Defensive Ends To Watch

April 7th, 2010

Grab a cold beverage and savor NFL Draft guru Justin Pawlowski’s in-depth look at the many defensive ends Bucs fans need to know about when the draft begins in a mere 15 days.

“The Commish” identifies a couple of strong options for the Bucs in the late rounds, among others.

Interesting stuff.

It’s all part of the most intense Bucs-focused draft coverage available anywhere. Joe is proud to have Pawlowski on his team. Check out all his dynamite work here. 

Defensive Ends

1. Derrick Morgan– DE – Georgia Tech
6’3’’ –266 lbs – 4.72
Top 15 pick

Why I’m taking him: There’s no more balanced defensive end in this draft.  Morgan is fierce in stopping the run and holding his ground against double teams.  He also has a nice mix of moves that helps him rush the passer.  Morgan is durable, reliable, a team leader, and a hard worker with a great work ethic. 

Why I’m staying away: Morgan might be a balanced defensive end, but I have questions whether he ever becomes an elite pass rusher in the NFL.  His athleticism is limited, and, if he’s to transition to outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense, I’d be concerned with him in coverage.  While Morgan might be a solid pick, I’d also be wary that he has already reached his potential and that he’ll see minimal improvement in his NFL career.

Impact on the Bucs: With the Bucs having a need at defensive end, it makes sense that they are bringing Morgan in for a pre-draft visit.  What doesn’t make sense is the Bucs considering him with the 3rd overall pick.  If the Bucs are entertaining trade offers and eyeing Morgan as a possibility after trading down, that would make much more sense.  Another possibility is the Bucs and Broncos swapping 1st round picks which would send Brandon Marshall to Tampa.  With the 11th pick, the Bucs would definitely consider Morgan.

NFL Comparison:   Kyle Vanden Bosch – Detroit Lions

 2. Jason Pierre-Paul – DE – USF
6’5’’ – 270 lbs – 4.69
Top 15 pick

Why I’m taking him: I’m intrigued by Pierre-Paul’s potential.  I know that the word potential is a dirty word, but it’s a legitimate gripe here.  Pierre-Paul’s combination of size and speed is freakish.  He is an excellent pass rusher with great athleticism.  At times in 2009, I felt Pierre-Paul was more dangerous as a pass rusher when he was standing up as opposed to being in a 3-point stance.

Why I’m staying away: As much as I’m intrigued by Pierre-Paul’s potential, I hate that word so much.  He only played one year of competitive Division 1A football.  He can be a liability against the run.  Pierre-Paul is just so raw that he will need good coaching and time to develop into the type of defensive end people think he will be.

Impact on the Bucs: It wasn’t long ago that Todd McShay had the Bucs taking Pierre-Paul with the No. 3 overall pick.  There is just way too much risk with Pierre-Paul to take him that high.  The Bucs are a team that is putting all its eggs into the draft basket.  Teams that do this usually aren’t the teams that draft such risky players and hope it pans out.

NFL Comparison:   Demarcus Ware – Dallas Cowboys

3. Carlos Dunlap – DE – Florida
6’6’’ – 277 lbs – 4.61
1st – 2nd Round

Why I’m taking him: Dunlap is a unique talent with a beautiful blend of size, athleticism, and speed.  When he wants to, Dunlap can completely dominate and take over a game.  Listen, there isn’t much more to say on Dunlap.  The guy has all the talent in the world on the field.  As a defensive end, Dunlap was the MVP of the BCS Championship game.

Why I’m staying away: There’s no question that the biggest worry with Dunlap is {+++} his dedication, character, and drive to be great.  Those are some pretty harsh negatives, which is why Dunlap’s stock is falling.

Impact on the Bucs: Depending on how far Dunlap falls, I would not mind one bit if the Bucs grabbed him with one of their 2nd round picks.  Despite his flaws, Dunlap would already be the best defensive end the Bucs have.  Be sure to listen to my interview with Carlos Dunlap at Keyword: Draft.

NFL Comparison:   Calais Campbell – Arizona Cardinals

4. Everson Griffen – DE – USC
6’3’’ – 273 lbs – 4.66
1st – 2nd Round

Why I’m taking him: Griffen has great strength and bulk to go with his outstanding athleticism.  He has performed extremely well in pre draft workouts including the combine.  Griffen has a nice mix of pass rushing moves in getting to the quarterback.  He’s also a reliable tackler with plenty of upside.

Why I’m staying away: With all the talent Griffen has, his production just doesn’t match his ability.  In another word, Griffen was an underachiever.  Griffen has short arms which hurt him in getting good leverage against bigger offensive tackles.  He also has very questionable instincts and struggles to find the ball at times.

Impact on the Bucs: Well, the Bucs drafted Griffen’s teammate last year when they selected Kyle Moore in the 4th round.  We know that the Bucs have seen plenty of game tape on Griffen.  That could either help or hurt Griffen because of his lack of production.  Some people have Griffen ahead of Dunlap, but I’d be more willing to roll the dice with Dunlap than draft Griffen.  The earliest I’d take Griffen is with the Bucs 2nd 2nd round pick.

