Defensive tackle

A defensive tackle (DT) is typically the largest and strongest of the defensive players in American football. The defensive tackle typically lines up opposite one of the offensive guards. Depending on a team's individual defensive scheme, a defensive tackle may be called upon to fill several different roles. These roles may include merely holding the point of attack by refusing to be moved or penetrating a certain gap between offensive linemen to break up a play in the opponent's backfield. If a defensive tackle reads a pass play, his primary responsibility is to pursue the quarterback, or simply knock the pass down at the line if it's within arm's reach. Other responsibilities of the defensive tackle may be to pursue the screen pass or drop into coverage in a zone blitz scheme. In a traditional 4–3 defense, there is no nose tackle. Instead there is a left and right defensive tackle.[1] Some teams, especially in the National Football League (NFL), do have a nose tackle in this scheme, but most of them do not.

Pat Williams and Ronnie Brown at 2009 Pro Bowl
Defensive tackle Pat Williams (in blue)

Nose tackle

Nose tackle (also nose guard or middle guard) is a defensive alignment position for a defensive lineman. In the 3–4 defensive scheme the sole defensive tackle is referred to as the nose tackle.[2] The nose tackle aligns across the line of scrimmage from the offense's center before the play begins in the "0-technique" position.[3] In this position, frequently taking on the center and at least one if not both of the guards, the nose tackle is considered to be the most physically demanding position in football.[4] In five-linemen situations, such as a goal-line formation, the nose guard is the innermost lineman, flanked on either side by a defensive tackle or defensive end. According to Pat Kirwan, a traditional 3–4 defense demands "a massive man who can clog up the middle," while a 4–3 defense is looking for "a nose tackle who relies on quickness to penetrate and move along the front."[3]

DefTackle34
A lone nose tackle in the base 3–4 defensive formation

Typical 3–4 nose tackles are "big wide bodies who can hold the point of attack and force double teams by the guard and center."[3] They are usually the heaviest players on the roster, with weights ranging from 320 to 350 pounds (145 to 159 kg). Also, height is critical, as they are supposed to get "under" the offensive line, which means ideal 3–4 nose tackles are no taller than 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m).[3] Recent examples of such nose tackles include Gilbert Brown, Casey Hampton, Jamal Williams, Vince Wilfork, and Damon Harrison. Rather uncommon are taller nose tackles, such as Ted Washington and Ma'ake Kemoeatu, who each won a Super Bowl ring, are both 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) tall.

In some 4–3 defenses, the nose tackle is one of two defensive tackles. Some teams, especially in the NFL, do have a nose tackle in the 4–3 defense, which lines up against the opposing center and very likely the weak-side or pulling guard. In a 4–3 defense, nose tackles are rather quick and supposed to "shoot the 'A gap' and beat the center and very likely the weak-side or pulling guard into the backfield."[3] Height is not as important, and their weight is closer to 300 pounds (136 kg).

The terms "nose guard" or "middle guard" were more commonly used with the five-man defensive line of the older 5-2 defense. Effective against most plays of the day, but with a weakness to the inside short pass, the 5–2 was phased out of the pro game in the late 1950s.[5][6] In the 4–3 defense, the upright middle linebacker replaced the middle guard. The nose guard is also used in a 50 read defense. In this defense there is a nose guard, two defensive tackles, and two outside linebackers who can play on the line of scrimmage or off the line of scrimmage in a two-point stance. The nose guard lines up head up on the center about six to eighteen inches off the ball. In a reading 50 defense, the nose guard's key is to read the offensive center to the ball. In run away, the nose guard's job is to shed the blocker and pursue down the line of scrimmage, taking an angle of pursuit. The primary responsibility of the nose tackle in this scheme is to absorb multiple blockers so that other players in the defensive front can attack ball carriers and rush the quarterback.

