It’s encouraging that the players who’ve stood out so far in this modified college football season are mostly defensive linemen.
I’m just not sure how many are going to last deep into the second round.
Patrick Jones (EDGE, Pittsburgh) and Alim McNeill (DT, NC State) have the potential to shoot into the top-50 given time. Later on I’ll discuss Georgia’s rising star Azeez Ojulari. Vanderbilt’s Dayo Odeyingbo is heading the same way. He’s a good combine away from solidly being a first round pick.
He was impressive at the weekend against South Carolina, even in a heavy defeat, with two sacks, 1.5 TFL’s and three quarterback hurries.
His first sack came early in the game when he lined up inside on 3rd and 10. His primary opponent is the right guard but he makes sure to shove the tackle out of the way first, then drove the guard into the pocket and disengaged with a brutal spin move to reach the quarterback.
Technique, physicality, athleticism — it was all on show.
The second sack was a little more fortunate. He attacked the left tackle, who engaged him as he attempted to rush the edge. Then as Odeyingbo countered inside, the tackle was off balance and facing the wrong way. He couldn’t turn back and the quarterback was hammered. Kudos to Odeyingbo for the counter but it was poor technique from the left tackle. He’s got to do a better job squaring up.
A former four-star recruit, his athletic ability leaps off the screen. He’s listed at 6-6, 276lbs and he cuts an imposing figure off the edge or when he moves inside. Yet despite the huge size, he still flashes genuine speed-rush potential.
Against Tennessee last year he had a snap where he attacks the left tackle from a speed rush position and just dips around the attempted block with supreme balance and agility. It looked a lot like Darrell Taylor at his best. The left tackle had no answer.
With his size and length they line him up inside a lot. Even against LSU’s uber-talented O-line from last year, he ploughs his way through blockers and just won’t be denied. He shows off brute force, keeps his legs moving and simply powers his way into the backfield. There’s nothing subtle here. He’s simply bigger, stronger and longer than the players trying to block him and when he gains separation he has the athletic qualities to finish.
Look at his pursuit against Joe Burrow to force one of the few interceptions Burrow had last year:
Look how easily Odeyingbo works in space despite his size. He’s not a stiff power-end. He can handle an option off the edge, read-and-react and pursue.
It’s incredible given his frame:
He’s long limbed but with a big, powerful upper body. He’s so agile and quick that he can engage and control blockers while working to stretch out runs and set the edge.
I’ve seen him throw off blockers with disdain, win from the interior with get-off, explode off the edge with a speed rush and bully tackles in the running game.
For me he’s everything you want in a defensive end. He can play any scheme, any situation. For all the hype you see from national pundits about a lot of other college prospects — for me you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone more impressive at defensive end than Odeyingbo. He warrants serious consideration as one of the top college prospects.
Along with Pittsburgh’s Jones (who dominated again against Boston College at the weekend with three sacks) and McNeill at NC State these are three names to monitor closely for the rest of the year.
— I listed Liam Eichenberg (T, Notre Dame) in my summer watchlist but keep an eye on left guard Aaron Banks too. The pair were fantastic against Florida State on Saturday. Banks is 6-5 and 330lbs and incredibly powerful. They rotate between guard and tackle — a compliment to Banks’ athletic qualities. Against FSU there were a couple of occasions where he slammed defenders to the ground when lined up at left guard. He’s Seattle’s type of LG — basically, he’s massive. As we’re looking for names who might be available on day two — he is one to keep an eye on. The success of Damien Lewis can be repeated and Banks is one to watch.
— I watched Georgia against Auburn and Tennessee and Azeez Ojulari was the player who stood out the most. He’s really unrefined as a pass rusher and looks light. He’s modestly sized and he needs to develop a repertoire of moves to punctuate his athleticism. However — he does flash some big moments and shows off outstanding potential. He ran a 4.32 short shuttle and SPARQ and jumped a 40 inch vertical so he has an outstanding profile worthy of the early rounds. Against Auburn he rounded the arc nicely and was held on a fourth and 10, yet still created enough pressure to force an interception. He also attacked the B gap from the right side to plough his way into the backfield for a sack using pure power. Against Tennessee he beautifully attacked the right edge showing supreme balance and lean, then straightened to hammer the quarterback and force a sack/fumble which he recovered himself.
— It’s going to be interesting to see where Najee Harris (RB, Alabama) eventually lands in terms of stock. He’s listed at 6-2 and 230lbs which is taller than ideal for the position. He also carries his weight in quite a compact frame. Yet he’s such a playmaker who runs with toughness, physicality and he finishes. Against Ole Miss he flashed breakaway speed, the ability to run through tackles and he beautifully complemented Alabama’s passing game. He scored five touchdowns, ran for 206 yards on 23 carries and had three catches for 42 yards. It’s worth noting that neither defense played well in the game. Harris was charged with a joke of a fumble on the goal line on a play that should’ve been blown dead. He only ran a 4.66 at SPARQ and jumped a 32-inch vertical. His short shuttle was a 4.16. He might not have the profile to go early, even if he has the name recognition, but he will provide value if he lasts into day two.
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