In an overall very weak defensive tackle class, it’s hard to get excited about many of the prospects at the position in the 2021 NFL Draft. With big names like Christian Barmore and Marvin Wilson leading the charge, it’s easy to look past some of the guys with just as much talent than them only because of the helmet they wear or name they carry.
That would be a massive mistake with North Carolina State’s Alim McNeill who is one of, if not the best defensive tackle prospect in this draft class.
Data courtesy CFB at Sports-Reference.com.
Name: Alim McNeill
School: NC State
Alim McNeill played at 6-2, 335 lbs in 2020, and moved like a 275-lb defensive end. The overall athleticism and fluidity is just eye-popping for a 330-lb + defensive linemen. Moves well laterally, but also has the first-step quickness and explosion to shoot gaps and destroy zone-blocking schemes. Violent hands at the point of attack jolts offensive linemen backwards, and he’s best described as a people-mover. Shows insane motor on every play. Plays with excellent pad level and uses his length well at the point of attack to defend multiple gaps in the running game. Eats up double teams with confidence, and holds his ground well when facing doubles, triples, and combination blocks. Showed a swim-move, cross-chop, and spin-move to win on pass rush reps from the nose tackle position. Though he’s not a very tall prospect, his frame holds, drops, and adds weight without losing burst or strength throughout. Showed the ability to be one of the most disruptive defensive linemen in the country in 2019, and his dominance forced teams to give a ton of help his way in 2020.
Pad-level will rise throughout games allows linemen to get to his chest easier than you’d like. As of now, more of a pocket-pusher than a pure-pass rusher, but that’s just due to his rawness, not an inability. Can do a better job of finishing sacks and tackles for loss in the backfield. He’s always in the backfield, but showed a few reps on tape where he overran ball carriers, or just couldn’t maintain proper control to finish splash-plays.
In a weaker defensive tackle class, Alim McNeill stands out like a sore-thumb. The athleticism, size, power, and overall fluidity is just phenomenal for a 335-lb human being. Still relatively new to the position, as he was a linebacker and running back coming into NC State, so the ceiling is sky-high with proper usage and coaching. Can play in even and odd fronts due to his ability to one- and two-gap, and hold up against double teams. Dual-sport athlete in high school who committed to NC State to play both football and baseball. Tremendous effort for a bigger guy, and defensive coaches around the league are going to love his motor both as a run defender and pass rusher. The few things he needs to improve are more technique driven, and are very minimal in terms of the overall worry of his game. Likely will get under drafted due to decrease in sack numbers, but when you turn on the tape it’s easy to fall in love with his game.
NC State DT Alim McNeill isn’t being talked about enough. Dude is an absolute wrecking ball in the interior of the defense.— Connor Livesay (@ConnorNFLDraft) January 16, 2021
• 6’2” 315lbs
• very good athlete for big man
• pocket pusher as a pass rusher
• excellent anchor against doubles
• uses length very well
• dog pic.twitter.com/1mRdgJ7pS1