Table of Contents
This year’s defensive crop is fast, fluid, and full of tweeners. Here’s who popped in Indianapolis.
Kalijah Cancey PITT, 6’1” 281 lbs.
Ranked the #2 DT going in, Cancey didn’t do much at the combine, but what he did he did well. The Pitt product wowed with a 4.67 40-yard dash, the fastest by a DT since 2006. Despite a lack of ideal mass or length, that time alone means Cancey will command serious attention in the first half of round one.
Jalen Redmond OKL, 6’2” 292 lbs.
Ranked the #5 DT going into the combine, Redmond showed better than expected athleticism and quickness, grading out #1 in the 3-cone and shuttle drills, as well as turning in the best vertical. Projecting as a tweener at the next level, the Oklahoma product may have jumped a couple of spots in his position group.
Adetomiwa Adebawore, NWU 6’2” 282 lbs.
The #7 ranked DT prospect heading into the draft, Adebawore helped himself by placing 5th in the 40 and 5th in the bench, demonstrating both strength and speed. The NWU product plays with great pad level. With a bit more weight, he is a natural 3-tech on a 40 front, and he will be a force to contend with in the B gap. Easy Day 2 guy now.
Nolan Smith GEO 6’2” 238 lbs.
The #5 ranked Edge going in, Smith’s athleticism was on full display in Indy, as he ran a 4.39 40, dominated the vertical jump, and was 3rd in the broad jump. Pass rushers with sub-4.4 speed are a valuable commodity for all 32 teams in today’s NFL; Smith worked his way up the big board in Indy.
Derick Hall AUB 6’3” 254 lbs.
The #11 ranked Edge in Indy helped his cause with a solid 4.55 in the 40 and a 4th in broad jump — a test of lower body explosiveness. Hall is a long, aggressive power rusher but he needs work to get off blocks and be more effective in the run game. He’s a Day 3 guy but someone could stretch on Day 2.
Lonnie Phelps KAN 6’2” 244 lbs.
Ranked 18th coming in, this off-the-grid Kansas product turned in a better-than-expected 4.55 in the 40 while putting up 31 reps on the bench press. Phelps has 3-4 OLB traits in a smaller body. He bends well and attacks blockers but he’s not much of a pass-rush threat. Phelps’ testing in Indy will get his name called on Day 3.
Christian Gonzalez ORE 6’1” 197 lbs.
Gonzalez was ranked #1 coming in and did nothing to diminish that. He put up a fast 4.38 in the 40, before looking like the fluid, sure-footed defender he is in drills. Gonzalez needs to track the ball better and crowd the catch radius more consistently but he is clearly the best CB on the board.
Riley Moss IOW 6’1” 193 lbs.
Ranked 13th to start the combine, Moss measured in with the ideal size and showed better than expected speed with a 4.45 in the 40. A ballhawk with 3 pick 6s for his college career, Moss is a zone coverage guy who will be worth a mid-rounder to the zone-oriented Bears, Cardinals, Giants, or Lions.
Jakorian Bennett MAR 5’11” 188 lbs.
Ranked 16th coming in, Bennett turned heads with a 4.30 40 and backed that up with an explosive 11’1” broad jump. The book on the Maryland product is that he’s a loose-hipped, blue-collar guy who challenges catches but takes a lot of penalties. Now he’s all that, plus fast. His 40 launches Bennett to the 2nd or 3rd round.
Jartavius Martin ILL 5’11” 194 lbs.
The Illinois product was ranked the 6th overall safety coming in but likely improved on that with a 4.46 40 and an 11’1” broad jump. Martin showed great feet in drills and can slide up to play the nickel, but he is not strong enough to cover TEs at the next level. It’s a weak safety crop, so Martin will move up to late Day 2 or early Day 3.
Sydney Brown ILL 5’10” 211 lbs.
Ranked 7th coming in, the other ILL safety showed with a 4.47 40 and 10’10” broad jump with better-than-expected fluidity in coverage drills. Unlike Martin, Brown gets physical with TEs but can lose coverage and must become a surer tackler in the open field. I think he goes slightly before his teammate, Martin.
Daniel Scott CAL 6’1” 208 lbs.
Ranked #8 coming into Indy, Scott is an overaged prospect with an ideal size/speed combo for the safety position in the NFL. Scott is a versatile, all-in player who reads the QB exceptionally well but needs to come under control better when tackling. I love him in the DB communicator role eventually. Day 3 guy.