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2019 Senior Bowl Defensive and Special Teams Preview

Written By: Roy Countryman @Blitzalytics @PreacherBoyRoy

As the calendar turns towards championship Sunday, the teams that have been eliminated from playoff contention will descend upon Mobile, Alabama in an effort to find reinforcements to their rosters. This year, we have two terrific coaching staffs who will put these highly skilled prospects through the wringer, and in this preview, we will give a brief overview of each defensive and special teams players on the rosters.

North Squad

Coached By: Jon Gruden (Oakland Raiders Staff)


Renell Wren: Arizona State (6’6” 297 lbs.)

Possesses all the ingredients to be a game-wrecker along the interior of the DL. Has outstanding first step quickness and will put OL on skates. Not only does he have burst, but the combination of a powerful build and length make him hard to contain.

Greg Gaines: Washington (6’2” 316 lbs.)

Old school, glass-eating DL who will plug up rushing lanes with his two-gapping ability. Has good enough quickness and wiggle to push the pocket and make plays laterally.

Khalen Saunders: Western Illinois (6’2” 310 lbs.)

Outstanding athleticism showed by the recent viral video of him doing backflips at his stature. He lived in FCS backfields the past few years with tremendous quickness and an ability to get skinny through gaps to penetrate. Was even called the FCS version of Aaron Donald.


Zach Allen: Boston College (6’5” 285 lbs.)

A player that may not be the best athlete, but will get every ounce out of what talent he does have. A tireless worker and effort player. Grinds and sheds blocks with a high rate of success due to strength, hand usage, and motor. Has outstanding intelligence and will diagnose plays quickly which allows him to read and react in an instant. Versatile DL who can play in any scheme of technique.

Charles Omenihu: Texas (6’6” 275 lbs.)

Pass rushing merchant that can play anywhere along the defensive front. Has tremendous length and burst to put OL trying to block him on defense off the ball. Has violent hand usage and will finish when he gets close to the QB.

Chase Winovich: Michigan (6’3” 255 lbs.)

Motor and effort based pass rusher who has a terrific grip on how to use his hands to disengage from blocks, as well as a wide variety of pass rushing moves. Does not possess great bend or an elite get off, but gets his share of sacks with second effort. Is a standout run defender due to hand usage and power throughout his build.

Jalen Jelks: Oregon (6’6” 245 lbs.)

Body beautiful athlete. Looks the part with a long, tapered build and plays with a nice blend of quickness and wiry strength. Shows terrific and effort to make plays in the second phase of plays, and can disrupt passing lanes with his arm length.

L.J. Collier: TCU (6’4” 276 lbs.)

A fun player to watch. He played everywhere on TCU’s defense: hand in the dirt, stand up rusher, interior pass rusher, and dropped into coverage. He is a solid all-around player who has good burst, bend, and flexibility. His motor is always running hot and will give great effort on backside pursuit. Pass rush moves are varied; he attacks OL with a plan.

John Cominsky: Charleston, Division II (6’5” 275 lbs.)

The MEC Defensive Player of the Year, he dominated the D-2 level. Has a strong build and can convert speed to power. He used this combination to beat the OL but expanded his repertoire as a senior with more pass rushing moves, focusing on getting away from just overwhelming OL to better position himself for a step up in competition against NFL OL. Violent finisher when he gets his hands on you.

Byron Cowart: Maryland (6’4” 293 lbs.)

A former five-star recruit that never seemed to fulfill his high ranking status. He possesses good athleticism and bulk and can stop the run adequately. As a pass rusher, he has an inconsistent get off and needs refinement with his leverage and pass rushing moves.


Chase Hansen: Utah (6’3” 230 lbs.)

Hansen is a converted safety that transitioned to an off the ball LB, and it had resounding success. He was a blur on the field, possessing an ability to fill rushing lanes and make plays laterally, as well as the real-valued ability to flip his hips and cover TE’s and WR’s downfield. Soft hands to pick off passes and is a sure tackler.

Ben Banogu: TCU (6’4” 249 lbs.)

Best position at the next level may be as a 3-4 OLB, where he can use his ability to slip blocks and use his length to his advantage. Middle of the road burst, but makes up for it with effort and a wide variety of pass rushing moves. Looks fluid in space and should be able to handle dropping off into soft zone coverage in a 3-4.

Drue Tranquill: Notre Dame (6’2” 233 lbs.)

