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2020 Senior Bowl: 10 defensive players to watch

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Here are 10 NFL Draft prospects that should be on the Dolphins’ radar-for one reason or another- this week in mobile

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 12 Alabama at Texas A&M Photo by Daniel Dunn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

This past weekend, many tuned in to watch the East-West Shrine Game to get an up-close look at some of this year’s top NFL prospects. For those who missed it, I narrowed it down to 10 players to watch. And now, it’s time to do the same before this week’s festivities begin in Mobile, Alabama.

Since the North and South teams have a ton of talent, I will split this up into a series based on offense and defense. Several players chose not to participate in the Senior Bowl, like LSU CB Kristian Fulton and California Safety Ashtyn Davis—to name a few. Nevertheless, this game is loaded with NFL talent.

Here are 10 12 defensive players that could help the Miami Dolphins in 2020 and beyond.


Defensive Tackle

Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina

At 6’6, 310-lbs, Javon Kinlaw is a massive individual who fits the mold of an NFL defensive tackle. But despite his enormous size, Kinlaw is light on his feet and can do things many defensive linemen can not. Kinlaw is quick off the line and has an arsenal of pass-rush moves at his disposal. Don’t be surprised if he’s one of—if not the best—player in Mobile this week.

Raekwon Davis, Alabama

Davis is a five-star prospect that has ideal NFL size and can play multiple positions along the defensive line. In 2019, Davis recorded 47 total tackles (18 solo) and .5 a sack, nowhere near the type of production many expected from the talented lineman heading into his senior season. A strong showing at the Senior Bowl could change everything for the Alabama prospect.

Leki Fotu, Utah

Leki Fotu is a bit rawer than the two players mentioned above. This past season, he recorded only 28 total tackles (9 solo) and 1.5 sacks. Fotu is better as a run-stopper than he is as a pass-rusher, but with the right coaching, he should be able to refine this area of his game. His power can mask some of his deficiencies and, with the right coaching, could be a suitable defensive tackle at the next level.

OTHER: Neville Gallimore, Oklahoma. DaVon Hamilton, Ohio State. Robert Windsor, Penn State.

EDGE

Bradlee Anae, Utah

There was no better pass-rusher in the Pac-12 this season than Bradlee Anae. The Utah State EDGE rusher secured 13 sacks in 2019 and did it in a variety of ways. He’s quick off the line and can beat his opponent with strength or quickness around the edge. A strong showing from Anae this week could skyrocket him up many team’s draft boards. And for a team like Miami in desperate need of anything resembling a pass-rush, he would be an excellent fit in Flores’ defense.

Jabari Zuniga, Florida

Zuniga is the pass-rusher I’m most excited to watch this week in Mobile. His off-and on-injuries this season made it difficult to project how he might fit in Miami—or with any other professional team. When healthy, Zuniga displays heavy hands, which allows him to move defensive lineman with relative ease. He’s good at setting the edge, and when he times the snap nicely, can wreak havoc on opposing QBs.

OTHER: Kenny Willekes, Michigan State. Jonathan Greenard, Florida

Linebacker

Malik Harrison, Ohio State

The Dolphins have had success drafting players from Ohio State, more specifically, at the linebacker position. Harrison took the next step in 2019 and accumulated 75 tackles (49 solo), 4.5 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles. He became a more rounded player and showed steady flow and quickness to get to the ball-carrier. His coverage skills aren’t the best, but there’s plenty of time to improve on that between now and April’s draft.

Anfernee Jennings, Alabama

Like many, I was surprised to see Anfernee Jennings listed as an inside linebacker on the Senior Bowl’s official website. But with surprise, came intrigue and I’m excited to see what he can do with the rest of the group. Jennings proved he could be a successful edge rusher in 2019, accumulating 85 tackles (45 solo) 8 sacks, and 1 forced fumble. Jennings is stout against the run and displays an array of pass-rush moves. If he shows he’s capable of playing linebacker during the Senior Bowl this week, expect him to be drafted no later than round two.

OTHER: Terrell Lewis, Alabama. T.J Brunson, South Carolina.

Cornerback

Darnay Holmes, UCLA

There could be a lot of change coming in Miami’s secondary this offseason. One difference the Dolphins could make is moving Bobby McCain back to Nickle, where he excelled well enough to earn a hefty payday from the team. They might also decide he’s expendable, opening up a need at his position. Enter Darnay Holmes. Holmes is a talented defensive back that can use his athleticism to mirror WRs (pictured below). He plays well in man but needs to become more aggressive at the LOS. If the Dolphins are in the market for a Nickle CB—which they should be—Holmes is a player to watch.

A.J Green, Oklahoma State

Not to be confused with the Cincinnati WR, A.J Green is a 6’1, 182 lbs defensive back from Oklahoma State. Green is a physical CB that has shown the ability to suffocate WRs in man-coverage. With the star-studded group of WRs in Mobile this week, it will be particularly interesting to see how he fares vs some of the best the 2020 class has to offer. The Dolphins could use a defensive back with his skill-set.

OTHER: Troy Pride Jr., Notre Dame. Lamar Jackson, Nebraska.

Safety

Terrell Burgess, Utah

With Reshad Jones’ future uncertain in Miami, the Dolphins will need to bring in at least one, if not two, safeties this offseason. And although Eric Rowe proved he could do things Minkah Fitzpatrick could not, there will still be a need for Miami to find players that have the versatility to play deep or drop-down in the box when asked to do so. Burgess recorded 81 tackles (51 solo), 5 PDF, 1 Interception, and 2 forced fumbles in 2019. And as you can see below, he can play in both man and zone coverage.

Antoine Brooks Jr., Maryland

Brooks is one of the most intriguing prospects at the Senior Bowl this week and, again, fits a need that the Dolphins should address this offseason. He’s shown the ability to play well vs the run and deep in coverage in both man and zone concepts. He will need to refine his game if he wants to be an every-day starter in the NFL. A good showing this week could go a long way in raising his draft stock.

OTHER: K’Von Wallace, Clemson. Jared Mayden, Alabama.

I could go on for days about which prospects the Dolphins may have interest in drafting. However, I tried my best to narrow it down to ten, or close to it. Practices begin on Tuesday and run through Thursday, which will be available to watch only on NFL Network. I will also be posting videos on Twitter @Houtz. Enjoy.


Catch the Senior Bowl live January 25th at 2:30 PM EST, only on NFL Network

This article was written by Josh Houtz. Follow me on Twitter (@houtz)