PROS: Shows a nice first step that can challenge the edge. Shows ability to bull rush off the edge. Has a nice motor and keeps working. Before injury, showed ability to drop into coverage and able to make plays in space. Showed good recognition and ability to play contain on the edge in the past.
CONS: Struggles to disengage from blocks. Needs to improve his hand use and technique, as he tend to lower shoulder to absorb block. After injury, lacked short-area burst to close on the quarterback and the edge speed to turn the corner.
OVERVIEW: Wootton was on the verge of being a high draft pick because a torn ACL he suffered in last year's bowl game. He came back and played in every game, but really didn't start producing until end of October. Finished year with 6 tackles for loss and 4 sacks, after having 16 and 10 as a junior.
NFL FORECAST: From his performance in the 2009 Alamo Bowl, I had graded Wootton as a potential Top 20 pick when he chose to come out. But in watching him this past year, I didn't see the same player. Frankly, from what little I saw I would have graded him as a late round pick. Pre-injury I would have compared him to Mathias Kiwanuka. After it, Jamaal Anderson. So the critical issue with determining his NFL success was is the injury going to have a permanent effect on his game? I can't answer that. I've seen where guys like Philip Daniels and Robaire Smith recently came back from ACL tears, but there doesn't seem a lot of precedent of young defensive linemen in their primes suffering the injury. So I'm not sure if the declines in play of guys like Daniels and Smith had directly to do with the knee or just old age. But let's assume he can come back somewhat from it. And if he winds up only being 80-90% of the player he appeared to be at the end of 2008, then he'll be a good pro. I think even without the injury concern, it would probably take him some time to develop at the next level. Despite good athleticism, he doesn't have great technique. So he is probably two or three years away from competing regardless of the injury. Which I guess could be a blessing in disguise because he can get healthy while he develops. At this point, I would expect him to be a solid starter for a team that has the potential to be a good two-way end. I'm not sure he's a double-digit sack artist anymore, but definitely has the potential to get 5-8 sacks each year.
ATL FORECAST: Wootton would have a chance to stick and be an impact player in Atlanta. He could compete and push for time at left end, although again, I wouldn't expect big things from him his first two years or so. But he would be a nice rotational player that is worth developing because of his potential in a few years to be a solid two-way player. I think he would definitely be an upgrade over Jamaal Anderson, since his baseline isn't far from where Anderson is now. By his third year, I think he would start hitting his stride as a starter and be potentially a fixture for the Falcons for years to come.
VALUE: Based off the assumption that the injury isn't something major, I would be willing to go as early as a late second round pick on Wootton. But because of his potentially slow development, I'd be more comfortable targetting him in the third or fourth round.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
PASS RUSH: 3.5
POINT OF ATTACK: 3.0
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.