Scouting The Durham Defense
Quintin Richardson
Quintin Richardson
ACC Recruiting Analyst
Posted Apr 1, 2006


DURHAM, N.C. -- With nearly 250 prospects in attendance at the Scout.com Combine in Durham, it took a little time, but the elite players started to rise over the course of the event. Now we take a look at some of the players that stood out at the defensive positions.

Defensive Ends


Byron Clear

While his frame (6-foot-5, 204 pounds) requires additional weight be a true college defensive end, Byron Clear gave opposing offensive lineman fits during one-on-one trench drills. Clear’s explosive first step (9’11” broad jump) caught his opponents flatfooted, while his speed (4.57-second 40-yard dash) blew past his much slower competition.

 

Johnny Evans
Just as athletically gifted and dominating as Clear was Johnny Evans. Evans, who is similar to Dekoda Watson last year in both tools set and lack of public exposure, beat his offensive lineman with his speed and quickness. However, at the next level his size (6-foot-1, 186 pounds) and range might make him a better fit at linebacker at the collegiate level.
 

Quinton Richardson
Quinton Richardson opted to drill with the defensive lineman as opposed to his more projected position of offensive tackle. Regardless, Richardson didn’t look at all out of place, but somewhat raw. He possesses a long frame matched with a good thickness, while also being athletic enough to maneuver past an offensive lineman.
 

Cliff Matthews
Like Richardson, Cliff Matthews is a raw athlete with a high ceiling. While he wasn’t constantly dominating his offensive counter parts, he showed glimpses of greatness at times. His combine event times and measurements make him a very intriguing prospect.
 

Defensive Tackles


Junius Lewis
While one-on-one trench drills aren’t normally the best barometer to judge defensive tackles, Junius Lewis still was able to display his grittiness and toughness. For a prospect his size (6-foot-2, 270 pounds), Lewis has great explosion off the line and plays with great leverage, which should come in handy against the run – especially at the point of attack.
 

Tydreke Powell
For a big guy, Tydreke Powell was extremely light on his feet. He possesses a frame that should allow for the extra required weight, while not losing any of his speed or agility. During drills, Powell has no wasted motion making him appear faster than his combine numbers suggest. While defensive tackles are normally known for stuff the run, Powell showed relatively exceptional pass rushing techniques.
 

Linebackers


Damian Thornton
Damian Thornton scored high marks in both the look test and event drills. During one-on-one passing drills, Thornton was one of the better linebackers in coverage against both running backs and tight ends. He especially showed good range when covering running backs in the flats taking good angles to the ball carrier.

Defensive Backs


Gary Gray

With his collegiate decision out of the way, Gary Gray was able to participate in one-on-one passing drills with no pressure. Covering the quality of wide outs in attendance, Gray needed every edge he could get. Gray showed great hips and good instincts, but needs to work on his problems with reaction time.

 

Chris Culliver
Heading into the afternoon, the name “Chris Culliver” wasn’t found on any recruiting list. However, Culliver followed up his 4.38-second 40-yard dash time (a combine best), with one of the better defensive back performances. He was rarely beat on deeper routes and showed his competitive nature by singling out Mark Barnes – one of the better wide outs – and facing him most of the day.
 

Dominique Ellis
Another unknown before the combine, Dominique Ellis was in the hip pocket of just about every wide receiver he faced. Rarely getting beat, Ellis showed good fundamentals and ball skills. Ellis' frame (5-foot-11, 185 pounds) and ability make him an option at just about any position in the secondary.
Scout.com East Recruiting Analyst Bob Lichtenfels contributed to this article


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