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2016 Senior Bowl Prospect Preview (Defense)

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Who are some of the prospects on defense to watch on a star studded list?

Shawn Oakman. Do Want
Shawn Oakman. Do Want
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

North

1. Carl Nassib 6'7 272 DE Penn State

- One of the more underrated end prospects thanks to a lot of talent above him. He's been a steadying force for the Nittany Lions as they went through a tough season. Surprisingly agile and possesses quick feet. Doesn't get lost in the wash easily. Holds up decently in the point of attack. Projects to be a third round pick at this point.

2. Adolphus Washington 6'4 290 DL Ohio State

- Washington was the man in the middle that made things happen for the talented Buckeyes defense. He's one of the better run stoppers in the game. Underrated as a pass rusher. Washington was suspended for the bowl game due to being arrested for solicitation. He needs to prove that the arrest is behind him during the interview process.

3. Kyler Fackrell 6'5 250 OLB Utah State

- Fackrell has been on the radar of the scouting community for at least three years now. He's been a tackling machine for the Aggies. A playmaker on the edge and he can hold up in run support as well. Didn't get much love due to the insane amount of defensive front seven talent out west. Could be the 2016 version of Ziggy Ansah.

4. Blake Martinez 6'2 245 ILB Stanford

- Martinez is a prototypical Stanford player in that he's smart and instinctive as a linebacker with a limited amount of athleticism. Among the bigger inside linebackers in this era of quick footed light weight linebacker prospects. Watch out for him this week.

5. Kevin Peterson 5'11 190 CB Oklahoma State

- The best corner in the country not named VH3 or Jalen Ramsey. He's a shutdown corner that has a wealth of experience due to the propensity of the Big 12 to pass the ball around a lot. Quick hips and fluid breaks are a plus to his game. Based on coverage ability and other factors, I rate him ahead of Florida's Vernon Hargreaves III. The Cowboys' best defender at times.

6. Lawrence Thomas 6'4 303 DL Michigan State

- Thomas was the other guy opposite all everything end Shilique Calhoun. He's a good prospect in his own right. Consistent motor and work ethic are a plus. Willing to do the dirty work. Size may bump inside on certain situations.

Bonus prospects to watch

1. Sheldon Day 6'2 285 DL Notre Dame

- Day is this year’s Grady Jarrett in that he can play all of the line positions without losing a step. A still raw prospect that has yet to fully utilize all of his talents. Flashed his potential on numerous occasions. A developing prospect that got better as the year went on. Needs to kick out to end due to size.

2. Vernon Butler 6'3 309 DT Louisiana Tech

- Butler is the nation's most underrated tackle prospect. He's been on the radar for the past couple of years. The most talented out of a Bulldogs group that made the short trip over from Ruston, La. Fringe fourth round prospect.

3. Darian Thompson 6'2 212 S Boise State

- One of the more talented safeties in the class but doesn't get the love due to Boise State's location and light schedule. Needs to stand out with the big boys against him this week. Marqueston Huff 2.0?

South

1. Reggie Ragland 6'2 252 ILB Alabama

- Ragland chose to make the trip to Mobile even when he didn't necessarily need the boost in stock. He was a force to be reckoned with and showed why he's the best inside linebacker prospect this year. He was simply a dominant playmaker for the Crimson Tide defense chock full of NFL ready talent. He's very fundamentally sound in all aspects. Shows elite instincts and proper tackle form. Very physical hitter. Athleticism is good enough to cover sideline to sideline but he's better at going downhill, striking fear into the opposition. Doesn't miss tackles when given the opportunity.

2. Cyrus Jones 5'10 196 CB Alabama

- Jones needs the trip due to some flaws in his game. While a good return man, he's shown a habit of getting burned by the receiver by gambling on the pass. Athleticism is above average but the instincts aren't quite there yet as he's been a corner for a small sample size and lack of reps sitting behind Alabama's DB factory. Converted to corner after coming in as a receiver.

3. Jordan Jenkins 6'3 253 OLB Georgia

- The rock of the Bulldogs defense. Position versatile as he was asked to play end in certain situations. Lost a lot of weight this year (20 pounds) in an effort to gain more quickness and agility. Not the best athlete on most fields but a consistent presence. Scheme versatile as he's switched between Todd Grantham's 3-4 and Jeremy Pruitt's 3-4 seamlessly.

4. Shawn Oakman 6'9 275 DE Baylor

- Oakman is a physical specimen that is still learning the game. He's had a pretty solid 2015. A more technically refined guy than most will give him credit for. Speed is the name of his game. Run defense is a bit lacking but pass rush is above average. Built like a NBA power forward. Needs a big week to improve stock into the early second round.

5. Jarran Reed 6'4 313 DE Alabama

- The other guy on the Tide's monstrous defensive line. His game is based on brute strength and not so much on finesse. A surprisingly agile and quick guy for his size when he's asked to unleash that part of his game. Willing to do the dirty work inside. Profiles as a big five or 0 tech at the next level. A bigger Al Woods if you will.

6. Bronson Kaufusi 6'7 265 DE BYU

- Ziggy Ansah who? Kaufusi could be the best end prospect in an area of the country that's full of them. He was all over the place in the bowl game against the hated Utah Utes. I wouldn't hesitate to take him if he was available in the fourth round. Third round talent.

7. Noah Spence 6'3 261 DE/OLB Eastern Kentucky

- Spence could be a first round pick easily if not for his issues. He transferred to Eastern Kentucky after being removed from Ohio State and being banned from the Big Ten due to a drug addiction issue. He seems to have righted the ship, passing multiple tests and being a model citizen. On the field, he's a talent. Lateral agility and drop back skills are pretty good for a guy his size. First step is very quick. Position versatility is a plus as well. His interviews will be huge for him.

8. Jalen Mills 6'1 194 CB LSU

-  The elder statesman of the Bayou Bengals secondary. Arguably the best safety prospect in the country. Football IQ and instincts are very good. Experienced and position versatile as he's seen pretty much everything at both corner and safety. He missed a significant portion of the 2015 season early on dealing with a broken leg.

Bonus prospects to watch

1. Antonio Morrison 6'1 230 ILB Florida

- Morrison was the heart of the Gators defense. Tackling machine that’s a bit undersized for inside linebacker but could transition outside to mask that lack of size. Athleticism is above average. Footwork is good as well. Instincts set him apart from others. Could follow the career arc of fellow Gator alum Jon Bostic.

2. Eric Striker 6'0 223 OLB Oklahoma

3. Dadi Nicolas 6'3 227 DE Virginia Tech

4. Quinton Jefferson 6'3 289 DT Maryland

5. Sheldon Rankins 6'2 303 DE Louisville

-  Lorenzo Mauldin who? Rankins was the leading tackler and sacker for the Cardinals last year. He’s a versatile lineman that can play both inside and outside. Better suited for tackle given his ability to occupy multiple blockers and limited athleticism. Has the potential to be Jurrell Casey 2.0 given their similar dimensions and production.