Wil Masisak is an NFL & NFL Draft curmudgeon, the old half of @osnsfb show, & 15-year host of the SteelerFury Pittsburgh Steelers podcast. He’s also the only person you know who’s been playing football for 50+ years. @accidentalzen
This is Part II in a series putting together a Composite All-star team from this year’s Hula, Shrine, NFLPA, & Senior Bowls. Quite a daunting task in a year with so much outlier talent.
For Part I on the Composite All-Star OFFENSE, click here.
Here goes nothing:
THE ALL-STAR ALL-STAR DEFENSE
EDGE Boye Mafe, Minnesota Boye Mafe might have been the biggest winner of the entire All-Star Circuit. So much for him being my EDGE sleeper this year. The Composite All-Star MVP spent Senior Bowl practices huffing and puffing and blowing the house of every OL down… or setting it ablaze or bulldozing it… you get the picture. At one point they even had him line up inside and face off vs the undefeated OL champ of 1-on-1s, Zion Johnson. Mafe won late in the rep. In the Senior Bowl game, itself, the Minnesota freak of nature proved even more unblockable but, in fairness, they didn’t have all week to try and figure him out. Don’t be shocked if, after Senior Bowl week and his expected destruction of the NFL Combine, Mafe goes top 10.
EDGE Jermaine Johnson, Florida State Johnson might be viewed as a one-trick pony, but holy smokes, what a trick! His spin and dip move was undefeated in 1-on-1s AND ambidextrous. If you get that guy isolated on the edge without help, an OT who can stop that consistently will be rare.
EDGE Deangelo Malone, Western Kentucky The former Hilltopper gave an all-around performance that probably answered some questions about his ability to play in space. He was active in coverage to go along with his variety of winning rush moves (bull-rushing 330lb OTs, speed around the edge, Swim rip to the inside) and good run instincts.
EDGE Big Kat Bryant, UCF/Auburn The Kat made a nice showing blowing up run plays, taking on blockers, and generally being tough to handle.
- EDGE Sam Williams, Ole Miss (NFLPA/Senior)
- EDGE Myjai Sanders, Cincinnati
- EDGE Ali Fayad, Western Michigan
DL Travis Jones, UConn (Senior) As I said in the offensive section, ‘How on earth was UConn the worst team in CFB last year?’ Being a draft prospect who plays on a 1-11 team usually means you are buried in the predraft process. So many underrated and undervalued prospects of the past few years were only guilty of playing on bad teams (Aaron Jones and Roy Robertson-Harris come to mind). Travis Jones had enough attention and planet theory size (6043 326lbs) to get a Senior Bowl invite… and then proceeded to terrorize the interior offensive line there. He has excellent leverage for a taller, longer DL prospect and generates massive power. But it might be his powerful and quick hand work that separates him. Grabbing his chestplate is like trying to ride a bull. Good luck. Here is a rep against perhaps the top IOL prospect in this class:
DL Otito Ogbonnia, UCLA (Senior Bowl) I watched every OL vs DL 1-on-1 at the Senior Bowl the past few years. There can be the occasional random result but, by and large, it’s a little bit of a moment of truth, with no place to hide and no scheme to help you. Ogbonnia is almost a clone of Jones’ size, but with even longer arms (35 1/8″) and perhaps more speed to power. In the one on ones, he always had a plan, nearly always won handily, was generally a bear to stop. He carried that into the game––same results. Here is the former shotputter shotputting a 6056 316lbs Guard into the goalpost:
DL Perrion Winfrey, Oklahoma (Senior) Are they making these guys in a factory, or what? Here’s another 6’4″-ish DL with 35+” arms and speed/power to burn. Guys of this body type used to be 5-tech run-pluggers, now they are athletic freaks who come screaming up the middle. No wonder teams are looking for QBs who can get out of the pocket. Fantastic practice week, followed up by 2 sacks, 3 TFL, and the game MVP.
DL John Ridgeway, Arkansas (Senior) If Ogbonnia is a front loader, Ridgeway is a forklift. If you need heavy objects moved, he’s your guy. He could bull-rush a piano. He just seems so technically sound at the point of attack, plays the two-gap style vs. the run like he’s been doing it since birth, and just when you think he’s an immovable object, he’s by you and in the backfield.
DL Eric Johnson, Missouri State (NFLPA/Senior) Ho-hum. 6’4″ 300, with ‘only’ 33 7/8″ arm length. I mean, come on! In some years, Johnson would have been the most athletic and rangy DL in the class, now he’s 5th biggest/longest/most athletic in just the Senior Bowl. He wasn’t particularly highly thought of outside of the Missouri Valley conference (FCS) but he dominated at the NFLPA Bowl, got a call-up to Mobile, and proceeded to introduce his wrestling leverage, quick feet, and nonstop motor to the elite prospects at the Senior Bowl:
- DL Tayland Humphrey, Louisiana (Shrine)
- DL Eyioma Uwazurike, Iowa State (Shrine)
- DL Matthew Butler, Tennessee (Shrine)
- DL Marquan McCall, Kentucky (Shrine)
- DL Deionte Knight, Western (Canada) (Shrine)
LB Troy Anderson, Montana State (Senior) All-Star games are crucial steps for players who appear on tape to be better than their level of play. Anderson stuck out like a sore thumb in FCS––he’s bigger, faster, and better than most LBs at that level. But would it translate to bigger/faster/better competition? In short, YES. In practice 1-on-1 coverage drills that hardly favor the defender, Anderson showed patience, catch-up burst, and hands at the catch point. That translated to game action in coverage, where it paired with the sideline to sideline run chase skills he’s known for.
