NFL Draft 2010: Defensive Options Come With Vastly Varying Opinions

The St. Louis Ramsare in the driver's seat with the first pick of the second round in this year's 2010 NFL Draft, and will likely trade the pick.  While I was checking out some of the defensive options they had (and may still have, depending on how far they move down), I thought I could come up with a consensus "BPA" or two, but I ran into a problem. 

I always look in several sources for my information, but with just the few guys I looked at this time, I found that there was an extremely wide range of opinions in a lot of cases.  Putting them in order was not practical. In fact, projecting them in the same round wasn't even practical.

For example, Daryle Washington is ranked as high as 3rd OLB by some organizations, as low as 10th by others.  That translates to being drafted multiple rounds apart. Thaddeus Gibson (who played with James Laurinaitis) is the 2nd ranked OLB by Sporting News, but 11th by Scouts Inc.  DT D'Anthony Smith is graded only a 6 out of 10 by but 8.1 and the 3rd ranked DT by Sporting News, which is a huge difference.

Anyway, while we wait to see what the Rams get for their 33rd pick and we find out how far they move down, I  thought I'd offer you some examples of how much scouting reports can vary by source.  You may have your favorites when it comes to getting info but the funny thing is, all of these sources have given me good information at different times over the last several years, so to just dismiss any of them as unknowledgable isn't a good idea if you really want to look into a particular player.

These wide ranging opinions ought to serve as clear examples why you shouldn't rely too heavily on one source for information. You are strongly encouraged to make your own determinations about what skills are important to you.

Remember, they could easily still end up with one of these guys. 

Outside Linebacker

Sergio Kindle - 6'2 7/8", 250 (DE/OLB) grade 8.3 out of 10
Kindle is a two-year starter for the Longhorns as a defensive end but many will try and project him to outside linebacker in the NFL. He has a good combination of length and athleticism but lacks the bulk needs to be an effective run defender at the next level. He has been a disruptive force penetrating the line of scrimmage in the Longhorns 4-3 front.

Kindle runs well but doesn’t have elite speed or range for a stand up player and will need lots of work developing his coverage techniques and awareness. He is inconsistent using his hands to maintain leverage on his opponent and will need to improve in this area both as a pass rusher as well as run defender.

Kindle does play hard and has a frame to add at least 20 pounds, which bodes well for his potential as a special team’s contributor as well being utilized as a backup linebacker or edge rusher in sub packages.

Outstanding athlete who was named high school player of the year for both offense (as a running back) and defense, something that had never been done in modern history. He can rush the passer or drop into space. Was outstanding vs. Alabama in the BCS title game.

Strengths: Kindle’s a long, rangy player who projects best as a 3-4 outside linebacker at the next level. Productive player. Plays with a relentless motor not only as a pass rusher but also in run pursuit. Has good instincts playing with his hand down and off the line of scrimmage. Short area burst and speed are his best attribute, especially when turned loose rushing the passer.
Weaknesses:Main area of concern is his lack of weight and strength, but does have room on his frame to add bulk. Struggles with his hand use when disengaging against the run. Possesses tweener size and athleticism. Has some off-field issues (DWI arrest, driving car into apartment complex and leaving the scene).

Kindle is a versatile and dynamic pass rusher who can fit into any defense. His natural position is 3-4 outside linebacker, where he can take advantage of his diverse pass rush skills and quickness in space. He needs to improve his strength at the point of attack but could end up being a steal early in the second round.

Scouts Inc says:

Grade 92, Posiiton Rank 3, Overall Rank 21
(Scale: 1=Exceptional, 2=Above average, 3=Average, 4=Below average, 5=Marginal)
Overall Football Traits: Production 2, Height-Weight-Speed 4, Durability 3, Intangibles 3,
Outside Linebacker Specific Grades:

Instincts/Recognition: 2Shows a lot of versatility as a DE/LB hybrid in Texas' diverse defensive scheme. He's more comfortable at this point when working near the line of scrimmage and turned loose up the field. But he has good game experience both on and off the line of scrimmage, and he shows good overall recognition skills considering.

