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Reese’s Senior Bowl Preview: DT-DE in first four rounds

Extra help on the D-Line may be needed

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 07 Murray State at Georgia
Devonte Wyatt
Photo by Todd Kirkland/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Reese’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama is an exceptional tool premier college players use in order to gain a bump in their draft stock. And Senior Bowl week begins today with player weigh-ins and measurements.

This year’s game is February 5 with a kickoff at 2:30pm EST broadcast on NFL Network. Wednesday and Thursday practices will be televised on ESPN2 or ESPNU with streaming on Fubo TV and Sling. Daily recaps will be available on NFL Network in the evening.

Players can improve with a good practice week in front of thousands of NFL coaches, scouts and General Managers. This can ultimately make them a higher pick that what was once estimated. Being taken as a higher draft choice obviously means being taken a round or two earlier plus an initial larger contract.

The Browns will need to select both a defensive end plus a defensive tackle at some point in April’s NFL draft.

Will the Browns retain DE Jadeveon Clowney? What about DE Takk McKinley? Both were on one-year deals and unrestricted free agents which means they can sign with any team. Another unrestricted free agent is DT Malik Jackson. Others along the D-Line are DT Malik McDowell and DE Ifeadi Odenigbo who is a restricted free agent. McDowell had a great season and became a full time starter but was recently arrested and has in all probability played his last NFL game.

LINK: 2022 SENIOR BOWL ROSTERS

Jackson, McDowell and Clowney were three of the starting four. In addition, DT Sheldon Day and DE Porter Gustin have spent time from the practice squad to the main roster numerous times. DE Joe Jackson was signed to the Kansas City Chiefs’ practice squad for playoff depth after Cleveland’s season ended. Rookie DT Tommy Togiai didn’t play many snaps until the second half of the season, DE Curtis Weaver was a developmental player while DT Jordan Elliott has been a disappointment.

This means new blood must be brought in for possible starting material but also quality depth.

Here is a list of potential DT and DE candidates that will compete at the Reese’s Senior Bowl.


COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 05 Notre Dame at Florida State Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Round 1: EDGE Jermaine Johnson (6’-5”, 265 pounds) - Florida State

An impact player with a variety of rush moves. Has a relentless motor especially on passing downs. Quick off the snap, takes good angles and has a very good reach. Able to shed blocks despite being lighter than most offensive tackles. Balanced defender. Finisher with a high football IQ. Good hand placement and usage. Very good run defender but rushing the QB is his best attribute. Possesses good power and range while chasing the runner. Is consistent even into the final quarter. Executes what his coaches have taught him. Very few limitations. Runs a 4.7 in the 40 so he has speed for his size. Ended 2021 with 70 total tackles and led the ACC with 18.0 tackles for loss plus 12.0 sacks so the production is there. 2021 First Team All-American, 2021 First Team All-ACC, plus 2021 ACC Defensive Player of the Year.


COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 10 CFP National Championship Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Round 2: DT Devonte Wyatt (6’-3”, 315 pounds) – Georgia

The National Champions featured an All-Star defensive front to which Wyatt played a major part. Was a four-year contributor at Georgia in a tough conference. Excellent first step with good balance. Will lose gap integrity at times and needs to increase his overall power, but an exceptional athlete inside with strength stopping the run game. Good timing when shooting gaps. Has a wide array of rush moves and counters on hand placement. Played all four years with 113 total tackles, five sacks. two forced fumbles and 12 tackles for loss. Very good run defender. Above average reaction to reading blocking schemes. Not an overly powerful player, but has good leverage when needed. Ultra competitive. 2021 Second Team All-American, First Team All-SEC (2021).


Round 3: EDGE Cameron Thomas (6’-5”, 270 pounds) – San Diego State

This player might be the draft’s best kept secret. Aggressive pass rusher who netted 20 sacks during his college career along with 39 tackles for loss and 155 total tackles. Is versatile enough to play inside as he was once an interior guy, but his speed off that first step is best used coming off the edge. Natural leader. Violent at the point of attack. Impressive hand usage and countering ability against larger tackles. Able to sell the outside move then twists inside. Consistent pass rusher that can start Week 1. Single blocks just aren’t enough for Thomas. Could very well become a second-round pick. Great football IQ who wins with effort, lateral movement and hustle. Functional power but not the strongest guy. Plays with rare level effort. 2021 Second Team All-American, 2021 First Team All-Mountain West, 2020 First Team All-Mountain West, 2019 First Team All-Mountain West, plus 2021 Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Year and semi-finalist for the Bednarik Award.


COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 20 Florida at Missouri Photo by Rick Ulreich/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Round 4: DT Zachary Carter (6’-5”, 285 pounds) - Florida

Former basketball player that was highly recruited out of high school by almost every school. He has good length and a balanced array of run defense versus pass rush. Mainly a B-gap player to rush from the interior defensive line. Good mix of size, speed and power but not overly explosive. Still needs to grow as far as fending off blocks. Very good run defender. Gets consistent leverage when rushing the passer and provides good effort. In 2021 Carter had 31 total tackles, 7.5 sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss. Solid processor with consistent technique. Needs work on his change of direction once the play goes in a different direction. Will need a season of development.

Poll

Which position do you see as a more important need going into 2022?

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    Defensive end
    (74 votes)
  • 74%
    Defensive tackle
    (215 votes)
289 votes total Vote Now