LUTHER MADDY- 6’1, 291- SR.
Unlike the buildup to the 2014 NFL Draft, when there were as many as six or seven defensive tackles who were considered legitimate first-round candidates, there are many more questions at the position heading into 2015. USC’s Leonard Williams looks to have a great shot of being selected on the draft’s first day, but beyond him things are much less of a sure thing. While he needs to make some improvements to his game, Virginia Tech’s Luther Maddy is certainly a player who could develop into a first-round prospect with another great season as a senior.
Despite the fact that he’ll be going into his fourth college season, Maddy still has some work to do to fully reach his potential. His most prominent issue is a lack of strength; he got pushed around far too often by offensive linemen in 2013. If he could add some more muscle, he could be a very solid all-around defensive tackle. He’s already got quality pass rush skills—he had 6.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss as a junior—but his run defending skills are lacking. His technique is good and he gets to where he needs to be; it’s just a matter of him often being physically overwhelmed in pursuit. If Maddy figures out how to use his leverage better, he could end up being one of the better defensive tackles in this year’s class.
POSITIVES: fast feet…good acceleration, once he gets a clear path to the quarterback it is difficult to stop him…pretty disciplined in pursuit, will be a good run defender if he adds strength…spin move is intriguing…solid sideline-to-sideline movement…has shown ability to play both 1 and 3-technique positions at the college level, seems to have the agility to fit at a 5-technique spot in a 3-4 defense as well
NEGATIVES: lacks ideal height or weight…needs to get stronger, got pancaked multiple times against Alabama and North Carolina…pad level is too high at times…does a high majority of his work from the left side, will need to prove that he can play both sides in order to fit in most NFL schemes.
2014 Outlook: Maddy will be one of the anchors of a Hokie defense that will be forced to quickly rebuild after losing major contributors such as defensive linemen Derrick Hopkins and James Gayle, middle linebacker Jack Tyler, and defensive backs Kyle Fuller and Antone Exum. The Hokies don’t have the toughest of conference schedules this year, so they’ll very much be expected to contend for the ACC title. Their greatest challenge as a team, and likely Maddy’s greatest as a pass rusher, will come with their game at Ohio State on September 6.
Talent Grade: Third-Fourth Round
Rams Role: The Rams are pretty deep at defensive tackle as things stand now, but that could change depending on how veterans Alex Carrington and Kendall Langford perform this year. If they end up looking for depth, Maddy could end up in a logical spot to be a fit if he falls to the middle rounds. With that said, the Rams usually prefer much taller and thicker defensive tackles, though they showed that that wasn’t a hard rule after selecting the undersized Aaron Donald in the first round of this May’s draft.
Film Watched: vs. Alabama (2013), vs. North Carolina (2013), vs. Georgia Tech (2013), vs. Marshall (2013), vs. UCLA (2013)