Trading any amount of loyalty he may have had for Ohio State, Taco Charlton, a native to Pickerington, Ohio, opted to leave his home state to suit up for the Michigan Wolverines in Ann Arbor.
Despite growing up just 15 minutes away from the Horseshoe, Charlton didn’t receive an offer from Ohio State as a consensus four-star recruit in 2013, pushing him to commit to the Wolverines. Though some of his family still struggled to support Michigan when the team squared off against Ohio State, he still managed to have a great deal of success in Michigan Blue.
In 46 career games (15 starts) with the Wolverines, Charlton amassed 91 combined tackles (56 solo), 28 tackles for loss, 19 sacks and one forced fumble. He recorded his best season during his senior campaign in 2016, posting career highs in tackles (40), tackles for loss (13.5) and sacks (10) en route to first team All-Big Ten honors (coaches, media).
At 6-foot-6, 277 pounds, Charlton possesses the rare combination of size and athleticism all NFL scouts drool over in a defensive end. Tack on his 34-inch arms, and he completes the mold of an ideal prospect at the position.
A player of Charlton’s stature isn’t expected to explode off the snap and beat opposing offensive linemen with his speed and quickness, but he flashed such potential early and often in his final season in Ann Arbor. He can effectively turn his speed to power when engaging offensive tackles along the edge en route to the quarterback, which bodes well for his ability to disrupt the pocket and force arrant throws.
Charlton’s desirable length is best seen in action when he anchors the edge of the Wolverines’ defense against the run. He will quickly create separation with an early punch press and lockout to start the play before ripping his opposition to the side in response to the direction of the play. He also has the speed and acceleration to beat running backs to edge on outside runs.
Now, if Charlton flashed his premier talents on every down, he would be considered a top-five selection in the 2017 NFL draft. However, he has yet to play with such consistency.
In order to reach his maximum potential, Charlton must develop a much more committed approach to football at the next level, both on and off the field.
To best utilize his length, Charlton will need to refine his technique and hand usage with NFL coaching to better play both the run and the pass. He relied on his size and speed too often with the Wolverines, a strategy that won’t see much success against better competition on Sundays.
Additionally, Charlton must commit to both the weight and film rooms. He should look to add weight to his lean frame to help him anchor the edge of a defense against some of the bigger road graders at the next level. And, he will more often be in the right place at the right time if he develops a much more intelligent, cerebral approach to the game.
Projected to go in either the first or second round, Charlton will push an NFL team to sign his name to their draft card earlier than expected because of his limitless potential. However, he won’t continue to rise up the ranks unless he commits to improving his technical flaws and learning from his coaches at the next level.