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2020 NFL Draft Prospects: Defensive Tackles Shine in Position 'Becoming More & More Important'

View photos of potential defensive tackles the Vikings can select in the 2020 NFL Draft. Read the full story HERE.

In the lead-up to the 2020 NFL Draft, Vikings.com is taking a position-by-position look at prospects who have garnered a range of attention from national outlets. The series will include rankings by national outlets, stats and background information for multiple prospects. We'll also include comments that experts shared during interviews.

Vikings Status at the DT Position

The Vikings are returning four of the five defensive tackles from their 2019 roster: Jalyn Holmes, Jaleel Johnson, Shamar Stephen and Armon Watts. Minnesota terminated the remainder of Linval Joseph's contract in March, and he signed with the Chargers.

The Vikings brought back Stephen, who played for Minnesota from 2014-17 before joining the Seahawks in 2018, to start alongside Joseph in 2019. Stephen started 15 games last season, but Minnesota also rotated in younger players on the defensive line. Johnson, a 2017 draft pick, played a career-high 37 percent of the team's defensive snaps in 2019.

Minnesota selected Watts in the sixth round last spring, and the former Arkansas lineman got in on 121 defensive plays (11 percent) during his rookie campaign.

The Vikings also added to the position group in free agency when they signed former Ravens nose tackle Michael Pierce, who started all 14 games he played for Baltimore last season.

Pierce recorded 35 tackles (19 solo), 0.5 sacks, two tackles for loss, three quarterback hits and one fumble recovery in 2019.

About the expert

For defensive tackles, we reached out to Pete Bercich, who played for Minnesota from 1995-2000. Bercich then transitioned to the coaching side of things, serving as a defensive assistant from 2002-05.

Bercich currently serves as Hill Murray High School's head football coach and has been the Vikings Radio Network color commentator alongside Paul Allen since 2007.

Follow him on Twitter @PeteBercich for his analysis and Vikings commentary.

Prior to the start of free agency, a handful of experts around the league mocked a defensive tackle to Minnesota in the first round.

Does the Pierce signing negate the chances of the Vikings drafting an interior defensive lineman?

Bercich said it really depends on who is on the board at what time and how players fit into the defensive system.

"The game's spread out a little bit more, so the defensive tackle position, I think, has become more and more important," he explained. "That being said, when you have a guy identified – and this is really how a team's going to do it – they're going to look and say, 'With the picks that we have, we feel that we have two or three guys that are worthy of this pick.' And if they are still on the board when it's time for you to choose, then absolutely.

"Neville Gallimore, I haven't seen all of his tape, but from what I have seen, he would be a very good, active, fast, big type of defensive lineman that you would absolutely want inside on a Vikings-style defense," Bercich continued. "If he's there late in the first round, you'd have to take a look at him."

Bercich provided additional thoughts on Gallimore and weighed in on first-round prospect Javon Kinlaw, which can be found below.

Position Rankings

NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah has four defensive tackles in his overall Top 50: 4. Derrick Brown, 8. Kinlaw, 19. Ross Blacklock and No. 44 Justin Madubuike.

ESPN's Mel Kiper, Jr., listed two defensive tackles in his overall Top 25: 6. Brown and 10. Kinlaw.

PFF included 11 DTs in its overall Top 100: 11. Brown, 12. Kinlaw, 21. Jordan Elliott, 41. Marlon Davidson, 55. Blacklock, 60. Gallimore, 62. Madubuike, 91. Raekwon Davis, 93. Leki Fotu, 95. Davon Hamilton and 100. Bravvion Roy.

Positional rankings by NFL.com's Bucky Brooks, ESPN's Mel Kiper, Jr., analytics site Pro Football Focus and The Athletic's Dane Brugler impacted the players listed for this series. Rankings by each are noted under each prospect.

