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College Gridiron Showcase Sleeper Spotlight: Defensive Prospects who are raising eyebrows

This year NFL Draft Diamonds partnered with the College Gridiron Showcase and Matt Anzio of Draft Diamonds wanted to showcase a few prospects who could help raise the eyebrows of scouts by attending the CGS in Texas.

CGS attendees are selected by a panel of football experts throughout the season and will come in for 5 days and 4 nights, to be evaluated by pro football scouts representing the XFL, CFL, and NFL. Attendees receive professional football and life coaching, mentoring, and seminars that will benefit them as they move forward in their professional lives, both on and off the field. 

CGS implements an OTA (Organized Team Activity) style format for football professionals and scouts, that showcases the athlete through a series of practices, drills, and a controlled scrimmage at the end of the week. Players also attend meetings and seminars conducted by special guest speakers, who have first-hand knowledge and experience of the “Path to the Draft”, and have had successful careers at a professional level. Attendees also have the opportunity for personal interviews with the scouts and executives from the professional organizations listed above.

CGS Edition Prospects Defensive Pt .1 by Matt Anzio 

Attributes: 

  1. Brother of Running back Jay Ajayi ( Dolphins, Eagles )
  2. Had 73 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 2 INT, 1 sack, 2 PBU, 2 FF 1 FR & a TD in 2018    
  3. Has good athleticism can cover well short intermediate has an eye for the ball.
  4. Looks like big bro with the ball in his hand after the INT, good feet strong & quick. 
  5. Has the speed to close on QB’s & RB’s alike. 
  6. Can play both inside & out that understands gap responsibilities, audibles & play recognition. 
  7. Fluid hips legs ankles change of direction flows naturally
  8. Power just like big bro he is a heavy hitter can rattle bones 

          Summary 

Ajayi is what teams are generally looking for these days. He looks so much like his brother but he is mistaken at times. They have some of the same tendencies when it comes to hitting a gap. 

Bottomline :

Ajayi should have a solid Senior year for Liberty. If he is available for the CGS I’d love to see him there. He is a tough exciting LB and thinks he can be used in many ways as on Defense and special teams.  

Can play every down against the run or in pass coverage.  Quick twitch, smooth hips, and a beastly LB that has all the tools needed to succeed at the next level. 

  • Safety/ Nickel Zeke Moore 
  • Cumberlands University 
  • Height: 5’ 10  
  • Weight: 187 lbs 

Arributes 

  1. 32 tackles, 4 INT’s, 2 FF & 8 PBU’s recorded last season
  2. A First Team All-Conference & 2nd Team All West 
  3. Had 7 tackles, 3 PBU & a FF vs Southeastern University 8/25/18   
  4. A converted former corner turned safety out of need & has done well. 
  5. Can be a strong safety or Nickle prospect & used outside if needed at the CGS
  6. Looks good returning kicks good speed elusiveness. 
  7. Played all over the secondary  

Summary : 

Honestly, I think he could thrive in the slot. He has the necessary burst but most of all he has the scrappiness you look for in a nickel prospect. Compact and strong, and he hits like a sledgehammer. Teams can use him to shadow some of those quicker yet tough smaller backs out the backfield that can pose difficulties at times. Not to say he can’t take down the big backs, tight ends & wideouts of all sizes.  

Bottomline:

Moore is perfect for the CGS can get a look at him at nickel as well as a strong & free safety position. Then, of course, he adds something in the return game or in the ST unit as a whole. He brings a lot to the table. The hardworking young man that would be excited & ready for an opportunity like the CGS. 

Attributes : 

  1. Already received an invite to the NAIA All-Star Game 
  2. Played with hand in dirt looks good as a pass rusher from the standing position. 
  3. Played both DE positions right & left as well as linebacker.  
  4. Comes off the edge in blitz situations with gusto & has a solid swim move 
  5. Can disguise the blitz, and drops into coverage efficiently and moves fluently
  6. Strong Blitzer and is a technically sound tackler. His best game was agains Warner 11/4/17
  7. Good play recognition read & react in a hurry with instinctual conditioning. 

Summary:

He can be an Outside LB and an Edge Rusher. The hybrid Williams can dominate blockers with speed & stability. Played a lot of defensive end in college so far, although I have seen him drop into coverage. He does stand on occasions but I like him for his edge rush expertise. His ability to beat much bigger OT’s is impressive but of course they will get even bigger as a pro. So I feel he fits the type of LB that doesn’t need to be pigeonholed into a 3-4 role. Can play basically any front, but is most likely weak or strong side. Somewhere on the outside where he can have some space to stalk QB & RB’s like a predator. 

