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NFL Draft ’14: A closer look at Arizona State DT Will Sutton

One of the things that happens every once in a while for NFL prospects is they don’t strike while the iron is hot and convince themselves that they should go back to school.

It doesn’t happen a lot — most players sense the money and the short shelf life of an NFL player and make the jump, but it happened this year for one Valley product.

Arizona State’s Will Sutton was a hot name in January of 2013. Many thought he should pull the trigger and head to the NFL, as he was one of the most dominant interior defensive linemen in college football in 2012.

Sutton’s decision to head back to ASU may have done a lot to negatively impact his draft stock. There was talk of Sutton being a possible day-one pick if he declared but that was before the draft process. Instead, he returned to Tempe for his senior season and struggled from a statistical standpoint in 2013.

What does Sutton bring to the table?

Where could he end up?


• Strong, heavy, active hands that keep defenders off his body when he is winning.

• Excellent snap anticipation and ability to get off the line. Uses quick second step and strong hands to penetrate.

• Plays small, in a good way, where he keeps a low center of gravity, keeps his pads low and his chest small so offensive players have a hard time getting him in his chest.

• Wins one-on-one battles with good balance and the ability to push guards into backfield and collapse pocket.

• Does a good job of using his quick step to slip through the middle when facing double-teams.

• Devastating pass rusher his junior year when he played at a lighter weight and seemed to be more explosive, while still possessing a strong body throughout.

• Willing to gain weight at the recommendation of his coaches. Shows willingness to be a team player.

• Nose for the ball and makes plays when he gets into the backfield, doesn’t act as just a disrupter.


• Small for an NFL defensive tackle at only 6’0″.

• Short arms hurt his ability to disengage. If he doesn’t win early, he struggles to get off a block and make a play.

• Still too big. Needs to get back down to his junior year playing weight to be impactful.

• Does not show an explosive first step off the line, instead replies on anticipating the snap.

• Over-aggressiveness in trying to penetrate can take him out of plays.

• Can get engulfed on short yardage plays if he doesn’t anticipate well.


After a dominant 2012, the sky seemed to be the limit for Sutton in his senior season. But at the request of the ASU coaching staff, he played nearly 40 pounds heavier in 2013, and it showed.

If a team feels they can get the 2012 Sutton, he will be an absolute steal on day two or day three if teams are that concerned about his size.

Sutton shows the ability to be the ideal three-technique defensive tackle in a 4-3 defense, so teams like Dallas, Minnesota, Tampa Bay and the New York Giants may be interested in his services on day two.

For 3-4 teams, it depends on what they thought of his ability to play at a higher weight and if he can find a consistency in his work in attacking one gap, or if they think he was good enough holding up at the point of attack.