The 2023 NFL Draft defensive tackle group stands to be one of the more vast and versatile positional categories next April. Whether you need a classic disruptive 3-tech, a versatile chess piece, or a space-eating nose tackle with three-down upside, this class has it. Here are the top prospects within that mix after the regular season.
Top 10 Defensive Tackles in the 2023 NFL Draft
10) Zacch Pickens, South Carolina
It’ll be interesting to see where Zacch Pickens ends up settling in the 2023 NFL Draft DT class. He’s a prospect who could hold more love in NFL circles than media ones. He’s quietly been productive over the past two seasons, and he has a complete physical skill set.
With Pickens, you see plenty of quality traits. At 6’3″, 305 pounds, he’s stout and well-leveraged, but also has good length. He’s an explosive athlete with a quick first step, and he has the upper-body strength to wrench through blocks. Pickens is one prospect who could assuredly outplay his draft billing.
9) Mazi Smith, Michigan
Right now, Mazi Smith has a playoff game to worry about. But soon enough, the 2023 NFL Draft discussion regarding his stock will be impossible to ignore. There’s still a fair amount of projection within Smith’s evaluation, but he has immense upside as a nose tackle at the next level.
Smith was the top Feldman Freak this past offseason, with a documented 33″ vertical and a 6.95 three-cone time at 6’3″, 337 pounds. He’s an absurd athlete for his size with menacing strength. He sometimes aligns too far upright and negates that strength at contact, but the physical tools are all present in the Michigan defender.
8) Keeanu Benton, Wisconsin
Keeanu Benton turned it on down the stretch in 2022, finishing his final season with 10 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. But in truth, the flashes of dominance have always been there. He’s just putting it all together at the right time.
Benton can still do a better job managing leverage at times, and he’s not the most agile athlete for his size. But he’s a stack-and-shed master with his powerful hands and brutal strength, and he has the hand violence and initial burst to provide pass-rushing value as well.
7) Brandon Dorlus, Oregon
It’s possible that Brandon Dorlus returns to school to help Oregon gear up for a potential Pac-12 title bid in 2023. But until an announcement is made, he still holds a spot on our top-10 defensive tackles list for the 2023 NFL Draft.
Dorlus earned nine tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks in 2022, making a constant impact on the defensive line for the Ducks. At 6’3″, 290 pounds, with superb proportional length, he’s an alignment-versatile wild card with power, lateral agility, and violent hands.
6) Ruke Orhorhoro, Clemson
Myles Murphy and Bryan Bresee get all the hype on Clemson’s defensive line, but they’re not the only Tigers prospects worth monitoring in the trenches. We can mention Tyler Davis and K.J. Henry as well, but the third early-round candidate on Clemson’s unit is Ruke Orhorhoro.
Orhorhoro is still incredibly young at 21 years old and is fairly new to football, having started as a junior in high school. But already, the 6’4″, 303-pound defender is an explosive threat with the agility, strength, and natural leverage acquisition to be a versatile trench warrior.
5) Gervon Dexter, Florida
On one hand, it would’ve been ideal to see more production from Gervon Dexter ahead of his declaration. But he’s one such defensive tackle prospect where the tape reigns supreme over sack and TFL numbers. He can still seek more consistency, but he’s an early-round talent.
A former five-star recruit, Dexter has an incredibly long, compact frame at 6’6″, 313 pounds. He looks lean for that size, but he has quantifiably elite play strength. He can forklift blockers in both phases, and he has the explosive athleticism to capitalize in the backfield.
4) Calijah Kancey, Pittsburgh
Calijah Kancey is 6’0″ and 275 pounds. Compared to most players on this list, he looks like an edge rusher. Size outliers like Kancey need to be elite in several other areas to potentially counteract their size concerns and win over NFL scouts. Luckily for Kancey, he is.
MORE: 2023 NFL Draft Big Board
Kancey is a walking mismatch inside with his elite first step, hyperactive twitch, ankle flexion, and violent hand usage. While his frame is undersized, he has excellent proportional length and surprising strength — all of which allows him to be a constant disruptor from multiple alignments.
3) Siaki Ika, Baylor
Nose tackles don’t often go in Round 1. But now, there’s a decent chance we could see it happen for two years in a row. Jordan Davis was claimed by the Eagles in the 2022 NFL Draft, and Siaki Ika could field Round 1 interest from teams in need of a nose tackle.
The nose tackle mold is scarce, and Ika has an incredibly high ceiling within that mold — maybe even higher than Davis’. Ika is much more natural at acquiring leverage. And at his size of 6’4″, 358 pounds, he brings unnatural explosiveness and power with dominating strength in run defense.
2) Bryan Bresee, Clemson
In spite of his consensus first-round billing, it’s not a lock that Clemson’s Bryan Bresee declares for the 2023 NFL Draft. No confirmation has been given yet — and regardless, his injury concerns may scare teams away. But his rare ability is hard to match on film.
A former five-star recruit, Bresee has a truly uncommon blend of burst, lateral agility, and power within a long 6’5″, 305-pound frame. And this year, he took a step up with his hand usage, further maximizing his elite physical skill set. He can be a brutal task for blockers as a 3-tech.
1) Jalen Carter, Georgia
Before the season, Jalen Carter was our DT1. Now, with the regular season concluded, Jalen Carter remains our DT1. It’s not a matter of sticking to one’s guns, however. Carter’s 2022 tape simply confirmed his standing as the 2023 NFL Draft’s top defensive tackle prospect.
Comparisons for Carter have been made to New York Jets star Quinnen Williams, and they’re not far off. Carter has elite explosiveness and power at 6’3″, 305 pounds, with the proportional length and prying strength to be a destructive force in both phases. He’s a blue-chip talent at one of the most important positions in the game today.
- Gabe Hall, Baylor
- Colby Wooden, Auburn
- Fabien Lovett, Florida State
- Tyler Davis, Clemson
- Byron Young, Alabama
- Tyler Lacy, Oklahoma State
- Moro Ojomo, Texas
- Keondre Coburn, Texas
- Karl Brooks, Bowling Green
- Devonnsha Maxwell, Chattanooga