The tried and true belief in the NFL is the games are won and lost in the trenches. Finding quality players for your defensive line is a priority for every team, every year. The fastest way to the quarterback is a straight line, and teams who can generate consistent interior pressure fare quite well in the biggest moments.
DJ Dale is a draft prospect hoping some team feels he can be a piece that comes in and provides the ability to disrupt the opponents’ rhythm. If all goes well, the defensive tackle may hear his name called during the 2023 NFL Draft. However, he may have an uphill climb. Let’s take a look at Dale’s scouting report to determine where he may land.
DJ Dale NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Defensive Tackle
- School: Alabama
- Year: Senior
Dale was rated as a four-star prospect by 247 Sports, ESPN, and 247 Composite while being named a three-star tackle by Rivals.com. As a junior in high school, Dale collected 38 tackles, including 14 for loss, on his way to first-team Class 6A All-State honors from the Alabama Sports Writers Association (ASWA). He was coached by Jerry Hood at Clay-Chalkville High School in Pinson, Alabama, and joined the Crimson Tide after receiving offers from, most notably, Auburn, Clemson, Florida State, and Tennessee.
Dale’s college career started out very strong. He earned the starting job at nose tackle during fall camp. From there, he started 10 games, missing the final three of the season with a lower body injury.
On the season, Dale recorded 17 tackles, including three for loss, and added one sack and a quarterback pressure to go with a fumble recovery. The effort had him named to the Freshman All-America Watch List by the Football Writers’ Association of America (FWAA).
For his sophomore season, Dale returned to full health and totaled 22 tackles, including one for loss. He also contributed two pass breakups and a fumble recovery. His junior season started with him being named to the Nagurski Trophy Watch List. He went on to record 18 tackles, including four for loss. He showed an ability to get to the quarterback by adding two sacks and a QB pressure.
Dale’s senior season saw a continued ability to add pass rushing to his repertoire. He played in 12 games during his senior campaign, only missing the Mississippi State matchup due to injury. On the year, he recorded 17 tackles, including 3.5 tackles for loss. He added 2.5 sacks, one fumble recovery, a pass breakup, and a QB hurry.
DJ Dale Scouting Report
Strengths: Athletic but slightly undersized defensive tackle who may be best as a 3-technique lineman. Bends his knees, plays with leverage, and fires off the snap with a terrific first step. Mobile, agile, and easily moves about the field.
Easily changes direction or immediately alters his angle of attack, works his hands throughout the play, and slides off blocks laterally. Immediately locates the ball, has a quick closing burst, and makes a lot of athletic plays.
Weaknesses: Handled by a single blocker and gets turned off the middle of the line. Lacks great growth potential.
Overall: Dale was a solid four-year player at Alabama who produced in a variety of ways. He’s more of a complementary or situational defensive tackle who can be used on a rotational basis.
DJ Dale Combine Measurements and Results
The NFL Scouting Combine gives us a great opportunity to see how players stack up in various testing environments. Luckily, PFN has full databases of both NFL Combine measurements and NFL Combine results. Below is everything you need to know from Dale’s Combine performance.
- Height: 6007
- Weight: 302
- Arm: 32 ⅞”
- Hand: 9 ¾”
- Bench Press: N/A
- 40-Yard Dash: 5.26
DJ Dale Current Draft Projection
According to Tony Pauline’s Big Board, Dale has a fifth-round grade. Dale is Pauline’s 11th-best defensive tackle prospect and No. 146 player overall.
Dale’s Relative Athletic Score of 2.28 is considered “poor,” but the first thing that sticks out is his height. He comes in at barely six feet tall. He has average weight at the position, but that height could be a concern for a player lined up in the middle of the defensive line. In the 40-yard dash, Dale’s initial explosion off the line through the 10-yard split was average, but his deceleration from there was considered poor.
Dale’s explosion numbers were also considered “very poor.” He had less than a 26-inch vertical jump, which isn’t great paired with less-than-ideal height. His broad jump of just over eight feet wasn’t much better.
MORE: 2023 NFL Draft DT Class
On top of that, Dale’s agility score was also poor with a rough shuttle time. The days of space eating on the defensive line being enough are likely passed us at this point, and Dale’s athletic testing did not assure he can develop into more than that.
When I ran through the Pro Football Network Mock Draft Simulator, Dale had an extreme range of outcomes. He had been taken as high as Round 5, but mostly he wasn’t drafted at all.
If Dale does become a priority free agent, a few teams that could make him a priority following the draft are the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots. Both teams could utilize a nose tackle and need depth along their interior defensive lines.
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