NFL Hot Press



Alabama DT Da'Ron Payne Considered Elite Talent

Updated June 16, 2017
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

An Alabama player being a top talent for an NFL draft is a surprise to nobody. However, a player who doesn't have a lot of production isn't always a preseason favorite to end up being a "top of the draft" prospect. While Crimson Tide defensive tackle Da'Ron Payne didn't generate a big stat line as a sophomore, team sources say they think that Payne is a special player who could end up being one of the top prospects in the 2018 NFL Draft. 

The 6-foot-2, 320-pound Payne became the starting nose tackle for Alabama last year after the Crimson Tide lost Jarran Reed and A'Shawn Robinson to the NFL. On the season, Payne, a first-year starter, totaled 36 tackles with 3.5 for a loss, 1.5 sacks and one pass batted. Sources say that they feel that Payne is a better prospect at this point than Marcel Dareus was at the same level of experience. Payne also had impressive 40 times this spring in the 5.0-second range despite being in excess of 320 pounds. One team source said that Payne is a monster and a top-5-10-caliber player in his overall ability. 

It will be interesting to see how Payne develops in his junior season and if he ends up turning his potential into Dareus-caliber play. Payne was a five-star recruit, but the 2018 class looks like it could be strong at defensive tackle. Team sources believe that Payne has the potential to perhaps be the headliner at that position, however, and is likely one of the top prospects in the 2018 NFL Draft.  



Scout Reviews the 2018 Defensive Prospect Rankings - Part II

Updated June 7, 2017
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

Part II: Early Look at the 2018 Defensive Prospects


During the spring months leading up to the NFL Draft, a few teams' area scouts are already working hard on the draft class of the next year even though it is more than a year away. The reason for that is their work is shared with National Football Scouting, which provides early watch lists and ratings for prospects heading into fall camp. Those select area scouts are on the road for college spring ball to help set up the scouting community to start on the next draft class in training camp.

Previously, WalterFootball.com caught up with one of these scouts to get some insight into the 2018 quarterbacks, skill position players, and top defensive prospects. Here, we have some more insight into defenders who have impressed evaluators. Those players are Wake Forest defensive end Duke Ejiofor, Louisville outside linebacker James Hearst, Missouri defensive end Marcell Frazier and Ole Miss edge rusher Marquis Haynes.

"As far as edge rushers, the defensive ends at Wake Forest [Duke] Ejiofor and outside linebacker James Hearst at Louisville are intriguing. Ejiofor is a prototypical 4-3 defensive end, but he's got good quickness and some rush savvy, wraps blocks well to close in the backfield, and has burst. Disruptive guy, and I really like how he counters for a 270-pound guy.

"Hearst is basically a bigger version of Devonte Fields. He is loose, limber, both [a] quick and fast closer. Picks his spots a bit too often, but his rush talents are developed. His Florida State game had some dominant spurts - he's from Tallahassee and was committed to Florida until signing day. He looks like talented 3-4 edge candidate."

"Frazier had couple of games - Arkansas and Vanderbilt - where he looked like a better prospect than [Charles] Harris. Frazier is bigger and a similar athlete - not quite as skilled a rusher, but superior size and length. He reminds me more of Aldon Smith, Kony Ealy - those bigger prototype builds they had. I expect [Frazier] to take a jump this year. It will be telling now that he'll get focus of doubles and chips.

"Marquis is 6-foot-2-and-half, 228 pounds. Thus, his best spot will be as a Sam or 4-3 Will linebacker. He has had a lot of production as a pass-rusher. He's essentially playing OLB already, so carryover assignment wise will be similar, but terminology will be key as far as him adjusting. He'll be asked to cover more as a pro, but he's capable."





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