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2019 NFL Draft stock report: Defensive prospects winners, losers of March

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A look at which defensive players helped and hurt their stock in critical month of March.

DXL Frisco Bowl - Louisiana Tech v SMU Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The 2019 NFL Draft is a month away and we’re reaching the crescendo of the pre-draft process, where pro days are in full swing and teams are starting to finalize their grades on the couple hundred players they’ve seriously reviewed for the draft and could target. After taking a look at who has been moving up and down on the offensive side of the ball, it’s time for us to look at the defense and see who has been moving up and down as the draft period starts to draw to a close.

Stock Up

Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan: After putting up just the type of Combine performance he said he would, and what he was expected to, Gary cemented his status as a likely high first-round selection and put most of the Day 2 stuff to bed.

Brian Burns, DE, Florida State: Burns had concerns about his weight and whether or not he could hold up at a bigger size. He checked in just shy of 250 and put up some of the best numbers in Combine history. He absolutely destroyed drills and interviews as well, and may not even be available when the Lions select at 8.

Ben Banogu, DE, Texas Christian: Banogu’s athletic potential has always been apparent, but like many Combine winners, it’s when folks go back to the tape that they start getting excited. Banogu’s hype has seen him firmly in Day 2 consideration after being mainly an afterthought prior.

Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame: Talked about as a fringe first-round pick early in the draft process, Tillery was hurt with the old “character concerns related to having non-football interests” tag that annoys the crap out of me every year. He smoked the Combine, however, and I heard nothing but positive things about his interview process before, during, and after the big event, with teams all over him at his pro day.

Khalen Saunders, DT, Western Illinois: Saunders got a lot of buzz even before the Combine, but after a strong showing in interviews through there, I’ve seen him as high as the late first round for some. I don’t buy him going that high, but Day 2 seems to be a lock.

Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson: Teams were giving glowing reviews about Wilkins after the Combine, and his already strong tape simply confirms the idea that he’s an elite talent with almost no risk to produce on the field.

The Devins, LB, Michigan/Louisiana State: Devin Bush and Devin White both had amazing Combines and both did very well in interviews. You’re seeing both consistently mocked in the top to middle of round one and rarely lower. Teams love linebackers who can run and hit, and these guys can.

Blake Cashman, LB, Minnesota: Few players saw their stock rise as much as Minnesota’s Blake Cashman. There’s some concern about his frame, but his athletic traits were phenomenal and his tape is already impressive enough to put him in Day 2 consideration.

Isaiah Johnson, CB, Houston: Johnson got some Day 2 talk early in the process, but he lit the Combine on fire. He shattered the previously held RAS record by 2017’s Marshon Lattimore, taking the top 10.00 spot, and unlike Lattimore, he completed speed, explosion, AND agility drills to do so.

Amani Oruwariye, CB, Penn State: My CB1 entering the Combine, Oruwariye posted great numbers all around and did well during interviews and all of the other parts of the process. I’ve seen him firmly in the first-round conversation and may not make it to the Lions second-round pick.

Byron Murphy, CB, Washington: Despite measuring poorly at the Combine and easily the worst of the group considered top in the class, Murphy’s work in drills and the positional portion saw his name flying around draft circles. He’s a rare mediocre athlete at corner who could still hear his name called on Day 1.

Juan Thornhill, FS, Virginia: Thornhill put up elite measurables at the Combine, but the talk of him as a possible first or second-round pick was already picking up steam before he stepped on the field in Indy.

Darnell Savage, FS, Maryland: Like Thornhill, Savage was getting some early-round buzz up to the Combine, and he too measured out very well and left Indianapolis with talk of his early-round status being locked up.

Amani Hooker, SS, Iowa: Hooker had a good Combine, but I felt it was pretty quiet despite strong metrics. Post Combine, however, I’d seen his name batted around among the first safeties to be taken, and could be a quick riser.

Stock Down

Jachai Polite, DE, Florida: Polite tanked his stock at the Combine when he bombed out of both metrics and interviews, but it looks like he’s done little to recover there. Some teams are hitting double digits in official visits with prospects and I haven’t heard Polite’s name mentioned one time.

L.J. Collier, DE, Texas Christian: Collier was mentioned as a possible first-round pick entering the Combine, but after a disappointing showing there he is back to being talked of as a fringe Day 2 prospect.

