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Defensive tackles steal spotlight from more glamorous skill players

INDIANAPOLIS -- Maybe a glamour player, such as Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford, will ultimately be the top pick of the 2010 NFL Draft.

Only the St. Louis Rams can answer that, and they're not likely to do so for a while.

In the meantime, a couple of big grunts -- Ndamukong Suh of Nebraska and Gerald McCoy of Oklahoma -- have a legitimate reason to dream big.

As far as many talent-evaluators are concerned, Suh and McCoy aren't simply the two best defensive tackles in the draft. They're the two best players, period.

Their presence, alone, makes defensive tackle the strongest position of the draft. But there are several other good players at the spot that figure to be selected in the first round and no later than the second.

The following is a breakdown of the defensive tackles widely considered at the top of their position in the 2010 draft class:

Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska, (6-4, 307)

Suh is an extraordinary talent, combining tremendous strength with a great deal of quickness. Scouts compare him favorably with Minnesota's Kevin Williams. Suh excels at stopping the run. Besides exploding off the ball, he also has the ability to knock a blocker in reverse, avoid his grasp and make a play. He also shows good ball pursuit. Suh is not as accomplished as a pass rusher, yet the fact he is usually quicker than the man across from him helps to keep that from being a serious liability. With time, he also will improve his pass-rush technique.

Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma, (6-4, 295)

Determining whether McCoy or Suh is the better player is like splitting hairs. Either would make a worthy No. 1 overall choice. Although he wasn't quite as productive a player in college, McCoy might be a little bit quicker and a slightly better athlete. Some scouts say his edge over Suh is that he makes himself a little more of a disruptive force when rushing the passer up the middle. On the other hand, McCoy might not be quite as effective stopping the run. Sometimes he can get knocked off the ball and he occasionally struggles to separate from blockers.

Dan Williams, Tennessee, (6-2, 327)

Williams' sheer width and strength create an enormous inside presence. Yet Williams is surprisingly light on his feet. He can often get a step on blockers off the ball. Because of his shorter frame, he's usually able to get good leverage and penetration rushing the passer. Williams makes good use of his power in run defense, although he needs to improve his ability to work through blockers to get to the ball and get a little more flexibility into his game.

Jared Odrick, Penn State, (6-5, 304)

Orick might be the most versatile of the top-rated players at the position. He is equally comfortable in a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme, with the ability to play both nose tackle or end in a three-man front. He has a nice combination of size and strength, although his instincts and intelligence are probably his greatest assets. Odrick isn't particularly fast or athletic, although he does make up for it by putting himself in the best position to make plays and with consistent sure tackling.

Brian Price, UCLA, (6-1, 303)

Scouts are widely divided on Price. Some see him as a clear first-round choice. Others don't think he's quite stout enough or that he moves well enough laterally to be selected any higher than the second round. Price does have a great deal of athletic ability. He has tremendous speed that allows him to be an effective pass rusher. But he leaves plenty to be desired against the run because he too often gets manhandled by bigger and more powerful offensive linemen.

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