The Atlanta Falcons sent the maximum allotment of scouts to the Senior Bowl (10) last week. Defense has to be a priority for new general manager Terry Fontenot, and here is a look at five defensive players who helped themselves the most at the Senior Bowl.
Hamsah Nasirildeen, Safety, 6’3 1/8″ 213, Florida State
Nasirildeen has been listed on several mock drafts as a late first round pick. There’s only so much higher he can rise, but his stock was still up after an impressive showing at the Senior Bowl. He’s a jumbo safety who is an enforcer in the box. In 2019 he posted 101 tackles with three forced fumbles. But he’s more than just a hybrid linebacker. With his size and agility he was able to run with the bigger receivers and blanket the tight ends. We knew he could play in the box, but it was his ability in coverage that stood out all week in Mobile.
Tre Brown, Cornerback, 5’9 3/4″ 188, Oklahoma
Brown was considered a day three pick at best heading into the Senior Bowl, but he may have had the best week in coverage of any defensive back in attendance. He’s physical at the line of scrimmage with a strong lower body. He uses his hands well jamming his man, but then he’s fluid in his hip turn and can run in the open field with the receivers. He keeps his eyes up and has good awareness in coverage and timing to break up passes.
William Bradley-King, Defensive End, 6’3 3/8 254, Baylor
After spending three seasons at Arkansas State, Bradley-King played the 2020 season at Baylor. He was placed on the American squad with a host of players from the SEC and ACC, and it didn’t take long for him to make an impression. Despite being considered a bit undersized, Bradley-King was stout against the run and could bull-rush considerably bigger offensive tackles. He was comfortable on either side of the defensive line and over-matched tight ends that tried to block him one on one.
Carlos Basham Jr., Defensive Line, 6’3 3/8 281, Wake Forest
Identical in height to Bradley-King, Basham Jr. carried an extra 30 pounds and spent the week on the interior. Listed as a defensive end on some services, Basham will give defensive coordinators plenty of options. He was too quick for the interior linemen in pass rush situations, and he’ll be stronger against the run than most ends in a 4-3. Basham had a burst off the ball that was unmatched at defensive tackle, and he was adept at using his hands and technique to split the gaps between the guard and center.
Justin Hilliard, Linebacker, 6’0 3/4″ 227, Ohio State
It can be difficult for linebackers to standout in a practice setting. Until a linebacker (or running back) is allowed to hit and be hit, it’s tough to know what he’s capable of. But that didn’t stop Hilliard from making an impression in pass rush drills against the running backs. For the most part, the running backs handled the linebackers well in pass protection 1v1s, but no one could stop Hilliard. He was able to use his agility to get his opponent off balance before going around or through them. He measured just short of 230 pounds (227) and showed that he can be an asset as a three down linebacker on the next level.