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2021 NFL Draft Prospects for Vikings: Defensive Tackle

In the lead-up to the 2021 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, stats and background information for multiple prospects. We'll also include comments that experts shared during interviews.

View photos of potential defensive tackles the Vikings can select in the 2021 NFL Draft. Read the full story HERE.

Vikings status at defensive tackle

The Vikings are looking to improve across the board defensively from their 2020 performance, and that includes at defensive tackle against the pass and the run.

Minnesota has already bolstered that group during the offseason and could do so further in the upcoming draft.

The Vikings first free agency move in March was signing defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson. The 6-foot-3, 318-pound interior lineman played the first four seasons of his NFL career in New York, where he helped the Giants tremendously in the run game. Tomlinson was listed as the No. 22 overall free agent and the top-ranked defensive tackle in NFL.com's initial list of the Top 101.

The Vikings also will have nose tackle Michael Pierce, who signed with the team during 2020's free agency period but opted out of the season due to COVID-19 concerns. Pierce stayed isolated but kept himself in-shape and plugged-in throughout the 2020 campaign, and he's more than ready to return to the football field.

In addition to Pierce and Tomlinson, the Vikings are returning Armon Watts and James Lynch to the position group. A fourth-round selection last year, Lynch played nine games for the Vikings and notched his first career sack against Russell Wilson in Week 5. Watts played all 16 games in his second season with Minnesota; he totaled 31 tackles (league stats) and one-half sack.

Ask the analyst

Pete Bercich, a former Vikings linebacker and coach turned analyst for the Vikings Radio Network, recently caught up with Vikings Entertainment Network's Gabe Henderson to discuss this year's group of edge rushers. Bercich was selected in the seventh round of the 1994 NFL Draft and played in 57 games for Minnesota between 1995 and 2000.

Follow him on Twitter @PeteBercich for his analysis.

Expert rankings

NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah currently has just two defensive tackles in his overall Top 50: 30. Levi Onwuzurike and 42. Christian Barmore

ESPN's Mel Kiper, Jr., did not include any defensive tackles in his Top 25.

Rankings for each player within the defensive tackle position group by Jeremiah, his NFL Media counterpart Bucky Brooks, Kiper, analytics site Pro Football Focus and The Athletic's Dane Brugler are listed below.

Prospects

Note: Heights and weights are from each player's profile on NFL.com (linked for each player's name).

Christian-Barmore-2560

School: Alabama | Year: Redshirt So. | Ht: 6-foot-4 | Wt: 310 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel JeremiahBucky BrooksMel Kiper, Jr.Pro Football FocusDane Brugler
DT2DT2DT1DT1DT1

2020 stats: 12 games; 37 tackles (22 solo), 9.5 tackles for loss, 8.0 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 3 passes defensed

Alabama Pro Day results: Barmore's unofficial time in the 40-yard dash was 4.93 seconds.

Rocky and Barmore: Barmore grew up in Philadelphia. As a freshman, he attended Abraham Lincoln High School. He then transferred to Saints John Neumann and Maria Goretti Catholic High School, where he garnered attention on the football field. Fun fact: Sylvester Stallone, who starred in the "Rocky" franchise set in Philly, also attended Abraham Lincoln High School.

Bercich's breakdown: "He's a beast inside. You look at interior defensive linemen, and the trend there is you're seeing more and more guys that are in that 6-foot-2, 6-foot-3 range, so really he's just a monster. He's a space-eater. He's going to have to learn to play with a little bit lower pad level. The swim move and those kinds of things, there's a place for it, but you can't do that all of the time in the NFL. But you pay for size and speed. When you draft and have a guy that big that can run that well and carry that much weight and be able to hold off an offensive lineman, people pay a lot of money for that, but [he's] an unbelievably good football player. Do we want him? Would you want him if he's there staring you in the face? Absolutely. He's going to be an outstanding football player. The question is when you're at 14, you have a lot of other needs at other positions that are going to supersede that."