3-technique tackle

A 3-technique tackle (also 3-tech) is often featured in a formation with four defensive linemen (such as the traditional 4–3 or the 4–2–5 Nickel defense), but can sometimes fill in as the nose tackle in a 3–4 defense. Compared to the 0 or 1-tech who is more prototypical of the nose tackle, the 3-tech is often a smaller, more agile defensive lineman (but still larger than the defensive ends) who specializes in penetrating through the line with his quickness as his bigger counterpart occupies blockers, aiming to sack the quarterback or tackle the rusher (often the running back) for a loss of yards. The 3-tech often lines up against the "weak side" of the offensive line, and therefore faces fewer double-teams as a result.[7] Notable examples of prototypical 3-tech tackles in the NFL include Geno Atkins, Sharrif Floyd, Tyrone Crawford, Kyle Williams and Aaron Donald. Donald and 2019 draft prospect Ed Oliver, in particular, have pushed the limits on how small the 3-tech can be, both weighing just 285 lbs.[8] Their smaller statures have drawn criticism, but Donald and Oliver often make up for this using their athleticism. Donald has made five Pro Bowls and was twice named the AP Defensive Player of the Year.[9]

References

  1. ^ Rush, Nathan (February 8, 2008). "NFL Draft — Defensive Tackles". Athlon Sports. Archived from the original on February 14, 2010.
  2. ^ Dillon, Dennis (October 11, 2004). "Getting their nose dirty". The Sporting News. Archived from the original on August 29, 2009.
  3. ^ a b c d e "In deep pool of D-line talent, schemes will dictate picks". CBSSports.com. March 6, 2013.
  4. ^ Dixon, D., (October 18, 2004) http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1208/is_42_228/ai_n6249316/?tag=content;col1 Archived 2012-07-08 at Archive.today The Sporting News
  5. ^ Rand, Jonathan, Riddell Presents: The Gridiron’s Greatest Linebackers, Sports Publishing, 2003, p. 36
  6. ^ Zimmerman, Paul, The New Thinking Man's Guide to Pro Football, Harper Collins, 1984, p. 128.
  7. ^ Renner, Michael (June 4, 2015). "Defensive Prototypes: 3-Technique — PFF News & Analysis — Pro Football Focus". www.profootballfocus.com. Archived from the original on November 17, 2017. Retrieved April 28, 2019.
  8. ^ Whitefield, Brett (July 14, 2017). "Defensive Line Techniques - The 2017 Prototypes — NFL Analysis — Pro Football Focus". www.profootballfocus.com. Retrieved April 28, 2019.
  9. ^ "NFL players analyze 'ridiculous' Aaron Donald: 'Best player in the league'". Rams Wire. 2018-06-26. Retrieved 2019-04-28.
Positions in American football and Canadian football
Offense (Skill position) Defense Special teams
Linemen Guard, Tackle, Center Linemen Tackle, End Kicking players Placekicker, Punter, Kickoff specialist
Quarterback (Dual-threat, Game manager, System) Linebacker Snapping Long snapper, Holder
Backs Halfback/Tailback (Triple-threat), Fullback, H-back, Wingback Backs Cornerback, Safety, Halfback, Nickelback, Dimeback Returning Punt returner, Kick returner, Jammer, Upman
Receivers Wide receiver (Eligible), Tight end, Slotback, End Tackling Gunner, Upback, Utility
Formations (List)NomenclatureStrategy
1969 NFL/AFL draft

The 1969 National Football League draft was part of the common draft, the third and final year in which the NFL and American Football League (AFL) held a joint draft of college players. The draft took place January 28–29, 1969.The draft began with first overall pick of O. J. Simpson, the Heisman Trophy-winning running back from USC, by the American Football League's Buffalo Bills; ending with, the twenty-sixth pick in Round 17, number 442 overall, of Fred Zirkie Defensive Tackle from Duke University by the AFL's NY Jets.

1970 NFL Draft

The 1970 National Football League draft was held January 27–28, 1970, at the Belmont Plaza Hotel in New York City, New York.

