2020 NFL Pre-Draft Analysis – Defense

Picking up where I left off from yesterday, today will focus on defensive players I saw last year who could find themselves drafted by an NFL team by Saturday night.  Here is the schedule for this year’s Draft – which will be conducted entirely online for the first time.

  • Thursday, 23 April:  Round 1 Begins at 8:00 PM EDT
  • Friday, 24 April:  Rounds 2 & 3 Begins at 7:00 PM EDT
  • Saturday, 25 April:  Rounds 4-7 Begins at Noon EDT

You can watch the event on ESPN and/or NFL Network for all 3 days.

I will begin today with Defensive Linemen.  As with yesterday’s presentation, I will put these players in alphabetical order because I do not want anyone to infer any sort of ranking here except when I specifically call out a round I think the player will be drafted.

  • Derrick Brown – Auburn: “Big and quick.  “Strong against the run and gets plenty of internal pass pressure”.  “Should go first round”.
  • K’Lavon Chaisson – LSU: “Good pass rusher, fast enough to chase down runs to the opposite side”.  “Not real good on power runs coming at him”.  “Probably a 2nd round pick.”
  • Raekwon Davis – Alabama: “Great against the run, not a lot of interior pressure on pass plays”.  “Second round?”
  • AJ Epenesa – Iowa: “All over the place in Holiday Bowl Game; unstoppable”.  “Obviously did not do that every game or he would be heralded as much as Chase Young.  Who knows?”
  • Leki Fotu – Utah: “Excellent playing the run”.  “Not fast at all and not much interior pass pressure”.  “Take in the late rounds.”.
  • Neville Gallimore – Oklahoma: “Super quick off the snap.” “Uses hands and arms to get penetration”. “Probably goes in the mid-rounds”.
  • Davon Hamilton – Ohio State: “Impressive interior pass rusher”.  “Good enough against the run”.  “Take in 2nd or 3rd round.”
  • Javon Kinlaw – South Carolina: “Screen graphic said 315 lbs., still very quick off the ball and decent pursuit of runners and QBs.”  “Not a bowling ball DT; he’s very tall”.  “First or second round pick?”
  • Chase Young – Ohio State: “Super quick off the ball and speed for an outside rush”.  “Not nearly so good defending run play straight at him”.  “Obviously a first-round pick”.

Chase Young follows in the footsteps of “The Bosa Bros” as a pass rushing monster for Ohio State.  I wonder who the Buckeyes have on the roster who will follow in these footsteps.

Moving on to the Linebackers …

  • Malik Harrison – Ohio State: “ILB big and strong against the run”.  “Not very fast – pass coverage limitations”.  “Probably a late round pick”.
  • Khalid Kareem – Notre Dame: “Good run defender.”  “Good pass coverage.”  “Not much pressure for an OLB.”  “Late rounds.”
  • Terrell Lewis – Alabama: “Good speed and pass rush moves”.  “Defends the run well”.  “Pass coverage out of the backfield, he’s average”.  I would say he is a mid-round pick but because he went to Alabama he will probably go in the second round.
  • Kenneth Murray – Oklahoma: “Big, fast and sure tackler”.  “Like pass coverage for a guy that big”.  “First round pick.”
  • Patrick Queen – LSU: “Good speed for blitz situations and for pass coverage”.  “Good enough against the run”.  “Second or third round?”
  • Isaiah Simmons – Clemson: “Excellent pass rush; plays the run and defends passes.”  “What can’t he do?”  “Has to go early in 1st round”.

I think that Isaiah Simmons is the defensive player in this draft who will have the most impactful NFL career; he just did everything on defense except play nose tackle.  I know that everyone has Chase Young penciled in as the top defender in this draft and I am not disputing his talents or his ability when I say that I think Isaiah Simmons is even better.

The Defensive Backs are next:

  • Terrell Burgess – Utah: “Tough defender; hard hitting tackler”.  “Not fast but seems to know where the ball is going so he gets there on time”.  “Plays safety”.  “Late round pick”.
  • CJ Henderson – Florida: “Big CB with good speed”.  “Solid pass defender deep and short”.  “Not much of a tackler on run plays to his side”.  “1st or 2nd round”.
  • Darnay Holmes – UCLA: “Small but fast”.  “Good coverage good closing speed”.  “Size is a problem?”.  “Late round pick; if he were bigger he’d go earlier.”
  • Xavier McKinney – Alabama: “Guy is everywhere – always around the ball”.  “Sure tackler and very good in coverage”.  “Plays safety in college”.  Looks like a 1st round pick to me”.
  • Jeff Okudah – Ohio State: “Good size and speed”. “Plays lots of man coverage in college”.  “Good enough as a tackler on run plays”.  “Has to go in the 1st round”.
  • John Reid – Penn State: “Good cover guy but very small”.  Maybe worth a late round pick?”
  • Antoine Winfield – Minnesota: “Excellent speed”.  “Covers well and tackles well enough”.  “Plays safety and problem is size; he is awfully small for an NFL safety”.  Take a flier on him in the late rounds.

Before I leave the defensive backs, let me make a comment about one here for whom I have no “performance notes” – – but I do have this note:

Noah Igbinoghene (Auburn): “Every copy editor and play-by-play announcer in an NFL city hopes this guy is drafted by a team in ‘the other conference’.”

I have exactly one Place Kicker in my stack of notes:

  • Rodriguo Blankenship – Georgia: “His placekick attempts all seem to go right down the middle – – very accurate”.  Team that needs a kicker can grab him in the late rounds”.

That’s it, folks; that’s all I have.  No none alerted me to a defensive player at a small school so I can’t tell you to watch for Joe Flabeetz from Teensy Tech as the Draft unfolds this weekend.  So, let me leave you with a comment from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times regarding a way that NFL broadcasters may reflect these COVID-19 times:

“NFL broadcasters, in keeping with the coronavirus theme, will henceforth refer to busted coverages as ‘social distancing.’”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



4 thoughts on “2020 NFL Pre-Draft Analysis – Defense”

    1. dave:

      I am certain that I have missed plenty of good players. I went back through my notes in the “linebacker pile” and I did not have any note about him. Sorry about that…

  1. Lot of NYG fans would like to hear your boy Simmons at #4. Giants can use an edge rusher (heck, they can use a LOT of things…)

Comments are closed.