Strength/Toughness: 3  Lower-body strength is the biggest issue with his game moving forward. He struggles to anchor versus the run and he really needs to put more bulk on his frame. He also needs to learn to take on blockers with better leverage. On the positive side, he has a strong upper body and he shows good short-area power. He also plays the game with a mean streak and a motor that never quits. Just study the one-on-one matchups versus Oklahoma TE Jermaine Gresham in 2008. It's obvious that Kindle is the tougher, more physical all-around player.
Range vs. Run: 2 The first thing that stands out is his non-stop motor versus the run. Most edge rushers fail to give the same effort in run support, but that's not the case with Kindle. He will pursue from behind and he shows excellent closing burst to the ball carrier, particularly for his size. On the flip side, he does struggle to get off of blocks at times versus the run. He needs to do a better job of protecting his legs and using his hands.
Tackling: 2 Never quits on a play. Takes solid angles for a college DE. Explosive at the point of attack. Open-field tackling skills are only adequate at this point. Makes most of his tackles working up the field and in pursuit, but he flashes the ability to break down in space and drive through contact.
3rd Down Capabilities: 1 Displays very good initial burst off the edge as a pass rusher. Relentless in pursuit of the quarterback. Shows fluid double moves to get the OT on his heels and then exploit him when he's off-balance. He displays some upper-body power and the ability to jar the OT initially, but he still needs to improve his ability to disengage once reached. He's obviously a more accomplished pass rusher than cover man at this point, but he does flash the fluid hips and closing quickness to hold up in underneath zone coverage in the NFL.

SportingNews says:

Kindle is a tremendous athlete who makes game-changing plays. He fits best as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme, but he also shows the natural explosiveness, speed and pass-rush skills to be a good defensive end in a 4-3 scheme if able to bulk up 15-20 pounds. He also could play outside linebacker in a 4-3 scheme, a la the Redskins' Brian Orakpo. Kindle's athleticism, competitiveness and violent hitting ability remind us a lot of the Texans' Brian Cushing. Grade/Position Rank  Overall: 8.2 / 1st

Blitz/coverage: 8.0/3, Pursuit/tackling: 8.5/9, Pass-Run Recognition  8.0/4, Against inside run: 7.5/2, Against outside run: 8.5/1

Against inside run: Is an instinctive defender who sniffs out inside runs and has a knack for being around the ball. Moves easily through traffic because of quickness, agility and balance. Shows the strength to take on and defeat tight end blocks and burst inside to make the tackle. Flashes the strength to take on offensive line run blocks at the point of attack, but struggles to consistently shed those blockers. Having played mostly defensive end, lacks experience from an upright position. Grade: 7.5

Against outside run: Is productive playing perimeter runs, and will be better playing from linebacker alignment. Shows good instincts and smarts to carry out containment responsibilities; can make the open-field tackle even if the play does come back to him. Is strong and productive taking on tight end run blocks, maintaining outside position, defeating the block and making tackle. On runs away, stays at home and then shows the acceleration and speed to chase down ball-carriers. Grade: 8.5

Blitz/coverage: Is an explosive pass rusher from defensive end alignment with the explosiveness off the snap to turn the corner and close quickly to the QB. Shows the athleticism and strength to be even more dangerous from upright alignment. Is quick and smooth dropping into pass coverage, can flip hips to change directions easily and has a burst to close on receivers to deliver hard hits. Reaches the flat quickly to blow up screen passes. Lacks experience in man-to-man coverage, but shows the athleticism and speed to produce with experience. Grade: 8.0

Instincts: Is a natural who consistently reads plays quickly and correctly to play faster than timed speed would suggest. Does not get fooled by misdirection or trick plays or play-action passes. Always carries out containment assignments/responsibilities. Consistently anticipates the snap count to be first defender moving. Grade: 8.0

Pursuit/tackling: Shows the instincts, athleticism, speed and closing ability to make big plays in pursuit. On runs away, maintains backside responsibilities and then attacks full speed. Bends knees and drives up into ball carriers to make good open-field tackles. Stays under control, and does not miss tackles. Grade: 8.5

Height-Weight-Speed: This is the biggest issue when projecting Kindle to the NFL. He has decent size potential but he's far to lean to play DE in a four-man front and he even needs to get bigger to play OLB in a 3-4. While his speed is good for a DE, it's not elite considering his marginal bulk.

