2014 NFL Draft Prospect to Watch: Arizona State DT Will Sutton

Arizona State defensive tackle Will Sutton has the interior pass-rushing ability of a first-round pick, but he may not have the measurables. (Photo: USA Today Sports Images)

BBD Staff Writer: Joe Marino

Arizona State defensive tackle Will Sutton emerged last season as one of the nation’s top defensive linemen, and if he can follow up his junior year with a strong senior season, he could be one of the top defensive linemen off the board in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Sutton burst onto the scene during the 2012 season. He was named the Pat Tillman Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year and was a first-team All-American. He had 63 tackles, 23.5 for a loss (second-most in FBS) and 13 sacks (third-most in FBS). He also forced three fumbles and deflected five passes.

Sutton, the son of former NFL defensive back and punt returner Mickey Sutton, first saw action as a true freshman in 2009. He started two games and saw action in 12. He accumulated 17 tackles with three for loss and one sack.

Sutton missed the entire 2010 season due to academic issues, but started 12 games in 2011 as a redshirt sophomore after clearing up his classroom problems. He had 33 tackles, 5.5 for loss, and 2.5 sacks.

Why You Should Watch Will Sutton in 2013

Will Sutton is a dynamic interior pass rusher. He is explosive off the ball and has a very strong swim move. He can get excellent push up the middle and collapse the pocket.

He is excellent at using his hands while pass rushing to keep his opponent’s hands off of him. He does a great job of getting separation from his blocker to set up his pass rush move. He is one of the best pass-rushing interior defensive linemen I have seen in recent years.

Sutton is an excellent one-gap penetrator. He is very talented at shooting gaps and making plays. He is a very physical player and can be very disruptive for the opposing offense. He has excellent closing speed after he beats his blocker to get to the play and make it.

Sutton’s ability to get penetration leads him to consistent double-team blocks. He does a great job of splitting the blockers and working his hips to keep his ground.

Sutton is a high-motor guy who plays with relentless effort. His energy is obvious on the football field.

What Will Sutton has to Prove in 2013

Will Sutton has an extremely limited frame. He is listed at 6’1’’ by Arizona State’s official website and his weight can be seen listed anywhere from 270-288. There just isn’t a long list of successful defensive tackles that can be found with those measurables. In addition, Sutton appears to have very short arms. His postseason weigh-ins will be much anticipated, and crucial in deciding his draft fate.

I do not think he can play defensive end in any system. He lines up at end at times for the Sun Devils and he’s just not as impactful playing on the edge. He often gets reach blocked and just isn’t as explosive at end. I do not envision him as a two-gap player. Simply put, he doesn’t have enough length to be successful in that spot.

Sutton’s ability to shed blocks is essentially his ability to not get blocked. He uses his quickness off the ball to avoid blockers and make plays. When this does not happen, Sutton gets engulfed by blockers. This is very concerning when projecting him to play against elite, strong, long and quick athletes in the NFL.

Projecting Suttons’ Draft Stock

This is an extremely difficult projection. On tape, Sutton looks like a first-round pick as a three-technique. But when you consider his size, it’s hard to give him that type of grade.

I am not sold on him as an every down player in the NFL.  He is a pass-rushing defensive tackle that has an extremely limited frame.

It’s hard to imagine him having a drop-off in production. The key for him will be his measurables are at the NFL Scouting Combine. He is a top-100 player with the upside to be a first-round pick depending on his height, weight and arm length.

Tags: Arizona State, Defensive Tackles, Prospect to Watch, Will Sutton

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