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Senior Bowl Day 2, Defense | Harris Hits

Day two at the Senior Bowl featured some defensive standouts and a couple of big plays in the defensive secondary. Here are my HARRIS HITS on the defenders in Mobile on day two.

I watched Ohio State defensive lineman Jonathon Cooper on day one and he had a few excellent reps off the edge. But, on Wednesday, he rushed the quarterback effectively from every position, left or right, inside or out. He impressed with his quickness on some reps, his power on others. He was generally disruptive every time I looked up and saw him on the field.

Oklahoma cornerback Tre Brown is feisty. I mean, really, REALLY feisty. He's not big. He's not tall. He's just a ball player and LOVES to play. As a receiver, I would HATE to see him stepping up in my face in press man coverage. Look, he got beat a couple of times down the field, but those receivers had to make some outstanding catches, wearing Brown in coverage. On throws in front of Brown, though, he challenged every single one of them, including one that he picked off during one-on-ones. In my opinion, he can play inside and be an effective nickel/slot corner, doing any number of different things for any defense. Texans defense, perhaps? I'd love it.

West Virginia linebacker Tony Fields II is wearing a helmet with the WV logo on one side and the Arizona A logo on the other side. With the way he's been playing this week, he'll eventually wear an NFL logo sometime soon. He's not a hulk at 222 lb. but the one thing that stands out nearly every single play is that Fields II finds his way to the football. Whether it's in chaos in the box or out in space, #30 is always around the ball. Ten years ago, I'm not sure there was a spot for him, but in today's NFL, teams MUST have a player of his caliber.

As I watched Tuesday's wide receiver/defensive back one-on-ones, I kept running back all of Oregon cornerback Thomas Graham Jr.'s reps in my head. After opting out due to the Pac-12's up-and-down decision making, Graham hadn't put on pads since the Rose Bowl after the 2019 season. He did have to knock off some rust but I thought he was good, bordering on excellent. On Wednesday, he confirmed my thoughts from the day prior. He's patient in press man coverage; he just does not panic. He's not going to be a Jalen Ramsey/Richard Sherman long armed/long limbed cover corner. Now, he got beat by UCLA Weapon X Demetric Felton but who didn't on Wednesday? Regardless, his technique, feet and patience aid him in coverage in man or zone.

South Dakota receiver Cade Johnson ate up nearly every defensive back on the roster with the exception of one defensive back - Pitt safety Damar Hamlin. On the first rep of one-on-ones, Johnson ran a slot fade on Hamlin who initially appeared to be beat. But, Hamlin sprinted to get back in phase, looking up at the ball at the proper time when he got back in phase and forced the incompletion.

Ohio State linebacker Baron Browning spent time out on the edge on Wednesday and looked very much at home. He blew past an offensive tackle for a sack during a team drill and he looked like he was shot out of a freaking cannon. He burst off the snap and then dropped his inside arm, ripping right underneath the tackle to get clean to the quarterback. Although he spent most of his time on the inside, he is 241 lb. with the frame to get up to 250-255 and has an 81-inch wingspan. It's conceivable that he could play more on the outside as he heads into the NFL. He also was the most decisive inside backer on inside runs as well. He was VERY quick to make reads and take on blocks and seemed to be a step or two ahead of each of the other linebackers who were slow to react throughout the day.

Notre Dame edge rusher Daelin Hayes continued to put together some strong pass rush efforts in one-on-one periods and in team periods as well. Like his offensive line mates, he's one of the first guys on the field, working with the coaches well before the entire team makes it out to the field. 

Prior to coming to Mobile, I wrote a series of Senior Bowl position breakdown articles and the last one that I did took a look at the linebackers. One of those players that I mentioned really isn't a stack linebacker but he was listed as a LB by the Senior Bowl staff - Florida State edge Janarius Robinson, owner of 35 ¾-inch arms and a 87-inch wingspan. During one team period, he was lined up against Alabama tackle Alex Leatherwood and went by him like he was standing still. I was watching with a couple of my agent friends and immediately we were all like "Who the HECK was that?" When I realized it was Robinson, I thought back to studying him on film, knowing that he had that in him. The main question, though, was whether he could do it repeatedly. He was decisive, quick and slippery on his rush against Leatherwood and it was enough to get all of our attention.

Houston defensive end Payton Turner was a guy that Senior Bowl Executive Director Jim Nagy said made one of the biggest leaps from 2019 to 2020. He's had two fairly strong days playing up and down the line of scrimmage. He played a ton inside on Tuesday but moved outside for the most part on Wednesday. He's one of those guys that probably plays outside on run downs but moves inside on passing/third down. He came in weighing 270 lbs at 6-5, with an 84-inch wingspan and 35-inch arms. He has massive 10 ¼-inch hands and has a basketball playing background. However, he doesn't have a basketball players mindset on the field as he plays with ferocity, inside and/or out. Those are elite traits and his play during the 2020 season and the last two days bear that out.

Alright, that'll it do it as it's dark thirty on Wednesday evening...uh, Thursday morning actually. Going get that REM sleep and do it one last time on Thursday afternoon. See ya then, everyone!

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