Vita Vea*, NT, Washington
Height: 6-5. Weight: 332. Projected 40 Time: 5.20. Projected Round (2018): 1. 2/3/18: Some sources have compared Vea to Haloti Ngata in terms of ability to play defensive end or nose tackle. They feel that Vea is a special nose tackle prospect who offers more than Danny Shelton did coming out of Washington. Vea will be downgraded in the 2018 NFL Draft because of being a nose tackle, but he still is a special and rare player.
Vea has a serious combination of size, length, strength, and quickness at the point of attack. He is a heavy nose tackle who is a rock against the run and can occasionally collapse the pocket in the pass rush. Vea totaled 44 tackles, 3.5 sacks and four passes batted in 2017. He has shown the ability to contribute somewhat in the pass rush while being big, strong, and having a burst at the point of attack.
9/1/17: Vea was a load at the point of attack for Washington in 2016. On the year, he totaled 39 tackles with 6.5 tackles for a loss, five sacks, one force fumble and two passes batted. Vea has a serious combination of size, length, strength, and quickness at the point of attack.
For the NFL, Vea projects as a heavy nose tackle who can be tough at the point of attack. He is a big, thick and strong. Vea can use his size and strength eat up blockers and generally holds gap integrity. He has a quick burst off the snap, and there are times where his size, power, and quickness overwhelm smaller interior linemen. Vea is at his best when he tries to bull his way into the backfield to cause disruption. With his upper body strength and the power in his base, Vea can push off or through blocks. He has a good motor and gives a second effort, too.
Vea needs to show improvement in the pass rush during 2017. The junior needs to develop some pass-rushing moves to go with his bull rush. He has to become more consistent in creating pressure and laying hits on the quarterback in order to be a highly in-demand draft prospect. Otherwise, he could be viewed as just a nose tackle.
Da'Ron Payne*, NT, Alabama
Height: 6-2. Weight: 319. Projected 40 Time: 5.10. Projected Round (2018): 1. 2/3/18: Payne had 47 tackles, two sacks and a pass batted in 2017. He was superb, showcasing his freakish speed and athleticism. Payne was a tremendous run defender all year, shutting down his gap and keeping teams from running the ball on Alabama. When the Crimson Tide let him rush the passer, Payne demonstrated the ability to collapse the pocket and pressure the quarterback as well. He was superb in the playoff games against Clemson and Georgia.
Payne gets rave reviews all over the scouting community. In speaking with some general managers who have scouted Alabama, they think Payne and Minkah Fitzpatrick are legit studs for the NFL. Payne looks like the rare nose tackle who has top-25 potential.
9/1/17: Scouts who have looked ahead to the 2018 class have raved about Payne's potential. Coming from Alabama, it isn't a stretch that Payne could take on the lead role for the Crimson Tide with Jonathan Allen moving on to the NFL. Payne is a run plugger with a lot of potential to grow. In 2016, Payne recorded 36 tackles with 3.5 for a loss, 1.5 sacks and one pass broken up.
What the stats don't illustrate is that Payne can be physically dominant. He dominated his one-on-ones last year when he was lining up over guards. Payne causes disruption and makes his teammates better. Payne's contributions helped the sacks totals of Allen, Tim Williams and Ryan Anderson. Payne could be poised for a big junior year.
Tim Settle*, NT, Virginia Tech
Height: 6-3. Weight: 335. Projected 40 Time: 5.30. Projected Round (2018): 1-3. 2/3/18: Settle put together a strong 2017 season and was one of the better defenders on a tough Virginia Tech defense. The big nose tackle totaled 36 tackles with 12.5 tackles for a loss, four sacks, and one pass batted for the year. That was a big improvement over his 2016 season when he had 17 tackles and no sacks. The physical defender is probably more likely to be a second-day pick in the 2018 NFL Draft given how nose tackles are downgraded.
Harrison Phillips, NT, Stanford
Height: 6-3. Weight: 295. Arm: 33.75. Hand: 10.5. Projected 40 Time: 5.24. Projected Round (2018): 2-4. 2/3/18: Phillips turned himself into a NFL prospect with a tremendous senior season. He had 103 tackles with 17 tackles for a loss, 7.5 sacks and two forced fumbles for the year. In speaking with a director of college scouting who was scouting at Stanford, they felt that Phillips is a mid-rounder. They said that Phillips struggles with double teams and has limitations as a pass-rusher for the NFL that push him down, but they think Phillips is a good run stuffer for the next level. They said his game is similar to former Stanford nose tackle David Parry. Others will probably grade Phillips higher.
As a junior, Phillips had 46 tackles with 9.5 tackles for a loss and 6.5 sacks. He missed his sophomore season with an injury after backing up as a freshman.
