Several blue chip defensive prospects are showing off their goods in strong fashion at the Senior Bowl. Chief among these would be Dee Ford, the Auburn edge rusher. You won’t find a negative word anywhere about Ford.
A sampling of the Ford-love being tossed around by experts:
Dan Kadar: Auburn defensive end Dee Ford had another good day. It’s between he and Pittsburgh’s Aaron Donald thus far for best performance in Mobile. When Ford keeps tight around the edge, he’s been a dangerous player. He’s even caught the eye of South head coach Gus Bradley of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
“Dee is exciting,” Bradley said after practice. “I really like his personality, I like his spirit, he loves the game and he showcases that on the practice field. Anytime a guy can come off the edge and show the ability to have some rushes in him, it really stands out.”
Joel Erickson: Ford dominated from start to finish, shining with his quickness and explosion in bag work, using his speed to get penetration in 1-on-1 run drills against the tackles, then dominating the 1-on-1 pass rush drills in a performance that impressed the assembled draft specialists.
Flipping back and forth from the left side to the right side, Ford repeatedly beat Tennessee’s Ja’Wuan James, Vanderbilt’s Wesley Johnson and Virginia’s Morgan Moses.
Rob Rang: Given his 6-foot-2, 243-pound frame, perhaps it isn’t surprising that Auburn’s Dee Ford was the most explosive of the South’s pass-rushers but he certainly showed the burst to catch the attention of every scout in the stands. Ford is stronger than his size indicates and carried over the strong senior campaign that helped his Tigers qualify for the national championship game into Monday’s practice.
Dane Brugler: Ford has been dominating offensive tackles all week with his explosive athleticism and natural bend off the edge. He has displayed the first step burst and quick acceleration to win with speed and never slow his get-off momentum through the rush. Ford keeps his frame low and does a nice job attacking the body of blockers to win leverage before quickly ripping past them. He made mincemeat out of North Dakota State’s Billy Turner and Vanderbilt’s Wesley Johnson on a few occasions, building on the buzz he started in Monday’s practice.
Tony Pauline: WOWed scouts with his pass rush skill. Beat just about everyone around the edge showing incredible speed and quickness. Does a bit of wide edge rushing and a little one dimensional in that aspect.
Bucky Brooks: In run drills, Ford has been surprisingly stout at the point of attack despite measuring in at 6-2, 240 pounds. He has not only held his ground in one-on-one matchups, but he found a way to set the edge using his speed and athleticism.
On the one hand, Ford comes across as somewhat of a one-dimensional player, strictly a speed rush guy. On the other hand, the one dimension he does have is arguably the most valuable.
You look at Ford and then you look at other Mike Zimmer defensive ends – Michael Johnson comes to mind – and you don’t necessarily see the fit. But Zimmer is known for fitting scheme to players instead of vice versa. Ford’s pure edge rush ability might be a valuable asset to a creative coach who isn’t as locked-in on rigid schematic ideas.