Key Defensive recruits for the Texas Longhorns in the 2023 cycle.

Introduction:

With the 2022 class wrapped up and the 2023 class starting to take shape. I am going to take a deep dive into the key 2023 defensive recruits. Just like in my offensive target breakdown I am going to choose one or two players for each position group to highlight. I will be linking film if I can find it and if not I will be linking their 24/7 Sports account.

Malik Muhammad Final 12 courtesy of Hayes Fawcett on Twitter

If you have not read my first article talking about the impact of the 2022 class on the 2023 class, start HERE. If you want to look into the 2023 offensive recruits, look HERE.

Defensive Line:

First up for the defense is David Hicks Jr. (Allen, TX). The 6’4″ 250 pound defensive linemen has fantastic speed and power that makes him difficult to handle on the line. He has a good frame that he could add mass to at the next level. His track background makes him very explosive off the ball, and his motor allows him to make plays downfield. He has fantastic awareness that allows him to read and make plays even when the ball isn’t coming his way. Hicks will probably move to the inside of the line when he makes the jump to college.

Closing out the defensive line is Ashton Porter (Cy-Ranch, TX). Porter is 6’3″ and 240 pounds and he uses his size to his advantage. He possesses great athleticism that allows him to get off of blocks quickly and great patience that allows him to always be ready to make a play. Porter’s speed and had usage will allow him to play anywhere on the line. Also, he is a guy that will probably play the edge and has the skillset to make an early impact if we land him. Be on the lookout for a verbal from him soon.

Linebacker:

At the linebacker position, Anthony Hill (Denton Ryan, TX). The 6’2″, 225 pound linebacker from Ryan Texas is the top rated linebacker in the nation. Besides his size, his vision and instinct gives him a clear advantage at the start of the play and his physicality and nose for the ball allows him to shut down offenses. He is very good in pass coverage as well, with speed to keep up with backs and tight ends. He has a very high ceiling with room to grow. Currently, Hill plays both inside and outside and has the versatility to play both at the next level. Furthermore, Hill is a guy that could come in and make an immediate impact on the defensive side of the ball.

5-star linebacker Anthony Hill Jr. – 2021 Highlights
Cornerbacks:

I’d like to start the cornerback targets off with one of the best in the class in Malik Muhammad (South Oak Cliff, TX). The 6’0″ 170 pound corner is fast and physical. I think he would be a great fit in Pete Kwiatkowski’s defense as he can play in both man and zone coverage successfully. Also, he is a great tackler and very good at getting through blocks to make plays. He also has great hands that allow him to go up and win 50/50 balls. Furthermore, Muhammad possesses the traits that lead to longevity at the position and has the frame to add mass at the next level.

Finally, I’d like to talk about five-star corner, Javien Toviano (Arlington Martin, TX). Javien is 6’0″ and 185 pounds and is one of the most versatile guys in the nation. He continuously makes plays in both man and zone coverage. Toviano has great speed and he always seems to meet the receiver as they are attempting to make the catch. As well as cornerback, Javien also plays running back, and is an electric kick and punt returner. Toviano has the makings to be the next big time Texas defensive back to make the league. Be on the lookout for Toviano’s recruitment to heat up throughout the summer!

Safeties:

This brings us to our final prospect, Jamel Johnson (Seguin, TX) is the first safety on our list. As the number nine safety in the class, Johnson has fantastic length and athleticism. His reaction time is off the charts which allows him to transition well in coverage. As well as zone, he excels in press coverage, using his height and length to his advantage. Finally, he has great play recognition skills and he seems to always find the ball in the run game as well. Jamel is a player that could play almost anywhere in coach P.K.’s defense and make a huge impact on the game. Since he has already committed to Texas be on the lookout for him to recruit other players over the next cycle.


As always be sure to follow us on Twitter here and check out our most recent episode of Around The Horns here. Also, check out our most recent articles below!

Baltimore Ravens Staff Changes: Defensive Coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale Fired

Now former Ravens Defensive Coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale & the Baltimore Ravens part ways. Come check out our reaction to it!

Former Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale
Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Ladies and gentlemen of the Ravens’ Flock, we have our first “parting ways” of the season! I know I’m late to the party but this one is a huge shocker to us all. The Baltimore Ravens and coach Harbaugh have parted ways with now-former defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale in a surprising fashion. Even I’m still screaming “what the f**k” here at home, on Facebook and Twitter. In the meantime of our processing of this news, let’s look at some things.

First off, some of the timeline of work within the Ravens staff.

He worked from positional inside linebackers coach (2012-2015) to linebackers coach (2016-2017) to the defensive coordinator( 2018-2022) with the Baltimore Ravens. Beforehand, he was the DC and linebackers coach with the Denver Broncos. And before that, the LB coach with the Raiders and various college-level positions.

