St. Petersburg, FL - Can Jayhawks fly? I'm not sure...but I can say for certain at least one is spreading his wings and soaring this week. Kansas Defensive Tackle Daniel Wise has been an absolute force this week at the East/West Shrine Game, impressing with his stout presence in the middle and his ability to get cleanly off of blocks.
Wise was a prospect who I didn't know much about entering the week. Playing for the Kansas Jayhawks football team will do that, unfortunately. But that also makes him the perfect poster child of how these events can bring value to the NFL Draft process.
Wise continues to stack up blockers and dominate in the middle after three days of practice, building momentum and allowing him to stay in the forefront of scouts' minds.
And in my own research, I'm ashamed to say I didn't know him sooner. Wise has logged 17 sacks and 43 tackles for loss in four seasons with the Jayhawks, so it's not even like this kid didn't see the field. He did and he dominated.
So as this week of practices rolls to a close tomorrow, I am eager to watch Kansas film for the first time this season. Like I said...the beauty of the Draft process.
But how has Wise been able to stand out? How do you make such a booming impression through three days of padded practice?
You can start with a standing hip-toss against a double team at Wednesday's practice. The guy clearly understands leverage and how to use his body to win it.
You'll have to squint hard, but it's worth it. I promise. I love the interior play here. And then add in some heady awareness after tossing his blocker to get himself square for pending contact with Pittsburgh RB Darrin Hall? This is NFL play on the inside.
Last year's Shrine Game featured Deadrin Senat and Poona Ford, so hosting interior DL is looking like an annual tradition! And with the continued influx of NFL Draft declarations (and the subsequent rJunior additions to the Senior Bowl as a result), the talent level at the Shrine Game and the additional all-star events is only going to continue to improve.
Wise's standout performances haven't been all brawn, either. There's been precision. Even in the one on one reps, Wise is shedding hands quickly and gracefully, suggesting that the 10 sacks and 28 tackles for loss he has scored in the last two seasons can translate. Here's a great example, courtesy of our friends over at Pewter Report.
In pass rush drills, you want to focus on over-emphasizing your hand work. Make that extra space and separation so that there's no recovery window for the blocker. Wise does exactly that on the rip-club. Note how much shoulder rotation he generates on the rip? That's to reduce surface area and get skinny through potential creases.
What's left on the docket? I need to cross-reference Wise's tape at Kansas with his play over the last several days. And thanks to the Shrine Game, I'm excited to do exactly that. Should the tape match the practice performance, we will have a potential top-100 prospect on our hands.
Wise has already been invited to the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine (as per his Twitter), so this will assuredly not be the last we see of him this off-season. Here's hoping he rides the wave, as Senat did last year, to push himself into a higher tier in the Draft come April.
If your team is in need of a stout plug or disruptive tackle, time to start chasing down some All-22. And move quick, before this flying Jayhawk gets too far off the ground and out of reach.