This group better be up for the task. This is one of the best offensive tackle groups to hit Mobile in quite some time. 1-on-1s tend to be one of the biggest events of the entire week, so these edge rushers better be ready for a challenge.
Laiatu Latu unquestionably headlines this group. He is one of the best pass rushers to come out in recent years. In two seasons with UCLA, he racked up 23.5 sacks and 34.5 tackles of loss. He is just so polished when it comes to his array of moves. He has so many ways to beat opposing linemen. The big issue for him will be his medical history, as he was forced to medically retire at Washington before eventually being cleared at UCLA to resume his career. Latu's physical tools will not blow scouts away, but his production speaks for itself. Chris Braswell figures to be another player who draws a lot of attention. He certainly benefitted from playing across from Dallas Turner at Alabama, but he should have no problem showing scouts just how dynamic he can be on his own.
Austin Booker and Javon Solomon are two players who figure to be risers coming out of this week. Neither has gotten a ton of love nationally, but have flashed enough to draw the attention of a lot of scouts. Booker had a breakout year with eight sacks and 12 tackles for loss at Kansas. He will be out to prove he is not a one-year wonder. Solomon is undersized at just over six feet tall, but has good length and impressive production. He posted 17 tackles for loss and 11 sacks in 2021 before coming back down to Earth a bit in 2022 with 7.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks in 2022. However, in 2023, he took things to a different level with 18 tackles for loss and 16 sacks, the latter of which led the nation. Coming out of a smaller school like Troy, this is a big chance for him to boost his stock. I also like Ole Miss' Cedric Johnson as a potential riser. He should turn some heads with his athleticism. Johnson projects best as a stand-up outside linebacker given his ability to bend and corner when rushing the passer.
Myles Cole will be sending scouts back to the film after measuring in with absurd 36 and 3/8-inch arms at the Senior Bowl. That type of length is rare and could give teams a reason to overlook his limited college production (5.5 career sacks.) Eric Watts figures to fall into a similar camp with only 9.5 career sacks, but measuring in with 35 and 6/8-inch arms.
Darius Robinson will be an interesting evaluation this week. I was tempted to put him with the interior linemen, but he measured in at 286 pounds, which is 10 pounds lighter than what Missouri had him listed as. He typically kicked inside when the Tigers went to four down linemen, but I wonder if he might fit better lining up over the tackle at this new weight. He is also coming off a career year with 8.5 sacks and 14 tackles for loss. Brandon Dorlus falls into a similar category. Oregon listed him at 290 pounds this year, but he weighed in a whopping 18 pounds lighter in Mobile. He has the length to play on the edge and he appears to be angling that way with this transformation.
Adisa Isaac is one of my favorite players to watch. He is not quite as flashy as his former Penn State teammate Chop Robinson, but I think his skill set translates better to the NFL. With 16 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks, he has solid production and his nearly 34-inch arms give him more than enough length to make life difficult on opposing offensive tackles. He figures to be a stand up rusher more than a hand-in-the-dirt type player. Another fellow former Big Ten star Jaylen Harrell will be an interesting prospect to watch. He has bulked up to 251 pounds after being listed by Michigan at 242 entering the season. If he can demonstrate the same explosiveness at this new weight, he could be a riser coming out of the week. The same is true for Houston's Nelson Ceasar, who bulked up to 260 from his listed weight of 245 pounds. He is coming off a career year with 9.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss.
There are several other players looking to make a name for themselves. Brennan Jackson is coming off a solid year with Washington State. Another Michigan player features in this edge group with Braiden McGregor looking to make a name for himself. He was overshadowed a bit on the Wolverines' talented defense. Marcus Harris will have to show his lack of length is not going to be an issue at the next level. Marshawn Kneeland will be taking a step up in competition after five years at Western Michigan. He has shed a bit of weight but is still a tweener at this stage. It will be interesting to see how he lines up this week.
Interior Defensive Line
The big boys on the interior in this year's Senior Bowl might not feature any first-round picks like Javon Kinlaw and Devonte Wyatt in recent years, but Texas' T'Vondre Sweat might still have something to say about that. He is an elite run stuffer with good lateral quickness for a player his size. He will be one of the focal points in Mobile.
Let's stick with the big bodies for a bit. McKinnley Jackson is a name I am starting to see some buzz around heading into the week. He is on the shorter size at about 6'1", but he has long arms for an interior player and weighed in at 331 pounds. He is a force on the interior. LSU's Jordan Jefferson joins Jackson and Sweat in the 320+ pound club, weighing in at 323 pounds. After playing behind Mekhi Wingo and Maason Smith, it will be fun to see him get a chance to prove himself.
Those are your nose tackles. How about the 1-techs? Ruke Orhorhoro is still relatively new to football, he only started playing his junior of high school, but he seems to be getting better every year. He has great agility for a player his size. He racked up nine sacks and 16 tackles for loss over the past two seasons. He figures to be a likely Day 2 pick who can seriously boost his stock this week. Justin Eboigbe is not talked about much in this draft class, but he is coming off an impressive breakout campaign featuring seven sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss. Medicals will be big for him after missing most of 2022. Duke's DeWayne Carter is cut from the same cloth. He is coming off a down year, which means all eyes will be on his ability to stand out in drills. Jaden Crumedy was McKinnley Jackson's partner in crime on the interior at Mississippi State. He is a big body who can slide up and down the defensive line. Add Keith Randolph Jr. to this group as well. He does not get as much love as his talented former teammate Jer'Zahn Newton, but Randolph is a fun player when fully healthy.
Orhorhoro's former Clemson teammate Tyler Davis has seemingly been on the draft radar forever and is finally heading to the league. His production has fluctuated quite a bit over his career, but the best thing for Davis is that he was able to stay on the field after struggling to do so a lot in 2020 and 2021. Braden Fiske had a fantastic finish to the season and has some really impressive film. Both of them will face questions though after measuring in with 31-inch arms, or shorter in the case of Davis. Both would be in the 0th percentile (which I did not know was possible) for interior defensive linemen, according to Mockdraftable.
Two more names to know: Ohio State's Michael Hall and Baylor's Gabe Hall. Michael Hall entered the year with first-round hype from some corners of the draft community. He failed to build on a solid 2022 campaign and is in need of a big week to change the trajectory of his draft stock. Gabe Hall has a similar story, with his production dipping this season. He has a big body at 6'5" with really good length for an interior player.