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Carl Nassib And Austin Johnson Turning Heads At Senior Bowl Practices

Two of Penn State’s headlining defensive lineman are making plenty of noise down in Mobile, Alabama this week.

Defensive end Carl Nassib and defensive tackle Austin Johnson are enjoying some early success during Senior Bowl practice, standing out among the rest of a loaded defensive field in position drills as they catch the watchful eyes of numerous NFL scouts and coaches in attendance.

Talk about pressure. Hoards of scouts and coaches alike gather to observe prospects (via @NFL_CFB).
Talk about pressure. Hoards of scouts and coaches alike gather to observe prospects (via @NFL_CFB).

Nassib, the reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, put his explosiveness on display during tackling dummy drills in which defenders were tasked with ripping through a set of stationary “offensive linemen” before rounding the corner to tackle the “quarterback.” Among the teams taking notice of Nassib’s talents were the Washington Redskins, who recorded a vine from the team’s official account.

NFL.com writer Chase Goodbread captured Nassib in one-on-one drills later in the day — drills that give coaches the best idea of a prospect’s skillset. Here, Nassib uses his rare straight-line speed to blow past Stanford offensive tackle Kyle Murphy, who’s projected to be picked in the third round.

Though Nassib performed admirably, a few scouts felt as though certain flaws in his style of play might hinder him at the next level. The record-setting defensive end was labeled “stiff,” with scouts citing his upright tendency as a cause for concern. Per John Ledyard of thedraftwire.com, one scout said he “wishes Nassib were a tight end instead of a defensive end.” Despite his eye-popping 2015 statistics, there’s plenty of work to be done until Nassib realizes his full potential.

Fellow Wild Dog Austin Johnson’s enjoyed a remarkable surge in his draft stock since the beginning of the season, and a strong showing at the Senior Bowl would only validate his status as one of the draft’s top interior linemen.

Despite his 323 pound frame, Johnson gets from point A to point B rather quickly as evidenced by his disruptive play in scrimmages. He’s seen doing much of the same during position drills, where the keen eye of Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett followed Johnson as he progressed through.

The Cowboys reportedly love Johnson, and might consider trading into the latter portion of the first round to get him if the opportunity presents itself. Most pundits expect Dallas to go with North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz at No. 4 overall, but seeing as Johnson is projected to go anywhere from No. 23 to No. 31, GM Jerry Jones would be hard-pressed to pull the trigger instead of waiting until the second round — a place Johnson shouldn’t fall to, especially given his stellar showing thus far in Mobile.

With practices continuing throughout the week, we’ll have more updates on Nassib and Johnson as the two try to bolster their draft stock prior to the NFL Scouting Combine.

About the Author

David Abruzzese

David is a senior from Rochester, NY, nestled right in beautiful Western New York. He is majoring in Broadcast Journalism, and as an avid sports fan, he passionately supports the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres. He is the first Penn Stater from his family, and couldn’t be prouder to represent Penn State University. In his free time, he likes to alpine ski, and play golf. You can follow him on Twitter @abruz11, and can contact him via email at [email protected]

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