NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko
The Senior Bowl starts this week and I will be flying down there tomorrow to bring you the most comprehensive coverage I can. NEPD kicks off our Senior Bowl coverage with a player by player preview of who will be playing in the game and what they have to gain this week.
We start with the defense today and I must say it’s a more impressive group than last year, with a lot of players I am anxious to evaluate in person.
Here is a link to the Senior Bowl offensive prospects preview as well.
Ezekial Ansah, DE/OLB, BYU (6’6/270) – Ultra versatile and athletic pass rusher. Great frame and great length. Possesses incredible movement skills for a person of his size. Can line up at 4-5 positions and rush from any of them. Ghana native is new to the game of football but, has made huge improvements in terms of awareness and instincts over last two seasons, but still real raw. High upside player, who could “wow” this week in Mobile.
Johnny Adams, CB, Michigan State (5’11/177) -Three year starter for the Spartans. Adams is a good zone corner who has experience lining up at both slot and outside corner. Good awareness and instincts when in zone coverage. His man to man cover skills could be a problem due to average speed and quickness out of his breaks. Played a physical style at MSU, but will need to add bulk to his frame to hold up vs. more physical receivers in the NFL. Despite frame he isn’t afraid to mix it up in the run game or as a blitzer.
Robert Alford, CB, Southeastern Louisiana (6’0/185) – Ideal size for an NFL cornerback. FCS prospect who I admittedly haven’t seen much of. What I do know is that he is a very good athlete for his size and made a ton of huge plays this year for the Lions. Has experience as both a kick returner and punt returner. One of ths players I am anxious to see this week.
Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State (6’2/185) – Ball-hawking playmaker who has been the most productive cornerback in the SEC over that time period. Battle-tested, Banks possesses very good height and length for the position. Has experience playing a variety of different coverages and could develop into a viable press corner with proper technique. As is a solid zone corner, with good instincts in coverage. Makes decisive decisions in coverage as he tries to make the big play. Aggressive and fearless as run support corner, very sound in that area. One of the top defenders in Mobile this week.
Steve Beauharnais, ILB, Rutgers (6’2/232) – Last minute addition to the Senior Bowl mix, Beauharnais is over-shadowed by fellow LB Khaseem Greene, but has been a solid player in his own right. A four year starter at LB for Rutgers including the last three in the middle. He might project to an OLB position at the next level due to his ability to play in space. Not the most physical player, can get over-aggressive with his run responsibility. Beauharnais was used often as a blitzer and put up some impressive sack numbers during his career. Will be interesting to see how he does vs. top competition.
Jon Bostic, ILB, Florida (6’0/245) – Not the flashiest player, but a reliable and sound football player. Good run support middle linebacker within the tackle box. Was able to rack up tackles with his able to get to read, react and get to the hole. Consistent tackler when he has the chance. Bostic has trouble when ask to turn and run as well as change direction. When he is coming forward and playing in confined space he is at his best. Projects to a 2 down linebacker at the next level. How tall is he really, is a big question to be answered this week.
Arthur Brown, OLB, Kansas State (6’0/225) – Probably had the best range of any LB in this year’s draft. Has the ability and athleticism to make plays all over the field and does. Works very well in space, with fluid hips and feet to change direction. Can run with and cover RB out of the flat, as well as tight ends over the middle of the field. Brown is a very good tackler who puts himself in good position with quickness and awareness. Two time team captain, was the heart and soul of a very good K-State team. Lack of size and ability to take on blockers will be the biggest questions on Brown. However, he possesses all the tools to be a productive play-maker at the NFL level despite the size limitations.
Michael Buchanan, DE, Illinois (6’6/250) – Tall, long and lean pass rusher. Buchanan is a bit of an enigma in that he has very good natural ability, but hasn’t been able to display it consistently. Coming off a big Junior season, he entered the season with high expectations, they weren’t necessarily met. Buchanan plays the “bandit” position for the Illini where he is asked to rush the passer as well as set the edge in the run game. Posted 4.5 sacks and 6 passes defensed as a Senior. Needs to add at least 10 pounds to his frame and play with more leverage vs. the run. Could rise quick, with a big week in Mobile.
Jamie Collins, OLB, Southern Miss (6’4/238) – One of the most versatile edge players in this years draft. Moved from cornerback to LB at Southern Miss. Now plays a type of “elephant” position as a hybrid DE/OLB. Projects to OLB in the NFL due to his lack of bulk and strength to play on the line of scrimmage. Outstanding speed and mobility, has consistently gotten better each season. Was able to stay motivated and play hard despite a horrendous win-less season this year. Collins has the speed and closing burst to be a pass rush specialist or sub-package rusher at the NFL level. Overall instincts need improvement as he appears to be a second late to diagnose run/pass.
