So Who’s It Going To Be At DE?April 26th, 2011
Go get a cold beverage and a pile of awesome wings from Mugs Grill & Bar and sit back and enjoy this 2,000+ word breakdown of defensive ends by NFL Draft guru Justin “The Commish” Pawlowski. There’s pretty damn good odds one of these guys (two?) is a Buccaneers on Thursday night. And don’t forget to tune into WDAE-AM 620 tonight at 7 p.m. for Part I of the Commish’s interview with Mark Dominik.
By JUSTIN PAWLOWSKI
1. Robert Quinn – North Carolina
6’4’’ – 265 lbs – 4.59
Why The Commish would take him: Quinn is one of the best pure pass rushers in the draft. He fits well into either a 4-3 or a 4-3 defense. Quinn has a nice large frame with long arms that help him to keep leverage against offensive tackles. Quinn has shown a very good work ethic and has no glaring character issues.
Why The Commish would stay away: Quinn was one of many North Carolina players to accept benefits from an agent in 2010, which forced him to miss the entire season. I always wonder how a player will come back after being away from football for an entire season. Quinn could stand to get stronger and use more power on the field. A benign brain tumor is also a concern for Quinn.
Commish’s Final Say: Quinn was on the verge of what could’ve been a great year in 2010 before being suspended for the entire 2010 season. Quinn is a premier pass rusher who shouldn’t fall too far past the top 10 if he falls that far.
Comparison: John Abraham – DE – Atlanta Falcons
2. Aldon Smith – Missouri
6’4’’ – 263 lbs – 4.78
Why The Commish would take him: Smith has a ton of natural pass rush ability. He’s one of the youngest players in the draft as a redshirt sophomore, so his potential has yet to be reached. He is a smooth athlete with long arms and a frame to grow even bigger. Smith also plays with some violence and will lay a big hit on a ball carrier.
Why The Commish would stay away: With Smith being so young, I am always concerned about drafting potential that high in the draft. Smith is much better against the pass than the run, which might make him a liability in the run game. He was also playing injured throughout 2010, so health might be a concern.
Commish’s Final Say: Smith is a raw pass rusher with the potential to be great. I always hesitate to take a player with this much potential, but not much experience, as high as Smith will go. He’ll fit into a 4-3 or a 3-4 defense.
Comparison: DeMarcus Ware – OLB – Dallas Cowboys
3. JJ Watt – Wisconsin
6’5’’ – 290 lbs – 4.84
Why The Commish would take him: Watt has a fantastic blend of size, speed, and athleticism. Watt is very competitive and will work as hard as he can to win. Watt stood out against top competition and rushes the passer just about as good as he plays the run.
Why The Commish would stay away: Watt lacks the elite quickness and burst I like from a pass rusher. He might be limited to being a 5-technique in a 3-4 defense, although he could play LDE in a 4-3. Watt might not have much upside to grow into.
Commish’s Final Say: Watt began his career at Central Michigan as a tight end before transferring to Wisconsin and being a walk on there. He worked his way up to a scholarship and then became one of the top defensive ends in the country. I think Watt’s best fit will be as an end in a 3-4 defense, but he’s a very intriguing prospect.
Comparison: Vonnie Holiday – Washinton Redskins
4. Cameron Jordan – Cal
6’4’’ – 287 lbs – 4.78
Why The Commish would take him: I have viewed Jordan as an under-the-radar prospect during this whole process. After Tyson Alualu was the surprise pick last year, it’s hard to ignore another top defensive lineman coming from the same school. Jordan has great bloodlines with his father playing 13 years with the Vikings, so Cameron knows the NFL game. Jordan plays with excellent technique, has natural instincts, and always has good leverage. Jordan also displays a multitude of moves to get to the quarterback.
Why The Commish would stay away: Despite his multiple moves, Jordan lacks the burst and quickness to get off the line and be an elite pass rusher. Jordan also does not play well in space, so keeping him near the line of scrimmage is important. A DUI in 2008 is also a concern in the hard nosed NFL.
Commish’s Final Say: I like Jordan a lot and think he might be one of the safer defensive ends in this draft. He is a balanced defensive end that plays with good technique and gets the job done. His best fit might be in a 3-4 defense, but I think he could be successful in a 4-3 defense as a LDE. I still like a Bucs 3-4 defense consisting of Cameron Jordan, Brian Price, and Gerald McCoy along the line on passing situations.
Comparison: Derrick Morgan – Tennessee Titans
5. Da’Quan Bowers – Clemson
6’3’’ – 280 lbs – 4.80
Why The Commish would take him: Bowers was one of the most dominant players in college football in 2010. He plays the run and pass equally, and racked up 15.5 sacks last season. His power and strength are his biggest assets. There is no doubt that Bowers would be willing to deliver a knock out hit to a ball carrier. He really matured into having an excellent work ethic after struggling with that in his first couple years at Clemson.
Why The Commish would stay away: Obviously, the major concern with Bowers is his knee. Only the teams in the NFL know the truth about his knee which might have degenerative arthritis. If the rumors are true and it could hinder his career, you will see Bowers plummet on draft day.
Commish’s Final Say: When healthy, Bowers should get consideration for the top pick in this draft. He was completely dominant throughout the 2010 season. However, his knee is a major concern and now has him as one of the biggest “boom or bust” prospects in the draft.
Comparison: Will Smith – New Orleans Saints
6. Ryan Kerrigan – Purdue
6’4’’ – 267 lbs – 4.71
Why The Commish would take him: It’s hard to argue with the productivity that Kerrian has had over the last four years. He accumulated 37.5 sacks and 55.5 tackles for a loss in those four years. Kerrigan has a great work ethic, great character, and was a tremendous leader. On a defense where he was the focal point for other offenses, Kerrigan still went on to produce and dominate. Where he lacks with elite athleticism, Kerrigan makes up for with great technique and effort.
