Shrine Game Prospects -- The Defense

nfl's picture

Tony Pauline

Draft Analyst Writer

The second part of our preview of Shrine Game practices focuses on the defensive players. No less than six players participating next week entered the season stamped as top-100 prospects by scouts, including a pair of players who were given first-round grades. The bottom line -- there will be a ton of potential on the practice field in St. Petersburg next week. Here are some interesting names.

Brandon Facyson/CB/Virginia Tech: Facyson had an up-and-down career at Virginia Tech. After looking like a first-round prospect as a freshman, he suffered a serious knee injury and has been very inconsistent since. I still believe he possesses enough talent to develop into a starter at the next level, but Facyson must consistently play at a high level and will have the chance to prove he can against some of the talented receivers he’ll face during Shrine practices.

Jordan Martin/DB/Syracuse: Martin was a player I mentioned as a next-level prospect last summer despite a lack of attention from scouts. They can’t ignore the versatile defensive back any longer, as he combines next-level size (over 6-foot-1), athleticism and ball skills. The graduate transfer lined up at cornerback for Toledo in 2016 before moving inside to safety for Syracuse this past season, and he’s coming off a wrist injury suffered in the midst of a terrific performance against Clemson. One-on-one drills will be important for Martin, as he must show speed and the ability to make plays with his back to the ball.

Tre Flowers/S/Oklahoma State: Flowers came into the season rated by scouts as the No. 2 senior safety in the nation, just below Big 12 foe Kyzir White of West Virginia. And while he’s made his fair share of highlight-reel plays through the years, there are questions about his range, quickness and cover skills, as Flowers has yet to prove he’s anything other than a downhill safety. Like Martin, one-on-one cover drills will be imperative for Flowers.

Deatrick Nichols/CB/South Florida: Shrine week is a bit of home cooking for players from USF, and Nichols is the best of the bunch this season. Like Martin, Nichols was ignored by scouts before the season but has played well enough to garner mid-round consideration.

Cole Reyes/S/North Dakota: During our preview of the prospects on offense at the Shrine Game, I mentioned Fordham running back Chase Edmonds being rated as the top small-school prospect on the offensive side of the ball. Reyes is the No. 1 small-school defensive prospect -- in fact he was rated at the top non-FBS player in the nation. An elbow injury in September cut Reyes’ season short after just four games, but he said he’ll be healthy for Shrine week. At the top of his game, Reyes is a forceful defensive back with terrific range and next-level speed.

James Looney/DL/California: Looney could be one of the most underrated next-level prospects on the defensive line moving towards the 2018 draft, and he should dominate the action next week. He’s an athletic lineman with decent size and strength who does a solid job defending the run and can make plays in space. I really believe Looney should be playing at the Senior Bowl next week.

Justin Lawler/DE-OLB/SMU: When it comes to intensity few compare with Lawler, who is unrelenting from the snap of the ball. He’s a terrific pass rusher with the ability to flatten off the edge and chase down ball carriers down in pursuit. Size and strength are issues for Lawler, so it will be interesting to see if he stands over tackle at any point during the week.

Folorunso Fatukasi/DT/UConn: Fatukasi looked like a star in the making early in his career, but his play fell flat the past two seasons. He’s a quick, athletic interior lineman who struggled at nose tackle last season, so one-on-one drills will be important for Fatukasi, who needs to prove he can make plays.

Ja'Von Rolland-Jones/DE-OLB/Arkansas State: The record-breaking pass rusher is drawing a lot of opinions around the scouting community. While most feel Rolland-Jones is a late-round pick, there are a few teams who’ve stamped him as a potential second-day selection. He mostly came out of a three-point stance at Arkansas State, so it will be interesting to see if he’s used at linebacker or asked to play in space at any point during the practices.

Joe Davidson/P/Bowling Green: A short history lesson -- in 2012 a punter named Bryan Anger of Cal came to Shrine practice and blew everyone away with his ability to kick the ball into space. He was eventually selected in the third round of the draft that year by the Jacksonville Jaguars, then went on to sign a five-year, $17 million contract with the Tampa Bay Bucs in December of 2016. Fast forward some six years later and enter Davidson. The BGSU punter does not have the same leg strength of Anger, but I’ve never seen such an incredible directional punter. Davidson not only gets hangtime on his punts but consistently places the ball inside the 10-yard line or out to the coffin corner.

Shrine Game Prospects- Defense

Grade

Rnd

Full Name

Pos

School

3.63

3-4

James Hearns

OLB

Louisville

3.62

3rd

Chris Worley

ILB

Ohio State

3.60

3rd

Brandon Facyson

CB

Virginia Tech

3.57

4th

Chad Thomas

DE

Miami-Fl

3.55

4th

Tre Flowers

S

Oklahoma State

3.54

4th

Godwin Igwebuike

S

Northwestern

3.53

4th

Trey Marshall

S

Florida State

3.52

4th

Deatrick Nichols

CB

South Florida

3.49

4-5

James Looney

DE

California

3.46

5th

Kentavius Street

DE

North Carolina State

3.44

5th

Jason Cabinda

ILB

Penn State

3.42

5th

Tracy Walker

S

La-Lafayette

3.41

5th

Afolabi Laguda

S

Colorado

3.37

6th

Curtis Cothran

DT

Penn State

3.37

6th

Tegray Scales

ILB

Indiana

3.36

6th

Cole Reyes

S

North Dakota

3.35

6th

Ja'Von Rolland-Jones

OLB

Arkansas State

3.34

6th

Poona Ford

DT

Texas

3.34

6th

Matthew Thomas

ILB

Florida State

3.33

6th

Heath Harding

CB

Miami-Oh

3.33

6th

Secdrick Cooper

S

Louisiana Tech

3.32

6th

Josh Kalu

CB

Nebraska

3.32

6-7

Leon Jacobs

OLB

Wisconsin

3.31

6-7

Jordan Martin

CB

Syracuse

3.30

6-7

Folorunso Fatukasi

DT

Connecticut

3.30

6-7

Kenny Young

ILB

UCLA

3.29

7th

Damon Webb

S

Ohio State

3.28

7th

Dee Delaney

CB

Miami-Fl

3.28

7th

Deadrin Senat

DT

South Florida

3.26

7-FA

Dane Cruikshank

CB

Arizona

3.26

7-FA

D.J. Palmore

OLB

Navy

3.25

FA

Joe Davidson

P

Bowling Green

3.24

FA

Gregory Stroman

CB

Virginia Tech

3.24

FA

Marcell Frazier

DE

Missouri

3.23

FA

Justin Lawler

DE

SMU

3.22

FA

Linden Stephens

CB

Cincinnati

3.22

FA

Filipo Mokofisi

DT

Utah

3.12

FA

Alec James

DE

Wisconsin

3.12

FA

Chucky Williams

S

Louisville

3.11

FA

Davontae Harris

CB

Illinois State

3.07

FA

Jamar Summers

CB

Connecticut

3.03

FA

Avonte Maddox

CB

Pittsburgh

3.03

FA

Jamiyus Pittman

DT

Central Florida

2.99

FA

Grant Haley

CB

Penn State

2.95

FA

Natrell Jamerson

S

Wisconsin

2.94

FA

P. J. Hall

DT

Sam Houston State

2.88

FA

Bilal Nichols

DT

Delaware

2.85

FA

Marcus Martin

OLB

Slippery Rock

2.78

FA

Dalton Keene

DT

Illinois State

2.73

FA

Malik Reaves

CB

Villanova

2.69

FA

Joe Ostman

DE

Central Michigan

2.68

FA

Parker Cothren

DT

Penn State