Ohio State Buckeyes junior defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins declared for the 2013 NFL Draft back on Dec. 10, and he's already listed as a top 10 prospect by Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN. The 6-3, 335-pound lineman has impressed NFL scouts with his durability, quickness and his relentless play against the run, and Kiper Jr. has taken notice.
On a recent update to his Big Board of NFL prospects, Kiper Jr. listed Hankins at No. 9 overall, ahead of North Carolina defensive tackle Sylvester Williams (No.10), but well behind top prospect Star Lotulelei, DT from Utah. What is it that makes Hankins so special? Kiper Jr. says he can "occupy multiple blockers against the run" without giving up any ground, and can occassionally make effort plays as a pass-rusher.
ESPN guru Todd McShay doesn't think Hankins should be listed quite as high on the board. He slots the OSU defensive tackle at No. 16, behind Lotulelei (No. 3) and Missouri DT Sheldon Richardson (No. 9) in the top 32. After posting just four tackles for loss during the 2012 season, McShay wonders whether Hankins will be explosive enough to penetrate NFL offensive lines.
A lot can happen between now and draft day, but it's already clear that Hankins will be one of the top defensive tackles available in the upcoming 2013 NFL Draft.