Eagles should watch these five defensive prospects at the Senior Bowl

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 23 Michigan at Indiana
BLOOMINGTON, IN – NOVEMBER 23: Michigan (DB) Ambry Thomas (1) during a college football game between the Michigan Wolverines and Indiana Hoosiers on November 23, 2019, at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, IN.(Photo by James Black/Icon Sportswire)

Senior Bowl week is one of the main attractions during the build-up to the draft. Here are 5 defensive prospects the Eagles should watch during the drills that lead up to this weekend’s matchup.

Carlos Basham Jr – DE – Wake Forest 

Defensive end is another need for the Eagles that isn’t getting as much attention as it should. Outside of Graham, the Eagles lack a true star on the edge of a stacked defensive line. Derek Barnett hasn’t developed into the star that the Eagles hoped he would, and while Josh Sweat had a great breakout this year, durability is a concern. That’s where Carlos Basham Jr steps in. 

Standing at 6 foot 3 and 281 pounds, Basham is a behemoth of a defensive end that has 31 career college games under his belt. During those games, he shined on the Wake Forest defense, finishing with 33.5 tackles for loss, 7 forced fumbles, 19.5 sacks, and even scored a defensive touchdown.

Basham has some elite measurements to go alongside his 6 foot 3, 281-pound frame. An 81-inch wingspan is backed up by 32-inch arms that just latch onto and push back any tackle that’s tasked with stopping him.

He would be a great 4-3 defensive end who can easily outpower guards as well as offensive tackles, potentially some of the weight off of the interior guys.

If you’re looking for a bendy defensive end that beats guys using his initial burst and overall athleticism then Basham isn’t the defensive end for you. Reliant on his power, Basham offers a lot of upside but can struggle setting the edge due to a lack of technical prowess – making him a fun project for new DL coach Tracy Rocker.  

Elijah Molden – CB – Washington 

Simply put, the Eagles need as much talent at cornerback as they can get and Elijah Molden is exactly what they need in a slot corner. 

I absolutely adore Molden. I think he’s easily a top 5 cornerback in this draft class and if he shines like I expect, his draft stock will be through the roof.

Standing at 5 foot 10 and 191 pounds, Molden has elite technique and understanding of the position and he’s a quality run defender and a hard-hitting tackler.

The thing I love the most about Elijah Molden is his ability to bait quarterbacks. He positions himself excellently in zone coverage.

One conern with Molden is the fact he doesn’t have too much speed for a slot corner and if fast slot receivers try to burn him with pure speed, they may have some success. However, Molden’s technique and high football IQ help to mask the speed issue and he would be a huge get for the Eagles in a position of need. 

Jabril Cox – LB – LSU 

In a very youthful crop of linebackers without much sustainable depth, Jabril Cox would be a huge addition.

The 6 foot 3, 233-pound LSU transfer had an amazing college career at North Dakota State before transferring to LSU for the 2020 season. In his time at NDSU, Cox won pretty much every award he possibly could and was the main guy on their defense.

Cox has a lot of versatility about him and that will boost his stock for the NFL instantly. He played a lot of man coverage, especially against slot receivers as a Bison, and he’s shown a great level of understanding in his coverage reps. You’re probably talking about one of the more complete athletes in the draft. He has it all, size, speed, length, power, everything.  

Cox’s tackling ability and run defending are excellent. He block-sheds well and is able to snuff out plays early on, despite a lack of tackling consistency. He took a major step forward in the LSU system when it comes to reading play-action and really improved as an overall player.

Cox is probably the top talent at linebacker and should definitely be circled in red by the Eagles’ scouts.

Hamsah Nasirildeen – S – Florida State 

Safety is another significant need for the team this offseason and drafting Nasirildeen could be a big pickup here.

Out of Florida State, Hamsah Nasirildeen is an athletic monster, standing at 6 foot 3, 213 pounds with 34-inch arms that total to a wingspan of 82 inches. With 10-inch hands he’s as versatile as they come. Nasirildeen can play in all types of roles as a safety, whether that’s deep, in the box, or in the slot.

He’s a great run defender who is straight scary when coming downfield to stop ball carriers. He has elite speed and the necessary tools to be an elite tackler. 

The FSU product has a great footballing mind when it comes to run defending. He’s the type of defender that constantly seems to be around the ball and will always take the best angles on ball carriers. He has a great motor that never seems to stop running, even if he’s across the field from where the play is being made. 

Nasirildeen is also a great blitzer for a safety due to his strong read-and-react abilities.

His coverage skills are a good enough foundation to build on, and his insane length at the position will certainly help him when a team wants to develop him further as a pass defender. He suffered a non-contact ACL tear in 2019 so maybe that was the reason he never took that next step.

The Eagles should definitely have him on their list as a potential safety to draft, especially with the new defensive staff that has come onboard.

Ambry Thomas – CB – Michigan 

Ambry Thomas is like lightning in a bottle at cornerback. He has impressive speed and will use it in every way he possibly can. Standing at 6 foot and 189 pounds, Thomas is a great line of scrimmage defender who uses great hand technique and pressure to re-route runners as soon as he can.  

For a corner who plays his best football at the one, he has solid zonal coverage skills, mainly in shallow zones, and gagues what receivers are running pretty quickly into the play. Thomas will thrive in a cover-2 scheme at the next level and will obviously want a lot of press coverage in the rotation too. 

Coming downfield, Thomas can be scary. With the combination of his top-end speed and great tackling ability, he shows great determination to get involved with rushing play defense when he’s asked too. Ambry’s ball skills are very good and he has some impressive picks on his resume, including one against Iowa on a tipped pass back in 2019. 

Thomas can become too reliant on his speed to cover players and it leads to plays where he’s a little lazy in coverage and allows too much separation. I think if he really wants to play outside at the next level, he’ll definitely need to add more weight to his frame and it seems like he can if he wants too. Having that extra bit of weight can give him more strength with his hands at the line of scrimmage and really pressure bigger receivers to re-route as quick as he wants them to. 

Photo by James Black/Icon Sportswire

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