LB Diego Fagot, Navy (Shrine) As could be expected for someone from the Naval Academy, Fagot showed up and took a vocal leadership role. On the field, he was solid/football smart in coverage reads, found his alley to come downhill on run plays, & even laid the wood (legally) when the opportunity arose:
LB Channing Tindall, Georgia (Senior) Channing Tindall is yet another great example of the “other” guy from his school at his position who revels in his opportunity to shine. I thought he looked fast and confident in 11-on-11s but his big moment came on punt coverage, where his speed and desire jumped off the screen:
LB Arron Mosby, Fresno State (NFLPA) Mosby stood out at the NFLPA week, not only in diagnosing the run and playing downhill but by displaying a feel for getting in coverage lanes. A guy who seemed to me in my notes on almost every rep.
LB Chad Muma, Wyoming (Senior) I was really impressed––not only with the leadership he demonstrated among the other alphas, despite coming from an off-brand program––but with his reaction skills/instinct and his ability to effectively work both in man and zone coverage. Really set himself up to be known as a 3-down backer.
- LB Damone Clark, LSU (Senior)
- LB James Houston IV, Jackson State/Florida (NFLPA/Shrine)
- LB Darrian Beavers, Cincinnati (Senior)
S Jalen Pitre, Baylor (Senior) Wow. I was a fan long before Pitre arrived in Mobile, but what a week he had. I’m of the opinion that versatile coverage defenders who can play at three levels of the defense are becoming crucial in the NFL. I see Pitre as somewhere between a physical Nickel CB and a playmaking Safety/STAR defender. He’ll be great in any system, in any role. He showed off his knack for timing to the ball in coverage, ability to diagnose and close underneath in the run game, and generally be inconvenient to offenses. Sticky in coverage; this tweet highlights but one example––I could have posted 5 clips equally as impressive, just from this week:
S J.T. Woods, Baylor (Senior) Pitre’s college teammate is a classic single-high capable centerfield defender but showed this week that he doesn’t just have the speed and explosion required but he repeatedly gets there because he anticipates like a pro.
S Juanyeh Thomas, Georgia Tech (Shrine)
S Quentin Lake, UCLA (Shrine)https://twitter.com/DFlickDraft/status/1489063221101305870?s=20&t=reD2_TcGW7jY6gNY7N4NrQ
- S Markquese Bell, Florida A&M (NFLPA)
CB Tariq Woolen, UTSA (Senior) Speed kills. Well, not in the NFL Draft Season, where speed gives life to a prospect’s career trajectory. Wollen clocked at 22.5 mph during practice, and that speed goes with a tall, athletic frame (6066, 205lbs, 3348 arm length!). Can he play? Survey says yes:
CB/S Russ Yeast, Kansas State (Shrine) His father was an NFL WR/KR player I remember (Craig Yeast) but Russ made a name for himself as a versatile DB… played some slot, some safety––he’s physical and tough enough for that role but moves like a corner, As I said earlier, players who can play in the slot AND in various sots are more and more valuable.
CB Coby Bryant, Cincinnati (Senior) If you’ve been reading since the beginning of this series, you know I have an eye out for “the other guy”. Bryant’s teammate, Sauce Garnder is seen as a 1st round pick but Bryant is quietly showing he belongs in this year’s CB conversation. At the Senior Bowl, he spent the practice week matching up with 4 of the 5 fastest WRs in Mobile (Christian Watson, Braylon Sanders, Romeo Doubs, & Bo Melton). Saturday vs the likes of ‘only’ Calvin Austin III must have seemed easier. He;s not just fast, though, He showed good run/screen support and he was very sticky all week in coverage:
CB Cam Taylor-Britt, Nebraska (Senior) Wow. The more I see of CTB, I want to nickname him TCB. Checks all the boxes for physicality and ball skills. The original Senior Bowl rosters had him listed at Safety, so maybe someone thinks he’s more physical than fast, but I am here to say that if he runs well enough to work at CB, he’s a candidate to someday lead the league in INTs. He has no fear of turning his head to look for the ball, and I mean early. Showed it in practice and the game. And, is he physical? This clip is from practice. Practice.
CB Roger McCreary, Auburn (Senior) Boy, you can knock the guy’s short arms all you want… when he can flip his hips like McCreary and stay glued to receivers, his arms will be long enough. He just looked consistenly better in man coverage than just about anyone in Mobile:
CB Tariq Castro-Fields, Penn State (Senior) Castro-Fields had a gaudy 6-2 record in 1-on-1 reps last week––in a drill that totally favors the WR, that’s exceptional. He is not a player who oozes athleticism or speed––he’s just a good football player. His rep against Cincinnati WR Alec Pierce, where he snatched victory (and the ball) from the jaws of defeat perfectly illustrates what I mean:
CB Dallis Flowers, Pittsburg State (Shrine) Fast. He spent the week srunning ide by side with some highly touted and speedy WRs. Flowers can fly.
- CB Decobie Durant, South Carolina (Shrine
- CB Josh Williams, Fayetteville State (Senior)
- CB Kyler McMichael, North Carolina (Shrine)
- CB Ja’Sir Taylor, Wake Forest (Shrine)
- CB Tre Swilling, Georgia Tech (NFLPA)
- CB Christian Benford, Villanova (Hula)
The defensive All-Stars this year represent this draft class so very well: most position groups (DL, EDGE, LB, CB) are amazingly deep. What a great class overall!
For the Composite All-Star OFFENSE, click here.