Best of the Midwest - Defensive Notes

There were several Midwestern defenders who raised their stock at the Best of the Midwest combine on Monday. A few of them were prospects who had previously been seen as offensive guys, while others showed they were better than their early offers and press clippings would suggest.

The defensive back group was a strong one, with a good handful of them putting on performances we felt were worthy of MVP contention.

The chosen defensive back MVP was Marshon Lattimore from Cleveland Glenville, rated and recruited by some schools as a wide receiver, he showed the feet and pure speed (4.48) to play in the secondary in college. There are some schools who see him as a safety or corner in college, and based on Monday, he demonstrated he can do that at a high level.

At corner, Fort Wayne (Ind.) South Side's Donovan Clark and Detroit (Mich.) King's Jalen Embry are similarly built and both had outstanding days. Clark ran in the 4.5s and did very well in the 1-1s. He's a good cover man with good feet and closed quickly to break up a couple passes. Embry has long arms and is very physical. He got his hands on guys, and one, he drove through the sideline. His 4.13 shuttle and 4.44 forty were among the top times in both of those testing groups. Clark currently has an Indiana offer while Embry has several MAC offers. I would expect both to add to those lists.

Clarkston (Mich.) corner Tim Cason had a good day. He's long, athletic and stepped over to receiver and looked good there. He's physical, and had some receivers he went against complaining about holding, but he's not afraid to put his hands on guys and his length and the athleticism he has to along with it are assets.

Glenville's Erick Smith is a safety prospect with several major offers. He's a pure football player. He's solid as far as testing numbers go, but once football stuff starts, he shows great instincts and smarts. He did a great job of getting in front of passes and making the play without interfering with the receiver. From his film, we know he can come up and hit, and now he has shown man to man ability as well.

Lima (Ohio) Central Catholic's Darius West has great size. He's very muscular in the upper body, but he's not stiff. He can run and cover, and we like him as one of the top 10-15 guys in the state of Ohio.

Fort Wayne (Ind.) Carroll's Drue Tranquill is impressive on the hoof. He's 6'2, over 200-lbs and runs well for a kid of that size. A high school safety, he showed he could cover backs and tight ends and he has good ball skills, which he backed up by going high to pick off a couple passes. He could end up as a big strong safety, but I think his upside is highest as a linebacker. He could really grow into a big, athletic backer who can cover or rush the passer off the edge. Either way, I'd be surprised if the "0" in his offer column didn't go away soon.

Detroit King's Tyriq Thompson may end up like that. He's already 6'2, 210-lbs as a sophomore and as his recruitment takes off, schools are likely to look at him as a potential linebacker as well.

Cretin Derham Hall (Minn.) cornerback Tim Gordon had a nice day. He tested well, turning in a good shuttle time, then performed well in 1-1s. He's light on his feet, has good chance of direction and did a nice job of anticipating and jumping routes as well. Cass Tech's Philip Parham had a good day in coverage. He's not as big as some of the guys mentioned above, but he has good quickness.

At linebacker, Upper Arlington (Ohio) 2014 prospect Chris Frey was impressive. He couldn't help not hitting and decked a receiver coming over the middle. After being removed for a couple plays, he came back in and broke up and pass and grabbed an interception without hitting anyone. He's physical, athletic, and continuing to add offers. It was easy to see why.

Another with offers is Lawrence Central (Ind.) junior Brandon Lee. He's very long and runs well. He still has a lot of room to add weight, and he's a very smart, instinctive kid as well. Carl Fuller from Detroit King is another with length and ability to run and cover. He still needs to add weight, but he's a competitive kid and a good athlete.

Ohio products Airius Moore (Beavercreek) and Dorian Hendrix (Huber Heights Wayne) along with Indiana natives Patrick Shaw (East Chicago) and A.J. Murphy (South Bend Clay) were others identified by our staff as top performers.

On the defensive line, Ft. Wayne (Ind.) South Side's Nathan Braster is 6'5, 240-lbs and while he's still raw, has all the tools you look for. He should draw a lot of interest over the next few months. Ohio product Logan Dziak tested well, running the fastest shuttle of all the defensive tackles.

Jashon Cornell of Cretin Derham Hall (Minn.) is slated to be one of the top 2015 kids in the Midwest. He has a lot of raw ability in a long frame. He's a pure speed rusher right now and once he adds a couple more moves to his arsenal, he will really take it to the next level as a pass rusher. I could see him as a stand-up guy in a 3-4 depending on his body continues to develop. He is very athletic and has a lot of upside.

Dillon Dallas from Center Grove (Ind.) and Jari Dada of Ft. Wayne (Ind.) are two guys who are undersized, but were handfuls in the 1-1s.

Lawrence Central's Kevin Willis already has an Indiana offer and had a good showing in 1-1s. His shorter, stocky frame allows him to get under would-be blockers. He does a nice job with his hands and has solid quickness.

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