EDITOR'S NOTE: Thanks to Packattack88 for another great profile that's worthy of promotion.
Good morning everybody. Today I decided to take a look at Ohio State defensive tackle Jonathan Hankins. This profile was a bit more of a challenge since Ohio State doesn't play in a 3-4 defense. This basically requires that I try to project everything that Hankins does and imagine what it would mean for him playing at 5-technique or nose tackle. At any rate, here we go:
The first thing that stuck out to me about Hankins is that while he's usually decently quick off the ball, I saw several instances where he didn't shoot out of his stance low in an explosive manner. He has a tendency to lock up with offensive linemen high and without leverage. This problem appears most often on down and distances where Hankins' run-pass read isn't obvious. On down and distances where the run-pass read was obvious, Hankins would fire out decisively and explosively, so it’s not as if he doesn’t possess the capability to do so. It almost appears as of Hankins is trying too hard to diagnose the play and forgets to gain the advantage over the linemen first. Ideally you'd want to see Hankins fire out forcefully, gaining leverage on his opponent, while being able to make his run-pass read in the process.
When facing single linemen against the run Hankins is stout despite his leverage issues, rarely getting moved from the line or presenting gaps for runners. That being said, Hankins rarely drove his man back and sometimes allowed opposing linemen to shield him out of the run lane or wash him down the line. On obvious inside run down and distances, Hankins showed an explosive burst, quickly defeating his opposing lineman and making plays on the ball. Hankins also showed great athleticism and play recognition skills, often running down plays from behind and sniffing out screens.
When facing multiple linemen against the run, Hankins seems to have the vague idea that he needs to lower his center of gravity but does not seem to do so effectively on a consistent basis. Despite this, Hankins usually held up and did not allow the opposing linemen to move him despite his marginal technique. Hankins is a decent tackler, particularly when disengaged from a lineman. Hankins weakness as a tackler is in traffic when quickly disengaging from linemen and moving laterally to take down passing ball carriers is essential. He is very hit or miss on this point, with his primary problem appearing to be reacting quickly and disengaging in time to make a tackle.
When facing single linemen against the pass, Hankins is surprisingly good, particularly in obvious passing situations. He has a decently well developed set of pass rush moves that include rips, push-pull moves, bull-rushes and quick inside moves. Hankins' rip move is particularly effective as he is able to create a shockingly acute angle with the ground for a man his size to get underneath and around opposing blockers. It is also notable that Hankins does not give up on plays and will chase quarterbacks until they release the ball. I think Hankins is a case where people look at the stats more than the tape when judging his pass defense abilities; despite not accruing many sacks, Hankins constantly chased the quarterback out of the pocket and provided a more than adequate interior pass rush.
Against more than one pass protector, Hankins is less effective. Hankins did flash the ability to quickly fire out and split double teams but did not do so regularly. When Hankins faced more than one blocker, he would often try to work himself around the double team and occasionally presented gaps for quarterbacks to escape the pocket. At times, Hankins would simply stand and engage with the linemen and would be neutralized from the play.
Overall, Hankins appears to be a good run stopper with underrated pass rush skills. On the Packers, I can see Hankins fitting in well at a 5-technique or nose tackle eventually, but I believe it will take some time for him to adjust to being a two-gap player. Hankins particularly needs to work on his technique when responding to double teams against both the run and the pass.
I see Hankins as a late first round pick that will be able to step in as a 1-technique tackle right away in a 4-3 system with the potential to become a good 5-techique defensive end or nose tackle in the 3-4 with some development time. Though Hankins doesn’t consistently show the impact playmaking ability you’d expect at a pick this high, he flashes enough potential for it and is good enough at the other elements that he brings to the table that a late first round pick seems justified in my mind. The Packers should have no qualms selecting Hankins if he is available at 26.