Shrine Practice Winners -- Defense

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Tony Pauline

Draft Analyst Writer

The practice gear has been locked away, the scouts have fled St. Petersburg and all that’s left is to play the game. So after three days of one-on-ones, seven-on-sevens and a lot of full scrimmages, who heads into the 2018 Shrine Game as big winners? Here are the half-dozen winners from the defensive side of the ball, with a few names that made the honorable mention list.

The Winners

Deadrin Senat/DT/South Florida: The only person who as able to stop Deadrin Senat was in fact Deadrin Senat, the few times he wore down over the course of practice. It was understandable, as he hadn’t been in pads for almost a month. When fully energized, Senat showed a complete game; he was quick, explosive, powerful and fundamentally sound. He easily held the point against double-team blocks, collapsed the pocket in man-on-man battles and beat opponents with pure power as well as quick hands. Graded as a late-round pick entering the year, Senat has moved into the middle rounds. Keep an eye on the Buffalo Bills or Kansas City Chiefs during draft weekend.

Poona Ford/DT/Texas: Ford was not as dominant as Senat yet was pretty darn good. He was probably quicker off the snap, played with better leverage and displayed a wider variety of moves. He was impossible to stop and even hammered bigger opponents such as Cody O'Connell of Washington State on occasion. Ford has size and scheme limitations but will be playing on Sundays next year, which is pretty amazing considering he wasn’t even graded by scouts entering the season.

Kentavius Street/DE/North Carolina State: Street wreaked havoc off the edge and was the best pass-rushing defensive end all week. He showed great speed and balance and the ability to bend off the corner. His intensity was also on a par with anyone on the field.

Dane Cruikshank/CB/Arizona: The big cornerback passes the eyeball test at first glance and was even more impressive once the whistle blew to start drills. He was incredibly quick, fluid and polished in all fundamentals of his position. Cruikshank showed outstanding ball skills from the first day of practice and played to his size. The whispers about his draft position in April start in the fourth round or potentially a frame higher, depending how he runs at the combine. I’m hoping he’s a late addition to the Senior Bowl.

Avonte Maddox/CB/Pittsburgh: Maddox is small -- under 5-foot-10 -- but played big football all week. His ball skills were unmatched, as were his cover instincts and timing. Maddox fearlessly battled bigger opponents all three days of practice and won out more times than not. I love his potential at the next level as a sub-package defensive back who plays backed off the line of scrimmage.

Chris Worley/LB/Ohio State: I was impressed with Worley on film and even more impressed watching him live at Shrine practice. He’s tough and explosive yet also smart and disciplined. He was a demon in blitz drills, a force against the run and held his own in coverage drills. He’s a New York Giants-type of linebacker and would be a good pickup for the team on the draft’s final day.

Honorable Mention

Josh Kalu/DB/Nebraska: After a tough senior season at safety, Kalu moved to cornerback at Shrine practice and picked up where he left off as a junior, when he looked like a prospect at the position. Scouts will have to reevaluate his 2016 film.

Grant Haley/CB/Penn State: He was a step below Avonte Maddox but showed enough next-level potential to get last-day consideration.

Marcell Frazier/DE/Missouri: Frazier looks the part and occasionally played to it. If he can turn the flashes he showed this week into consistent playmaking ability, Frazier will have a long career at the next level.