Breaking down DTs with Todd McShay

A lot of people think the Carolina Panthers will take a defensive tackle with their top pick (No. 9 overall) in the first round. If they do decide to go in that direction, there’s still the question of which one they would take.

The names you hear as candidates in that area of the draft are Mississippi State’s Fletcher Cox, Memphis’ Dontari Poe and LSU’s Michael Brockers.

Let’s turn to ESPN draft guru Todd McShay for a breakdown of those three defensive tackles. He’s got Cox at the top of his list.

“Fletcher Cox, the more tape I watch, the more he just grew on me, and I love his versatility,’’ McShay said in a recent conference call with the national media. “I think he plays the game hard. I think he can rush the passer both from the inside and the outside, different styles, more of a three technique. On the outside he seals the edge and is stronger at the point of attack than when he plays on the inside, but I also see some ability to get off the quarterback with power moves and leverage moves as a left defensive end type or a 3-4 defensive end, as well, on occasion. I think he's the best of the group, I really do, and I think he'll continue to get better."

McShay also said he’s high on Brockers, but doesn’t see him as a finished product.

“I realize that he has some maturing to do, both as a football player and just as a young man, and I think that he shows a lot of potential, but he's not quite there yet,’’ McShay said. “But I think he's going to get stronger. I see some power in his game. I think he can be a really good 3-4 defensive end or play defensive tackle, possibly even nose tackle depending on the scheme, and I think he's the second best defensive tackle.’’

McShay isn’t nearly as high on Poe, who seemed to gain a lot of attention after an impressive workout at the scouting combine.

“I see the workout numbers, and I found myself wanting and waiting and wishing and hoping is what I keep saying,’’ McShay said. “Every single play I watched from Memphis, just hoping that he would make a big play. He will disrupt and he'll be involved in some plays, but for a guy that you're talking about potential top-10, top 12-pick, I just didn't see the production, and I just didn't see a guy who understands and has a great feel for the game. And that's not to say he won't develop, and he very well may, and one day he may be a junior Haloti Ngata. But Haloti Ngata coming out was a much better football player than Dontari Poe is right now, and that scares me, and that's why I've dropped him to where he is as the third best defensive tackle, somewhere in kind of the middle range.’’