Saturday’s slate of college game gives us a plethora of intriguing prospects on the defensive side of the ball.
EDGE Maxx Crosby (Eastern Michigan) 6-foot-5, 247 pounds | Junior
The Eagles face off against Purdue at 12 p.m. ET on the Big Ten Network. If you’re able to watch or have a chance to watch any EMU games this year, I highly recommend giving Crosby a look.
No. 46 on the #PFFCollege50 - Eastern Michigan edge defender Maxx Crosby pic.twitter.com/Yptd5UUC5W— PFF College (@PFF_College) August 19, 2018
With 11 sacks (a single-season record for EMU) and 16.5 tackles for a loss, Crosby dominated the stat sheet during his sophomore year. He is very active with his hands off the edge and uses his length to disrupt and control the point of attack.
Maxx Crosby wins in a variety of ways on the edge. Long, athletic and powerful. Can see him being a hugely disruptive pro pic.twitter.com/Caz0weZObb— The Draft Scout (@thedraftscout1) August 17, 2018
Although he can be a bit reckless at times, Crosby often makes up for his deficiencies with his athleticism and high-effort plays. His burst off the snap is fairly decent, and he is a great mover in space for his size.
Crosby was absent during EMU’s opener against Monmouth last week after being suspended by the team, but should make his first appearance of the year on Saturday.
LB Joe Bachie (Michigan State) 6-foot-2, 238 pounds | Junior
Obviously, as a State fan, I am a big Joe Bachie fan, but I believe he’s going to be a much better college player than he will be a pro. That’s not to say that he can’t have a successful NFL career, but I don’t think he has the athleticism to excel in a passing league, where his ceiling may be a bit low.
Still, Bachie is arguably the best in the country at stopping the run and absolutely dominated in that area of his game last year. He has become the leader of the Spartans’ defense and has helped revitalize the tough, hard-nosed mentality that they once had under Dantonio.
Bachie had a huge game in MSU’s close win over Utah State, including a game-sealing interception to close out a win.
I would also include Brian Lewerke, MSU’s quarterback on this list, since the Lions could really use some young (and talented) blood behind Stafford, but I have already seen a few (namely The Draft Network) rank Lewerke as their No. 1 QB in the class, and it’s very unlikely that the Lions will select a QB as early as Lewerke could hear his name called.
If you’re on the east coast, then you might have trouble staying up to watch the entirety of MSU’s night game against Arizona State. It kicks at 10:45 p.m. ET on ESPN, and will likely end close to 2 a.m.
LB T.J. Edwards (Wisconsin) 6-foot-1, 242 pounds | Senior
Since we’re on the topic of linebackers, Edwards is another name to watch and has made a name for himself over the past couple years as one of the best cover linebackers in the country.
No. 11 on the #PFFCollege50 – Wisconsin LB T.J. Edwards pic.twitter.com/eyYd3rfjL7— PFF College (@PFF_College) August 25, 2018
Edwards hauled in an impressive four interceptions last year with six passes deflected, to boot. He may be a bit undersized and might not test extremely well in pure speed, but his instincts and the angles he takes are enough to make up for at least some of his lack of speed, as he is often there to make a play on the ball.
I like Edwards as a WILL in a 4-3 or a 3-4 ILB, but he has the flexibility to move around if need be.
If you have the Big Ten Network, you’ll likely get this game or Eastern Michigan depending on your area (noon kickoff).
LB Joe Giles-Harris (Duke) 6-foot-2, 240 pounds | RS Junior
I think you get the theme. The Lions are going to need to go heavy on the defensive side of the ball at some point, whether it’s free agency, the draft or both. This may be the year to add a bunch of pieces to the front-seven because it looks there are going to be a lot of very good prospects to choose from.
Giles-Harris is a much better athlete than the previous two linebackers in this piece and doesn’t have to worry about running off to the sidelines on third down. He excels in the passing game, showing the ability to get from sideline-to-sideline in an instant and has proven that he can drop back in both zone- and man-coverage.
All-America ✅— Duke Football (@DukeFOOTBALL) August 28, 2018
Team Captain ✅
Three-Year Starter ✅@DavidCutcliffe breaks down Joe Giles-Harris in the latest Blue Devil Briefs pic.twitter.com/BJddgXEjTx
There are very few concerns I have with Giles-Harris when watching his tape, but you don’t really see his name mentioned with other top linebackers in this upcoming class. If he has another dominant year and tests well (which he should), I expect to see his name rise up near the top of the list and I think he could be a perfect fit for Patricia’s Year 2 defense.
This game will be featured on ESPNU at noon and will give us a nice look at Giles-Harris on one side and Paddy Fisher (who we focused on a little last week) on the other at linebacker.
CB Alijah Holder (Stanford) 6-foot-1, 191 pounds | RS Senior
A game to watch out for is No. 17 USC at No. 10 Stanford at 8:00 p.m. ET on FOX.
Holder has had to overcome injuries which held him to only 12 appearances in 2016 and 2017 combined. He also looks pretty thin for his size and will need to bulk up eventually when preparing for the NFL, but he’s definitely not lacking in ability.
His most notable play was a pick-six on Freshman at the time, Josh Rosen, where he exhibits his ball skills and some ability to run after the catch, as well.
Full video of Alijah Holder's INT return against UCLA. pic.twitter.com/gQFFHOjFyO— Bodie DeSilva (@SDPreps) October 16, 2015
Holder is at his best when using his size to his advantage in press coverage and has a great understanding of how to use his hands to disrupt routes and win early at the line of scrimmage.
This should be a great test for Holder, as he’ll be lining up against some talented Trojan receivers, like Amon-Ra St. Brown (brother of Equinameous) and redshirt sophomore Tyler Vaughns.