Defensive tackles

Derrick Brown

School: Auburn | Year: Sr. | Ht: 6-foot-5 | Wt. 326 pounds

Rankings: No. 1 DT by Brooks, Kiper, PFF and Brugler

2019 stats: 12 games (12 starts); 55 tackles (33 solo), 4.0 sacks, 12.5 tackles for loss, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries; named First-Team Associated Press All-American and earned First-Team All-SEC honors

Leader on and off the field: Brown was named to the SEC Student-Athlete Leadership Council in 2017. He also served as vice president for Auburn's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee in 2018 and then as the SAAC president for the 2019-20 school year.

Javon Kinlaw

School: South Carolina | Year: Sr. | Ht: 6-foot-5 | Wt. 324 pounds

Rankings: No. 2 DT by Brooks, Kiper, PFF and Brugler

2019 stats: 12 games (12 starts); 35 tackles, 6.0 sacks (tied for eighth in the SEC), 2 passes defensed, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 blocked kick; named First-Team Associated Press All-American; First-Team All-SEC selection (coaches); played in the Reese's Senior Bowl

JUCO product: Kinlaw garnered attention at Jones County Junior College in 2016, where he recorded 26 tackles, 4.0 sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss in nine games; he earned Second-Team Junior College All-America honors. Kinlaw then transferred to South Carolina, where he shed 40 pounds before his sophomore season with the Gamecocks.

Breakdown by Bercich: "Javon Kinlaw is a freak. He's a Jadeveon Clowney-type of physical freak. … When you see him on the hoof, you imagine in your head how big someone who's [324] pounds is going to look – this guy is proportioned, and he is one of the strongest players that I've seen at the point of attack. He has an interesting history; he was homeless, grew up homeless, bounced around. Those kinds of guys have a tendency to not take things for granted, so it's a very interesting story. The only thing on him that you've heard on the negative side is just his motor, and by that I mean, doesn't give it a hundred percent on all the plays and has a tendency to fall away. Because in the NFL, you have to give a hundred-percent effort on every single play. But if this guy puts this thing all together, he is so strong and plays with leverage. You'll hear the phrase, maybe, 'a little tight-hipped' and that kind of thing – it's a catch-22, because that gives him the power that he has. With the size and everything, he does remind me of [former Vikings defensive tackle] Kevin Williams.

"Kevin Williams was a massive man; he was just huge. I think Kevin ran a little bit better than [Kinlaw], but with his size and talent, it's going to be hard to see him last 15, 20 picks into this draft. You can't find men this big, and if he does work his rear end off and gets in with a good program, he could be unbelievable in the middle of that defensive line. I mean, he is that strong."

Justin Madubuike

School: Texas A&M | Year: Jr. | Ht: 6-foot-3 | Wt. 293 pounds

Rankings: No. 3 DT by Kiper; No. 5 by Brooks and Brugler; No. 6 by PFF

2019 stats: 12 games (10 starts); 45 tackles (18 solo); led the Aggies with 5.5 sacks, 11.5 tackles for loss and 7 QB hurries; named Second-Team All-SEC (Associated Press); opted to not play in the 2019 Texas Bowl

Track and (football) field: At 18 years old, Madubuike weighed in at 262 pounds and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds, serving as a sprinter for the McKinney North High School track team. While he's gained some size, Madubuike still is capable of showing speed. At the NFL Scouting Combine, his time of 4.83 seconds tied for 11th-best among defensive linemen.

Ross Blacklock

School: Texas Christian | Year: RS Jr. | Ht: 6-foot-3 | Wt. 290 pounds

Rankings: No. 4 DT by Brooks and Brugler; No. 5 by Kiper and PFF

2019 stats: 12 games (12 starts); 40 tackles (25 solo); 3.5 sacks (tied for the team lead); 9 tackles for loss; First-Team All-Big 12

Son of a Globetrotter: Blacklock's father, Jimmy, toured with the Harlem Globetrotters from 1974-87 and appeared on TV shows such as ABC's Wide World of Sports and The Tonight Show before serving full-time as a Globetrotters coach. Jimmy Blacklock was one of the University of Texas' first African-American basketball players; in 2016, he was inducted into the school's sports hall of fame.

