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South DL: Ford boosts his stock

Wed, Feb 05, 2014

By Phil Savage

South DL

There are three aspects of defensive line play that a prospect must master to become successful in the NFL: defending the run at the point-of-attack, showing the athletic ability needed to track the football down from the backside and the pass rush skills necessary to stay on the field in Sub situations. During Reese'sSenior Bowl week, Alabama’s Ed Stinson and Virginia’s Brent Urban were given medical exclusions, so they were unable to participate in the game.

1. #30 Dee Ford/Auburn   DE/OLB   6021/243   32 3-4” Arm/10” Hand

Dee has the build and frame of a 3-4 outside linebacker projection, but he practiced exclusively as a DE for the South team. He has excellent first-step quickness and the bend to take the corner when rushing the passer. Although undersized when defending direct runs, he is aggressive and will chase with effort when the football goes away from him. No player helped himself more than Dee who was selected as the Alabama Power Most Outstanding DL of the Week and received the Reese’s Cup MVP trophy for his work during the game when he recorded two sacks. The 3-4 teams will want to work him out endlessly this spring in advance of the May draft.

1-on-1 PASS RUSH:  Wins: 6     Losses: 1

SENIOR BOWL SCOOP: Dee registered two sacks vs. Ole Miss, Texas A&M and Florida State during the season and finished with 10.5 for the year in addition to 14.5 tackles-for-loss and 17 QB hurries.

NFL CAREER FORECAST: Eventual Starter (within two seasons)

2. #42 Chris Smith/Arkansas   DE   6011/266  34 1-8” Arm/9 5-8” Hand

Chris arrived in Mobile as one of the more underrated defensive players in the SEC. At almost 270lbs on a shorter frame with long arms, he has some resemblance to Elvis Dumervil of the Baltimore Ravens. He has the upper body strength and leverage to get under blockers and hold up at the POA along with the overall athletic ability to pursue the ball from the backside. As a pass rusher, he is active with his hands and can take the edge when he can corner a blocker. Chris should find his way to the field as a rotational contributer during his rookie season in 2014.

1-on-1 PASS RUSH:  Wins: 4     Losses: 2

SENIOR BOWL SCOOP: Chris was selected 2nd team All-SEC in 2013 and actually totaled more sacks over the past two seasons (18) than the more-acclaimed Jadeveon Clowney of South Carolina (16).

NFL CAREER FORECAST: Potential Starter (within three seasons)

3. #98 Daniel McCullers/Tennessee   DT   6067/348   35 5-8” Arm/10 5-8” Hand

To the surprise of some NFL evaluators, Daniel showed up in Mobile and practiced with more energy and urgency than he put on tape in 2013. This measured giant can two-gap with his raw size and strength, but actually displayed some agility along the LOS and simply overpowered his opponents in the 1-on-1 pass rush drills. If he will keep his pads down more consistently, Daniel can forge a place in the NFL. He has some rare features, but will have to convince people that he is more than a run-down player only.

1-on-1 PASS RUSH:  Wins: 4      Losses: 3

SENIOR BOWL SCOOP: Daniel played two seasons at Georgia Military College before transferring to Tennessee. For the Volunteers, he totaled 33 tackles, 4.5 tackles-for-loss and a half-sack as a senior.


Best of the Rest:

#91 Caraun Reid/Princeton   DT   6021/301   32 5-8” Arm/10 1-4” Hand

Small school prospect took a few practices in adjusting to top competition, but by game day, he racked up two sacks and will garner lots of attention from the 4-3 teams.

#90 Will Sutton/Arizona State   DT   6006/315   30 5-8” Arm/9 5-8” Hand

To be at his best athletically, Will needs to be around 300lbs. He always flashes his initial quickness when getting upfield, but his lack of height and arm length is a concern for NFL scouts.

#99 Brent Urban/Virginia   DE   6066/298   33 5-8” Arm/9 7-8” Hand

Brent looks like the prototypical 3-4 DE with his chiseled frame and natural strength. Gave a glimpse of his inside pass rushing ability as a Sub DT, so that should increase his draft stock.

Phil Savage Phil Savage is the Executive Director of the Senior Bowl. He worked 20 years in the NFL as a coach, scout and executive, including two years as the Director of Player Personnel for the Baltimore Ravens and four years as the general manager of the Cleveland Browns.