NFL Draft 2012: Non-BCS Defenders Who Shined in the Senior Bowl
When we look at the Senior Bowl and how it affects the NFL draft, the more notable players and positions get more exposure regardless of performance.
We see a lot more discussion about players from BCS conferences and those that are considered high draft picks than we see the non-BCS/FCS prospects. And that especially holds true for the defensive players, as we're in a offensive/scoring-minded era of football.
So, here's props to some non-BCS conference defenders who are worthy of being a high-round pick.
Bobby Wagner: LB, Utah State
Collecting 280 tackles combined between the 2010 and 2011 seasons, Utah State's Bobby Wagner kept rolling into the 2012 Senior Bowl.
There, Wagner led the north roster in recording seven tackles while also picking off a pass and getting an additional breakup. Prior to the Senior Bowl, Wagner was still an expected second-rounder. Well, he's still expected to go in that round, but he is closer to Round 1.
Considering that Wagner is coming from the WAC and playing for only a 7-6 team, his performance against top-notch competition was impressive. Provided that he continues to develop and improve, Wagner could ultimately be a late first-rounder.
He's got a nose for the ball, is a sure tackler and goes all out. What more could a team want in a linebacker with such raw talent?
Vinny Curry: DE, Marshall
Arguably the best pass-rusher in the draft, Marshall's Vinny Curry accounted for two sacks and one pass breakup in the Senior Bowl.
He's explosive off the snap, has the moves to make plays and simply knows how to find the quarterback. Curry was the only defender in the Senior Bowl with more than one sack and had recorded 11 in 2011, along with 77 tackles and seven forced fumbles.
Not to mention, he blocked three kicks and, in the 2010 season, was responsible for 12 sacks and 94 tackles.
With a great combo of speed, size, athleticism and shear attitude when the ball is snapped, Curry is a realistic early second-rounder. Still, even then he's a steal, as his dominance alone is worthy of being a late first-rounder.
Josh Norman: CB, Coastal Carolina
Easily one of the better corners to overlook in the draft solely because of other guys like Morris Claiborne and Dre Kirkpatrick, Coastal Carolina's Josh Norman is an expected late third-rounder who performed well in the Senior Bowl.
There, he only made one tackle, but he also defended a pass and wasn't challenged as much as other corners like Alfonzo Dennard and Casey Hayward. Still, Norman locked it down when given plays, and it's no surprise, as he did just that in four years with the Chanticleers.
In four years, Norman defended 35 passes (12 in 2011) and picked off 13 passes (eight in 2009). He also compiled 196 tackles thanks to helping with edge run support, since he was rarely challenged after his sophomore season.
Provided that Norman does solid work at the combine and his pro day, he could potentially turn into a mid-to-late second-rounder.
John Rozum on Twitter.
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