At 6'3" on a good day, Charles Tapper is an inch shorter than you'd like your ideal weak side defensive end to be.
But in every other way, if you were engineering a pass rusher from scratch, you'd build Charles Tapper. That is not an exaggeration. He's literally physically perfect for the position. Now, as you might expect from someone who was drafted in the fourth round, he is something of a project. Apart from a decent spin it seems he has no pass rushing moves at all. How does this happen to someone who came up in a nationally ranked college system like Oklahoma University? Well, it seems he was largely asked to be a two-gapping 5-tech, ala Marcus Spears. And he was good at it, but it didn't give him the chance to develop a lot of pass rush technique.
Nonetheless he managed seven sacks in his last season at OU. There was another defensive prospect with outstanding physical traits coming off a seven sack season a few years ago in Wisconsin. Now, I am not saying that Tapper is J. J. Watt by any stretch. I am pointing out that Watt was not being promoted on production, but his ridiculous athleticism. Tapper's is in that ball park.
I went through the last six years of the draft and pulled the most productive pass rusher from each class (simply by number of sacks thus far) plus Robert Quinn, because having to be in the same class as J. J. Watt was unfair and he was number two overall in the time I was studying. So Watt, Quinn, Jason Pierre-Paul, Chandler Jones, Ezekiel Ansah, Aaron Lynch, and Preston Smith make the list. The results are interesting to say the least. Here is a sortable chart of their physical traits.
|Player||40 yd||10 yd||Vertical||Broad||Weight||Arm||Hands|
When you go through the list in its entirety it's kind of impressive but doesn't give you the proper idea of how this really plays out. You can sort and see that Tapper ranks highly in each category one at a time, but to really understand how well he measures up, you need a table of rankings.
|Player||40 yd||10 yd||Vertical||Broad||Weight||Arm||Hands||Total|
You can see there's only one player on this list who never gets out of the top half in any of these physical attributes. Being ranked in the top 50% of physical traits on a list with the top pass rushers of the last six draft classes is a pretty good way of saying "physically ideal". Tapper also, unsurprisingly, has the lowest overall total of "places" in this list. Pretty impressive company.
He also measures up well against an all time great we all know and love:
|Player||40 yd||10 yd||Vertical||Broad||Weight|
It should be noted that these numbers are from NFLdraftscout.com and Ware's Wikipedia entry says something else entirely. It's also worth noting that NFLdraftscout.com shows a pro day time of 4.53 in the forty for Ware, but I went with combine numbers for both to compare apples to apples. Tapper didn't run the 3-cone or short shuttle at the combine and it wouldn't surprise me if Ware's agility numbers were significantly better, but it's still impressive to see these times and weights side by side (well, vertically) like that.
Needless to say, a guy with this kind of athleticism laying around at pick 101 indicates something is off. In this case, it seems it's his very undeveloped pass rush skills. But it should be noted that many of the players on the list above were considered undeveloped and raw at the time they were drafted as well. Still, Tapper was a fourth-rounder for a reason (and he was projected to go exactly where he went, so there's no surprises here) and he's going to need a great deal of coaching up.
If only Dallas had some sort of defensive line guru that could mold this raw lump of clay into a refined pass rushing machine...