines, and is primarily tasked with stopping the run. He’s only 28 years old, coming off of his rookie contract, and was a major piece in turning around the New York Giants‘ defense this past season. Expect Tomlinson to get a big payday this spring.
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