Georgia Tech Junior
PROS: Has a dangerous first step and the ability to turn the corner off the edge as a pass rusher. He's a good athlete that has experience working in coverage and playing with his hand off the ground. Gets upfield and able to get leverage versus the run and can press the line of scrimmage to force a runner to change direction. Shows ability to stack and shed blockers. Has good short-area burst and a capable bull rusher. Has a nice swim move and has a developing spin move, along with a nice inside counter move. Breaks down well in the backfield. Does a good job on the backside pursuit and has closing burst on the ball. Has a good motor.
CONS: Will get pushed back at the point of attack and doesn't have the ability to hold it. Needs to get off blocks better and improve hand use. Needs to play with better recognition vs. the run at times. Will take some false steps at times when trying to turn the corner, making him a less effective edge rusher. Not natural when playing with his hand off the ground, and lacks the instincts and natural feel to play in space.
OVERVIEW: Morgan has elite potential as a pass rusher. He has the size, athleticism, and burst to be an impact pass rusher and one of the premier ends in the league. He didn't play too well in the bowl game vs. Iowa, where he looked kind of heavy and lacked flexibility.
NFL FORECAST: I'm not sure how heavy Morgan was vs. Iowa, but he looked to be around 285 pounds or so. And I think he's a guy that his ideal weight will be in the 275-280 pound range. I'm sure teams will bulk him up in order to make him like Mario Williams and Julius Peppers, but that's not really his game. His game is more like Michael Strahan. Morgan needs more polish, but he should be able to contribute right away as a starter in the NFL. Although 3-4 teams might be interested in him as either an end or an outside linebacker, he really wouldn't fit in that scheme. He's athletic enough to play outside linebacker, but he doesn't have the high upside to excel there. And he could eventually develop into a capable five-technique defensive end, again he wouldn't excel there. So his best scheme is working as a left end in a 4-3. I'm not worried about Morgan being a bust. There's nothing about his game to make me think he won't be a solid pro. The question really is going to be how good a pro he can be. If he's handled right, then he can be a feared pass rusher. If not, then at the very least he'll be a good starter on a comparable level with Will Smith. But I think the best way to handle him will not be asking him to bulk up and be this 290-pound demon. That will only slow him down. He's already a strong player and he doesn't need to be huge in order to be most effective.
ATL FORECAST: Morgan would be a dream come true for the Falcons. He could immediately fill in as the starting left end and be an every down player. He's not the most polished run stopper or pass rusher, but the team would be hard-pressed to keep him on the sideline. While I wouldn't predict him to have a monster rookie year for the Falcons, probably 4-6 sacks, he would be effective. He'd be the guy that can in the short-term play across from Abraham, and elevate each other's games. And then a few years down the line, he'd be able to supplant Abe as the team's top pass rusher. He would have a very long career here in Atlanta like the last former Yellow Jacket the Falcons used a high pick on.
VALUE: Morgan is a definite Top 10 pick. For a team looking for a pass rusher with elite potential, there would be no problem taking him in the Top 5.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
PASS RUSH: 4.5
POINT OF ATTACK: 3.0
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.