College Gridiron Showcase star Brady Breeze

2021 College Gridiron Showcase Standouts: Defense

  • 2021
  • 2021 NFL Draft
  • Alani Pututau
  • Brady Breeze
  • Brandon Stephens
  • Camilo Eifler
  • CGS
  • College
  • College Gridiron Showcase
  • Darrick Forrest
  • Draft
  • Eric Burrell
  • Gridiron
  • Jason Pinnock
  • Jerry Jacobs
  • Lamont Wade
  • Marlon Character Jr.
  • Michael Boykin
  • Mustafa Johnson
  • Nate Hobbs
  • NFl Draft
  • Rashad Byrd
  • Shaq Smith
  • Showcase
  • Xavier Kelly
By Daniel Kitchen January 22, 2021 0 Comment
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After Thursday’s defensive and offensive practices sessions, the 2021 College Gridiron Showcase came to a close. The event gave close to 200 prospects the chance to speak with and perform in front of representatives of 30 different NFL franchises, and increase the chance that their name will be called during the NFL Draft.

Every facet of the College Gridiron Showcase is important. First, the weigh-ins and measurements that every team looks for as they begin to look at a player. Second, a day of interviews for prospects to get to speak with different franchises. And finally, yesterday’s practice in front of scouts, where players performed several drills to convince a team they are worth selecting.

With this year’s showcase now concluded, here are the defensive players who helped their stock most across the entire three-day event.

Highlights were filmed and edited by the Brawl Network‘s own Josh Cavalcante, co-host of Bengals Brawl.

Defensive Line

Mustafa Johnson, DT, Colorado

It’s telling that as soon as the linemen finished their workout Thursday morning, a scout for the Carolina Panthers pulled Johnson aside. This was far from the last time for Johnson. His workout stood out from most of the rest of his position group, beginning with multiple reps on the bag drill showing off his movement and continuing through plus lateral movement on a fumble recovery drill. Not only was he a winner at the College Gridiron Showcase, but he may be the highest player drafted out of it.

Alani Pututau, DE, Adams State

Pututau may have to transition to outside linebacker from defensive end. But working with the linemen Thursday, he provided tremendous final reps as the last player in line on drills. He played with quickness on every rep and had some of the best bend getting around obstacles on pass rush drills. Every rep was at full speed through to the end. Add in his 10 7/8 hand and 80-inch wingspan measurements and a chance to show off his personality earlier in the week, and Pututau had a strong three days.


Rashad Byrd, ILB, Georgia Southern

One of the weaker overall positions at the College Gridiron Showcase, Byrd was an exception working with linebackers. His hand-arm-wingspan measurements (10, 33 2/8, 79) came in well, and he added in a good workout Thursday. His footwork was smooth going over obstacles, and as a pass rusher, looked fluid through his entire reps but especially when making the turn around a pylon.

Shaq Smith, ILB, Maryland

While Byrd stood out as a rusher, Smith’s best drills came when in a pass coverage role. The Clemson transfer drew some cheers from his position-mates while showcasing his quick feet and change of direction skills. His burst to break downhill was clear. Whenever he had an average or tough rep, his second time through showed considerable improvement.

2021 CGS Small School Showcase Standouts

Defensive Back

Brady Breeze, S, Oregon

Regardless of position, Breeze was one of the ultimate winners of the 2021 College Gridiron Showcase. The Oregon safety was a very popular interview during Wednesday’s session; he was one of the last to leave the room after several hours of being requested by teams. On Thursday, he showed why. Breeze was the complete package in workouts, showing outstanding vision and awareness to track passes and be aware of the sideline. His break downfield was strong, and he displayed good hands while also making one of the best catches of the day on a drill to the corner of the end zone.

Marlon Character Jr., CB, Louisville

Another player to make the rounds during interviews, Character was one of five corners to hit the six-foot mark in weigh-ins. After that start, he laid down a strong day of practice. His hip fluidity was consistently good without resulting in any hiccups, and he also displayed good balance while tracking intermediate and deeper throws. His reps breaking downhill along the sideline were some of the best of the day among DBs.

Darrick Forrest, S, Cincinnati

Forrest was a name teams had in mind when coming to the College Gridiron Showcase. He did not disappoint and had one of the better days at Farrington Field Thursday. His work defending Out routes was strong and mistake-free, and he was able to show his skill at changing direction to get to throws on those reps. He also was able to close on deep throws to either corner of the end zone.

Jerry Jacobs, CB, Arkansas

Jacobs was already a winner as one of the busiest players of the day Wednesday. He avoided any major mistakes the next morning when working out in front of those scouts. His reps were consistent, displaying a good base of hip fluidity, balance, and change of direction for teams to try and develop at the next level.

Jason Pinnock, CB, Pittsburgh

Defensive back was one of the most talent-laden groups at the College Gridiron Showcase, and Pinnock was yet another member of that group who spent plenty of time meeting with many of the teams in attendance. The Pitt corner was also the table-setter as the first man up in DB drills. On different reps, he showed the ball skills to attack throws at their apex, keep his movement smooth while turning his hips in stride, and make sharp cuts to break on throws. He was also one of the fastest players on the field.

Lamont Wade, S, Penn State

Wade was one of the highest-rated players coming into the College Gridiron Showcase. Watching him work out, it was clear his athletic ability is something few present could rival. His burst was exceptional and displayed at every moment; he played with a low center of gravity that allowed him to maintain balance through all changes of direction and speed. That speed gave him sideline-to-sideline range, and Wade closed on each to play them well in the air. His performance drew the attention of teams, including the team right down the road from CGS, the Dallas Cowboys (who met with him after drills ended).

Honorable Mentions: Michael Boykin, DE, North Alabama; Xavier Kelly, DT, Arkansas; Camilo Eifler, ILB, Illinois; Nate Hobbs, CB, Illinois; Brandon Stephens, CB, SMU; Eric Burrell, S, Wisconsin

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