NFL Draft Prospects: Defensive End

Defensive end is an interesting topic for Rams fans.  You could argue in pretty much three different ways.  1) The Rams are set at DE with Long and their rotating lineup 2) Rams need one more solid DE to rotate with Long and provide depth in case of an injury 3) The Rams are badly in need of a DE with no set starter on the left side.

All three are very solid points and I'm sure I'd agree to a point with all three.  I'm leaning towards option two because we have just James Hall and Victor Adeyanju opposite of Chris Long.  I'm not going to rely on Adam Carriker because Carriker isn't proven after three years and Coach Steve Spagnuolo might keep at defensive tackle (big mistake).  So we need another rotating DE that can either give Long short breaks or fill in for the combo ends if they get hurt.  And the best solution is Day 2 of the NFL Draft.

So in this preview, I would focus less on the top ten guys located in first three rounds and more on Day 2 projected DEs who have a legitimate chance of being drafted. 

Sorry for putting my input on the position and its future, but I needed to set the grounds.  The positional rankings are largely based off scouting reports.  Sorry for keeping you waiting.  Here is the list of top defensive ends:

                                           1. Derrick Morgan, George Tech Yellow Jackets


 Why He Belongs Here: great production (19.5 sacks, over 100 tackles in 2 seasons), durable, hard worker, polished pass rusher, good anchor and stays low against RBs, non-stop motor

Why He Doesn't Belong: speed is not elite for pass rusher of his caliber, not effective in coverage

Upside: I wish the Rams had the sorry dilemma whether they should draft Morgan or... Morgan....  the normal signs of bust would be only so high because of workouts, slacks off, one-dimensional.... he fills none of the criteria with a great work ethic, great production to match skill, and is nearly equal in pass-rush and rush defense

Projected Round - Top Ten

                                                                      2. Everson Griffen, USC Trojans


Why He Belongs Here: explosive pass rusher, top-notch speed for his size, good closing burst and strong tackler, durable

Why He Doesn't Belong: underacheiver in college, needs to protect himself from cut-blocks, lacks great instincts, will take off on some plays

Upside: He shows a major bust-potential with his lack of effort, but his skills are 1st round talent no doubt.

Projected Round - 1st-2nd round

                                                                      3. Carlos Dunlap, Florida Gators


Why He Belongs Here: great size at 6'5, 277, anticipates snap well, may collapse pocket by himself, can line up anywhere on defensive line, disrupts plays in backfield

Why He Doesn't Belong: DUI arrest past winter leads to maturity issues, has bouts with laziness, poor technique

Upside: Well, his issues - technique and character - seem minor.  For one, he's improved work ethic steadily every year and that may continue and technique takes time but is fixable with good coaching.  With that said, if he goes to wrong team, he can easily be a bust

Projected Round - 1st-2nd round

                                                        4. Jason Pierre-Paul, South Florida Bulls


Why He Belongs Here: anticipates the snap well and gets good leverage against OTs, above-average athlete, takes good angles to ball, consistent motor, durable

Why He Doesn't Belong: his stats are not matching where he'll get drafted, raw in run defense, needs to improve his instincts

Upside: I'm worried about him.  He was as high as 2nd overall on one mock draft and Walter Football has him 7th overall, but they have him in Top 10 as a linebacker.  Problem is the consensus here is that he's a defensive end and he'll likely play DE until otherwise.  Plus I'm thinking bust as his production was average despite playing alongside George Selvie.

Projected Round - Top 20

                                                      5. Corey Wootton, Northwestern Wildcats


Why He Belongs Here: good size at 6'6, 270, three year starter, makes most of his abilities, excellent balance, plays under control, not a lot of wasted motion

Why He Doesn't Belong: suffered season-ending neck injury in 2005, lacks elite explosiveness and closing speed, not consistent

Upside: With Wootton, you know you're getting the best effort and the best he can give; problem is what he can give is not very consistent and lacks in skills

Projected Round - 2nd-3rd round

                                                                   6. Greg Hardy, Ole Miss Rebels


Why He Belongs Here: instinctive pass rusher, effective speed to power moves, very good athlete, great awareness in finding runner

Why He Doesn't Belong: missed first 3 games of 2008 with foot injury, benched for game in '08 for lack of effort, inconsistent motor

Upside: He is a great pass rusher with good skills at run defense (although lack of interest).  But his lack of effort and inconsistency might be worrisome.