Levi-Onwuzurike-2560

School: Washington | Year: Redshirt Sr. | Ht: 6-foot-3 | Wt: 290 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel JeremiahBucky BrooksMel Kiper, Jr.Pro Football FocusDane Brugler
DT1DT1DT2DT4DT2

2020 stats: opted out; 2019 stats: 13 games; 45 tackles, 6.0 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks; 1 blocked kick

Washington Pro Day results: Onwuzurike logged an unofficial 40 time of 4.85, totaled 29 reps at the bench press and had a vertical jump measured at 30 inches.

Vlogging his journey: Onwuzurike is participating in an NFL video series called "Path to the Draft" and has featured a number of videos – including one titled "Boxing or NFL" – on his personal YouTube channel.

Daviyon-Nixon-2560

School: Iowa | Year: Redshirt Jr. | Ht: 6-foot-3 | Wt: 313 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel JeremiahBucky BrooksMel Kiper, Jr.Pro Football FocusDane Brugler
UnrankedDT3DT3DT9DT4

2020 stats: 8 games; 45 tackles (22 solo), 13.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble and 2 passes defensed, 71-yard interception return for a touchdown

Iowa Pro Day results: Nixon notched a time of 4.90 in the 40-yard dash at the Hawkeyes Pro Day.

Start 'em young: Nixon started playing football at age 4, following in the footsteps of older brothers Teddy and Louis. His first team was the North Chicago Flames, and although he didn't initially like football – "not wanting to be tackled or run through drills" – Nixon grew to fall in love with the sport.

Marlon-Tuipulotu-2560

School: USC | Year: Redshirt Jr. | Ht: 6-foot-2 | Wt: 307 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel JeremiahBucky BrooksMel Kiper, Jr.Pro Football FocusDane Brugler
UnrankedUnrankedDT5UnrankedDT3

2020 stats: 6 games; 23 tackles (12 solo), 3.5 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks and 1 forced fumble

USC Pro Day results: Tuipulotu recorded 29 bench press reps; his vertical jump was measured at 30.5 inches, and his broad jump was measured at 8 feet, 7 inches. He did not run the 40 due to an injured hamstring.

Multi-sport athlete: Tuipulotu attended Central High School in Independence, Oregon, where he exceled on the football field as well as the wrestling mat. As a senior, he totaled 62 tackles and six sacks, and he played in the 2017 U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

Jay-Tufele-2560

School: USC | Year: Redshirt Jr. | Ht: 6-foot-2 | Wt: 305 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel JeremiahBucky BrooksMel Kiper, Jr.Pro Football FocusDane Brugler
UnrankedDT5DT4UnrankedDT5

2020 stats: Opted out of season; 2019 stats: 13 games; 42 tackles (22 solo), 6.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, 1 pass defensed

USC Pro Day results: Tufele was clocked at 4.97 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

Making Dad proud: In 2017, Tufele committed to USC after receiving offers from dozens of schools. National Signing Day was especially emotional for Tufele, whose father Line had undergone five double-bypass heart surgeries less than a year before but had recovered enough to attend the ceremony. "Family is everything," Tufele told The Salt Lake Tribune following the special moment.

Osa-Odighizuwa-2560

School: UCLA | Year: Redshirt Sr. | Ht: 6-foot-2 | Wt: 280 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel JeremiahBucky BrooksMel Kiper, Jr.Pro Football FocusDane Brugler
UnrankedDT4UnrankedDT7DT9

2020 stats: 7 games; 30 tackles (12 solo), 6.0 tackles for loss, 4.0 sacks and 1 pass defensed

UCLA Pro Day results: Odighizuwa's vertical jump was measured at 31.5 inches, and his broad jump was measured at 10 feet even. He did not run the 40 due to an injured hamstring.

Football family: Odighizuwa is the younger brother of Owamagbe Odighizuwa, who also stood out at UCLA and was a drafted by the Giants in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft. He went on to play two seasons for New York and was released in 2017.

Bercich's breakdown: "Long-armed and plays with leverage and quickness," Bercich said. "Strong hands at the point of attack. Good pad level. Great feet and great hustle. He played in a funky UCLA defensive scheme, which saw him line up all over with a lot of looping and slanting. His challenge will be learning an NFL scheme and, more importantly, the techniques. He has a ton of potential."

