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Draft preview: Defensive tackles

Posted May 1, 2014

MIKE MAYOCK’S TOP FIVE

Aaron Donald
6-1, 285, Pittsburgh

Led the nation as a senior with an average of 1.6 sacks and 2.4 tackles for loss per game. … Also shined at NFL Scouting Combine, pacing defensive tackles in the bench press and 40-yard dash. … An explosive prospect who could be a top-15 draft pick.

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Ra’Shede Hageman
6-6, 310, Minnesota

Noted for brute strength and versatility. … Can line up directly over the center or play the three-technique. … Showed the ability throughout college career to overpower offensive linemen at both spots. … A player whose impact won’t be measured in statistics.

Timmy Jernigan
6-2, 299, Florida State

The one underclassman among the five Florida State defensive players expected to be drafted, and he could be the first one taken. … Nimble on his feet for a 300-pounder. … Had nine tackles to help the Seminoles edge Auburn in the national championship.

Louis Nix
6-2, 331, Notre Dame

A massive human being who carries his weight well. … Actually weighed more but dropped 23 pounds before combine. … Played only half of last season because of a knee injury that eventually required season-ending surgery.

Dominique Easley
6-2, 288, Florida

Might be a top-10 prospect if not for injury history that includes torn ACL in right knee last September. … Marked second non-contact ACL tear, the other one coming in left knee in 2011. … Reports that he could be ready for training camp have increased his draft stock.

LOCAL WORTH A LOOK

Kelcy Quarles
6-4, 297, South Carolina

Produced statistically superior season to Jadeveon Clowney in 2013, leading the Gamecocks with 9.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss to earn first-team All-SEC honors. … Benefitted from double teams of Clowney. … Quick and explosive pass rusher who could be picked on day two of draft (rounds 2-3).

COMBINE STANDOUT

Kerry Hyder
6-3, 290, Texas Tech

Topped defensive tackles with a 4.33 in the 20-yard shuttle. … Second among defensive tackles with a 7.23 in the three-cone drill. … Either a late-round choice or priority college free agent.