by Bob Gaughan, Buffalo Sports Page
Buffalo Sports Page Draft Guru Bob Gaughan has started to shape his Draft board. Here are his top five players at each defensive position.
1. Bradley Chubb- NC State– Best pass rusher in the class. His best game may have been against Louisville with his pressure on Lamar Jackson.
2. Arden Key- LSU– Weight has gone from 230 to 270 and now around 255. Higher upside than Landry, built like Jason Taylor.
3. Harold Landry-Boston College– Injuries slowed him this year. I love his first step quickness. Was number one pass rusher coming into this year.
4. Marcus Davenport- UTSA– See as a OLB in a 3-4. He has a high ceiling but a low floor. See him as a boom or bust guy.
5. Sam Hubbard- Ohio State– comes from loaded OSU line. Solid player that has the non-stop motor that helps him get sacks.
1. Da’Ron Payne- Alabama-an elite run stuffer that showed he can do it all in a great national championship game performance against Georgia.
2. Maurice Hurst- Michigan– a pure three-technique player. He can do one thing very well and that’s penetrate and live in the opponents backfield.
3. Vita Vea- Washington– a wildcat QB in high school. A great athlete for his size 335 lbs. Great ability to track down for a man his size.
4. Harrison Phillips- Stanford– The tape shows he can handle the run but in the Senior Bowl he showed pass rush ability. Can play the 2 gap or the one gap.
5. Derrick Nnadi- Florida State– little short but that’s the only negative you can say. Haven’t seen him play a bad game.
6. Tie- Tavern Bryan- Florida– the guy with the most powerful hands in the group. His upside his he could be the next Suh.
1. Tremaine Edmunds- Virginia Tech– Looks more like a basketball player. What an incredible athlete. On draft day he’ll still be 19 years old.
2. Roquan Smith- Georgia-outside Will LB should be his best suit. Fast and physical guy that can cover athletic backs.
3. Rashaan Evans- Alabama– part time starter before this year because sitting behind Reuben Foster. Could play in 3-4 or 4-3 system.
4. Malik Jefferson- Texas-great athlete that is at his best when he attacks whether than read and react. Great upside but better athlete than football player right now.
5. Jerome Baker- Ohio State –undersized but athletic LB. Think Darron Lee, former Buckeye. Great speed to cover in slot if needed.
5 tie Leighton Vander Esch- Boise State– one year of productive starter may raise questions. Huge development from walk-on to now a guy being compared to KJ Wright.
1. Denzel Ward- Ohio State– lack of size only negative. Sat behind Conley and Lattimore last year. Very good in press coverage.
2. Josh Jackson- Iowa– incredible 8 interceptions this year. Natural ball hawk. 6’1 can match with bigger WR’s.
3. Jaire Alexander- Louisville-love this guy, has played in every coverage of defense. His great burst to the ball jumps out in games.
4. Isiah Oliver- Colorado-meets the eye test for the ideal NFL corner. Freakish speed should be shown off at the combine.
5. Mike Hughes- UCF– UCF was legit this year with guys like Hughes that will be drafted high. Plays tough in spite of lack of size.
5 tie Carlton Davis- Auburn– ideal size for an NFL corner. Has tools to play that physical style some teams will covet.
1. Minkah Fitzpatrick- Alabama– Versatile can play nickel, safety or corner. Will be a top 10 pick. Can cover and punish.
2. Derwin James- Florida State– top safety coming into the year slipped. An alpha male that will be a voice and leader in the locker room.
3. Ronnie Harrison- Alabama– ideal size and traits to be a Pro Bowl player. Leads with his should to lay the lumber on players but can miss tackles because of it.
4. Marcus Allen- Penn State– versatile playmaker for the team. He was the guy two years ago that blocked the field goal for a TD to beat Ohio State.
5. Justin Reid- Stanford– I love all Stanford defensive players in this draft. The younger brother of 49ers safety Eric Reid.