The Opening: Top 5 Defensive Surprises

The Opening was a chance for the best to go against the best, but also provided the opportunity for a few players to prove they are even better than previously though. Here are five defenders, chosen by the Scout team, who outperformed expectations and rankings.

Ainuu Taua (6'1, 270) - Lompoc (Ca.)
In a group of big, physical linemen on both sides, Taua was one of the smaller guys there, but everyone quickly learned not to underestimate him as he used his quickness, get-off, motor and competitiveness to make his mark as one of the toughest defensive linemen to handle in one on ones. He's already a four-star, but outperformed expectations and surprised many who had not seen him before and judged the book by its cover.

Chad Thomas (6'5, 240) - Miami Booker T. Washington (Fla.)
Thomas was always considered a long, athletic kid with upside, but he showed more sides to his game by powering through some of the strongest and biggest offensive linemen in attendance. He tossed a couple aside with ease and arguably put on the most impressive performance of any defensive linemen there and demonstrated that he's improving and putting himself among elite company.

Rashaan Evans (6'3, 218) - Auburn (Ala.)
Listed as a defensive end, Evans played linebacker in 7 on 7 and was very impressive in coverage. He had several interceptions and big plays dropping back and has now let the world know that he can not only come forward, but can drop into coverage as well. he still may ultimately end up with his hand down, but he used this event to show that he can do a lot more than just rush the passer.

Bijhon Jackson (6'2, 315) - El Dorado (Ar.)
Jackson was the lowest ranked of the defensive line group, but he did not play like it. His strong, bowling ball type frame and powerful style made him a handful for offensive linemen. He wasn't all power though, as he showed some quickness and moves in the one on ones. Ranking aside, he appears to be a kid who could add more offers if he performs during his senior season like he did in Oregon.

Adarius Pickett (6'0, 185) - El Cerrito (Ca.)

All though he is a four-star, there were many corners with higher rankings and bigger press clippings than Pickett, but his performance put him right there with any of them. He provided tight coverage throughout the one on ones and certainly during two days of 7 on 7 and those who were not familiar with him going in certainly knew his name by the end of the event.

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