Darren Page, DLD Staff Writer
This year’s Military Bowl has a number of strong defensive prospects. The players listed are good ones to keep an eye on as fits for the Lions. Also, keep a watchful eye on San Jose State’s junior quarterback David Fales. It’s unlikely he declares, but he has all the skills to transition as a promising NFL quarterback.
#91 Chris Jones, DT, Bowling Green
The feature prospect of this game is MAC Defensive Player of the Year Chris Jones. After recording 12.5 sacks from his defensive tackle position, it’s easy to see why. With 15.5 sacks in his three previous seasons, Jones is one of the best kept secrets in pass rushing defensive tackles. Jones’ calling card is his pad level and hip flexibility. He frequently wins as a pass rusher because he’s lower than pass blockers. He has a sudden quickness to him that often leaves offensive guards in his wake, including a terrific spin move. Jones is a high energy player with a significant motor, to which many sacks can be attributed. The biggest knock on him is a lack of overall power and a negligible bull rush. Teams can never have too many high effort defensive linemen that can rush the passer.
#5 Dwayne Woods, ILB, Bowling Green
Woods is a third-year starter manning the middle of the Falcons defense. Woods led the defense in tackles as a sophomore and junior. At only 227 lb., he translates best as a weak-side linebacker as a pro. From his inside spot, he gets lost in traffic easily and struggles to shed blocks against bigger run blockers. Woods is a gap-disciplined inside linebacker though and shows good football IQ. When he’s able to operate in space, he gets to the ball at a much higher rate because he can pick it up much easier. From the inside, offensive guards are simply a mismatch for him and he’s not allowed to use his athleticism. Even so, athletic linebackers who can get to the ball at a high rate are always in demand.
#82 Ryan Otten, TE, San Jose State
Tight end is a position that the Lions are in good shape at, but Ryan Otten is still a guy to keep an eye on. Otten has a good frame for a pass-catching tight end and the skills to go with it. He can track the ball and adjust his body to the ball to make fantastic catches. He lacks polish as a run blocker, with poor hand placement and high pad level, but still has potential there. He shows a good feel for it, leveraging defenders away from the ball consistently and can sustain blocks at times. His production in the passing game was down as a senior, which may be concerning. He’s still a skillfull pass-catcher who can high-point the ball and be a threat in the red zone.
#43 Travis Johnson, DE, San Jose State
Johnson could be the prospect who best fits the Lions in this game. He’ll probably be a late-round defensive end, but looks like a very good fit for the Wide 9 scheme. Johnson is a lighter defensive end at only 244 lb., but uses that to his advantage. He shows speed and flexibility to win around the corner as a pass rusher. He frequently dips around offensive tackles to make plays on the quarterback. Johnson is a very polished pass rusher. He surprisingly works a bullrush to some effectiveness and has some combination moves to keep offensive tackles guessing. His anchor in the running game is poor and he can lose the edge too easily. He’ll definitely be a situational defensive end early on in his pro career. When he adds the needed weight to his frame, will he be able to sustain his quickness and speed?