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2022 NFL Draft: Searching for 1-tech DT solutions

A brief overview of players who fit the two-gap mold

The Buffalo Bills’ defensive tackle situation remains a precarious one going into the 2022 offseason. Stalwart veteran Star Lotulelei remains on the team, but is coming off a year shortened by COVID-19. He may not even be on the team come later in the offseason, as the Bills can save up to $4 million if he is designated a post-June cut. Meanwhile, Vernon Butler, Justin Zimmer and Harrison Phillips are all free agents at the position.

Even with the possibility that the team may re-resign Zimmer and Phillips, it will be a time of transition for the position. General manager Brandon Beane should be concerned with bringing in not just depth, but making a real, quality investment into the position—especially given Buffalo’s struggles against the run. Bringing in a youthful running mate to Ed Oliver for years to come makes a lot of sense at this juncture. Here are some of the prospects who would make sense for that kind of role.

Tier I

Jordan Davis (Georgia)
Phidarian Mathis (Alabama)

Davis is just an absolutely massive specimen at 6’6” and 340 lbs. He’s surprisingly light on his feet and athletic for such a big player. Although he’s probably the best run-defender in the draft, you have to question how high he will go (late first round?) based on a lack of history as a pass rusher. Like a lot of Alabama prospects, Mathis may already have reached his potential, but on tape he is a technically sound, smart lineman who can step right in and start games.

Tier II

Devonte Wyatt (Georgia)
Travis Jones (UConn)
Neil Farrell Jr. (LSU)

More of a versatile hybrid defensive tackle, Wyatt isn’t a traditional two-gapping tackle. His explosion is exceptional for a guy of his size, which leads to penetration and busted plays. A Senior Bowl standout, Jones was stuck within a terrible UConn program. He has the look of a developmental player who just needs to be coached to become a starter. Farrell has been a stout defender for LSU for a long time, and he looks pretty twitchy moving forward for a big man. However, his lateral agility isn’t nearly as good.

Tier III

John Ridgeway (Arkansas)
Derrick Tangelo (Penn State)
Noah Elliss (Idaho)

Kind of a lanky, rocked-up frame, Ridgeway has a lot teams can work with and you have to like his effort on the field. Still, his 6’6” frame means he often gets out-leveraged. A low-built, stocky defender, Tangelo was a late bloomer at Penn State and that lack of experience shows with some sloppy technique. A strong recruit who left Mississippi State to make his hay in FCS Idaho, Elliss nonetheless has the best nose tackle form in the class, but isn’t the best athlete.

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