Day Three Dream Team: Defense
By Simon Carroll
You build a team through the draft, or so the old adage tells us. And those that buy into this mantra will be the first to tell you that unearthing value in the mid to late rounds is the way to win championships. From Tom Brady to Richard Sherman, Jahri Evans to Adalius Thomas – day three of the draft is littered throughout history with star players who have helped their teams to Super Bowls.
With that in mind, I’ve attempted to build a ‘dream team’ for the upcoming NFL Draft of prospects who are likely to come off the board in rounds 4-7. This article focuses on defense – for the offense click here:
EDGE: Alton Robinson, Syracuse
Okay, lets start with the risk here; Robinson is a very raw prospect who needs to develop his fundamentals. But more importantly his draft stick is capped after a robbery charge & physical altercation prior to college. It forced Texas A&M to revoke their scholarship offer and Robinson has had to work his way back to the top level of college football. All that aside, he’s a physical and athletic freak who can get to the backfield and wreak havoc out of any alignment.
IDL: James Lynch, Baylor
The golden goose of an NFL defense is finding someone who can rush the passer from the interior. So how about a guy with 20 sacks in just 33 college games? Lynch has short arms and a noted lack of athleticism, but he knows how to get to the quarterback. 100% effort on every snap he’s a wrecking ball at the line of scrimmage and entertaining to watch. He’s ridiculously good value for a day three pick.
IDL: Auzoyah Alufohai, West Georgia
We have to get at least one small-school prospect on each of these dream teams. Alufohai is a relative newcomer to football, having played only one year at high school before heading to the college level. You’d never think it by watching the tape – his power and speed helped him dominate offensive lines, first at Kennesaw State before moving to West Georgia. His nomadic life means he’s a bit behind the curve but that just heightens his ceiling – if he puts it all together he’s going to be a hell of a player in the NFL.
Read Oliver Hodgkinson’s interview with Auzoyah Alufohai here:
EDGE: Kenny Willekes, Michigan State
We have the speed and strength of Robinson attacking from one side, so we add a high-caharacter guy with unreal levels of work ethic to the other. Kenny Willekes was a walk-on at Michigan State and it shows – he plays with a huge chip on his shoulder and gets much more production than his physical limitations should allow. He plays like his job is on the line every single snap, and is my nominated captain on defense.
SLB: Logan Wilson, Wyoming
This linebacker class is often derided as being short on talent, but I disagree. And I’m going to pound the table for these three guys here. First up is Logan Wilson, who if he played for a power five team he’d be a guaranteed day two pick in this draft. He’s proficient in all aspects of the position, effortlessly dropping into coverage just as often as he is seen blitzing the quarterback. He’s got incredible football smarts and big production at Wyoming. His tackling prowess sees him line up as the sam linebacker in our 4-3.
MLB: Markus Bailey, Purdue
Injury has cruelly robbed Markus Bailey of a standout collegiate career. Inbetween his time spent on the sideline he has tape that makes you gasp. Forever around the football he has an intuitive feel for the middle linebacker position. He’s able to spy the quarterback and storm downhill to meet any ball carrier that dares to come into his postcode. And when he gets there he’s going to let you know about it. If he can stay healthy he’ll be a steal for some team in this draft, with a range anywhere from the 4th to the 7th round.
WLB: Carter Coughlin, Minnesota
We’re getting a little cheeky here; Carter Coughlin is technically an edge rusher, but with doubts about his size as a defensive end I’ve moved him back to linebacker in our 4-3 system. His speed off the edge is phenomenal and as the will linebacker he’ll be able to utilise that quickness to chase down plays from the back end. 158 tackles at Minnesota tells me he’ll have no problem holding up at the second level, and he can also be let loose as a blitzer or pass rusher in our subpackage. A special teams standout too – Coughlin is going to carve himself out an NFL career.
CB: Amik Robertson, Louisiana Tech
Whoever coined the phrase ‘it’s not the size of dog in the fight…’ must have been watching tape of Amik Robertson at the time. No player, no scenario intimidates him, and he brings a level of violence to the position that, frankly, is a bit scary. He’s undersized and his style of play allows teams to ask questions regarding durability, but he’s stepped up against better competition and has the persistence to shut down one side of the field.
FS: JR Reed, Georgia
Suffering an injury in his last ever high school football game was a cruel blow to JR Reed, who saw most of his scholarship offers rescinded in the blink of an eye. His ability to overcome adversity is admirable – he went to Tulsa, made a name for himself, then backed his ability by transferring to Georgia and competing for a job. He was right to do so – his ball hawking skills and anticipation jump off the screen and allowed him to become a leader of the secondary in Athens last season.
SS: Julian Blackmon, Utah
Utah had so much talent at cornerback last season they moved Blackmon to safety. Take a look at his size and playmaking skills and you can see why – he looks every inch the part of an NFL strong safety, and I’m not just talking about being a thumper either. Give him responsibility over short to intermediate zones and he can operate in space, maximising his ability to track the ball in the air. As he gets more of a feel for the position his performances will only get better and better.
CB: Javelin Guidry, Utah
We have tenacity on one side, and sheer speed on the other – Guidry turned heads at the NFL Combine with a stunning 4.29 second forty yard dash. His name might get a little forgotten playing opposite Jaylon Johnson at Utah, but don’t let that fool you – this kid can play football. He looks durable for an undersized corner and showcases good play recognition prior to the snap. Coaches rave about his leadership, work ethic and willingness to do the small things. He also offers bonus value as a gunner on special teams.
previously the founder of nfl draft uk, simon has been covering college football and the nfl draft since 2009. based in manchester, simon is also co-creator & weekly guest of the collapsing pocket podcast.