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Charles Davis' Defensive Players To Watch

For teams looking to shore up issues on their defensive units, especially in the early rounds of this year's NFL Draft, there are several prospects that stand out on NFL Media Analyst Charles Davis' radar.

First is USC's Leonard Williams, a player some consider to be the top prospect in this year's class.

Check out these photos of Leonard Williams, a versatile defensive end out of the University of Southern California.

From a physical perspective, Williams has the build many teams look for in a game changing defensive end.

"I remember when he got recruited there, Lane Kiffin was the head coach, I remember talking with Lane before Leonard played a game at USC, and his description was, 'We recruited a SEC defensive lineman,'" Davis said. "Now I know a lot of the country has a fit when they hear 'SEC, okay, I'm tired of hearing that.' But, what he meant was body-type, athleticism, motor, getting to the quarterback."

During a junior season in which he recorded 80 tackles en route to Pac 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors, Williams was also named a first-team All-American, in part because of how physical he plays.

Now at the NFL level, Williams may have the versatility to be pegged into several different positions.

"He got bigger, stronger, and worked not only on the outside edges at defensive end, but also became much more effective inside at defensive tackle where he uses his feet and athleticism to beat the guards inside," he said. "I think you can move him all up and down the defensive line. [He's a] tremendous prospect and I think the best overall player in this draft."

Another prospect who may turn out to be one a great pass rusher in the pros is Florida's Dante Fowler Jr.

Fowler was selected as a first-team All-SEC defensive end during the 2014 season, logging 60 tackles and 8.5 sacks.

In the Birmingham Bowl against East Carolina, his last game as a Gator, Fowler recorded three sacks.

What impressed Davis about that performance was the fact that while Florida had little to play for in a down season, Fowler continued to play at a high level.

"I heard somebody talk about his motor at one point and I said, 'Well, I don't know about his motor, but I know about his desire,'" Davis said. "Because at the end of the season, Florida is playing for essentially nothing. They go to a bowl game in Birmingham, Ala., playing East Carolina and no one can block Dante Fowler. And a lot of the time, as you guys know, at the end of the year when go know their coming out, they may shut it down a little bit. They play to protect themselves. He didn't do that at all. He was an absolute force in that game."

Eric Kendricks, meanwhile, is a player Davis describes as "tackling machine" who really shows the depth of this year's draft.

Check out these photos of Dante Fowler Jr., an energetic and relentless edge rusher of the University of Florida.

Rated as the fourth best linebacker by NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock, Kendricks won the Butkus Award this past season after recording 96 tackles for UCLA.

"He's one of the those guys at the end of every game, you look up, bark him down for approaching double-digit tackles each and every game," Davis said. "Plus, he runs better than a lot of people would think, he can get out into pass coverage and make plays that way, he can rush the quarterback from the inside. I like him a bunch."

As far as some defensive backs to keep an eye on, Davis said Virginia's Anthony Harris and Central Florida's Jacoby Glenn have the perfect situation to impress.

According to Davis, Harris only has experience playing deep safety, but he's a sound tackler as well.

"He's a guy who's played the center field position, will also come up as a willing tackler, not the most striking hitter you're going to see, but in today's game the big thing is getting to the football and getting guys to the ground, right?" he said. "So Anthony Harris does all that. They've used him in a combination spots there in Virginia. He's played at a very high level for a long time."

Glenn, meanwhile, entered the draft a year early after a breakout campaign in 2014 where he recorded seven interceptions and 18 passes defensed.

"Call me in a month or two and you'll be guaranteed saying, 'Hey, I think he's one of those guys that you're going to look at, and you'll see him vault up and become a top contender,'" Davis said. "I'm not going to say for the first corner or anything of that nature, but he's going to be a really big time player."




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