Jaylen Ferguson, DE, Louisiana Tech: Billed as a top athlete and Day 2 guy, Ferguson wasn’t able to measure at the Combine due to some character stuff and went on to post some of the worst agility times I have recorded at his pro day without a single elite athletic trait.

Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson: Despite strong metrics for what he was able to complete at the Combine, Lawrence was injured at the Combine and that’s never a good sign for a nose tackle. The keystone of a defensive front needs to be reliably healthy.

Daylon Mack, DT, Texas A&M: An interior penetrating defensive tackle needs to be a plus athlete in general, and Mack came into the Combine riding a pretty strong wave of hype. He under-performed there, and it’s mostly been quiet since then.

Isaiah Buggs, DT, Alabama: Buggs had a terrible Combine, and as someone who wasn’t a fan of him to begin with, I can tell you that the people who used to argue with me about his NFL potential aren’t really doing so anymore.

Mack Wilson, LB, Alabama: Mack Wilson was once considered one of the ‘big 3’ in the class, but even when he skipped most of the Combine, that talk had cooled. His pro day was very disappointing, and I’d be surprised if, for some teams, DAy 2 is even off the table.

Khalil Hodges, LB, Buffalo: Hodges was getting some Day 2 talk and was considered a sleeper and Combine snub by many. His pro day was terrible, and he measured so far below average athletically that it’s more likely he’s undrafted than picked anywhere near Day 2.

Kendall Joseph, LB, Clemson: Joseph was another linebacker who really needed a good showing at the Combine to put to bed athletic concerns, but he wasn’t able to measure until his pro day. There, he only reinforced those athletic concerns.

Rock Ya-Sin, CB, Temple: Ya-Sin was a sleeper for, well, nearly everyone I knew until the Combine, and was getting some actual first-round buzz during the event itself. He disappointed both in metrics and drills, however, and he’s back to being considered a Day 2 risk.

DeAndre Baker, CB, Georgia: Baker had athleticism concerns on tape, and his Combine didn’t put those concerns to rest. He measured in faster than expected, but not fast, and his pro day confirmed his explosiveness and agility are not strong enough to keep him rated highly.

Kris Boyd, CB, Texas: Boyd measured out as an elite athlete at the Combine, but the talk of his issues on tape that crept up again during the Senior Bowl overshadowed it. Nothing he’s done in the process has raised his stock after taking that big hit, and if elite measurables won’t at least start that conversation then your tape has some problems.

Deionte Thompson, FS, Alabama: At one point considered a Top-10 lock, Thompson finished out the season about as bad as you could, with poor play and an injury. Surgery prevented him from being able to measure, which means he couldn’t put any of the speed and explosiveness concerns out of his detractors’ minds.

Nasir Adderley, FS, Delaware: Adderley had no athleticism concerns and was being pushed as a first-round pick the moment Thompson started to falter. He skipped the Combine due to injury, however, then injured himself at his pro day.

Sleepers

Maxx Crosby, DE, Eastern Michigan: Crosby came into the Combine as a possible Day 3 guy, priority free agent, but he didn’t leave it that way. After crushing the drills, he’s been the buzz of scouting circles, who see his athletic potential as a huge boon to pass rush needy teams.

Kyle Phillips, DE, Tennessee: Phillips put up good 3-4 end type numbers at his pro day, but many scouts were extremely interested in getting a closer look at the versatile lineman. The Lions were reportedly one of the teams most interested, and it would validate comparisons made to current Lions starter Da’Shawn Hand.

Kevin Givens, DT, Penn State: Givens had a decent Combine, but not a great one for an undersized tackle (6-foot-1 1/4, 285 pounds). Still, he measured out great in explosiveness metrics and his tape shows a guy who can blow up the interior both against the run and the pass.

Julian Love, CB, Notre Dame: Love has his fans, and you will occasionally see him in Day 2 talk, but it’s amazing to me he’s not mentioned there more. His overall athletic profile is good, but not great, but it’s his incredible agility that is going to see teams like the Lions taking notice. He was one of only three corners (along with Greedy Williams and Amani Oruwariye) listed as “Scheme Transcendent” by Draft Network.

Jonathan Abram, FS, Mississippi State: Abram posted good speed, but he didn’t wow with his other metrics at the Combine while others there did so. His tape can be exciting, however, and seeing a guy with that kind of range that can hit is exciting to project.