7) Roschon Johnson, RB, Texas (6-2, 222)
Johnson finally escapes the shadow of Bijan Robinson in Mobile. Could two running backs from the same school be selected in the top 100? It’s happened in three of the past seven drafts: Josh Jacobs and Damien Harris out of Alabama in 2019; Sony Michel and Nick Chubb out of Georgia in 2018; Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake out of ‘Bama in 2016. Johnson will look quick for his size during Senior Bowl practices, cutting hard and getting upfield rapidly. When the game comes, he’ll lower his pads and maintain his balance to keep the chains moving — not unlike 2022 third-round picks Tyrion Davis-Price and Brian Robinson Jr.
6) Ivan Pace Jr., LB, Cincinnati (6-0, 235)
Pace transferred from Miami (Ohio) to Cincinnati, reuniting with his brother, Deshawn, who had been one of the stars in the Bearcats’ 2021 run to the College Football Playoff. Ivan became the American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year as a senior, blowing past offensive linemen with strength and hustle despite lacking ideal height or length for the position. The sideline-to-sideline defender will make an impact on special teams at the next level before pounding ball carriers on defense like Dre Greenlaw does for the San Francisco 49ers.
5) Karl Brooks, DL, Bowling Green (6-4, 300)
It is almost comical to see a 300-pounder playing with remarkable quickness and hustle from a stand-up position, as Brooks did for the Falcons. Just wait until he takes on guards and centers in one-on-one drills at the Senior Bowl. His first step and violent hands could convince teams to project him as a starting 3- or 5-technique at the next level.
4) Nick Saldiveri, OL, Old Dominion (6-6, 316)
Saldiveri mostly played right tackle for the Monarchs over the past four years, but he looked just fine when sliding into right guard this past season. Scouts will be asking to move him all over the place in Mobile, possibly even the center position, where he could take full advantage of his intelligence and mobility. While Saldiveri improved his pass-protection skills in 2022 — showing the natural bend and ability to anchor that might earn him a shot at tackle in the NFL — playing with leverage and tenacity inside could lead to a top-100 draft slot. Think: Luke Goedeke, the Central Michigan product who was taken by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the second round last year.
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