Tuesday, May 3, 2016

American Idol: Top 100 Performances

American Idol wrapped up its final season "for now". Love it or hate it, you can't deny that Idol produced 15 seasons of great artists and great music. On top of that though, it produced some terrific live performances. So many that its pretty tough to narrow it down, but that's exactly what I tried to do. Of course, this list is completely subjective, so feel free to comment or post some your own top performances that may have missed the cut. Without further adieu, here's my grand top 100 list (a farewell to Idol of sorts).

(All rights to original artists, American Idol/19 Entertainment/Simon Fuller)

100) Ruben Studdard (AI2) "Kiss And Say Goodbye" - The Manhattans

99) Matt Giraud (AI8) "So Small" - Carrie Underwood

98) Allison Iraheta (AI8) "Alone" - Heart

97) Thia Megia (AI10) "Out Here On My Own" - Irene Cara ("Fame")

96) Carly Smithson (AI7) "Come Together" - The Beatles

95) Mandisa (AI5) "I'm Every Woman" - Chaka Khan

94) Allison Iraheta (AI8) "I Can't Make You Love Me" - Bonnie Raitt

93) Jessica Meuse (AI13) "You And I" - Lady Gaga

Jessica Meuse - You & I - American Idol 13 (Top 4) by IdolxMuzic

92) Alex Preston (AI13) "A Beautiful Mess" - Jason Mraz

Alex Preston - Beautiful Mess - American Idol... by IdolxMuzic

91) Quentin Alexander (AI14) "I Put A Spell On You" - Screamin' Jay Hawkins

90) Candice Glover (AI12) "Ordinary People" - John Legend

89) Brooke White (AI7) "Let It Be" - The Beatles

88) Kelly Clarkson (AI1) "Respect" - Aretha Franklin

87) Chris Daughtry (AI5) "Wanted Dead Or Alive" - Bon Jovi

86) Casey James (AI9) "Heaven" - Bryan Adams

85) Jason Castro (AI7) "Hallelujah"- Leonard Cohen/Jeff Buckley

84) Anwar Robinson (AI4) "What A Wonderful World" - Louis Armstrong

83) Caleb Johnson (AI13) "Faithfully" - Journey

82) Clay Aiken (AI2) "Build Me Up Buttercup" - The Foundations

81) George Huff (AI3) "Take Me To The Pilot" - Elton John

80) Pia Toscano (AI10) "River Deep - Mountain High" - Tina Turner

79) Anoop Desai (AI8) "Always On My Mind" - Willie Nelson

78) Alex Preston (AI13) "Fairytales" - Alex Preston

Alex Preston - Beautiful Mess - American Idol... by IdolxMuzic

77) Kimberly Locke (AI2) "New York State Of Mind" - Billy Joel

76) Tyanna Jones (AI14) "Stay" - Rihanna ft. Mikky Ekko

75) LaToya London (AI3) "All By Myself" - Eric Carmen/Celine Dion

74) David Cook (AI7) "Music Of The Night" - Andrew Lloyd Webber "The Phantom Of The Opera"

73) Caleb Johnson (AI13) "Dazed & Confused" - Led Zeppelin

72) Jax (AI14) "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)" - Cher/Nancy Sinatra

71) Kris Allen (AI8) "She Works Hard For The Money" - Donna Summer

70) Crystal Bowersox (AI9) "Come Together" - The Beatles

69) Haley Reinhart (AI10) "What Is And What Should Never Be" - Led Zeppelin

68) Siobhan Magnus (AI9) "Paint It Black" - The Rolling Stones

67) Elliott Yamin (AI5) "A Song For You" - Donny Hathaway

66) Bo Bice (AI4) "Whipping Post" - The Allman Brothers Band

65) Trent Harmon (AI15) "Sharp Dressed Man" - ZZ Top

64) Pia Toscano (AI10) "I'll Stand By You" - The Pretenders

63) Clay Aiken (AI2) "To Love Somebody" - The Bee Gees

62) Jessica Sanchez (AI11) "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" - Jennifer Holliday "Dreamgirls"

61) David Cook (AI7) "Eleanor Rigby" - The Beatles

60) LaToya London (AI3) "Somewhere" - "West Side Story"

