The Buffalo Bills’ defense was inconsistent throughout the 2015 season as they transitioned to Rex Ryan’s hybrid 3-4 defensive scheme. Some players throughout the front seven that were productive in Mike Pettine and Jim Schwartz’ defensive schemes that were based on 4-3 concepts weren’t able to replicate that success in their new roles. So, going into the offseason and most notably the 2016 NFL Draft, it’s likely that the team will look to acquire defenders that fit the archetypes for the positions needed for Ryan’s system to thrive. Today, we’ll take a look at Oklahoma defensive lineman Charles Tapper.
Charles Tapper only began playing football during his junior year of High School, but found himself as a four-star recruit before committing to the University of Oklahoma. After seeing limited action in his true freshman season, Tapper burst onto the scene as a sophomore, recording 49 tackles, nine tackles for loss, five sacks and a pass breakup while being named All Big-12.
Instead of being able to build upon his strong sophomore campaign, the Sooners switched Charles Tapper from a traditional defensive end to an interior defensive lineman, primarily line up over the offensive tackle as a five technique, where he was asked to be a two-gap defender.
In this new role that asked him to hold his ground and take on double teams rather than get after the quarterback, he finished the 2014 season with just 37 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, two pass breakups and a forced fumble. In 2015, Tapper had a better grasp on his role as a facilitator rather than a playmaker, but he’d slide back out to the edge on third downs or in obvious pass situations.
In his senior year, Charles Tapper recorded 50 tackles, 10 for a loss, seven sacks, three pass breakups and four forced fumbles. According to ProFootballFocus, Tapper generated 35 total quarterback pressures last year on 386 pass rushing snaps. 258 of those snaps were as an interior defensive lineman where he recorded 17 hurries, 1 QB hit and 5 sacks, while 113 snaps were as an edge rusher, where he tallied 10 hurries and two sacks. According to RealSportsNetwork, Tapper also recorded 29 run disruptions.
Charles Tapper Size/ Physical Attributes
At the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine, Charles Tapper measured in at 6’3” and 271 pounds with ridiculously long 34 3/8” arms and huge 11 1/2” hands. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.59 seconds, the fastest among all defensive linemen with a 9’11” broad jump and a 34” vertical leap.
His size will cause teams to question his ideal scheme fit, as he’s a little light to play the five-technique defensive end in a 3-4 front, but too big to play as an outside linebacker. In a 4-3 he’d likely be limited to the left, or strong-side defensive end position.
However, Tapper’s long arms, core strength and athletic ability should allow him to find early success in either scheme even as a situational rusher.
Charles Tapper Run Support
Against the run, Charles Tapper is a dominant force. He does a fantastic job exploding out of his stance and quickly extending his arms into the pads of an offensive lineman, showing the strength to work down the line of scrimmage and clog running lanes without surrendering ground.
He’s extremely powerful, which the following play against Iowa State shows. Charles Tapper is lined up as a five technique over the left tackle. Running an outside stretch/zone play towards him, Tapper walks the lineman backwards, blowing up the play and allowing his teammates to swarm to the ball-carrier.
Tapper shows good awareness of the ball and will know when to rip and shed his block, using his heavy hands to disengage and bring down a running back.
As a two-gap defender, Charles Tapper will use his sheer power and strength to work with his linebackers, physically moving his man out of the way so his teammates can fill a gap, as this play against Kansas shows.
Charles Tapper Pass Rushing
Charles Tapper wasn’t asked to rush the quarterback very often and would really only line up outside of the tackle on third downs, but he showed the ability to generate pressure and push the pocket from the interior. Despite being undersized for an interior defensive line position, Tapper used technique, leverage, power and an unrelenting motor to make plays in the passing game.
Here against Kansas, Tapper is in between the left guard and left tackle at the three-technique. At the snap he sets up the guard before using a lethal spin move to beat him across the face. Without stopping any momentum, Tapper runs right to the quarterback for a sack.
In the same game, Tapper uses the inside spin move again—this time against the left tackle—recording another sack.
On third downs when Tapper was kicked outside to defensive end, he was a handful, possessing great length, burst, power, the ability to bend the corner and convert speed to power. Here against Iowa State, it’s 3rd-and-14 and Charles Tapper is lined up outside of the tackle. At the snap, Tapper gets upfield with a good burst before turning inside and bullrushing the left tackle into the quarterback, leaping over him to make the sack.
Potential Fit With Buffalo Bills
Charles Tapper met with the Buffalo Bills at the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine and they reportedly told him they want him to play as a five-technique. Tapper isn’t close to a finished product and will really need to put on some weight if he’s going to be a full-time five-technique, but he’s athletic and strong enough to do a lot of different things within the defense. He can play inside and out, and he’s got the speed and fluidity to play in coverage. He has a high motor and if there’s any doubt that he’ll play through the whistle, watch him chase down Amari Cooper 55-yards downfield and bring him down before he can score a touchdown.