February 28, 2012

From the film room: Taco Charlton

With three 2013 recruits from the Columbus area, Michigan continues to prove there is no fence around Ohio. One of those prospects, four-star defensive end Taco Charlton, is the kind of talent that can impact for years to come ...

Our anonymous evaluator was an All-Big Ten first-team performer at Michigan during his career.

Strengths: Charlton uses his 6-6 length to shed blockers and create difficult downfield vision for quarterbacks. He uses his hands to defend blocks, and, at the same time, keeps his eyes on the backfield to read the ball action.

He does a great job of bursting up field at the snap. That burst closes the perimeter attack of the offense, forcing the ball either too wide or inside where his teammates are ready to tackle. There is no hesitancy in his game - he plays fast and pursues the ball with his impressive speed. He closes strong to the ball and shows great effort to chase the ball down from the backside.

Areas of Improvement: Charlton will need to improve his hand technique to progress into the elite player he is capable of becoming. At times, his hands are too wide on blockers, which exposes his chest for opposing linemen. He gets away with it because he is so big and strong. Good blockers at the next level will attack his chest with a split-second opening. If a lineman gets into his chest, he'll be in trouble.

Charlton will have to get more violent with his hands to protect himself against blocks. He will also learn to get his head in front of ball carriers and drive his legs through the tackle.

College Projection: Defensive End

Michigan Player Comparison - Shawn Crable (OLB 2004-07): Charlton projects to play defensive end with added weight and strength. Crable was a physical presence for the Michigan defense in the mid 2000s and was a second-round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft.

The Bottom Line: Charlton has great growth potential to go along with his already impressive skills. His 6-6 frame will carry another 25 or more pounds without losing his great upfield burst or closing speed.

This young man has the length to make offensive linemen lose sleep trying to plan on how to block him. His length, combined with his speed, will make offenses take notice of where he is lined up at all times.

Charlton is another indicator of the Michigan staff building size on the defense but not at the cost of speed. The Michigan defense will continue to transform into the NFL blueprint, and players like Charlton will be fun to watch wreak havoc on the Big Ten in the years to come.

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