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2020 NFL Draft Prospects: Hidden Gems, Defensive Line Edition

Cedric Wilcots II of New Mexico State is a player with a high motor and a hard hitter. Matt Anzio of NFL Draft Diamonds loves Wilcots II, check out his scouting notes below

Hidden Gems  Sleepers Defensive Line Edition (Scouting Notes)

2020 NFL Draft Prospects By, Matt Anzio

  • DE/ OLB  Alex Highsmith
  • UNC Charlotte
  • Height: 6’ 3     
  • Weight: 245 Lbs

After UNC Charlotte Produced 2 Outstanding Edge Prospects in 2019.

Highsmith might be   not only DE/ edge prospect but another  defensive talent to emerge from this up & coming program

The 2018 All-Conference – USA & holds the record for 17.5 TFL also last season.   First Team All-Conference USA by PFF a 2nd Team Phil Steele team player.

Really think his best bet is to go more of the DE route when you look at his stature. His 6 foot 3 frame can support another 25 pounds of muscle without question. Highsmith fits the role well but if he did stand in a 34 could be productive too.

As true DE is a need going to evaluate him as a potential traditional DL edge candidate. Highsmith is about as natural mover as you could ask for in a pass rusher/ edge. Strong rapid moving hands and arms with a violent shift punch. Super fast in structure spacial closer with the read & reaction skills. That will serve both standing or with his hand in the dirt.

Has the stature to become a true DE with minimal strength & conditioning.  Sky’s the limit for him as he has more than enough burst to not only be a 34 LB but even a 43. That is amazing considering your dealing with a strong physical  QB hunter to go with his jets.

Could be a year to watch Hightower emerge as another exciting DE from Charleston. Think he is primed to have his best year to date. Believe he will dominate & go from unranked to possible day 2-3 prospect next April.

  • DL Colton Strickland
  • Tuskulum
  • Height: 6′ 2   
  • Weight: 300 lbs

Strickland Gets Behind the Line Like It’s Dinner Time & He’s Having QB with a side of RB.

Strickland like The Propane is combustible bursts into enemy territory with relentless fury.  

Built like a Professional bid guard he has some gifted strength to ward off blockers stall the run game like a Junk car.

Thick chest upper body with tree trunk legs to anchor down on the run with good leverage to use those powerful stems to get the upper hand.

Strickland had 36 tackles  5 TFL & 2 sacks in 10 games played last season. On Oct 27th, 2018 Strickland had 8 tackles & 1 TFL vs  Carson Newman. He was named 2nd team All-Conference as a JR last season as well.

Thick strong frame with way above average feet & hand movement.  Takes up double teams consistently & wins. Has the vision field awareness to get his head around fixate on the ball carrier. On blitz from an interior position sheds blocks urgently shoots the gap or contains his blocker with an anchor like the Titanic. Holding the line letting his LB’s shoot the enormous gaps he can create.

Has played inside & out on the D line & with his athleticism could be used outside on big fronts on early downs or against the run. Has played DT, NT & some end with extensive knowledge of the line.  Ideal player for stunts or like a chess piece to move around the line to handle some of the big O linemen giving them fits & initially wearing them down to a nub.

Lateral movement really good for the big guy understands D concepts & gap control. A true team player that stats alone can’t truly do him justice.

As he looks forward to the coming year Strickland could be on pace for another All-Conference year & his power, size & athleticism hopefully catches someone’s attention.  Be following close pulling for the small school DT. Stay Tuned

  • DE/ Edge  Cedric Wilcots II
  • New Mexico
  • Height: 6’ 4    
  • Weight: 260 lbs

Maintains Contains & shuts Down His Lane.

Looking at exciting possible late day 2 to day 3 DE prospect Wilcots really don’t think he will be a sleeper too long.

Long  dominating pocket presence spectacular speed with a frame the right strength & conditioning can turn into a true 43 Edge. Already has the gusto to be an excellent option at 34 LB. Add another 25 – 30 lbs of muscle to his already long strong frame. You got yourself something very special in Wilcots.

Stays low top tier movement ability exceptionally fast off the edge. His spin move is a thing of beauty in his pass rush arsenal. Along with a nice swim move & the technique against the run, to stay tight not get hung up.  Nice knee bend real fluid hips win the leverage game strong & real quick.

There has been some talent coming out the Wolfpack & they are always tough as a glass & razor sandwich.

Ridiculously shifty quick hands & feet knee bend & hips are as lucid as a flowing spring.  Can just fly around blockers kicking up and getting in the QB’s line of fire or blowing up the RB for a loss. Knows how to use his gargantuan wingspan extending out his arms to disrupt the run & pass game.  Uses his reach to swim around tackles or use his power to push Tackles back like they were on wheels.

Undoubtedly has the stature to build more muscle & strength but at the same time, you do not want to lose that closing speed. Shouldn’t be an issue for Wilcots as he seems to be a natural born athlete.

In 2018 started 10 games & had 39 tackles, 9.5 TFL & 7 sacks as a JR.  Over his career, he has amassed 83 tackles, 24TFL, 16.5 sacks 3 PBU & 4 FF with a whole Senior season to go.

  • Andre Bird Pierre
  • Graceland University
  • Height: 6’ 4    
  • Weight: 280 lbs

Moving Blockers Like They Are  little babies Out The Way.

Closing gaps good get off with the vision & instinctual whereabouts to find the ball carrier or disrupt the QB.

Didn’t get to finish last season due to injury but chomping at the bit to make his return this coming fall.  The potential is great he has flashed what he can do has the power to move bodies. Also has the movement skills needed to be moved around the line.  With the frame to bulk up further as an interior guy or work on his outside skills around his current weight or so.

Think Bird – Pierre has the perfect body type to build off big strong with long arms, thick legs but not too thick he can’t move. Short area quickness is good but his power instincts & technique stand out to me.  

Patient with a nice burst off the snap violent hand movement is a handful for anyone assigned to block him. He keeps his eyes trained on the ball plays with pure determination no quit & is just getting started. Vision awareness is outstanding he has the height to see above many of the bigger OL prospects. Gets his big arms up to impair the QB’s vision on pass rush assignments.  While staying low on run contain keeping a good pad level against the run. He uses his size well but i think he could use it even better.

Staying low is something they here a lot & this holds true for Bird Pierre. He is 6 foot 4 so that is something that takes a little work.  He has the skills & physical gifts to be something special to watch this year for Graceland.

Not too many big stars have emerged from the small school but how cool would it be if he was the 1st of a kind. Sure it’s easy nothing worth doing usually is but these days anything is possible.

NFL Draft Diamonds was created to assist the underdogs playing the sport. We call them diamonds in the rough. My name is Damond Talbot, I have worked extremely hard to help hundreds of small school players over the past several years, and will continue my mission. We have several contributors on this site, and if they contribute their name and contact will be in the piece above. You can email me at nfldraftdiamonds@gmail.com

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