DE's to keep an eye on!

Even with the signing of 34 year old James Hall, who I think does well under coach Spags, we are in need of a young DE in the worst way. I know everyone has their own personal opinion about team needs, but this is one that I feel we need to address early in this draft. I know I sound like a broken record, but I will present it like this....should Chris Long go down with an injury, what do we do for a pass rush??? With that said let's look at some guys that the Rams should have an eye on during the Draft:

Carlos Dunlap is a top 10 talent, when he isn't passing out behind the wheel at a stop light drunker than hell. The guy has the ultimate tool set for the position and coach Charlie Strong truly placed him in a position to succeed. The guy should not fall out of the 1st round, but with questions about his maturity, work ethic, and intelligence, he has been falling down mock drafts. Personally, this is wishful thinking, but at 33 he would be a steal.

"2007: (13/0) 7 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack, 1 FF, 1 INT. 2008: (14/2) 39 tackles, 13.5 TFL, 9.5 sacks, 1 FF, 1 FR, 3 INTs; Named the Defensive MVP of the BCS National Championship Game." Has blocked four kicks during his career at UF. Work ethic and effort in practice have improved over the past three years but he still needs to mature and become a more consistent player. Recent DUI arrest (12/1/09) adds to character and maturity concerns.

Dunlap is a big body that could fit as an end in 4-3 or 3-4 defensive schemes. He is a better run stopper than pass rusher but has flashed ability to be effective collapsing the pocket coming off the edge. Dunlap has been inconsistent with his footwork and technique as a run defender but has natural power and length to be excellent in this phase of the game at the next level. He bats lots of balls with good awareness of throwing lanes versus the pass and has also blocked several kicks over his career on special teams. Dunlap appears to be a highly regarded 4-3 right defensive end but there will be concerns over his character and consistent effort in the 2010 draft.

Corey Wooton, a 6'6 270 lb DE is another one of those prototypical bodies to play at the next level. "2005: (3/2) 3 tackles; medical hardship year. 2006: (12/11) 51 tackles, 9 TFL, 4.5 sacks, 2 INT, 1 PBU, 1 FR, 1 FF. 2007: (12/12) 39 tackles, 7 TFL, 1 sack, 1 INT, 5 PBU, 1 blocked kick. 2008: (13/13) 42 tackles, 16 TFL, 10 sacks, 1 INT, 2 PBU, 1 FR, 1 FF, 1 blocked kick; First team All-Big Ten selection."

Corey is an outstanding combination of size and strength for the position. His production is down from previous seasons and much of that can be attributed to a knee injury sustained in the Alamo Bowl at the end of last season. He is a decent athlete but not an explosive player off the edge. His lateral agility and change of direction hinders his playmaking ability in space. Corey does defend the run well and can anchor effectively to hold the point. He utilizes quick hands and long arms to control blockers but needs to expand his pass rush package to be effective at the next level. Wootton's measurables, instincts and toughness makes him an interesting prospect for most defensive fronts. He wasn't nearly as effective as previous seasons and knee concerns will be closely scrutinized going into the 2010 Draft.

At 33 I might be hesitant to pull the trigger, especially with needed work in the pass rush. Yet, if we start moving down on day two while adding additional picks, I may be singing a different tune. I think come 3rd round this might be a better place to seriously consider the pick. I would also like to have that knee thoroughly examined.

Greg Hardy, a 6'4 281 lb DE, when healthy looked like a true product to shoot up draft boards. However, injuries and a questionable motor has him positioned 2 rounds later than where he was pegged before the year started. "2006: (12/9) 49 tackles, 5 TFL, 3 sacks; also appeared in 15 games (one start) for the Rebels basketball team during the 2006-07 season. 2007: (10/4) 63 tackles, 18 TFL, 10 sacks. 2008: (9/5) 18 tackles, 9.5 TFL, 8.5 sacks." Outstanding combination of size and agility. Instinctive pass rusher. Good anticipation skills and does a great job of setting OTs up with double moves. Really keeps OL off-balance. Good closing burst to the QB. Effective speed to power moves. Uses long arms to keep blockers off his frame. The only knock here is that Hardy lacks elite first-step quickness, although tape from 2006 and 2007 shows a quicker first step than 2008 film when Hardy was battling a lingering foot injury.

