Loads of talent: Suh, McCoy lead deep D-tackle class; Cody helps self by getting in better shape

INDIANAPOLIS — As Terrence Cody’s weight goes down, his draft stock may go up.

Cody weighed in at 354 pounds Saturday at the NFL Scouting Combine‹16 pounds less than the flabby 370 he weighed in January at the Senior Bowl. It was also 11 pounds lighter than Cody’s listed playing weight (365) last season at Alabama.

Less is more: A slimmer Terrence Cody shows he's focused on improving his draft stock.
Less is more: A slimmer Terrence Cody shows he’s focused on improving his draft stock.

By getting in better shape, Cody gave a clear indication that he is taking the stiff draft competition at defensive tackle seriously. Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy could be the first two players selected, and at least four other defensive tackles — Cody, UCLA’s Brian Price, Tennessee’s Dan Williams and Penn State’s Jared Odrick — could go in the first round.

"Teams have come to this draft looking at all of us," Odrick said Saturday. "If you want to stand out, this is a chance to kind of separate yourself."

Premier defensive tackles are valuable commodities, which was proved recently when three defensive tackles were giving the franchise tag — Vince Wilfork (Patriots), Aubrayo Franklin (49ers) and Ryan Pickett (Packers). Another, the Steelers’ Casey Hampton, was given a new contract this week.

"Defensive tackles get franchised because they are hard to find," Browns general manager Tom Heckert said. "Especially a nose tackle in the 3-4. That’s why they get tagged. There aren’t many who are going to hit free agency. So if you need one, you’ve got to get one in the draft."

Suh and McCoy are waging a battle to be selected first — one that may last right up until the first round is selected on April 22. There is a chance that the Rams could opt for quarterback Sam Bradford with the No. 1 pick, but most scouts believe they can’t go wrong by picking Suh or McCoy.

Asked if Suh and McCoy were as good as advertised, Heckert simply smiled and said, "Yeah."

Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo will play a major role in deciding which player is drafted No. 1. But Spagnuolo wasn’t forthcoming on Saturday when asked to expound on differences between Suh and McCoy.

"They’re both great players," Spagnuolo said. "They’re going to be playing well in our league for a long time."

Here are the other defensive tackles who could be first round-worthy:

Price. His quickness off the ball and effectiveness against the run could make him the third defensive tackle selected, somewhere between picks 20 and 25.

Willliams. Another run-stuffer, he could go somewhere in the 20’s and make an immediate impact.

Cody. His weight loss makes him more appealing to teams that need to shore up their run defense.

"Cody fits the mold of a 3-4 nose tackle, a big run-stuffing guy," Heckert said. "If somebody needs a nose tackle, they’ll be looking at him. I was impressed he even played in the Senior Bowl. Some of those top guys don’t play in those games. But he did."

Odrick. He is confident his body of work at Penn State makes him ready for the NFL. Odrick thought about entering the 2009 draft but decided he needed another year in college.

"I’m a better player now," Odrick said. "I know more about the game and more about myself. It was a good decision to stay. Now I’m more ready for this entire process."

Odrick said he was looking forward to all of his interviews, along with his Monday workout. With so many defensive tackles hoping to be drafted in Round 1, Odrick believes the more scrutiny, the better.

"We’re here to show teams what we can do, but let’s face it, we’re competing," Odrick said. "It’s a deep position this year. Teams are going to be watching us closely." 

This story appears in Feb. 28’s edition of Sporting News Today. If you are not receiving Sporting News Today, the only daily digital sports newspaper, sign up today for free.

Clifton Brown covers the NFL for Sporting News. E-mail him at cliftonbrown@sportingnews.com.

INDIANAPOLIS — As Terrence Cody’s weight goes down, his draft stock may go up.

Cody weighed in at 354 pounds Saturday at the NFL Scouting Combine‹16 pounds less than the flabby 370 he weighed in January at the Senior Bowl. It was also 11 pounds lighter than Cody’s listed playing weight (365) last season at Alabama.

Less is more: A slimmer Terrence Cody shows he's focused on improving his draft stock.
Less is more: A slimmer Terrence Cody shows he’s focused on improving his draft stock.

By getting in better shape, Cody gave a clear indication that he is taking the stiff draft competition at defensive tackle seriously. Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy could be the first two players selected, and at least four other defensive tackles — Cody, UCLA’s Brian Price, Tennessee’s Dan Williams and Penn State’s Jared Odrick — could go in the first round.

"Teams have come to this draft looking at all of us," Odrick said Saturday. "If you want to stand out, this is a chance to kind of separate yourself."

Premier defensive tackles are valuable commodities, which was proved recently when three defensive tackles were giving the franchise tag — Vince Wilfork (Patriots), Aubrayo Franklin (49ers) and Ryan Pickett (Packers). Another, the Steelers’ Casey Hampton, was given a new contract this week.

"Defensive tackles get franchised because they are hard to find," Browns general manager Tom Heckert said. "Especially a nose tackle in the 3-4. That’s why they get tagged. There aren’t many who are going to hit free agency. So if you need one, you’ve got to get one in the draft."

Suh and McCoy are waging a battle to be selected first — one that may last right up until the first round is selected on April 22. There is a chance that the Rams could opt for quarterback Sam Bradford with the No. 1 pick, but most scouts believe they can’t go wrong by picking Suh or McCoy.

Asked if Suh and McCoy were as good as advertised, Heckert simply smiled and said, "Yeah."

Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo will play a major role in deciding which player is drafted No. 1. But Spagnuolo wasn’t forthcoming on Saturday when asked to expound on differences between Suh and McCoy.

"They’re both great players," Spagnuolo said. "They’re going to be playing well in our league for a long time."

Here are the other defensive tackles who could be first round-worthy:

Price. His quickness off the ball and effectiveness against the run could make him the third defensive tackle selected, somewhere between picks 20 and 25.

Willliams. Another run-stuffer, he could go somewhere in the 20’s and make an immediate impact.

Cody. His weight loss makes him more appealing to teams that need to shore up their run defense.

"Cody fits the mold of a 3-4 nose tackle, a big run-stuffing guy," Heckert said. "If somebody needs a nose tackle, they’ll be looking at him. I was impressed he even played in the Senior Bowl. Some of those top guys don’t play in those games. But he did."

Odrick. He is confident his body of work at Penn State makes him ready for the NFL. Odrick thought about entering the 2009 draft but decided he needed another year in college.

"I’m a better player now," Odrick said. "I know more about the game and more about myself. It was a good decision to stay. Now I’m more ready for this entire process."

Odrick said he was looking forward to all of his interviews, along with his Monday workout. With so many defensive tackles hoping to be drafted in Round 1, Odrick believes the more scrutiny, the better.

"We’re here to show teams what we can do, but let’s face it, we’re competing," Odrick said. "It’s a deep position this year. Teams are going to be watching us closely." 

This story appears in Feb. 28’s edition of Sporting News Today. If you are not receiving Sporting News Today, the only daily digital sports newspaper, sign up today for free.

Clifton Brown covers the NFL for Sporting News. E-mail him at cliftonbrown@sportingnews.com.

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