59) Jax (AI14) "White Flag" - Dido

58) Jacob Lusk (AI10) "A House Is Not A Home" - Dionne Warwick

57) Mandisa (AI5) "I Don't Hurt Anymore" - Hank Snow/Dinah Washington

56) Melinda Doolittle (AI6) "I Got Rhythm" - George & Ira Gershwin

55) Casey Abrams (AI10) "I Put A Spell On You" - Screamin' Jay Hawkins

54) Sonika Vaid (AI15)"Bring Me To Life" - Evanescence

53) Clark Beckham (AI14) "The Trouble With Love Is" - Kelly Clarkson

52) La'Porsha Renae (AI15) "Come Together" - The Beatles

51) Jessica Meuse (AI13) "Blue Eyed Lie" - Jessica Meuse

Jessica Meuse - Blue Eyed Lie - American Idol... by IdolxMuzic

50) Crystal Bowersox (AI9) "Up To The Mountain" - Patty Griffin

49) Elise Testone (AI11) "Vienna" - Billy Joel

48) La'Porsha Renae (AI15) "No More Drama" - Mary J. Blige

47) James Durbin (AI10) "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" - The Shirelles

46) Clark Beckham (AI14) "Georgia On My Mind" - Ray Charles

45) Jessica Sanchez (AI11) "The Prayer" - Celine Dion & Andrea Bocelli

44) Crystal Bowersox (AI9) "Long As I Can See The Light" - Creedence Clearwater Revival

43) Candice Glover (AI12) "I (Who Have Nothing)" - Ben E. King

42) Kris Allen (AI8) "Ain't No Sunshine" - Bill Withers

41) Nadia Turner (AI4) "You Don't Have To Say You Love Me" - Dusty Springfield

40) Adam Lambert (AI8) "Tracks Of My Tears" - The Miracles

39) LaToya London (AI3) "Don't Rain Om My Parade" - Barbara Streisand "Funny Girl"

38) Melinda Doolittle (AI6) "Home" - Stephanie Mills "The Wiz"

37) Carrie Underwood (AI4) "Alone" - Heart

36) Clay Aiken (AI2) "Bridge Over Troubled Water" - Simon & Garfunkel

35) Tamyra Gray (AI1) "A House Is Not A Home" - Dionne Warwick

34) Lee Dewyze (AI9) "Treat Her Like A Lady" - The Temptations

33) Sarina Joi Crowe (AI14) "Mama Knows Best" - Jessie J

32) Blake Lewis (AI6) "You Give Love A Bad Name" - Bon Jovi

31) Jessica Sanchez (AI11) "I Will Always Love You" - Whitney Houston

30) Melinda Doolittle (AI6) "I'm A Woman" - Christine Kittrell/Peggy Lee

29) Crystal Bowersox (AI9) "Give Me One Reason" - Tracy Chapman

28) Trent Harmon (AI15) "Waiting Game" - Parson James

27) David Archuleta (AI7) "Imagine" - John Lennon

26) Jordin Sparks (AI6) "I (Who Have Nothing)" - Ben E. King

25) Jena Irene (AI13) "Creep" - Radiohead

24) Melinda Doolittle (AI6) "Sweet Sweey Baby (Since You've Been Gone)" - Aretha Franklin

23) La'Porsha Renae (AI15) "Diamonds" - Rihanna

22) Katharine McPhee (AI5) "Over The Rainbow" - Judy Garland

21) Joshua Ledet (AI11) "It's A Man's, Man's, Man's World" - James Brown

20) Chris Daughtry (AI5) "Hemorrhage (In My Hands)" - Fuel

19) Jennifer Hudson (AI3) "Circle Of Life" - Elton John "The Lion King"

18) Kris Allen (AI8) "Heartless" - Kanye West

17) Casey James (AI9) "Jealous Guy" - John Lennon

16) David Cook (AI7) "Hello" - Lionel Richie

We're now starting to get to the top of the list as we get to the top 15, so from here on out I'll include just a few blurbs about the performances. The following are performances that I consider "A+" quality.

15) Constantine Maroulis (AI4) "Bohemian Rhapsody" - Queen
(Constantine may have mugged the camera while performing, but he certainly sold every single performance, including this one. Its always tough to do a really good abridged version of "Bohemian Rhapsody".)

