Kansas State DE Jordan Willis - Photo by: Getty Images
PewterReport.com was in Mobile, Ala. all week this week to give you wall-to-wall coverage of the 2017 Senior Bowl.
With all three practices in the books, and all that’s left is for the game to be played, here were my top five defensive performers from each position.
After speaking with both Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter and general manager Jason Licht at the Senior Bowl, we know that a handful of the top names on these lists are not only options but priorities for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2017 NFL Draft.
1. JALEEL JOHNSON, IOWA
Jaleel Johnson is very under the radar right now for being one of the best defensive tackles in the country.
I thought he had a very productive week, and deserves to be talked about as a possible first-round prospect. He’s big, strong, knows what to do what he gets locked up, and knows how to get by assignments consistently.
Projected Round: 2
2. TANZEL SMART, TULANE
Smart really stood out to me this week with a handful of really nice splash plays.
I thought he was explosive off the ball, was strong at the point of contact, and was a really high motor guy. There wasn’t a drill he participated in that I can remember him having trouble with. He helped himself this week.
Projected Round: 4
3. DALVIN TOMLINSON, ALABAMA
Dalvin Tomlinson was has been overlooked for two years to to the flashier names of A’Shawn Robinson, Jon Allen, Jarran Reed, Tim Williams and Ryan Anderson all making plays around him. But make no mistake, Tomlinson is a solid NFL prospect.
I thought he looked very natural when getting low and driving his weight through contact off the snap. I don’t think he’s a guy you want playing a 3-4 defensive end roll, but, as a true 4-3 defensive tackle, I think he’ll be productive.
Projected Round: 2-3
4. EDDIE VANDERDOES, DT, UCLA
Vanderdoes is a tough evaluation for me.
On one hand, his body weight is oddly proportioned. He’s big at the hips and narrow in the lower body while having a thick upper back as well. When body shapes come in odd sizes, sometimes it’s tougher for them to get the most out of their power.
But when it all clicks for Vanderdoes, he’s a monster. In reps where he could full generate power of the snap, he won every single one of them. He’s a dog in the trenches. He’ll be a good rotational guy early on as a nose tackle or gap-stuffing defensive tackle.
Projected Round: 5
5. MONTRAVIUS ADAMS, AUBURN
When motivated and quick off the snap Adams was unblockable. Even though he’s a senior, you wish he had one more year of college to continue to develop because he has first-round ability.
Adams was a force inside during the Senior Bowl game where he played better than he practiced. There could be a team that falls in love with his 6-foot-3, 308-pound frame and picks him in the later part of the first round, but he’s likely a second- or third-rounder.
1. DAESHON HALL, DE, TEXAS A&M
Hall is known for being the pass rusher opposite Myles Garrett, but this week, he was known as the best pass rusher in Mobile.
Hall showed the best leverage advantage when it came to one-on-one drills. He was always able to get his body to a low level a really turn that leverage into power of the snap when engaging with offensive lineman.
I worry about his motor a bit, only because that’s what I’ve been told. For the three day he practices, I didn’t notice anything glaring.
Projected Round: 3-4
Villanova DE Tanoh Kpassagnon – Photo by: Getty Images
2. TANOH KPASSAGNON, DE, VILLANOVA
Kpassagnon started the week off strong even before taking the field by measuring in at 6-foot-6, 280 pounds.
His seven-foot wingspan came in handy this week as offensive linemen could not keep him locked up, even when they got their arms position correctly. Kpassagnon also countered the narrative that he couldn’t win inside with a couple of very nice inside moves that beat both offensive tackles and guards for sacks during the week and had a nice showing in the game with one sack.
Projected Round: 3
3. JORDAN WILLIS, DE, KANSAS STATE
Willis was a steady pass rusher who was solid all week. Nothing too spectacular in practice. He gets to the edge well and can turn the corner, and showed the ability to rush from the left and the right side in practice as well as the game where Willis received the Defensive Outstanding Player honors with two sacks and two forced fumbles. Willis had a sack from each side of the line in the Senior Bowl game.
Willis is a big, 6-foot-4, 260-pound defensive end that is best suited to play off the edge in a 4-3 scheme where he improved his sack total every year and finished with 11.5 QB captures as a senior along with three forced fumbles. Willis totaled 25.5 career sacks and six forced fumbles at K-State.
Projected Round: 3
4. DEREK RIVERS, DE, YOUNGSTOWN STATE
Rivers was pretty solid this week.
He showed good bend around the edge, and was having success while lined up as the stand up outside linebacker in any 3-4 situations. I think he was the top pass rushing OLB in Mobile and he recorded a nice sack in the game, showing explosiveness off the edge. Rivers totaled 38 sacks in college and knows how to get to the quarterback.
