Ohio State has been producing some of the best edge rushing talent to date over the past several years. In just the last four NFL Drafts, the Buckeyes have taken the league by storm with dominant defensive ends among the likes of Joey Bosa, Nick Bosa, Sam Hubbard and Tyquan Lewis. However, all of these D-lineman have been guys off the edge. What about the men up the middle?
Well, OSU has not been lacking in talent at defensive tackle either. Ever hear of Cam Heyward or Johnathan Hankins? While Heyward has since moved to DE, he has become a three-time Pro Bowler for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Hankins is one of the best run stoppers in the league as he continues his career with the Las Vegas Raiders.
In the past two NFL Drafts, Ohio State has sent even more talent to the league at the position with the selections of Jalyn Holmes and Dre’Mont Jones — two guys who have had promising starts to their professional careers with their new respective franchises. DaVon Hamilton is looking to be the next man up, and is the Buckeyes top defensive line prospect in this year’s draft not named Chase Young.
It’s a bit harder to profile defensive tackles than it is for defensive ends, as they usually don't come with a ton of glamour stats like the sack numbers that edge rushers produce. However, that isn’t really the case for Hamilton, as he did manage to put up really solid numbers for a DT, even with Young beating him into the backfield on more occasions than not. The senior finished the 2019 season with 28 total tackles, including 9.5 tackles for loss, six sacks and a fumble recovery.
Hamilton was a big part of what Ohio State did up front this past year. Aiding in a run defense that allowed just 2.98 yards per rush — good for No. 6 in the nation — he showed tremendous value in the ground game, with the ability to clog the lane and slow down opposing running backs even when still engaged with a blocker. At 6-foot-4, 310 pounds, he was also able to use his size to bull rush the QB and quickly constrict the pocket, forcing hurried throws and occasionally leading to a sack.
NFL analyst Lance Zierlein had this to say about the third-team All-Big Ten DT:
Athletic 4-3 tackle who stacked good tape in back-to-back seasons and should garner consideration as a rotational interior lineman with eventual starter potential. He does a nice job of creating leverage with his initial strike and has the athleticism and closing burst to hound running backs with an extended pursuit radius. He flashes needed traits as both a one- and two-gapper, but better skill with his hand-fighting could help unlock quicker wins and clearer paths to the quarterback. His draft stock could be tied to how teams view his upside as a pass rusher.
Many mock drafts have Hamilton going somewhere between the third and fourth round, with some even believing the interior lineman to be a sleeper pick. On NFL Network’s Path to the Draft, analyst Daniel Jeremiah listed Hamilton as his top sleeper at defensive tackle, stating that his numbers would have been a lot better if not for Young beating him to the ball. Jeremiah believes his production will be even greater in the pros than in was in college for that reason.
Let’s take a look at some of the film on Hamilton’s 2019 season...
Two quick examples of Hamilton’s prowess when it comes to run stopping. In the first clip against Florida Atlantic, he is able to shake off his blocker and make a tackle on the running back on the opposite side of the formation from where he lined up. In the second against Cincinnati, he is able to quickly shake off a double-team and stop a power run play for no gain.
Here is a great example of Hamilton’s pure power and bull rushing ability. Against a very good offensive line, the DT is able to bully the Wisconsin center about five yards backwards until he completely closes the pocket on the QB. Even while still engaged with his blocker, he is able to reach out with his other arm and gets the sack on Jack Coan.
Another display of Hamilton’s power and explosiveness. Here he kind of shocks the left guard with how fast he is able to move as a big man. Once he has the blocker out of position, there is no chance for him to slow that kind of strength and speed down with just his arms, and Hamilton is able to easily come away with yet another sack.
Hamilton was also able to come up big on the biggest stage, sacking Trevor Lawrence in the team’s CFP matchup with Clemson. Here, the DT shows a great motor, never giving up on the play as it took a bit to develop. Able to work around an early double team, Hamilton uses his hands and his body to slip around the blockers and eventually work his way into the backfield to blow the play up.
A defensive tackle is never a flashy draft pick, as the big men up the middle never really get the love that they should for all the things they do. Hamilton isn’t going to be taken in the first two rounds, but will be a solid addition for any team looking to shore up the interior of their defensive line. The DT will look to follow in the footsteps of Hankins before him and be the next solid gap-closing, run-stopping force at the next level, with some potential as a pass rusher thrown in the mix.