14) Adam Lambert/Allison Iraheta (AI8) "Slow Ride" - Foghat
(This was arguably the best duet performance Idol has ever seen. The resident rockers of Season 8 just let loose.)

13) Elise Testone (AI11) "Whole Lotta Love" - Led Zeppelin
(I feel like Elise was under-appreciated both among her season, and overall among Idol's pantheon of rock performers.)

12) Joshua Ledet (AI11) "When A Man Loves A Woman" - Percy Sledge
(Joshua had a certain flair to him. At times he went over the top, but he was always entertaining. He took you to church with performances like this.)

11) Melinda Doolittle (AI6) "My Funny Valentine" - (Jazz Standard, famously recorded by artists such as Ella Fitzgerald & Frank Sinatra)
(Melinda has made a number of appearances on this list. She was able to do a variety of different genres, from rock and Broadway, to even jazz. She could simply do it all.)

10) Jena Irene (AI13) "Can't Help Falling In Love" - Elvis Presley
(People look down on some of the later seasons, but you can't argue that Jena had a standout performance with this. Throughout the season she was able to both rock out, and also give tender performances on the piano.)

9) Trent Harmon (AI15) "Chandelier" - Sia
(There was just something magical with this song and Trent. He reprised it for the finale, and was somehow able to add even more to it. Just the way he builds and picks his moments makes this performance.)

8) Candice Glover (AI12) "Lovesong" - The Cure
(Much like with the previous performance, there was something with this song and Candice that just clicked. She was able to command the stage.)

7) Joey Cook (AI14) "Fancy" - Iggy Azalea ft/ Charli XCX
(I'm not sure Idol had seen a performance quite like this. Joey put a "Postmodern Jukebox" spin to this Iggy Azalea track and created a moment with it. Sidenote: since Idol, Joey has done performances with PMJ)

6) David Cook (AI7) "Billie Jean" - Michael Jackson
(David upped the ante on what was expected for future contestants. Here, David did a Chris Cornell version of the MJ classic. You never quite knew what to expect from him week to week.)

5) Fantasia Barrino (AI3) "Summertime" - "Porgy and Bess"
(Talk about an intimate performance, here Fantasia was able to enrapture the audience with this tour de force.)

4) Haley Reinhart (AI10) "House Of The Rising Sun" - Traditional Folk Song
(Haley was greatly under-appreciated during her Idol run. It seemed judges were always finding ways to pick her apart, but even they couldn't do that with this. Honestly, anyone wanting to do "House Of The Rising Sun" on a singing show should second-guess themselves, because Haley absolutely slayed it.)

3) Bo Bice (AI4) "In A Dream" - Badlands
(Talk about risky performances, Bo decided in Top 3 week to do this performance A Capella. There are so many things that could have gone wrong, but Bo just zeroed in and made this work. Idol hasn't seen a performance like this.)

2) Kelly Clarkson (AI1) "Stuff Like That There" - Betty Hutton
(What made this performance so impressive was just the pure difficulty of the song at hand. But Kelly, the original Idol herself, of course was able to fully attack this song and made it look like it was a regular in her songbook.)

1) Adam Lambert (AI8) "Mad World" - Tears For Fears
(The quintessential American Idol performance. Adam was able to combine theatricality to his style without it coming off as too much, if that makes sense. This performance was just incredibly subtle and lyrical. In my opinion, the best Idol performance.)

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Steelers Draft Prospects: Part 2

Better late than never, its time for the Steelers Draft Prospects series. With the draft quickly approaching, there will just be 2 parts to this, comprised of only confirmed prospect visits. The player summaries all come from NFL.com

DE Dean Lowry (Northwestern): 6-6, 296lbs
combine: 4.87(40)/30reps/32.5in vert

'15: 2nd All-Big 10, 46tckls/3scks

Strengths: Comes off the snap with burst & good pad level. Great motor and good playspeed. Willing to pursue the ball with consistency or effort. Play frame to fit classic 3-4 DE spot. Always active. Tackle finisher. 