Why The Commish would stay away: I wonder if Kerrigan can become an elite player in the NFL without elite athleticism, quickness, and speed. Kerrigan might also not have a lot of room to grow as his potential might be near to being maxed out.
Commish’s Final Say: It’s tough to dispute Kerrigan’s production over his career. He has his flaws, but you can be sure that he will work extremely hard and strive to be a leader. Kerrigan has been a popular pick by analysts to go to the Bucs and if they drafted him, I think we’d all have a smile on our face.
Comparison: Ray Edwards – Minnesota Vikings
7. Cameron Heyward – Ohio St
6’5’’ – 294 lbs – 4.95
Why The Commish would take him: It’s hard not to like the size Heyward possesses with a big frame and long arms. Heyward is extremely strong and is masterful with his bull rush. He was a big time leader for Ohio St.’s defense and displayed a will to be great. Heyward has also had a ton of valuable experience against top competition.
Why The Commish would stay away: Heyward is limited as a pass rusher as he lacks the burst and speed to get to the quarterback. Durability was also a concern last season.
Commish’s Final Say: Looking back at Heyward’s 2010 season, I think it was pretty apparent that he dealt with a nagging ankle injury for a majority of the season. When he got healthy before the Sugar Bowl, he dominated against Arkansas. He is at his best when he can use his strength to take on multiple blockers or bull rush.
Comparison: Richard Seymour – Oakland Raiders
8. Adrian Clayborn – Iowa
6’3’’ – 281 lbs – 4.83
Why The Commish would take him: I think you take Clayborn because of how well-rounded he is and how good he is in multiple areas. Clayborn has been a 3-year starter for Iowa, a captain, had a great work ethic, been productive, and has shown fantastic instincts. He has excellent technique against the run and in getting to the quarterback. Clayborn can be very good with the bull rush, but also shows many different moves to get to the quarterback.
Why The Commish would stay away: There are a few concerns with Clayborn. First, it’s been reported that he has one arm shorter than the other arm which has forced him to only play RDE in his collegiate career. It’s also been reported that he has Erb’s Palsy that some teams are concerned about. In 2010, Clayborn saw his production really fall off after a great 2009 season. I’ve heard people say that opposing offenses were keying on him, but you could say the same for Ryan Kerrigan and JJ Watt, and they were both very productive. There are also some character concerns as Adrian Clayborn was arrested for assaulting a taxicab driver.
Commish’s Final Say: There are obviously many positives and negatives with Clayborn. I do think the Bucs have a good amount interest in him and he could end up being the pick. I do think there is risk, but Clayborn does have the talent to end up being very good in the NFL.
Comparison: Charles Grant – New Orleans Saints
9. Jabaal Sheard – Pitt
6’3’’ – 264 lbs – 4.69
Why The Commish would take him: I like Sheard most because he is a pure pass rusher who plays with a nasty demeanor. He is tough, intense, and incredibly competitive. He has great technique and displays many different pass rush moves in getting to the quarterback.
Why The Commish would stay away: As determined as Sheard is in getting to the quarterback, he does not have elite quickness, athleticism, or an elite burst. Sheard is also not stout enough against the run and can get pushed back. He was arrested in 2010 for throwing a man through a glass door.
Commish’s Final Say: Sheard was arrested in 2010, but has also received a bravery award for helping an elderly women out of a burning building. Sheard came on strong once Greg Romeus went down for Pitt. Sheard became their sack master and was very good. I still think Sheard would be a solid 2nd round selection.
Comparison: Greg Hardy – Carolina Panthers
10. Allen Bailey – Miami
6’3’’ – 285 lbs – 4.77
Why The Commish would take him: This one’s simple. I’m taking Bailey because men that big should not be ripped, but he is. Alright, just kidding, but Bailey is a great athlete with nice long arms. Bailey displays some outstanding strength and can be dominant with his bull rush. Bailey also plays with a mean streak. Bailey has a ton of potential and upside he can still reach with good coaching.
Why The Commish would stay away: Bailey is a raw prospect who does not have very good technique. He still needs to develop more pass rush moves as well. Most of Bailey’s weaknesses stem from poor technique.
Commish’s Final Say: I’ll tell you, a lot of people have pegged Bailey as a 2nd round pick, but Bailey could end up being one of the more intriguing prospects in this draft. He is loaded with talent, but someone needs to bust it out of him. I know the Bucs have shown him a lot of attention this off-season.
Comparison: Kyle Vanden Bosch – Detroit Lions
11. Greg Romeus – Pitt
6’5’’ – 264 lbs – DNP
Why The Commish would take him: Romeus was the center of Pitt’s defense. He was equally good against the run as he was as a pass rusher. Romeus was also an outstanding leader with a great work ethic. He has all the attributes of a dominant defensive end.
Why The Commish would stay away: Obviously, health is the major concern with Romeus. He was sidelined at the beginning of the 2010 season with a herniated disk in his back which required surgery. In his first game back after surgery, Romeus tore his ACL which ended his collegiate career.
Commish’s Final Say: I spoke with Dave Wannstedt after Romeus tore his ACL and he was devastated. He told me how important Romeus was to their defense and how Romeus didn’t deserve to go through that. My conversation with Wannstedt really told me a lot of how Romeus was portrayed by his coaches and teammates. I think Romeus is the type of player you want in your locker room.
Comparison: Justin Tuck – New York Giants