For a conference often criticized for its overall lack of defense, the Big 12 has at least three defensive tackles that are pushing for Day 1 consideration.
The fastest riser – at least currently – among them is TCU’s Ross Blacklock, a 6-foot-3, 290-pound junior who missed all of 2018 with an Achilles tear. Blacklock was recently listed as the No. 19 overall prospect by NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah in his latest top 50 rankings.
.@TCUFootball DL Ross Blacklock runs a 4.97u 40-yard dash.
— NFL (@NFL) February 29, 2020
The top 10 “true” defensive tackles – which excludes tackle/edge hybrids like Auburn’s Marlon Davidson, Iowa’s A.J. Epenesa and Baylor’s James Lynch, to name a few – include five SEC players and the top two at their position, Auburn’s Derrick Brown and South Carolina’s Javon Kinlaw.
But the next wave of DTs either played at a Big 12 school or are from Texas: Neville Gallimore (Oklahoma), Justin Madubuike (Texas A&M) and Blacklock. Even Missouri’s Jordan Elliott has Texas ties, as he originally played at the University of Texas.
The bottom line? If your team drafts a defensive tackle within the first few rounds this year, chances are he’ll have a Southern accent.
— NFL Legends (@NFLLegends) March 4, 2020
And that includes Blacklock, whose late rise is reminiscent of former TCU defensive lineman L.J. Collier, who also went from relative obscurity to become the 29th overall pick in last year’s draft by Seattle. The two players have similar measurements, as Collier came in at 6-2, 283 at last year’s Combine. NFL Media gave Collier a grade of 6.30 prior to last year’s draft; Blacklock has a grade of 6.39.
“Blacklock is a dynamic interior defensive lineman. As a pass rusher, he launches out of his four-point stance and his bull rush is ferocious. He creates immediate knock-back. He is ultra-twitchy. He flashes a long-arm move where he can jolt, separate and finish. As a run defender, he successfully stacks and sheds single blocks, but he needs to improve his awareness and effectiveness versus double teams, where he gets washed down the line. …”