MOBILE, AL --- Members of the Colts coaching staff, including Chuck Pagano, and the Colts scouting department are down at the Senior Bowl as draft season gets underway, and by most accounts, defensive line is the strongest position.
NFL Netowrk draft guru Mike Mayock wrote Tuesday "boy did that hold true" at Senior Bowl practices, specifically in regards to how the interior defensive lineman performed.
Here are some names to watch on the defensive line at the Senior Bowl:
Ohio State DT Adolphus Washington (6'3", 297 pounds) - Washington was an All-Big Ten honorable mention his junior year and followed that up with a 1st-team All-America selection by the Sporting News, after a senior season with 49 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, and 4 sacks. Mayock said he was the best defensive tackle at the Senior Bowl Tuesday.
"He was all over the field in one-on-one drills," said Mayock. "He was too quick, too stout. He was great in team drills. I thought he put on a show."
Most are projecting Washington in the 2nd-3rd round range. NFL.com Draft Analyst Bucky Brooks also pegged Washington as one of his 10 Senior Bowl players with the most to prove, after off-the-field issues.
"Washington will need to score major points in interviews to get scouts to redirect their attention back to his on-field exploits," said Brooks.
Louisville DT Sheldon Rankins (6'1", 304 pounds) - As a junior, Rankins racked up 8 sacks, 2 interceptions, and 13.5 tackles for loss in Louisville's first ACC season. This past season as a senior, he added 13 more tackles for loss and six sacks.
"Louisville DT Sheldon Rankins showed off his "karate" hands by defeating blockers with astounding quickness at times," said NFL.com Draft Analyst Lance Zierlein. "While Rankins is undersized, his compact frame, outstanding balance, and next-level hand usage should make him one of the most consistent performers on the South squad this week."
NFL.com College Football Writer Chase Goodbread caught a perfect example of that at practice:
NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah has Rankins at pick #21 in his first mock draft. The Colts select 18th. Rankins continued his impressive Senior Bowl Wednesday. Watch this video at the top of NFL.com's Wednesday Senior Bowl article. Rankins is making himself some money down in Alabama this week.
Alabama DT Jarran Reed (6'3", 311 pounds) - Reed earned 2nd-Team All-SEC honors as a senior, after transferring from community college heading into his junior season. Jeremiah believes Reed is a likely 1st round defensive tackle.
"He had to get his footing a little bit, struggled with some of his footing, but you saw those violent hands," said Jeremiah of Reed's first Senior Bowl practice. "A very explosive athlete."
NFL.com's mock drafts have Reed in the pick 16-21 range in the first round. Brooks also tabbed Reed as one of his ten with the most to prove in Mobile, Alabama.
"Despite being a key contributor on the Crimson Tide's star-studded defense, Reed seemingly lives in the shadow of his well-known teammates," said Brooks. "Given a chance to dominate elite competition in one-on-one and team drills this week, Reed can make a move up the charts as a disruptive interior defender with three-down potential.
Temple DT Matthew Ioannidis (6'3", 303 pounds) - Pronounced eye-an-NYE-dis, this American Athletic Conference standout is already turning heads at the Senior Bowl. Ioannidis has been projected as a 5th round pick by most but could see his stock rise. Mike Mayock said he had a great start, and he wasn't alone.
BYE DE Bronson Kaufusi (6'6", 281 lbs) - Kaufusi racked up 11 sacks as a senior, twice being selected as a 1st-team All-Independent player. Even more impressively, Kaufusi added 20 tackles for loss this past season. He's played both standing up and with his hand in the ground, allowing for some possible flexibility in the draft between teams that play a 4-3 or 3-4.
"Bronson Kaufusi was impressive," said Jeremiah. "He has outstanding size and strength, as well as hand usage at the point of attack."
Eastern Kentucky DE Noah Spence (6'3", 254 pounds) - Another one of Bucky Brooks's 10 Senior Bowl players with the most to prove, because Spence dominated at EKU after leaving Ohio State but now must show he can do it against tougher competition.
"Most importantly, Spence must address concerns about his character when scouts press him about his ban from the Big Ten," said Brooks. "Although he has seemingly moved beyond the issues that led to his ban, evaluators will want to know more about his background before falling in love with his talent and potential."
As for what he did on the practice field at the Senior Bowl though, Daniel Jeremiah said Spence had a "big" day as well on NFL Network.