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NORTH BERGEN, N.J. - There was a ton of talent on hand for the Pylon 7-on-7 tournament in North Bergen, N.J. last weekend. While there were a number of D-1 players at each position, the defensive backs were dominant and were the stars of the weekend.
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NEW JERSEY PYLON 7-ON-7 TOURNAMENT: TOP PERFORMERS
1. DB John Reid, Philadelphia (Pa.) St. Joseph's
Reid allowed the least amount of catches out of all the starting defensive backs for any of the teams at this weekend's tournament. The Rivals250 cornerback is so strong when jamming wide receivers that only a few of them were able to get off the line of scrimmage. When Reid played off coverage, he showed the speed, explosiveness and anticipation to break on passes in front of him or turn and run with the receiver. If taller receivers tried to go deep on him, Reid muscled his way into good position and was able to deflect anything that came his way.
2. DB Levonta Taylor, Virginia Beach (Va.) Ocean Lakes (2016)
Taylor is proving to be one of the best defensive backs in the 2016 class. Throughout the weekend Taylor was blanketing his receiver and making sure he did not have much of a chance to make the catch. In most of the games his team played he had multiple interceptions and pass break ups. Taylor uses his speed and explosiveness to always stay within an arm's reach of the receiver and his instincts are improving with every camp he attends. He may not be the biggest cornerback, but he is very physical and does not get bullied by bigger receivers.
3. DB Minkah Fitzpatrick, Jersey City (N.J.) St. Peter's Prep
Fitzpatrick only played on Saturday, but he was outstanding on both sides of the ball. On defense, the five-star defensive back used his great length and speed to blanket opposing wide receivers. That length combined with his leaping ability helped him successfully deflect most of the jump balls thrown his way. On offense, Fitzpatrick caught a number of touchdown passes and was able to make a few defenders miss in the open field when he caught short passes. Fitzpatrick could have been higher on this list had he played Sunday.
4. DB Robbie Robinson, Hampton (Va.) Phoebus (2016)
Robinson is another standout defensive back in the 2016 class. His physicality more than makes up for what he lacks in size, and his speed helps keep him always stay in good position. Robinson had a lot of deflections and interceptions throughout the weekend, but the most impressive things about Robinson were his instincts and his ability to navigate through traffic in the middle of the field when the receiver ran a crossing route. His timing was always spot on and he rarely missed when he tried to swat the ball down.
Diggs was the best and most productive wide receiver at the camp this weekend. He caught touchdown passes on deep fades and intermediate and short crossing routes. When Diggs, the younger brother of MarylandClick 5. WR Trevon Diggs, Rockville (Md.) Wootton (2016)Here to view this Link. star receiver Stefon DiggsClick 5. WR Trevon Diggs, Rockville (Md.) Wootton (2016)Here to view this Link., caught one of the shorter passes, he was able to make defenders miss in the open field and pick up big chunks of yards. When he was able to get a free release off the line of scrimmage, he ran good routes and used his explosiveness to create separation.
6. RB D'Andre Swift, Philadelphia (Pa.) St. Joseph's (2017)
Swift was one of the most electric players on the field. Nearly every time he touched the ball, on either a handoff or a catch in the open field, Swift made a defender miss and pick up extra yards. The freshman back is a serious threat in the passing game. Swift has very good hands and create separation regardless of whether a linebacker or defensive back is guarding him. Expect to hear Swift's name a lot more in the future.
7. QB Brandon Wimbush, Jersey City (N.J.) St. Peter's Prep
On Saturday Wimbush was firing passes all over the field with very good accuracy. His great arm strength was on display in the three games he played, throwing a lot of deep passes and completing most of them. Wimbush is getting better and better at putting touch on his passes and seeing the play develop quicker. The Rivals250 quarterback had a chance to be higher on this list, but he did not play on Sunday.
8. DB Jahque Alleyne, Virginia Beach (Va.) Ocean Lakes
Alleyne is a physically impressive defensive back with very long arms, good height and a big frame to fill out. He played mostly defensive back this weekend and had a very good day on Saturday, coming down with multiple interceptions and making acrobatic plays for the ball. As Alleyne sees the field more his instincts will improve and will be able to anticipate throws better. When Alleyne sees the ball being thrown in front of him, he breaks on the ball very well and isn't afraid to make contact with the receiver.
Johns is another stronger-armed quarterback that had a lot of success on Saturday. He and Diggs connected on a lot of touchdowns, but he also spread the ball around. Johns is also becoming a more accurate thrower. On Sunday his team only played one game, but he threw two touchdowns and helped his team go undefeated on Saturday. Johns will be visiting VirginiaClick 9. QB Nick Johns, Washington (D.C.) GonzagaHere to view this Link. this week and Penn StateClick 9. QB Nick Johns, Washington (D.C.) GonzagaHere to view this Link. on Saturday.
10. WR LB Jahvoni Simmons, Virginia Beach (Va.) Ocean Lakes
Simmons is big-bodied linebacker that makes it very difficult for quarterbacks to throw short and intermediate crossing routes in the middle of the field. He is getting better at improving his range and is very good at breaking up passes and denying the ball to receivers running in front of him. Simmons has the speed to stay with running backs running short routes towards the sideline and is very good at bumping backs and tight ends off their routes in the middle of the field.
11. RB Quadree Henderson, Wilmington (Del.) Alexis I Dupont
Henderson is an extremely explosive all-purpose back that is a threat in both the running and passing game. He had a lot of success when lined up against a linebacker. Henderson's speed and ability to create separation was too much for any linebacker and most defensive backs to handle. Henderson did not get the chance to catch many balls, but with better quarterback play he would have put on a show.
12. ATH Darnell Savage, Bear (Del.) Caravel
Savage has recovered nicely from his broken leg. He caught one touchdown in the one game his team played on Sunday, but on Saturday Savage was making plays all over the field. He caught touchdowns on corner routes and intermediate and short crossing routes. Many teams have serious interest in Savage but are waiting to see how he plays this season after his injury.
13. WR Cole Blackman, Glen Allen (Va.) (2016)
Blackman was one of the most productive receivers on any team this weekend. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound prospect caught four touchdowns and four two-point conversions in one game and had at least one touchdown catch in almost every game his team played. He may not be a burner, but he has very good hands and isn't afraid to dive or go flying through the air to try to make the catch. Blackman also runs very good routes, which helps him create separation.
Adam Friedman is the Mid-Atlantic Region football recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. You can click here to follow him on Twitter.
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