It’s been a fun week in Mobile so far. With the game right around the corner and practice concluded, we wrap up the week of practices with some stock up, stock down.We already did the offensive side, so here is my report on the defensive side of the ball.
DL Khalen Saunders, Western Illinois
I came away very impressed with big FCS defensive lineman Khalen Saunders. First off, I watched him do a backflip at over 300 pounds and second I thought it was big that he stayed in Mobile, stayed by his and stayed by his coaches even after he found out his daughter was born. He’s on a mission and this week was huge for Saunders. He displayed a quick first step with true power to overwhelm whoever was on him. He was one of the big-time winners this week and will likely show out during the Senior Bowl game.
DL Renell Wren, Arizona State
A very disruptive interior presence that was causing fits all week long in the trenches. He’s still a bit raw as you can see with his inconsistent technique but man, is he quick. Wren raised his stock and that was highly evident. He had many people I was around at the practices raving about him. Wren could end up being a day two prospect after this impressive week.
The rest of the interior defensive linemen.
It’s just so impressive the amount of talent that was on display on the defensive line. Alabama’s Isaiah Buggs was so hard for the offensive line to block all week long, the two Texas A&M guys Keke Kingsley and the late call up Daylon Mack really showed out this week as well. Washington’s Greg Gaines was probably the most up-and-down but his high’s were good enough to keep him out of the stock down section. Florida State’s DeMarcus Christmas and Auburn’s Dontavius Russell were both an issue to stop as well. Christmas needs to improve as a pass rusher and he knows that, he explained that to me in our interview that, that is the one thing that’s really holding him back.
EDGE Jaylon Ferguson, Louisiana Tech
Jaylon Ferguson is the FBS leader in sacks and yet, he’s being underrated and overlooked in this class. Ferguson has great size and has a good get off but for some reason he is being overlooked. Maybe level of competition? It didn’t matter this week, he had his moments where Andre Dillard (a first-round pick in his own right) stifled him but aside from that Ferguson was great. He really has a chance to be an early day two guy and maybe just maybe shoot himself into day one. He may not have the highest ceiling at his position but he sure could have the highest floor.
EDGE Montez Sweat, Mississippi State
Montez Sweat was always bound to be a first-round pick. He was the guy I had the Rams selecting in my “Way too early mock draft” but there is no way he will be there at the end of the first. Sweat pushed himself into the top 15 and potentially a conversation for top 10 with his dominance off the edge. If he doesn’t win with his speed, he displayed that he could win with power. He’s a quick player that is going to be a problem even day one in the NFL. Maybe it’s nothing but Sweat did have a slight busted lip and one thing I noticed after practice was Sweat’s interest in taking interviews. It was a little surprising as he declined my interview and another one, that is no knock on his play and he could have just been in a lot of pain but you rarely ever get a decline from players in regards to interviewing after practice unless an assistant coach comes over and tells you. Regardless, Sweat is a first rounder but the question is top 10 pick or not.
EDGE Charles Omenihu, Texas
Omenihu is a player that really turned heads all week long and I was told by multiple people he interviewed extremely well. He also practiced extremely well, now, don’t get me wrong, Omenihu is still a raw player but I saw a consistent problem for offensive linemen to block. Omenihu won with with his quickness and his power this week. He had a huge highlight reel play where he flattened OL Michael Deiter. Missouri QB Drew Lock even praised Omenihu during the week, could he be a first-round pick? That’s the question only he is going to answer as the process moves along.
EDGE Zach Allen, Boston College
Allen is getting first-round hype but to me, I don’t really see it and simply didn’t see it in Mobile. Allen had trouble with his bend off the edge and had offensive tackles like Chuma Edoga drive him into the ground. He flashes here and there but overall, I saw a player that was put in his place more often than not. That, to me, doesn’t equal a first round talent. There’s no reason he can’t improve his stock but the Senior Bowl was an opportunity with the lack of pass rushers to really take over the spotlight and I felt he underwhelmed.
EDGE Jalen Jelks, Oregon
Jelks was a player I had highlighted on my list but he failed to make much of an impact. His practice week was a flash here and there but overall he showed lack of explosion off the edge and he got pushed around consistently. Jelks has kind of the lanky body and no power that dooms young pass rushers without a plan of attack on the edge. I’m just not sure Jelks can be anything more than a situational edge rusher, he seems very limited even with the intriguing height.
LB Drue Tranquill, Notre Dame
Drue’s issue has been all about his back to back ACL tears and he proved that this week in Mobile. He ended up taking home the best practice LB award of the week and is likely going to find his stock rising after this week. He’s a very solid cover linebacker and can rush the passer. I felt he showed off his best skillset this week and is a name to watch.
Terrill Hanks, New Mexico State
Hanks won the week in every way. I didn’t go to the weigh in, but all I heard from people that did was that Hanks literally does not have an inch of fat on him. You can tell he takes good care of his body, he’s strong, he moves very well, has fluid hips and has an extremely high ceiling. His athleticism is apparent, during this week he showed off his athleticism and especially showed off his hitting ability after laying the wood in practice. Hanks is being compared to likely-NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Darius Leonard. It’s not hard to see why after the work he put in this week.
LB Germaine Pratt, NC State
Pratt is getting a ton of buzz after the Senior Bowl released that he was one of the fastest clocked players during the week. I feel as though Pratt might be getting overrated. This week I saw a guy that’s very athletic being a former converted safety and all but more so, saw someone that lacks the play strength to fill gaps and surprisingly, as athletic as Pratt is, struggles in coverage. He can be a situational-two down linebacker but I’m not sure I see a starter at the position moving forward. Unfortunately, Pratt’s stock fell for me it did not rise like many in their opinion felt it did.
