Top Senior Prospects – Defense

By R44

DT~ Rodrique Wright ~ Texas– Wright came into 2004, his junior season, as a player many felt would garner strong first round consideration after a super sophomore season. However, nagging injuries and constant double teams really affected the 6’5″, 305 pound super prospect, plunging his draft stock. As a sophomore he was dominant, registering a total of 80 tackles, with 7.5 sacks. As a junior, in 2004, his totals plummeted to 36 tackles and 1 sack. Nonetheless, we expect him to be healthy and comeback stronger and more intense as a senior, because he has way too much talent. Wright recently said: “I didn’t have the monster season I wanted, but I still helped lead the team to the Rose Bowl.”

DT~ Gabe Watson~ Michigan– At 6’4″ and 333 pounds, big Gabe was named first team All-Big Ten following a fantastic 2004 season for the Wolverines. If you’re looking for an athletic defensive tackle with great size and quick feet to stifle the opponents running game, Watson is an ideal candidate. While Watson isn’t known for his ability to put heat on the quarterback, he did improve in that area in 2004. Overall, he has 2 career sacks (both in 2004).

DE~ Mathias Kiwanuka~ Boston College– A tall, quick defensive end, who some severely overrated going into the 2004 season, by ranking him as the top draft prospect in college football. After huddling with NFL scouts in January, Mathias wisely decided to stay in school and better his game–particularly against the run. Nonetheless, with added bulk and seasoning, Kiwanuka has the potential to land in the top 10 picks of the NFL draft. Had 11 sacks, 2 interceptions and 24.5 tackles for losses in 2004. Named Big East Defensive Player of the Year and selected as a unanimous choice for All-Big East first team following the 2004 season.

DE~ Loren Howard ~ Northwestern– One of the best linemen in the Big Ten, who missed a portion of the 2004 season due to an injury. The huge 6’4″, 280-pound Howard has 11 career sacks and 34 tackles for losses in his first 3 seasons. Possesses great explosion and sheer power which, paired with his speed, means most teams have to often double and triple team him. Had off-season ankle surgery, but is expected to be 100 percent by the start of the season.

LB~ A.J Hawk ~ Ohio State– Hawk is a 6’2″, 245 pound linebacker, who recently busted out a 4.45 in the 40 yard dash at Ohio State’s Pro Day. I felt all along in 2004 that Hawk was a slam-dunk number one pick at any time he declared for the draft, now others are beginning to agree. Hawk is dominate against the run and can even drop back into coverage. When the Buckeyes secondary was beset by injuries in 2004, Hawk moved to defensive back in certain packages and covered wide receivers. Mostly listed as an outside linebacker, but we project this Dan Morgan clone will play inside in the NFL, to better utilize his tenacity and sideline-to-sideline speed.

LB~ Chad Greenway ~ Iowa–Greenway, along with fellow Big 10 performer A.J Hawk, are easily the top 2 linebacking prospects in the senior class. In my opinion, Greenway may be slightly better–but not by much. Greenway is a 6’3″, 245 pound coverage demon, who recently ran a 4.47 at Iowa’s Pro Day and displayed an NBA like vertical leap. Registered 113 tackles, 3 interceptions and 3 sacks in 2004, showing he could do it all. Playing next to fellow NFL prospect Abdul Hodge (an inside linebacker), Greenway is expected to have a big season for Iowa.

LB~ Spencer Havner~ UCLA–Was simply dominating for the Bruins in 2004, registering an amazing 125 tackles, despite missing the teams bowl game. He also added 9 tackles for losses and had 2 big interceptions. At 6’3″ and about 245 pounds, he’s got the ideal size teams look for. While he’s not in athletic class of Hawk and Greenway, Havner has solid skills and could project as a solid 2nd to 3rd round type. Matter of fact, NFL teams said he could’ve been a 2nd to 3rd rounder had he entered the most recent draft. Will remind fans a bit of Barrett Ruud, who was a high 2nd round pick by Tampa Bay.

CB~ Jimmy Williams~ Virginia Tech–Hokies got an early Christmas present, when their superstar CB/FS decided to not enter the most recent NFL draft and stated his desire to return for his senior season. He had a tremendous season in 2004, registering 60 tackles and collecting 5 interceptions. Beyond the stats, his presence as an athletic, intimidating force in the secondary was invaluable. With his combination of size (6’3″), top speed and ability to hit receivers, Williams should be a hot commodity at safety or cornerback in the NFL.

CB/S Jason Allen ~ Tennessee–Announced he has leaving Tennessee, then backed out soon after, saying he wanted to accomplish more in college. Possesses excellent size and speed and led the SEC in tackles in 2004 with 123. Allen, who already has already graduated from college, was told by NFL people he was a likely 2nd round pick (remember Nebraska 1st rounder Fabian Washington was told he was a 3rd rounder by the NFL when he declared), which didn’t phase him, as he stated that was close enough to his goal of round one. One thing to remember is, Allen’s strong desire to play cornerback at the next level may’ve been the reason he returned to Tennessee–either way, Tennessee fans aren’t complaining. Allen recently said he’ll play anywhere in the NFL: “I think I can run in the 4.3’s (in the 40-yard dash) and do 40 inches in the vertical jump. I want to play corner, but just like here at Tennessee, I’ll play wherever the team wants me to play.”

CB~ Kelly Jennings ~ Miami–Allen and Williams were easy picks. Picking this third defensive back is a bit tougher, but I really like Kelly Jennings, a classic Miami speedster with decent size (6’and 200 pounds) and outstanding speed. Jennings isn’t a real physical corner and needs to trust his instincts more, but his game improved significantly in 2004. Jennings has a chance to be a real good pro with his size and speed combination.

S~ Jarrad Page ~ UCLA–At this point, there is no clear cut choice for the number one safety in the senior class, but Page might be the best of the bunch. 2nd on the Bruins with 79 tackles and 3 interceptions in 2004, behind star linebacker Spencer Havner. At 6’2″ and 220 pounds, Page has the size to play close to the line and good speed to be a factor in coverage. Is an outfielder for the Bruins baseball team, but is currently hitting .151 as a platoon player, so he’s clearly a better NFL prospect.

R44 is the Head Editor of draftdaddy.com, a Jet Nation affiliated website dedicated to providing premium draft information to die-hard fans of the NFL.

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