Jordan Elliott

School: Missouri | Year: RS Jr. | Ht: 6-foot-4 | Wt. 302 pounds

Rankings: No. 3 DT by Brooks and PFF; No. 6 by Kiper and Brugler

2019 stats: 12 games (12 starts); 44 tackles (30 solo); 2.5 sacks, 8.5 tackles for loss

Changed schools (and diet): Elliott started his college football career at Texas before transferring to Missouri in spring 2017 after one season with the Longhorns. He dropped weight and changed his eating habits at Missouri, cutting out red meat and "eventually" also eliminating chicken. The big man now relies mainly on turkey and fish for protein and has successfully lowered his blood pressure. According to The Athletic's Peter Baugh, Elliott even said he's considering a vegan lifestyle following his football career.

Neville Gallimore

School: Oklahoma | Year: RS Sr. | Ht: 6-foot-2 | Wt. 304 pounds

Rankings: No. 4 DT by Kiper; No. 7 by PFF and Brugler

2019 stats: 14 games (14 starts); 30 tackles (18 solo), 4.0 sacks, 7.5 tackles for loss, 2 forced fumbles; earned Second-Team All-Big 12 honors

Oh, Canada: Gallimore is a native of Ottawa, Ontario, where he attended Canada Prep Academy and was the top-ranked overall player in Canada by ESPN and Scout.com. In 2015, he became the first Canadian to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. According to Oklahoma's website, Gallimore had more than 30 scholarship offers but chose the Sooners over the likes of Florida State and Ohio State.

Breakdown by Bercich: "He's 6-foot-2, 304 pounds, so another very, very big guy. He opened up a lot of eyes at the combine when [at his size], he ran a 4.79 [in the] 40. So he can run. And the beauty of it is, he uses it. He's the best, I think, sideline-to-sideline type run defender that I've seen out of this group. Great motor. Good leverage. And he also has some decent pass-rush moves inside. The question is, can he move to a 3-technique-type position and play over a guard and be able to dominate over a guard? That will remain to be seen. But with defensive linemen, work ethic means so much, and this kid has that. He's gonna take coaching, I think he's going to want to get better, but an unbelievable talent. Again, he's been a nose tackle mainly in college, may be able to play some 3-technique. Great burst. Good speed. I mean, he's chasing down running backs, and in the NFL now, it's so much of the outside-type runs. How many tackles have we seen Linval Joseph make 15-20 yards to the sideline? Because that's just how they try to do it – they try to string the defensive line out either way. And this kid can absolutely run and keep up with that. This kid will be another one that you would love to have on your roster, regardless of how you get him. He'd be a huge, huge asset to this defensive line group."

James Lynch

School: Baylor | Year: Jr. | Ht: 6-foot-4 | Wt. 289 pounds

Rankings: No. 8 DT by Kiper; No. 9 by Brugler; No. 10 by PFF

2019 stats: 14 games (14 starts); 41 tackles (23 solo), 13.5 sacks, 19.5 tackles for loss, 5 passes defensed, 3 forced fumbles and 2 blocked kicks; sacks and tackles for loss both ranked in top 10 of FBS; named First-Team Associated Press All-American and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year

Coach to Carolina: Lynch played at Baylor for Matt Rhule, who this offseason was hired as the Panthers newest head coach.

Davon Hamilton

School: Ohio State | Year: RS Sr. | Ht: 6-foot-4 | Wt. 320 pounds

Rankings: No. 7 DT by Kiper; No. 8 by PFF; No. 10 by Brugler

2019 stats: 14 games (14 starts); 28 tackles (18 solo); 6.0 sacks, 10.5 tackles for loss, 1 fumble recovery; named Third-Team All-Big Ten

Showed his strength: Hamilton topped all defensive linemen (does not include EDGE players) at the NFL Scouting Combine in February when he racked up 33 reps of 225 pounds on the bench.

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