Weaknesses: Not as aware of the ball as he needs to be. Gets stood straight up at contact as a bull rusher. Pad level & narrow base rob him of bull-rush power when rushing from inside. Dull-straight ahead rusher with no pass-rush plan. Marginal playmaking change of direction. 

Grade: 5.2 (developmental/special teams potential)

S Trae Elston (Ole Miss): 5-11, 195lbs

Strengths: Physical hitting as a tackler. Will explode into and through ball catchers attempting to jar the ball lose. Leaper who challenges the catch aggressively at the high point. Soft hands to finish INTs. 

Weaknesses: Stiff-hipped. Recognition in coverage can be a step late. Doesn't consistently gets jumps necessary to range from center-field to challenge sideline throws. Lackadaisical pursuit. Lacking size/speed combination.

Grade: 4.99 (50/50 chance of making roster)

WR Pharoh Cooper (S.Carolina): 5-11, 203lbs

combine: 15reps/31in vert

'15: 66rec/973yds/9TDs, 1st All-SEC

Strengths: Especially fast with first 3 steps off the line. Reaches top speed almost instantly. Operates with excellent balance & body control. Seamless change of direction out of breaks opens early passing windows. Will break off routes and improvise to free space when route is compromised by coverage underneath. Strength to play through contact.

Weaknesses: Was unable to reach big-play throws downfield. Battled focus & concentration drops at one point. Hip tightness creates rounded routes and limited wiggle room after catch. Relies on straight line quickness over speed or agility in open field.

Comp: Josh Reed

Grade: 5.67 (backup/eventual starter)

S Karl Joseph (West Virginia): 5-10, 205lbs

'15: 5INTs

Strength: Play-making safety with man-cover ability and plus ball skills. Quick to get head around and find the ball, always opts to try & take the ball away rather than break up the pass. Leaper who challenges at high point. Plays run & pass with great urgency. Can pedal & shift from deep zone.

Weaknesses: ACL injury concerns. Play-making aspirations can lead him to vacate his area a step early. Some change of direction limitations. Desire to assail leads to occasional technique breakdowns as a tackler.

Comp: Antoine Bethea

Grade: 5.96 (Could become early starter)

DT Robert Nkemdiche (Ole Miss): 6-3, 294lbs

  combine: 4.87(40)/28reps/35in vert

'15: 2nd All-American, 7TFL/3scks

Strengths: Plus movement skills and runs like a DE. Has reactive explosiveness for expanded range as a tackler near line of scrimmage. Wrap up finisher. Good lateral quickness, can win race across face of blockers. Improvement as pass rusher. Has a decent spin move.

Weaknesses: Disappointing production. Ducks head off the snap, losing track of the ball. Tightly wound, straight-line athlete. Inconsistent effort after his initial pass rush move is thwarted. Was suspended for the Sugar Bowl, charged with marijuana possession. Personal character & work ethic concerns.

Comp: Sharrif Floyd

Grade: 6.32 (chance to become good starter)

CB Sean Davis (Maryland): 6-1, 201lbs

combine: 4.46(40)/21reps/37.5in vert

'15: Honorable All-Big 10, 88tckls/3INTs/5FFs

Strengths: Size to battle TEs. Leaps & challenges aggressively on 50/50 throws. Around the ball and in the mix. Comes firing downhill with purpose when it's time to get help against the run. Looks to lay the wood to receivers and make them feel it. 

Weaknesses: At times, disastrous in man coverage. Slow, upright backpedal and clunky when turning to run. Missed tackle numbers are troubling. Allows too much separation and can't click and close on throws.

Comp: Duke Ihenacho

Grade: 5.58 (backup/eventual starter)

FS Justin Simmons (Boston College): 6-2, 202lbs

combine: 4.61(40)/16reps/40in vert

'15: 2nd All-ACC, 5INTs

Strengths: Able to process layered routes in front of him and finds his fit. Consistent in coverage and reads play development quickly. Can handle man coverage against TEs and bigger slots. Will sprint from high to low as soon as he reads run & leverages well to the sideline. Rarely tries to initiate tackle early. Allowed no broken tackles, few missed tackles. Talent as a gunner, cover team experience.

