Usually wide-bodied players that weigh around 330 pounds are more run stuffers than pass rushers, but Hankins is both. He had a breakout sophomore season last year and firmly put his name on the NFL radar as a future top-10 overall pick with some more development.
Hankins, who grew up near Detroit as a Wolverines fan, did the unthinkable and picked the Buckeyes over Michigan out of high school and was one of Ohio State's top reserves as a true freshman in 2010.
He became a starter last season as a sophomore and flashed special ability, finishing with 67 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and three sacks, earning All-Big Ten honorable mention honors. Players his
size usually line up primarily at nose tackle, but Ohio State uses Hankins all over the line, both inside and on the edges.
Hankins has a naturally wide frame and carries his weight surprisingly well with quick feet and natural body control. Hankins does a nice job working in the gaps and splitting double-teams while still finding ways to be productive and collapse the pocket.
He does a nice job sniffing out plays with the change of direction skills and loose hips to quickly adjust his momentum. Listed at 335 pounds last season, Hankins has lost nearly 20 pounds and should be even more mobile as a junior with his relentless motor, but still needs to develop his technique and secondary moves. He is a smart, coachable football player with a good head on his shoulders, but has room to improve his read/react skills and has only one year of starting experience in college.
Hankins, who was best friends in high school with Michigan State star pass rusher William Gholston, will try and be the first Buckeyes defensive tackle taken in the top 10 since Dan "Big Daddy" Wilkinson, who was taken first overall in 1994. And if the first overall pick next April isn't a quarterback, it's a realistic possibility that Hankins' name could be called first in the 2013 NFL Draft -- if he declares early, that is.
Rarely does a player come along who so thoroughly dominates his competition that, despite posting only average statistics and playing in a relatively small media market he generates buzz across the entire nation. That is precisely what 6-3, 318-pound defensive tackle Star Lotulelei accomplished this past season for Utah.
Recognized by Pac-12 offensive linemen as the best defensive lineman in the conference with the Morris Trophy, Lotulelei posted 44 tackles, nine tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks despite facing consistent double- and even occasional triple-team blocks in 2011.
With an awesome combination of quickness and power, Lotulelei made more plays than his statistics would indicate as he frequently blew up plays in the middle in which the ballcarrier (whether the quarterback or running back) was forced to abandon the original design of the play, run from the fearsome monster in the middle and right into the arms of another Ute defender.
Blessed with long arms, quick feet and a high-revving motor, Lotulelei has all of the physical traits to warrant early first-round consideration. Scouts on the road last season told me they saw a physical skill set that brought back memories of an unpolished but dominant Haloti Ngata, who played his college ball at Oregon before developing into an All-Pro defensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens.
For his high preseason grade to become reality, however, Lotulelei needs to prove that his 2011 campaign was no fluke -- a legitimate concern considering Lotulelei entered last season having only emerged as a starter in the final three games of 2010 (21 tackles, three tackles for loss, one sack).