With the change in defensive philosophy with legendary defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, the Cowboys will be looking to add more talent along the defensive line. In comes Johnathan Hankins from Ohio State. At 6-3 and 322 lbs, Hankins has been the heart and soul of the Buckeye's defense the past two years.
Hankins was originally a 3 star recruit out of Detroit, Michigan. As a freshman in 2010 for the Buckeyes, Hankins was able to contribute to the team right away as a rotational player along the defensive line. Totaling 16 tackles and 1 sack for the year, he received high praise from coaches and teammates, expectations were drastically raised for his sophomore campaign in 2011.
Hankins delivered on those high expectations, collecting 67 tackles, 3 sacks, and 14 tackles for loss as a full time starter. Having a huge games against Nebraska collecting 10 tackles and another huge game against Illinois with 9 tackles. He was consistent in all games, playing well, especially against the run. After the season, he was awarded an Honorable Mention All-Big 10.
A preseason All-American in 2012 as a junior, Hankins became a much bigger focus for opposing teams. Essentially double teamed on every play, Hankins was still able to make a huge impact in games, playing literally every position along the defensive line. Having his two biggest games against California which he tied a career high with 10 tackles and 1 sack, and gathering another 10 tackles against UAB. Against better competition such as Michigan State, he played well, he managed to hold Le'Veon Bell to 17 carries for a mere 45 yards. He also managed to have a bad game against Wisconsin and Montee Ball, allowing Ball to run 39 times for 191 yards. He finished the season with 55 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, and 1 sack. For his efforts, he was named First Team All-Big 10, and 2nd Team All-American.
Johnathan Hankins vs Cal 2012 (via JmpasqDraftjedi) (Hankins is #52, often playing DT on the right side)
You can see in the video, Hankins constantly does a great job of getting off blocks and fighting double teams to disrupt the play. He also shows great effort chasing plays all over the field.
Hankins has a rare, quick, first step off the snap for someone of his size. He does a fantastic job of shedding blocks and getting penetration to stop runs in the back field. He is great at the point of attack coming off the snap. He plays with a great anchor and strength, making it very difficult for teams to get him off the line. During games, Hankins did a good job of pursing runs going away from him, he showed good speed, effort, and angles to get to the running back. Hankins more often than not uses his speed and quick first step to shoot the gap and get pressure up the middle instead of pure power. Hankins does a great job of getting up field, getting in the face of quarterbacks and taking up a lot of space in the process.
Hankins started out the season strong, but as the season went on he wore down due to constant double teams and never coming off the field. But he manged to play well down the stretch. Hankins will really need to work on using his hands a lot more than he does now, instead of often going with the bullrush in most situations. Hankins is extremely diverse, able to play the 1 tech in both a 4-3 and 3-4 defense and almost always take up two blockers.
As of right now, Hankins is the 2nd rated defensive tackle in the draft. Hankins is expected to be taken in the first 16 picks of the draft. With a good lead up to the draft, he could almost guarantee himself a spot in the top 10. The best player to compare to Hankins would be Red Bryant of the Seattle Seahawks. Any team that takes Hankins whether they are a 4-3 or 3-4 can expect a space eater that does a fantastic job against the run and is able to get a lot of penetration in the back field. Hankins already does a fairly good job rushing the passer, but will need to be coached up on the next level when it comes to rushing the passer.