Greg is an excellent combination of size and athleticism. He has the ability to defend the run effectively when he keeps his pads down and gives effort but is inconsistent in this area. Greg is a solid reactor that finds the ball quickly and maintains leverage on the edge. He has good range when he decides to play hard but his motor doesn't always run hard. Hardy doesn't appear to have enough athleticism or versatility to contribute as a stand up defender but is talented and could be an excellent starter as a 4-3 defensive end. Durability, toughness and consistent effort are concerns.

I couldn't see us using anything earlier than a 3rd rounder here. Although, I would rather that we take the chance on seeing him make it past the 3rd round and considering him with maybe our 4th.

George Selvie, is a 6'4 252 lb athletic DE. This year Selvie faced double teams and complex protection schemes and when you see his numbers you will understand why. "2005: Redshirted. 2006: (13/13) 84 tackles, 16 TFL, 5.5 sacks, 1 PBU, 4 FF, 2 FR. 2007: (13/13) 59 tackles, 31.5 TFL, 14.5 sacks, 3 FF; Consensus First-team All-American and BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year. 2008: (12/11) 43 tackles, 13.5 TFL, 5.5 sacks, 5 PBU, 1 FF, 2 FR; First-team All-BIG EAST selection." Leader who loves the game. Father served in the military during George's childhood. Won 2005 USF Overachiever Award for his outstanding work in the strength and conditioning program. Good-but-not elite athletic ability. Doesn't appear as fluid in space in brief looks at him dropping into coverage and we have concerns about his ability to move to outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. At this point his best fit is clearly at defensive end in a base 4-3 scheme.

George has been the Bulls' most productive defender over the past four seasons. He's quick off the edge and has shown bursts of speed to close in on the football. He is a disruptive player who can penetrate the line of scrimmage as a run defender and pressure the quarterback. George can bend and close to the passer with great agility and balance and pursue from the backside to chase ball carriers. He possesses deceptive strength to collapse the pocket off the edge but is inconsistent holding the point vs. the run. George uses his hands well to leverage blockers and separate to the ball. His instincts, athleticism and motor make him and undersized end that should contribute as a pass rusher and on coverage units (special teams) as a rookie.

Another one of those 3rd to 5th round guys depending on how teams evaluate that head injury he had as a child and the weight he carries as a DE. Personally, I would love to have this kid on the team. Everything I read about his personality makes me think this is a great kid to have on the team and that he will push himself to improve and will be a great locker room presence.

CJ Wilson, is a big 6'3 290 lb DE. He is a beast that gets after it. Check out these stats: "2005: Enrolled at ECU in the fall but officially joined the Pirate football program after the spring semester (2006) after completing NCAA eligibility requirements. 2006: (13/7) 29 tackles, 6 TFL, 4 sacks. 2007: (13/9) 36 tackles, 10.5 TFL, 7 sacks, 1 FF, 1 blocked FGA, 1 blocked PAT; Second-team All-Conference USA. 2008: (14/14) 70 tackles, 18.5 TFL, 10.5 sacks, 1 PBU, 1 FF, 1 blocked FGA; First-team All-Conference USA." Relentless, has above-average upper body strength and uses arms to keep blockers at bay. Can get under the offensive tackle's pads and collapse the pocket. Can deliver big hits when he gets to the quarterback. Smooth looping around defensive tackle on line stunts. Flashes effective rip move and the ability to spin back inside after starting outside, but relies on bull rush a little too much at this point. While he has adequate initial quickness and does an adequate job of bending inside he is not explosive enough to consistently turn the corner at the NFL level and lacks ideal closing speed. Can get caught out of rushing lane.

Wilson has been a durable active defender for the Pirates over the past two seasons. He has good edge quickness and speed to close to the quarterback as a pass rusher. He is an instinctive player who feels pad pressure well to maintain his gap responsibility. Questions remain about his ability to be an effective coverage defender on zone blitzes or if he can project to outside linebacker due to his lack of great lateral agility and quickness. Wilson should be able to give a team good depth with his natural strength, toughness and intangibles as a 4-3 defensive end.

I would love to add this big boy to Coach Spags arsenal of different defensive 4 fronts. I would think of him as a good value guy at either one of the 5th round spots and even the 6th round if he is there.

A few more names to keep in the back of your mind for those later rounds:

Brandon Sharp

E.J. Wilson

Roderick Battle

Alex Daniels

Austin English- prob a better fit at OLB in a 3-4.