B.J. Hill, NT, N.C. State
Height: 6-3. Weight: 321. Arm: 32.35. Hand: 10.38. Projected 40 Time: 5.17. Projected Round (2018): 3-5. 2/3/18: Hill was part of a talented defensive line for the Wolfpack, and all four of their 2017 starters are future NFL contributors. Hill is a tough run defender at the point of attack who is tough to move and reliable to fill his gap. The senior recorded 57 tackles with 5.5 for a loss, three sacks and three passes batted in 2017. As a junior, he totaled 39 tackles with 2.5 for a loss, one sack, one forced fumble and three passes batted. Hill contributed 50 tackles as a sophomore with 3.5 sacks and 40 tackles as a freshman with 1.5 sacks.
Kendrick Norton*, NT, Miami
Height: 6-3. Weight: 318. Projected 40 Time: 5.23. Projected Round (2018): 3-5 2/3/18: Norton collected 26 tackles with 6.5 for a loss, two sacks and one passes batted in 2017. He is a run-stuffing nose tackle prospect for the NFL. He should have returned to school, but he entered the 2018 NFL Draft.
9/1/17: Norton had a solid 2016 as a first-year starter for the Hurricanes. The sophomore totaled 39 tackles with 10 for a loss, two sacks and a forced fumble on the season. Norton could be better as a junior and senior with development.
Kahlil McKenzie Jr.*, NT, Tennessee
Height: 6-3. Weight: 325. Projected 40 Time: 5.17. Projected Round (2018): 5-7. 2/3/18: McKenzie finished 2017 with a total of 35 tackles, 3.5 for a loss and two sacks. He entered the 2018 NFL Draft.
9/1/17: A pectoral injury limited McKenzie to only half the season in 2016. As a freshman in 2015, McKenzie flashed with 24 tackles and a sack. He has to stay healthy and produce as a junior.
Du'Vonta Lampkin*, NT, Oklahoma
Height: 6-4. Weight: 335. Projected 40 Time: 5.40. Projected Round (2018): 5-7. 2/3/18: Lampkin is a heavy nose tackle who should have returned to school for 2018. He had 23 tackles with five tackles for a loss and one sack in 2017. Lampkin is extremely powerful, but doesn't play consistently. He also faced academic problems that caused him to be suspended two games in 2017. Related academic issues caused him to flip from Texas to Oklahoma. Lampkin has had maturity issues off the field as well.
Greg Gilmore, NT, LSU
Height: 6-3. Weight: 318. Projected 40 Time: 5.29. Projected Round (2018): 5-7. 2/3/18: Gilmore has some versatility to fit as a three-technique or nose tackle in a 4-3 defense. In a 3-4, he could play end or tackle given his weight with enough length. In 2017, Gilmore totaled 53 tackles with 10 tackles for a loss, 7.5 sacks, and one pass batted. He collected 34 tackles with one sack as a junior and 13 tackles as a sophomore. Gilmore has some size and strength at the point of attack, but looks limited.
Deadrin Senat, NT, South Florida
Height: 6-0. Weight: 300. Projected 40 Time: 5.20. Projected Round (2018): 5-7. 2/3/18: Sources said that a player who stood out at the weigh-in for the East-West Shrine was South Florida nose tackle Deadrin Senat. Senat doesn't have good height or length, but he has a strong build with serious strength. In the team scrimmage at the East-West Shrine, Senat showed a burst to fire into the backfield and get a tackle for a loss. He also ate up blocks and plugged his gap as blockers were incapable of moving him. One general manager told WalterFootball.com that they see Senat as a sawed-off nose tackle who has power to hold his gap at the point of attack. They think he could be a late-round pick or undrafted free agent who ends up making the team as a functional nose tackle to rotate into the game.
Lowell Lotulelei, NT, Utah
Height: 6-2. Weight: 310. Projected 40 Time: 5.40. Projected Round (2018): 6-FA. 2/3/18: In 2017, Lotulelei had 16 tackles with a pass batted and 1.5 sacks. He is a plugger nose tackle, but he doesn't make stops in the ground game and lacks an ability to contribute in the pass rush.
9/1/17: Lotulelei notched 28 tackles with 8.5 for a loss and 3.5 sacks in 2016. He is run-stuffing nose tackle for the NFL, but doesn't offer a lot of pass-rush contributions. The younger brother of Star Lotulelei, Lowell Lotulelei had 33 tackles with four sacks and a forced fumble in 2014 as a freshman. He is a strong nose tackle at the point of attack. In 2015, Lotulelei had 26 tackles with five for a loss and one sack. He could be limited as a nose tackle who comes off the field in passing situations.
Matt Elam, NT, Kentucky
Height: 6-7. Weight: 360. Projected 40 Time: 5.54. Projected Round (2018): FA 2/3/18: Elam had eight tackles with a pass batted in 2017.
9/1/17: Elam is a massive nose tackle candidate for the NFL. He will need to lose weight and get in better condition, but he is a massive lineman who could be a two-gap or zero-technique in the NFL. Elam had 10 tackles as a freshman, 23 tackles as a sophomore and nine as a junior.