Weaknesses: Can be dragged for a ride against size when tackling. Hip tightness creates some chunkiness when forced to change directions quickly. Will shut down deep cover responsibilities prematurely. Becomes spectator rather than participant if he feels like he can't range to deep balls outside the numbers. Can be fooled into over-committing to a side.

Grade: 5.59 (backup/eventual starter)

DE Dadi Nicolas (Virginia Tech): 6-3, 235lbs

combine: 4.74(40)/14reps/41in vert

'15: 7TFL/2.5scks, Honorable All-ACC

Strengths: Lightning quick inside moves. Plays with desired upfield burst. Experience at OLB. Bouncy athleticism in space and looks natural dropping into space. Good burst to make up ground quickly while chasing the ball. Runs through tackles with as much force as he can muster. 

Weaknesses: Lack of functional strength. Easily redirected as pass rusher & washed down against the run. Labors to disengage. Can be controlled by quality TEs at point of attack. Below average instincts against the run. Needs to eliminate false step from his get off. Below average body control in space overrunning plays that are there to be made. 

Grade: 5.28 (developmental/special teams potential)

CB Cyrus Jones (Alabama): 5-10, 197lbs

combine: 4.49(40)/10reps/33in vert

'15: 2INTs/7PBs

Strengths: Plus play strength. Able to reroute and maintain positioning on receivers. Willing to mix it up & likes to test receivers early in the game in an attempt to intimidate. Excellent in run support. Excellent return man.

Weaknesses: Run game awareness wanes when matched up in press coverage. Not able to run with pure man-cover speed. Plays with average balance. Inconsistent finding the ball in man coverage. Needs better awareness of receivers behind him in zone coverage. Big WRs can go up & over him in the redzone

Comp: Steven Nelson

Grade: 5.57 (backup/eventual starter)

CB Ken Crawley (Colorado): 6ft, 187lbs

combine: 4.43(40)/36.5in vert

'15: 46tckls/1INT/13PBs

Strengths: Shows patience out of back pedal. Won't open to one side or the other based on basic, first move by receivers. Has mirror & match ability on step and go routes. Consistent tackle production. Balanced approach and usually drives through RBs' legs in run support.

Weaknesses: Issues with discipline in coverage. Allows people over the top of him with go routes & double moves. Plays high in his backpedal. Doesn't trust his technique down the field. Needs more play strength and assertiveness to challenge blockers in run support.

Grade: 5.08 (back end of the roster)

WR Sterling Shepard (Oklahoma): 5-10, 194lbs

combine: 4.48(40)/20reps/41in vert

'15: 2nd All-American, 86rec/1,288yds/11TDs

Strengths: Terrific route quickness. Creates instant separation for anticipatory throws. Runs variety of routes from the slot. Clean with his double moves. Adjust routes to ball placement. Not afraid over the middle. Adjusts for difficult catches. Willing to jump into a CB and get after him as a blocker from the slot. 

Weaknesses: Lack of play strength shows up from time to time. Strong CBs with good feet can cause issues for him in press coverage. Can be redirected in his routes and will get trapped against the sideline at times. Reliant upon clever routes to get over the top against true speed. Not much of a catch radius.

Comp: Tyler Lockett

Grade: 5.91 (Could become early starter)

CB Brandon Williams (Texas A&M): 5-11, 197lbs

combine: 4.37(40)/18reps/30.5in vert

'15: 37tckls/7PBs

Strengths: Flashed a quality burst to the ball from his backpedal. Steady & sure tackler , enough mass to hit and stick to big receivers & RBs coming his way. Blazing straight-line recovery speed.

Weaknesses: New at the position. Slow to process combo routes and find shifting zone responsibilities. Allows too much separation. Stiff in his transition. 

Comp: Nick Marshall

Grade: 5.39 (backup/eventual starter)

RB Devontae Booker (Utah): 5-11, 219lbs
 combine: 22reps

'15: 2nd All-Pac 12, 1,261yds/11TDs

Strengths: Patient runner but decisive when he sees the crease. Flashes above-average feel for the way running lanes shift and change. Features excellent vision. Can maintain play speed when changing directions and cutting. Crisp footwork approaching line of scrimmage. Able to string together slew of moves in succession.Effective pass catcher with soft hands. Willing to do his part in pass protection.

