Mayock: 12 interior D-linemen could merit first-round draft grade

Need a defensive tackle?

Sit back and wait for the value.

That's among the narratives developing for a 2016 NFL Draft loaded with talented prospects at that position, and NFL Media draft expert Mike Mayock quantified the depth Wednesday on NFL Network's NFL Total Access.

"I could go 12 names deep where you might have, conceivably, a first-round grade," Mayock said. "There are going to be some good defensive tackles that get pushed down a round or two this year, because it's so deep."

Among them is Ole Miss' Robert Nkemdiche, an early entry junior and first-round talent who comes with some off-field baggage that might precipitate a draft-day slide, particularly with so many other exciting options at the position.

"If he played every week like he did against Alabama, and had no off-the-field concerns, we'd be talking about him potentially being the first pick of the entire draft," Mayock said. "That's how much talent this kid has. But he's inconsistent on the field, he's had well-publicized issues off the field, and it's going to be intriguing to watch where this kid lands. NFL teams have a lot of homework to do on this kid."

Still, Nkemdiche cracked Mayock's initial look at the draft's top five defensive tackles at No. 2, behind Oregon's DeForest Buckner. Nkemdiche was ranked ahead of Louisville's Sheldon Rankins, and the Alabama tandem of Jarran Reed and A'Shawn Robinson. Mayock said other interior DLs that could merit a first-round grade include Louisiana Tech's Vernon Butler, Penn State's Austin Johnson, Baylor's Andrew Billings, UCLA's Kenny Clark and Ohio State's Adolphus Washington.

Of course, one team's first-round grade might be another's second- or third-round grade, but that's how exactly how clubs should be able to fill a defensive tackle need with a potential star on the second day (Rounds 2-3) of the draft. It will be a rare opportunity to get a steal at a premium position that isn't nearly this deep in most drafts.

As such, it might not be the greatest year to come out for the draft as a defensive tackle, but for the clubs, it's a great year to need one.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter *@ChaseGoodbread*.

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