Players the Redskins Should be Watching at the Senior Bowl: Defense
January 25, 2014 in Washington Redskins Draft
(By their listed Senior Bowl position)
Ik Enemkpali, Louisiana Tech (South), Will Clarke, WVU (North)
-The week started out with a pair of quality 5-technique defensive ends who were listed at end for the Senior Bowl, in Alabama's Ed Stinson and UVA's Brett Urban. Unfortunately both players had to pullout of the practice week early due to injuries. This left very little left that really fit with the Redskins needs. There were some top pass rushers like Trent Murphy and Dee Ford down here, but unless Brian Orakpo is allowed to walk and not replaced with a free agent signing it wouldn't make sense for the Redskins to draft them. Enemkpali was a mid-week replacement end and he fits the mold of a pass rusher who can probably stand up in a 3-4. Unlike some of the other prospects down here he's a late round-UDFA type of player so he could be intriguing late for the Redskins. Will Clarke isn't a guy who is going to stand-up, but he's got a very projectable frame and if he adds 20 lbs he could be a lighter 5 technique who is brought in for pass rushing situations. Again he'd be more of a late round developmental type or someone to watch if he falls out of the draft for some reason.
Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh (North), Will Sutton, Arizona State (South), Ra'Shede Hageman, Minnesota (North), Justin Ellis, Louisiana Tech (North), Daniel McCullers, Tennessee (South), DaQuan Jones, Penn State (North), Deandre Coleman, California (South), Shamar Stephen, UConn, (North) , Caraun Reid, Princeton (North)
-This defensive tackle group is incredibly deep and a tremendous mix of speed and power guys. Some of these guys may be considered better fits for the 4-3, but that doesn't mean that they can't fit in a 3-4 scheme if used the right way. The name you will here the 4-3 or undersized label with the most is the best DT down here in Pittsburgh's Aaron Donald. Donald won four major awards this season (Outland, Lombardi/Rotary, Bednarik, Nagurski) and followed it up by winning the player of the week award by scouts down here at the Senior Bowl. Despite the impressive trophy case, Donald is a player who very much could be in play for the Redskins at the 34th pick in the draft. Some teams will drop him due to his size, and he could fall to the top of the 2nd round. While you would think that the lack of size should cause the Redskins to pause as well, they shouldn't ignore a pure talent like Donald. Donald lived in the offensive backfield this week in practice and was nearly unblockable. He plays with excellent technique and quickness, which allows him to push back offensive linemen who have 30-40 lbs on him. Donald was also one of the most impressive defensive tackles working against double teams this week. That type of talent can play in any system, and if they Redskins want an impact player with the 34th pick Donald could be their guy.
Though Donald was the start of the show, the defensive tackle group as a whole really impressed. Sutton is a player similar to Donald and is in that late 1st-early 2nd round mix. He's got more size than Donald so is a bit of a better fit for the Redskins, but he's not a natural nose or 5 tech kind of player. Hageman has the best size of the top three tackles down here, but he's not as explosive as Donald/Sutton. Still he might be the most natural fit if the Redskins want an impact defensive lineman to help anchor their defense. Justin Ellis, Daniel McCullers and DaQuan Jones all project to be nose tackles in the 3-4 and could be 4th-5th round options for the Redskins. Ellis has a great mix of size and explosion, and could be the highest drafted of the three. McCullers has probably the best potential with his size and power, but he lacks consistency. Deandre Coleman and Shamar Stephen are good fits for the 5 technique if the Redskins want to upgrade the position. Considering that both Stephen Bowen and Adam Carriker should be cut, there is a need there. Coleman shows nice power and could be another player in the mix for the 4th round. Stephen probably will go a little later in the draft, but could be a nice depth player.
Jordan Tripp, Montana (South), Telvin Smith, FSU (South), Christian Kirksey, Iowa (North)
-Again this is another group that has some intriguing pass rushers if the Redskins were to lose Brian Orakpo, but not likely guys they will be targeting early in the draft. Jordan Tripp and Christian Kirksey both are guys who could possibly move inside in a 3-4 system. Both are very active linebackers who are all over the field and show some nice coverage abilities. Telvin Smith is undersized for the 3-4, but in the day of specialization he could be considered a sub-package linebacker who is brought in to boost the coverage skills on passing downs.
Christian Jones, FSU (South), Chris Borland, Wisconsin (North), Larmin Barrow, LSU (South)
-A strong underrated group here at the Senior Bowl. Jones lined up all over the field for the South squad and will draw interest for just about any defensive system. In a 3-4 he can play inside and even help as a pass rusher as well. He is similar in that regard to another former Florida State linebacker Lawrence Timmons for the Steelers. Timmons is primarly an inside linebacker, but they give him the freedom to blitz. They've also used him outside at times when injuries have piled up among their outside linebackers. Jones could be used in a similar way. He's also got better length than Timmons and can be used in coverage versus bigger tight ends or as a blitzer on third downs. Borland is your classic undersized middle/inside linebacker. He's got instincts and football intelligence that are off the charts, similar to former Redskins backer London Fletcher. Though he doesn't get enough credit for it, but Borland had pretty good athleticism as well, and shows a nice ability to get off blocks. Barrow isn't as much of a starting prospect as the other two inside backers, but he could be more of a 4th-5th round option and a guy with some nice depth.
Keith McGill, Utah (South), Walt Aikens, Liberty (South), Lavelle Westbrooks, Georgia Southern (South), Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Nebraska (North), Pierre Desir, Lindenwood (North), Dez Southward, Wisconsin (North), Nevin Lawson, Utah State (North)
-If you want a corner with size this is your year to watch the Senior Bowl. The majority of the corners down here are over 6'0", including a couple who are over 6'2". In a league with a number of dominant bigger receivers and joker tight ends that size and length is becoming a premium. Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Pierre Desir, Walt Aikens, Keith McGill and Dez Southward are the top guys to watch with size and length to cover the bigger receivers. None should be top two round picks so the Redskins should be able to choose from them in the mid-late rounds to restock their corner position. Jean-Baptiste and Desir get the greatest hype, but watch Aikens as a sleeper prospect.
Smaller quicker corners took a hit when Oklahoma's Aaron Colvin was lost to an ACL injury and Florida's Jaylen Watkins pulled out with an injury as well. Nevin Lawson though is an intriguing smaller school guy to watch though. He's got impressive speed and quickness and could be a slot corner.
Craig Loston, LSU (South), Terrance Brooks, FSU (South), Jemea Thomas, Georgia Tech (South), Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois (North), Deone Bucannon, Washington State (North), Ahmad Dixon, Baylor (North)
-This is not an incredibly deep safety group from a starting potential standpoint, but there are some interesting names to watch. Jimmie Ward may not come from a big name school, but he plays like a big name player. He's very fluid and quick in coverage and does a great job reading the quarterbacks eyes. He's also a guy who loves to come up in run support and enjoys playing special teams (a desperate need for the Redskins). His stock is rising, but he probably won't go before the late 3rd round and could be an option in the 4th round or late if he slides. Deone Bucannon is a big physical safety, he didn't have the greatest week, but you see some potential as a strong safety who can help in the box. Terrance Brooks and Ahmad Dixon are both interesting guys who flash some potential, but will probably be more like 5th round or later draft picks. They could be guys to develop and build up the special teams play. Jemea Thomas is very natural in coverage, but he's also one of the smaller safeties here. He might not be able to hold up versus large tight ends and receivers. Still his football instincts give him a chance to make it at the next level.