5. RYAN ANDERSON, DE (OLB), ALABAMA
Ryan Anderson comes in at No. 5 for me just because they barely even let him rush the passer this week.
Since scouts already saw what he could do off the edge while playing at Alabama, they wanted to see what he could do if asked to play any true outside linebacker coverage assignments. The results weren’t great. He struggle to keep up with most receivers and tight ends.
Anderson is a pass rusher and resembles Pittsburgh’s James Harrison. The team that drafts him has to know that.
1. HAASON REDDICK, LB, TEMPLE
All things considered, Reddick was the best defensive player in Mobile this week.
Reddick, who has been a pass rusher and not a true linebacker through his career, showed off his versatility very well. He was flying around the field making play at the line of scrimmage, in the back field and in coverage. He showed to be a complete prospect skill wise.
2. DUKE RILEY, ILB, LSU
Riley was the second best stand out linebacker this week.
I thought he did a good job showing scouts what he’s good at: attacking gaps and pursuing players in front of him. When you ask him to do more athletic things downfield, he has a tendency to struggle, but you have to know the kind of players you’re drafting. I think Riley is a good football player.
Projected Round: 4-5
3. ALEX ANZALONE, ILB, FLORIDA
I wasn’t sure Anzalone was going to be able to play in the Senior Bowl when he was initially invited, but I’m glad he could.
The narrative with Anzalone was simple, he was a guy who showed nice production and potential when on the field, but has had an injury-riddled career. When on the field, he’s instinctive and reliable – thought athletically limited. The question is just how available he’s going to be during his NFL career.
Projected Round: 6-7
4. BEN BOULWARE, ILB, CLEMSON
Boulware was the defensive leader of the National Champion Clemson Tigers.
Boulware is another one of those guys who is just a good football player. I do think he is also limited athletically, but I think he can be a nice fill-in linebacker or special teams player at the next level. I’m not sure he has the athleticism to be more than that.
5. VINCE BIEGEL, ILB, WISCONSIN
Biegel is another guy who I think is just a special teams or fill-in guy at the next level. I do think he had a good week, and was a stretching team leader during warm ups – that was a joke, but he was.
Projected Round: 7-UDFA
1. JUSTIN EVANS, S, TEXAS A&M
Justin Evans was definitely the stand out player when it came to the defensive backs. He showed great range in coverage in 11-on-11s, and that alone is impressive because he isn’t even known for that. He’s a guy who is know for his physicality, so his skills in coverage this week really boosted his stock.
UConn S Obi Melifonwu – Photo by: Getty Images
2. OBI MELIFONWU, S, UCONN
The only thing harder than Melifonwu’s hits is pronouncing his name.
Melifonwu came into Mobile and measured in at 6-foot-4, 219 pounds which really brought out the “ooos’ and ahh’s”. I think he was a sleeper prospect going into the week, but he won’t be much longer. If you can combine his measurables with a good athletic score at the Combine in a few weeks, he’s going to get drafted in the top 60.
3. RASUL DOUGALS, CB, WVU
Rasul Douglas actually came out as my top cornerback for the week.
He showed a couple of great reps on the last day against a confident Zay Jones, and was locking up some of the best receivers in the first two days. His most impressive trait to me was his recovery speed, something the Buccaneers prioritize.
4. JOURDAN LEWIS, CB, MICHIGAN
The narrative around Jourdan Lewis is that he’s small, but he’s one of the best pure corners, all things considered. That was the case in Mobile.
Lewis got beat on a few passes that were outside his arm radius, but he consistently put himself in a position to disrupt or take away passes, even against taller receivers. I like Lewis because he does everything other than have height at a high level. I’d draft him before most people, but his Combine numbers will be important.
Projected Round 2-3
5. TRE’DAVIOUS WHITE, CB, LSU
White was the top cover corner according to mainstream draft media coming into the Senior Bowl event. However, he was my fifth most impressive defensive back on the week.
White did well at times, but I also saw him get beat on some double moves or precise routes more than I would have liked. Most drills at practices like this favor the offense, so we have to keep that in mind. Still, there were plays Douglas and Lewis made that I didn’t see White make as many of.
Projected Round: 1-2
Trevor Sikkema is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter and NFL Draft analyst for PewterReport.com. Sikkema, an alumnus of the University of Florida, has covered both college and professional football for much of his career. As a native of the Sunshine State, when he's not buried in social media, Sikkema can be found out and active, attempting to be the best athlete he never was. Sikkema can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Trevor interesting piece here. Some of these young men I thought would be rated higher than they were.
I guess that is why you make a living at this, and I just just make comments. The DE from Villanova is a player I would like to see us GET in one or two years he could be awesome with good coaching.
Hmm…Drinking a little when you wrote these blogs Trevor?
Although these recaps were a little hard to read at times, there’s a lot of good info here that will give me some background when I watch the combines.
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