Tag Archive: Vinny Curry


Defensive Ends:

1- Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina: Coples was dominant at times this week and looked unblockable in 1 on 1 drills versus almost everyone on the South offensive line. He can be as good as he wants to be thanks to his great combination of size, length and athleticism. He projects to be a great LE in the NFL if he continues to work and provide the effort level that he had this week.

2- Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama: Upshaw has convinced me that he can play 4-3 DE or 3-4 OLB. I think he might be a better 3-4 outside linebacker, but he’s got plenty of upside. He might not have ideal measurable and 40 yard dash times, but he is a very strong, powerful player that is fundamentally sound. I wouldn’t bet against Upshaw in the NFL, and I don’t think you should either.

3- Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina: Ingram definitely impressed me this week. I think he can play in both a 4-3 and a 3-4 as well, and should be fine at outside linebacker where I think he might have the most upside. He has an impressive variety of pass rush moves and was all effort this week, taking reps standing up, with his hand in the dirt at DE and even inside at defensive tackle at times in 1 on 1’s.

4- Shea McClellin, DE/OLB, Boise State: McClellin feels like he should be higher on this list, but the three guys ahead of him are potential 1st rounders much like McClellin might end up being. He’s an impressive kid with better speed and pass rushing ability than a lot of people give him credit for. He’s a top 60 pick for sure, may be a top 40 guy when all is said and done.

5- Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall: Curry definitely has upside, and should get a 2nd or 3rd round grade from me after I finish my tape study of him, but he didn’t beat Mike Adams all week and didn’t look overly impressive rushing the passer this week. Once he was engaged he struggled to rush the passer, and while he has size and athletic ability he needs some development.

Defensive Tackles:

1- Mike Martin, DT, Michigan: Martin really impressed me this week. He’s not tall, but he’s very well built and is extremely strong, plus he has natural leverage because of his lack of ideal height. He’s got a terrific motor and very active hands, and just doesn’t stay blocked. He’s going to go higher than a lot of people expect him to.

2- Brandon Thompson, DT, Clemson: Thompson definitely showed his athleticism this week when he beat people off the ball initially with his burst and hand usage. He’s a 2nd round pick in my opinion but he’s got plenty of upside as a 3-tech, and he reminds me a bit of Jonathan Babineaux from the Atlanta Falcons.

3- Kendall Reyes, DT, Connecticut: Reyes weighed in lighter than I was hoping him to, but he’s got plenty of burst and athleticism off the snap. He’s got upside as a pass rusher, and might be able to contribute in a rotation early on in his career in pass rushing situations, but I worry about him versus the run. He can penetrate and get into the backfield, but I think he might get washed out in the run game if he doesn’t get stronger and put on a little weight.

4- Derek Wolfe, DT, Cincinnati: Wolfe came into the week very underrated but he had a strong week all week, showing his versatility to play defensive end or defensive tackle. He projects very well to a 5 technique or to a 3 technique at the next level in my opinion. His versatility will definitely help him on draft day, and he really opened some eyes this week if they hadn’t watched him play much. He may end up with a 3rd or 4th round grade from me once all is said and done. I think he has a future as a NFL starter without a doubt.

5- Jaye Howard, DT, Florida: Howard is someone I’ve been a fan of since early on in his junior season when I was watching tape of Florida. He’s got NFL size and athleticism, and I think he may end up in the fourth round when all is said and done. He’s not rated high but he’s got the ability to contribute to a NFL rotation early on in his career.

Linebackers:

1- Keenan Robinson, OLB, Texas: Robinson is my favorite linebacker here and it was really fun to be able to interview him yesterday. He’s a complete linebacker than can play all three positions if needed, but projects best to the weak-side. He’s strong, can attack blocks, is a very good tackler who has pop as a hitter, shows ability in coverage and can blitz when asked to. He’s got it all, and he’s very underrated despite that. I may end up putting a 2nd round grade on him when my film study on him is done.

