With the 2021-22 season now in the rearview mirror, the eyes of the NFL will now attempt to fixate its focus on the upcoming scouting combine, NFL draft, and its pool of impact athletes. Rest assured, we here at The Draft Network have you covered from all angles. While the All-Star showcase circuit offered a further glimpse into some of the elite skill sets primed to enter the NFL fold in the coming months, in this article we’ll play GM mode, constructing a defense solely based on eligible prospects in this year’s class. Let’s jump right in.
EDGE: Aidan Hutchinson, MichiganAidan Hutchinson will be a culture changer wherever he lands. While his best football remains down the road, he is an uber-athletic player with an equal ability to both wreak havoc in the pocket and anchor in the run. As a high ceiling athlete with a constantly hot motor that seeks violence, he’s EDGE1.
DT: Jordan Davis, GeorgiaA mountain of a man, Jordan Davis is an outlier to the norm as humans. The things he does at 330-plus pounds shouldn’t be possible, and projecting him as an anchor along the defensive front presents a player with the potential to completely ravage offensive gameplans. As good as he is individually, he allows others to get theirs, taking on double teams and allowing linebackers to fill vacated gaps. His impact will be felt immediately.
DT: Devonte Wyatt, GeorgiaWhile Davis received the brunt of the attention along the historic Georgia front this fall, Devonte Wyatt was the unsung hero, wrangling down ball-carriers behind the LOS with ease all season long. A smooth mover who possesses a nice ability to transfer speed to power, he has the necessary versatility to slide up and down the defensive line.
EDGE: Kayvon Thibodeaux, OregonIf all comes to fruition, Kayvon Thibodeaux has the chance to become the premier player of the entire class. However, if all fails, he could fall into the shadows of what is a highly-rated EDGE class. Despite rumors surrounding his true love for the game, I expect him to immediately produce at the NFL level and progress into a three-down defender that teams are forced to game plan for. He has every tool in the bag.
LB: Nakobe Dean, GeorgiaNakobe Dean is a modern-day defender who can do it all at the second level. While he may slip into day two, he is a true captain at the second level who lets his play speak for itself. A rangy ‘backer who plays with a battery pack attached to his backplate, if you’re a team in need of an alpha as the green-dot of your defense, look no further than the former Bulldog.
LB: Devin Lloyd, UtahDon’t let the helmet decal fool you, Devin Lloyd can play ball with the best of ‘em. While his game needs refinement in space as a cover man, he’s a downhill athlete that will force plenty of turnovers due to his physicality through bodies. He can diagnose, work through blocks, and will become an impact starter from day one.
LB: Christian Harris, AlabamaA versatile defender who checks a lot of boxes at the second level, it won’t be hard for defensive coordinators to find a spot for his skill set. A space eater who’s ultra-sticky in man coverage, Christian Harris’ knack for playing in space within the Crimson Tide defense should project well to the next level, where he’ll be asked to consistently sink and drop his hips in coverage.
CB: Ahmad Gardner, CincinnatiAs dominant as he was all season long for the Bearcats, evaluators wanted to see how Ahmad Gardner stacked up against Alabama’s Jameson Williams in the CFP semifinal; and boy did he pass the test. With long arms and an ultra-fluid lower half, Gardner will be able to thrive in both man and zone. His ability as a ballhawk will continue to improve with increased talent around him.
CB: Derek Stingley Jr., LSUWhile his 2019 season remains in the forefront of our mind compared to his two substandard campaigns in 2020 and 2021—albeit outlying injuries and so forth—Derek Stingley Jr. is still in the running to be the first corner off the board in April—and it wouldn’t surprise anyone if he was. A dominant man corner who has the chance to become a true shutdown defender at the next level, if Stingley Jr. can put it all together… watch out.
S: Kyle Hamilton, Notre DameAn otherworldly blend of athleticism, football IQ, and unlimited versatility, Kyle Hamilton has introduced a one-of-one talent with the necessary skill set to completely revamp a defensive unit. A well-framed prospect at 6-foot-4 and a tick over 220 pounds, Hamilton leaves no box unchecked as a defender that can roam the ceiling, creep down as a robber at the second level, and isn’t afraid to stick his nose in as a downhill run defender near the LOS.
S: Jaquan Brisker, Penn StateAn uber-athletic prospect in his own right, I wouldn’t be surprised if Jaquan Brisker comes off the board much higher than we project after we get live eyes on him at the NFL Scouting Combine. A versatile talent who has experience manning the high post, as a hybrid linebacker at the second level of the defense, or working alone over the slot, Brisker can do it all, and do it well. He’d easily be SAF1 if not for the unicorn in Hamilton.
- May 16, 2022
- May 16, 2022