CB Mark Fields, Clemson
A Clemson Tiger that received little playing time really ended up blowing me away and that was Mark Fields. Fields was the best corner at the Senior Bowl that you probably didn’t hear as much about. Fields stuck with receivers like glue, he showed off his long speed and quickness. Jim Nagy told the media that coaches and scouts felt Fields was the best cover corner at the Senior Bowl as well. Fields earned himself a lot of praise and a big rise in his stock. He’s going to be able to play on the outside or as a nickel corner but regardless, if he stays true to his form and does not get grabby at the next level, Fields could be a starter in no time.
CB Corey Ballentine, Washburn
The small-school division two kid looked overmatched at the beginning of the week. As the week went on and he got comfortable, it was apparent he belonged. Ballentine’s stock will be rising after this week for sure. He displayed the ability to get physical at the line of scrimmage and stick with any type of receiver using his smooth hips. Ballentine may not be flashy but could find himself being a lockdown guy in the NFL down the road. Huge week for him.
CB Iman Marshall, USC
This is a player that was expected at one point in time to be a top corner in the draft he came out of. Due to his inconsistencies at USC he has fallen out of favor with many but Marshall this week has had a revival in the stock game. Marshall showed that he was up for the test against two of the best WR’s the Senior Bowl had to offer this week. I watched Marshall shut down Keelan Doss and Terry McLaurin, the only receiver that gave him trouble was in fact Penny Hart who gave everyone trouble. There is a lot to like if you are an Iman Marshall fan and this week was huge to bring him back into the conversation.
CB Rock Ya-Sin, Temple
Rock Ya-Sin was a fun prospect to watch in Mobile this week. His matchup between Deebo Samuel and him stole the show and unfortunately left people only talking about Deebo while Ya-Sin actually did a great job defending him. Ya-Sin moves very well and has the speed to keep up with anyone downfield. I found him to be a leader this week and when I was able to speak with him I came away impressed. Definitely someone that made themself some money.
CB Lonnie Johnson Jr, Kentucky
A player that showed off his nose for the ball all week long. He had the hit of the week on Hunter Renfrow after diagnosing a WR screen and Lonnie Johnson Jr. just made it look so easy how he was able to mirror the receiver he went up against. Stock up.
CB Amani Oruwariye, Penn State
He started off slow and finished strong on the final day but the biggest issue for Amani Oruwariye is that he was in the conversation as a top three cornerback. I didn’t see anything in Mobile to suggest he should be in the same conversation as Byron Murphy, Greedy Williams or DeAndre Baker. Oruwariye is still an intriguing prospect but for being a first-round guy talked about beforehand. I wasn’t expecting to give the cornerback of the week nod to a guy that barely played at Clemson. I was expecting to give the nod to the Penn State cornerback that was being raved about.
CB Isaiah Johnson, Houston
No idea what happened but Isaiah Johnson went from a magnificent day one to struggling in both day two (per our media releases) and day three. Johnson appeared stiff and really got frozen up against his competition. First day he showed out but as the week went on his play dipped, it was a bummer for someone that was really liking like the best CB in this Senior Bowl group at one point.
CB Sheldrick Redwine, Miami
He wasn’t terrible but Redwine it seemed on almost every snap was letting up catch after catch. It’s a matter of getting out muscled for the catch and tight ends are a clear mismatch when going up against him.
CB Kris Boyd, Texas
I came into this week really wanting to see Kris Boyd and came away unimpressed and very disappointed. Boyd struggled all week long covering Terry McLaurin. Now, McLaurin was a stud but the issue was as physical as Boyd wants to be at the line of scrimmage, he just doesn’t recover well once his man get the release. Boyd’s lapses in coverage are fixable but his lack of twitch worries me for his long-term projection.
S Will Harris, Boston College
BC has started to really turn it on with the development of NFL-level defensive backs. Just look at John Johnson III, Kamrin Moore, Justin Simmons and Isaac Yiadom. Will Harris is going to be added to that list, I spoke with him before the practices and it was clear this was someone that was extremely excited and confident to get out there and prove to coaches he could play just like the previous Boston College players. Harris was a fluid defender in the secondary during practices. I saw him really dominating in man coverage. He showed off his range and his ball skills on an interception while covering UMass WR Andy Isabella. I am starting to love this prospect and I believe this is just the beginning of what could be a huge rise for Harris.
S Nasir Adderley, Delaware
This was the prospect of the week before. Everyone was excited to see the Delaware kid in action. He seems as though he’s become a very love/hate prospect. I came away just as impressed as I expected. Many, are scared by his thin frame and small size but I think Adderley’s ball skills, range and is fluid movement welcome much more than an undersized defensive back conversation to the table. Adderley is going to be a top 20 pick I believe and this week I saw all I needed to, to make the decision that he is in fact my favorite safety in this class.
S Darnell Savage, Maryland
A great name backed by a great looking prospect. Savage was nasty in the secondary this week and showed off his ability to mentally process as well as anyone. He blew up a couple of big plays and he was solid in coverage. The Senior Bowl awarded him as the best practice defensive back of the week.
S Darius West, Kentucky
I felt Darius West left a lot on the field and struggled covering the tight ends Utah State’s Dax Raymond and South Dakota State’s Josh Oliver. West was very underwhelming and every time you saw him in coverage he was getting out worked as as safety
Overall, the defensive line is very strong in Mobile, the linebackers have some flash, there are plenty of corners and the safeties are well represented as well. It was not a bad week for the defense but the offensive side of the ball more often than not got the better of them. It will be interesting to watch the game tomorrow and see if thats indeed the case as well.