2- Zach Brown, OLB, North Carolina: Brown had a great week, partially because the practices were non-contact and he wasn’t able to display his relatively poor tackling skills. This week was the perfect venue for Brown to show off his terrific athleticism and his ability to run around and find the ball. However, when he’s got the pads on and is asked to tackle he will come back down to Earth because he’s not a fundamentally sound tackler and often tries to go for the big hit. He also likes to arm tackle, and doesn’t consistently wrap up at all. I expect two or more missed tackles from him today.

3- Lavonte David, OLB, Nebraska: David is an undersized linebacker who will probably have to play weak-side linebacker in the NFL, but he’s a very good tackler who is a pretty complete linebacker himself. If he was a little bit bigger he would be a very highly thought of prospect, and I have always been one who doesn’t like to overlook smaller players with lots of talent.

4- Sean Spence, OLB, Miami: Spence is another undersized playmaker at linebacker. He’s even smaller than David is unfortunately, and at the beginning of the week there was talk of moving him to safety, but I think he has to stay at linebacker personally. He’s got good instincts, is a reliable tackler and shows some ability in coverage. Play him at weak-side linebacker and he should be fine.

5- James-Michael Johnson, ILB, Nevada: JMJ is one of the more athletic middle linebacker prospects in the draft this year. Like Brown, the practices this week were a chance for him to put on a show thanks to his athletic ability. I’m much more interested to see how he tackles today.

Cornerbacks:

1- Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama: Jenkins looked like a 1st round pick the entire week. He’s an impressive athlete  with the ability to play press-man, off-man or zone coverage in my opinion. Some were not high on him coming into the week, but I knew I was watching a special corner when I saw him at Florida. He’s got off-field concerns that will hurt his stock, but I still see him ending up in round 1. I feel more comfortable with him on the field than I do with Dre Kirkpatrick.

2- Brandon Boykin, CB, Georgia: Boykin is an undersized corner but he presents plenty of upside as a starter at corner as well as a return man. He won a college football award for versatility this year, and I think he may end up in the 2nd or 3rd round range once all is said and done.

3- Casey Hayward, CB, Vanderbilt: Hayward has been underrated for the last two years but he’s finally starting to catch some people’s eyes. He told me he thought part of that was that not a lot of people watch Vanderbilt, which I definitely think has some merit. But he put his skills on display this week and I think he’s a top 100 player without a doubt.

4- Jamell Fleming, CB, Oklahoma: Fleming is a guy that not a lot of people have been high on, but I like his upside as a man or zone coverage corner. He’s a quality cover man, and I think he has starter potential in the NFL.

5- Leonard Johnson, CB, Iowa State: Leonard Johnson came into the week with a little hype and I think he lived up to it. He’s not a very good off-man corner, though he does have the ability to mirror receivers which impressed me, but his value comes as a press-man corner or perhaps in zone. I think he’s a top 100 player as well.

6- Ryan Steed, CB, Furman: Steed isn’t a big corner but he has pretty good change of direction ability which he showed this week. He looked better in press-man than off-man, but struggled a bit when asked to locate the ball and make a play on it at times. I haven’t seen much tape on him, but I think he has upside and would like to see more of him if I get the chance.

Safeties:

1- George Iloka, S, Boise State: Iloka is one of the more physically impressive players here thanks to his impressive size, length and athletic ability. He didn’t impress me in man coverage this week, but he’s got pretty good range and his size will help him deep against big, physically imposing receivers at the next level.

2- Markelle Martin, S, Oklahoma State: Martin didn’t stick out to me a lot this week, but he’s always looked reliable on film and in a weak safety class he may go earlier than he should. I’m interested to see how he does when he’s asked to play deep in pretty vanilla coverages today.

3- Brandon Taylor, S, LSU: Taylor was a playmaker at safety this year for LSU but I didn’t quite see the playmaking ability here this week. He’s definitely a draftable prospect in the 4th round range, but I’m not sure how much upside he has.

4- Antonio Allen, S, South Carolina: Allen is a player that has a good feel for finding the ball and seems to be a pretty reliable tackler. I’m not sure how he is in coverage though, so I’m looking forward to seeing him more today.

