by Grumpy Lindsay
Because of the Senior Bowl rules limiting what defenses can and can’t do in the game itself, there isn’t a whole lot that one is going to learn from Saturday’s game tape about the LBs and DBs. However, one can always have observations so here goes with some passing thoughts on the defensive back 7 from Mobile. In no particular order:
• Stanford MLB Blake Martinez kind of grows on one the longer one watches him play; he wasn’t necessarily flashy in the game, but looked instinctive and very light on his feet working his way through the trash; he also showed better than advertised range to the sideline, plus he’s a solid wrap-up tackler when he finds the ball.
• LSU LB Deion Jones can really run and delivers a pop when he finds the ball in space; of course, he’s way undersized at under 220 pounds, but did a nice job sidestepping blocks. Same story for Oklahoma LB Eric Striker who was very quick to the fill the holes and erupts into tackles. Utah MLB Jared Norris also appeared to cover a lot of ground and usually seemed to be around the ball.
• Temple LB Tyler Matakevich was one of everybody’s favorite players in Mobile. And with good reason; the former Owl All-American was quick, instinctive and physical between the tackles, but consistently a step late when forced to chase plays in the open field.
• Florida LB Antonio Morrison didn’t make much of an impact as he struggled to find the ball and get off blocks.
• Missouri MLB Kentrell Brothers made a couple of tackles in the backfield as he made quick reads and jumped into gaps; at other times though he did get caught up in the trash a little too often.
• Boise State FS Darien Thompson consolidated his grade as an early second-round prospect with a solid all-around game; he was quick to the line of scrimmage in run support and covered a lot of ground in coverage, but did drop what would have been a TD-saving interception in the end zone.
• Unheralded West Virginia safety K.J. Dillon was one of several players who were always around the ball; same for small-school safety DeAndre Houston-Carson of William&Mary, along with SS Kevin Byard of Middle Tennessee and Maryland FS Sean Davis.
• Auburn CB Jonathan Jones of Auburn was really sticky in coverage; so were fellow SEC stars Jalen Mills of LSU and Alabama’s Cyrus Jones, along with Tavon Young of Temple, Minnesota’s Eric Murray and Virginia’s Mo Canady.
• Small-school corners Deiondre Hall of Northern Iowa and Southeastern Louisiana’s Harlan Miller got picked on a little in coverage, but may have been limited by the fact that the rules prohibited them from press coverage.