1. DT Broderick Washington (6-3/308).
You see recruits and players often stop posting highlight videos after a certain period of time and that’s what happened to Broderick Washington. Washington posted his junior highlights and then pretty much stopped. He’s the guy mauling folks at left tackle if you watch the video. Washington played left tackle, but the coaches have always had their eye on him as a defensive tackle spot and I can tell you that the coaches are in love with his talent and what they think he can do at the defensive line. You can see that he’s got terrific footwork and he plays with leverage, staying low. In fact, I’d guess that the reason he’s at defensive tackle is because he’s only 6’3″ rather than 6’5″. I love the way he gets a good base when he pass blocks and couldn’t be happier to have him on the defensive line.
2. DE Lonzell Gilmore (6-3/217).
Gilmore is one of those guys who was incredibly low-rated considering his offer list and his production. Watching his film again, you can see that Gilmore runs off the edge and the tackle quite a bit. When he doesn’t get blocked, he makes the play and when he does have to take on an offensive lineman, the offensive lineman doesn’t stick with Gilmore. I don’t know whether to credit Gilmore or criticize the offensive lineman. If Gilmore truly is up to 250, then that’s plenty big enough to play defensive end. You wonder if he lost any quickness adding that weight. It is inevitable.
3. S Jamile Johnson (6-0/210).
Imagine that, but with about 25 to 30 more pounds. Johnson is quite adept at playing cornerback and safety,he’s terrific in coverage, has a knack of finding the ball when playing cornerback and when he does play safety or playing on the edge, he’s very good at supporting the run. Johnson has the potential to be a terrific player and there is some thought that he might be that guy that can play the safety / linebacker spot that this team has craved. Johnson is a more fluid athlete than Taylor (see below) but they’re both intriguing prospects defensively and I think it was probably tough to leave their redshirt off last year because I think they could have helped in the secondary. Let’s hope that they both experience the effect of a Dakota Allen sort of year, where he sat out and played really well as a redshirt freshman linebacker.
4. S Christian Taylor (6-2/201).
I had this recollection of Taylor from watching his commitment video that I wasn’t all that pumpted up about his film because I thought he lacked some much needed athleticsm. I’ve had thsi bad taste in my mouth since then and I’m glad I revisited his video. Taylor plays a bit of safety, linebacker, cornerback and receiver in the video, giving you an idea as to where he can be useful and effective. He’s at his best ranging in the middle of the field, much like Keenan Ward, playing close to the line of scrimmage. He’s just got size and height that Ward doesn’t have, standing at 6’2″, he legitimately looks tall on the field. Taylor is big enough to fight off receivers trying to block him and he sees the field well enough to make sufficient plays. He’s got range to cover tight ends and he doesn’t bounce around in the line of scrimmage because he’s small. He
5. DE Kolin Hill (6-2/235).
I had problems embedding Hill’s Hudl video, so if you can’t see it, then the link is here. Hill’s redshirt is a bit different than the others as he is sitting out because he transferred from Notre Dame last year. It’s been a while since I looked at his high school tape and I’m glad I came back to it. For me, Hill is a larger and more athletic version of Gilmore. Hill is strictly an edge player and it seemed he got to the edge a bit faster than Gilmore does. That’s not knocking Gilmore, but just noting the difference, at least to me, of these two players. If Hill has added weight, from 235 to 250, then I could see a tandem of Hill and Gilmore making a huge impact at defensive end. There was one point in the video where Hill is taking on a right tackle that might weigh 200 pounds and he was ust abusing that line. A third of the video was that game (it was a team with blue jerseys and white bottoms and the right tackle was #55) and it simply wasn’t fair. If Hill or Gilmore aren’t legitimately 250 or anywhere close to that, then I certainly see them as part of the solution from that rush defensive end position.