A year ago, everyone was talking about a defensive lineman out of North Carolina State. However, it was hard not to do that, considering that three of them went in the first round of the NFL Draft. Mario Williams (Houston Texans, first overall), Manny Lawson (San Francisco 49ers, 22nd overall) and John McCargo (Buffalo Bills, 26th overall) all struck gold last April; now it is time for Tank Tyler to do the same. Can he live up to his ex-teammates' draft status? We'll all find out this weekend.
A native of Fayetteville, N.C., Tyler attended E.E. Smith High School. There, he racked up 67 tackles and nine sacks in his senior season to earn his second all-conference label as he led his team to a 12-3 record and the championship game. After receiving offers from other schools, Tyler decided it was best to stay close to home, where he became a member of a talented Wolfpack defense.
As a freshman, Tyler served in a backup role on the defensive line. He dressed for every game and recorded 13 stops. He saw an increased role in 2004 as a sophomore, when he started every game inside for head coach Chuck Amatao. He added 33 tackles, six of which came behind the line of scrimmage.
As a junior in 2005, Tyler played alongside three future first-round draft picks (Williams, Lawson and McCargo). He responded with 41 tackles, with 4.5 behind the line. He also added the first two quarterback sacks of his collegiate career. What was most impressive, however, is how Tyler improved in his last season on campus. After losing his three line mates, he put up the best campaign of his career, logging 49 tackles (8.5 behind the line) and three sacks.
One thing Tyler has that not many at his position possess is in-game experience. Not only does he have that experience, he gained it alongside future NFL players in a big-time conference.
Tyler shows good quickness and does a nice job using his hands, allowing him to play on the other side of the line of scrimmage. Tyler's strength comes in handy as well, as he has been known to obliterate the quarterback's pocket. He has been described as "explosive." At 6-foot-2 he has average height for the position, and he does a nice job getting in the passing lanes.
Some feel that Tyler has a sense of complacency or laziness, a characteristic that is hard to shake. He has had problems with his weight and stamina in the past; he will probably have to work hard to ditch the "lazy" label. He is listed at 323 pounds, but he weighed 306 pounds at the NFL Scouting Combine, so perhaps that's a good sign. He's also not much of a pass rusher, and has below average speed for the position, as he ran a 5.24 at the combine.
Right now expect Tyler to go sometime in the second round of the draft. He is definitely considered one of the top three or four players at his position, sitting behind Michigan's Alan Branch and Louisville's Amobi Okoye. He will likely compete with Ohio State's Quinn Pitcock and Tennessee's Justin Harrell to be the third tackle taken.
What teams could possibly be looking to add Tyler to their roster? Well, the St. Louis Rams could be looking to add more depth to the position by Round 2, as could the Cincinnati Bengals and Washington Redskins. What seems like the most likely spot, however? How about his hometown Carolina Panthers? Head coach John Fox could be looking for more interior help due to the constant injury problems with veteran Kris Jenkins and last year's retirement of Brentson Buckner.
About Francis Duffy
"Fran Duffy has been involved in sports since he was a child. A Philadelphia native, Fran is obviously a die-hard fan of the Eagles, Phillies, Flyers and Sixers. Fran is desperately waiting to see his first major championship from one of his hometown teams. He is a Broadcasting major at Temple University and has experience on the radio as well as in television production. Fran also currently works with Temple football's video-operation's team and is an avid fantasy sports player. Looking for more experience in writing, Fran joined KFFL in the spring of 2005."
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