                                                           7. Jason Worilds, Virginia Tech Hokies


Why He Belongs Here: excellent work ethic, takes good angle to the ball, quick feet for his size, wrap-up tackler who looks to strip ball carrier

Why He Doesn't Belong Here: undersized at 6'1, major durability concerns, takes too long to locate the ball, struggles against bigger OTs

Upside: On ESPN, he's supposed to switch to outside linebacker which would make sense since he's 6'1, so the Rams might draft him thinking that

Projected Round - 3rd round


                                            8. Alex Carrington, Arkansas State Red Wolves


Why He Belongs Here: good size at 6'5, 285, good production at ASU (18 sacks in 2 years), great Senior Bowl performance proved he could play against top competition

Why He Doesn't Belong: purely a 3-4 defensive end effectively eliminating Rams' chance at grabbing him

Upside: I only got one weakness but it pretty much bars any oppurtunity that he'll be drafted by Rams

Projected Round - 3rd round

                                                     9. Brandon Graham, Michigan Wolverines


Why He Belongs Here: flashes ability to give big hit when reaching QB, can hold his own in one-on-one situations, plays till the whistle is blown

Why He Doesn't Belong: undersized at DE at 6'1, will have tougher time turning corner in the NFL, lacks ideal athletic ability

Upside: He's a borderline DE and OLB; his size will prevent him from being an elite pass rusher and his tackling tends to lean towards being an OLB

Projected Round - 3rd-4th round


                                                             10. George Selvie, South Florida


Why He Belongs Here: natural-born leader who loves game, excellent initial quickness, plays with good leverage and flashes ability to shed blocks, outstanding effort

Why He Doesn't Belong: missed majority of 2008 with ankle injury, can get engulfed at times, needs to bulk up

Upside: His attitude and effort should make him a starter at the NFL level; durabilty is only real issue

Projected Round - 3rd-4th round

11. Brandon Lang, Troy Trojans

Why He Belongs Here: locates ball quickly, excellent upper body strength, closes quickly when behind runner, explosive pass rusher, flashes ability to deliver big hits

Why He Doesn't Belong: suffered season-ending injury in 2007, lacks elite range, lacks elite athletic ability, not great body control, inconsistent tackler

Upside: Lang is mainly a pass rusher whose big hitting ability could make him a run defense force 

Projected Round - 3rd-4th round

12. Ricky Sapp, Clemson Tigers

Why He Belongs Here: excellent top-end speed, above average closing speed on runners, good awareness for DE prospect, 

Why He Doesn't Belong: ACL tear in late 2009 that caused him to miss rest of season, needs to add power to game, his game is too finesse-like

Upside: Sapp's game is predicated on speed and to me that's not promising.  I like a fast guy, but it seems his whole game is based off his speed.  But he might switch to OLB with speed.

13. Lindsey Witten, Uconn Huskies

Why He Belongs Here: good size at 6'4, 260, good production (11.5 sacks in 2009), explosive pass rusher, great upper body strength

Why He Doesn't Belong: mostly role player in four years at Uconn, was stiff and unable to beat opponents in Senior Bowl

Upside: Well, considering he was never a star at Uconn, I can't imagine he'd be anything more than a role player in the NFL

Projected Round - 4th round

14. Austen Lane, Murray State Racers

Why He Belongs Here: good size at 6'6, 259, good production (66 tackles, 12 sacks in '09), excellent speed, elite initial quickness

Why He Doesn't Belong: needs to show better effort against run, needs to add bulk, needs to improve his technique

Upside: Lane has the size, the speed, the numbers (even though it is I-AA), and versatility to be a great pick.  He also was described as a playmaker.

Projected Round - 4th round

15. Willie Young, North Carolina State Wolfpack

Why He Belongs Here: durable, good production, above average initial quickness, powerful upper body strength, wraps up on contact

Why He Doesn't Belong: struggles to anchor when teams run at him, problem shedding blocks, inconsistent snap anticipation, appears to be thinking rather than reacting

Upside: Young seems to have a future purely as a pass rushing specialist, but it seems like a risk since he doesn't have an arsenal of moves to get to the QB and his rush defense is spotty

Projected Round - 4th round

16. Brandon Deaderick, Alabama Crimson Tide

Why He Belongs Here: extremely durable, experienced, tough, good size at 6'4, 290, good speed for his size

Why He Doesn't Belong: needs to work on his upper body strength, projects better as a 3-4 defensive end than a 4-3 defensive end

Upside: Once again, the 3-4 DE kind of eliminates the Rams' chances at grabbing him

Projected Round - 4th round

17. CJ Wilson, East Carolina Pirates

Why He Belongs Here: above average upper body strength, can deliver big hits, gives good effort and takes good angles in run defense