Another former safety that had faced coming back from a devastating injury at Notre Dame. In his final season though he showed he is back to full health and flew around the field making plays. He is at his best flowing downhill in run defense but has enough fluidity to be able to carry coverage downfield. Extremely intelligent and was a terrific presence as a leader on the field.


Germaine Pratt: North Carolina State (6’3” 240 lbs.)

Former safety that has big-time athleticism and instincts to be a key cog on defense at the next level. His diagnostic ability and closing speed is impressive and can be a vital pass defender with his background as a former DB. Speed and lateral agility allow him to be able to make plays sideline to sideline.

Cameron Smith: USC (6’2” 250 lbs.)

Instinctive and intelligent ILB who was tasked with aligning the defense at USC. A tackling machine that from tackle to tackle does not allow anything by him. Decent fluidity to be able to cover outlet targets in the passing game.

Te’Von Coney: Notre Dame (6’1” 240 lbs.)

Square shouldered LB who plays a throwback style of football with filling hard in run defense. A hard hitter that can separate the ball from the runner, but has stiffness in his hips that will negate from his value in coverage.


Amani Oruwariye: Penn State (6’1” 201 lbs.)

Long, press coverage CB who shows a prowess for being left on an island. Has experience in both man and zone, and shows good fluidity to flip and stick to his responsibility. Good heads up tackler and willing contributor in run defense.

Kris Boyd: Texas (6’0” 195 lbs.)

Big-bodied CB who has good bulk and decent speed to stick with WR’s downfield. He has some stiffness in his transition and lacks great lateral agility. Can get a strong jam at the LOS, and is at his best as a press CB who can play north/south rather than laterally. Willing and hard-nosed run defender.

Corey Ballentine: Washburn, Division II (6’0” 204 lbs)

Is an intriguing D-2 CB who is a track star and has the speed to stick with WR’s vertically. He also is noted for his physical style of play where he doesn’t allow his assignment a clean release.

Jordan Brown: South Dakota State (6’1” 195 lbs.)

Good sized CB who has a background as a basketball player and track star in high school. He has impressive fluidity and speed to stick with WR’s downfield or on crossing routes.


Nasir Adderley: Delaware (6’0” 200 lbs.)

CB background that shines through in his ability as a coverage S. Can drop down into the slot and cover, or play the high third and make incredible breaks on the ball. The best ball hawk in the draft in my opinion, he has outstanding range and closing quickness to make game-changing plays on the ball. Solid tackler who takes great angles on every play. Terrific fluidity and doesn’t struggle to change directions.

Darnell Savage: Maryland (5’11” 200 lbs.)

Combination safety that can lay some bone-jarring hits. Has fluidity to drop down and cover slot WR’s. When asked to play deep third he uses his instincts and closing quickness to make a ton of plays on the ball. Has soft hands to come up with timely turnovers and takes good angles to the ball in run defense.

Will Harris: Boston College (6’2” 210 lbs.)

Is a solid combination safety that was a high school WR. He plays with solid instincts and doesn’t take a lot of wrong angles in pursuit. At this point, he Is a better run defender and can lay some big hits, but can get solid breaks to the ball and can come up with an INT from time to time.

Marvell Tell III : USC (6’2” 195 lbs.)

A great run defender who closes downhill quickly and with authority. Plays with an edge and with lay big hits on runners. Is a good deep third safety that will be a solid pass defender, but he simply doesn’t play with great instincts or ball skills to create turnovers.

Marquise Blair: Utah (6’2” 195 lbs.)

Big, lanky prospect who has flashed the skills to be a combination safety. He offers great length and can disrupt passes at the catch point. In run defense, he can lay some big hits but will fly downhill recklessly and take bad angles in pursuit.


Mitch Wishnowsky: Utah (6’2” 220 lbs.)

Huge leg who can flip the field for his defense to make a play. Displays great hang time, and an ability to pin offenses inside the 10.


Austin Seibert: Oklahoma (5’9” 214 lbs.)

Was utilized as a punter and kicker at Oklahoma. Has great leg strength, and has hit a 70-yard field goal on a video before he committed to Oklahoma. Clutch and hits kicks with good cadence and accuracy.

Long Snapper

Dan Godsil-Indiana (6’4” 233 lbs.)

Appeared in 50 games with the Hoosiers, and possesses the requisite size to be an NFL Long Snapper. His accuracy for an LS was put on display in a viral video where he snaps from off a platform over a railing and puts the ball in a garbage can 30 feet away. He loves flying downfield in pursuit and shows the ability to make open field tackles.

