Post-Bowl Risers: Defense

With the 2007 season's bowl games completed,'s Chris Steuber takes a look at a five defensive players who helped their draft status with strong performances.

Rey Maualuga, MLB – USC

Maualuga had a game to remember against Illinois in the Rose Bowl. The junior middle linebacker recorded four tackles, a forced fumble, an interception and three sacks. Even when he wasn't involved in a play, he was around the ball and showed great instincts. Maualuga stated during the season that he intends to return to USC for his senior season and won't enter the draft. But after a performance like that, it'll be hard to turn down first-round millions.

Bruce Davis, DE – UCLA

Davis capped off his collegiate career with a tremendous all-around game against a team he dominated this season. In the Bruins' 17–16 loss to BYU in the Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl, Davis had seven tackles, 3.5 for a loss, a forced fumble and 2.5 sacks. In an earlier meeting against BYU, Davis recorded two sacks, giving him a total of 4.5 against the Cougars this season. Davis has a unique ability to get in the backfield, and his 15.5 tackles for a loss and 12 sacks this season speak volumes. Davis projects to be an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme at the next level and is a promising late second-, early third-round selection.

Aqib Talib celebrates as he scores a touchdown following an interception during the Orange Bowl game.
AP Photo/J. Pat Carter

Aqib Talib, CB – Kansas

Talib made a huge impact in the Orange Bowl and was named the game's MVP. He recorded five tackles, along with the game's first score that came on an interception he returned for a 60-yard touchdown. He's a gifted corner with great instincts and big play potential. Talib, who's a junior, is a true ball-hawk and recently declared for the 2008 draft. He'll be a top-20 selection this spring.

Jamie Silva, S – Boston College

Silva is one of the most underrated defenders in the nation and doesn't get enough credit for his aggressive play. He's a consistent performer who shows up every week, just as he did in the Champs Sports Bowl. Silva showed great range, made 10 tackles and recorded two first-half interceptions. Silva has an opportunity this offseason to show scouts the kind of player he is, and with a good showing he can jump into the third or fourth round.

Marcus Howard, DE – Georgia

Howard was a force against Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl. He caused all kinds of problems for the Warriors' offensive line and QB Colt Brennan. Howard recorded four tackles, two forced fumbles and two sacks in the Bulldogs' 41–10 blowout victory over undefeated Hawaii. An undersized defensive end, Howard finished the year with 9.5 sacks and is destined to be an outside linebacker at the next level. Howard is a mid-round pick who can elevate his stock with an outstanding showing at the NFL Scouting Combine.

A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999.


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