+Phenomenal range for his size
+Gets excellent leverage
+Penetrates with purpose
+Can draw holdings
+Uses his hands very well
-Strength is average relative to size
-Instincts are above average, but not great
-Solid but unspectacular against the pass
-Struggles to beat double teams
-Will get called for offsides
Ohio State defensive tackle/defensive end Johnathan Hankins is absolutely incredible. This may sound crazy, but I have him pegged as the best prospect of next years draft. Honestly, I think that, ignoring positional value (quarterbacks are obviously more important than defensive tackles), Hankins is the second best prospect I have ever seen (behind Suh) in my 4 years of scouting. He brings so many things to the table that will allow him to dominate in the NFL.
Hankins has solid measurables. He has above average height at 6’3, exceptional bulk at 335lbs, but mediocre speed according to his 5.32 30 yard dash. He looks to be much faster on film, though, and he appears to have more short area quickness than long speed, which is probably more important for defensive tackles anyway.
Hankins has unbelievable stats. I can’t emphasize this enough; most defensive tackles above 320lbs have terrible stats, simply because, when a guy is that big, it’s tough for him to stand up for 20 second without needing some oxygen. As a result, bulky defensive tackles and nose tackles must be subbed out constantly because of their mediocre stamina. If they aren’t subbed out, they get tired (effort question for Dontari Poe were unfair last year; he was overused and exhausted), and their play suffers. I mean, Terrence Cody was only on the field for 42% of Alabama’s plays for his senior season as a result of his poor stamina. As a result, he had poor stats (28 tackles his senior season). However, Hankins is an exception to the notion that big defensive tackles have poor stamina (stamina separates Hankins from Lotulelei), and he was on the field for 90% (that’s an estimation from 4 games of film) of Ohio State’s defensive plays last year, and his stamina is clearly terrific. As a result, he put up amazing stats for a big defensive tackle. In 2011, he got 67 tackles, 11 TFL’s, and 3 sacks. To put those numbers into context? Only one other defensive tackle over 320lbs got over 50 tackles last season (Sylvester Williams with 54), and no one else got more than 45 (super sleeper Louis Nix III, a draft eligible redshirt sophomore, got 45, and Lotulelei got 44). Regardless, 67 tackles from a guy is big as Hankins is completely unheard of, and his stats are absolutely terrific.
Hankins is excellent against the run. He has unbelievable range (half the time he lines up at defensive end) relative to his size, he has excellent strength, he really understands how to get good leverage, he has solid albeit not perfect instincts, he has an unbelievable motor, and he is an excellent tackler. His long arms and excellent strength (admittedly, his strength is average for a guy who is 330lbs) allow him to make terrific tackles in traffic, and he also uses ideal tackling fundamentals, plus his loose hips make it tough for him to be juked out. He also does an excellent job of disengaging from blocks, and his terrific range gives him the potential for 3-4 end in the NFL.
Hankins is a pretty good pass rusher relative to his size. Remember, at Ohio State, he lines up at defensive end on about 50% of all plays. The bull rush almost never works as a way to create pressure against offensive tackles, and, as big as he is, he isn’t athletic enough for the speed rush to be a viable option for him. So what does he do? Rely on his hand usage. Rely on pass rush moves. Honestly, it’s the only thing he can do, and it works pretty well for him, thanks to his long arms relative to his size, his terrific strength, and the quickness he has with his arms. He tries not to be one dimensional either; he knows that, if he relies on pass rush moves too often, offensive linemen will notice the tendency and try to make sure they are ready for his hands. As a result, when he sees an offensive lineman playing high (usually advised against by coaches, but sometimes the best way to prevent a pass rush move), he tries to stay low, get good leverage, and, if nothing else, collapse the pocket and trap the quarterback. He also has pretty good quickness off the ball (likes to try to jump the snap, which more often than not results in getting good, immediate leverage against linemen, but also will result in the occasional offsides). For a guy as big as he is, Hankins is a great pass rusher.
I have no reason to believe Hankins’s character is anything less than perfect. If he as ever been in trouble with the law, I don’t know about it. He plays with unbelievable on field intensity as well. He never gives up on a play. I’ve seen him tackle guys who are 15 yards past the line of scrimmage (I think it was the Nebraska game). For a guy as big as he is to put up the effort to try and tackle guys way behind him is something pretty fun to watch. He never gives up on a play, and he plays with ideal on field intensity.
As for what position I believe he should play, I honestly think 3-4 end. His range is absolutely incredible, and he has also been very successful when he lines up at end for Ohio State (again, he plays as much end as defensive tackle). He has mediocre strength but amazing athleticism relative to his size, another reason for him to play end. And he has unbelievable stamina, and he is willing to run across the field or even downfield to make tackles, and the combination of range, stamina, and effort that Hankins brings to the table could make him something special at 3-4 end.
Ultimately, I love Hankins. I think he is loaded with potential, and I can’t help but love his incredible combination of size and stamina. He should be excellent in the NFL.
NFL comparison: Not easy. He is 330lbs and he profiles as a defensive end. Not many guys fit that description. But, I’ll say Dontari Poe, with much longer arms, much more stamina, and better instincts. I’ve always wondered what Poe could do at end.
Grade: 100 (worthy of the number 1 pick)
Projection: 98 (will be a top 6 pick)