South Squad

Coached By: Kyle Shanahan (San Francisco 49ers Staff)


Gerald Willis III: Miami(Fl.) (6’3” 300 lbs.)

Is a wrecking ball of power and quickness. Uses terrific hand usage to keep himself clean and loose from blocks to penetrate into the backfield and get pressure.

Dontavius Russell: Auburn (6’3” 320 lbs.)

Run-plugging DT that shows an ability to anchor and allow his teammates to flow to the action. Has heavy hands and can steer and clear OL. Not a great pass rushing threat.

Isaiah Buggs: Alabama (6’2” 286 lbs.)

North/South player who is at his best using his strength to bully and shed OL. Can set a hard edge in run defense and funnel plays back inside. As a pass rusher, he uses his vice-like hands to strike and shed blocks to get him a chance at the QB.

Keke Kingsley: Texas A&M (6’4” 305 lbs.)

Possesses a unique blend of flexibility and length that makes up for a lack of other standout traits. He has strength and quickness to his game, but it comes in flashes and not on a consistent basis.


Anthony Nelson: Iowa (6’7” 271 lbs.)

A power player who utilizes his terrific length, hand strength, and hand usage to keep himself clean. His bull rush is deadly and can overwhelm OL not prepared for it. His motor is always running hot and he does not take plays off.

Montez Sweat: Mississippi State (6’6” 245 lbs.)

Tenacious pass rusher who brings violent hand usage and a combination of burst, strength, and length that is hard to be contained. Could rise up draft boards if he wreaks havoc in this setting.

Oshane Ximines: Old Dominion (6’4” 255 lbs.)

Has a excellent blend of strength and quickness that is hard for OL to match. Versatile pass rusher who can play as a hand in the ground 4-3 DE or stand up as a 3-4 OLB. Has a wide variety of pass rush moves in his tool belt, and hand usage that enhances them.

Jaylon Ferguson: Louisiana Tech (6’5” 262 lbs.)

Power rusher who is at his best at either bull rushing or countering off the initial move. Put up historic sack numbers in college, and will finish when he gets to the QB. Lacks great bend and flexibility, but makes up for it with effort and hustle.

Carl Granderson: Wyoming (6’5” 261 lbs.)

Lanky pass rusher who flourished when used in stunts. Can also win off the edge by using his decent burst and ability to get slippery past OL to get into the backfield. Hand usage and his variety of pass rush moves are solid. Can rush a from a two or three point stance.

Jonathan Ledbetter: Georgia (6’4” 280 lbs.)

Middle of the road athleticism, but can make plays both in the pass and rush game with his powerful build and heavy hands. Takes on blocks with ease and showed a terrific feel to be able to stack and shed.


Josh Allen: Kentucky (6’5” 260 lbs.)

The poster child of why you come back to school. He greatly refined his game as a senior and wreaked havoc on SEC OL. Has a terrific blend of speed, burst, bend, strength, and hand usage to be a pass-rushing threat for years. Put up outstanding sack totals and had an affinity for creating forced fumbles. Should be squarely in the conversation of the top 10.

Christian Miller: Alabama (6’4” 244 lbs.)

A player that has seemed to be constantly bitten by the injury bug, Miller will miss this game while he continually recovers from a hamstring injury. He does have an NFL skill set that includes length, hand usage, and a well-rounded set of pass rushing moves that should get him a chance to be rostered.

D’Andre Walker: Georgia (6’3 245 lbs.)

Has good bend and strength as a 3-4 OLB. Showed a prowess for being able to set an edge and funnel plays back inside. Can convert speed to power, and his effort allows him to make a good bit of plays late.

Terrill Hanks: New Mexico State (6’2” 230 lbs.)

Great Athleticism that should flourish as a WLB in a 4-3. Can flow and fit in run defense and showed an ability to get off blocks with slipperiness rather than strength. Has good fluidity to be able to transition and stick with outlet receivers. Sure tackler who will fly down in pursuit.


Bobby Okereke: Stanford (6’3” 234 lbs.)

Outstanding athleticism and shows an ability to make plays sideline to sideline. Can slip past blocks and penetrate into the backfield for TFL. Can process quickly and get to the target, but needs refinement in his tackling because he will miss too many tackles.

David Long Jr.: West Virginia (5’11” 221 lbs.)

