This years crop of Defensive Ends is dominated by underclassmen at the top. Four of my top 5 decided to skip their senior seasons after impressive 2009 campaigns and make themselves eligible for the 2010 NFL Draft. Key word to describe this group is potential and several of them should have better pro than college careers.
Here are my top 15 Defensive Ends entering the Draft:
1: Derrick Morgan*, Georgia Tech
Pros: Highly productive DE with a prototypical build and skill set for the position. Morgan is a very disciplined End who is rarely caught out of position in the run game. Has a very good first step and good explosion off the snap but does a good job of recognising the run and closing his gap back up. Has the strength to hold the line and disengage from blockers. Is a very solid tackler who always keeps his head up looking for the football. When rushing the passer he has the ability to beat the tackle with speed as well as strength. Does a good job utilizing a variety of pass rushing moves. Has a pretty good spin move. Has the speed to close down the Qb when flushed out of the pocket. has a very good motor and keeps hustling down the field. Great production at GT. Hasnt missed a start in his college career.
Cons: Struggles at times with proper technique as he gets tired. Is a bit inconsistent in his get off from the line. Seems to have some problems with balance at times which causes him to fall to the ground in pursuit and when trying to run the arch or chasing down ballcarriers. Has disappeared at times when facing tougher competition.
2: Brandon Graham, Michigan
Pros: Highly productive and decorated End. Is a very good run defender who relies on his strong punch and explosive first step to make stops in the backfield. Has a very good motor and will keep hustling down field to make tackles. Is very alert and doesn’t get to aggressive and over run plays. Breaks down well in space and has very good COD and balance for a lineman. Does a very good job getting after the passer by running the arch around Tackles and has a very good spin move. When the coverage is there, he will get to the QB because of his relentless pressure. Was a leader at Michigan and the only two time MVP.
Cons: Lacks the size and wingspan of your even average DE. Might have to move to 3-4 OLB a position were he doesn’t have much experience. Relies too much on his speed when rushing the passer. Needs to do a better job with proper technique. Hasnt been that impressive in coverage despite dropping back at fair bit, something he would have to learn at 3-4 OLB.
3: Jason Pierre-Paul*, South Florida
Pros: Has the elite measurables you look for in a top Defensive end. Has a very long reach that allows him to get his hands on tackles to redirect and make stops in the run game. He is also very good at using his length to take away running lanes. Has a very good first step and good explosion out of his stance. Once he is past the tackle he uses his long stride and high motor to flush the QB. Has a good swim move to get inside. Does a very good job of letting his long body get into passing lanes and stop passes.
Cons: Isnt sound enough technique wise to get off good blockers when engaged. Lunges too much when making tackles. Isnt really flexible and looks uncoordinated when on the chase. Can struggle with COD. Hasnt played much football and has never been with a team for more than a year.
4: Carlos Dunlap*, Florida
Pros: Big defensive lineman with rare athleticism. From a physical standpoint, Dunlap offers everything you want in a dominant Defensive End. Has excellent strength to hold his own in the run game and has the ability to disengage with his long strong arms. Has very good lateral quickness and can use his long wing span to close running lanes.
Has a good first step and he’s the ability to beat the tackle around the edge as well as inside with strength. Does a good job of getting his hands up in the passing lanes to deflect passes. Gets up to speed fast and can really get after the QB out of the pocket. Tends to show up in big games.
Cons: Inconsistent effort and motor. Gives up on plays when it’s out of reach and rarely hustles down field. Doesnt fight off double teams and has been a poor run defender despite his physical stature. Gets lazy in technique and leverage which causes him to lose a lot of 1-1 battles with strong and technically sound linemen. Has some character issues, among them is a DUI 4 days before the Sec championship.
5: Everson Griffen*, USC
Pros: Another gifted athlete with all the physical makeups. Has an elite first step with great explosion. Does a very good job when the run goes outside were he can use his speed and lateral quickness in space, but also appears to have the size to play the run when engaged. Breaks down well and is a pretty solid tackler. Has a wide variety off passrushing moves, but is at his best when he can use his speed around the edge and run the arch.
Can most likely play in both the 4-3 and 3-4.
Cons: Gets pushed back way to easily in the run game and seems uninterested in doing the “dirty work”. Is extremely inconsistent in everything he does from getting off the snap to holding off blockers. Can flat out dominate one moment and be taken out of the game without much effort the next. Has always been a great athlete, but apparently his work ethic doesn’t match. Was benched last year mid-season. Has character issues galore after several off-the field incidents.
6. Corey Wootton Northwestern
7. Austen Lane Murray State
8. Alex Carrington Arkansas State
9. Greg Hardy Ole Miss
10. Jermaine Cunningham Florida
11. Brandon Lang Troy
12. Kevin Basped Nevada
13. Clifton Geathers South Carolina
14. Lindsay Witten Connecticut
15. Daniel Te’o-Nesheim Washington