Bottomline:

Williams is a perfect fit getting after the QB or the RB. He can serve well in the short area passing game with open-field tackling skills. He is a stout, strong player who swifty gets after the ball carrier like a bounty hunter. Eagerness to learn, hard worker that is willing to do what it takes. Fits the CGS perfectly think Williams will impress some scouts. 

  • DT Lorenzo Neal 
  • Purdue University  
  • Height: 6 ‘ 3   
  • Weight: 315 lbs    

Attributes : 

  1. Big Space Eating NT or DT  Could Be Crushing His Way Up Draft Boards.
  2. Son Of NFL Great Fullback Lorenzo Neal. 
  3. Honorable Mention All-Big 10 2018 
  4. An every-down DT that has the endurance rare for his size. 
  5. Strong push with a wingspan to swallow backs whole & get in QB’s faces. 
  6. Career 62 tackles,  11.5 TFL, 4 Sacks , 3 PD, 4 FF & 1 FR 
  7. Big, strong upper & lower body on Neal. He is built like an industrial refrigerator. 
  8. Moves very well even running down backs from behind. 

Summary :

Neal like his father moves like a torpedo obliterating opponents. He has a quick get-off. He has fast feet, is strong, and tough, He stays low, has a motor, and finishes the play with power & intensity. He has the size to play NT but the athleticism to play DT. He can secure the interior of a D line either way. 

Bottomline : 

If he is not getting ready for the Shrine Game or Senior Bowl he is a DT to watch. Would be awesome to see him down in Texas, but no matter where he winds up, he will shine. I am excited to watch him ball out this year. Think Neal could have his best year to date and he is on the rise. 

  • DB/ Slot  Chris Easter 
  • Bridgewater State 
  • Height: 5’ 8   
  • Weight: 188 lbs 

 Attributes: 

  1. Can be a special teams ace as a returner or gunner, and also play Nickel or cornerback.
  2. Has played the Y position on the outside in zone coverage. 
  3. Tracks the ball well with quick reaction time against the pass. 
  4. Aggressive, and is technically sound tackler that will lay it all on the line 
  5. He plays with a great deal of intensity, has good instincts & fights through the whistle. 
  6. Can be a ST ace and bring speed to a team.

Summary:  

Easter would be a nice fit for the College Gridiron Showcase. He is a dashing, darting DB with a dynamic skill set & high ball IQ. As a Nickleback & a special team pro, he could make a splash in Texas. Will bring good energy, and be joy to coach.

Bottomline : 

If he was a little taller you could project him on the outside, he has the speed needed. Has played outside in high school. We know in the big Leagues he will project as a slot or safety type, but can really earn a living on special teams. Nickel has become a specialty position with some of the best athletes on the field that are normally fast, strong, very tough & they contribute on Special teams.  That is what you get with Easter. 

  • DT Garrett Marino 
  • Height : 6’ 2    
  • Weight: 290 lbs     
  • College: UAB Alabama Birmingham 

Attributes : 

  1. Highly Athletic D linemen can move very well for his size.
  2. Just named to Outland Trophy Watch List 1 of 3 Conference USA Players. 
  3. Honorable mention All-Conference USA last Year. 
  4. Played in 13 games, had 19 tackles, 6.5 TFL & a 48 yd Fumble recovery TD in victory vs Tulane. 
  5. Even has a fumble recovery TD to his name & another fumble recovery vs UTSA 
  6. Strong hands and arm use. He has good technique and sheds blocks  rapidly
  7. Quick feet and a smooth mover who can get home on pass rush drop the QB from the interior.
  8. I believe he can play inside & out in a 34 or certain heavy fronts can play DE on run downs. 
  9. One of the quicker interior guys in this draft  

Summary : 

If Marino can participate in the event I would love to see him in Texas. He is a fun and hardnosed light-footed D linemen that is almost as good against the pass as he is the run.  He has the power to move big lineman. He stays low & tight against the run & gets off the line in a hurry. 

Bottomline : 

A perfect candidate for the CGS Showcase.  For any & all the Bowl/All-Star games etc. Should see the field, even more, this year excited to see him kick some ass. 

Attributes : 

  1. He has the size, game speed & experience playing throughout the secondary
  2. Used all over the secondary as needed which comes in handy due to injury. 
  3. Physically gifted  defensive back with size & power to play in the box 
  4. Shows the ability to cover inside and the slot or outside as a Safety          
  5. Special Team ace who adds good value with his ability to return kicks
  6. Really rangy player with long arms and big hands.

 Summary : 

I call him the “Adjuster” cause he can adjust to wherever he is needed. Could be called the Enforcer with some of the hits he can make on the attack on defense & special teams.  Battle is a perfect last name cause that’s exactly what he does battle for the ball, battle for the tackle & battle for the win.  

