Defensive Tackle, University Of Georgia
6'3", 313 pounds, 5.02/40
Sixth Overall Pick, First Round
Johnathan Sullivan entered the NFL Draft as an underclassman this past season. The collegiate teammate of current Saints starter Charles Grant, who was also an underclassman, Sullivan was a surprise pick as the sixth overall selection and the second defensive lineman and third defender overall.
A big, athletic defensive tackle with good balance and upper body strength, Sullivan has never been a consistent threat but like his teammate Grant, has very high upside. Obviously drafted this high because of his potential and not because of his past performance, Sullivan is built much in the same mold as current Saints starters Norman Hand and Grady Jackson. He came on strong in 2002 and took advantage of his good junior season by coming out early even though he was not a full time starter. Georgia rotates their defensive lineman considerably.
Not known as pass rusher, although he can collapse the pocket, but as an anchor against the run, Sullivan is not the most agile or speedy defensive tackle. Reacts well to both the run and pass. Shows good skills in pursuit. Still has impressive explosion in his first two steps and promising hand work.
At the combine, Sullivan weighed in at 6'3" 1/8, 313 pounds and ran a 4.96 40 yard dash. Jim Haslett was quick to point out his new big man's strength, which is highlighted by a 410-pound bench press, 500-pound squat, and a 325-pound power clean. Sullivan also highlights his athleticism with a 29" Vertical.
Off the field, Sullivan has no issues or problems and is a mature player despite leaving school one year early. While still a raw prospect in need of development, Sullivan has multiple moves and off-the-snap attacks. No immediate durability problems.
What we're hearing from scouts around the league:
"Kind of a soft-looking kid. Has high upside. Never has been consistent."
"Not a value pick at six. Inconsistent. Big, quick, ton of upside. No question that he has big-time ability."
"Sullivan will be effective as a 4-3 DT or 3-4 NT... wreaked havoc in the SEC this past season... his lateral quickness and pursuit down the line are impressive... makes good use of his hands against blockers and plays with leverage... faced and defeated a number of double teams... learned how to keep lead blockers off his legs... seems to prefer standing up offensive linemen, so to create "trash" at the point of attack, so he rarely spends any time on the ground..."
WWL and NOPF's Kenny Wilkerson reports that the Saints tried to trade up for Kentucky DT DeWayne Robertson, who was taken by the Jets who traded up with the Chicago Bears. Behind Robertson, Johnathan Sullivan was their top prospect.
Sullivan was selected by the Saints over Washington State CB Marcus Trufant and a host of other defensive tackle prospects, similarly rated, including Penn State DT Jimmy Kennedy, Oklahoma State DT Kevin Williams, Texas A&M DT Ty Warren and Miami DT William Joseph.