Senior Bowl: Cards Focus on Defensive Line

Alan Branch (Greg Trott/Getty)

While most of the Cardinals scouts followed the South Squad, a group of coaches kept close tabs on the defensive linemen playing for the North. Raiders defensive line coach Keith Millard offered critiques on four of the linemen. Michael Lombardo is in Alabama, where he talked with a Cardinals coach about some of the more impressive prospects.

1. Kentwan Balmer (North Carolina) has the height (6'5") and bulk (308 pounds) to excel as a run-stopping end in Arizona's scheme. Balmer started all 12 games his senior year and ranked second on the team with 59 tackles. He tacked on 3.5 sacks for minus-26 yards. Balmer should be off the board by the end of the first day.

Balmer still needs to learn how to use his size to his full advantage. Raiders' defensive line coach Keith Millard suggests how.

"You're doing too much bench pressing," Millard told Balmer. "You need to keep your elbows in."

2. DeMario Pressley (NC State) is an option for later in the draft, somewhere between rounds three and five. Pressley knows how to plug the holes -- he racked up six tackles for a loss during his senior year. He also finished second on his team in tackles, a rare feat for a defensive lineman. He boasts good speed and rare agility...he can do the splits.

Millard had nothing but praise for Pressley.

"You've got it, perfect," Millard said. "Good pad level, good upper body, good feet...perfect!"

3. Sedrick Ellis (USC) is one of eight Trojans invited to the Senior Bowl. He is a first-rounder all the way. Ellis started in all 13 games for the defending Rose Bowl champs.

As a senior, he earned 58 tackles, included 12.5 for a loss. Ellis also tacked on 8.5 sacks for minus-67 yards. He rounded out his stat sheet with seven deflections, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble.

Despite all of his accomplishments, Ellis is still open to big-league criticism.

"You've got to stay tight," Millard warned Ellis. "Use your hands like weapons and get off the guy."

4. Lawrence Jackson (USC) is not overshadowed by his former teammate, Ellis. Jackson earned a team-high 17 tackles for losses. He finished 18th nationally in sacks and 24th in tackles for a loss.

Millard did not weight in on Jackson, but a Cardinals defensive coach praised both Jackson and Ellis. The coach was impressed with the athleticism of the USC duo. He said both have the bodies to fit in the Cardinals' 3-4 defensive scheme.

Continue to monitor CardinalInsider.com as we continue to break exclusive news throughout Senior Bowl week.

Amberly Richardson is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a correspondent for Scout.com.

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