Defensive Ends

Class Review: This class is overrated and it would seem that many players are moving up because there is not much room to move down. The only true stars are Julius Peppers and Dwight Freeney. Others like Charles Grant, Bryan Thomas (UAB), and Dennis Johnson (Kentucky) are getting first round grades, but play more like second round talent. Kalimba Edwards (South Carolina) is a playmaker, but there are concerns about him. These six make up the top of the class. Behind them are Alex Brown, Ryan Denney (BYU), Will Overstreet, and Michael Josiah (Louisville) as the best of the bunch. There are decent third-tier prospects that will probably be selected in the Top 100 this draft. There is a drop-off after that. The second day of the draft should be dotted with several undersized prospects getting nabbed. Of them, Greg White (Minnesota), Greg Scott (Hampton), Raheem Brock (Temple), Jarvis Green (LSU), and Carlos Hall (Arkansas) are probably the best of the bunch. Brett Keisel (BYU), Kenyon Coleman (UCLA), and Anton Palepoi (UNLV) have size and should all be selected at some point before the sixth round. This class has potential for some latter round surprises, but overall is marginal. It is thick with athleticism and speed, thin with talent and consistency.



FIRST ROUND


Julius Peppers
(6'6" 283) North Carolina (4.7)

Peppers is a superb athlete that struggled at times during his senior year. There were some games that he was little of a factor, and then there were games that he was a monster in. This only cropped up this past year, as he was very consistent as a freshman and sophomore. He can be a very dominating pass rusher that can be a load for any pass protector. Peppers may need some time to adjust to the NFL much like Courtney Brown did. Peppers will most likely play left end in the NFL which should allow him to use his skills against less effective pass protectors. Peppers is strong and can make plays against the run, although he's not a great run stopper. Peppers is probably not as consistent as you'd like in a potential #1 pick, but he has just as much upside as anybody in this draft, if not more.

Dwight Freeney
(6'1" 268) Syracuse (4.5)

Freeney is a tweener. He is a good athlete that should be able to adjust to the linebacker spot if asked to play, but would probably struggle there in a 4-3 defense. He projects best as an undersized pass rusher. Freeney may need a year or two to adjust to the league much like Mike Rucker did in Carolina. Rucker is now a solid starter for the Panthers. And Freeney is a much better player than Rucker. He needs to develop more moves since he does not have great strength to battle blockers. But he has surprising strength for a player his size. He has excellent burst and edge speed. Has a wealth of talent, but limitations are evident.


SECOND ROUND


Charles Grant
(6'3" 278) Georgia (4.65)

Grant has shot up boards by bulking up 10 pounds since the end of the season and having good post-season workouts. I'm not too sure if that extra ten pounds is pure muscle, since he'll need it. He has good edge speed, but if he doesn't beat the tackle initially, he won't ever. He lacked size and strength and will need some time to develop more as a pass rusher. Has good upside, but I don't think ten pounds of muscle makes him significantly much better than he was at the end of the season. Looked like a late second rounder at best then.


THIRD ROUND


Will Overstreet
(6'3" 260) Tennessee (4.65)

Is a good upfield pass rusher with great explosition and speed off the line of scrimmage. Can get around the edge well. Unfortunately, can't do much else other than that. Is not strong and will be easily manhandled by most NFL linemen. Could project to an outside linebacker in the 3-4 system. Otherwise he is just a situational pass rusher that needs to bulk and get stronger. Has upside as a pass rusher, but I don't think he'll be able to keep his speed if he bulks up too much. A classic tweener candidate that is too talented as a pass rusher to not go on the first day of the draft.

Alex Brown
(6'3" 251) Florida (4.85)

Despite poor 40 time, Brown is a nice edge pass rusher. Brown's biggest concern is his lack of hustle and his suspect work ethic. But one positive is that Brown is aware of this vice, so hopefully he works harder. Has good strength, but doesn't use it very well. Has the strength to hold the point of attack, but struggles to get free of blockers once they get their hands on him. Nice first step, but his running speed is not that great. That's why I don't think Brown would be a good candidate at linebacker in a 3-4 defense. Excellent athlete, but Brown is not as special as the college hype made him out to be. Talent is definitely there, but Brown was too inconsistent in college. Based off upside, then he could land late in the second round.


FOURTH ROUND


Aaron Kampman
(6'4" 285) Iowa (4.75)

Kampman is the prototype for a 3-4 defensive end. Has excellent strength and plays the run well because he holds point of attack well. Has nice speed that he can use to get upfield, but prefers to power his way to the pocket. Has a nice motor. Won't be much of a pass rushing threat in the NFL, but capable of being decent in that area. Should have an impact similar to Kenny Mixon. In 4-3 defenses, he will play left end on first and second down, and then move inside to defensive tackle on third downs. An excellent player that won't put up big numbers in the pros, but will be a welcome addition to almost any defense.


FIFTH ROUND


Nick Rogers
(6'2" 250) Georgia Tech (4.65)

Rogers has good upfield speed and quickness. Has nice strength, but needs to get stronger in order to play upfront in the NFL. Struggles at point of attack. Some see him as an outside linebacker, which is warranted, but I believe he could be a defensive end. Probably won't be a starter. Is athletic enough to make transition to linebacker, but will need some time to develop. I liken him similarly to Marcus Washington of a few years ago, except Roger has never played linebacker while Washington spent most his college career there.


SIXTH ROUND


Rocky Bernard
(6'3" 294) Texas A&M (4.95)

Bernard is another 3-4-type defensive end. He has good size and strength, matched with nice edge speed for a player his size. But despite size, he doesn't project well to a defensive tackle in the 4-3. He doesn't play that well at point of attack despite superior strength and size. He should get better, but never will be a great run stopper. He's nothing special, just has upside. I see him more as a rotational player rather than NFL starter. Best in 3-4 scheme rather than as end in the 4-3.

Marcus Roberson
(6'3" 275) Washington (5.0)

Roberson is a stong defensive end prospect that could move inside to defensive tackle. But he probably does not have enough size to make that move. Has some edge speed, but won't ever be much of a pass-rushing threat. Rather bull rushes using power to beat blockers. Has some upside, but his shoulder injury may keep from being drafted. He should be a good rotational player in the NFL. Could be a late-round find in the mold of Renaldo Wynn.


UNDRAFTED


Kevin DeRonde
(6'5" 263) Iowa State (4.85)

DeRonde plays like a left end stuck in a right end's body. He has a decent frame for bulking up. Has good strength and is better at point of attack than most players his size. Lacks edge speed and pass rushing skills, but has a nice motor. He's a nice project, that I would like to add 10-15 pounds of muscle so he can play the left end position. I like DeRonde's potential as a rotational player, but nothing more.

Chad McCarty
(6'2" 254) Texas Christian (4.95)

McCarty projects as a possible situational pass rusher in the NFL. Plays quicker than his 40 time, but not much quicker. Needs to get stronger and faster, which translates to slim chances to none of having a successful NFL career. But with hard work, he may be able to impress a team enough.

Sean Guthrie
(6'4" 269) Boston College (4.9)

Guthrie plays bigger than he is. He is not a pass rusher, but rather a run stopper. Needs to add a little more weight, and he may have a shot as a run-stuffing left end in the pros. Pretty good strength and average speed. He's a project that lacks upside.


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