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 Post subject: Underclassmen at top of DE class
PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 2010 4:01 pm 
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Four DEs could be first-round selections

Wednesday, January 13, 2010 | Print Entry

Posted by Todd McShay
My colleague Kevin Weidl wrote on Monday about the strength of the defensive tackle class, saying it is perhaps the top position in the 2010 draft. As the deadline for underclassmen to enter the draft approaches, however, the defensive ends are closing the gap.

In recent weeks we've seen four underclass defensive ends declare who could be first-round picks in April, including big names with complete games and others with a lot of talent but room to improve.

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Carlos Dunlap

Rick Dole/Getty Images

Carlos Dunlap has all the makings of a first-rounder despite off-the-field issues.
Georgia Tech's Derrick Morgan is the most complete prospect of the group, a player with speed off the edge and the size and strength to hold the edge against the run who could be a top-10 pick. Florida's Carlos Dunlap comes with some red flags because of a recent DUI arrest and questions about his work ethic and maturity, but he is a physical specimen at 6-foot-5¾ and 293 pounds.

Jason Pierre-Paul of South Florida is next on the list, and while he is still a bit raw after playing only one year at the FBS level he was very productive this season and flashes impressive pass rushing skills. Finally there's Everson Griffen of USC, who needs to polish his technique and recognition skills but is a stout 6-3, 272-pounder who can rush the passer and hold his ground at the point of attack against the run.

There is also an interesting pair of underclass ends in the class who project as outside linebackers in 3-4 schemes. Virginia Tech's Jason Worilds and Ohio State's Thaddeus Gibson are effective pass rushers but lack the size to play as traditional 4-3 ends, so look for them to become rush linebackers at the next level.

Keep in mind that the underclassmen above supplement a senior class that includes players like Texas' Sergio Kindle, Clemson's Ricky Sapp, Mississippi's Greg Hardy and Michigan's Brandon Graham, all of whom should be off the board by the end of the second round.

That makes 10 ends/outside linebackers who could be first or second-rounders in addition to eight defensive tackles with first or second-round grades, meaning we could see more than a quarter of the picks in the first two rounds come from the defensive line group. That's impressive.

• The more we evaluate the underclass entries the more interesting the wide receiver class becomes. Oklahoma State's Dez Bryant is the superstar of the group and there is clearly a drop-off after him, one so steep that you an argument could be made that no other receiver belongs in the first round. However, there is good depth in the second- and third-round areas and that group includes something for everyone.

The best values look to be former Syracuse wideout Mike Williams and Dezmon Briscoe of Kansas, both of whom could still be on the board in the third round. Williams comes with plenty of baggage after dealing with academic issues and, most alarmingly, quitting the team this past season. After watching the tape, though, we think he might be the second-most talented player in the class. A team with a strong wide receivers coach and plenty of locker room leadership could find itself a difference maker if it can keep Williams focused and channel his energy into football.

As for Briscoe, he's not going to win any tough guy awards with his tendency to develop alligator arms when he sees hits coming. He is much more comfortable on the perimeter, and because he is a smooth athlete with good size (6-2½, 205) he could become a very good No. 2 receiver who can stretch the field and make plays after the catch.

• We've also been impressed with a pair of junior cornerbacks out of the Big Ten, which was a bit of a surprise considering the league has been beaten up recently for its lack of skilled athletes.

Michigan's Donovan Warren surprised us when he came out but after film evaluation we're a little higher on him than before. Michigan played a lot of off coverage and Warren gave receivers plenty of cushion, but we like what we see in terms reading the quarterback and explosion when breaking on the ball. He also shows adequate speed when turning and running and he is a physical player who makes hits after the catch and is tough in run support.

We still think Warren should have gone back to school to develop his technique -- he is high in his backpedal and struggles to change direction when coming out of his pedal -- but he has all the tools to develop into a good starter at the next level.

The question for Iowa's Amari Spievey is whether he has the top-end speed to stick with faster wideouts down the field, but as far as instincts, tackling, run support and short-area quickness are concerned Spievey looks like a player who could contribute early. At worst he should become a very good nickel corner and in the right system he could become a solid starter down the road.

Neither Spievey or Warren looks like a first-rounder at this point, but if we were drafting for a team with needs at corner we would have a hard time passing on either player in the mid-to-late second round.

Around the Nation

• Nebraska DE Ndamukong Suh (Scouts Inc.-rated No. 2) is a certain top-five pick but isn't taking anything for granted. The future comes first, Suh told the Omaha World-News.

"It’s been business ever since after the bowl game for me," said Suh when asked if it turns to all business after the Outland Trophy banquet on Thursday night. "It’s really been conducted that way. That’s just the way it’s kind of been since I left the field and got home.

"Things take priority over certain things. I don’t want to miss something, but in some aspects I have to. I have to get my training in."

• With the threat of labor unrest in 2011 and the possibility of injury as a senior, LSU S Chad Jones will enter the NFL Draft.

"No one knows what the future is with the NFL's collective bargaining agreement,” Jones' father, Al Jones, told the Shreveport Times. "Everything is uncertain. Based on the people we’ve talked to, 2011 is not going to be a smooth year.

"Plus there’s the possibility of injury. Look at Colt McCoy. And Chad is ready to do it. I told him the best time to do something is when you want to do it.”

• According to a list published by The Sporting News on Tuesday, 55 of Scouts Inc.'s top 100 players have been invited to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis in February. The Sporting News reports some underclassmen and more seniors could still be invited. The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft is Friday, Jan. 15.

