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 second team defense so to speak.
DT Sylvester Williams NORTH CAROLINA
Williams is able to beat opposing lineman with a quick first step and very effective swim move and plays with great energy. He is athletic enough to line up outside at times and to make plays across the field in run defense.
DT John Jenkins GEORGIA
For a 350 plus pound beast he moves unbelievably well. He has the physical mass and strength necessary to be a hole plugging NT but his athleticism adds increased upside making plays in the backfield as well.
DE Alex Okafor TEXAS
Okafor isn’t a speedster, but is a savvy, experienced and productive pass rusher. He is a better 4-3 DE prospect with his size, long arms and lack of blazing speed but could potentially play a number of defensive roles.
DE Ezekiel Ansah BYU
The 6’6 270 lb native of Ghana is new to football and the scouting community until recently. When someone of that size can play linebacker, defensive end and defensive tackle they have the potential to fly up draft boards like Ansah has of late. A first round talent who needs refinement, but his raw athleticism was apparent to me back in September when I added him to my Stock Update Sleeper list.
3-4 OLB Dion Jordan OREGON
A former tight end, Jordan still needs to fill out his frame but has an intriguing skill-set to play 3-4 rush linebacker. His long arms, coordination and speed are ideal for attacking off the edge.
3-4 OLB Anthony Barr UCLA
The Barr is set high after he switched from forgotten fullback to defensive stud. Of course his is still in the development stage but when you can pick up and excel at a new position this quickly the sky is the limit.
OLB Khaseem Greene RUTGERS
He doesn’t wow scouts physically but is versatile (a former safety) and has a knack for making big plays and causing turnovers. He has been much more physical this season and is the type of gamer who gets it done, plain and simple.
ILB Kevin Minter LSU
Minter has managed to stand out on a defense absolutely loaded with NFL talent. He is fast for an interior ‘backer but shows the anticipation and tackling skills to make it as a solid pro starter.
ILB Kevin Reddick NORTH CAROLINA
This selection may change soon and although Reddick is a solid prospect Mike Mauti or Shayne Skov could very well have been here if not for injury concerns. That said, Reddick is slightly underrated after his stock has slipped from the start of the year. He is not a super athlete or extremely physical, but has flashes of brilliance both blitzing and in run support.
CB Xavier Rhodes FSU
If not for a slight tendency is although receivers to get past him downfield, he would easily be a first-teamer. He has unique size at 6-2 215 to handle physical wide outs and make tackles in the running game.
CB Jordan Poyer OREGON ST
Whether casing down fly balls as an underclassman centerfielder or picking off passes Poyer is clearly athletic with great hand eye coordination. I do worry a bit about his listed but clearly questionable 6’0 height, as he is closer to 5’10 and a little small for an elite corner in today’s NFL. But even if he struggles with red zone jump balls to beasts like Calvin Johnson his vertical and change of direction skills will allow him to lock down receivers in most other situations.
FS Tony Jefferson OKLAHOMA
Jefferson has the closing speed to wreak havoc on blitzes and the physicality to make his presence felt. He has the coverage ability and tackling to play at either safety spot.
SS TJ McDonald USC
McDonald is long, athletic and loves to make the big hit which makes him a pretty solid safety prospect. Most are projecting him as a FS capable of playing SS, but would be a top-class SS in coverage given his athleticism and anticipation with more than enough physicality to handle run defense.