clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

2018 Scouting Combine: Front 7 To Watch

New, comments
NCAA Football: CFP National Championship Game-Alabama vs Georgia
Roquan Smith. Do Want.
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

It’s Combine week! As usual, I’ll be breaking down prospects by the order in which their position group goes first for on field workouts. Today’s group are the front seven players.

EDGE

1. Lorenzo Carter 6’6 250 Senior Georgia

- Carter has finally solidified his presence as a defensive force as a senior after showing glimpses in the past. A former five star recruit that took some time develop into the monster that he is today. Can be used as both an end and outside linebacker. Has lined up pretty much everywhere.

2. Davin Bellamy 6’5 255 RS Senior Georgia

- Bellamy is a former five star recruit that got going during his junior season but really has developed nicely as a senior. Fundamentally sound as most Bulldog defenders are under Kirby Smart and Mel Tucker. He doesn’t have the production numbers but is generally a reliable defender that eats up blocks so that teammates can go make plays.

3. Arden Key 6’6 238 Junior LSU

- Key could be the most talented edge rusher in all of college football this year. He should be a pretty high first round pick. Plus athleticism even at his size. A freak athlete that is learning to be very disciplined in gap integrity. The next great Tigers defensive stud? He has missed a lot of time in the past calendar year due to personal issues and injuries. He will need to interview well and pass the medical portion to convince teams to draft him high.

4. Tyquan Lewis 6’3 265 RS Senior Ohio State

- Lewis has seemingly been in the program for forever now. Experienced in pretty much everything an offense can throw at him. A guy who doesn’t mind doing the dirty work for the team. Athleticism is above average. Projects as a 3-4 defensive end. He would fit as a 4-3 scheme as well. Football IQ is a plus. The mock drafts have been all over the place with him but most have him going middle rounds.

5. Harold Landry 6’3 252 Junior Boston College

- It can be argued that Landry is the best defensive end in the ACC. He’s that good. I’ve been a fan of his for the past couple of years. A big game player as he saves his best for the likes of Florida State and Clemson. Fundamentals are above average. A tackling machine that won’t stop until the whistle blows. Terrific athlete. Quick first step. He has battled leg injuries throughout 2017 and missed the bowl game as a result.

6. Hercules Mata’afa 6’1 252 RS Junior Washington State

- HM might be country’s most underrated defensive line prospect. He’s a tackling machine and is an impact player regardless of position or size. Fundamentally sound. Above average athleticism. NFL teams will have questions regarding his size and ability to put on weight. Simply put, he’s a machine. He put up 26 bench press reps. He’s simply a player regardless of the size questions. Was one of the more dominant pass rushers in all of college football.

7. Ogbonnia Okoronkwo 6’1 253 RS Senior Oklahoma

- OO was been a pleasant surprise in 2017 for the Sooners. He’s developed into one of the best pass rushers in college football. Every game that I’ve seen of him, he’s made plays. Very good first step. Football IQ is a plus. He has been a high riser up the boards. He had a solid outing in the Rose Bowl against Georgia. Reports from the Senior Bowl had him having a “presence”. The weight question was answered when he weighed in at 240+.

DE

1. Marcus Davenport 6’6 264 DE Senior UTSA

- Davenport has sky rocketed up the draft boards after an impressive 2017 season with the Road Runners. He’s not all athlete, no production either. A big physical freak with long arms that can get after it. Pass rush arsenal is among the best in the nation. Just pops off the screen. He has posted a whopping 185 tackles (which is impressive for an end) and 21.5 sacks. The Senior Bowl reports are that he was frequently beat during practices but he dominated the actual game. There will be questions about his work ethic due to that.

2. Da’Shawn Hand 6’4 297 DE Senior Alabama

- Hand has had an eventful 2017 to say the least. In August, he was charged with a DUI after being found asleep at the wheel at a traffic light. Then he was injured for most of the season due to knee and ankle issues. When healthy, he’s a talented disruptor in the run game. Very stout at the point of attack. Teams will question him about the off field stuff. A guy who has been waiting his turn and developed into a great rotational piece for the Tide. Senior Bowl participant.

3. Sam Hubbard 6’5 270 DE RS Junior Ohio State

- Hubbard has been on the radar for basically his entire career after being called into duty early replacing an injured Joey Bosa. Hubbard has tailed off somewhat since a hot start but still is considered to be one of the better ends in the class. A physical marvel. Fundamentally sound in both pass and run game. One of top underclassmen defensive ends. Frequently connected to the Titans due to need and fit.

