TAMPA, MAR 7, 2018 – It’s a pretty well-known idiom that ‘Defense Wins Championships,’ with a closely related adjunct truism is the ability to stop the run leads to success ‘in the pits.’ Being an old offensive lineman myself, I will tell you how frightful the conflict between ‘the Big Uglies’ – as recently passed commentator Keith Jackson would espouse – could be amongst linemen.
Many of the best run-stuffing defenses are stout in the middle, employing a ‘plugger’ whose primary responsibility is eat up space and blockers while keeping their immediate area secure. Whether employed as a 3-4 nose tackle or a 4-3 under tackle, this gentleman may not always be the most well-known or glamorous member of the line, as that usually goes to the flashy ‘Sack-Man.’
However, the stout defensive lines of the Ravens, Bills and Bucs in the past wouldn’t be as suffocating had it not been for Haloti Ngata, Ted Washington or Warren Sapp, some gentlemen you may have heard about on the sports pages or TV news.
This upcoming NFL draft has tremendous talent with interior defenders such as UW’s Vita Vea, Bama’s Da’Ron Payne, Florida’s Taven Bryan, and USC’s Rasheem Green. All of these linemen are anticipated to go quickly, and likely won’t be available past round two.
Another alternative for teams who don’t wish to draft a defensive lineman that high would be USF’s Defensive MVP and All-American Athletic Conference (2nd Team 2016, 1st Team 2017) player Dedrin Senat (pronounced Deed-RIN Sen-KNOT). The Bulls’ run-stuffer is projected as a 3rd or 4th round pick, and is thought to have a ‘better than average chance’ in making an NFL roster this fall.
Senat has been a solid Bulls’ lineman, appearing in at least 12 games each year he played at USF (2014-2017), recording a total of 179 tackles (assisted plus solo, with 23.5 tackles for loss), two forced fumbles and seven sacks. The USF Senior was one of four Bulls slated to participate in this past January’s East – West Shrine game (quarterback Quinton Flowers withdrew prior to the game), with his performance launching him up the draft boards as he was originally graded as a ‘late round draft pick.’ Purportedly two teams – the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs are interested in Senat.
In Indianapolis at the just completed combine, Senat officially measured 6’0” and 314lbs. He ran a 5.16 in the 40yd dash, cleared 35 reps in the bench press, with a 26” vertical, 100” in the broad jump, a 7.77 second 3-cone drill, and a 4.79 second 20yd shuttle. In fact, Senat’s 35 reps was fourth best amongst all participants at this year’s combine (3rd amongst defensive tackles), as he was also one of the top performers in the 40yard dash amongst his position group (11th).
Still not convinced? An NFC Director of Scouting was quoted on Senat – “That guy was a handful in Tampa. Reminded me of what Javon Hargrave did when he was there.” The scouting director likely is talking about the East-West Shrine game since Javon Hargrave played at South Carolina State University, NOT USF. Hargrave was a third round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2016.
If you need more high praise, how about these words from NFL Network Draft Guru Mike Mayock – “Not enough people talk about this kid (Senat)… I really think he is a better football player than people want to give him credit for.” No worries there Mike… know we ALL know about USF’s Dedrin Senat.
Jay “Captain Jack” Levy, BCP Contributor