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 Post subject: Re: Underclassmen at top of DE class
PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 2010 5:37 pm 
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Quote:
There is also an interesting pair of underclass ends in the class who project as outside linebackers in 3-4 schemes. Virginia Tech's Jason Worilds and Ohio State's Thaddeus Gibson are effective pass rushers but lack the size to play as traditional 4-3 ends, so look for them to become rush linebackers at the next level.


Nice opportunity for those two with all the 34 teams looking for these types.

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 Post subject: Re: Underclassmen at top of DE class
PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 2010 7:26 pm 
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It just seems the majority of def ends have to convert to linebacker coming out of college which is why so many teams have moved to the 3-4 defense.I certainly don't want to use a 1st rounder on a questionable player even if he plays a must need position the Falcon's are looking for.Jean Pierre I doubt TD takes a chance on him to many questions,Dunlap to up and down a player. Going to be interesting to see what the Falcon's do to upgrade the def end spot.

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 Post subject: Re: Underclassmen at top of DE class
PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 2010 8:31 pm 
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thescout wrote:
It just seems the majority of def ends have to convert to linebacker coming out of college which is why so many teams have moved to the 3-4 defense.I certainly don't want to use a 1st rounder on a questionable player even if he plays a must need position the Falcon's are looking for.Jean Pierre I doubt TD takes a chance on him to many questions,Dunlap to up and down a player. Going to be interesting to see what the Falcon's do to upgrade the def end spot.


Pierre won't be there when we pick. I think we need to get another project to go with SID, let ABE play one more year being Sid's professor, and pick up someone to provide starter type depth in free agency.

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 Post subject: Re: Underclassmen at top of DE class
PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 2010 9:06 pm 
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I don't think there are too many questions on JPP. I think it's pretty much the same questions you would have for any prospect. I think it's just two:

1. What kind of football character does he have (i.e. is he coachable)?
2. How much confidence do you have in your coaching staff (that means you Sugar Bear) to coach him up?

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 Post subject: Re: Underclassmen at top of DE class
PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 2010 11:10 pm 
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Pudge wrote:
I don't think there are too many questions on JPP. I think it's pretty much the same questions you would have for any prospect. I think it's just two:

1. What kind of football character does he have (i.e. is he coachable)?
2. How much confidence do you have in your coaching staff (that means you Sugar Bear) to coach him up?


Pudge, there is that little fact that TD seems to draft players who have produced well in college. JPP hasn't done that he is just potential mostly. My money is on if he is available to the Falcon's I'd pass on him. Now if all things are equal among other possibilities he could be the Falcon's pick but I wouldn't bet the house on it. We need someone with more potential than Sid or Biermann. Also consider he probably won't be available at the Falc's pick (JPP).
I'm interested to see how TD approaches this situation.There isn't much in free agency so I hope we can add a vet to get us by one more year until the next off season.

The def end class seems to be among the weakest for 4-3 ends at all positions.Selecting the BPA to fill a need I don't think def end is the way to go at the Falcon's pick.

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 Post subject: Re: Underclassmen at top of DE class
PostPosted: Fri Jan 15, 2010 2:53 am 
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I hope that we trade down this time. There's going to be so much talent in this draft, we need to get our hands on a 2nd round pick.


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 Post subject: Re: Underclassmen at top of DE class
PostPosted: Fri Jan 22, 2010 5:59 pm 
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http://espn.go.com/blog/boston/new-engl ... h-for-pats

By Mike ReissEach week leading up to April’s NFL Draft, New England native Steve Muench of ESPN’s Scouts Inc., will identify a player he thinks could be a good fit for the Patriots.

While plenty of attention will be given to the team’s top selection, 22nd overall, the plan is to also look deeper. Along those lines, Steve highlights a possible second-round target today as the Patriots have three second-round picks – Virginia Tech defensive end Jason Worilds:

“He won’t stay at defensive end. He’s listed as 262 pounds but I don’t think he’ll weigh in close to that. He looks much lighter on film so he’s going to move to outside linebacker and I think he’s the perfect fit for a 3-4 team like the Patriots.

“When you are moving a defensive end to outside linebacker, one of the biggest concerns you have is how well the player will hold up in coverage. We already know Worilds can hold up in coverage because Virginia Tech frequently dropped him into underneath coverage. He looks very fluid for his size and very comfortable. If you look at the Miami/Virginia Tech film, it shows you he is more than capable than making that switch to outside linebacker.

“He doesn’t defend the run very well at defensive end because of his size. He gets engulfed, has a hard time locating the ball, and has a hard time getting off offensive tackle blocks. But he has the upper-body strength, the quick hands, and the toughness to set the edge working against tight ends when he lines up at outside linebacker. So he would be much tougher against the run at outside linebacker.

“He is not the most explosive pass rusher in this class, but he is one of the most versatile. It’s almost cliché now to say a guy is relentless, but this guy is truly relentless. Just watching that Miami game, they would use a back to try to help the offensive tackle. You saw him fighting through the tackle and back, just non-stop. He’s the same way in pursuit against the run. He never stops working when he’s on the field.

“The biggest concern teams might have with him is health. He’s had multiple shoulder surgeries. In 2008, the shoulder was popping in and out of the socket during games. So I think the combine is going to be a very big deal for him in terms of how he checks out physically. I think if he didn’t have the shoulder problems, he’d be a lock to go in the early second round. I think it will cause him to slip a bit, but as long as he checks out at the combine, I think he’ll be in the second round and is the type of player who can help a 3-4 team looking for an outside linebacker.”

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