Name: Taco Charlton
Position fit: Edge defender, either a 4-3 defensive end or a 3-4 outside linebacker
Stats to know: In 2016, he ranked third in pass-rush productivity among all draft-eligible defenders with at least 100 pass rush attempts.
What he does best:
- Aggressive with his hands – can set his blocker, control line of scrimmage.
- Looks smaller than he is because he plays with good leverage, low to the ground.
- Has a variety of moves; can press the edge with speed, spin back inside, use hands to rip and shed.
- Uses his hands well against cut blocks, chips.
- Uses leverage to create power – can bull, collapse pocket.
- Understands leverage point – attacks correct shoulder, etc.
- Excellent read and recognition skills, aided by ability to set with his length.
- Works to keep blocker’s hands off him on pass rushes.
- Snaps distributed evenly between left and right end.
- Shows ability against the run when he locks out on blocker, locates ball – doesn’t get bullied by tackles.
- Struggled with power against Michigan State.
- Can get caught peeking inside, get washed down LOS.
- Can win off the edge when he gets the jump but doesn’t have the elite burst of some other prospects.
- Can get caught peeking inside when unblocked on backside, allowing wing peel, QB to get outside with ease.
Player comparison: Charles Johnson, Carolina Panthers
Johnson has similar athletic ability and a comparable body type to Charlton. When healthy, Johnson has been an outstanding pass-rusher, and has recently improved his play against the run over the level he was at five years ago.
Bottom line: Charlton has a well-built frame with enough strength and length to play defensive end in a 4-3 and enough athleticism to play off the ball in a 3-4. While he lacks elite first-step quickness, he can be an effective rusher off the edge, due in large part to his hand usage. He does an excellent job of keeping blockers from locking onto him, and can set up a variety of moves. At times he will get caught peeking inside and can get sealed off the edge on cutbacks or washed down the line of scrimmage by side blocks. While he lacks the elite athletic skill set of a Myles Garrett to warrant a top-10 pick, Charlton’s size and hand usage puts him ahead of the curve, and should be ready to contribute more quickly than many other prospects at his position. He should be in play in the first round.