After a bit of feedback from my article on Aarion Penton, I want to preface this a bit. My aim it so take a look at current Mizzou players who I believe have NFL potential and compare them both athletically and production-wise against previous players who were drafted. The goal is to establish something more concrete than hype or an "eye test".
Stop sleeping on em!!!! Size don't mean a thing if you got heart https://t.co/HViUTHCcp7— Keyon++ (@KeyonXX15) May 3, 2016
I obviously can't account for a player's "heart" but it's naïve for players, parents or coaches to think size doesn't factor into both recruiting rankings, coaching evaluations and NFL draft prospects. Combining athletic measurables with on-field production is the best way we as outsiders can try and determine a player's stock. This is in no way intended to be a slight or "hating" on a player, although I recognize some guys will use any sort of "disrespect" as motivation.
All my life I've been an underdog but I guess that's what made me... I don't fold under pressure just not in my blood !— #RIPGAP#RIPLEEZY (@Miz_Amp_11) May 3, 2016
If Penton or anyone else wants to use what I've said as fuel for an outstanding season that's awesome and I truly wish the best for them.
That being said, let's transition from one of the smallest play-makers on Mizzou's roster, to literally one of the biggest.
Josh Augusta, DT (6'4, 345, Sr.)
We don't have quite the same metrics to measure interior defensive lineman as edge rushers, and some of that make sense. A lot of the time they aren't trying to rush the passer or collect stats and are often double- or triple-teamed. In several defensive schemes, the defensive tackles are supposed to occupy blockers and running lanes and allow other defenders to make plays.
That being said, here's Josh Augusta's stats through three years at Missouri compared to the first-round picks I believe are most similar to him from the past two years: Vernon Butler and Danny Shelton.
What stands out here is the tackles for loss stat, not so much the sack numbers (although those are nice). Augusta is narrowly behind Butler for his junior year and could reasonably replicate his senior numbers if healthy and in shape. Reaching Shelton's numbers doesn't seem feasible at this point, but I'm sure no one saw Shelton having a 17 TFL/9 sack senior season after just 6.5/1.5 in three years prior.
There are loads of defensive tackles who weigh around 300 pounds, and there are truly massive players like 2014 sixth-round pick Daniel McCullers (6'7, 352 pounds) out of Tennessee. Here, I'm going to compare true nose tackle-type guys, 6'1 and 320 pounds or more. Since there weren't a lot of them, I included guys selected in the past four drafts.
|2016 Name||Height||Weight||Arms||Hands||40||Bench||Shuttle||3 cone||Vertical||Broad||Drafted|
|2015 Name||Height||Weight||Arms||Hands||40||Bench||Shuttle||3 cone||Vertical||Broad||Drafted|
|2014 Name||Height||Weight||Arms||Hands||40||Bench||Shuttle||3 cone||Vertical||Broad||Drafted|
|2013 Name||Height||Weight||Arms||Hands||40||Bench||Shuttle||3 cone||Vertical||Broad||Drafted|
First thing to notice is that only one of these guys weigh over 340 pounds which Augusta reportedly played at for most of last year. I had to go back to the 2013 draft to find 6'4, 346-pound John Jenkins from Georgia. He was drafted in the third round. In 2012, Dontari Poe, the 6'4, 346-pound DT from Memphis, was selected 11th overall after putting up impressive combine numbers, including a sub-5.0 40-yard dash, 44 bench reps, and a 4.56 shuttle run after three straight seasons of at least 6 TFLs and one sack.
That's the baseline. The college game's move toward smaller, faster athletes is also somewhat reflected in the NFL. Huge man-mountains are rare but aren't guaranteed to be drafted high because of that trait. The closer a defensive tackle is to 300 pounds, the better, it would seem.
The list of true nose tackles for the 2017 draft class is somewhat thin. According to CBS, only Pittsburgh's Tyrique Jarrett (6'2, 335 pounds) is rated higher, and Arkansas State's Waylon Roberson is the only other 330+ pounder on the list.
When Augusta was being recruited, he was listed around 275 to 300 pounds. The knock against Augusta so far has been staying in shape so he can stay on the field and give great effort on every play. There just aren't enough massive beings like him for an NFL GM to ignore, but until he can improve his motor and work rate and post solid combine numbers, I think he's between a third- and fifth-round pick right now.
After Charles Harris, Josh Augusta is one of two Mizzou players who has the potential to vault himself into becoming a first-round pick with a standout senior season. I believe Augusta will need to have a 10+ TFLs/5+ sack year against SEC competition while hitting combine stats of guys who weigh between 5 and 20 pounds less to guarantee himself a first-round selection in 2017.