Alim-McNeill-2560

School: N.C. State | Year: Jr. | Ht: 6-foot-2 | Wt: 317 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel JeremiahBucky BrooksMel Kiper, Jr.Pro Football FocusDane Brugler
UnrankedUnrankedDT8DT2DT7

2020 stats: 11 games; 26 tackles (6 solo), 4.5 tackles for loss, 1.0 sack, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 18-yard interception return touchdown

N.C. State Pro Day results: McNeill's unofficial 40 time was 4.94 seconds, and he completed 27 reps at the bench press. His vertical jump measured at 30.5 inches, and his broad jump was 9 feet even.

Another Wolfpack standout: McNeill started his career at N.C. State one season after the Vikings tabbed Wolfpack center Garrett Bradbury in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Following the 2020 season, McNeill earned Second-Team All-America honors from The Associated Press, becoming the first N.C. State player to be selected by the AP since Bradbury (2018).

Bercich's breakdown: Despite McNeill weighing in at nearly 320 pounds, Bercich pointed out that the big man "has a lot of juice."

"Very quick. Strong hands. Very good against zone running schemes," Bercich said. "I love his effort level. His potential as a pass rusher makes him an excellent all-around prospect. There aren't many men his size that can pull off a spin move!"

Tommy-Togiai-2560

School: Ohio State | Year: Jr. | Ht: 6-foot-2 | Wt: 296 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel JeremiahBucky BrooksMel Kiper, Jr.Pro Football FocusDane Brugler
UnrankedUnrankedDT9DT5DT8

2020 stats: 7 games; 23 tackles (12 solo), 4.5 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks, 2 passes defensed and 1 forced fumble

Ohio State Pro Day results: Togiai was clocked at 4.97 seconds in the 40-yard dash. He led all Ohio State Pro Day participants with an impressive 40 reps at the bench press. For reference, the NFL Scouting Combine record is 49, which was set by Stephen Paea in 2011. Togiai's vertical jump was measured at 32 inches.

Making a difference: Less than a week before the NFL Draft, Togiai will host a football camp on April 24 at Highland High School in his hometown of Pocatello, Idaho. Togiai is an alum of Highland, as is Saints QB Taysom Hill and recently retired NFL coach Dirk Koetter. The youth football camp will give young people ages kindergarten through 12th grade a chance to "run through drills and hear advice" from Togiai.

"Back in my high school days going to camps, I kind of always wanted to do a camp of my own," Togiai told The Idaho State Journal’s Jordan Kaye. "I'm hoping, first and foremost, just that they learn and have a good time."

Marvin-Wilson-2560

School: Florida State | Year: Sr. | Ht: 6-foot-4 | Wt: 303 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel JeremiahBucky BrooksMel Kiper, Jr.Pro Football FocusDane Brugler
UnrankedUnrankedDT6DT8Unranked

2020 stats: 6 games; 17 tackles (11 solo), 2.0 tackles for loss and 1.0 sack

Florida State Pro Day results: Wilson, who dealt with a leg injury during the 2020 season, was clocked at 5.12 seconds in the 40. He totaled 23 bench press reps, had a vertical jump of 25.5 inches and a broad jump of 8 feet, 11 inches.

Marvin's Movement: Wilson has committed to bettering the youth of Tallahassee, Florida, through "Marvin's Movement," which works to "spread financial literacy" to local young people.

"That was my mission from the jump even coming into Florida State; I wanted to come in and give Tallahassee everything I had," Wilson said in an interview with WTXL Tallahassee. "I feel like I've done that, I'm still doing that and I'll continue to do it."

Bercich's breakdown: After watching some of Florida State's film, Bercich called Wilson a "Linval Joseph 2.0," referencing the former Vikings nose tackle.

"He's a mauler. Will instantly improve any run defense," Bercich said. "He can hold the point on double teams and is quick enough to give some juice on pass rush. Hard to reach in zone run scheme. He's tall, so pad level tends to get high, and he doesn't bend real well; so, endurance is a question."

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