Taco Charlton Film Review
Standing at 6-foot-6, 270 pounds, Taco Charlton has the build and athletic profile that Steve Spagnuolo has shown to covet with a long, slender, muscular build. He has the tools to be a good starting defensive end in the NFL, but he will have to show consistency and attitude if he wants to achieve his true potential.
Charlton frequently uses a chop/rip move to win around the edge. He lacks the explosiveness to burst off the line of scrimmage to gain an advantage on offensive tackles. To make up for that lack of upfield burst, the defender has to utilize other assets. Charlton relies on his hands, fighting to gain him enough leverage on tackles to win.
While Charlton has flashed flexibility to turn corners for a faster way to the quarterback, using his chop/rip move, he creates that ability to turn that corner since he cannot win by beating offensive tackles to their pass sets with an upfield burst.
While the play above is against a tight end, Charlton shows the ability to use his hands to set up his angle and shorten his path to the quarterback. His favorite counter is likely his spin move, which is quite impressive and will get him in the quarterback’s face on multiple occasions. However, he tends to utilize his spin move in spurts instead of changing it up each down, making it predictable after the first time.
Consistency will have to improve for Charlton to see playing time in Kansas City. While he does a good job of utilizing his hands and excellent length, there’s a lack of counters beyond the chop/rip and spin move. Developing more pass rush counters and coming to the line of scrimmage with a different plan each play, he will see limited success.
Too often, when watching Charlton, you will see him trying to clear the hands of the tackle only to be pushed beyond the pocket if his initial move doesn’t win. Without the burst to help win the edge, he has to bring more to the table here.
Players that are limited in their counters will have to be appropriately utilized and sometimes schemed to win their assignments. When you hear about Spagnuolo and defensive line coach Brendan Daly, you likely hear about not only aggressiveness but stunts/twists. Charlton showed in Miami that he has the flexibility and understanding of how to execute stunts, both as the crashing defender or the one looping around to another gap.
When it comes to defending the run, Charlton does a good job of utilizing his length and hands. Coming out of Michigan, he didn’t look comfortable against the run, which shows that he has developed in this area. Not only has he figured out how to set the edge properly, but he has also learned how to leverage himself to make a play on the ball carrier.
In the clip above, Charlton quickly identifies that the guard is pulling to his side. Charlton gets low as he embraces contact with the guard while keeping a half-man relationship. What that does is it keeps his outside arm clean from the guard, allowing him to make a play on the ball carrier. It doesn’t allow the guard to square him up and occupy both of his arms, not allowing him to shed.
Charlton’s ability to quickly identify blocking schemes allows him to disrupt the run game even when he’s not making the tackle. Using his length, he does an excellent job of keeping his chest clean from blockers allowing him to shed and chase the ball carrier. Finding the ball carrier in the backfield with an understanding of where they are trying to go while keeping blockers at bay allows him to alter the path of the run into other defenders as well.
Length is once again a significant factor for Charlton in this play. Tyrod Taylor is reading Charlton on this play to decide whether to hand the ball off or take it himself. Taylor holds onto the ball as Charlton commits to the running back, but Charlton’s length allows him to recover and tackle Taylor for minimal gain quickly.
Length is Charlton’s best friend, but it can be a weakness as well. Standing at 6’6″, it’s harder for him to get lower than his opponent at times. Offensive tackles can take advantage of this at times if they have the lower body strength with the ability to stand him upright and push him off of his spot.