1972 NFL Draft

The 1972 National Football League draft was held February 1–2, 1972, at the Essex House in New York City, New York.During round 17, after Falcons coach Norm Van Brocklin yelled to his staff "Do we want the roughest, toughest s.o.b. in the draft?!", the team drafted the then-64-year-old actor John Wayne, "of Fort Apache State" (Wayne actually attended the University of Southern California and was a member of the USC Trojans football team in his youth); NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle disallowed the selection, however.

1973 NFL Draft

The 1973 National Football League draft was held January 30–31, 1973, at the Americana Hotel in New York City, New York.

1975 NFL Draft

The 1975 National Football League draft was held January 28–29, 1975, at the New York Hilton at Rockefeller Center in New York City, New York.

1976 NFL Draft

The 1976 National Football League draft was an annual player selection meeting held April 8–9, 1976, at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City, New York.The draft lasted 17 rounds, with the expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Seattle Seahawks making the first two selections. The expansion teams were also given a pair of extra picks at the end of each of rounds 2-5. The 1976 draft was the final NFL draft to last seventeen rounds; it was reduced to twelve rounds in 1977, and it was the first draft to officially have the infamous unofficial award, “Mr. Irrelevant”, for the final player selected. Like 1974, the 1976 draft is generally regarded as one of the worst quarterback draft classes of all time. No quarterback from the 1976 draft class ever reached the Pro Bowl, an All-Pro team or a Super Bowl, and according to the estimate of Eldorado this quarterback class was the second-worst after 1996. Only first round pick Richard Todd, who led the New York Jets to their first postseason appearances since Super Bowl III in 1981 and 1982, was ever a regular starter.

Five teams lost picks as a penalty for illegally signing former World Football League players: the New York Giants and Chicago Bears lost sixth-round picks, the Washington Redskins lost their seventh-round pick, and the Atlanta Falcons and New York Jets lost their tenth-round selections.The college draft was originally scheduled for February 3-4, but was postponed when the owners of the Seahawks and Buccaneers filed a lawsuit against the players' union with worries that the organization would try to prevent the expansion draft. The court case delayed both the expansion draft and the annual college draft.

1981 NFL Draft

The 1981 NFL draft was the procedure by which National Football League teams selected amateur college football players. It is officially known as the NFL Annual Player Selection Meeting. The draft was held April 28–29, 1981, at the New York Sheraton Hotel in New York City. The league also held a supplemental draft after the regular draft and before the regular season.

For the first time, the top two picks of the draft were named Offensive and Defensive Rookies of the Year, respectively.

1987 NFL Draft

The 1987 NFL draft was the procedure by which National Football League teams selected amateur college football players. It is officially known as the NFL Annual Player Selection Meeting. The draft was held April 28–29, 1987, at the Marriot Marquis in New York City, New York. The league also held a supplemental draft after the regular draft and before the regular season.

1991 NFL Draft

The 1991 NFL draft was the procedure by which National Football League teams selected amateur college football players. It is officially known as the NFL Annual Player Selection Meeting. The draft was held April 21–22, 1991, at the Marriott Marquis in New York City, New York. On that day, Raghib "Rocket" Ismail from the University of Notre Dame, who was projected as the number one overall pick, instead signed with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League (CFL). No teams elected to claim any players in the supplemental draft that year.

The first six selections of the draft were defensive players. No previous draft had begun with more than three consecutive defensive picks.

1992 NFL Draft

The 1992 NFL draft was the procedure by which National Football League teams selected amateur college football players. It is officially known as the NFL Annual Player Selection Meeting. The draft was held April 26–27, 1992, at the Marriot Marquis in New York City, New York. The league also held a supplemental draft after the regular draft and before the regular season.

The 1992 draft was notable because for the first time since 1958 one team, the Indianapolis Colts, held the first two overall picks. Neither made a major impact in the league, and the 1992 draft in retrospect is considered one of the worst in league history. It is the only draft since 1960 to produce no Pro Football Hall of Famers. It was also the final NFL Draft featuring twelve rounds of selections; the league would reduce the rounds to eight the following season, and then seven the year after that, where it has remained since.