Weaknesses: May not be able to add more weight without compromising quickness & average speed. Fumbles could be a concern. Average getaway speed.

Comp: Jeremy Langford

Grade: 5.7 (could become early starter)

S Jayron Kearse (Clemson): 6-4, 216lbs

combine: 4.62(40)/16reps/31.5in vert

'15: 2nd AP All-American

Strengths: Straight line athlete with long strides who is able to come from two-deep and close ground quickly on deep sideline throws. Will read QB's eyes and shade coverage accordingly while staying deeper than the deepest receiver. Able to contribute immediately on special teams.

Weaknesses: Play demeanor and effort level can best be described as blase. Slow to set presnap. Slow to diagnose counters at the line of scrimmage. Can be mismatched in man coverage by shifty slot receivers. Production levels should be much higher considering his build. Too many busts in coverage leading to free running receivers.

Grade: 5.39 (backup/eventual starter)

RB Tyler Ervin (San Jose St): 5-10, 192lbs

combine: 4.41(40)/17reps/39in vert

'15: 1,469yds/13TDs

Strengths: Short-strider in tight confines with ability to make sudden directional change. Combines smoothness with quick reaction time to avoid traffic. Plus lateral escapability. Quality hands, can function as a pass catcher with some matchup potential. Very good play speed and can punch the gas to top speed quickly. Return man experience.

Weaknesses: Runs come to a screeching halt against quality, bodied-up tackle attempts. Balance through contact is poor and has trouble grinding legs through arm tackles. Not a one-cut runner. Limited in his routes and times looked like he was going through the motions if he didn't expect to get the ball. 

Comp: Akeem Hunt

Grade: 5.38 (backup/eventual starter)  

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Steelers Draft Prospects: Part 1

Better late than never, its time for the Steelers Draft Prospects series. With the draft quickly approaching, there will just be 2 parts to this, comprised of only confirmed prospect visits. The player summaries all come from NFL.com

SS Jeremy Cash (Duke): 6-2, 210lbs
'15: 101 tckls/2.5 scks/4 PB's (pass breakups)/3 FF's. ACC DPOY, Nagurski & Thorpe Finalist

Strengths: Very big & physical. Has long arms and big hands for the position. Comes diving off the edge to upend RBs before they hit the crease. Has a big closing burst. Runs through targets with force and can separate WRs from the catch.

Weaknesses: Struggles in space to match up in man coverage. Plays with tight, stiff hips that limit sudden movements and change of direction. Slow to drop into zone coverage with proper depth from the line of scrimmage. Scheme-limited. Dealt recently with surgery on a broken wrist

Comp: T.J Ward

Grade: 5.54 (Backup/eventual starter)

S Deon Bush (Miami): 6ft, 199lbs

combine: 4.64 (40)/ 17 reps/ 36in vert

'15: Honorable All-ACC

Strengths: Good size for the position. Comes downhill under control looking to mirror runners. Wraps-up as a tackler. Good leaper. Can disrupt at the high point. Comfortable in zone coverage underneath. Has blitz capabilities. Determined special teams effort.

Weaknesses: Lacks dynamic athleticism. Struggles to change direction in space. Doesn't always read development of play. Shows pre-snap confusion at times. Lack of instincts limit range & playmaking ability. Late to respond to throws in his area. 

Comp: Mo Alexander

Grade: 5.27 (Developmental/ST Potential) 

CB D.J White (Georgia Tech): 5-11, 193lbs

combine: 4.49 (40)/ 17reps/ 33.5in vert

'15: 41tckls/ 2INTs/ 8PBs

Strengths: Patient from press coverage and plays with balance. Disrupts receivers. Challenges catch without running through receivers. Good leaper. Instinctive & disciplined. Attacks catch point rather than man when in position.

Weaknesses: Little clunky hips and changing directions sharply. Recovery speed is very average. Waits on receiver after short catch giving away valuable yardage. Head decker in run support and finishes with arm tackles over a chest-up approach.

