All Star Circuit

Senior Bowl Review: Defense

Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

I cannot give you a percentage of how much an all star event factors into my process. It is a one man show over here in terms of evaluation. I will breakdown each position below and rank participating performers accordingly. Please note, this is not strictly based on how these prospects did this week, instead it is based on their complete evaluation up to this point.

For comparison, here is how I ranked the attendees prior to this week. Also, I was able to watch coaching practice tape for every 1 on 1 OL/DL drill and some CB/WR drills this week, which allowed me to focus on specific prospects in these important matchups.

Here are the entries from Tuesday and Wednesday, along with a review of the Offense.

Be sure to check out my top-25 Senior Bowlers exiting the event.

I want to call attention to the importance of context when evaluating an all star event. The topic was a point of discussion on the latest episode of my podcast.

EDGE Players

1. Hau’oli Kikaha, Washington - A lot was made about Kikaha dropping into coverage the week. My question: How often will a team ask Kikaha to do this? 25 percent of the time? 33 percent? The rule is not universal, but teams frequently have a plan when drafting prospects. For Kikaha, he is best at rushing the passer with hand use, length and counter moves, as well as holding the edge. Even if he does drop, Kikaha would likely only cover curl to flat areas. Teams should not put players in roles they cannot succeed in, although it does happen.

2. Owamagbe Odighizuwa, UCLA - Owa can absolutely win on the edge, and potentially the wider the alignment the better. He had the best get off of any edge player in terms of creating speed in his first few strides. In fact, at times it looked like Owa was sprinting towards his opponent before converting speed to power. It is why I liked Cornelius Washington as a prospect, and we all know how poorly that turned out. Although Owa does offer a bit more than this one trait

3. Nate Orchard, Utah - After his week in Mobile, many seem to be ranking Orchard as the top attending EDGE prospect. I think that loses perspective from this season. While Orchard flashed with a great motor and beating his opponent off the snap, 1 on 1s elevated his success this past week. He’s a mid-second day pick.

4. Markus Golden, Missouri - The next three on this list are very close in ranking. Golden is all about hand use and maximizing his lack of length (31”). At least he wins in those close quarters.

5. Za’Darius Smith, Kentucky - Another hands, length, counter moves edge player. He had a better week in practice during the Senior Bowl compared to East West Shrine week.

6. Deion Barnes, Penn State - Improved hand use throughout the week was apparent.

7. Lorenzo Mauldin, Louisville

Defensive Linemen

1. Henry Anderson, Stanford - A personal favorite in this class. Anderson shines as a 3 technique or as a closed 5 technique. He was dominant on Tuesday and Wednesday, only losing when lining up as a wide 7 and when he tripped crossing over into the center’s lane. Evaluators who focus on details and mechanics might not love Anderson. Namely, he plays with high pad level. Anderson’s extreme strength, active hands, variety of moves and understanding of length compensates for all of that. You will frequently see Anderson win with a first punch, press his opponent back to win the balance advantage and walk them backwards.

2. Preston Smith, Mississippi State - Malik Jackson gave me warm and fuzzy feelings back in 2012. Preston Smith is doing the same as someone who can win with power while on the edge and speed when lined up as a 1 or 3. He has true versatility due to winning form multiple alignments.

3. Danny Shelton, Washington - Expectations were unfairly inflated for Shelton and I do not believe he met them. Shelton is receiving Ngata and Wilfork comparisons. That is a nearly rare breed. Shelton is purely a 1 or 0 in my eyes, and although he moves quite well 6’2/343 pounder (fist pump) is it enough to win with quickness? In terms of counters, I saw Shelton lose the momentum advantage he must win with multiple times. And in terms of counters, he should otherwise be known as Danny Clubber, as Shelton’s hand use lands outside of the shoulders more so inside. That limits his strength to separate. I still like Shelton quite a bit. In a class with limited first-round talent, he could be selected very early.

4. Carl Davis, Iowa - There’s a lot of Devon Still in Carl Davis. Still had a ton of talent, but sometimes it is up to the player to use that talent.

