The Pittsburgh Steelers second of two sixth round picks in the 2014 NFL Draft has been made and it’s Tennessee DT Daniel McCullers.
Scouting report via Dave Te’ Thomas.
University of Tennessee Volunteers
Raleigh, North Carolina
Georgia Military College
Southeast Raleigh High School
Nicknamed “Shade Tree,” McCullers transferred to Tennessee after two seasons at Georgia Military College, where he weighed nearly 400 pounds before arriving in Knoxville in 2012. Orders from the Tennessee staff saw the youngster “slim” down to 377 pounds before he played in his first game for the Volunteers. He would go on to start nineteen contests over the next two seasons, giving the team an imposing figure for the battles in the trenches.
Do not be fooled by his mountain-like size – McCullers has impressive change of direction agility and lateral range, along with an incredibly long reach (87-inch wing-span and 36 5/8-inch arm length) along with an efficient set of moves and techniques that allows him to consistently plug rush lanes.
McCullers is surprisingly nimble for as big as he is, and could be a nice fit for a team that is in search for a space-eating nose guard that is capable of pushing a center and guard straight backwards. He’s not going to have the quickness to make a lot of plays running long distances, but he makes it tough for defenses to go up the middle.
The Volunteers defender is also relatively effective in the passing game because of his good straight ahead push and long arms allow him to clog passing lanes up the middle. In two seasons at Tennessee, he delivered 72 tackles with ten of those stops coming behind the line of scrimmage. He also excelled on special teams, using his reach to block a pair of kicks.
At Southeast Raleigh Magnet High School, McCullers recorded 55 tackles and four sacks during his junior year in 2008, earning All-Conference honors. He followed with 29 tackles and five sacks during his senior year, in which he helped the team compile a 10-3 record and earn all-state second-team honors in the process.
Lacking the grades to enroll at a Division I school, McCullers enrolled at Georgia Military College for his freshman and sophomore seasons. He appeared in eight games in 2010, starting four contests after getting himself in playing shape. He posted 27 tackles with three sacks and made seven total stops behind the line of scrimmage.
As a sophomore, McCullers received a three-star prospect ranking from Scout.com. Rivals.com regarded him as the sixth-best junior college player in the nation and accorded him four-star status. That season, he started all ten contests, delivering 37 tackles, including nine stops for loss that included a pair of sacks, leading a defense that held opponents to just 261 yards per game.
McCullers committed to Tennessee in January 2012, in part because the team was transitioning to a 3-4 defensive alignment, with which McCullers was more familiar. He finished his junior campaign with 39 tackles (20 solos), including a sack and 5.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage, to go along with a forced fumble and a pass broken-up.
After Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley was fired late in the 2012 season, there was speculation that McCullers would forego his final year of eligibility and enter the NFL Draft. He decided to return for the 2013 campaign, however, even though the Vols’ new head coach, Butch Jones, was planning to install a 4-3 defense. Recognizing the importance of McCullers making a successful transition to the new scheme, Jones stated prior to the 2013 season, “We’ll be as good as Dan McCullers goes.”
McCullers started all twelve games at left defensive tackle in 2013. He recorded 33 tackles, including 4.5 stops-for-loss and a blocked kick. He received frequent attention for his enormous size from opposing blockers, but proved to be nearly impossible to block once he got into the rush lanes.
McCullers was also the subject of a USA Today feature in September 2012 that cited his massive size. The photograph shows McCullers towering over a University of Tennessee trainer and was a huge hit that was widely circulated on the web. Over the years, he has acquired numerous nicknames, such as “Mount McCullers,” “Big Dan,” “Green Mile,”—after Michael Clarke Duncan’s role in the 1999 film The Green Mile— and “Man Mountain.”
Front-and-center for the NFL decision makers to witness themselves, McCullers capped his college career by impressing all during his performances in practices leading up to the 2014 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. He consistently bullied opponents with his power, slipping past blockers with a strong rip move during the one-on-one drills.