Comp: Justin Bethel

Grade: 5.59 (backup/eventual starter)

OT Jerald Hawkins (LSU): 6-6, 305lbs

combine: 5.23 (40)/ 23reps

Strengths: Slides feet & hips. Flashes power and maintains grip. Plays with balances pass sets. Possesses foot quickness and change of direction. Speedy snap off and search mechanism against twists. Uses upward blow with decent hip snap into initial contact in run game.

Weaknesses: Power in base blocks hindered by his narrow drive base. Doesn't always bring his feet through contact. Not a natural knee bender. Hands too wide in pass pro setup. Willing to wait bend when pass rusher  gets to edge.

Comp: Bobby Massie

Grade: 5.5 (backup/eventual starter)

DT A'Shawn Robinson (Alabama): 6-4, 307lbs
 combine: 5.2 (40)/ 22reps/ 26in vert

'15: All-American, Outland finalist. 46tckls/ 3.5scks

Strengths: Tough to move off the spot. Dislodges guards & centers if they try and wait. Athletic enough to give reasonable chase to the ball. Heavy tackler. Generates pocket push when he gets it cranked up as a pass rusher. Brute force to match NFL power immediately. 

Weaknesses: Plays too upright when asked to move. Should be more consistent against double teams. Straight-liner, stalls due to leverage loss. Needs to play with a wider base to improve balance & overall base. Rarely turns the corner. Doesn't play with the quickness or forward lean to threaten edges and win in the gaps.

Comp: John Henderson

Grade: 6.34 (Chance to become a good starter)

SS Keanu Neal (Florida): 6ft, 211lbs

combine: 4.62 (40)/ 17reps/ 38in vert

'15: 96tckls/ 2scks/ 1INT

Strengths: Cranks it up to top speed in a hurry. Explodes downhill in run support. Vicious hitter. Drives all the way through his contact with aggressive finishes. Close skill in coverage. On top of the receiver immediately  after the catch. Impact tackler around the line of scrimmage.

Weaknesses: Hard tackling style can lead to missed or broken tackles. Can be wild in space skating past his target. Field awareness can be hit or miss in coverage. Won't always turn and run early enough.

Comp: Kenny Vaccaro

Grade: 5.88 (Could become early starter) 

S Darian Thompson (Boise St): 6-2, 208lbs

combine: 4.69 (40)/ 12reps. 32.5in vert

'15: 5INTs/ 8.5TFL

Strengths: Soft hands can make difficult, diving INTs. Will run through receivers' catch point to disrupt. A ready hitter. Able to bob & weave around traffic and consistently choose the correct lane to find RBs.

Weaknesses: Undisciplined. Needs to play with more technique and less improv. Hip tightness hinders ability to open quickly and ruin with necessary speed to close separation. Needs to slow and gather himself when charging downhill to avoid missed tackles.

comp: Morgan Burnett

Grade: 5.52 (backup/eventual starter)

CB Tavon Young (Temple): 5-9, 183lbs

combine: 4.46 (40)/ 9reps/ 34.5in vert

'15: 41tckls/ 1sck/ 7PBs

Strengths: Plays bigger and more physically than his size. Drives through receivers with force at the point of the catch and can jar the ball free. Plays with winning ball skills. Crowds receivers upfield and gets his head around to find the ball. Comfortable in bail coverage.

Weaknesses: Gets grabby and starts to maul when running with big receivers. Doesn't have twitch or fluid change of direction in most small corners. Gets caught guessing in route recognition. Feet are clunky when opening up to run with WRs.

Grade: 5.49 (backup/eventual starter)

OT Caleb Benenoch (UCLA): 6-5, 305lbs

combine: 4.98 (40)

Strengths: Plays with good knee bend. Lateral quickness off the snap to put himself in position for difficult zone blocks. Has feet the mirror in space in pass protection. Aggressive worker with some recovery athleticism to work himself back into the play.

Weaknesses: Lacks core strength. Too much waist bending as a tackle. Leans into pass rushers opening up balance concerns. Needs to bring hands back inside with his punch. 

Grade: 5.3 (backup/eventual starter)

FS Vonn Bell (Ohio St): 5-11, 199lbs
combine: 16reps

'15: 65tckls/ 2INTs/ 9PBs  2nd All Big 10

Strengths: Man cover talent. Instincts and reaction time are big assets. Fires downhill as soon as he reads throw. Able to mirror targets and strike a centered blow when flowing downhill. Plays with excellent feel for his responsibilities in space. Rarely out of position.

