DA Draft Buzz April 17 Part II: Small-School Defenders Shooting up Boards

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Tony Pauline

Draft Analyst Writer

Two small-school defenders who have been mentioned numerous times here at Draft Analyst -- Grover Stewart of Albany State and Eastern Washington’s Samson Ebukam -- continue to receive a lot of attention in the lead-up to the draft. Here’s the latest.

It looks as though the final number for Grover Stewart will be 24; there have been 24 requests from NFL teams to either work him out or fly him in for an official visit.

To date we know of no other player with a number equal to Stewart’s.

The schedule has been so hectic that Stewart was able to accommodate just 20 of those requests, leaving teams such as the New York Jets and New York Giants -- who wanted to make him one of their 30 official visits -- out in the cold.

This week Stewart is visiting the Detroit Lions, Los Angeles Chargers and Seattle Seahawks.

Teams have been impressed with the strides the big defensive tackle has made since the end of the season. In our scouting report on Stewart, which will be posted in the coming days, we criticize him for playing tall and losing leverage on opponents. I’m told he’s been working with former NFL lineman Fred Robbins and that Stewart’s technique is light years ahead of where it was just four months ago.

Where will Stewart end up in the draft? We presently grade him as a fourth-round prospect, and in our most recent mock draft we have the Minnesota Vikings selecting him during that round. I’m told the combination of interest in Stewart being off the charts coupled with a weak defensive tackle class could push him into the third.

Not too shabby for a prospect who scouts thought would be lucky to receive an invitation to try out for a camp spot when the season started.

Though the number for Samson Ebukam is not equal to Stewart’s, it’s still pretty high for a prospect few are talking about.

Ebukam’s pro day helped vault interest in his next-level potential. He’s a college defensive end who projects as a designated pass rusher at the next level and can stand over tackle or come out of a three-point stance.

Over the weekend Ebukam made visits to see the Minnesota Vikings, Jacksonville Jaguars and Atlanta Falcons. On Monday he went to visit the New England Patriots, and on Tuesday it’s the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Patriots are intriguing.

If there’s a team that can get the most out of Ebukam by developing his talent and putting him in a position to succeed, it’s New England.