5- Harrison Smith, S, Notre Dame: Smith has had a solid week but he hasn’t been great. He’s not a flashy player and seems like a pretty reliable guy, but I’m not sure he has starter upside at the next level.

Kickers/Punters:

1- Randy Bullock, K, Texas A&M: Bullock was the Lou Groza award winner this year and he was a great kid to talk to when I had the chance. He’s got a strong leg and he’s obviously very accurate, so I’ll be rooting for him in the NFL. He may even have a chance to get drafted, which isn’t a given for kickers.

2- Drew Butler, P, Georgia: Butler has a very strong leg, I noticed it last year when I was scouting Justin Houston. He can really punt that ball a long way, and has a shot at getting drafted even though he had a pretty inconsistent year kicking for Georgia when I watched him.

3- Brad Nortman, P, Wisconsin: Nortman is a very good punter with a strong leg as well. He, Butler and Anger from the Shrine Game all showed draftable ability to me which is pretty rare for punters.

Offensive Line:

Mike Adams (Ohio State) continued to show his ability. He plays well when he can use his length and his lateral agility to stay in front of pass rushers but when he has to anchor he can run into trouble because of his lack of lower body strength. He needs to get stronger, and he got beat by guys once he engaged them which worried me a little bit, but he has the ability to stick at left tackle if he can get stronger and continue to finish blocks. Mike Brewster (Ohio State) showed some ability today. When he doesn’t get too wide in his anchor he has more ability to recover and sustain blocks even when pushed back initially, but sometimes he will let his base get too wide which makes him easier to bull-rush. He did a pretty good job on Ta’amu a couple times though in 1 on 1’s.

Kevin Zeitler (Wisconsin) is still the best guard here in my opinion, but he had some struggles today. He had issues with more athletic players like Kendall Reyes or Billy Winn as they were able to get off the ball and beat him with an initial move off of his outside shoulder. Vinny Curry was able to do the same thing, but a defensive end should be able to beat a guard with his athleticism. It wasn’t Zeitler’s best day, but he has proven he’s a 2nd round guard to me all week. Kelechi Osemele (Iowa State) also had an up and down day. I was impressed with him versus the run on a couple plays, and he did alright in a couple 1 on 1’s. The most surprising was when he neutralized Vinny Curry’s speed rush. I didn’t think he had the athleticism for that, but Curry didn’t do anything on the rep. I still think Osemele’s future is inside at guard, but he showed the ability to use his length to win match-ups against more athletic players today. Senio Kelemete (Washington) didn’t have a great day either. I think he can play tackle if necessary on game day, but his best position is inside at guard. He needs to get stronger as he only weighed in at 300 pounds, and it shows at times. He’s got athleticism but if he doesn’t beat you with his first step and positioning at the point of attack he struggles.

Mitchell Schwartz (California) showed a bit of ability at tackle today and still looks like a 5th or 6th round right tackle prospect. Draftable, but not a lot of upside. He has the ability to anchor when pushed back initially and while he may struggle with speed he looked solid today. Tony Bergstrom (Utah) had an up and down day, but looked better inside at guard than he did outside at tackle. Wolfe got the better of him when he was rushing at defensive end, but he was more reliable when he slid inside and won a couple match-ups. I still need to see more of him, but he has ability and probably a mid-round grade right now.

Defensive Line:

Derek Wolfe (Cincinnati) continues to impress me. He’s an underrated guy and I think he’s a 3rd or 4th round lock at this point. He doesn’t have amazing upside, but he’s shown the versatility to play inside and outside this week and I think he’s got the ability to be a starter at the 3-tech or the 5-tech, and I was surprised by his ability to bend and get under the offensive lineman’s pads today even when rushing from the defensive end position. He’s being overlooked right now, but scouts are onto him. Kendall Reyes (Connecticut) had his second strong day in a row looking good in 1 on 1’s and showing his burst and athleticism off of the line of scrimmage. He still worries me versus the run, but he’s got a 3rd or 4th round grade from me right now. I like him as a 3-tech because of his ability to beat you off the ball and penetrate into the backfield. But he will need to get stronger and add weight to get better versus the run. Billy Winn (Boise State) had his best day of practice today in my opinion. He had a better day yesterday after a slow start on Monday, but he showed good burst for his size and active hands to beat you off of the ball. I have seen him get blocked and stay blocked a bit too much this week though, so when I do more tape study on him I’ll be watching for that.

