Ohio State defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins was a highly-productive run defender in college, registering 122 tackles in two seasons as a starter. Hankins also totaled only four sacks, however, and those numbers fit well with what Hankins shows on tape.
Hankins is listed at 6’3’’ and 322 pounds, although he’s probably closer to the 330 range. As you’d expect, Hankins is strong—very strong—and rarely loses ground off of the ball. Even when Hankins gets tired and loses leverage, he still doesn’t get driven backward.
Hankins’ bread-and-butter is stopping the run, and that’s something he’ll continue to do well in the NFL. He has the ability to eat up two blockers but he’s still athletic enough to shoot gaps at times. If you take all of Hankins top plays, he could stack up with just about anyone in the country. The problem is Hankins seems to get tired quickly—his conditioning will be a huge concern—and he plays like a third-round pick on the majority of snaps.
You can see Hankins’ conditioning become a problem in the passing game as well. At the beginning of games or series, Hankins can be disruptive inside. He uses a bull rush to get pressure right in quarterbacks’ faces. Later, he stands upright off of the snap and can get blocked easily by one man. He also finds himself on the ground way too much when he’s tired.
Overall, I’m not sure why Hankins is rated so highly by most analysts. He certainly has potential, but he doesn’t consistently fire off of the ball. There’s burst to his game, but he displays it so infrequently that you have to wonder if decreased NFL snaps will really help him that much. For being an average or even slightly below-average pass-rushing defensive tackle, you’d expect Hankins to be an absolutely dominant run defender. He’s really good in that area, but not to the extent that any team should be using a top 10 pick on the guy.
NFL Comparison: Aubrayo Franklin
Like Hankins, veteran defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin is a run-stuffer up the middle. Franklin hasn’t registered a sack since 2009, and while I don’t think Hankins will be that poor as a pass-rusher at the next level, I think he’s going to struggle to stay on the field in passing situations. That’s fine, but probably not worthy of a first-round pick.
Hankins could potentially get selected in the top 10, although it’s more likely that he’ll fall into the teens. In my view, Hankins is a mid- or even late-second round talent that’s going to be poor value for whoever picks him.
Fit In Dallas
The good news for Cowboys fans is that I don’t think Hankins will really be on the team's radar. Monte Kiffin prefers one-gap play-making interior defensive linemen and Hankins will probably play the nose in a 3-4.
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Jonathan Bales is the founder of The DC Times. He writes for DallasCowboys.com and the New York Times. He's also the author of Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft.