"Will Sutton"

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Will Sutton – Arizona State University

Height: 6010

Weight: 288

Age when drafted: 23

Hometown: Corona, CA

Position: DT

Collegiate Number: 90

Combine notables: N/A

Games Viewed: 2012 – Missouri, Navy, Colorado, USC, Oregon State, Arizona 2011 – Oregon


Will Sutton played his high school football at Centennial High School in Corona, California. He chose ASU over Arizona, Washington, Boise State, Nebraska, and a host of other schools.

Sutton made an immediate impact as a freshman in 2009, appearing in all 12 games and making 2 starts. He finished his freshman season with 17 tackles, 3 TFL, a sack, and a forced fumble.

Sutton’s sophomore campaign would be over before it started due to academic issues. Sutton came back in 2011 in great shape and it showed on the field. The sophomore would tally 33 tackles, 5.5 TFL, and 2.5 sacks in 12 starts. Sutton’s burst and explosion were off the charts in 2011 and set the tone for a phenomenal junior season in 2012.

Sutton burst onto the national scene and NFL Draft radar after finishing his junior season with 63 tackles, 23.5 TFL, and 13 sacks. He would earn Consensus All American honors to go with Pac-12 Defensive Player of Year honors.

Many expected Sutton to bolt for the NFL but he opted to remain at ASU for his senior season.

Sutton is the son of Mickey Sutton, who played five NFL seasons at defensive back and punt returner.


The biggest knock on Sutton will be his size. At 6-foot-1 (some have speculated he’s shorter than that) and a listed 288 pounds – teams will have concerns about playing Sutton on the interior at the next level. Sutton has played at just over 260 pounds in the past which will be a major cause for concern with his transition to the NFL.

As an athlete, you won’t find any better than Sutton. Sutton has an explosive burst that is rare for his size. Sutton’s functional strength is much better than advertised with the ability to convert his burst to power.


The only thing more impressive than Will Sutton’s eye popping numbers in 2012 was the way he went about getting them. We tend to get lost in statistics – losing focus of what really matters – how they go about producing those numbers.

Sutton’s game is contingent on his ability to shoot gaps with his explosiveness. Most of the time when we think of explosion we relate it to first step quickness – but I didn’t see that in Sutton’s game. His first step is used to read which gap he will shoot. He continually won with his ability to use leverage and a sensational arm over technique to beat the blocker.

Sutton’s power is evident in his ability to lock out and diagnose the play. His short stature is a positive when it comes to his ability to get under the pads of the blocker, lock out and read the action of the play. From there, Sutton’s speed and motor take over. He made countless plays with his ability to chase down the line. Most impressive is Sutton’s ability to diagnose the play – reminiscent of a middle linebacker. Teams tried to take advantage of ASU’s aggressive, attacking style by throwing screens all over the field. Sutton, at times singlehandedly, blew up plays by reading the play and using his speed to track down the back or receiver in the screen game.

From a technique standpoint, Sutton appears to be NFL ready. He’s violent with his hands and rarely allows blockers to his body. Sutton’s ability to protect his chest plate is that of an NFL veteran and will be a major asset at the next level. As we discussed, Sutton’s pad level and low center of gravity make him tough to block, especially when he was lined up at end with taller tackles.


It goes without saying that Sutton will have to add quality weight and bulk to his frame. Ideally, he would jump up into the 295-300 pound range without losing his quickness/explosion.

Outside of his frame, Sutton gets beat by getting walled off and penetrating too far up the field on run plays, creating giant creases in the defense. Sutton’s upfield penetration often allows him to get walled off by blockers.

As good as Sutton is with his hands, he doesn’t have a wide array of pass rush moves. Outside of his arm over technique he won with his combination of explosion and power. Adding an additional pass move(s) would go a long way in helping him in the eyes of NFL talent evaluators.

There aren’t a lot of negatives in Sutton’s game but he can’t afford many due to concerns with size and position at the next level. It’s imperative that Sutton dominate games in 2013 (as he did in 2012).


Lost entire 2010 season due to being academically ineligible but appears to be on the right track, both academically and in terms of maturity. He’s a guy that looks like he loves playing football and his energy on the field is infectious.


Will Sutton would have been in the talks with the top defensive tackles in the 2013 crop had he declared. Sutton’s decision to stay put at ASU for his senior season should help him, as he has another year to add weight and add to his already impressive numbers.

The obvious comparison will be Geno Atkins, who dropped to the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft due to size concerns. Atkins checked in at 6’1”, 293 pounds at the Combine but posted unreal results (4.75 40, 33” vertical, 34 bench reps, 4.43 short shuttle, 7.33 3-cone). Atkins success will have teams wondering if they can get similar results out of Sutton.

The reality is that Sutton can’t be pegged to a position in the NFL. He could play the 3T or base end in a four-man front or 5T in a three-man front. I think his best opportunity is a blend of all three in multiple fronts. He’s a guy that a defensive coordinator will have to move around to get the most out of.

There’s little doubt that Sutton has first-round ability and upside but concerns with where he’ll play may drop him into day two of the draft. Ideally, Sutton can add weight and still produce. The pre-draft process will be integral to Sutton’s draft stock as he’ll have the opportunity to flash his best qualities and gain some serious momentum heading into the draft.

VIDEO LINKS:  Missouri, Navy, Colorado, USC, Oregon State, Arizona

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  • Ben Peterson

    I want him on my Seahawks.