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Senior Bowl Day 2 Standouts: Defense

While there are several intriguing pass-rushing prospects at the Senior Bowl, one big run-stuffer is standing out after two days. Plus, one of the squads fell flat in coverage while the other had a couple of impressive cover cornerbacks.

Defensive line

USC DT Stevie Tu'ikolovatu isn’t going to pressure the quarterback too often, but the man knows how to hold his ground in the running game. At 6-foot-1, 350 pounds, few offensive linemen are getting backwards movement from him and he is able to hold up on double teams, too.

He had another impressive outing on Day 2 at the Senior Bowl, plugging up interior running lanes and letting the offense know about it. For the second straight day, he had a trash-talking moment and said after the practice he is trying to get into players’ heads.

“Don’t run that [expletive] in the middle,” he yelled out after one of his many run-stuffing stops.

He simply doesn’t get pushed around much and is able to make plays on running backs, even when double-teamed. Before the Senior Bowl, some analysts had a low-round grade on him. Look for that to change.

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Michigan’s Ryan Glasgow had some struggles disengaging during pass-rushing drills against the offensive line, but he played the run well. He follows the action down the line and doesn’t give up a big running lane, even when double-teamed.

Notre Dame’s Isaac Rochell had a better day, showing a little more quickness and hustle during one-on-one and team drills. Even when he didn’t get to the quarterback, he was getting his hands up and giving chase from behind.

Michigan’s Chris Wormley proved once again he has the speed to be a factor, but, like many of the defensive linemen, he has a tendency to jump on the hard count. Despite that, he showed off his quickness at times again on Wednesday, including a touch sack during team drills.

Another pass rusher generating some buzz in Mobile is Villanova’s Tanoh Kpassagnon. At one point on Tuesday, he threw one of the better offensive linemen, Forrest Lamp, to the side, but he’s got some finesse and smoothness to his game, too.

The same can be said for UCLA’s Eddie Vanderdoes. He can lose balance at times when he lunges, but he also displayed some good quickness off the snap, showed off an impressive swim move and was one of the few to beat Jon Toth on Wednesday.

Tulane’s Tanzel Smart didn’t look as sharp on Day 2 as he did during the first day, getting buried on a combination block during O-line vs. D-line drills.

Alabama’s Dalvin Tomlinson showed why the Crimson Tide’s defenders were so good, easily beating LSU’s Ethan Pocic on a one-on-one situation with a quick move outside then back in, but he did get buried on a double team at one point.

Texas A&M’s Daeshon Hall had his troubles, falling off-balance while lunging against Conor McDermott, then getting a do-over and jumping offside. After starting over once again, McDermott pushed him to the ground when Hall tried to go wide and fell to the ground once again.

Linebacker

If Alex Anzalone of the Florida Gators is on the field, he’s in on the tackle. It’s that simple. At 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds, Anzalone has the size, strength, athleticism and desire to be an impact linebacker early in his career.

The two linebackers for the North that caught our attention on Day 2 were Michigan’s Ben Gedeon, an inside ‘backer at 6-1½ and 243 pounds, and Wisconsin’s Vince Biegel, an outside presence at 6-foot-3, 242 pounds. Both of them showed good pursuit and good angles to the ball carries.

Defensive Back

If it seems like the receivers all had productive days from the South, it’s because they did. When the passes weren’t being completed, the play usually included several pass interference flags being thrown by a host of officials.

The North, however, had a pair of corners who had better days than anyone on the South.

Desmond King and Rasul Douglas have separated themselves from the pack at corner. With good size and strength, coupled with loose hips, they’re the top two corners here. So the question becomes, King or Douglas?

King is a bit more fundamentally sound and shows better technique, but Douglas has the size advantage and appears to be the better athlete. I’d pick Douglas if I were drafting after consulting with the team physicians about his injury history.

Jourdan Lewis is another solid corner for the North, but he lacks the size and fluidity of King and Douglas. He shines in press and uses his hands well in close quarters. Lewis would do best in a press-and-release type of defense where he’s not asked to run the sidelines with No. 1 receivers in the league.

On the South, it wasn’t all bad, as Florida State’s Marquez White once again had more ups than downs while on an island, and Miami’s Cornelius Elder also showed off his press coverage skills while the routes were going short.

At safety, it’s John Johnson of Boston College, and then it’s everyone else. Johnson glides when he’s on the field. He’s incredibly smooth in his back pedal and release. He had three interceptions and nine passes defended last year at Boston College, and it’s easy to picture him as a ball-hawking safety in the NFL.


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