Vinny Curry (Marshall) continues to disappoint me. He was being hyped up as a 1st rounder for quite some time, but I haven’t seen any tape or practices that make him look like a 1st round guy. He’s got NFL size and he’s got some athleticism, but he didn’t beat Kelechi Osemele off the edge today and that is a red flag. It’s only one rep, but Osemele is probably going to have to be a guard at the next level and while he has length Curry should be able to beat him off the ball. Alameda Ta’amu (Washington) has been a frustrating player to watch because he’s got all the size and athleticism you could want in a nose tackle but it just doesn’t translate to dominating performances. He’s a 3rd round guy and a 2-down player with some burst, but not much more than that in my opinion.

Check out our full coverage of the North Roster at NFL Draft Monsters here. Thanks for reading!

–Tom

North Roster Notes:

Tight Ends:

Michael Egnew (Missouri) continued to be the class of the tight ends in Mobile. He’s such an impressive athlete and he is flashing ability as a blocker this week. He’s got reliable hands, he knows how to use his body to shield defenders, and if he continues to improve as a blocker he could be a top 40 selection. Regardless, I think he’s a 2nd round lock. He’s underrated in the scouting community right now, but that won’t last long. He’s the top senior tight end. Brian Linthicum (Michigan State) didn’t practice today, I’m not sure why. Hopefully he will be back on the field in the next day or two.

Offensive Line:

As I said in my preview of the Senior Bowl I think that Kevin Zeitler (Wisconsin) is the top senior offensive guard and I still believe that. He looks like a 2nd round lock to me, and all the scouts around me were impressed with him today. He’s an impressive player and while he was beat by speed a couple times overall he had a good day. I talked with him briefly when I set up an interview after the practice and he thought he did poorly, but seemed to be his own toughest critic and assured me he would be better on Wednesday. He might be the 2nd or 3rd best offensive lineman in mobile this week. Mike Adams (Ohio State) continued to impress today. He wasn’t quite as impressive as he was yesterday, but he still played well and got some time at right tackle and guard as well as left tackle. I don’t see a great push from him in the run game so I don’t like his potential as much at right tackle, so I think left tackle is his best position. He will struggle with speed at one point, but barring an unforeseen injury the match-up between Adams at left tackle and Coples at defensive end may be the most intriguing of any that could occur in that game. I can’t wait to see that.

Mike Brewster (Ohio State) is a solid center but I don’t like his ability to anchor and he struggles against bigger, stronger players at times. He did show the ability to handle Ta’amu at times, but Ta’amu struggles with leverage and hasn’t played as strong as he looks sometimes. He’s the best center in Mobile, but that isn’t saying as much as one might think. Kelechi Osemele (Iowa State) continued to struggle a bit in my eyes. He’s powerful and has a nice punch, but it seems to be limited to the phone booth. He lumbers when he moves, struggles to redirect and doesn’t have the athleticism to stick at right tackle. He will have to move inside to guard and he might limit teams from a scheme standpoint there. He can excel in a man scheme that doesn’t require a lot of pulling from him, but if he’s in a scheme that requires more movement from him he will struggle in my opinion. Mitchell Schwartz (California) also had an up and down day. He’s a solid, 5th/6th round right tackle prospect but he might have to move inside to guard. I don’t think he has much starting upside in the NFL, and he struggled with speed outside today.

One player that really stuck out to me today was Senio Kelemete (Washington). He has the versatility to play guard or tackle but spent most of his time at tackle today. I don’t know if he can play left tackle, and I think his upside is highest at guard, but he is an impressive athlete with a good first step and some pop on contact. I would like to see him sustain and finish a little bit better, but he’s an impressive player that may end up in the top 100 selections come draft day. His versatility to play tackle and guard will only boost his stock. Tony Bergstrom (Utah) also flashed a little bit today. He didn’t have a great day, but he has a pretty impressive initial punch and may have the makings of a right tackle in the NFL. I haven’t seen him much, but on one play his initial punch sent a defender to the ground in 1 on 1’s.

