2015 Preseason All-American Projections: Defensive Tackles

By Charlie Campbell
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Heading into the 2015 college football season WalterFootball.com will debut our projections for the nation’s leaders during the fall. The All-American teams always have some surprises, and the stars of next fall could be the headlining players next May in the 2016 NFL Draft.

First-Team Defensive Tackles:

Maliek Collins, Nebraska

Sources say that Randy Gregory wasn’t the only first-round talent on Nebraska’s defensive line last year. Collins turned in an impressive season with 45 tackles, 17 for a loss, 4.5 sacks and 13 quarterback hurries. Evaluators say they were impressed with Collins and couldn’t help but notice him when they were watching tape of Gregory.

It was a breakout sophomore season for Collins after being a backup as a freshman. Collins was a Second-Team All-Big Ten selection, and he has the upside to be even better after gaining a year of experience. Collins (6-2, 300) could be one of the top interior pass-rushers in the nation this year.

A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama

The 6-foot-4, 320-pound Robinson didn’t blow the doors off in 2014, but the sophomore had double-teams come his direction after a huge freshman year. In 2014, Robinson recorded 49 tackles with 7.5 tackles for a loss, one forced fumble and two passes batted. As a freshman, he was too good to keep on the sideline for a team that rarely plays underclassmen. Robinson was an impressive defender as he had 38 tackles with eight tackles for a loss and 5.5 sacks in 2013.

The 6-foot-4, 320-pounder is quick for his size and very strong. With his upside, Robinson could be at his best as a junior. Robinson could be the next star draft prospect for Alabama’s defense. With C.J. Mosley and Landon Collins in the NFL, Robinson should get plenty of hype as the Crimson Tide’s star defender.

Second-Team Defensive Tackles:

Josh Augusta, Missouri

The Missouri defense has been a factory for NFL defensive line talent in recent years with the likes of Sheldon Richardson, Kony Ealy, Markus Golden and Shane Ray all being early-round picks. The Tigers’ scheme lends itself to big sack totals, and Augusta looks poised for a big season.

As a sophomore, Augusta totaled 23 tackles with 4.5 tackles for a loss, one sack, one interception and two forced fumbles in 2014. He was more disruptive at the point of attack than the numbers indicate, and he helped create some sacks for Golden and Ray. It wouldn’t surprise me if Augusta (6-4, 300) had a huge junior year and is a First-Team All-American.

Adolphus Washington, Ohio State

Washington made a nice impact in 2014 as part of an excellent defensive line. He teamed with Michael Bennett and Joey Bosa to produce a consistent pass rush and a ton of plays behind the line of scrimmage. Washington had 48 tackles with 10.5 for a loss, 4.5 sacks, three passes batted and one forced fumble on the season.

Washington is a quick and athletic interior pass-rusher. With Bosa causing pressure from the outside, Washington could rack up a nice sack total for an an interior lineman with quarterbacks stepping up in the pocket to avoid the dynamic edge rusher. Ohio State figures to playing with the lead a lot, so Washington should see plenty of pass-rushing opportunities.

Third-Team Defensive Tackles:

Chris Jones, Mississippi State

Jones showed some serious potential as a true freshman. He flashed as an interior pass-rusher for the Bulldogs. In 2013, Jones totaled 32 tackles with seven tackles for a loss, three sacks and three passes broken up. He had a quality sophomore season and was part of a tough Mississippi State defense, but he wasn’t as impressive. In 2014, Jones had 26 tackles with three sacks and two passes batted. With many good teammates in the NFL, the Bulldogs will be counting on Jones taking his game to another level as a junior.

Sheldon Day, Notre Dame

Day was a disruptive presence for Notre Dame in 2014. He totaled 40 tackles with 7.5 for a loss, one sack, two forced fumbles and two passes batted. He played better than the numbers indicate. Day has some natural strength and athleticism. The 6-foot-2, 285-pounder has upside, and a big 2015 season seems entirely possible for him.

Honorable Mentions: UCLA’s Eddie Vanderdoes, Virginia Tech’s Luther Maddy, Baylor’s Andrew Billings, Penn State’s Anthony Zettel, Auburn’s Montravius Woods, LSU’s Christian LaCouture, Colorado’s Josh Tupou, Florida’s Jonathan Bullard and USC’s Antaun Woods.

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