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Scouting The Senior Bowl 2016: Defensive Backs


FS Darian Thompson, Boise State6-foot-2, 212 pounds; Draft projection = second roundThe Ravens are looking for defensive backs that can create turnovers, and Thompson's résumé suggests he could be the man for the job. The Jim Thorpe Award semifinalist is generally considered the nation's top free safety. He broke the Mountain West Conference interceptions record with 19, passing three-time Pro Bowler Eric Weddle's mark of 18. Thompson is an explosive playmaker and ball-hawk, but is also physical against tight ends and against the run. He is a well-rounded, tall and rangy athlete who plays with an aggressive style. That aggression can sometimes lead to playing with less discipline, but the positives are numerous and his versatility is very attractive. Thompson said he models his game after former Raven and future Hall of Famer Ed Reed.

SS Jeremy Cash, Duke
6-foot-2, 212 pounds, Draft projection = second round
Cash is listed as a strong safety, and ranked as one of the best, but he has the skills and look that resemble more of a small linebacker than a true safety. For the Blue Devils, he lined up mostly as an outside linebacker (4-3 defense) and slot cornerback. His coverage skills are a question mark, so it wasn't a surprise to see him struggle when he was used as a free safety on Day 2 and gave up a touchdown. But he is excellent in the box, which was already evident by his 100-plus tackles for three straight years at Duke. He's a tackling machine and very strong against the run. The ACC's Defensive Player of the Year also flashed his pass-rush skills during Senior Bowl practices, consistently winning reps over oncoming blockers. Cash has been compared to Arizona's Deone Bucannon, who can shift between strong safety and linebacker for the Cardinals.

CB Deiondre' Hall, Northern Iowa
6-foot-2, 192 pounds, Draft projection = *second or third round
*Coming from a small school, Hall needs to show he can compete with the nation's top seniors, and he stood out from the moment he weighed in on Day 1. He has good height and weight, but his long arms and big wingspan are what had people buzzing. He uses that length in press coverage to jam receivers off the line and knock them from their routes. He has the ability to create turnovers, notching six interceptions during his senior year. Hall could move to safety in the NFL (he only moved to corner for the last two seasons), but he made a name for himself at corner with Northern Iowa and has mostly played the first two days of the Senior Bowl.

CB Cyrus Jones, Alabama (Gilman High School)
5-foot-9, 196 pounds; Draft projection = fourth round
The Baltimore native knows he doesn't have the prototypical size NFL scouts look for in a shut-down corner. He even measured an inch shorter than Alabama's listing for him at 5-foot-10. But his smaller stature hasn't shown on the field against the nation's top senior wide receiver prospects, including Jay Lee (Baylor),* *Sterling Shepard (Oklahoma) and Paul McRoberts (Southeast Missouri State). It's been rare to see big plays develop on Jones as he's played physical at the line of scrimmage, covered routes well and closed on the ball with top-end speed. He prides himself on not giving up the big play (a problem the Ravens faced in 2015) and prefers to play outside. Jones also brings versatility as a punt returner, notching four touchdown returns for the Crimson Tide, which were a single-season school record. Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome, an Alabama alumnus, is known for drafting defenders from Nick Saban's NFL-style system. 

S Miles Killebrew, Southern Utah
6-foot-2, 219 pounds; Draft projection = third or fourth round
Killebrew is floating under the radar at the Senior Bowl, but has plenty to offer an NFL team. Like Cash, Killebrew is a hybrid safety/linebacker who led the Thunderbirds in tackles during his 2015 campaign with 132 (and an astounding 243 over the last two years). The small-school product moves well with a bigger frame, can cover tight ends and running backs and is a dominant run defender. The four-year starter and Thunderbird captain can also offer special teams ability during his rookie campaign.

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