Defensive Line:

Mike Martin (Michigan) has arguably been the most impressive defensive lineman for the North since practices started. He is a compact guy but he is very strong, has active hands and impressive burst off the line of scrimmage. He and Brewster had a couple impressive battles but overall Martin definitely won the match-up. Scouts have higher grades on him than most media pundits do, so don’t be surprised if Martin goes much higher than people expect. I haven’t studied him yet, but he has the makings of a potential 2nd round grade from me. He’s an animal. Derek Wolfe (Cincinnati) continued to impress. They gave him a few reps at defensive end today which surprised me, but he has been disruptive at defensive tackle so far this week. He’s a great 3-tech or 5-tech prospect in my opinion, and I definitely like what I have seen from him so far. Kendall Reyes (Connecticut) surprised me with his speed and burst off the ball today. I knew he was athletic, but I was surprised to see him come off the ball so quickly. He’s a quality 3-tech prospect, though I’m not sure I have much higher than a 3rd or 4th round grade on him right now.

Jack Crawford (Penn State) probably shouldn’t be here in my opinion. I’m not a fan and neither are the scouts I’ve talked to. He sounds like one of those guys who can show you something in practice and flash in 1 on 1’s, but doesn’t show up on game day and struggles to locate the ball. Vinny Curry (Marshall) hasn’t shown me much when I have seen him either. He has ability, I just don’t think he has 1st round ability. He didn’t show me round one ability on tape and he hasn’t shown it to me here yet. I’m hoping to see him perform like I’ve heard he can, but it’s not there yet. Billy Winn (Boise State) also disappointed me a bit today. He was going up against some quality talent on the North offensive line, but he only won one or two match-ups if I remember correctly. He stayed blocked more than I saw on tape, and didn’t have much variety in his pass rush moves. I’ll be watching him the rest of the week, but he looked like a 3rd round guy to me today. Alameda Ta’amu (Washington) was also unimpressive to me today. He’s got everything you could want in a 4-3 or 3-4 nose tackle prospect but it just doesn’t equate to a quality performance. The size and athleticism is there, he just can’t produce. He’s a two-down player in a 4-3 and might be able to play three downs in a 3-4 if he can prove he can collapse the pocket, but the pass rush just isn’t there from him. He needs to play with better pad level to avoid negating his natural power, as he was even blocked by Brewster in 1 on 1’s today. He’s got upside, but he’s a 3rd rounder in my opinion.

One player that really impressed me today was Shea McClellin (Boise State). He’s very athletic, has impressive burst and really gave the offensive tackles trouble in 1 on 1’s today. I love his potential as a 3-4 outside linebacker. I haven’t seen him in coverage this week, but I really think he has the potential to be 1st rounder and an impact player at that position. Hopefully I’ll have an interview later this week, I talked to him briefly after practice today.

Linebackers:

Honestly, I didn’t see much of the linebackers today but one thing I will say is that I like Audie Cole (North Carolina State). He impressed me on film and he has impressed me so far when I have seen him, though that time has been limited thus far. He’s going to be a riser after this week, I can tell you that.

I was focusing on the offensive line and the defensive line today, but my colleague at NFL Draft Monsters Brandon Howard was keeping an eye on the skill position players today. Give him a follow on Twitter @DashDiallo1 and follow this link to get to our complete coverage of the North and South practices! Thanks for reading!

–Tom

Defensive Line:

Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall: Curry is a very talented player but when I watched him I just didn’t see 1st round ability from him. He’s been very productive at Marshall and deserves to be at the Senior Bowl, I just don’t know that I buy him as a 1st round pick based on the film I’ve seen of him. I will be very interested to see how he does against this significant jump in competition.

Mike Martin, DT, Michigan: Martin is an all effort/all hustle defensive tackle that I like despite his lack of size. He’s going to be a rotational guy from day one in the NFL in my opinion and while he won’t wow people at the weigh-in I think he is going to make an impact at the next level.