Bobby Wilson (defensive tackle)

Robert Wilson (born March 4, 1968) is a former American football defensive tackle. He played professionally in the National Football League (NFL) with the Washington Redskins. He was drafted in the first round of the 1991 NFL Draft by the Redskins.

John Henderson (defensive tackle)

John Nathan Henderson (born January 9, 1979), nicknamed Big John or Big Hen, is a former football defensive tackle who played ten seasons in the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for the University of Tennessee and was a two-time consensus All-American. The Jacksonville Jaguars chose him in the first round of the 2002 NFL Draft, and he was selected for the Pro Bowl twice.

Kevin Hardy (defensive tackle)

Kevin Thomas Hardy (born July 28, 1945 in Oakland, California) is a former professional American football player who was selected by the New Orleans Saints in the first round (7th pick overall) of the 1968 NFL Draft. He was an All-American out of Notre Dame where he also lettered in basketball and baseball.Hardy played in the National Football League for just 4 seasons and never for the team that drafted him. He appeared in most games during these seasons but was unable to force his way into the starting lineup. He was traded to the San Diego Chargers for a first round draft pick in 1972.

Hardy is a member of The Pigskin Club Of Washington, D.C. National Intercollegiate All-American Football Players Honor Roll.

Kevin Williams (defensive tackle)

Kevin Williams (born August 16, 1980) is a former American football defensive tackle . He was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings ninth overall in the 2003 NFL Draft. He played college football at Oklahoma State.

Lombardi Award

The Lombardi Award is awarded by the Lombardi Foundation annually to the best college football player, regardless of position, based on performance, as well as leadership, character, and resiliency. From 1970 until 2016 the award was presented by Rotary International specifically to a lineman or linebacker. The Lombardi Award program was approved by the Rotary International club in Houston in 1970 shortly after the death of famed National Football League coach Vince Lombardi. The committee outlined the criteria for eligibility for the award, which remained in place until 2016: A player should be a down lineman on either offense or defense or a linebacker who lines up no further than five yards deep from the ball.The voting electorate is made up of the head coaches from all NCAA Division I schools, sports media personnel from across the country, and former winners and finalists of the Lombardi Award. The total number of voters is approximately 500. Ohio State University holds the record for most Lombardi awards with six. Orlando Pace, the only two-time winner (1995 and 1996), is the most recent offensive lineman to be honored.

The main part of the trophy used to be a block of granite, paying homage to Lombardi's college days at Fordham University as an offensive lineman when his offensive line was referred to as the "Seven Blocks of Granite". A new trophy designed by Texas sculptor Edd Hayes replaced the original block of granite.

Malcom Brown

Malcom D'Shawn Brown (born February 2, 1994) is an American football defensive tackle for the New Orleans Saints of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Texas. He was drafted by the New England Patriots with the 32nd overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft.

Michael Bennett (defensive tackle, born 1993)

Benjamin Michael Bennett IV (born February 24, 1993) is an American football defensive tackle for the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Ohio State.

Mike McCoy (defensive tackle)

Michael Patrick McCoy (born September 6, 1948) is a former American football player. He played in the National Football League (NFL) for the Green Bay Packers, the Oakland Raiders, the New York Giants, and the Detroit Lions.

Outland Trophy

The Outland Trophy is awarded to the best college football interior lineman in the United States as adjudged by the Football Writers Association of America. It is named after John H. Outland. One of only a few players ever to be named an All-American at two positions, Outland garnered consensus All-America honors in 1898 as a tackle and consensus honors as a halfback in 1899. Outland had always contended that football tackles and guards deserved greater recognition and conceived the Outland Trophy as a means of providing this recognition. In 1988, Jim Ridlon was commissioned to design and sculpt the Outland Trophy. A member of the National College Football Awards Association, the award has become one of college football's most prestigious.

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