Top 10 defensive tackles in the 2023 NFL Draft include Bryan Bresee and Jalen Carter

Who are the top defensive tackle prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft class ahead of the upcoming college football season?

While the position might not be considered the most glamorous, defensive tackles are an integral part of the sport and the NFL draft. At first glance, the 2023 NFL Draft class is set to provide multiple first-round prospects once more. While Jalen Carter and Bryan Bresee lead the way, there’s a talented group of trenchmen looking to assert their will in the class.

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Top 10 defensive tackles in the 2023 NFL Draft

“At first glance” is an important phrase to be conscious of as we proceed to look at the top defensive tackles in the 2023 NFL Draft class. These rankings provide an early look at the players who could be at the pinnacle of their position next April. Whether they will or not is a different matter. There’s a lot of football to be played between now and then. However, these are some of the players you should be watching out for based on indications from summer scouting.

10) P.J. Mustipher, Penn State

Coming off the back of a season where he suffered a torn ACL, P.J. Mustipher will be looking to erase any concerns over his health when he hits the field this fall. What there aren’t many concerns over is Mustipher’s candidacy as one of the top players at his position in the 2023 NFL Draft class.

A former wrestler, the 6’4″, 326-pound DT showcases strength as an oft-immovable force. While that allows a prolific Penn State pass rush to thrive, he’s no slouch off the snap. He also has a red hot motor and boasts pass-rush potential.

9) Akheem Mesidor, Miami (FL)

A relatively productive defensive tackle during two seasons at West Virginia, Akheem Mesidor heads to Miami with the potential to emerge as one of the position’s top prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft.

At 6’2″ and 272 pounds, he’ll likely attract negativity as “undersized” during the cycle. However, you can’t argue his ability to be a versatile pass rusher with explosion, power, and flexibility. Meanwhile, Mesidor’s length and power combination allow him to shed blocks for fun to be an impact maker behind the line of scrimmage.

8) Jaquelin Roy, LSU

LSU defensive tackle Jaquelin Roy has already received some significant attention in the 2023 NFL Draft class. Several outlets have him ranked substantially higher than we have here.

Another sub-300-pound interior defensive lineman, Roy’s size is weaponized by violent, powerful hands that are as adept at shedding blocks as they are shocking offensive linemen on initial contact. If he makes the leap as the Tigers’ primary defensive playmaker, he may raise up these rankings by the time April rolls around.

7) Jaxon Player, Baylor

After facing Tulsa in 2021, Oklahoma State players referred to Jaxon Player as “Baby Aaron Donald.” That tells you everything you need to know about his inclusion here. We’re joking, of course. There’s more to Player’s candidacy as one of the top defensive tackles in the 2023 NFL Draft than a flattering comparison.

When you think of the now-Baylor DT, think of the three Ts: tough, tenacious, and timing off the snap with impressive explosion. The 6’0″, 290-pound playmaker made a living in the opposition backfield last year with his first step.

6) Tyler Davis, Clemson

Based on talent alone, Tyler Davis could be ranked higher than this. His physical upside is alluring, with elements of explosion, power, agility, and flexibility. Meanwhile, his stout frame — 6’2″, 300 pounds — gives him a natural leverage advantage in close quarters.

Throw in some violence and speed in his hands, and Davis ticks a lot of evaluation boxes. However, the 2023 NFL Draft defensive tackle prospect’s stock is checkered by an injury history that has limited his college reps over the past two seasons.

5) Siaki Ika, Baylor

Big men in the trenches don’t come much bigger than Siaki Ika. The gargantuan defensive tackle is listed at 6’4″ and 350 pounds. While colleges are known for inflation numbers, Ika looks every inch and pound of that mountainous frame.

His size and strength present a natural obstacle for offensives to run through. However, the Baylor DT is much more than just a gap-plugger. Ika has the lateral agility and get-off to sidestep offensive linemen as he makes his way into the backfield as a dangerous, three-down 2023 NFL Draft prospect.

4) Gervon Dexter, Florida

Like Ika, Gervon Dexter is an irregularly sized human in this 2023 NFL Draft defensive tackle class. At 6’6″ and 315 pounds, the former five-star recruit is taller than most interior defensive prospects. Yet, that doesn’t stop him from dominating his opponent in the trenches.

Dexter easily gets off blocks with his powerful long arms and plays with devastating strength at the point of attack. The Florida DT prospect is also an impressive athlete for his size, showcasing speed and lateral agility.

3) Calijah Kancey, Pittsburgh

Calijah Kancey will look to continue the tradition of undersized Pitt defensive tackles when he heads to the 2023 NFL Draft. While his 6’0″, 275-pound frame may prove off-putting for some analysts — and maybe some teams — his scouting report is absolutely jam-packed with potential.

Few players in the nation possess Kancey’s high-level combination of explosiveness, body control, toughness, and relentless energy. Furthermore, he has a pass-rush toolbox and the know-how to use it effectively.

2) Bryan Bresee, Clemson

Since his days of domination for Damascus, Bryan Bresee has been heralded as a future NFL star. Even amongst his injury-disrupted early Clemson career, it’s clear to see why.

One of the top defensive tackle prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft class, Bresee boasts a versatile frame that allows him to be a disruptor from multiple alignments. The Clemson DT is a physical freak. He has all the tools to be a dominant pass rusher and run stopper at the next level. A fully healthy junior year should solidify his status as one of the best in the nation.

1) Jalen Carter, Georgia

After placing five defensive prospects in the first round of last year’s draft, it’s hard to believe that Georgia’s best prospect might actually reside in the 2023 NFL Draft class. Jalen Carter is a genuine difference-maker at the heart of the Bulldogs’ defensive line.

His combination of high-level athletic ability, incredible power and violence, and a pass-rush toolbox already brimming with moves makes Carter a clear early-first-round prospect. He’s an explosive playmaker and a viable threat in all phases of defense. QBs beware this fall!

Oliver Hodgkinson is an NFL Draft and College Football Analyst for Pro Football Network. Check out the rest of his work here, and you can find him on Twitter: @ojhodgkinson.


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