2015 NFL Draft: Bengals’ Late Round Defensive Tackle Options

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DL Marcus Hardison, Arizona State

Earlier this offseason I touched on Marcus Hardison. Nonetheless, I feel he’s that promising of a prospect and may be found at great value.  Hardison has yet to demand significant attention ahead of next month’s draft.

Oct 18, 2014; Tempe, AZ, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils defensive lineman Marcus Hardison (1) against the Stanford Cardinal at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

He was barely noted about following Arizona State’s Pro Day, though NFL.com reported that Hardison was put through drills by Minnesota Vikings defensive line coach Andre Patterson.  He has been less than impressive both at the NFL combine, where he only participated in the bench press, and at his Pro Day.

On his individual workout, it’s less than surprising that the Vikings are taking an interest in him.  As Bengals fans know, Mike Zimmer is a fan a versatility and Marcus Hardison embodies that concept.  Although he projects best as a 4-3 defensive tackle who is promising when rushing the quarterback, Arizona State lined him up as a defensive end and even had him stand up pre-snap at times.  It’s this experience all along the defensive line that should make Hardison appealing to the Bengals also, as they love versatility.

Hardison’s skill set actually reminds me of Wallace Gilberry.  At 6’2″, 300 pounds, Hardison is a bit bigger than Gilberry (6’2″, 275 pounds), his ability to line up outside and inside while effectively rushing the passer can’t help but inspire this comparison.

But all this attention on pass rushing shouldn’t suggest that Hardison struggled against the run.  Although he will need coaching in this way, he possesses the kind of potential that shouldn’t leave teams without hope of development in this area.

Hardison should be able to produce within a rotation upon joining a team.  He should definitely pose as a pass rushing threat immediately with all the agility he possesses at his size.  With work, he could develop into an NFL starter.

Next: Next Up, A Run Stopper with Great Size