Post Season Risers/Sliders Final - Defense

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Tony Pauline

Draft Analyst Writer

In part two of our final look at Risers & Sliders from the regular season, we list the players who made the biggest rise up draft boards and those that slid the most from the defensive side of the ball.

Defensive Line

Riser - Bradley Chubb/DE/North Carolina State: Chubb entered the season graded by scouts as the fourth-best senior prospect, far below Harold Landry of Boston College. At the completion of the regular season, he’s left everyone in the dust and now projects as a top-three selection. Chubb is a game-disrupting force up front with terrific growth potential. He comes with a great deal of scheme versatility and should play on Sundays for a long time.

Riser - Maurice Hurst/DT/Michigan: The decision not to enter the 2017 NFL Draft paid big dividends for Hurst, as the Michigan senior improved his draft stock a half-round this season. He’s another with the versatility to line up in various defensive schemes and has moved from a second-round choice into the bottom third of Round 1.

Slider - Kylie Fitts/DE/Utah: Fitts impressed scouts in 2015 and was highly rated entering the 2016 season before being sidelined due to injury just two games into the campaign. He was given solid last-day grades upon his return this year but showed ill effects from his previous injury and finished the year with 22 tackles and three sacks in the nine games he played.

Linebacker

Riser - Micah Kiser/Virginia: I underrated Kiser entering the season and, much like scouts, stamped him as a late-round selection. The senior played lights out in 2017, just as he had the prior two years, and improved his draft stock by at least four rounds. He’s a vicious sideline-to-sideline defender with a great head for the ball. What Kiser lacks is height and top cover skills, but in the proper system he’ll be a demon at the next level.

Riser - Josey Jewell/Iowa: Jewell was a player we didn’t underrate and placed him in the tail end of Round 1 during our mock draft this past May. He’s another intense linebacker with a great head for the ball, but Jewell lacks elite athleticism. Regardless, he’ll be selected much higher than the fourth-round grade scouts assigned to him over the summer.

Slider - Trevon Young/Louisville: Young looked like a special player in 2015 before suffering a devastating hip injury in the Music City Bowl that season. He sat on the sidelines in 2016 rehabbing the injury only to return this season stamped as a first-round prospect by some scouts. Though 2017 wasn’t a total disaster, Young’s play and production (3.5 sacks) has the makings of a late-round pick rather than a first-round choice.

Defensive Backs

Riser - Josh Jackson/CB/Iowa: WOW! Jackson came out of nowhere after playing behind Desmond King and Greg Mabin in 2016, but he’s proving to be a better pro prospect than either of them. He started the season with a great performance against Josh Allen of Wyoming and never let up. Jackson has gone from a name few were familiar with to a potential early second-round selection.

Slider - M.J. Stewart/CB/North Carolina: Stewart entered the season graded head and shoulders above all other senior cornerbacks and was stamped as a potential first-round pick. And while he had some good moments, Stewart also struggled mightily at times, with the loss to Louisville being one of those occasions. Stewart must run well during the combine and pro day workouts to assure a second-day grade.