2018 NFL Draft: Defensive Prospect Notes and Breakdowns
Arden Key, LSU
Classic example of ultra-talented defensive player who has off the field issues and takes plays off. Needs a coach like Belichick or Pete Carroll who will get the most out of him. I personally wouldn’t take him in the 1st round, but my hypothetical locker room is built with a culture of hard nosed love for football and good attitudes. I think a locker room full of thugs would over-take me as a head coach. My skill would be I have a great repertoire of motivating quotes, so it would be important that my audience would support me rather than heckle me.
Marcus Davenport UTSA
Big time athlete, small school prospect. Far from a finished product, despite being praised as the next Jadeveon Clowney. Needs a team with a good D-line coach and a veteran to learn from. Struggled in the beginning of senior week practices but eventually got more comfortable and then balled out in the game. I really like him as a prospect, but his need to be developed has to be taken into consideration when talking about him. All in all, he gets off the ball insanely fast and his first step is very elite. Perhaps as a result from playing lesser competition, he is used to winning with athleticism rather than technique and so when he can’t win with speed he doesn’t have a huge tool-belt of pass rush moves, but he can improve on that.
Bradley Chubb, NC State
Cousin of Georgia RB Nick Chubb, Bradley Chubb is a legit edge prospect. A hair beneath Myles Garrett and Clowney is terms of athleticism, but still in their stratosphere of freak athlete edge rushers. He’s solid against the run, is a hard hitter and wrap up tackler, and his twitchiness obviously gives him huge upside as a pass-rusher. High motor and great instincts. Worthy of a top 5 pick.
Shaquel Griffin, UCF
Only has one hand but plays like a man possessed. His effort is insane and you have to love that on tape. He constantly gives 110% effort on every play and that translates to huge production. Obviously the one hand thing is gonna weird some scouts out, and it can’t be ignored that a lot of trench play is based on hand-games. He has a nice rip-and-swim move with his nub hand, for whatever that’s worth. I would absolutely draft this guy. Play doesn’t care who makes it, and it certainly doesn’t discriminate based on finger count.
Harold Landry, BC
Undersized a tad and not a “twitch athlete”, Landry will succeed as a sack artist at the next level due to his plethora of pass rush moves and his ability to win with his hands. Could benefit from an NFL strength and conditioning program, he will probably start his career as a situational pass rusher until he can improve against the run. Nonetheless, really high effort player and I like him alot.
Sam Hubbard, Ohio State
Pretty good. Ohio state players are always well coached. Powerful edge rusher with lots of hand moves. 4-3 D end who will be solid.
Vita Vea, Washington
Called a more athletic Haloti Ngata, this guy is huge but isn’t just a run stuffing 0-tech. He moves almost scary-well for how big he is. A quick and powerful pass rusher with rare lateral movement at 340 pounds, Vea is almost a lock to be a pro bowler. Eats double teams for breakfast and still destroys blockers.
Daron Payne, Alabama
His long interception and TD against Clemson combined with his dominant showing in the NCAA Championship cemented his status as the top 3 technique in this class. Good swim move but most of his value right now is primarily as a run stuffer. Good athleticism and lateral movement for a guy his size. Still, has room to grow and I like the kid a slot.
Harrison Phillips, Stanford
His wrestling background helps him win at the point of contact. He will eat double teams all day and stuff the run. Very quick and offers upside as a pass rusher but right now is a 2 down guy. A smart player who understand football well.
Maurice Hurst, Michigan
He’s small-ish but he flies around the background for a man of his position and hustles to the ball with relentless effort. 1st rounder with quick pass rush moves.
Roquan Smith, Georgia
Earned himself some money in the National Championship. Slightly undersized but has the athleticism to cover running backs, tight ends, and even slot receivers. A true “Sideline to sideline” guy in a draft class that has a lot of them, I like Smith going 10 overall to the Raiders. They need a guy like him. Smith lacks a little in terms of winning with his hands, so his future DC in the NFL will have to account for that and scheme around it for his first few years in the league. Great blitzer, but best as an off-ball weakside linebacker. Ideally will bulk up after being in an NFL strength and conditioning program.
Tremaine Edmunds, Va Tech
Love this guy, can’t get enough of him. Totally worthy of a top 5 pick. At 6’5, 250, the way he moves is awesome to watch. His feet fire like pistons and he’s the definition of “freak athelete.” He has NFL bloodlines as his father was a pro-bowl Tight End for the Dolphins and his brother Trey plays for the Saints. He’s also 20 years old, so a ton of All-pro potential there.
Malik Jefferson, Texas
Once heralded as the number 1 off-ball linebacker in this class, the Texas product has taken a backseat to his aforementioned position mates. Nonetheless, he is a superior athlete and could hear his name called in the first round.
Rashaan Evans, Alabama
Sideline to sideline guy, great versatility and instincts. Sometimes misses tackles because he goes for the big hit, but that’s a coachable trait. Can be late to react but his speed makes up for it. Will be a great value for an NFL team as an every down MLB. I like him to the Bills at pick 21.
Leighton Vander-Esch, Boise State
The long framed Boise State product was one of the most productive players in college football this year. Immediate starter who can cover tight ends and also sift through traffic to make plays in the run game. Not an outstanding tackler, but makes up for it with speed and range.
Josh Jackson, Iowa
Sketchy deep ball speed but outstanding ball skills. Perfect for a zone scheme, I like him going to the Seahawks to play across from and eventually replace Richard Sherman.
Denzel Ward, Ohio State
D back university strikes again! Ward is a tad short but plays tall as the top CB in the class and should go in the top half of the first round. Very agile and competitive, and plays aggressive press coverage.
Mike Hughes, UCF
Gonna rise up draft boards, this guy rocks. Great ball skills. Fluid, agile, and will be able to start right away wherever he is drafted. Quick feet and almost always wins press battles when he gets 2 hands on a receiver. Not super a super aggressive tackler, but is sufficient enough.
Donte Jackson, LSU
Probably the most athletic corner in the class, Jackson is a pure speed guy who is the definition of upside. Can get beat in coverage but recovers quick.
Levi Wallace, Alabama
Alabama corner played great all year, always making plays on the ball. Not talked about a ton as an elite prospect but he’s a guy who stood out on film to me.
Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama
A queen on the chess board type of defensive back, Fitzpatrick can play anywhere in the secondary. Called coach “Nick Saban’s” son for his incredible dedication to detail, he is a true blue chip player and deserving of a top 5 pick. Explosive, aggressive and competitive.
Ronnie Harrison, Alabama
Fitzpatricks teammate on the Crimson Tide, Harrison is a very well rounded safety who can play the run and the pass. Big dude. Probably a second round pick and could develop into a pro-bowl safety in pretty much any scheme.
Derwin James, FSU
Could play safety or linebacker, he’s a hard hitter with special athletic skills and instincts. Plays best in the box, he is outstanding against the run and as a blitzer. As a pure coverage safety, he doesn’t have dominant ball skills or insane reaction time, but he adept enough to cover backs and tight ends with ease. An explosive guy I would want on my team, but perhaps not the defensive pass-covering chess piece safety that some think he is. All in all, his closing speed is elite and he is a competitor.