Martindale brings swagger with him everywhere he goes His play calling was pretty consistent, and his putting together the defense has been an incredible feat for the past four years as defensive coordinator. As far as his stats go, we’ll get to that soon, but there’s a large set of reasons why much of the Baltimore Ravens fan base would want to keep Wink in house.

Many of us wanted to see his bling or chain come out throughout the season, but unfortunately, we didn’t get many chances to see this happen. Oh well, and it brings us to the next bit of knowledge on now-former Ravens Defensive Coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale.

The official stats of the defenses he built while in Baltimore

Courtesy of Pro Football Reference, we can see all the percentages and overall grades that gave him official stats. We can see an abundance of head coach boosters to add to his resume during his time.

For time’s sake and reading material, here is a screenshot of the PFR stats.

With all that, statistically, he is a coach who has done well during his time with the Ravens. Like I said before, he’s a coach with much swagger, full of trash talk that can back it up, and a guy defensive players want to be around. This year, the trash talk has been overdone because of all the injuries/illnesses hit by the team, but do we expect any less from the unofficial third Ryan brother? 

The answer to that is no, and I loved every bit of it. 

Now, where does the new Ravens’ Defensive Coordinator search go from here?

At Ravens ATB, we’re already pushing out defensive coordinator candidates’ names internally and externally. I’m not even going to lie here; some are pretty awesome, and some are a little questionable. Nonetheless, here are some of our guys so far.

Internal:

  • Linebackers Coach: Rob Ryan
  • Pass Game Coordinator/Secondary: Chris Hewitt
  • Defensive Backs Coach: D’Aton Lynn
  • Defensive Line: Anthony Weaver

External:

  • Former Vikings HC: Mike Zimmer
  • Former Jacksonville Jaguars DC: Joe Cullen
  • Current That Team Up North (Michigan) DC: Mike MacDonald
  • Former Broncos HC: Vic Fangio

My favorite — or top two guys — to take the job would be coaches D’Aton Lynn or Chris Hewitt out of the current internal staffing options. It isn’t to say that coach Rob Ryan or coach Weaver wouldn’t be good guys to fill the role, because they both have tons of defensive coordinator experience, but we have to look at some other factors.

Two(ish) factors in my pick for coach Lynn are that he was hand-chosen to be the head coach of the college East West Shrine Bowl and would be a “fresh face” in the roll. Those are notable resume boosters in themselves.

Now for external hires

I’m looking at either Mike Zimmer or Mike MacDonald if we’re being sincere. Keep Fangio away from the team cause he might have another feud with our franchise quarterbacks again. Anyways, Zimmer is an experienced guy who knows how to run and build quality defenses at the professional level. Offensively, we know how he handled the Vikings.

On the other hand, Mike MacDonald has been a crucial piece in That Team Up North’s success in this 2021 season. Seeing him do what he did up there was both sickening (coming from an Ohio State household) and incredible (coming from a football and NFL individual fan). If he returned to the professional level and Baltimore, I would be a happy man.

The search for a new Ravens defensive coordinator will be a fun guessing game for our fans, but a stressful period for the organization. 

Baltimore Ravens COVID-19 List: Chuck Clark

Unfortunately Ravens Safety Chuck Clark has been placed on the team’s Reserve/COVID-19 List. Let’s look at all the options going forward

Baltimore Ravens place Chuck Clark on COVID-19 list
Credit: Baltimore Ravens; Shawn Hubbard

It has been around 24 hours, if not less, since news broke that Baltimore Ravens safety Chuck Clark has been placed on the team’s Reserve/COVID-19 list.

It is still unclear whether he contracted the virus or was in close contact. The NFL is currently tightening up its COVID protocols with the new cases and outbreaks thanks to the Omicron variant. So seeing him in action this Sunday is still a huge question mark.

Being a key player, not only in the Ravens’ secondary but also on the defense as a whole. Clark will surely be missed if unable to suit up on Sunday against the Green Bay Packers.

Chuck Clark’s Stats

58 total tackles, one sack, and eight passes deflected. Also, a successful pick-up on the onside kick.

This guy has been relatively decent in coverage, a good tackler, and a solid overall player. Granted, even though he has a 62.4 PFF grade. He’s still a key player in this Raven’s defensive unit.

The Replacements

As we all know, this Ravens team brought back Tony Jefferson to help with a depleted secondary. Let’s explore some of the other guys real quick.

Geno Stone

 A young stud who is making his case to stay on this team instead of the practice squad and cut rotation, let’s look to see if he continues on a positive trend. So far, he only has 9 total tackles.