Bottomline: 

Battle has good ball reaction skills. Used all over the secondary he is a perfect fit for the spear or ever-popular 3rd safety position. He has a Weakside Linebacker feel with the speed coverage skill of a nickel CB or safety. 

  • OLB Kamal Martin 
  • Minnesota 
  • Height: 6‘3  
  • Weight: 235 lbs 

Attributes : 

  1. 2018 had 59 tackles 3.5 TFL & 2 PBU    
  2. Already on some NFL Teams Preseason watchlist in 2020 
  3. Has an outstanding combination of size, athletic ability, quick, and flexible knee bender in coverage.
  4. “Currently” he has a 6th rd to priority undrafted free agent grade on him.
  5. Has what both 43 & 34 teams look for in an outside backer 
  6. Former QB in High School which can definitely help him in understanding the perception of play calling. 
  7. Was a dual-threat QB his rookie year for the Gophers, and was an exciting QB that transitioned to LB flawlessly. 

Summary : 

Flys off the edge like a heat-seeking missile. Super athletic for a big OLB that can easily add weight to be a true Edge rusher along the line. I have to admit I like him standing up. He is so smooth & explosive he looks good standing up attacking or covering big weapons out of the backfield or slot/TE beasts. Moves extremely well no matter direction instincts are tops of the LB class, hands down. His height advantage is good to get in eye shot of the QB or see over many O linemen trying to stay low. There is a lot he can do for his size. He has enough versatility to most likely get in an NFL camp.

Bottomline : 

The size combined with the athletic ability alone will have DC’s salivating. Should be a day 3 guy but nothing is guaranteed.  If he comes out his senior year has another exciting outing, I think NFL teams would be crazy not to take a late-round flyer on this talented LB prospect. The CGS is likely already scouting him, and I would not be surprised if he is a guy they would target.

  • SS/FS  Coray Williams 
  • Wesley University 
  • Height: 6’ 2    
  • Weight: 215lbs  
  1. 2018 had 79 tackles, TFL, 3 INT & 3 PBU 
  2. All-Conference & ranked 10th in his Conf in both tackles & INT’s 
  3. Used in both safety positions in the box as well as deep. 
  4. Top tackling DB tackles like a pro with good technique & force. 
  5. Preseason All-American Watchlist. 
  6. Played Free Safety as well as a strong safety in the slot with Special Teams experience 
  7. Switched to Safety from WR as a Sophomore became All-Conference player as a Junior. 

Summary : 

He has the reaction skills and takes good angles & interrupts space like a tall guy with a hat at the movies. He is an absolute savage when he is on run defense. Finding the back around blockers attacking unmolested dropping backs for little to no gain. Shows good timing against the pass, reading the QB while following the pass catchers route. Good at predetermining the play & has a natural instinct to be around the ball.  Obviously, a busy guy putting up almost 80 tackles is more like an LB but safeties are especially not as beefy linebackers with coverage skills these days. Yes, there is an abundance of safety & CB’s in this draft. Tough physical, not that’s not afraid to mix it up with big Tight ends or monster backs in open space. 

Bottomline :

Williams is currently playing full-time FS in the new Defensive system. He brings versatility in the secondary & has the football IQ & quickness to settle at Free Safety permanently. Free Safety is always a need hopefully he continues his mastering that vital position in the secondary. 

Attributes : 

  1. 33 tackles, 3 TFL & 1 sack in 2018 as a Junior for Wagner  
  2. Had 4 tackles vs NEC Championship game vs. Duquesne.  
  3. 3 or more tackles in 5 different games in 2018. 
  4. Starter 11 games on the inside of the D line. 
  5. He is suited well for an edge rusher would love to see more. 
  6. Had 6 tackles vs Montana State  in 2018. 
  7. Had 9 starts at defensive end the season prior (2017) 

Summary  : 

A tough solid worker with 20 Starts in 3 years. He can play both Inside & Outside. A strong player who can move bodies out of the way with a strong punch and with power both in his upper & lower body.  Good technique shedding blocks finding Running backs with his vision as well as height. There are not a ton of guys the right size for 43 defensive end.  McCleod doesn’t have this issue he fits the end position with experience there.  At the same time he looks good in the interior of the line too. 

Bottomline : 

Perfect fit for the CGS to improve his skills get in front of some scouts. Can’t have enough pass rush has burst inside & out. Stays low for a 6’ 3 guy keeps his arms tight to his body against the run good leverage. Might not be the fastest but he is strong, big, sturdy & should have a very good year for a terrific program there in  Shaolin N.Y. 

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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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