5. Grady Jarrett, Clemson - Jarrett opened my eyes more than any prospect this week. I mis-evaluated him prior to the Senior Bowl, thinking he was just an anchoring interior defender. Jarrett has tremendous quickness and close quarters strength. He will win with disruption along with balance/bend to restart momentum. He is very close to Davis on this list.

6. Gabe Wright, Auburn - Will intrigue multiple front teams.


Off Line of Scrimmage Linebackers

1. The ghosts of Eric Kendricks and Paul Dawson.

2. Hayes Pullard, USC - Pullard is a very animated mover, bouncing forward and laterally. I’m not one to say he must eliminate this, but he might not have the athleticism to make up for wasted steps. Still, he can win working around or through blocks and displays comfort and awareness in space.

3. Denzel Perryman, Miami - Top tier linebackers can really change a defense, especially if place behind defensive linemen who keep things clean. The top two round buzz with Perryman puzzles me. I would not be comfortable choosing him as a defender in an obvious pass coverage situation.

4. Martrell Spaight, Arkansas

5. Jeff Luc, Cincinnati


1. Quinten Rollins, Miami (OH) - Rollins can be patient on developing routes. He can be quick to aggressively attack the catch point. He can be spatially aware in zone/cover 2 coverage to play different levels of the field. And he has ball and movement skills that really stand out at the position. Rollins might be the best example of inexperience versus rawness since Ziggy Ansah. Rollins, like Ansah, fits into the inexperience label. He just needs to be exposed to more concepts, looks and opponents rather than learning skills in order to grow his game.


2. Kevin White, TCU - Like receiver, smaller corners can also play big. Many will immediately conclude White belongs in the slot. He rarely played there in games, but White did tell me he has practiced there. Still, he has the aggression and will attack the catch point to match up against bigger receivers on the outside. White can win against bigs and smalls. There is so much to like.

3. Steven Nelson, Oregon State - Another competitive corner, and although beat more often than the two above him on this list, Nelson’s skills translate. Some could be surprised at how early Nelson is selected.

4. Senquez Golson, Ole Miss - A short week, but Golson translated his college display to the Senior Bowl field.

5. Imoan Claiborne, Northwestern State - I need to watch more of this corner… he is next behind Jarrett in terms of Senior Bowlers exceeding expectations.

6. Quandre Diggs, Texas - Perhaps the purest slot corner at the event.

7. Ladarius Gunter, Miami


Rather than rank this group No. 1 through No. 3, I would rather just discuss three standouts.

Jaquiski Tartt, Samford - Did not display the big hitting qualities that stand out on his evaluation. Struggled at times in man to man, but a team looking for a true box safety could select Tartt in the top three rounds.

Ibraheim Campbell, Northwestern - After his week, I went back and watched Campbell. He might be a top three safety in this class. Tight angles to fill running lanes, awareness in zone and even some man to man capabilities.

Cody Prewitt, Ole Miss - Prewitt fits into the Mike Mitchell mold of big hitting free safeties. There are positives and negatives associated with that. When composed and in position, Prewitt makes plays. When forced out of position by alignments, design, good quarterback play or just his own missteps, bad things will happen.

Top 25 Attending

1. T La’El Collins, LSU

2. DL Henry Anderson, Stanford

3. T T.J. Clemmings, Pittsburgh

4. DL Preston Smith, Miss State

5. EDGE Hau’oli Kikaha, Washington

6. DL Danny Shelton, Washington

7. CB Quinten Rollins, Miami (OH)

8. RB David Cobb, Minnesota

9. EDGE Owamagbe Odighizuwa, UCLA

10. CB Kevin White, TCU

11. WR Jamison Crowder, Duke

12. DL Carl Davis, Iowa

13. DL Grady Jarrett, Clemson

14. RB Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska

15. WR Tony Lippett, Michigan State

16. WR Devin Smith, Ohio State

17. G Tre Jackson, FSU

18. G Shaq Mason, Georgia Tech

19. G Arie Kouandjio, Alabama

20. G Laken Tomlinson, Duke

21. EDGE Nate Orchard, Utah

22. TE Ben Koyack, Notre Dame

23. S Ibraheim Campbell, Northwestern

24. WR Justin Hardy, ECU

25. WR Tyler Lockett, Kansas State

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