The NFL draft begins April 30 in Chicago, with all 32 teams looking for the next great pro talent to emerge from the SEC.

We’ll take a position-by-position look at the SEC’s draft prospects in the days leading up to the event. We started with running backs and receivers and we continue with defensive tackles.

Let’s take a look at some of the news, projections and buzz at the position entering this year’s draft.

BIGGEST STAR: Gabe Wright, Auburn

Despite a disappointing 2014 on the field and what scouts see as inconsistency (and occasional laziness), Wright represents the best of the SEC defensive tackles in the 2015 draft class.

He keeps his pad level low, is an aggressive hand-fighter and seems like a good fit for the interior of a 4-3 defense in the NFL.

He dropped down to 285 pounds during the season, then ramped back to 300 for the Combine, Wright pumped out 34 bench press reps at 225 pounds, comparing well with the strongest run-stoppers in the conference. But his explosiveness was disappointing and he wasn’t particularly fast at 5.07 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock mentioned during the Combine broadcast that he flashed at the Senior Bowl, but that scouts would like to see him be more consistent.

“I think Gabe Wright’s going to play in this league,” Mel Kiper Jr. said during a media conference call at the end of March. “There’s always a place for a guy that can do the things that Gabe Wright has shown he’s capable of doing. You’re probably going to get him in the third or fourth round.”

That’s on the high end of most projections, but Wright should come off the board in the fourth or fifth round at the latest.

RISING: Kaleb Eulls, Mississippi State

An unheralded four-year starter (52 games) who moved from end to tackle for his final two seasons in Starkville, Miss., Eulls was a surprise snub from the NFL Combine.

Listed at 6-foot-3 and between 295 and 305 pounds, Eulls got good reviews at the Senior Bowl and again at Mississippi State’s pro day.

He impressed off the field as well, regaling scouts with the story of how he potentially saved the lives of his three little sisters and others as a high school senior, “wrestling a semi-automatic handgun away from an armed student who had hijacked his school bus.”

Eulls doesn’t project as a superstar at the NFL level, but he’s a lunch-pail guy who can hold his own at the point of attack against the run, potentially an early third-day pick.

In a draft devoid of many star SEC defensive tackles, he could be the second conference player off the board.

FALLING: Darius Philon, Arkansas

His decision to enter the NFL early stung the Razorbacks, which already had to replace DE Trey Flowers and LB Martrell Spaight. If he gets selected in the first two or three rounds, it’s hard to blame Philon, even though the consensus opinion is he could’ve added weight and improved his strength at the point of attack.

There’s a lot to like about Philon’s upside as an interior pass rusher in a 4-3 front. He’s got great quickness as a former defensive end and knows how to get skinny and fit into crevices in the line.

In mid-March, Mel Kiper Jr. called Philon a second-day pick.

Still others have Philon plunging into the seventh round of the draft. That’s where CBS Sports and Comcast Sports both project him to tumble.

Sporting News named him one of 10 underclassmen who made a mistake by declaring early, asserting that Philon could’ve been first-round material with one more year of college, or at least much more developed.

His NFL Combine numbers were only mediocre relative to an early-round defensive tackle. Worse still, he did not interview well at the Combine, according to Bleacher Report’s lead NFL draft writer Matt Miller: “Three teams I spoke with have since told me that Arkansas redshirt sophomore Darius Philon was the worst interview of the process for them. He reportedly came off as immature, uninterested and even combative.”


  • Malcom Brown, Texas
  • Danny Shelton, Washington
  • Arik Armstead, Oregon
  • Eddie Goldman, Florida State
  • Jordan Phillips, Oklahoma


  1. Which of the SEC’s talented defensive tackles will declare for the draft early after the upcoming 2015 season?
  2. Can Gabe Wright find a way to play with a more consistent motor and eventually earn a starting job in the NFL?
  3. Will players like Leon Orr (Florida) and Brandon Ivory (Alabama) be able to make an NFL roster, likely as an undrafted free agent?


  1. Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss
  2. Harold Brantley, Missouri
  3. Alonzo Williams, Texas A&M