Most of the requests I fielded were for defensive linemen, and I’m happy to report that the North Team prospects delivered at Wednesday’s Senior Bowl practice. Louisiana Tech product Vernon Butler continued to show off the dominant burst he displayed in Tuesday’s practice, which gives him some welcome pass-rush ability. His hand usage was not as consistently impressive as what we saw earlier in the week, but he has the natural tools to develop it and become a serious problem as a pro.
The most disappointing defensive lineman of this week’s practices is Ohio State alum Adolphus Washington. Washington has shown poor balance, a slow get-off after the snap, and frankly has eaten a lot of turf the last two days. He has been victimized by interior defenders like Notre Dame’s Nick Martin, Jack Allen from Michigan State, and my top-rated guard, Joshua Garnett from Stanford. Washington has not disengaged many blocks and when he has shed well he’s been pancaked.
Contrast with Illinois edge defender Jihad Ward. I don’t think any prospect has shown the ability to convert speed to power quite like Ward has this week, with every impact he makes heard across the crowded stadium. Ward has great size as a true 4-3 defensive end (he measured in at 6-foot-5, 296-pounds with 33.5-inch arms) and his draft stock is rising from his low-profile college stage. His battles one-on-one with Indiana offensive tackle Jason Spriggs brought out the best in both prospects.
Next: An intriguing tight end