The 2015 college football regular season and post-season have come and gone, which means the NFL draft season is upon us; therefore, let the uncontrolled giddiness commence! In the next two weeks, three college football all-star games will help NFL talent evaluators, draft analysts, and couch GM's decipher the best of the best senior prospects in this years' class. For those selected few seniors, it's their last chance to play collegiate football competitively against quality talent, where iron sharpens iron in hopes of increasing a players' draft stock or create a memorable and lasting blip on an NFL teams' radar.
The second college football all-star game on the slate is the East-West Shrine Game (played on January 23rd). Players from both rosters will be coached under the tutelage of NFL guidance with Charlie Weiss coaching the East roster and June Jones coaching the West roster. Today, we take a look at a couple of standout players on the Defensive side of the ball from each squad.
CB D.J. White, No. 28, 5'11 - 188 lbs., 4.49 40 - Georgia Tech (4th)
Season stats: 38 tackles, 2 interceptions, 8 pass deflections, and 1 forced fumble.
D.J. White is a solid corner prospect showcasing good speed, fine ball skills, size, length (long arms), and great athleticism. A very physical CB, White displays fluid hips, quick feet, and nice burst playing with patience and is continuing to improve his coverage game. Although White struggles a bit in coverage with his back against the ball, he excels in off-coverage (best utilized with the action in front of him) maintaining great awareness and football instincts, showing enough burst, balance, quickness, change of direction skills, and speed to recover. Moreover, White displays impressive ball skills with several clutch performances when a stop or turnover is needed (rises to the occasion playing big at crucial times). Solid in run support with aggression and a sound tackler, White occasionally lunges for the big hit taking himself out of the play.
Draft projection: 4th
DT/DE Anthony Zettel, No. 98, 6'4 - 284 lbs., 4.87 40 - Penn State (4th-5th)
Season stats: 46 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, 6 pass deflections, 1 fumble recovery, and 1 forced fumble.
Anthony Zettel is a high-motored relentless disrupter displaying explosion, quickness, strength, agility, and power. As a defensive tackle, Zettel is stout against the run with a strong base and power playing front-side blocks at the point of attack with solid stacking and shedding technique utilizing excellent active hands (still room for improvement), and quick feet. Zettel also explodes off the snap with his violently active hands and quickness (nimble feet) to be extremely disruptive in the backfield and defending against back-side blocks pursing ball carries with a reckless abandonment at times sacrificing balance, where he becomes overly aggressive taking himself out of the play. Zettel would make an ideal 3-4 defensive end in the 49ers' scheme being a force against the run and the quickness and high-motor to be a disrupting penetrator rushing the passer.
Draft projection: 4th-5th
Other East players of note:
DE Romeo Okwara, No. 45, 6'4 - 260 lbs., 4.83 40 - Notre Dame (5th-6th)
DE Dean Lowry, No. 94, 6'6 - 295 lbs., 4.97 40 - Northwestern (6th-7th)
DT Nile Lawrence-Stample, No. 99, 6'0 - 323 lbs., 5.24 40 - Florida State (5th)
CB Cre'von Le Blanc, No. 7, 5'10 - 192 lbs., 4.52 40 - Florida Atlantic (5th)
SS Elijah Shumate, No. 22, 6'0 - 213 lbs., 4.54 40 - Notre Dame (5th)
DE/DT Aziz Shittu, No. 7, 6'3 - 280 lbs., 4.92 40 - Stanford (4th)
Season stats: 58 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, and 3 pass deflections.
Aziz Shittu (full name Abdulaziz Oluwatosin Shittu) displays good measurables with nice size, strength, long arms, agility, speed, explosion, quickness, and athleticism. Shittu plays with aggression and a high-motor showing versatility in playing all over the defensive line (scheme diverse and position versatile). Although he needs to improve his functional strength, Shittu has a quick burst off the line of scrimmage displaying excellent speed and quickness penetrating through gaps and/or defending the back-side utilizing his agility and quickness to infiltrate with active hands and a violent punch pulling opponents off balance and turning shoulders quickly moving around them staying skinny to slice through and disrupt the backfield. Shittu is good at stacking and shedding (area in need of improvement), playing the front-side displaying quick nimble feet navigating through the trash, and fair hand usage (will need to improve hand technique and gain functional strength at the next level).
Furthermore, Shittu bestows great awareness, a relentless motor, solid closing speed, and is impressive against the run hitting with explosion. A scheme fit in the 49ers' 34 as a 5-technique with the versatility to kick it inside, ideally in passing situations (3-technique), where Shittu's skills are most effective as a penetrating force utilizing his quick feet, agility, and speed, wreaking havoc in the backfield.
Draft projection: 4th
CB Briean Boddy-Calhoun, No. 29, 5'10 - 189 lbs., 4.52 40 - Minnesota (4th)
Season stats: 48 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 0.5 sack, 4 interceptions, 6 pass deflections, and 1 fumble recovery.
Briean Boddy-Calhoun is a nickel type cornerback displaying good speed, smooth hips, great athleticism, agility, nice change of direction skills, and a willing tackler in run support. Although he does not have an explosive burst, lacks ideal size (5'10" with cleats), and needs to improve his tackling, Boddy-Calhoun plays with good patience excelling in off-coverage with great awareness, aggression, and excellent ball skills with a nose for the ball. Boddy-Calhoun also shows good hand usage and physicalness in press with nice fluid hips, quick feet, and stays on the hip pocket when trailing. He tore his ACL in 2013 and had some knee issues earlier in the season; therefore, durability could be a concern.
Draft projection: 4th
Other West players of note:
DE/OLB James Cowser, No. 53, 6'3 - 250 lbs., 4.68 40 - Southern Utah (4th)
DE/OLB Tyrone Holmes, No. 91, 6'4 - 250 lbs., 4.92 40 - Montana (6th)
DT Luther Maddy, No. 92, 6'0 - 293 lbs., 4.96 40 - Virginia Tech (5th-6th)
OLB Travis Feeney, No. 41, 6'3 - 223 lbs., 4.64 40 - Washington (5th-6th)
ILB Antonio Longino, No. 32, 6'2 - 230 lbs., 4.73 40 - Arizona State (6th)
CB Lloyd Carrington, No. 8, 5'11 - 194 lbs., 4.53 40 - Arizona State (6th)
FS Clayton Fejedelem, No. 20, 6'1 - 195 lbs., 4.52 40 - Illinois (6th)