2017 NFL Draft Positional Breakdown: Defensive Tackles

We continue our positional breakdown leading up to the 2017 NFL draft with a look at defensive tackles. Instead of a top five, we'll highlight players at these positions who fit the Eagles and have a chance to be available when the team picks.

We've already looked at running backs, linebackers, quarterbacks, offensive linemen and defensive ends.

At No. 14

There are no interior linemen that would make sense for the Eagles in the first round. The player with a chance to go in the mid-teens is Michigan State's Malik McDowell, but he's more of a 3-4 end.

In the middle

Jaleel Johnson, Iowa, 6-3, 316 pounds
Johnson was named first-team all-conference after recording 7 1/2 sacks and 10 tackles for a loss during a strong senior season.

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Johnson is big, strong and athletic. He anticipates the snap well and has a high motor. His issue is his pad level. He'll outmuscle offensive linemen, but lose because he's too high. With proper coaching, Johnson has intriguing physical tools. He'd fit well in Jim Schwartz's attacking defense.

Elijah Qualls, Washington, 6-1, 313 pounds
Qualls was also a first-team all-conference pick in the Pac 12. His efforts don't necessarily show up on the stat sheet, but Qualls tallied three sacks and five tackles for a loss despite missing three games with an ankle injury.

Qualls doesn't necessarily fit the Eagles' defense. He's more of a run stuffer in the mold of Beau Allen. Qualls is a little longer and more athletic than Allen, but is also limited in his ability as a pass rusher. Still, Qualls should be extremely effective on early downs at the next level.

Tanzel Smart, Tulane, 6-1, 296 pounds
Smart put up impressive numbers while being named – you guessed it – first-team all-conference. During a strong senior season, Smart accumulated 67 tackles, 18 1/2 for a loss and 5 1/2 sacks.

Smart was a dominant player on tape. The biggest issue will be his level of competition in the AAC. He's a bit undersized but flashes the quickness and athleticism that would be an ideal fit for Schwartz and the Eagles. He's not an every down tackle, but as a rotational piece, he can be valuable.

Late-round sleeper(s)

Charles Walker, Oklahoma, 6-2, 310 pounds
Walker's career at Norman was mired by concussions and inconsistency. He played just the first four games of this season before suffering his third concussion and deciding to forego the rest of the season to prepare for the draft. Walker has cited his young daughter as the reason for leaving early.

The concussions are definitely scary, but this kid is a good football player. He recorded six sacks as a sophomore reserve. He can look explosive and disruptive at times, but is inconsistent. Apparently the coaching staff at Oklahoma was not thrilled with Walker's decision and his love of football has been questioned. If he's there in the sixth round, he's worth a flyer.

Treyvon Hester, Toldeo, 6-2, 300 pounds
Hester dropped weight for his senior season and had a strong campaign. He tallied 34 tackles, eight for a loss and five sacks.

Like Smart, Hester will be evaluated with a grain of salt because of his conference. Hester shows flashes of being able to play the run and get a pass rush, but struggles with pad level at times. He's another player with physical ability that needs to be coached up.

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