Anthony Levine

A guy who we’ve been able to count on for years, whether it’s in the special teams unit or on the defense as a strong/adjustment safety or a stacked up LB. He knows how to read the offense and get the job done if needed.

Hopefully, we’ll see Chuck Clark off the COVID-19 list and back on the field for the Baltimore Ravens this Sunday. We have to be patient, positive, and hope for the best. 

Stay tuned for more awesome Ravens ATB content!

2021 DTs: Speed, Power and Depth

The options at defensive tackle for the Miami Dolphins in 2021 are plentiful and it is arguable that it is one of the strongest positions on the roster. A versatile group all with a mixture of speed, solid hands and power, allowing several players to either line up in the middle or at defensive end in either defensive formation.

In the 2015 offseason, the Miami Dolphins signed Ndamukong Suh to a record breaking $114 million contract. It was an attempt to solve their issues on the interior defensive line. Unfortunately, it never going to be the answer. The approach taken by Chris Grier and Brian Flores in for digging for diamonds in the rough has proven to be much more sustainable and productive. The options at defensive tackle for the Miami Dolphins in 2021 are plentiful and it is arguable that it is one of the strongest positions on the roster. A versatile group all with a mixture of speed, solid hands and power, allowing several players to either line up in the middle, or at defensive end in either defensive formation.

“Collectively, there’s a competitive group up front. I think a lot of that is matchup based and week to week. I think we have a lot of different guys that have a lot of different strengths.”

New defensive line coach Austin Clark speaking to the media.

Christian Wilkins

From the moment he was drafted in 2019, the iconic embrace with Commissioner Roger Goodell, it was clear to fans that the first pick in the Brian Flores era was a character and most importantly a culture setter in Miami.

Throughout his first two seasons with the Dolphins he has been a great leader on the team, and judging him primarily on that fact alone he is a home run of a pick. He describes himself as bringing a spark to camp when everybody is dead and tired, he is the one to get those guys going by making a play or bringing the energy. However, has he fulfilled the potential of the 13th overall pick?

In 2019, Wilkins ranked first among rookie defensive linemen with 56 tackles whilst ranking 5th in the league in tackles among all DTs. In 2020 PFF gave Wilkins a 73.9 run defense grade, ranking him 19th out of 111 defensive linemen with at least 300 snaps. However, where Wilkins does struggle is in the passing game. Despite last season having more interceptions than Jamal Adams, in his first two seasons he has only 7 QB hits, is yet to force a fumble and has failed to record a pass rush grade above 60.0, ranking 88th among 123 DTs. Whilst being on the interior he is susceptible to a lot of the dirty work inside, across 30 career games Wilkins has managed only 3.5 sacks, the same amount managed by Zach Sieler despite only starting 8 games in 2020.

“He’s matured, he’s matured on the field, he’s still a kid at heart. I think everyone sees that. He’s really good at reading backfield sets, he’s always at the next level of trying to learn what combos can I get at this front.”

Zach Sieler meeting with the media on May 26 at the start of voluntary OTAs when asked about Wilkins.

Wilkins can play inside at either defensive formation whether 3-4 or 4-3, but he also has the versatility and speed to be able to set the edge. Whilst his stats do not jump of the page, and whilst others may have had breakthrough seasons in 2020, that is not to label Wilkins as undeserving of the 13th overall pick. Wilkins plays with non-stop energy and enthusiasm playing with urgency on every down. There is no reason not to believe that Wilkins won’t make a further jump coming into his third year. His personality combined with his athleticism and versatility give him all the intangibles that he needs to compete in the NFL.

Raekwon Davis

When Raekwon Davis was drafted 56th overall in the 2020 NFL draft, there was a reason Brian Flores usually a man of little expression was gushing with a smile from ear to ear. Davis was PFF’s 3rd highest graded defensive rookie behind only to Julian Blackmon and Chase Young.

Davis was brilliant in the run game in the second half of the season, he is a mauler who will not be moved and helps fill the gaps. Davis scored a run defense grade of 66.8 and excelled at nose tackle with a 76.7 pass rushing grade. Between weeks 10-17 Davis ranked 17th in the NFL at DT. Regardless of who is the Dolphins starting center, it is likely that Davis will give them serious concerns throughout training camp.

Davis became the first Dolphins DL to be selected to the all rookie team since Kendall Langford in 2008. Also selected was Jason Taylor in 1997

“I think he did a good job of developing throughout the year in terms of his run defense and being able to win one on ones consistently and hold the point on doubles. I think the major focus for him is finishing plays. I think he specifically probably feels like he left some more out there. Just taking the next step like any other guy this year, taking the next step in his second year. I’m looking forward to him. Im really looking forward to everything that he brings to the table. I love him.”

