2017 NFL Draft Scouting Report
Prospect:  Taco Charlton


School:          Michigan
Ht:  6'6"       Wt:  272
Eligibility:      Sr
Uniform:       #33
Position:      DE

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There are two sides to evaluating Charlton. On one side, there is an outstanding amount of potential that he took a big step to fulfilling as a senior. On the other side, there is an extreme amount of risk involving the lack of production in the beginning of his career. His combination of size and athleticism often generates a lot of buzz coming into college, but it took a while for Charlton to show up as the player many thought he could be in Ann Arbor. He also has a lot of room to continue to grow if he is going to be the kind of player scouts think he can be now. Still, with the right coaching and drive, he can be a special player.

The first thing to know about Charlton is he looks the part. He stands 6'6" at nearly 270 pounds. He also has an extremely wide wingspan and exceptional athleticism for a guy his size. The combination of these features makes him intriguing enough, but from there, he is defined by inconsistency. First, let's start with the beginning of the play. He is one of the least consistent players I have evaluated this year at getting a good jump off the snap. When he does, he has the quickness to beat tackles on the edge or get inside them before they can get their hands on him. There are just too many snaps where he doesn't explode off the line of scrimmage or is the last one to react. Cleaning that up will be the first step to making him a more consistent player.

He also doesn't make good enough use of his long arms. Against the run, he is more consistent than against the pass. When he reads run, he regularly shows a strong punch stopping the lineman's momentum. Still, his hand placement isn't always great, and he doesn't show violent or active-enough hands to separate quickly which would help him get ahold of ball carriers more often. He does, however, give good effort in pursuit once free. Against the pass, he uses his reach far less often. He doesn't regularly locate the blocker's hands, and it's even less likely to see him use his long arms to keep those hands off him. Doing both should come naturally for a player with long arms. That reach makes you more capable of winning with your hands than your opponent. That just isn't always the case with Charlton, and even if it were, the lack of violent and active hands has left me wondering if he is even capable of showing a decent swim or rip maneuver. The only pass rush technique I have seen him display efficiently is a spin move which is usually the least likely trick found in a collegiate pass rusher's arsenal. Understandably, that move is more about footwork and change-of-direction skills than handwork which would explain why Charlton is so comfortable with it. Needless to say, he is going to have to make use of his arm length if he is going to become a more advanced pass rusher. Also, he doesn't appear to have the torso flexibility to get low and turn the corner like some of the best speed-rushers in the country making it all the more vital to make the most of the gifts he does have.

Besides those issues with his technique, and possibly some added strength to his lower half, there isn't much to pick on physically. The other areas he can improve are on the mental side of the game. I don't see great awareness from him on the field. Too many times he doesn't see or react to the ball carrier until they are already past him. I also have not seen him sniff out a screen or read a quick throw and get his hands on a pass. Part of this could be the fact that he only had a handful of starts prior to his senior year, but it is still something to worry about. In the NFL, everything is faster, and football instincts and awareness are crucial to success. There is also plenty of evidence of him playing undisciplined. He has gotten caught biting on the running back when the quarterback is his responsibility on read-options. I also occasionally see him lose his gap responsibility when he does see a play. There are times when he is the victim of a pulling blocker looking to kick him out. In those situations, it is important to take on the block and force either the play back inside or a race to the sideline between himself and the ball carrier. I have seen him flat out run himself out of the play in scenarios like that which essentially does the blocker's job for him. A lot of this may get better with experience, but that is no guarantee.

It is important to remember that in most of the areas I said he could improve, there is evidence that he can do the job. The issues aren't that he is incapable but that he is inconsistent. Part of me thinks that if he had another year or two of eligibility he could truly make himself a top 10 pick. That is also what worries me. Why were his first three years so uneventful? Even if coaching was part of the issue, there are some qualities that are achieved by a player's drive and effort. That is something that will need to be addressed in his interviews. Is this a player that loves this game? Does he want to be the best? Does he have the work ethic to succeed based on more than just his natural gifts? All of these questions need to be investigated because the truth is the lack of production in his first three years followed by a senior campaign that has put him in the first-round conversation is puzzling. The coaching that can make him a better player will be available but putting in the time in the film room, or the effort on the practice field can't be coached. It will be the duty of every team to find out if Charlton wants this. If so, he could hear his name being called in the first round. Still, the amount of risk associated with selecting him could see more consistent pass rushers (in a class full of them) push him down the board.

Compares to (Current NFL Player): Carlos Dunlap (Cincinnati Bengals)

- Terrific size for the position
- Extremely long arms
- Good character off the field
- Show flashes of brilliance/Took a big step as a senior
- Uses a very effective spin move
- Versatile enough to rush from anywhere

- Little-to-no production prior to his senior year without much production or talent ahead of him on the depth chart in that time frame
- Seems to be a lack of awareness/football IQ on the field
- Very raw technique/often negates his physical gifts
- Doesn't have that top gear to consistently win with speed

Austin Smith
January 15, 2017

1)   Michigan Football: Taco Charlton could be Wolverines Top NFL Draft Pick   - GBMWolverine.com
2)   Seidel: Now healthy, Michigan DE Taco Charlton's stock 'soaring'   - Detroit Free Press
3)   UM's Taco Charlton: 'I love tacos all the time'   - Detroit News
4)   Taco Charlton Twitter
5)   Taco Charlton Instagram

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