The 2021 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl Big Board is being rolled out by position, featuring players to watch. Today, we continue with defensive tackles:
*NOTE: We at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl are disappointed for those players whose senior seasons have been disrupted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In respect for those who may still play in 2021, we have altered our preseason Big Board to reflect only those seniors whose schools are actively preparing to play a fall season.
Ralfs Rusins, NG, Liberty:
Traditionally, nose guards are the key cogs inside for stuffing the run, but Ralfs Rusins showed in game one versus Syracuse last year that he can also use his power to affect the quarterback in the passing game as well. Taking the center straight back into the quarterback’s lap for a sack, the Latvian native is a power player who utilizes his great size and length to be a factor in both phases of the game. With an impressive ability to hold the point of attack, lock-out blockers with extension, read and react to the play, and shed to tackle, it’s no wonder the former tight end finished the season fourth on the team with 60 tackles, including 6.5 for loss.
Darel Middleton, DT, Tennessee:
Big Darel Middleton was creatively utilized in 2019 for the Vols, aligning at closed-side defensive end in their even front, at 4i in okie (3-man) fronts, and then kicking inside to tackle in nickel. At 6-6 and 311 pounds, the former East Mississippi CC Lion – who won the 2018 NJCAA national championship – adds a lot of beef to stuffing the run and was regularly able to use his strength to press off opposing blockers. With his advantageous size and great physicality, Middleton naturally projects inside to defensive tackle for the next level.
Darius Stills, NG, West Virginia:
As an undersized and active nose guard, Darius Stills is fun to watch. With good initial quickness to immediately stress interior blockers and the contact strength to not be deterred through the gap, Stills makes his living in the offensive backfield. In 2019, the West Virginia native led the Mountaineers with an impressive 14.5 tackles for loss and tied for the team lead with seven sacks, earning first-team All-Big 12 honors. With a motor that never fails and the speed to get home, keep an eye out for this year’s preseason Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.
2021 NFLPA COLLEGIATE BOWL BIG BOARD: DEFENSIVE TACKLES
|Neil||Farrell Jr.||DT||Louisiana State||6-4||298|