DL coach Austin Clark full of praise of Davis heading into year 2.

Like Coach Clark stated the main focus for Davis this season will be finishing plays. There is no doubt Davis was disruptive in his rookie season but still only managed 40 tackles, 1 TFL and 1 QB hit. There were numerous instances in several games where Davis caused havoc getting into the backfield, most notably against the Jets where he narrowly missed out on the sacks, although did force Darnold into the arms of other Dolphins defenders.

Zach Sieler

Whilst it can be said that Christian Wilkins and Raekwon Davis’ stats do not jump off the page at you, the same cannot be said for everyone’s favorite now former RV living player. Sieler exploded in 2020 with a huge breakout season with 48 tackles, 11 QB hits, 11 TFL and 3.5 sacks. Even in 2019 although only starting one game he still managed 1 TFL and 2 QB hits.

Sieler recently signed a 2 year $7.63m contract extension with $3.8m guaranteed, securing his future as a Miami Dolphin until 2024. Yet another example of the Dolphins looking after their own, a hallmark of a good franchise; rewarding their players who produce week in week out, whilst also acting as an incentive to younger players or players lower down the depth chart to do likewise when they are called upon.

Sieler had an outstanding year in 2020, and is criminally underappreciated for his role in one of the leading defenses in the league. Whilst Xavien Howard, Jerome Baker and Emmanuel Ogbah all took the spotlight throughout the season and rightfully so, Sieler’s production was perhaps the most remarkable given where the position he had been the year prior. Now age 25 coming into his fourth season in the NFL, his emphasis has shifted to improving in the run game, his reactions in play action situations and early down snaps. With the versatility expected within Josh Boyer’s defense, different skill traits are inevitably required. Sieler says his focus in training is centered on both speed and explosion but also power against doubles on the interior.

Adam Butler

It has not taken long for Adam Butler to showcase his abilities and what he can do for this defense. All throughout minicamp Butler’s speed of the ball caused the O-line havoc with reports of would be sacks and QB hits. Butler’s explosiveness in his first step puts even more pressure on the interior of the line to be able to get set.

Having lost Davon Godchaux to New England in free agency, the addition of Adam Butler is the best addition that the Dolphins made in terms of value. Godchaux’s annual salary with the Patriots is $7.5m in comparison with Butler’s average salary of $3.75m. His fast and powerful hands, light feet and agility make him an ideal fit into Josh Boyer’s defense, that last season caused havoc throughout the NFL. When considering both production value and cost, it is clear that Miami came out ahead in the DT switcheroo in free agency.

Godchaux had more snaps despite being inactive since tearing his bicep in the Week 5 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers.

An even more impressive stat is that Butler has only missed one game in his first four seasons in the NFL. That game came last season where he was inactive with a slight shoulder injury. Despite only starting 4 games, Butler had 2 passes defended, 34 tackles, 4 sacks and 6 TFL. If Zach Sieler was the biggest surprise to Dolphins fans last season, this is a notice to the fanbase to not be surprised if Butler shines; he is a very important rotational piece within this defense, adding depth to an already stacked defensive tackle position.

John Jenkins

Excellent breakdown by Travis Wingfield on everything that John Jenkins did bring and hopefully will continue to bring to the Dolphins defense in 2021.

A strong veteran presence in an otherwise relatively young group, combine this with familiarity with the organisation, Jenkins is set to hit the ground running as a strong contributor to this defensive line. In his first stint with the team in 2019, Jenkins recorded 34 tackles, 1 sack, 2 TFL and 1 QB hit. As a traditional nose tackle he will likely be a solid backup to Raekwon Davis. Jenkins is one of three Dolphins players over the age of 30, none of which were on the team last season.

Benito Jones

Throughout the 2020 season Benito Jones was forever to and from the practice squad, never able to fully cement his place on the active roster consistently, only playing 48 snaps on defense resulting in only one tackle. It is likely at this time not knowing what strides he has made this offseason that the 2021 season will be much of the same.

Conclusion

In 2021 the cap hit for Wilkins, Sieler, Davis, Butler, Jenkins and Jones combined amounts to $12,819,169 which is 6.8% of the total cap. To put this number into perspective the Dolphins paid Ndamukong Suh $20,000,000 a year during the three years he was with the team. Now of course this will change into the future, Davis, Wilkins and Sieler will still all be playing on their rookie deals in 2021, whereas Suh had established himself as an elite player. Regardless of the fact, the job that Chris Grier and Brian Flores have done in assembling this group of DTs has to be applauded; young studs complemented by a veteran presence, all possessing speed, power and position versatility. The 2021 DTs are a very stacked group indeed and are by far the best value on the entire roster. Fins Up!

Follow Bradley Davies on Twitter: