The first big event of the offseason draft process is upon us this week with the East-West Shrine Game. Without further ado, here are the defensive prospects from both teams to watch for. If you missed it, here is the link for the East-West Offensive Prospects
1. Greg Stroman 6’2 197 CB Senior Virginia Tech
- Stroman was probably the best corner in the entire ACC by default. He has elite ball skills as a cover corner. Is always around the ball. Very fundamentally sound as most Hokies defenders are under DC Bud Foster. He stays within himself and does not gamble often. Special teams ace as he has over 1000 punt return and 400 kick return yards. Top five in school history in terms of return yardage. Production is a plus with nine interceptions.
2. Tre Flowers 6’3 200 SS RS Senior Oklahoma State
- Flowers was a four year starter for the Cowboys’ defense. He’s a very instinctive in the box strong safety type that lacks somewhat in pass coverage. He’s a solid tackler and has a nose for the football, posting 284 tackles to go along with 25 passes defensed. Not the most fluid of athletes in pass defense but has enough to get the job done for a limited time. Projects as a Johnathan Cyprien type late round prospect.
3. Matthew Thomas 6’3 227 LB RS Senior Florida State
- Thomas has been an enigma throughout his entire career. A former top five star recruit that finally showed some promise as a RS Junior due to a multitude of off field issues. On field, he’s a playmaker with above average athleticism. Plus football IQ and instincts. Thomas has some off field questions to answer regarding why he didn’t play until very late into his career. He’s a force to be reckoned with. Best suited for an inside role at the next level. Projects as a Day 3 pick due to off field questions but is talented as they come.
4. Chris Worley 6’2 230 LB RS Senior Ohio State
- The unsung hero of the Buckeyes talented front seven. He does all the little things well but isn’t elite at any specific task. Character and work ethic are pluses. Did the dirty work in order to free up teammates to go make plays. A steadying presence in the middle. Projects as an UDFA or really late pick. Needs a big week to solidify things.
5. Deatrick Nichols 5’10 189 CB Senior South Florida
- Nichols is a productive corner that posted 174 tackles and 11 total interceptions in Tampa. He could be the best cover corner in the state of Florida. In the USF games that I watched, he really stood out as a tackler. Fundamentally sound and brings an aggressiveness that belies his size. Has enough athleticism to keep up but I’ve noticed he likes to get a little “handsy” with the receiver, which will be automatic penalties in the league. Ball skills are a plus. I have him projected out to be a Day 3 pick. Possible riser up the boards.
6. Jason Cabinda 6’1 234 ILB Senior Penn State
- Cabinda is a throwback to the old days of middle linebackers. I’ve noticed that he gets exposed a lot when he’s forced to defend the pass. Football IQ is a plus. Athleticism is better suited in the box and not sideline to sideline. It’s not the greatest but it’s playable at the NFL level. The leader of the resurgent PSU defense. It will be interesting to see if he can make it in today’s league. I have him in the seventh round.
7. Chad Thomas 6’6 275 DE Senior Miami
- Thomas is the Hurricanes’ best defensive lineman and has been for a number of years now. He’s a quick twitch athlete with a bit of power in his game. He really didn’t get going until his junior season due to the talent above him. Has posted double digit sacks the past two years. Has the potential to dominate proceedings at Shrine and get a call up to the Senior Bowl next week. He’s a talent.
1. Poona Ford 5’11 303 DT Senior Texas
- Ford is a monster to deal with despite his less than ideal measurements. 5’11 is a little on the short side for defensive tackles but it is manageable. Motor is constantly running. It can be argued that he is the third best defensive tackle in the entire class. He’s that good. He could be the most talented defensive tackle on either roster this year. He’s a beast.
2. Marcell Frazier 6’5 265 DE RS Senior Missouri
- Frazier is the elite of the elite pass rushers in the SEC. I don’t make that statement lightly considering the amount of talent in the conference. Character and work ethic are a plus. A constant motor. Very explosive first step off the ball. Will not give up on a play no matter the circumstance. Constantly probes the offensive line for an advantage. A nightmare for opposing tackles. Still developing the finer points of pass rushing in terms of instincts. Played hurt all year with a torn quad and shoulder issues so toughness is not an issue. Production is a plus. 92 tackles, 31 TFLs, 17.5 sacks in his career.
3. Joel Lanning 6’2 236 QB/LB Senior Iowa State
- Lanning has been a revelation at linebacker this year after being a QB for most of his stay in Ames. It’s remarkable how fast his transition to the position has been. He did play both offense and defense on occasion this year as a running QB of sorts like a Tebow. Could be a steal of a prospect in the later rounds. Instincts are still developing but impressive given his lack of significant reps at LB.
4. Kenny Young 6’1 240 LB Senior UCLA
- He got next in the recent line of standout Bruins linebackers. The defensive general and arguably the best defensive player. An above average athlete that is fundamentally sound in both pass and run. More of an inside linebacker prospect than outside. UDFA grade but can improve into a Day 3 pick if he tests and performs well this week. Could be a steal for someone.
Bonus prospects to watch
1. Kentavius Street 6’2 287 DE North Carolina State (EAST)
2. Deadrin Senat 6’1 305 DT South Florida (EAST)