After scouting the East-West Shrine Game last week in St. Petersburg, Fla. general manager Jason Licht, director of player personnel John Spytek, director of college scouting Mike Biehl and the Bucs scouts hit the road to travel to Mobile, Ala. for the Senior Bowl. The Bucs have drafted several players from the Senior Bowl in years past, including cornerback M.J. Stewart, offensive lineman Alex Cappa and wide receiver Justin Watson last year, tight end O.J. Howard in 2017, defensive end Noah Spence in 2016 and offensive linemen Donovan Smith and Ali Marpet in 2015.
While the East-West Shrine Game features players that typically are mid-to-late-round draft picks, as well as undrafted free agents, the Senior Bowl features players that could be first- or second-round picks, in addition to Day 3 selections.
Here are 12 defensive players that will play at the Senior Bowl that would help the Bucs in 2019. On Sunday, PewterReport.com previewed 12 offensive players that Tampa Bay will be targeting at the Senior Bowl practices.
PewterReport.com will be attending the Senior Bowl practices in Mobile. Stay tuned to the website and @PewterReport on Twitter for coverage.
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Table of Contents
Texas DE Charles Omenihu – 6-6, 275
Omenihu is one of the most buzz-worthy players in Mobile, Ala. as he is coming off a tremendous senior season in which he recorded 45 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. In his Texas career, Omenihu has recorded 115 tackles, 30 tackles for loss and 19.5 sacks. He has sacked several NFL-caliber quarterbacks, including Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray, USC’s Sam Darnold, Missouri’s Drew Lock and Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph (twice). With long arms, a massive 6-foot-6, 275-pound frame, a solid get-off and strong hands, Omenihu’s best football lies ahead of him.
Boston College DE Zach Allen – 6-5, 285
Allen is a big-bodied defensive end with excellent mass and pretty good quickness and agility for a big man. He can play strongside defensive end in a 4-3 or a 3-4 scheme because of his size. Allen is a decent pass rusher, but is really good at setting the edge due to his strength and power. Allen recorded 199 tackles, 40.5 tackles for loss, 16.5 sacks and 14 pass breakups, four fumble recoveries, two interceptions and a forced fumble as a two-year starter for the Eagles. He had a great senior season with 15 tackles for loss, seven pass breakups, 6.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries, one pick and one forced fumble.
Texas A&M DT Daylon Mack – 6-1, 320
The compactly built Mack runs and hits like a Mack truck. Blessed with a great get-off to match his tremendous size, Mack is very disruptive and needs to be double-teamed. Scouts wish that Mack, who was often overshadowed by fellow defensive tackle Kingsley Keke at Texas A&M, was more productive and more consistent, but he did have a nice senior season with 32 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks after being a tease production-wise during his first three years for the Aggies. Scouts want to see him put together several dominant practices in Mobile – not just flash.
Western Illinois DT Khalen Saunders – 6-2, 310
Saunders is a big, strong, quick, athletic defensive tackle that plays with a nasty disposition and mean streak. Saunders dominated a lower level of competition while recording 204 tackles, 34.5 tackles for loss, 18 sacks, six passes defensed, four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and a blocked kick. Saunders has recorded 25 tackles for loss and 14 sacks, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries over the past two seasons as an ascending talent. The Senior Bowl will give Saunders a chance to move into Day 2 consideration with a good performance.
Wyoming DE Carl Granderson – 6-5, 261
Anderson was a long 4-3 defensive end at Wyoming, but may be a better fit as a 3-4 rush linebacker at the next level. Granderson, who was recruited by the Cowboys as a wide receiver, had a better junior season than he did a senior campaign. Granderson had 78 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, two interceptions and a fumble recover for a touchdown in 2017, but had just 40 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, three sacks and a pick-six as a senior.
Louisiana Tech DE Jaylon Ferguson – 6-5, 262
Ferguson finished his Bulldogs career as the NCAA career sack leader with 45, but he racked up a lot of those QB captures against lesser conference competition. Ferguson posted 187 tackles, 67.5 tackles for loss, 45 sacks, seven forced fumbles, six pass breakups and three fumble recoveries. Ferguson had a monster senior year with 65 tackles, 26 tackles for loss and 17.5 sacks, three pass breakups, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
Mississippi State DE Montez Sweat – 6-6, 245
A JUCO transfer who began his career at Michigan State, Sweat had 22.5 sacks in his two years at Mississippi State. He wins on length rather than athleticism, as he doesn’t do a great job of bending the edge as a pass rusher. But Sweat is a long, rangy defender that finished with 105 tackles, 30.5 tackles for loss, 23.5 sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery for a stingy Bulldogs defense.
Auburn ILB Deshaun Davis – 5-11, 234
Davis, a Mobile native, is a thickly built, compact player. He’s a downhill linebacker that brings a wallop when he tackles. Davis plays with a high motor and was the heart and soul of Auburn’s defense. He is much better in run defense than he is in coverage, and NFL scouts will be seeing how he fares in the passing game at the Senior Bowl. Davis, a three-year starter, had 262 tackles, 29.5 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, six pass breakups and two fumble recoveries in his Tigers career.
Delaware CB-FS Nasir Adderley – 6-0, 200
Adderley has the chance to move from a second-round pick to a fringe first-rounder with a great showing against better competition in Mobile. Adderley finished his career with 265 tackles and 11 interceptions and has experience playing both cornerback and safety. Adderley is a good athlete and also returned kicks for the Blue Hens, returning one for a touchdown last year. He’s a natural playmaker with a good, physical tackling style and is aggressive in coverage. Scouts can’t wait to see him play in the Senior Bowl.
Mississippi State SS Johnathan Abram – 6-0, 215
Abram is one of the most violent hitters in college football. Abram attacks ballcarriers like a heat-seeking missile in the run game as well as in pass coverage. The transfer from Georgia fit into Mississippi State’s attacking style of defense quite well, recording 170 tackles, 10 pass breakups, five sacks, three forced fumbles, two interceptions and one fumble recovery in his two years with the Bulldogs. Abram, who is well built at 6-foot, 215 pounds, is getting better at recognizing passing game concepts and is becoming better in coverage as a result.
Houston CB Isaiah Johnson – 6-4, 203
At 6-foot-4, 203 pounds, Johnson is very big cornerback with tremendous closing speed, and shows great anticipation with his hands in either picking off passes or breaking up passes. He is very aggressive in playing the ball in the arm and uses his arm length to high point the ball. Johnson, a former wide receiver, had four interceptions and 12 pass breakups for the Cougars Johnson is a decent tackler and also good in punt coverage as a gunner. Having that special teams ability only helps his versatility at the next level.
Virginia SS Juan Thornhill – 6-0, 210
Thornhill is one of biggest playmaking safeties in college football. As a three-year starter, Thornhill racked up 208 tackles with 26 passes defensed, 13 interceptions, 12 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and one forced fumble in his Cavaliers career. Thornhill had a monster senior season with 98 tackles, seven pass breakups, six interceptions and 4.5 tackles for loss, showing he can play the run or the pass equally well.
Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org