Senior Bowl 2013: Defensive Prospects To Watch For

With a big week at the Senior Bowl, Margus Hunt could propel himself into the first round. - USA TODAY Sports

We take a closer look at the defensive prospects participating in the Senior Bowl who make sense for the Dallas Cowboys.

In the previous post, we listed some of the offensive prospects to watch out for this week in Mobile, Alabama. In today's post, we will take a closer look at the defensive prospects. I've narrowed down the prospects that should make sense for the Dallas Cowboys. Those positions include defensive tackle, defensive end, linebacker and safety.

Related: Senior Bowl 2013: Offensive Prospects To Watch For

You can check out the coverage of the Senior Bowl all week long on the NFL Network, and the game will be played this Saturday at 3:00 PM CST (Central Standard Time).

Defensive Tackles

  • Sylvester Williams: Williams isn't going to wow you in any one area as a defensive tackle, but he has such a solid overall game and the game tape to potentially push himself into the first round. He has superior strength, but he has cat-like quickness and shows great footwork. Consistently dominating and wreaking havoc seemed to be his issue at UNC. If he has a strong week against good competition, then he could answer some of those questions.
  • Kawann Short: Short's name circled around the draft community after a good season in 2011 at Purdue. After another strong performance in 2012, Short has become one of the biggest sleepers at defensive tackle in the 2013 NFL Draft. He resembles a bowling bowl out there on the defensive line, and his game tape is rock-solid. There are some questions about his effort and leverage that he needs to answer this week.
  • Brandon Williams: Some of the reporters in Mobile were blown away that Williams stood in at 6-1, weighing 341 pounds. While he may have flown under the radar at Missouri Southern, Williams is one of the best defensive tackles in this year's class that nobody knows about. I just found out about him recently, and he really impressed me. If the Cowboys want to go with a small school prospect, then Williams would be a great option for them.

Defensive Ends

  • Margus Hunt: For the past few months, the former track star from Estonia has been receiving J.J. Watt comparisons. While I am not sure anyone will ever resemble Watt, Hunt does have the long frame (6-8, 277) to dominate on the line of scrimmage. It's amazing to watch a man of his size move the way he does, but he needs to learn better technique. A good week in Mobile could push him into the first round.
  • Alex Okafor: The Cowboys haven't drafted a Texas Longhorn in what seems like forever, but Okafor is the type of talent that could make sense for the Cowboys. Okafor is a great athlete who uses his hands well and is a balanced defensive end, but he must improve getting off the line quicker.
  • Ezekiel Ansah: Ansah has to be the most popular name at the Senior Bowl this week. So far, Ansah is impressing scouts who are hoping he turns into the next Jason Pierre-Paul. While Ansah is nowhere near explosive as JPP, he does have similar qualities that will push him into a high draft spot. If the Cowboys are willing to take a gamble this April, Ansah may be worth the risk long-term.

Linebackers

  • Chase Thomas: Thomas was a complete beast while at Stanford. He may not be everything you require physically, but he is just a good football player who can change the game defensively. 3-4 teams will love him, but 4-3 teams might shy away from the 6-3, 241 pound linebacker. I won't say that he is Sean Lee, but Thomas has similar qualities to his game. Even with a move to a 4-3, Thomas really interests me, but that may be different for the Cowboys' scouts.
  • Nico Johnson Alabama: In terms of a 4-3 linebacker, I still haven't figured out where Johnson would fit in. He's always been a good tackler and strong in run support, but he does struggle against the pass. Regardless, a linebacker from the SEC who played for the best team in the country has the potential to make it in the NFL.
  • Arthur Brown: The former University of Miami linebacker made a transfer to Kansas State and instantly became one of the best linebackers in college football. Brown is a great athlete who makes tackling look easy. He could easily become a sideline-to-sideline player because of his speed, but he doesn't shy away from physical contact. Brown is a "chase and seek" type of linebacker, which is similar to what we already have in Bruce Carter, but I wouldn't mind having another talented linebacker on the Cowboys' roster.

Safeties

  • Phillip Thomas: Thomas had a very productive season at Fresno State and he's one of the biggest sleepers at the safety position in this draft. While Thomas may not be well known, I guarantee that he sees his stock rise after the Senior Bowl. He possesses great ball skills, but he is also very good at coming down closer to the line of scrimmage. The Cowboys need to take a real good look at this kid because he could solve a huge need at free safety.
  • T.J. McDonald: Will Monte Kiffin make a push in the war room for his former USC safety? We may not know the answer to that for a few months, but it doesn't hurt to take a closer look at McDonald this week. McDonald is a good athlete who could become a physical force in the secondary. Kiffin should have a good idea if his former pupil would be a good fit in his Tampa-2 defense in Dallas.
  • Shawn Williams: If Kiffin and the Cowboys really want a physical safety, then Williams may be their guy. He does have some work to do in coverage, but Williams does possess decent ball skills. This is a great opportunity for Williams to improve his draft stock.
  • Bacarri Rambo: Rambo was a certified ballhawk for the Georgia secondary. Not only did he show very good ball skills, Rambo showed that he was a physical safety that had a well-rounded game. Rambo does need to improve on some of the metal lapses and breakdowns in coverage. He also has some off-the-field concerns that he must address. Regardless, Rambo is a very unique player that could become a force to be reckoned with in the secondary.

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