NFL Comparison:   Will Smith – New Orleans Saints

5. Alex Carrington – DE – Arkansas St.
6’5’’ – 285 lbs – 4.93
2nd – 3rd Round

Why I’m taking him: Carrington’s game revolves around power.  Carrington’s frame, long arms, and big hands make him a perfect fit as an end in a 3-4 defense.  He also has surprising athleticism to go with his power.  Carrington’s motor never stops and he is great in pursuit.  Carrington can also take on multiple blockers which helps as an end in a 3-4 defense.

Why I’m staying away: My main concern is that Carrington is limited to being an end in a 3-4 defense.  He also did not play against elite competition while at Arkansas St.  While Carrington can take on multiple blockers, he tends to struggle to shed those blockers.

Impact on the Bucs: Carrington is not a fit for the Bucs in their “Tampa 2” defense.

NFL Comparison:   Jarvis Green – Denver Broncos

6. Corey Wootton – DE – Northwestern
6’6’’ – 270 lbs – DNP
2nd – 3rd Round

Why I’m taking him: The first thing I like about Wootton is his 4 years of starting in the Big 10.  He is a big, physical, and powerful player who is an excellent bull rusher.  Wootton is a smart player with excellent instincts and a great knowledge of the game.  He has great leadership skills, work ethic, and a motor that never stops.  Wootton seems like an ideal fit as an end in a 3-4 defense.

Why I’m staying away: There are a couple of major concerns with Wootton.  The first is his durability.  Wootton had a season ending neck injury to end his 2005 season, and then tore his ACL at the end of the 2008 season.  He dealt with that injured knee for most of 2009.  Wootton is also limited as a pass rusher.  He does not have many moves and lacks explosiveness and quickness.

Impact on the Bucs: The best place for the Bucs to get Wootton would be in the 3rd round.  Wootton could step in an play left defensive end.

NFL Comparison:   Aaron Smith – Pittsburgh Steelers

7. Brandon Lang – DE – Troy
6’4’’ – 266 lbs – 4.85
3rd Round

Why I’m taking him: Lang is a very good athlete with long arms and the ability to get around the corner on the pass rush.  Despite his times, Lang plays very fast on film.  He moves around extremely well and has a great motor that goes to the whistle.

Why I’m staying away: Where Lang excels in athleticism, he lacks in strength.  Lang can get dominated by bigger offensive tackles or tackles with superior technique.  Also, with that lack of strength, Lang struggle to get off blocks.  After a season ending knee injury in 2007, durability is a worry as well.

Impact on the Bucs: I’m not overly big on Lang.  For the Bucs, if Lang were to fall to the top of round 4, I’d consider him, but no sooner than that.  There are too many question marks to take him any sooner.

NFL Comparison:   Osi Umenyiora – New York Giants

8. Jermaine Cunningham – DE – Florida
6’3’’ – 266 lbs – DNP
3rd – 4th Round

Why I’m taking him: As a middle round pick, I feel Cunningham can give me some good depth and versatility to play either defensive end or outside linebacker.  He has a great motor and can also play special teams.  Cunningham has also shown durability and toughness.

Why I’m staying away: Cunningham lacks instincts and knowledge to be a great player.  He also doesn’t show much speed on the field.

Impact on the Bucs: I’d pass on Cunningham unless he fell to the 5th round.  Cunningham would struggle to crack the starting lineup for the Bucs.  That’s saying something with how bad the Bucs defensive line is.

NFL Comparison:   Cliff Avril – Detroit Lions

9. CJ Wilson – DE – East Carolina
6’3’’ – 290 lbs – 4.82
4th Round

Why I’m taking him: As a mid-round pick, Wilson has tremendous value for his versatility to play either end position and also shift inside and play tackle.  Wilson plays with a great motor and a mean streak.  He also has good instincts.

Why I’m staying away: Wilson is not an elite pass rusher from the end position.  Against the run, Wilson can get caught out of position at times.

Impact on the Bucs: Wilson would be a nice mid-round pick for the Bucs.  His versatility is something the Bucs like for their “Tampa 2” defense.

NFL Comparison:   Philip Merling – Miami Dolphins

10. Greg Hardy – DE – Ole Miss
6’4’’ – 277 lbs – 4.79
4th Round

Why I’m taking him: I really like Hardy as a pass rusher.  He has very nice size and athleticism.  Has a nice arsenal of pass rushing moves.  Hardy also has great instincts and awareness.  The potential is still there for Hardy.

Why I’m staying away: Inconsistency and work ethic are my main concerns.  Hardy was benched in 2008 for lack of effort against South Carolina.  Durability is a huge concern as well.  He dealt with numerous injuries through his career at Ole Miss.

Impact on the Bucs: Hardy was considered one of the top defensive ends in college before the 2009 season.  His stock has dropped, but he is still a heck of a pass rusher.  Hardy would be a great pick for the Bucs in the 4th or 5th round.

NFL Comparison:   Ray Edwards – Minnesota Vikings

2 Responses to “Defensive Ends To Watch”

  1. d-money Says:


    What ever happened to George Selvie?

    A couple of years ago he was a beast and now you don’t even hear a word about him. Is he even going to get drafted?

  2. Matt Says:

    @Selvie – Most say he’s 4th-5th round now. Seemed to drop off the planet after his soph year and is undersized for a true DE.