Every year there are prospects that seemingly come out of nowhere to impress in there rookie years. In 2011 it was a player like Richard Sherman the fifth round pick of the Seattle Seahawks. 2012 brought us guys like Vontaze Burfict and undrafted free agent of the Bengals and Lavonte David a second round pick of Tampa Bay both of whom shined. In this post we highlight the defensive players not being regarded nationally in the top of their positions but we believe will make an impact in the NFL despite their draft position.
Walter Stewart, DE Cincinnati
I have already broken down Walter Stewart as a prospect.On his 2012 tape his is one of the most explosive players in this draft. After signing a waiver to participate in the University of Cincinnati's Pro Timing Day he measured 6-foot-4, and weighed 245 pounds. He clock in at a 4.69s forty yard dash, with an incredibly fast 1.56s 10 yard split. For comparison sake Mingo had a 1.57s 10 yard split, Jordan a 1.61s 10 yard split Jarvis Jone 1.66s and two of the best pass rusher in the NFL Von Miller 1.57s and Clay Mathews 1.49s. He further confirmed his explosive lower body with a 37.5 inch vertical (would have been 5th at the Combine among DL & LB participants) and a 10 foot 3 inch broad jump (would have been 9th at the combine among DL & LB participants). At this point I am hoping any team takes a flier on this guy and hoping he stays healthy. He has potential to be really good if not one of the best in this class if those two things happen.
Alex Okafor, DE Univeristy of Texas
The 6-foot-4 Alex Okafor is not the most explosive defensive end. He isn't the strongest and doesn't display the best on field awareness. He does however show a good idea of how to use his lengthy arms to his advantage and has a strong punch. He understands hand technique very well and has the power to knock back offensive tackles. While his movements are stiff and he doesn't end naturally Okafor is a very intelligent prospect who should contribute to a 4-3 NFL defense.
Kwann Short, DT Purdue University-
Kwann Short of Purdue has impressive measurements for a D-linemen at 6-foot-3 299 pounds and most impressive of all his 34.75 inch arms. He was unable to workout at the combine or his pro day due to a hamstring injury but did hold his own workout where he put up 29 reps of 225 but did show a lack of explosiveness in movement drills. When Short is on his game he is a force in the middle and an excellent run stuffer. However Short has plenty of tape where he doesn't give his best effort and loses leverage quickly. Short has amazing potential if a coach can light a fire under him. With his length he can play the three technique 4-3 or the five technique in a 3-4
Akeem Spence, DT University of Illinois-
Akeem Spence is 6-foot -1 307, pounds with 33 inch arms and is the prototypical run stuffing 3 technique in a 4-3 defense. He maintain his natural leverage to hold the point and displays some good awareness to find the ball carrier. He is durable starting every game for Illinois in the last three year. Spence lack pass rush ability which has dropped his stock but in a league that is now constantly using multiple players on the front four to keep everyone fresh Spence can contribute as a run down player.
Snorsio Moore, OLB University of Connecticut
Snorsio "Sio" Moore is 6-foot-1 245 pounds. Moore was all over the tape I was watching of his teammate Trevardo Williams who at the time was rated higher. When I began watching film of Moore I realized he was a true football player. A decent pass rusher, Moore is at his best lined up as a 4-3 OLB. He can cover and finds the ball well. Moore has good instincts and can tackle. He may not be the fastest guy or the biggest but he is not afraid to get physical. It is my belief whatever team drafts Moore will be getting a very good football player. I think Moore can play in any scheme but would be best in a 4-3 defense.
Sean Porter, OLB Texas A&M University
Sean Porter was originally suppose to be Von Miller's replacement at Texas A&M. In 2011 he led the Big 12 with 9.5 sacks and 17 TFL. In 2012 Texas A&M moved to a 4-3 defense. In this new defense Porter showed off his coverage ability. Porter is one of the best coverage OLB in the draft. He needs to improve his physicality and the POA. Because of Porter's athleticism and coverage ability I believe he could make a starting WLB for a 4-3 team. If he can improve his physicality he might make a good Mack ILB in the 3-4.
Vince Williams, ILB Florida State University-
Vince Williams 6-foot-1 and 233 pounds. On tape he is an aggressive downhill player. While he doesn't have elite long speed but he can accelerate to his full speed quickly. He read the flow of run plays and can get to the ball carrier. When taking on blockers he is able to drive them backwards. Against the pass Williams isn't as good. He doesn't have great lateral agility and lumbers to more sideline to sideline. Williams will also bite too hard on play action fake. Despite this I think Williams would fit well as a 3-4 Buck ILB. He can take on blockers and accelerate quickly to make plays. While he doesn't look good in timed drill is plays fast on the field. I wouldn't mind taking a flier on him in the 7th round.
Jamar Taylor, CB Boise State University-
Jamar Taylor is 5-foot-11 and 192 pounds with 30.75 inch arms. He is one of the fastest corners in this draft posting a 4.37s forty yard dash. On tape Taylor has quick feet and movement skills to play in zine and shows the long speed and ability to flip his hips needed to play man. Taylor's best ability is his ball skills in his senior year he had 4 INTs and 9 passes defensed. In my opinion Taylor is potentially the second best CB (over Rhodes) in this draft because of his versatility.
Robert Alford, Southeastern Louisiana-
Robert Alford is only 5-foot-10 and 186 pounds but he has long 32 inch arms to make up for his size. Alford moves extremely well running a 4.39s forty, and posted a 40 inch vertical jump. On tape he is explosive in his reaction to routes and has some of the quickest feet in this draft. However Alford is missing a lot of the little fundamentals. He will stop his feet to read the route progression and will bite on double moves. Alford is also a very good at returning punts and kickoff and will immediately impact a team there. If Alford can refine the mental aspects of his game and fix his footwork fundamentals he has potential to be a very good starting corner.
Josh Evans, FS University of Florida
The 6-foot-1 207 pound Josh Evans was often overshadowed by his All-American teammate Matt Elam but the truth is Evans was often asked to cover for Matt Elam playing closer to the line of scrimmage. Evan put up some good stats of his own notching 3 INTs, 3 pass break ups, 83 tackles, and 5 TFL. His has a lanky safety build with just under 32 inch arms and answered his speed issues running a 4.54s forty yard dash. Evans has great zone awareness and reacts to plays well. The fact is Evans has the ability to play deep coverage and center field it was because of this ability that Elam was able to play closer to the line of scrimmage. Evans need to improve his tackling as he tends to lung at the ball carriers. He also need to improve his ability to find the runningback and read run plays. If you want a free safety that can start for your defense outside of the first three rounds Evans is your guy. He is a smart player, with good athleticism and length who is almost always in the right position wen playing deep coverage. He isn't the flash play maker his teammate is but he is a very solid player. Right now Evans is my favorite Free Safety prospect.
J.J. Wilcox, SS Georgia Southern
J.J. Wilcox measured 6-foot 213 pounds with 31 inch arms. The former WR in his first year at safety impressed in athletic drills running a 4.51s forty yard dash. Wilcox is a raw player having only one year at safety but still put up 88 tackles, 2 INTs and 3 pass break ups. At the Senior Bowl he flash a good ability to time his leaps and make a play on the football. Wilcox needs to learn to recognize routes as he will fall for double moves and pump fakes because of his aggressiveness. Overall Wilcox has the physical tools to be a starting safety the question is how long will it take for him to master the subtleties of the position?