For his complete college career, McCullers recorded 136 tackles (88 solos) with 6.5 sacks for minus 21 yards, 26.0 stops for losses of 52 yards and six quarterback pressures… Added two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, two pass deflections and a pair of blocked kicks…Tennessee Career Statistics…McCullers started 19-of-22 games for the Volunteers – seven at nose guard and twelve at left defensive tackle…Finished with 72 tackles (41 solos) that included 1.5 sacks, ten stops behind the line of scrimmage, six QB pressures, a fumble recovery, one forced fumble, two pass break-ups and two blocked kicks…Georgia Military College Statistics…During his first two seasons, McCullers started 14-of-18 games at nose guard, delivering 64 tackles (47 solos), five sacks for minus 19 yards, sixteen stops for losses of 37 yards and a forced fumble.
McCullers received All-Southeastern Conference third-team honors from The NFL Draft Report…Shifted to left defensive tackle, starting all twelve games, responding well to the new coaching staff, as he posted 33 tackles (21 solos), assisting on a sack while making 4.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage…Credited with four quarterback pressures…Also recovered a fumble, deflected a pass and blocked one kick…Collected six tackles that included a career-high 2.5 stops-for-loss in an upset win over South Carolina…Had a key fourth-down pressure and three tackles at Oregon…Recovered a fumble at Florida and was in on six tackles (3 solos) and a pressure vs. South Alabama…Both of his tackles vs. Georgia came behind the line of scrimmage…Posted two third-down pressures, batted down a goal-line pass and produced four tackles at Alabama…Blocked a kick vs. Auburn, followed by a four-tackle performance vs. Vanderbilt…Played the season at 351 pounds.
McCullers started seven of the twelve games he appeared in, lining up at nose guard as a 377-pound junior…Finished ninth on the team with a career-high 39 tackles (20 solos) that included one sack, 5.5 stops for minus seven yards, two quarterback pressures and a forced fumble…Also blocked a kick and deflected a pass…Started the season with just four tackles in his first four appearances, but posted 35 tackles when he was inserted into the starting lineup…His first sack as a Volunteer came in the season finale vs. Kentucky…
Posted six tackles, including 1.5 behind the line of scrimmage, where he forced a fumble vs. Missouri…Equaled his season-high with eight tackles along with a stop-for-loss at South Carolina…Had three tackles vs. Alabama and four stops with a QB hurry at Mississippi State…His best game in 2012 saw McCullers register eight tackles and a stop behind the line of scrimmage while also blocking an extra point try at Georgia…One of his three tackles vs. Florida was good for a loss.
As a sophomore at Georgia Military College, McCullers received a four-star rating from Rivals.com, as that recruiting service regarded him as the best defensive tackle and sixth-best overall junior college player in the country…247Sports.com rated him the second-best recruit in the state of Georgia and the seventh-best defensive tackle in the country…
Started all ten games at nose guard, producing 37 tackles (27 solos) with two sacks for minus 4 yards and nine stops for losses of 14 yards while leading a Bulldog defense that held opponents to just 261 total yards per game, which ranked 14th in the nation.
McCullers enrolled at Georgia Military College, playing football for head coach Bert Williams…Started four of the eight games he played in, delivering 27 tackles (20 solos) with three sacks for minus 15 yards among his seven stops for losses of 21 yards…Also caused one fumble.
No injury report available, but did miss two games as a freshman at Georgia Military College in 2010…A left hamstring strain at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine prevented McCullers from participating in agility tests.
5.37 in the 40-yard dash…1.87 10-yard dash…3.09 20-yard dash…4.96 20-yard shuttle…
8.32 three-cone drill…22-inch vertical jump…8’-1” broad jump…Bench pressed 225 pounds 27 times…36 5/8-inch arm length…11-inch hands…87-inch wingspan.
McCullers attended Southeast Raleigh (Garner, N.C.) High School, playing football for head coach Daniel Finn…The three-time all-conference selection helped lead the team to a 10-3 record as a senior in 2009…Also earned second team all-state honors in his final prep season after recording 29 tackles and five sacks…Posted a strong junior campaign in 2008 with 55 tackles and four sacks.
McCullers is majoring in Arts & Sciences…Don of Donnie McCullers…Born 8/11/92… Resides in Raleigh, North Carolina.