TDN Staff: Senior Bowl Interior Defensive Line Superlatives

Photo: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

With the 2019 Reese's Senior Bowl less than two weeks away, the TDN staff is hard at work studying tape for the upcoming event. As a result, we're able to compile our annual (we did it last year at NDT) Senior Bowl Superlatives pieces on every position group.

Today, we dive into the interior defensive line class, with each evaluator offering their take on which defensive tackle is their top guy coming into the week, who has the most to prove and who is the sleeper out of the group.

Here's the squad:

Charles OmenihuIDLTexas
Gerald WillisIDLMiami
Isaiah BuggsIDLAlabama
Renell WrenIDLArizona State
Dontavius RussellIDLAuburn
Greg GainesIDLWashington
Kingsley KekeIDLTexas A&M
Khalen SaundersIDLWestern Illinois

Other Senior Bowl Positional Superlatives


Running Backs

Wide Receivers

Tight Ends

Offensive Tackles

Interior Offensive Linemen

Edge Defenders


Top Prospect: Isaiah Buggs, Alabama

When he's on and giving top effort, Buggs can take over the line of scrimmage. With a thickly built and well-proportioned frame, Buggs has the type of body composition the NFL is looking for in interior defensive lineman and he offers versatility. The concern with Buggs is an inconsistent motor, but he is capable of having a dominant week.

Most to Prove: Gerald Willis, Miami

After a rocky start, Willis put everything together as a senior and had a great seasons. Racking up splash plays behind the line of scrimmage, Willis was explosive and had exciting splashes throughout the course of the season. With that said, his anchor was challenged by some of the more powerful blockers he faced in 2018 and I am looking for him to erase some of those play strength concerns with a strong week in Mobile.

Sleeper: Renell Wren, Arizona State

Traits, traits, traits! Wren is an explosive dude with good play strength. With that said, he plays like a bull in a China shop. If he can develop technically, Wren is primed for an outstanding career. I am anticipating some of the those terrific flashes he put on tape at ASU to show up in Mobile and for buzz to be generated about his upside.


Top Prospect: Charles Omenihu, Texas

If you like big, stout, heavy hitters up front? Omenihu is your guy. Charles has prototypical length to play along the defensive line and appears to have some versatility to play inside/outside. My concerns center around his pass rush polish, but he's a great ball of clay to continue to develop in that area.

Most to Prove: Greg Gaines, Washington

Speaking of pass rush concerns, we'll need to see what Greg Gaines has in his bag of tricks next week. Gaines doesn't really move the needle for me in any one sub-category of his positional play. Can he flash in any single area of individual drills or will he be regulated to "JAG" (Just A Guy) status?

Sleeper: Renell Wren, Arizona State

Wren is a nightmare when he's got his pads set. The problem? That's not all that consistent. But Wren does have some suddenness with his first step and the ability to jolt blockers with his hands. Wren needs to find how to harness his skills but...if he does, look out!


Top Prospect: Gerald Willis, Miami

There are highs and lows with Willis, but his burst and ability to penetrate are what make his ceiling potentially special. NFL teams will need to vet the past character concerns, but Willis appears to have turned a corner both personally and as a football player.

Most to Prove: Charles Omenihu, Texas

My colleagues Jon Ledyard and Joe Marino love Omenihu's game, but he still has to show NFL teams he can find a consistent home at one position. His weigh-ins will be key to determining where he best fits at the next level, and if he's in the 270s, Omenihu will need to show top-tier pass rush traits off the edge.

Sleeper: Kingsley Keke, Texas A&M

A bendy defensive lineman without great explosiveness, Keke was a late call-up to the Senior Bowl to replace Christian Wilkins. He played all over Texas A&M's front, and has flashed the pass rush ability to have a big week in 1v1s. Keke could be an ideal nickel interior pass rusher in the NFL.


Top Prospect: Isaiah Buggs, Alabama

A true power player with nasty hand usage and a brutal push-pull move, Buggs' has a pro-ready build and enough athleticism to factor into a rotation right away in the NFL. However, NFL teams will have questions for him about his perceived lack of effort and every down consistency at times.

Most to Prove: Greg Gaines, Washington

Can Gaines rush the passer at a level adequate enough to be a valuable part of a rotation? If not, is he a dominant run stuffer? Does he have positional versatility? Gaines is a decent college player, but I'm not sure he has the traits to cut it in any role in the NFL. This is a big week for his evaluation in front of NFL scouts.

Sleeper: Renell Wren, Arizona State

Wren is a high-effort player with an unbelievable frame and a jaw-dropping first step. His technique and pad level are inconsistent, but he has the traits to be so much better in the pros with good coaching. How he does in pass rush drills will determine a lot about his value in the eyes of NFL teams.