Senior Bowl: Defensive Scoop, Day Three

The defense is ahead of the offense thus far during Senior Bowl week, with several defenders earning big bucks with dominant performances. We highlight nine players from Wednesday's practices -- three on each level of the defense -- and break down what they've showed the scouts here in Mobile.

Defensive Linemen

Tydreke Powell, North Carolina

Powell didn't show many pass-rush moves (we're not sure he has them), but he was a constant figure behind the line of scrimmage because of his bull-rush ability. If he can prove to get off blocks and make tackles when the live bullets fire, he could be a factor on the nose. He stays lows when firing off the snap and wins the leverage game.

Vinny Curry, Marshall

Although Curry looked like he could be pushed off his line during Tuesday's practice, he looked just as quick and much more balanced Wednesday. He made regular visits to the makeshift quarterback during one-on-one drills, but the real test will be consistency with a lot of bodies around him and holding up in the run game.

Quinton Coples, North Carolina

The Tarheels were representing the defensive line well. Coples continued his array of pass-rushing moves as the powder blue helmets were an impactful force in the Wednesday afternoon practice. Coples ended the full-team session with a touch sack and a bow to his offensive teammates on the South squad.


Zach Brown, North Carolina

The Tarheel showcase wasn't limited to the defensive line. Brown was impressive from his middle linebacker position, diagnosing plays quickly and rarely taking a false step. He is able to fight through blocks and sniff out the ball carrier. While several other linebackers got lost in the wash, Brown showed the ability to locate the ball and make a play on it.

Emmanuel Acho, Texas

What set Acho apart was his quick first step. His reaction time is sensational and he was able to run by a few blockers before they were even able to get into position. He takes good angles to the ball and can make plays from sideline to sideline.

Audie Cole, NC State

Cole has the look of a two-down linebacker. He's very disciplined and is able to fight through blocks, but he lacks the speed to play in coverage. He was beaten badly a couple times in man-coverage situations and just can't keep up with quicker running backs in space. But when he is allowed to play downhill in confined spaces, he is aggressive and a sure tackler.

Defensive Backs

Leonard Johnson, Iowa State

Leonard Johnson has had a solid week of practices as he's shown a nice ability to play press man coverage.  Johnson is much tougher than most 5-foot-10 inch, 180-lb. cornerbacks as he dominated the one-on-one receiver-cornerback blocking drills. 

Alfonzo Dennard, Nebraska

Dennard has had an up-and-down week but he was definitely up on Wednesday's practice.  The 5-foot-10, 203-lb. cornerback excels in press coverage and is learning to play more zone here in Mobile.  Dennard reacts very well to the ball in the air but needs to learn not to sit on routes quite as much.

Brandon Boykin, Georgia

Boykin was among Wednesday's biggest money makers. He provided tight coverage throughout practice and showed he can get his head around and make plays on the ball. While several defensive backs had nice performances, Boykin was the one who had scouts buzzing.

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