2013 Senior Bowl Defensive Preview: Potential Dolphins to Watch

January 21st, 2013

Michael Buchanan
With the Dolphins needing depth almost across the defense, especially opposite Cam Wake, at weakside linebacker to replace Koi Misi, and the cornerback and safety spots, the Dolphins should be in full force at the Senior Bowl to watch the below players.

Defensive Lineman

Michael Buchanan, DE, Illinois One of the most physically talented defensive players in the country, the long armed, fluid, and powerful defensive end could remind of Chandler Jones before him as a player who flashed, but wasn’t consistent, on film, and had enough intrigue to be a 1st round pick. After a lackluster 2012 season, he’ll have a lot to prove this week, but he has the extension leg drive strength, the athleticism to rush inside and out, and the length to be a force in the run game as well. This week could help determine if he’s closer to a 1st round pick or a 3rd round pick during practices.

Margus Hunt, DE, SMU A former junior world champion as a thrower in track and field, Hunt has just four years of football playing experience under his belt and an enormous amount of upside. And while Hunt’s 82 inch wingspan and near 6’8, 280 pound frame are both rarities at the defensive end position, it’s the movement skills that he combines with such a frame that make him an intriguing and exciting draft prospect. Explosive off the line but extremely raw with his hands initially, Hunt flashes the ability to run the arc with speed, press an outside rush and redirect to the inside, or work an arm-over swim move. At the senior bowl, Hunt’s lack of refined hand placement could be exposed, so he’ll need to keep his pad height down this week, protect his midsection with short, sudden rush moves, and maximize his length advantage at the point of attack by consistently locking out.

Alex Okafor, DE, Texas Profiled as a 5-star, blue chip Texas recruit, Alex Okafor was never truly able to develop into the consistently dominant edge rusher that many believed he could be. While physical tools are present, as are developed hand techniques, Okafor still only appeared to produce in flashes and spurts. First off, Okafor needs to show he can stay healthy throughout the course of this coming week –as an ankle injury sapped his explosiveness late in 2012. Also important to watch will be whether or not Okafor is allowed to play from a standup position at all, as he seems to be comfortable rushing from a two-point stance.

Lavar Edwards, DE, LSU Possessing size and speed at 6’4, 258 pounds and understanding how to combine the two for effective pocket collapsing measures, Lavar Edwards rose from being a relatively unknown draft prospect to a potential 2nd or 3rd round pick in 2013. At the senior bowl, Edwards will need to show better dip and bend to the outside, along with more fluidity as a rusher when given a two-way go.

 

Linebackers

Khaseem Greene, Rutgers One of the most fun linebackers to watch in college this year, the former safety (from two years ago) has developed into one of the most dynamic playmakers in the country. With the sink and bend ability to dip into coverage, the aggressiveness and explosiveness to attack the backfield, and the range and instincts to make plays in the run and pass game, Greene is a 1st rounder on film, regardless of his (smaller) size. He needs to measure in around 5’11, 6’0, show he can efficiently play coverage well all week, and get off blocks on the interior to solidify that late 1st round grade.

Jamie Collins, Southern Miss A fantastic and unique athlete, many scouts will be reminded of Collins’s upside and versatility this week after he was trapped on one of the worst teams in college football this year. The former defensive back turned linebacker turned pass rusher, Collins has shown promise at each level of the defense yet still raw enough to wow with upside and able to be groomed at the next level. With more of a rusher focused career (since becoming a LB/DL), it’ll be interesting to see if he’s inept at the linebacker position. If he shows signs of polish or instant start-ability, Collins could be a very fast “riser” for NFL teams.

 

Defensive Backs

Blidi Wreh-Wilson, CB, UConn Very physical throughout the receivers route tree, he has the ability to lock on and engage as both a press cornerback, where he still needs some polish but is more than adequate in that respect, along with meeting with receivers in off-coverage, turning and running in good position. He times his transitions very well, knowing when to break and staying in a balanced base and in position to consistently make a break on the ball. He also releases well from blocks downfield and rarely gets locked up downfield from blockers. He could show a bit more aggressiveness in run support, and stay more consistently lower in his transitions along with not over-extending this week. However, if he can stay healthy, his length, physicality, and natural man coverage abilities should make him an early round pick that teams would be excited to develop.

Jordan Poyer, CB, Oregon State At 5-11, Poyer is build well through his upper and lower half and possesses the necessary play strength to win against more physical receivers. He plays to his timed speed, showing the ability to stay step for step with faster receivers downfield. He has outstandingly quick feet and change of direction ability that allow him to break on a dime and jump routes out of their breaks. He’s a very confident player who has more than held his own against top competition in the Pac 12. While they it occasionally get him into trouble, Poyer plays very aggressive and is not afraid to take risks. He plays with great anticipation and shows excellent concentration to make tough interceptions. He should be one of the more impressive defensive backs this week on either roster.

Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington Trufant is an excellent athlete with an ideal skill set for a cover corner. He has long arms and at 6 feet, good height to compete with taller receivers. He displays quick feet and hips quickly snap in changing direction and in turn and run. He doesn’t take false steps when redirecting or in his click and close. He has very good burst to the football and shows make up speed to recover downfield. However, Trufant has a wiry frame and subpar play strength. He has the athleticism to stay in his guy’s hip pocket in man, but when it comes to competing for the ball against bigger receivers, he can be out-physicalled. Perhaps the biggest knock on Trufant is his tackling ability, which he’ll get a chance to impress/struggle with this week.

Phillip Thomas, S, Fresno State Thomas has exceptional ball skills and awareness. Thomas an above average tackler when coming down into the box to help on running plays. In the secondary, Thomas is able to cover from sideline to sideline and reads the quarterback very well in pass plays. After coming off an injury in 2011, he’s been fantastic this season, and the Senior Bowl could vault/solidify his 2nd round grade for many teams.

Shawn Williams, S, Georgia There are two things that Shawn Williams is not afraid of doing: take vocal leadership and ownership of the defense; and hit you in the mouth. Calling out his teammates in the middle of the season, Williams’ words and subsequent play helped rejuvenate what was an underachieving defensive unit. Williams has the movement skills to man cover the slot or work in zone, but excels versus the run, as he’s able to stack and shed blockers due to his point of attack strength. This week in Mobile, I’ll be looking to see if Williams is limited to a role closer to the line of scrimmage, or if he can be counted upon in deep coverage from a free safety alignment.

BW Webb, CB, William & Mary Despite not being targeted all that often this season, thanks to his already feared reputation, Webb still impressed in his senior campaign, and should be able to do so again this week. He breaks down as a tackler very well and efficiently. He shows great hip fluidity to get to his deep third in Cover 3 quickly as well as travelling cross field in man coverage. He does a great job of timing his jumps/breaks on the ball, and attacks the play on time and at the highest point. While he wasn’t tested this year, which was a bit frustrating for him as well as from an evaluation standpoint, he’ll certainly be tested this week against the best receivers of this class.

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