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Red Raider Gridiron | Top Five Defensive Playmakers

The top five defensive playmakers for new Co-DC's Matt Wallerstedt and Mike Smith and the Texas Tech Red Raiders.

Michael C. Johnson-US PRESSWIRE

1. CB Bruce Jones: I think the best player is Hyder, but I think that Jones is going to be a significant and substantial player for Texas Tech and the secondary this year. Even in re-watching the scrimmage, I am consistently impressed with Jones' ability to make plays, fight off blocks, tackle in open space and run with receivers. He's just so tiny as a cornerback, but what he lacks in size, he's really making an effort to make up with tenacity. I think it has been a while since I have seen a cornerback with Jones' skill-set, he just so happens to only be 5'7" and 171. I don't know if that's going to hold up over the course of the year, but I hope it does. I don't have the number of plays that Jones had last year, but he was second on the team, tied with Cody Dais, with 7 pass break-ups. I think that if given more opportunity, he'll easily lead the team in pass break-ups. With Kevin Curtis coaching up the cornerbacks, I could see how you'll see more plays on the ball and hopefully more interceptions.

2. DE Kerry Hyder: Hyder really should be first because he is the best player and the most disruptive player, but I thin Jones will have more opportunities. I've got a vision where the coaching staff envisions Hyder to be Texas Tech's version of Warren Sapp. It will take a bit more to explain during the offseason, but I think they hope that Hyder is that guy that can be so disruptive by not giving up on each and by being this team's hardest worker that he'll make plays by virtue of the coaches putting him in the right spot and being those things. I'm awfully optimistic about Hyder, but it is because he's a hard worker. Again, as a defensive tackle, Hyder was third on the team with 56 tackles, first with 14.0 tackles for loss, and tied for first with 5.5 sacks. I expect that Hyder will be even better.

3. DE Dartwan Bush: Maybe this is more of a wish, than actuality in that Bush has to be the third best playmaker, I think, for this team to be successful. Bush was tied for the team lead with 5.5 sacks, tied for 7th on the team with 41 tackles, second with 12.0 tackles for loss and he has to do more. He just has to be more productive. Hyder needs a Robin to his Batman, and at this point I don't know if it is going to be Branden Jackson or Bush. Technically, in the post-spring depth chart, Bush was behind Hyder at defensive end, but that may change with Delvon Simmons departure. Honestly, I couldn't decide between Bush and Jackson at this spot because I'm not sure who will be that defender that can take the next step. What I think will happen is that it will be Wesley, Hyder and Bush starting the first game, with Jackson on the edge. It's time for one of them to make that move.

4. FS Tre' Porter: I sure as heck hope that this is the last move that Porter has to make. Despite playing with a red, non-contact, jersey, Porter sure was playing with some aggression. I think he was taking out the last two years of not really having a home. Defensively, I think free safety is actually a really good fit for Porter. He has the athleticism to play the spot, I just don't know how quickly he can be coached up on Technique. If Trey Haverty is in charge, it probably won't take very long. The only reason I hesitate to not include Porter is because of the alleged concussions that kept him out a good part of the year. If a player is getting a concussion that is keeping him out of games at such a significant clip, that it could happen again.

5. WLB Sam Eguavoen: It only seems like a short time ago that I was having to look each and every time how to spell Eguavoen's name. Now, it is like second hand nature, and that means that I'm getting older and so is Eguavoen. As a true sophomore last year, I thought that he really made strides to being a complete player. Probably still bit light at the linebacker spot, he did finish with 52 tackles, and this team desperately needs someone to step up and a run-supporting linebacker that can step into coverage, make plays and never get off the field. I think that guy is Eguavoen. He's still got to be better at the run game, although at WLB, that's not as big of an issue.

BLB Branden Jackson and BLB Pete Robertson: I am so close to replacing either Jackson or Robertson with Eguavoen, but I need to see it. I based the five best offensive players on potential, and I did it largely on things that I've seen on the field. They were only glimpses, but I've seen it on the field. I think I'm still waiting on Jackson and Robertson to actually need to see it. For both of them. I think they could surprise me and supplant one of the guys listed above, but right now, I can't make that call.