Undersized, explosive ILB who can wreak havoc on ball carriers sideline to sideline. A tough-minded player who flies around the field with aggression. Can play inside or outside in a 4-3. Has good fluidity to transition and cover outlet receivers.

Deshaun Davis: Auburn (5’11” 246 lbs.)

Undersized run defending ILB who thrives being physical in the trenches. Is a heart and soul type of player whose value will lie in being the captain of the defense and align his teammates in the appropriate place. Has good take on strength and can shed a block. Is limited to making plays tackle to tackle due to a lack of fluidity.

Otaro Alaka: Texas A&M (6’3” 240 lbs.)

Throwback style ILB who is at his best flying downhill into rushing lanes. Plays with great take on strength, and will scrap in the trenches. Doesn’t have great lateral agility, and will struggle to stick with quick outlet targets in pass coverage. WIlling pass rusher who could make an impact on delayed blitzes or inside.


Rock Ya-Sin: Temple (6’2” 190 lbs.)

Gritty and Tough, press CB who has a background as a decorated wrestler. Transitions with ease and will play sticky coverage throughout. Will hand check a little too much downfield which could lead to penalties.

Isaiah Johnson: Houston (6’4” 203 lbs.)

Raw CB who recently transitioned from WR. Has terrific length and physicality as a press cover CB, but needs a great deal of refinement in his technique, footwork, and ball tracking ability. A lottery ticket that if you have a quality DB coach could win you big time.

Lonnie Johnson: Kentucky (6’3” 206 lbs.)

Tall and lanky DB who lacks great fluidity on the outside. Can let up some separation in his transition, but needs some refinement in coverage. Is at his best in press where he can jam and give himself time to flip and flow in the route.

Sheldrick Redwine: Miami(Fl.) (6’1” 195 lbs.)

Utilized both as a press corner or as a safety. As a press corner, he has good size, strength, and agility to transition and stick with WR’s downfield. Can get a good jam off LOS and redirect or disrupt timing of the route. Willing run defender and will crash downhill quickly.


Juan Thornhill: Virginia (6’0” 210 lbs.)

Probably the second best ball hawking safety in this class. Will trust his eyes and flow to ball freely to make INT’s. Has good closing quickness and is a strong tackler when asked to come down into the box.

Johnathan Abram: Mississippi State (6’0” 215 lbs.)

Hard hitting box safety that utilizes his instincts and ability to quickly diagnose plays to make big plays in run defense. Lays the lumber and will separate the ball from the ball carrier. In pass coverage, he is best utilized in zone due to a lack of great fluidity.

Jaquan Johnson: Miami(Fl.) (5’11” 195 lbs.)

Better equipped to make an impact in the NFL as a run defender due to his physicality and tackling prowess. In coverage, he lacks instincts and length to be a dominant disruptor at the catch point. His diagnosing skills are solid but at times he will bite hard on misdirection or play fakes.

Mike Edwards: Kentucky (6’0” 200 lbs.)

Ferocious DB who can play down as a slot CB or in the deep third. Feisty coverage player who has good fluidity to flip and stick with his assignment. Scrappy in run defense and is willing to fight through blocks. Makes great reads and has closing quickness to come up with turnovers.

Darius West: Kentucky (6’0” 200 lbs.)

Has overcome multiple significant leg injuries to get his invite. Is a solid run defender, that has also shown some prowess to come up with an INT from time to time. Is an energy bringer who elevates the play of those around him.

Khari Willis: Michigan State (6’0” 215 lbs.)

SS who loves to aggressively fill in on run defense. Delivers big hits on ball carriers, and is a solid pass defender due to solid instincts and athleticism. Plays within himself and understands what is asked of him.


Jake Bailey: Stanford (6’2” 202 lbs.)

Good leg strength and can drive kicks deep from time to time. His hang time is solid, but he is an exceptional directional kicker that can pin offenses deep.


Cole Tracy: LSU (5’11” 188 lbs.)

A grad transfer from Division II, Assumption he is a calm and cool Kicker when under pressure. He displays terrific accuracy on his kicks, but lacks big time leg strength to consistently make kicks from 50+yds out.

Long Snapper

Nick Moore: Georgia (6’3” 250 lbs.)

A former minor league baseball player who walked on at Georgia as a linebacker transitioned to LS after an injury. He displays good placement while snapping and also shows the ability to get downfield in pursuit to help out and make a tackle.

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