clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2016 Senior Bowl Recap: Defensive lines dominate.

It was the Noah Spence Show.

Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive line is the strength of this year's draft class and the Senior Bowl continued to illustrate this. The North and South defensive fronts both stood, but Noah Spence on the South squad dominated from start to finish.

The Falcons are looking for pass rushers; if the stars align and Noah Spence is available at pick 17 (assuming his past doesn't scare them) they should sprint to the podium and pair him with Vic Beasley. Spence definitely has his issues, but he's just too talented of a player to fall far in the draft.

Virginia Tech pass rusher Dadi Nicholas had a strong showing as well. He had a dismal 2015 season and week of practice leading up to the game so it was nice to see him bounce back with a strong showing against the North offensive line.

Staying on the defensive line, Louisiana Tech defensive tackle Vernon Butler had a nice week of practice and finished strong with a positive showing in the actual game. He was immovable at the point of attack and showed some insane upper body strength tossing Missouri center Evan Boehm in the first quarter.


Moving on to the second level of the defense, LSU linebacker Deion Jones displayed sideline to sideline speed and good range in coverage. Jones only weighs 219 pounds, so it was imperative for him to show off at least above average athleticism this week; he was able to do that.

Reggie Ragland is a popular name among Falcons fans, but it doesn't appear like he's the best fit for Dan Quinn's scheme. With the defensive line carried a bulk of the run stopping duties, Atlanta doesn't need a heavy thumper like Ragland in the middle of the defense. They need speed that Ragland doesn't provide. This isn't to say that Ragland is a bad player, because he isn't, but a 259 pound two down linebacker doesn't do much to fix the issues on defense. If I had to choose one of Jones or Ragland to insert into the defense, I'd take Jones hands down.

Defensive Backs

There were two defensive backs that set themselves apart this week: LSU's Jalen Mills and Boise State's Darian Thompson. Darian Thompson has the range to play free safety over the top and the physicality to play in the box. Safety is a question mark for the Falcons moving forward in the offseason; Darian Thompson would give them a bonafide talent who can play either position.

Jalen Mills is a versatile player in his own right. Mills can line up at both cornerback and safety and looked proficient in the game. He'd be a free safety in this system.

Receivers & Quarterbacks

The Falcons need a receiving threat across from Julio Jones. Braxton Miller had a chance to really stand out and separate himself in the game after a strong week of practice, but he didn't quite do that. Miller looks more athlete than refined receiver right now, and that's fine. He's only been playing the position for a year so expecting him to light it up in a game session with heightened level of competition might've been a bit too bold.

Leonte Carroo stood out in practice, but didn't play in the game due to injury. None of the other receivers really stood out or fit in Kyle Shanahan's offense.

There are a few developmental quarterback prospects that the Falcons should take a look at as well. Mississippi State's Dak Prescott and North Carolina State's Jacoby Brissett both performed well in the game. They were in tune and on time with their offense, which is difficult to do on such a short amount of practice time. If either of them are available in the seventh round or go undrafted, Atlanta should snatch one of them up.

Whitehair for Guard

The offensive lineman that stood that makes sense in Atlanta is Kansas State tackle/guard Cody Whitehair. Whitehair would definitely be a guard in Shanahan's zone blocking scheme. He had a productive week and showed impressive chemistry on double teams and second level blocks.

The Senior Bowl is in the books and it was a great chance to get a firsthand look at some of the upcoming draft eligible prospects. Hopefully some of the players mentioned above (Noah Spence) are suiting up in the red and black next season.

Leave suggestions for potential draft content in the comment sections!