DT

1. Justin Jones 6’2 309 DT Senior North Carolina State

- Jones is a solid defensive tackle prospect in that he’s hard to move. He needs work in the pass rush department as I’ve seen him just dance with the blocker instead of going up field and make plays. He’s adept at play pursuit. Frequently gets caught up in the wash. Work ethic is there for a DL coach to mine. The unsung hero of the monster Wolfpack defensive line. I really like him in the third or lower rounds. He’s a brick wall.

2. B.J. Hill 6’4 311 DT Senior North Carolina State

- He’s well developed fundamentally. Run defense is on point. A big body 4-3 tackle that can play the part of a 3-4 nose tackle if need be. Not the best athlete but he maintains gap discipline very well, which allows him to be in the picture. Hands are a plus. Won’t wow anyone but is consistently good at his job. Interior pressure will need to be improved for him to stick at the next level.

3. Derrick Nnadi 6’1 317 DT Senior Florida State

- Nnadi is the latest prospect in a long line of productive Seminole defensive tackles. A handful to deal with on the interior. Just starting to scratch the surface of his talents. He’s the anchor that the Noles can rely on the defensive line. A disruptive pass rush force on the interior. One of the best pass rushers from the tackle position in the nation. Size questions will have him limited to certain schemes.

4. Harrison Phillips 6’4 307 DT RS Junior Stanford

- Phillips is the latest out of the defensive line factory from Palo Alto. He’s a disruptive force in the run game. Has been flying up the boards this year. A handful to deal with on the interior for opposing linemen. Non stop motor. He has bulked up to 307 after being listed at 290+ for the better part of 2017 to answer the size question. Put up a monster 42 reps on the bench press. He could be a workout warrior.

5. Nathan Shepherd 6’5 315 DT Senior Fort Hayes State

- Shepherd was having a great week at the Senior Bowl by all accounts until he broke his wrist, which unfortunately knocked him out of the event. He was dominating every rep against much more higher level competition. The medical will be key for him. Canadian native.

ILB

1. Micah Kiser 6’2 238 RS Senior Virginia

- Kiser is one of the best inside linebackers in this class. He’s a throwback to the older generation of linebackers with big frames. Kiser has really come on during his senior season, improving an already plus level of instincts and football IQ. Production is very good as he has 397 tackles and 19 sacks in his career. Apparently his lack of athleticism was exposed during one on one drills at the Senior Bowl.

2. Tegray Scales 6’0 230 Senior Indiana

- He was the Hoosiers’ defense at times. A freak athlete. Undersized but the production is immense. He posted a whopping 324 tackles and 17 sacks to go along with 8 picks. He could be a JROB special late due to the production. Athleticism won’t be the best but he’s just a football player that will find a niche in the league.

3. Jason Cabinda 6’1 239 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. He will need to test well at the Combine and his Pro Day to get drafted late.

OLB

1. Rashaan Evans 6’3 232 RS Senior Alabama

- Evans is a beast. He got next in the long line of great Tide linebackers that are inevitable pros. He is a playmaker all over the field and the stats show it. Had a monstrous season all year. He very well could be my favorite linebacker in this year’s class. LB1 regardless of outside and inside. He has improved upon his numbers every year so the production is without question.

2. Roquan Smith 6’1 236 LB Junior Georgia

- Smith might be the best linebacker in the SEC if not the whole country. He has really blossomed under the stewardship of HC Kirby Smart. He is the defensive leader for the Bulldogs fearsome stop unit. A tackling machine with great fundamentals. Position versatile as he can play both in and out. Size concerns were answered when he measured in at 236 pounds.

3. Shaquem Griffin 6’1 227 RS Senior UCF

- Griffin is the twin brother of former Knight and current Seahawk DB Shaquill. He’s a true defensive general that led the stingy Golden Knights defense to unseen heights. A person of great character that refused to quit even with an amputated hand since childhood. He had a medical condition as a child that caused a lot of pain in his hand so the decision was made to amputate the hand to lessen the pain. He’s a fearless player that does not shirk anything due to disability. He was devastating when deployed as an outside linebacker at the Senior Bowl despite playing ILB for UCF. Put up 20 reps on the bench press with a prosthetic hand. I sincerely hope some team drafts him high. He can play.

4. Malik Jefferson 6’3 236 Junior Texas

- Jefferson has improved a lot in 2017 but has flashed a lot of the same inconsistencies that have plagued his career. He’s a terrific athlete that is miscast as an inside linebacker. Will likely test well at the Combine and Pro Day. Zach Brown 2.0 feel.

5. Skai Moore 6’2 226 Senior South Carolina

- Look up the word production in the dictionary and you’ll find Moore’s picture. He had 351 tackles, 5 sacks, and a monstrous Kevin Byard like 14 interceptions. He’s simply a playmaker regardless of size and speed issues. Instincts and IQ are off the charts good.