Linebacker- Marte Mapu, Sacramento State (6-3, 217)
One of the most interesting groups at the Senior Bowl was the linebackers, especially because they all needed to show they could hang in coverage. Most of them put together solid-looking weeks and made some money in Mobile, but good luck finding a more out-of-nowhere performance than Mare Mapu’s after getting called up from the NFLPA Bowl.
Mapu, a safety-nickel-linebacker hybrid, got called up on the Friday before the Senior Bowl and then went and showed out every single day at practice. The first-team FCS All-American was brilliant in coverage where his eye discipline, change of direction ability, and length gave running backs in hell one-on-one.
Given his history in the secondary, seeing his ball skills and functionality in space may not have been a big surprise, but he was also one of the most aggressive run defenders. Offensive linemen just couldn’t get to him in space and he’d trigger downhill like a runaway freight train slamming into blockers and knocking running backs on their butts.
With his athleticism, length, and aggressiveness, Mapu likely got himself drafted with the way he balled in Mobile.
Honorable mention: Daiyan Henley (6-1, 23)