Weaknesses: Hip tightness impedes fluid flip & go when beaten in space. Occasionally gets caught peeking in on QB for too long and will briefly lose track of the receiver. Drag down tackler without much thud.

Comp: Kurt Coleman

Grade: 5.68 (backup/eventual starter)

CB Jonathan Jones (Auburn): 5-9, 180lbs

combine: 4.33 (40)/ 19reps/ 36in vert

'15: 69tckls/ 1INT/ 13PBs

Strengths: Foot quickness and fluid hips for smooth transitions from press coverage. Looks to make plays out of his area. Able to carry long speed stride for stride. Man cover specialist. Finds the deep ball and gets his head around to challenge. Much better instincts underneath or in man coverage. 

Weaknesses: Miscast in zone and off coverage. Allows much cushion for pitch & catch throws. Unable to unhinge quickly from big receivers. Has injury history.

Grade: 5.35 (backup/eventual starter)

FS T.J Green (Clemson): 6-2, 209lbs

combine: 4.34 (40)/ 13reps/ 35.5in vert

'15: 95tckls/ 3PBs/ 2FFs

Strengths: Has exciting coverage range potential for defense that asks more of him. Flashes man cover ability with length, speed & ball skills. Lightning fast blitzer who can factor off the slot. 

Weaknesses: Open-field tackling issues are problematic. Not enough wrap-ups. Positioning and balance when tackling is below average. Limited experience. Hesitates to fire downhill after the run or catch, giving away valuable yardage.

Comp: Cedric Thompson

Grade: 5.64 (backup/eventual starter)

CB Ryan Smith (NC Central): 5-11, 189lbs

combine: 4.47 (40)/ 18reps/ 36in vert

'15: 2nd All-MEAC, 2INTs/9PBs

Strengths: Very smooth in his pedal and turn, does a nice job of reading a receiver's "tells" with his route. Quality footwork for mirror and match, sticks to the hip of his man. Plays with good ball skills. In zone, slides according to a QB's eyes restricting passing windows.

Weaknesses: Closing burst is marginal. Acceleration from change of direction is below average. Challenged by size.

Comp: Bill Bentley

Grade: 5.39 (backup/eventual starter)

OLB Jatavis Brown (Akron): 5-11, 227lbs

Strengths: Tremendous play speed & acceleration to cut off angles and catch RBs around the corner. Explosive athlete. Glides & mirrors. Can outrace blockers to the spot. Instinctive and sniffs out misdirection plays. Some cover ability and can disrupt TEs. Uses quickness and burst to the QB to rack up sacks as a blitzer. 

Weaknesses: More of a hybrid fit than a NFL LB. Lack of play strength and mechanics show up with his tackling. Redirect blocks can end his pursuit.

Grade: 5.5 (backup/eventual starter)

DT Javon Hargrave (SC St): 6-1, 309lbs

combine: 4.93 (40)/ 29reps/ 34.5in vert

'15: AP All-American

Strengths: Can play low and dip around the corner when playing in gaps. Surprising foot quickness with an adequate spin move. Plays with quick burst upfield and into blockers. Flashes playmaking ability.

Weaknesses: Very raw as a pass rusher relying on athleticism. Lacks instincts and feel for position. Doesn't anticipate down blocks and can be knocked around because of it. Doesn't play with enough of an anchor.

Grade: 5.5 (backup/eventual starter)

DT Quinton Jefferson (Maryland): 6-4, 291lbs

combine: 4.95 (40)/ 24reps/ 29in vert

'15: Honorable All Big 10,  12.5TFLs/6.5scks/1INT

Strengths: Can come off the snap with low pad level and make initial penetration with leverage into the gap. Shows some disruptive qualities when he commits to the attack. Can create uncertainty in blockers. Nifty swim move tied to a jump cut for go-to inside move. 

Weaknesses: Allows himself to be redirected. Doesn't fire-off the snap and into blockers with much juice. Rushes with a narrow base. Lack of power in his base prevents him from fighting back against wash down blocks on the move.

Grade: 5.13 (Back end of the roster)