Thaddeus Gibson 6'2" 243, OLB grade 7.0  out of 10
Played with Laurinaitis. Gibson was a productive defender for the Buckeyes over the past two seasons. He has a good combination of size and athleticism, runs well and shows good range in pursuit. He also shows good awareness and instincts to react quickly as plays unfold. He is a solid tackler in a confined area but very inconsistent in the open field. Gibson has good foot agility and quickness and should be able to develop his overall pass-rush package. He lacks great hand use and creativity to counter as a pass rusher but is likely to improve in this area. Gibson needs to gain bulk and strength (especially in his lower body) to make him a more complete defender. He has a chance to be a versatile player who will contribute early on special teams and have a chance to develop into a starter.

Strengths: Gibson has a large frame and an explosive first step. Fast-twitch athlete who has the speed to be a sideline-to-sideline player and the closing burst to get around the edge. Fluid hips allow him to maintain his speed in transition and stick with backs and tight ends in man coverage. Locates the ball quickly and recognizes screens and draws.
Weaknesses:Needs to add bulk, especially in his lower half, to take on bigger blockers at the next level. Does not use his hands well enough to shed blocks and counter in pass-rushing situations. Takes too many false steps, which limits his great speed. Struggles to break down the ball carrier and consistently make tackles in the open field.

Daryl Washington 6'2" 230, OLB Grade: 8.1 out of 10
Can play inside or outside. Has speed and is aggressive. Will bulk up to 250 pounds. Lacks good hands.

Washington had his most impressive season as a collegiate football player in his first year as a starter for TCU. Washington lead the Horned frogs with 109 tackles and was clearly the most disruptive defender on the No. 1 defense in 2009. Washington has good height and athleticism for the position but lacks bulk when projecting him at the next level. He has gained 20 pounds over the past year and has a frame to carry additional weight moving forward in the NFL.

He is an instinctive player that leverages the ball well and understands angles and run fits in the TCU defensive scheme. Washington is a solid open field tackler and the added bulk has helped his physical presence as a linebacker. He has good range in pursuit and has good lateral quickness and agility to be an effective coverage defender. Washington is a good football player that has been an excellent special teams contributor. He has improved his draft status dramatically by having an outstanding senior season.

Strengths: Washington possesses good height to add necessary bulk for the inside linebacker position. He’s a tough, competitive player, with a relentless motor who plays with disregard for his body. Instinctive performer who quickly diagnoses screens and draws. Good open field tackler. Comfortable playing in zone coverage and has the feet to cover backs in man coverage.

Weakness: Needs added bulk and must improve his power at the point to hold up in the box against the run. Can be engulfed by bigger blockers that get into his body. Was only a one-year starter with less playing experience than most prospects. Despite good instincts, Washington takes initial false steps at times.

Scouts Inc says:

Grade 90, Position Rank 4, Overall Rank 30
(Scale: 1=Exceptional, 2=Above average, 3=Average, 4=Below average, 5=Marginal)
Overall Football Traits: Production 4, Height-Weight-Speed 3, Durability 2, Intangibles 2,
Outside Linebacker Specific Grades:

Instincts/Recognition: 2
Quickly diagnoses plays and can sniff out screens. Disciplined and rarely bites on play action. However, takes too many false steps and can be a step late getting to the ball as a result.
Strength/Toughness: 3
Lacks strength and size to hold own in phone booth at the NFL level. However is relentless in pursuit and will lay body on the line to make tackle.
Range vs. Run: 1
Takes proper pursuit and can make plays from sideline-to-sideline. Fluid athlete that's smooth changing directions and flashes the ability to recover when gets caught out of position.
Tackling: 3
Wraps up and does a nice job of getting ball carriers to the ground once he latches on. However, explosiveness is just adequate and didn't show the ability to deliver the big hit during film evaluation. Not as consistent in the open field as is in close quarters.
3rd Down Capabilities: 3
Shows good awareness and does a nice job of locating crossers when asked to drop into zone coverage. Fluid enough to match up with most backs and tight ends in man coverage. Above-average closing speed and he can get to the quarterback when asked to blitz but would like to see more aggression.


Defensive Line

Everson Griffen 6'3" 273, DE grade: 8.0

Griffen has average height with good bulk for the position. He has natural power and strength at the point of attack when defending the run. He leverages the ball well with a powerful jolt off the line of scrimmage. Griffen feels pad pressure well but is inconsistent to find the ball and natural instincts are a concern. He is a powerful tackler in a confined area but lacks agility and balance in the open field. Griffen is a solid pass rusher that anticipates well off the edge but not an impact player in this phase of his game. Griffen is a good football player that doesn’t always play with great intensity or consistent effort which may hurt his 2010 draft status.