Shea McClellin, DE, Boise State: I’m glad McClellin got an invite here because I like him as a defensive end. I don’t think he’s a 1st rounder but he’s definitely in the 2nd/3rd round range on my board right now and I haven’t done much film study on him yet. He’s got some edge speed and if he filled out his frame a little bit I think he could be a 4-3 left end and apply a pass rush from the position which is much harder to find that many realize. He can definitely help himself this week, so I’m looking forward to watching him.

Alameda Ta’amu, DT, Washington: Ta’amu had a TON of hype going into the bowl game against Baylor and then Baylor ran right up the middle all game and people started to hop off the bandwagon. Ta’amu didn’t impress me in that game at all obviously, but he didn’t get to be a legitimate NFL prospect because he played like that all season. He will make himself a lot of money this week if he shows he can stand up to double teams and that he has some burst off the line of scrimmage. But he will continue to drop if he gets washed out versus the run and shows no push as a pass rusher.

Billy Winn, DT, Boise State: Winn is a guy I have been high on since last year, he’s got impressive size and length based on the film I’ve seen of him and I really like his upside as a 4-3 DT or as a 3-4 defensive end. He’s got versatility and I think he’s going to end up going in the first two rounds, especially since this defensive tackle class isn’t exactly stacked.

Derek Wolfe, DT, Cincinnati: Wolfe is an underrated player that doesn’t have huge upside but I think he has starting potential in the NFL. Brandon Holstein (@NFLDraftRoundUp on Twitter, follow him) pointed him out to me the first time months ago this season and when I got a chance to watch him I liked what I saw. Again, he’s not a stud defensive tackle but he is definitely draftable in the 3rd/4th round range in my opinion and I look forward to seeing what he can do this week.

Andre Branch, DE, Clemson: Andre Branch was a player that I did not like at ALL when I watched him as a junior last season with Bowers opposite him, so I did not have high expectations for him as a senior at all. Most of his pressure on the quarterback came as a result of one on one’s and he didn’t show that he could use his hands at all and accomplished all his production thanks to his athleticism. But this year he flashed hand usage and the ability to use pass rush moves when I watched him. He has a TON to prove this week because if he has a good week he could be one of the biggest winners of the Senior Bowl thanks to his prototypical defensive end size and athleticism. Keep an eye out for Branch because he could make himself a ton of money this week.

Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina: Coples came into the season projected to be a top 5 pick and his stock has slowly slid ever since then. He didn’t live up to expectations as a defensive end this year and plenty of people are projecting him inside to defensive tackle. I have no doubt that he could bulk up to play defensive tackle, but I haven’t given up hope on him as a left end. I think people really underestimate how difficult it is to find a left defensive end that can play the run and rush the passer at a high level. Coples has that potential and I think that is what will keep him from sliding out of the top 20 or 25 ultimately. He has a lot to prove this week as well, and as a Tar Heel fan I will certainly be rooting for him.

Jaye Howard, DT, Florida: I am really happy that Howard is here. I remember watching him as a junior and thinking that he definitely had draftable ability and I believe he was on my list of potential break-out players this year. He definitely deserves to be here and he could open some eyes this week. He’s not the flashiest guy but he is reliable and should make some plays in the backfield this week.

Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina: Ingram has a chance to make himself a lot of money this week as well. He’s got quality size for a defensive end and has really improved his stock over the course of the season when everyone (including me) thought Devin Taylor and Jadeveon Clowney would be the talk of the defensive end position. I’m excited to see him live this week.

Tydreke Powell, DT, North Carolina: Powell is a player that I personally think is very overrated. He’s got a late round grade from me at this point and having seen a significant amount of film on him I’m not sure there’s a lot he can do this week to change my mind. His upside in the NFL is a 4-3 NT but he doesn’t offer much as a pass rusher and he doesn’t defend the run well either. His best bet is to land in a scheme that asks all of their defensive linemen to penetrate and make plays in the backfield, but he isn’t the athlete to consistently do that (it’s just what he likes to do, based on film). Powell could get exposed this week if he doesn’t play with better gap responsibility, and I have no reason to think he will based on the film I’ve watched.

Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama: I’m very glad Upshaw is here and I’m sure a lot of other people are as well. He will likely be playing out of position at 4-3 DE all week, but he has enough ability to play with his hand down and succeed even if his best position is 3-4 OLB in my eyes. I’m excited to see him in person because he really impressed me when I watched him this year, especially in the National Championship.

Linebackers:

Honestly, I’m not wowed with the linebackers here. Zach Brown (North Carolina) is the odds on favorite to be the first one drafted, but I’m not high on him and he looks like a better athlete than a linebacker when I watch him. He won’t be able to show his tackling ability this week so he could really impress people thanks to his athleticism and potential but he struggles with wrapping up and making quality tackles. One guy I do like is Nigel Bradham (Florida State). He’s not an elite prospect but I think he will be a NFL starter in a 4-3 defense. Another guy I am very high on is Keenean Robinson from Texas. He’s got great instincts and may be my odds on favorite to boost his stock as much as any other linebacker in Mobile this week. Look out for him, he is an absolute player.

Defensive Backs:

This defensive back group took a hit when Mark Barron (Alabama) announced that he would not be here this week, but it makes sense that he elected to skip it because his stock can really only go down at this point. I’m very excited to see Casey Hayward (Vanderbilt) who I have been talking up for well over a year at corner, Janoris Jenkins (North Alabama, formerly of Florida), Alfonzo Dennard (Nebraska), Jamell Fleming (Oklahoma) and Leonard Johnson (Iowa State). Jenkins was a corner I was very high on when he was at Florida, so it will be fun to see him in person despite the troubles he has this past year. Jamell Fleming and Hayward were both on my potential break-out players list that I posted before the season this year, so I am very excited to see both of them live. I really like both of them in coverage even though they may not have prototypical size (Hayward may be 5’9” or 5’10”) and speed. They’re good cover corners and that should show this week.

