In the offensive line writeup I posted earlier, I tried to focus on the smaller school prospects. Iupati and DuCasse have not only proven to be the most intriguing athletically, they're players most aren't familiar with.
No discussion of the North defensive line could begin without first mentioning the dominant play today from Penn State's Jared Odrick and Michigan's Brandon Graham. Odrick simply abused whoever was placed in front of him today, blowing past Zane Beadles and Shawn Lauvao. Graham's speed and strong hands had former Notre Dame tackle Sam Young (6-8, 305) spinning in pass drills and struggling to handle the 6-1, 263 pound Graham.
Big Ten fans wouldn't have been surprised -- and neither were scouts -- who view the conference's best defensive linemen as sure top 50 selections.
Two defensive ends moving up the charts this week are less known throughout the country -- Arkansas State's Alex Carrington and Murray State's Austen Lane.
Each pass the eyeball test at 6-5, 284 pounds and 6-6, 267 pounds, respectively.
Carrington is the stronger, stouter player against the run. He has enough burst upfield to challenge the offensive tackle and has strong hands to stack and separate. He lacks the burst to close to ever be more than a complimentart pass rusher, but is one of the more impressive all-around defensive ends of this class. Scouts love that he can play end in the 3-4 as well as the 4-3. He even lined up at defensive tackle and nose guard, at times, today.
Lane doesn't yet have Carrington's strength, but is a more fluid pass rusher. He has a surprising burst off the snap for a man his size and shows an intriguing array of pass rush technique for a small school player. He was particularly impressive against fellow small-schooler Vladimir DuCasse. On one of his more impressive plays, Lane burst off the snap to pressure DuCasse's outside shoulder, then re-directed back inside, ripping through DuCasse's hands to gain get the tackle's hands off of him. DuCasse, to his credit, remained balance and squarely in front of Lane, but a quick spin back outside showed an extra gear that the UMass lineman wasn't expecting.
Lane has to improve his strength and recognition (he repeatedly bit on the play-action and crashed downfield, losing contain), but a year in an NFL weight-room could see this kid develop into a legitimate NFL starter.
Don't be surprised if Carrington and Lane join Odrick and Graham as top 50 selections...