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NFL Draft

TCU Defense Has Trio of Promising 2023 NFL Draft Talents

  • Ryan Fowler
  • January 3, 2023
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In a Big 12 conference headlined by barn-burning affairs and whoever has the ball last usually wins, the TCU Horned Frogs’ performance against Michigan showcased a trio of high-level athletes that should thrive on Sundays. In a game where the Wolverines’ bulk within the front five was expected to overwhelm and dominate the line of scrimmage while the bodies on the outside were compliments to a heavy ground game, the play of Dylan Horton, Dee Winters, and Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson was flat-out fantastic in the opening semi of the CFP.

DL Dylan Horton

A Senior Bowl invitee, Horton was everywhere up front. Aligned primarily as a 3-tech defensive tackle to the outside shoulder of the guard, Horton’s power and agility to slide from gap to gap made it a tough going for Big Blue to get consistent gains on the ground against TCU.

Horton is a versatile athlete at 270 pounds that has the ability to play inside out. His combination of being an anchor against double teams inside while being able to kick out to the edge and wreak havoc under center was evident all evening long. With six pressures and a season-high three sacks, Michigan didn’t have an answer for him all evening long, and he remains a talent with a massive stock-up arrow as we head into the CFP title game next week and the pre-draft process.

LB Dee Winters

I don’t think there was a single play run by the Wolverines where Winters wasn’t near the football. A former safety turned second-level defender, his instincts were on display all evening long, his physicality popped off the page, and he, like Horton, is someone who deserves more attention as we approach the draft. 

Winters is a modern-day ‘backer with the size and strength to holster in the run only to flip his hips and run in coverage. While it was more of the former on display against the Wolverines, Winters’ game checks a ton of boxes if I’m a team in need of a chess piece that plays with a battery pack in his shoulder pads. 

There’s so much to be said about an athlete that plays with confidence, and while the linebacker position asks a lot from guys at the next level, Winters is someone I’d put my trust in. He was spectacular.

CB Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson

Overlooking Hodges-Tomlinson because he’s 5-foot-9 will force you to ask for forgiveness years down the line. While Michigan’s M.O. came in the run, Harbaugh wasn’t afraid to test the TCU corner with a variety of different athletes. Five targets came his way from the arm of J.J. McCarthy, but not a single one was caught. A 0.0% reception percentage allowed was just another day at the office for the aptly nicknamed ‘THT’ and his versatility to play both outside on the boundary—and over the nickel—will remain paramount for an NFL team that eyes corner help. 

He’s had no issue in countering big, physical wideouts all year long, and I don’t expect a whole lot to change at the next level. Lining up across from Quentin Johnston in practice every day helps, too.

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Ryan Fowler