The 2014 Senior Bowl has come and gone, and many prospect have altered their NFL Draft stocks, both positively and negatively. Which defensive prospects helped themselves the most throughout the week of practices and during the game on Saturday?
Along the defensive line, it’s hard to pick between DT Aaron Donald (Pitt) and DE Dee Ford (Auburn). Donald proved that his blowup season in 2013 wasn’t a fluke, and absolutely mauled interior linemen all week long, including OG Cyril Richardson (Baylor), who prior to the Senior Bowl was viewed as the top player at his position for the draft.
Ford was a monster off the edge and showed the athleticism scouts were looking to find in a hybrid DE/OLB prospect. He proved he can rush with his hand in the dirt as well as standing up. He’s likely put himself in that next tier of hybrid pass rushers behind Anthony Barr (UCLA) and Khalil Mack (Buffalo). Both Donald and Ford likely cemented first round grades, particularly the former.
Amongst the linebackers, Chris Borland (Wisconsin) helped himself out the most. He’s not the biggest guy in the world at 5-foot 11, and he’s not the most athletic, but he was a ballhawk all week long. He’s already got decent range, but combine that with tremendous awareness and solid reads, he’s a sideline to sideline playmaker, always around the ball. He’s a very instinctive player who’s been drawing many comparisons to former All-Pro ILB Zach Thomas. I still think he’s best suited to play inside a 3-4, but he looks more than capable of manning a 4-3 as well.
OLB Jeremiah Attaochu (Georgia Tech) was the most consistent pass rusher amongst the linebackers throughout the week, and he helped himself there, but struggled in coverage.
For the defensive backs, CB’s Pierre Desir (Lindenwood), Stanley Jean-Baptiste (Nebraska) and Walt Aikens (Liberty) all made themselves some money with their strong performances. They all fit the trendy model of big, tall, athletic and rangy defensive backs made popular by the Seattle Seahawks, as all three are that 6-foot 1 to 3 range and around 200-pounds. All three showed good athleticism and playmaking ability, though they’re all still a little rough around the edges.
One name I would’ve listed above had it not been for injury is CB Aaron Colvin (Oklahoma). Colvin was looking very good in practice until he tore his ACL in a drill, effectively crushing his draft stock. Still, he could theoretically be healthy by week one of the 2014 NFL season, but whichever team drafts him would be wise to be patient.
All in all, a very good week for the Senior Bowl. Now, it’s on the NFL Combine in sunny Indianapolis, Indiana.