Strengths: Griffen’s a tough, strong defensive end prospect. Will show good hand use. Has really impressive speed and range for a big man (was a high school running back). Displays very explosive power to knock blockers backwards and to hold up at the point of attack against the run. Has great initial quickness off the ball when rushing the passer.
Weakenesses: Only has average height and has likely maxed out his frame in terms of bulk. Lacks competitiveness at times and doesn’t always play with high intensity. Can be an inconsistent reactor at times and sometimes struggles to break down in space.

Scouts Inc says:

Grade 88, Position Rank 3, Overall Rank 38
(Scale: 1=Exceptional, 2=Above average, 3=Average, 4=Below average, 5=Marginal)
Overall Football Traits: Production 3, Height-Weight-Speed 2, Durability 2, Intangibles 3,
Defensive End Specific Grades:

Pass Rush Skills 2:
An explosive power-to-speed rusher. Anticipates snap count well and gets off the ball quickly. Stays low and flashes a violent initial punch that can rock offensive lineman on their heels. Does a good job of changing up pass rushing moves and displays an effective spin/rip move inside to keep OT's on off-balance. Runs a tight loop inside on twists and shows above-average closing burst.
Athleticism/Versatility 3:
Played this past season with both his hand in the dirt in a 4-3 scheme and as a stand up OLB in a 3-4 alignment. Has ample experienced dropping into coverage but appeared to lack fluidity in drops and is not something he can do on a consistent basis. Top-notch straight line speed for size but struggles with sudden change-of-direction. At this point we feel he is best suited at defensive end in a 4-3 base scheme at the next level.
Versus the Run 2:
Plays with good leverage and displays a violent initial punch that can jar offensive lineman. Uses hands well to disengage from offensive linemen and fights hard to gain outside leverage when holding the edge. Flashes ability to fall back into play when caught too far up field. Closing burst gives him good overall range. Strong tackler in confined areas but struggles when caught in one-on-one situations in the open field. Flashes ability to explode upon contact. Needs to do a better job of protecting feet against cut blocks.
Instincts/Competitiveness 4:
Slight area of concern in this department. Lacks great instincts and struggles to find the ball at times. Can be a second late recognizing draws and is caught too far up-field as a result. Shows ability to recognize and fall back into screens out of the backfield. Motor runs hot and cold. Will take plays off on occasion especially when play is away. Needs to show more consistent in pursuit from the backside.

Brian Price 6'1" 303, DT grade 7.9 out of 10
Wide-bodied player, most likely a two-down player. Has worked hard to lose weight -- going from 370 at the end of the '09 season to 346. Will be a very good run stopper.

Strengths: Price possesses the impressive natural power necessary to be a disruptive interior lineman. He’s a tough, competitive and productive player who battles until the whistle. Has the initial quickness needed to gain penetration against the run and pass. Uses his hands well to shed blockers and disengage against the run and has a variety of moves when rushing the passer.
Weakenesses: Price does not have ideal height for the defensive tackle position. Doesn’t have the range to chase down running plays from behind. Only has adequate lateral agility. Can be inconsistent with his pad level and footwork at times.

Terrence Cody 6'4" 354, DT grade 8.0 out of 10
Wide-bodied player, most likely a two-down player. Has worked hard to lose weight -- going from 370 at the end of the '09 season to 346. Will be a very good run stopper.

Cody is a massive body with natural power as an interior run stopper. He can push the pocket effectively with excellent natural power but needs to develop his hand use and expand his pass rush package. He is disruptive penetrating the line of scrimmage versus the run and will command double teams often. He is limited outside the tackle box but has decent range for a player of his stature. Cody has improved his reads and ability to leverage the blocker but will likely improve more at the next level. He fits best as a nose tackle in a 3-4 defensive front and is more of a two down player at this point.

Strengths:Has good height and excellent bulk for a 3-4 nose tackle. Uses his impressive strength to hold at the point of attack. Isn’t going to beat blockers with quickness but can power himself into the backfield. Exhibits impressive balance for a big man. Has been a durable performer. Possesses a high ceiling for development as a run-stuffer.
Weakness:Probably a two-down player at the next level who will come out in pass rush situations. Endurance is a concern, and he can be worn down. Relies on raw power and needs to improve his hand use. Doesn’t have the initial quickness to beat blockers off the snap. Lacks athleticism out of the box and won’t chase down plays.


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