1- Quentin Coples, DE, North Carolina
Analysis: Coples really emerged last year after the suspensions to North Carolina’s two defensive linemen at the time, Marvin Austin and Robert Quinn. He produced 59 total tackles (33 solo), 15.5 TFL, 10.0 sacks, 2 FF and 2 pass deflections last year, which is a great season. He elected to come back to school and now will be one of the top defensive end prospects in this entire draft. Hopefully he avoids the same fate as Quinn and Austin and actually gets to play the year before he enters the draft, but the NCAA is investigating UNC again and Coples has been photographed multiple times at a party with UNC alums now in the NFL and they are wondering how he paid for airfare, hotel, etc. Hopefully he doesn’t get suspended for the entire season, but I’m not holding my breath that he won’t miss any games after last year.
2- Brandon Jenkins, DE, Florida State
Analysis: Jenkins was an absolute beast last year. As a sophomore he produced 63 tackles (42 solo), 21.5 TFL, 13.5 sacks, 2 FF and 2 pass deflections. He is now entering his junior season and is definitely one of the best defensive ends in the entire country. I am excited to see if he can replicate the season he had last year, and if he can he should be a top 10 pick without a doubt. He is incredibly fast off the line and has great edge speed, so if he produces again he will be a very hot commodity come draft time.
3- Devin Taylor, DE, South Carolina
Analysis: A lot of you may not know Devin Taylor but I highlighted him as a player I expect to break out in 2011. So I expect a lot from him, because he really impressed me last year and demonstrated some incredible potential. As a 6’7″, 250 pound sophomore not yet in the starting line-up Taylor managed 46 total tackles (33 solo), 13.0 TFL, 7.5 sacks, 1 INT (returned for TD), 1 fumble recovery and EIGHT pass deflections. He is so tall, so fast and has such long arms that he is an incredible handful for anyone to block, and even when he gets blocked he has demonstrated his ability to get his hands into passing lanes to alter throws or knock them down altogether. I think Taylor has shades of Julius Peppers in him, he has that kind of combination of size, arm length and athletic ability in my opinion. I am really excited to see him play again this year.
4- Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall
Analysis: Vinny Curry had a beast of a season last year, and really put himself on the map because of it. He was absolutely everywhere when Marshall jumped out to a big lead against West Virginia but WVU managed to come back and win late. However, Curry still had a great season, especially statistically. He managed 94 total tackles (44 solo), 18.0 TFL, 12.0 sacks, 2 FF and 3 pass deflections. He didn’t play the greatest competition, but in his first two games of the season (against Ohio State and then West Virginia) he had two sacks in each game against significantly better teams, which shows at least to a degree that he can play with anyone. I really look forward to watching him again this year, and I hope he can replicate his disruptiveness from last season.
5- Donte Paige-Moss, DE, North Carolina
Analysis: Paige-Moss is a guy that I’m not that familiar with despite him being on my team (UNC) but I was surprised at just how productive he was last year. He managed 49 total tackles (28 solo), 13.5 TFL, 7.0 sacks, 1 FF, 1 pass deflection and one kick/punt blocked. That’s impressive production for a guy who wasn’t expected to play a lot or start before Quinn’s suspension, so I am excited to see North Carolina’s pass rush this year if Coples and Paige-Moss are both on the field at the same time.
6- Olivier Vernon, DE, Miami
Analysis: I have been a fan of Vernon since I saw him play as a freshman, and I watched him toss Gabe Carimi like a rag doll on a run play in the Champs Bowl two years ago. Since then I have kept an eye on him, and he has been impressive. Last year as a sophomore he managed 39 total tackles (25 solo), 10.5 TFL and 6.0 sacks. He is very fast off the ball, has flashed great hand usage and is very strong. He will be on a very talented Miami defensive line this year, and I can’t wait for him to truly emerge and show people what he can do. He has incredible potential, and while he has flashed it more and more as he gets older he has not dominated yet, but I think that may happen this season.
7- Alex Okafor, DE, Texas
Analysis: Okafor didn’t put up insane stats last year as a sophomore either, but he flashed potential and should be in the starting lineup this year. He produced 27 tackles (13 solo), 3.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks and one fumble forced as a part of a rotation. With Okafor and Kheeston Randall rushing the passer Texas has the potential to have a very dangerous defensive front.
8- Nick Perry, DE, Southern Cal
Analysis: Perry is a guy that I have been waiting to break out for over a year now, but I think this is the year he will do it. He has crazy potential and a great combination of size and speed, and last year he managed 25 total tackles (15 solo), 7.5 TFL, 4.0 sacks, 2 FF’s and 3 pass break-ups. He apparently looked very good in the spring, so I am excited to see how he produces this year for Southern Cal. He has a ton of potential.
9- Jake Bequette, DE, Arkansas
Analysis: Bequette is a guy that impressed me a lot when I watched Arkansas. He reminds me a lot of Ryan Kerrigan in that he has pretty good size and athleticism with surprising edge speed. Last year he produced 32 total tackles (17 solo), 8.5 TFL, 7.0 sacks, 1 FF and 3 pass deflections. He is entering his senior season and much like Kerrigan last year I expect him to step up and threaten the 10 sack mark and solidify himself as a top 60 pick candidate . He’s not very flashy, but he has a great motor and should get serious consideration as a 4-3 LE.
10- Jonathan Massaquoi, DE, Troy
Analysis: Massaquoi really emerged last season as a sophomore and is now entering his junior season after producing 76 total tackles (54 solo), 20.5 TFL, 12.5 sacks, 1 FF and 1 pass deflection. He doesn’t have great size at 6’2″, 250 pounds and his lack of height will be criticized through the draft process much like Brandon Graham’s was, but if he can prove that he has the edge speed, the get-off and at least some hand usage then he will be able to be drafted in the top 2-3 rounds. It will be interesting to see how he does this year as a junior now that all the focus will be on him, and I look forward to critiquing his game now that he has become a known commodity.

Hopefully you enjoyed my early defensive end rankings for the 2012 Draft. If some of these juniors declare this defensive end class could be incredibly impressive. I won’t say it would be as good or better as this past class, but I was not a huge fan of some of the guys in this class so depending on how the season goes I might actually like this one better.

Thanks for reading!

–Tom