Chargers Draft

Los Angeles Chargers: 5 defensive tackles to target after the first round

BLACKSBURG, VA - OCTOBER 21: Defensive tackle Tim Settle #4 and safety Terrell Edmunds #22 of the Virginia Tech Hokies celebrate their sack on quarterback Brandon Harris #6 of the North Carolina Tar Heels in the first half at Lane Stadium on October 21, 2017 in Blacksburg, Virginia. (Photo by Michael Shroyer/Getty Images)
BLACKSBURG, VA - OCTOBER 21: Defensive tackle Tim Settle #4 and safety Terrell Edmunds #22 of the Virginia Tech Hokies celebrate their sack on quarterback Brandon Harris #6 of the North Carolina Tar Heels in the first half at Lane Stadium on October 21, 2017 in Blacksburg, Virginia. (Photo by Michael Shroyer/Getty Images)
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South Florida DT Deadrin Senat

Deadrin Senat was very productive during his time at South Florida.

In 2017, Senat was named first-team All-American Athletic Conference (AAC) after finishing with career bests in total tackles (66), second-most on the team, tackles for loss (10.5) and sacks (six). In 2016, he was a second-team All-AAC selection and the Bulls’ Defensive MVP. He racked up 49 total tackles, including six for loss, one sack and one forced fumble. The year prior, he racked up 46 total tackles, including 4.5 for loss, and one forced fumble in his first season as a full-time starter. Overall, he saw action in all but one game, including starting 36 games from 2014-17.

As a run defender, Senat is one of the best in the business. His 30 total run stops in 2017 tied for fourth-most among draft-eligible interior defenders, as noted by PFF.

Plenty of scouts are high on Senat. They love how disruptive he is and how he finishes plays. He’s not a high-end athlete, but he has solid burst for a big guy. This thread here does a good job pointing out Senat’s solid technique, hand usage and his ability to control the line. He was dominant in USF’s bowl game vs. Texas Tech, finishing with five total tackles, including three for loss, and three sacks. He also shined in in the East-West Shrine Game.

Senat had a pretty decent outing at the NFL Scouting Combine, too. He ran a solid 5.16-second 40-yard dash and put up 35 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press, tied for third-most with Hill among all defensive linemen who participated. His numbers in the three-cone drill (7.77 seconds) and 20-yard shuttle (4.79 seconds) weren’t bad, but it ranked outside the top 15 among all DL. His vertical jump of 26 inches, however, was disappointing.

Scouts say he’s undersized at 6-foot and 314-pounds and is limited to a 4-3 defense. And despite racking up six sacks this past season, Zierlein believes Senat will be a non-factor in the passing game.

Hey, Mebane is a 6-foot-1, 311-pound nose tackle, and he has been one of the best run stuffers since entering the league in 2007. He makes a huge impact doing what he does, and I think Senat can quickly develop into a similar player.

On a personal note, both of Senat’s parents passed away while he was growing up. Here’s a great article about the adversity he has faced.

Round Prediction: Round 4-5

Sam Houston State DT P.J. Hall

P.J. Hall is going to be a gem for some team.

Look at this dude’s production, courtesy of Sam Houston State Athletics.

Hall made an impact right away for the Bearkats. Yes, it was against inferior competition in the FCS, but it’s still very impressive. I can’t get over his 14 blocked kicks! Unheard of.

And his pro day?

At @BearkatsFB pro day today, DL P.J. Hall measured 6-0 1/2, 308, ran 40 in 4.83/4.71 seconds, had 38 VJ, 9-8 BJ, 36 lifts. Wow!

Moved from DE to DT. Quick off ball but slows down. Reminds some of Aaron Donald. My pick to be earliest non-combine invite drafted. https://t.co/kVWNlxPH6f

— Gil Brandt (@Gil_Brandt) March 26, 2018

I’m drooling over Hall’s numbers like Homer Simpson drools over donuts.

Any accolades? Hmm, let’s see:

  • 2017 Associated Press first-team All-American (FCS)
  • 2016 Associated Press first-team All-American (FCS), Southland Conference Defensive Player of the Year and Runner-Up for the Buck Buchanan Award (nation’s top defender)
  • 2015 second-team All-American (FCS)
  • 2014 first-team All-Southland Conference DE, Southland Freshman of the Year honors and finished third in voting for the Jerry Rice Award (top defensive freshman in the FCS)

Weaknesses? NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo had this to say:

“The knock on Hall is going to be that he’s just over 6 feet and doesn’t have the long arms NFL evaluators like to see from their defensive linemen. They’ll also have questions about his level of competition in the Southland Conference. But what Hall lacks in size (granted, he’s not exactly tiny) he makes up for with quickness, effort and leverage. Plus, when he stepped up in competition at the East-West Shrine game in January, Hall at times dominated practices and in the game, as well.”

If the Chargers want to get younger, bigger AND more athletic up front, Hall is their guy. He’s versatile enough to play multiple roles, too. He likely won’t go high because of the competition he faced. I could see the Chargers doubling down and adding a premier run stuffer with another pick. The more playmakers on the defensive line, the better.

Round Prediction: Round 4-5

BONUS: Another small-school prospect, Delaware’s Bilal Nichols is a 6-foot-4, 306-pound defensive tackle who ran a 4.95 40-yard dash and bench pressed 29 reps at the combine. He also has great measurements and comes with solid production (56 total tackles, including 6.5 for loss, 5.5 sacks, four pass deflections, one interception and one blocked kick while earning first-team All-CAA honors in 2017). He is another player the Chargers could target late. Here are his highlights from last year’s game vs. Virginia Tech.

Round Prediction: Round 5-6

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