By Marc Sluis, Staff Writer
This list, unlike the All-American team, is based purely on how I grade the prospects at each position. These are very fluid and will chance with the chance to watch more tape and especially after the Senior Bowl and combine, but are the current first team offense so to speak.
———FIRST TEAM DEFENSE—————
DT Star Lotulelei UTAH
A highly regarded prospect who despite his massive 320 lb frame moves extremely well. He shows the ability to punish opponents when he gets his hands on them in the backfield. I’m not quite as bullish as most, but his size and athleticism are special.
DT Johnathan Hankins OHIO ST
Big Hank has all the tools to be a dominant force up the middle with tremendous size, strength and surprising athleticism. Plus, he has a good motor and plays to the whistle, often chasing down the ball far from the line of scrimmage. He is somewhat of a gamble and could improve his conditioning and technique.
DE Damontre Moore TEXAS A&M
Moorehas burst onto the scene this year for the Aggies almost as much as Johnny Football. Moore has the mobility and speed to play either 4-3 DE or 3-4 OLB and does most of his damage fighting through blockers late in the play and laying the boom once he gets there.
DE Bjoern Werner FLORIDA ST
Werner combines great upper body strength with a lightning quick jump off the ball and seems to know the snap count before hand. His overall speed isn’t typical of a dominant pass rushing 4-3 DE, but his is great against the run and anticipates the count so well it might not matter.
3-4 OLB Barkevious Mingo LSU
Mingo needs to add bulk to be an every down pro, but he has incredible raw athleticism and speed to become a nightmare off the edge. He should offer similar impact yet much more complete of a game thanSeattle’s Bruce Irvin.
3-4 OLB Sam Montgomery LSU
With the characteristics that would label him a tweener in years pastMontgomerywill offer immense versatility and the athleticism to play all over the field and be a factor in both the pass rush and run game.
OLB Jarvis Jones GEORGIA
Jones is a play-maker plain and simple. Yes he is a bit undersized and could struggle against pro linemen who are both big and quick, but he is solid in coverage and has sideline to sideline speed as well.
ILB Manti Te’o NOTRE DAME
The Heisman runner-up is as attractive a prospect for his leadership, toughness and character as his production this past year. A versatile linebacker who can bring the boom and drop into coverage will be a safe pick and solid pro, but the top 5 overall range is too high.
ILB Alec Ogletree GEORGIA
A long and very athletic former safety, Ogletree is an impressive prospect. His character and maturity pale in comparison to Te’o (he was suspended earlier this year) but from a pure talent perspective he is clearly superior to Te’o.
CB Dee Milliner ALABAMA
Milliner has it all; the 6’1 frame to compete with the taller receivers now in vogue, the speed and fluid hips to stay with receivers downfield, and the physicality to make tackles and punish running backs in run support. He isn’t quite a Mo Claiborne type talent, but is destined to go in the top 10 of this relatively weak class.
CB Johnathan Banks MISS ST
Banks’ build is a bit light, but he has long arms on that 6’2 frame and aggressiveness to mask that somewhat. He is very fast and a major threat in the return game. As far as his coverage skills, he played a lot of zone and played it well due to that speed and can make the acrobatic interception. All in all a great athlete.
FS Eric Reid LSU
Reid has great range and can cover ground quickly in passing situations making him an active member of secondary in both run and pass defense. He has the skills to be a nice pro and should be a good fit as a free safety in the pass happy NFL.
SS Matt Elam FLORIDA
Elamis all over the place making plays and has the tackling skills to play the strong safety position at the next level. He plays with a swagger that permeates throughout the defense and seems to always be in the right place at the right time with a nose for the ball.