This was the deepest group on defense this week and even though premier rusher Marlon Davidson went down with an injury in the first practice. While Davidson didn’t due enough to make the list, he came close with only one practice. Davidson was dominant before he left with an injury and worth noting that he definitely helped himself.
Anae had a solid week, that was more about showing his variety of moves versus many “wow” plays in practice. In the game though Anae showed why he was the all-time sack leader at Utah as he was unblockable for much of the day. He had 3 sacks and forced a number of pressures. He is in the mix for a top 50 spot and could push to be in the late 1st round. Uche and Lewis both showed how speed off the edge can devastate opposing offenses. Both were highly active throughout the practice week and would have been in mix for the top spot if not for Anae’s game day. Both also showed some versatility in drills in playing a stand-up role which should only help them.
Strowbridge was among the players that helped themselves the most this week. He came in lighter than his college weight and showed that he could be a quality EDGE rusher. He doesn’t have elite skills, but he consistently generated pressure from an edge position. He also lined-up some inside and could be utilized in that role depending on the defense (though he likely would need to add weight). Willekes had a very strong practice week and game, showing great instincts and technique. Greenard also had a strong week as a pass rusher and looks to be a top 100 pick.
Kinlaw only played in two practices, but he was the best player on the defensive side of the ball on those days. He can handle any interior position and looks like an elite player at the next level. He should go in the top 15 and could even push for a top 10 draft pick. Gallimore is a clear tier below Kinlaw, but he’s a very good player in his own right. He generates a lot of pressures and sacks as a pass rusher and is very disruptive as a run defender. Gallimore looks to be a top 2 round player and based on needs might find his way into the late 1st round.
Murchison got better as the week went on and had a strong game as well. He looks like a rotational interior defender, but he can add energy in quickness in small bursts off the bench. Hamilton is a better run defender than pass rusher, but showed enough this week that he won’t be a liability there. He also looks like a rotational option who can even handle the nose tackle role.
Akeem Davis-Gaither was fantastic this week flying around in coverage and showing good instincts vs the run and blitzing. He looks like the modern pass defense first off-ball linebacker teams are coveting right now. He can eliminate TEs and backs in coverage and has the range to react in zone coverage. Expect him to put up good numbers at the Combine and push for a top 50 spot. Harrison is a bit more well-rounded than Davis-Gaither when it comes to playing the run, but he is a slight bit behind him when it comes to coverage. That’s not a knock on Harrison, just an indicator of how good Davis-Gaither can be. Harrison had a strong week and a really good game and might have secured himself a top 75 pick.
Baun was extremely good this week in a “Jack-of-all-trades” role. He rushed from the edge, played both strong and will linebacker and excelled at everything he did. Wilson isn’t as heralded as the other prospects in this group, but he looks like a solid day 3 option. He was strong in coverage and played the run decently well.
Ojemudia and Jackson were the top two corners here this week both came in with day 3 grades looking like depth options at best. After this week they are in consideration for a top 100 pick and have some starting upside. Jackson especially seemed to get scouts buzzing in practice and during the game.
Pride Jr. just missed being part of the top two pairing as he played nearly as well as Ojemudia and Jackson. I think he has some starting upside of his own and is likely in the 4th round mix. Vildor was a smaller school guy, who came up in a big way. Vildor was excellent in coverage and despite being a little shorter had no real issue defending bigger receivers. He capped off a strong week with an interception in the game. He’s still more of a developmental player, but there is upside for teams to get excited about.
Dugger and Chinn are smaller school guys, but they are similar in that they are big physical safeties who had zero issue playing versus top level competition. Not only did both show that they can be physical players versus the run and matching up against tight ends, but they matched-up against receivers in drills. Despite the positional and level of competition difference neither had much issue. Dugger is the more advanced of the two and has a real shot of being a Day 2 pick. Chinn is probably more 4th or 5th round, but the upside is clear.
Brooks Jr. as solid all week and he looks like a versatile safety who can contribute on special teams. Not sure if he will ever be a starter, but he can be a valuable back-up. Cole is a raw safety, really only playing the position full-time for one year, but he flashed at times. He looks like a Day 3 pick who can contribute on special teams.