Sanders Commings, CB, Georgia (6’1/216) – Big corner, who possesses Safety like bulk. Good cover-man and fluidity for a corner of his size. I think he possesses a ton of natural talent, but needs to be more consistent in showing it. Was very impressed by the way he showed up in the SEC Championship game. Can play both safety and corner. At times he shies away from contact and isn’t as active in run support as he should be. Was suspended 1st two games of the season for domestic battery charge, which is a definite red flag.
Jonathan Cyprien, SAF, Florida International (6’1/210) – Strong safety prospect who was named the Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year. Physical player who loves to come up into the tackle box to play the run. Good tackler, has the ability to cover and jam tight ends at the line of scrimmage and run vertically with them. Plays on a number of special teams units, which will only boost his draft stock.
Will Davis, CB, Utah State (6’0/186) – Another Utah State defender who has a bright future in the NFL. Davis has good size and above average athleticism for the CB position. He’s got good burst, good change of direction and has some of that quick-twitch movement that I like from corners. Davis is aggressive and will fly to the football, he’s has some of the best ball skills in this year’s class, finishing #3 in the nation in passes defensed this year. Will Davis has a lot to be gained by having a good week at the Senior Bowl.
Everett Dawkins, DT, Florida State (6’3/304) – Overshadowed by the bigger names on the defensive line, Dawkins was a huge part of the FSU defense and the team captain. Dawkins thick lower body stands out at first glance. He has a good first step and when he plays with leverage usually gets movement. Good with his hands, possesses a number of moves including a swim. Profiles as a 4-3 tackle. Displays good intangibles, two time team captain, iron man award winner and considered one of the toughest players in the ACC.
Lavar Edwards, DE, LSU (6’5/258) – Speaking of overshadowed, no one got overshadowed more in college football than Lavar Edwards. He’s one of the top 12 pass rushers in this draft and couldn’t even crack the starting lineup every week at LSU. Edwards could be the break out star at the Senior Bowl, because the eyes will be on him now. He doesn’t have the same burst or quickness as the top guys, but he is smart and disciplined player. He can set the edge vs. the run and uses his motor and quickness to rush the passer. He’s also quite versatile as he plays SSDE and moved inside to tackle on obvious passing downs. Edwards has the natural size to be a 4-3 DE and should be a solid pro player.
Zavier Gooden, OLB, Missouri (6’2/230) – One of the most athletic players in college football this year regardless of position. Has 4.4 speed from the linebacker position and profiles as a traditional “Will” linebacker in a 4-3. A former safety, Gooden can run and cover a lot of ground. He’s not the most physical player and will need to get stronger to withstand an NFL schedule, but he can fly around and make plays all over the field. Gooden is a team captain and an All-Academic Big XII selection. Right now he relies mostly on his athleticism to make plays, instead of his instincts and recognitions skills, but you can’t get by in the NFL only on athleticism.
Mallicah Goodman, DE, Clemson (6’4/280) – Another year and another Clemson DE in the draft. Goodman has underperformed despite intriguing size and natural ability. Throughout his career he has struggled to get off blocks and loses leverage easily. However, it looks like Goodman may have put it all together down the stretch this season where he finally became a consistent pass rush threat, including 5 of his 7 sacks. He’s got an ideal frame for an NFL DE and exhibits good strength, it’s his ability to be more than just an average rusher that has me concerned.
Dwayne Gratz, CB, UConn (6’0/198) – Three year starter at CB for the Huskies, paired with Blidi Wreh-Wilson to form one of the best cornerback tandems in the country. Gratz is considered a smart player, with good instincts and could play either outside of slot corner back. Has started 41 games and has been a reliable and consistent performer.
Khaseem Greene, OLB, Rutgers (6’1/234) – One of the most productive players in college football this year. Made plays in ever facet of the games and is considered one of the top OLB prospects in this year’s draft. He’s a bit undersized, but has good range vs. the run and runs down the ball carrier with good angles and speed. Greene can stay on the field on 3rd down and exhibits good cover skills in space, as well as the ability to man up vs. backs coming out of the backfield. Greene is also a very good blitzer. Overall, he is one of the most complete OLB prospects in this year’s draft for his ability to play in all situations and impact the game on each down.