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………