Why He Doesn't Belong: undersized at 6'2 and overweight at 290, not explosive enough to consistently get past OTs, can get caught out of position

Upside: Wilson seems like a career backup, because he's undersized, not going to change to OLB, and not explosive enough as pass rusher to be a starter

Projected Round - 4th-5th round

18. Hall Davis, Lousiana-Lafayette Rajin Cajuns

Why He Belongs Here: good size at 64, 270, tough, great Pro Day with 27 reps of 225 pounds (among other things), good size-speed combo

Why He Doesn't Belong: his production was adaquate at best, strictly a 3-4 defensive end, his first name is Hall

Upside: He's purely a 3-4 end so the Rams won't draft him, but he is the first Rajin Cajun to be invited to NFL Combine; I know nothing to do with this, but....

Projected Round - 5th round

19. Jermaine Cunningham, Florida Gators

Why He Belongs Here: started 27 consecutive games, great athlete, quick feet, very good range for a DE, works to whistle, tough

Why He Doesn't Belong: needs to play with more discipline, lacks great speed even though he's somewhat undersized, still learning to read plays, needs bulk

Upside: Cunningham has the effort and drive to become a star, its just if he has the tools; most of weaknesses can be fixed by good coaching so he should be worth the risk

Projected Round - 5th round

20. Jammie Kirlew, Indiana Hoosiers

Why He Belongs Here: durable and experienced, great worker, overacheiver, good natural instincts, will make plays pursuing from behind

Why He Doesn't Belong: undersized at 6'1, 260, doesn't show speed or body control to be consistent pass rusher, struggles to hold his ground against rush

Upside: Well, he has little to no upside for his future position is in question: too small for 4-3 DE, but switching to OLB doesn't seem like it will work out either.  But he's a great character guy and that may make him drafted.

Projected Round - 5th-6th round

21. Doug Worthington, Ohio State Buckeyes

Summary - He has good size, but his low production and DUI arrest make him a risk to draft

Projected Round - 6th round

22. John Fletcher, Wyoming Cowboys

Summary -  He has great production at Wyoming (22 sacks in three years), has great size at 6'6, 270, runs well for his size, and projects well as a 4-3 defensive end

Projected Round - 6th round

23. Clifton Geathers, South Carolina Gamecocks

Summary -  He's a monster at 6'7, 299, but he has some character issues (suspended for season opener) and his lack of athleticism and explosiveness will make it an uphill battle for him to be an effective pass rusher.... and he'sa  3-4 DE

Projected Round - 6th round

24. Auston English, Oklahoma Sooners

Summary - He has shown promise and some production when healthy, but he is almost never healthy and would be a huge risk

Projected Round - 6th-7th round

25. Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, Washington Huskies

Summary - Is his last name made up?  But his good production and lack of upside in his skills are why he's predicted so late.

7th round prospects

26. Ugo Chinasa, Oklahoma State Cowboys - He has a lot of athleticism and talent, but his production has not shown it; plus he's got great size at 6'6, 260

27. Kevin Basped, Nevada Wolfpack - The explosive pass rusher is very raw against the run and had knee surgery early in career

28. Brandon Sharp, Texas Tech Red Raiders - Sharpe's size at 6'1, 252 will keep him from being a starter in NFL; he's an overacheiver and put up great stats at TTU

29. Alex Daniels, Cincinnati Bearcats - Undersized at 6'1, 289, Daniels has good speed and may become a pass rushing specialist

30. George Johnson, Rutgers Scarlet Knights - Johnson has a good combination of speed and size at 6'4, 275

Undrafted Possibilities

31. Lawrence Wilson, Ohio State Buckeyes - This 6'4 274 defensive end has a lot of potential, but because of injuries he barely played in college

32. Erik Lorig, Stanford Cardinals -Lack of speed and athleticism could prevent Lorig from being an effective NFLer, but his high motor, consistent effort, and strong tackling beg to differ; he's a 3-4 DE strictly though

33. EJ Wilson, North Carolina Tar Heels - Wilson lacks any pass rushing ability but is very effective against the run

34. Greg Middleton, Indiana Hoosiers - He has decent skills, but his inconsistent effort and discipline issues will keep him undrafted

35. Will Tukuafu, Oregon Ducks - Undersized for a 4-3 DE, Tukuafu had great stats in 2008 (7.5 sacks) but in 2009 he dissapointed with just 2.5 sacks

36. Frank Zombo, Central Michigan Chippewas - He's got good size at 6'4, 269, but his speed is not elite and he struggled mightily as a senior

37. Marcus Tillman, Ole Miss Rebels - He has potential to be a left end in the NFL, but nothing special jumps out about him

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