As the NFL draft draws closer and closer here are some questions that are circulating that pertain to prospects and their draft stock as well as their potential and projected impacts at the next level.
Who are the day two defenders that could shine the brightest at the next level?
This draft is considered to be loaded on the defensive side of the ball from top to bottom and while it is particularly deep along the defensive line and at pass rusher, there are several prospects at other positions that could prove to be immediate impact players and even Pro Bowlers. Here are some prospects that will be taken on day two that could shine the brightest come fall and beyond:
• CB Julian Love: The former member of the Fighting Irish is a perfect zone corner who excels at playing off his man and is a threat to make a play on the ball whenever it is in the air. He has great instincts and elite speed that allows him to jump and make breaks on the ball that he can quickly take the other way for a game-changing score. Love swarms to the ball no matter where he started off on the play and can be an effective blitzer off the edge for a sack or rushed throw. He is drawing some comparisons to Los Angeles Rams’ Pro Bowl corner Marcus Peters, who took the league by storm in 2015 when tied for the league lead in interceptions as a rookie and is considered one of the best zone corners in the league.
• LB David Long: The former West Virginia Mountaineer was the 2018 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and has all the makings of a field general at the next level. He was the emotional leader, best player and tone setter for West Virginia’s defense.
Long has the ability to be an every-down linebacker in the NFL because of his ability to read and shoot through gaps, knife into the backfield before the running back can even see the hole and bring down quarterbacks as a blitzer. He finished his senior season with 108 tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks and four passes defended, proof that he is capable of manning the middle of a defense at a high level.
• CB Treyvon Mullen: He was the No.1 corner for the National Champion Clemson Tigers last season and possesses all the traits and intangibles to be a No.1 corner at the next level. Mullen is a physical corner with the desired length and size in today’s game who sticks to his man up and down the field like fly paper and isn’t afraid to get involved in defending the run. In fact, he is highly proficient as an open field tackler as well as backfield disrupter off the blitz.
• S Will Harris: The former Boston College Eagle is an excellent box safety that makes the biggest impact and his greatest contributions at or near the line of scrimmage as well as right at or in front of the line to gain. He possesses tremendous closing speed that allows hit to be pass rushing factor off the blitz and keep pass catchers running the shallow to intermediate routes from picking up first downs and moving the chains.
• CB Amani Oruwariye: The former Penn State Nittany Lion is a big-bodied corner with ideal size and length. He uses his large frame to box out receivers for jump balls and box them out or run them out of bounds when the ball is in the air. Oruwariye has quick twitch reflexes that he uses to close in on receivers before the ball gets to them for a pass break up or even an interception if can undercut the route fast enough.
• DE Anthony Nelson: The former Iowa Hawkeye isn’t the most athletic edge defender and even though he’s much lighter and leaner for a player at his position at 6-7 and 271 pounds, he doesn’t possess ideal burst off the edge and his first step is a bit slower than most scouts would like. However, what he lacks in athleticism, he makes up for in technique and intelligence. He uses his length and strength to his advantage when going from speed to power. Nelson has active hands to shed blocks and capitalizes when tackles overset with swift inside moves.
• DE Zach Allen: The former Boston College standout is arguably the best edge setter in this draft with his incredible strength at the point of attack. He uses his hands well to keep the hands of offensive takes off him so that he can make a tackle at or behind the line of scrimmage.
Allen is a highly instinctive player with a high football IQ that he shows off when he quickly diagnosis run or pass, doesn’t get too far upfield with his rush and instead uses a nice inside move to cross the face of his blockers and doesn’t get fooled by jet sweeps to his side.
• OLB Joe Jackson: The former Miami Hurricane is a powerful presence off the edge who possesses the strength to bulldoze offensive tackles into the laps of quarterbacks and the speed to fire off the line with his great first step coupled with a dip move to get around blockers before they can get into their pass sets or can barely get a hand on him.
Jackson has the size and strength to collapse the interior of the pocket on stunts or even when lined up over a guard in sub packages similar to Za’Darius Smith of the Green Bay Packers who just signed a huge deal in free agency after being the most versatile pass rusher on the Baltimore Ravens’ No.1 overall defense last season.
• CB Lonnie Johnson Jr: The former University of Kentucky Wildcat hasn’t gotten a lot of media attention throughout the pre-draft process, but many scouts and draft experts believe he could be on of the best corners to come out of this draft in the long run. He is an excellent cover corner that stays in the hip pocket of receivers down the field, racks up pass breakups by sticking with his man all over the field and is a good open field tackler.