Day Two NFL Draft Big Board: Defense Top 5 By Position
1. Adetomiwa Adebawore — 30th overall prospect/2nd round
2. Derick Hall — 37th overall prospect/Mid-2nd round
3. Keion White — 45th overall prospect/Mid-2nd round
4. YaYa Diaby — 56th overall prospect/Late-2nd round
5. B.J. Ojulari — 57th overall prospect/Late-2nd round
Adebawore blew the doors off at the combine with a performance that highlighted what a force of nature he could become at the next level. Possessing the length and explosion that would appeal to any team, it will be a surprise if he does not leave this day two NFL Draft Big Board quickly this evening.
Heavy hands, legitimate power and a true alpha QB-hunter, Hall plays with a motor that always runs hot. Was productive in college and will have a successful career in the pros. Keion White carries major upside and an enticing physical profile; albeit a touch older.
YaYa Diaby finished 2022 with nine sacks and 14 tackles for loss, and projects as either an outside linebacker in a 3-4, or with a little more weight, could become a 4-3 base end. He does need to add additional moves to his pass-rushing repertoire and play with a plan, but he should make an immediate impact as a rookie.
Finally, the brother of Azeez, B.J. Ojulari is a slightly undersized edge defender who will profile initially as a pass-rushing specialist, aligning at outside linebacker. If he can prove that he can play the run consistently then he should mature into a full-time starter in the long run.
Interior Defensive Linemen
1. Keeanu Benton — 44th overall prospect/Mid-2nd round
2. Zacch Pickens — 68th overall prospect/3rd round
3. Byron Young (Ala) — 69th overall prospect/3rd round
4. Siaki Ika — 76th overall prospect/Mid-3rd round
5. Cameron Young — 82nd overall prospect/Mid-3rd round
Benton is the top interior defensive lineman available on this day two NFL Draft Big Board. Already plays the run with a smothering intensity, he is a prospect who will emerge as an interior penetrative threat as he continues to learn and refine his game.
With an impressive length and athletic ability, Pickens is a bit raw but is a lump of clay who – with NFL coaching – should develop into the sum of his parts and have a solid career. Alabama’s Bryon Young is a high-floor, high-character defender who can two-gap and offer moderate interior pressure.
Siaki Ika has never quite lived up to expectations after being considered a potential first-rounder this time last year. When he is locked in, he is among the best run defenders in the class and has amazing lateral quickness and twitch for a man of his size, but he is extremely inconsistent and had an underwhelming 2022.
The fifth-ranked interior defender on this day two NFL Draft Big Board is Cameron Young from Mississippi State. Young has gone under the radar during the draft process, but do not count him out. An impressive Senior Bowl week turned heads and on tape, he is a player who flashes immense potential as both a pass rusher and run stuffer.
1. Drew Sanders — 27th overall prospect/2nd round
2. Trenton Simpson — 60th overall prospect/Mid-2nd round
3. Daiyan Henley — 62nd overall prospect/Late-2nd round
4. Dorian Williams — 84th overall prospect/Mid-3rd round
5. Henry To’oTo’o — 98th overall prospect/Late-3rd round
Bringing an aggressive mindset, Sanders is a three-down, hard-hitting, dynamic defender who is just at home in coverage as he is sifting through traffic against the run. Extremely productive and is dangerous in the backfield, Sanders plays with his hair on fire and should be taken early as a Micah Parsons-lite prospect.
Simpson has immense upside in all phases of play at the second level and is able to fly around the field. Can appear to be hesitant from time to time, but teams will be licking their chops at the chance to unleash his All-World athletic potential.
Henley is a little lighter than ideal, but what Henley lacks in size, he makes up in physicality and explosiveness. A smooth and twitchy mover in coverage, Henley is a modern-day linebacker who plays with a controlled abandon and embraces control.
Dorian Williams and Henry To’oTo’o round out the top five and are both slightly undersized, but play with quick twitch and natural instincts. Pick your poison with these two; if you want a coverage backer then it is Williams. A safer bet and run stopper, pick To’oTo’o.
1. DJ Turner — 19th overall prospect/1st round
2. Joey Porter Jr. — 38th overall prospect/Mid-2nd round
3. Julius Brents — 41st overall prospect/Mid-2nd round
4. Kelee Ringo — 43rd overall prospect/Mid-2nd round
5. Darius Rush — 52nd overall prospect/Mid-2nd round
DJ Turner has legitimate man-to-man skills and an ultra-competitive demeanor. His 4.26 forty turned heads at the combine where he displayed real explosiveness and was undoubtedly the most impressive corner at the event. Turner has excellent hips, precise movement in coverage, and the desire to hit. Should have found a home in the first round.
A first-round talent in the eyes of many, Porter has it all from a physical standpoint – size, length, ball skills, strong hands that can reroute receivers and toughness. Porter, however, is not the quickest to react sometimes and does have slower feet than many of his peers. He is also extremely grabby during routes. Oozes potential, but needs refinement.
Brents and Ringo are both long and tall corners, with prototypical size to play on the perimeter. Brents edges Ringo thanks to his superior testing scores and upside.
Rush has a higher ceiling than teammate Cam Smith, whose teams will rank as such. Tall, long, with a 4.36 forty, Rush showed his considerable talent at the Senior Bowl and will compete for a starting gig early. He is a smooth athlete with ball skills and production.
1. Brian Branch — 35th overall prospect/2nd round
2. JL Skinner — 54th overall prospect/Late-2nd round
3. Jartavius Martin — 67th overall prospect/3rd round
4. Sydney Brown — 71st overall prospect/3rd round
5. Ji’Ayir Brown — 78th overall prospect/Mid-3rd round
Branch is a Rolls Royce of a defender in the secondary and could be a slot-corner convert at the next level. The ex-Alabama safety is versatile and has a high-level understanding of the game. A minor surprise that he was not taken in round one because of his smarts and pedigree, his athletic limitations appear to have scared teams off a little.
Today is the range for the next crop of safeties to leave this day two NFL Draft Big Board. Skinner is a tenacious attack dog and hits with real violence and ferociousness.
Jartavius ‘Quan’ Martin projects as the best potential free safety in the class thanks to his excellent coverage skills and range. His short-area quickness and burst are exceptional, highlighted by his magnificent combine results in the agility tests.
Martin’s collegiate teammate Sydney Brown ranks immediately after him on this day two NFL Draft Big Board and is another fierce competitor (a theme throughout the Illinois secondary). He is a dedicated athlete who has a rocked-up and chiseled frame who moves well and is able to change direction with suddenness in coverage.
Sydney Brown could play as a nickel back in the NFL as he has the loose hips to match shiftier receivers as well as the play strength and willingness to embrace contact and compete through the catch point. His combine testing was good and was one of the stars of Senior Bowl week.
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Former Penn State safety Ji’Ayir Brown is the fifth-ranked safety on this day two NFL Draft Big Board and should find a home in round three. Another alpha competitor, Brown always has his nose around the ball and is a playmaker.