The Grand National Championships

April 14, 2009

Day 1 Draft Breakdown…Defensive Ends (and convertibles)

Filed under: Analysis,Draft Nerd,Projections,Sack Attack — by Andrew @ 9:04 am

Brown, Everette
1. Everette Brown Florida State
6’2″ 256 4.65

There are two sorts of value that NFL teams will overpay for. One is someone who can play left tackle. The other is for pass-rush ability. And Everette is definitely someone with pass rush skills that rival any prospect this decade. His burst is solid. His moves are spectacular. And when he sees a clear path to the target? He finishes the job.

That being said? If he is to be converted? There will be a curve. His instincts leave something to be desired, even if he has the athleticism to overcome it. And his coverage skills are essentially in drills and pro day. You don’t know what he’s going to do in game speed.

However? Pass rush skills are good as gold. Any comparison to Dwight Freeney isn’t exactly accurate. But you know what? He’s a lot more likely to be 85% of Freeney than 15% more than Jamal Reynolds. Believe in it.

Brian Orakpo
2. Brian Orakpo Texas
6’3″ 263 4.63

I may not think Brian Orakpo is for everybody, but there is a lot to like about the experience. One, he has the best power of all the Defensive End Convertibles. Two, he also brings a solid array of pass rushing moves. Three, he has a great motor and can hold up at the point of attack on the run.

But here’s the deal. He will be a bad 3-4 Linebacker. He does not have a great first step. He has straight line speed, but it’s build-up speed. He is stiff and uncomfortable in coverage. And he is not consistent at the point of attack, he does have a narrow frame. Which means, what we’ve got here is a chance of a tweener.

It’s a shaky proposition for the team that drafts Orakpo. I don’t think it won’t be for a lack of trying if Brian does not hit the big time. He came up big as a senior and it won’t mean he’ll coast as pro. He’s not without some tweener risk, but you aren’t going to get a bust here.

Aaron Maybin
3. Aaron Maybin Penn State
6’4″ 249 4.78

Remember KGB when he came out? Aaron Maybin is kind of like that. I’ll explain. While his timed speed isn’t that great? He has a great burst. And he comes with pass rushing moves that rival the best of the skilled. Solid moves, great agility and body control, and he closes like a beast. Get him going and he can get 3 sacks.

But he does not bring much else to the table. He can get shoved off the POA. His instincts and awareness leave something to be desired. And a 250 pound defensive lineman without something else to bring to the table is definitely miscast as a 4-3 defensive end.

Now, I’m not one to take a look at pro fails at a position. Like Tyson Jackson, recent program history does not bode well for Maybin. He’s raw, he’s a mix of one great strength and multiple weaknesses. Right now, you will be way overpaying for him where his value is perceived. You can get Clint Sintim or Lawrence Sidbury in round 2. He may turn out to be a new Gbaja-Bilamila, but as a Top 15 pick? No. Bad news bears.

Tyson Jackson
4. Tyson Jackson Louisiana State
6’4″ 296 4.94

The power of Tyson Jackson is undeniable. He has long arms and giant hands that allow him to use his power when his game is going right. He can hold POA when he’s going up against a run. He is tough enough and he can last as a 4-3 DT or a 3-4 Defensive end. He’s not sexy, but he is a beast.

But he is a beast with problems. His instincts and awareness is marginal. He has an inconsistent motor. He may hold up at the point of attack, but if you’re facing a zone blocking scheme? You need to shed your opponent and Jackson cannot. He’s not going to go for 10 sacks either.

Now, I am not one to make claims based on a programs history. Not unless there’s reason to believe there’s comprable similarities. And like Marcus Spears and Marquise Hill, Jackson has a similar vibe to him. Amazing strength to be sure. But they are missing enough from the table that the team will be disappointed in when they draft him.

Jarron Gilbert
5. Jarron Gilbert San Jose State
6’5″ 288 4.81

No player has been as fast of a riser as Jarron Gilbert. And it is not without justification. He has superb quickness for a player his size. And he has excellent power. Add to that large hands and good balance and body control? You have someone who deserves his rise from the third round to potentially on the fringes of the Top 20.

But he is not without concerns. He is an imperfect technician, but he can learn things like proper hand use and leverage. That will allow him to be better at shedding blocks. The issue that is a real concern? Gilbert’s motor is inconsistent. It can show, but it doesn’t happen every day.

But the rise is legitimate. He’s not a YouTube video. Not by a longshot. He’s not a polished product by any sense of the word, but that being said? If he falls into Round 2, some team is going to be thrilled. Just thrilled.

Connor Barwin
6. Connor Barwin Cincinnati
6’2″ 256 4.59

Some coach is going to love this pick. His athleticism is spectacular. He has great speed with an explosive first step. He has great body control and agility. And for someone with little experience, he has instincts and awareness for the defensive side of the ball. He’ll be great on special teams as well.

But there’s a certain problem. Obviously, for somebody who had one season as a defensive end and may be moving into a 3-4 linebackers slot? His defense is raw. His pass rush moves are limited, and he can be run at. He also needs to get physically stronger.

Now the comparison here is obvious. He’s a Mike Vrabel type. A lot more raw than your standard issue Mike Vrabel, but the upside is spectacular. But as Mike Vrabel became an outside linebacker with pass-catching skills. There is a shot that Barwin becomes a tight end that could generate 5 to 8 sacks in a season.

Robert Ayers
7. Robert Ayers Tennessee
6’3″ 272 4.77

He’s a solidly built defensive end with good athleticism. He has a good burst and his balance and body control are well-honed skills as well. He has shown an ability to shed and redirect blockers. He can hold at the point of attack, and he is a solid tackler.

But he does not have a consistent motor. He does not have great timed speed, and his explosiveness is marginal. And if you want a run-stopper as a defensive end? You want someone with better instincts and awareness. And he will not generate sacks if he maintains his present amount of skill.

If you go based on his career? His Day 1 prospect status is dubious at best. But with his solid physicality and big Senior Bowl? It will likely happen. However? His game is not special, and if you take him in round 2? I am willing to wager you may be disappointed.

Michael Johnson
8. Michael Johnson Georgia Tech
6’7″ 266 4.69

The dreamer will love Michael Johnson. He has the frame of a Stacey Augmon (which means long and lanky with an ability to disrupt passing lanes). His athleticism is special. Great speed, great agility, great ups, great burst. As a pass rusher? He can put the fear of God into an offensive coordinator.

But the question is? Does he want this. His motor runs cold and cold. He has very poor insctints and awareness. You can run your run game right through his spot. And average offensive linemen can shut him down if he’s not feeling up to it.

On body alone? Michael Johnson is a top five pick. But the fact that even Mel Kiper thinks he’s unworthy of a first round pick shows that there’s real concern about the brain. I’m not saying a good defensive coordinator can’t make success with him? I’m only saying he’s going to need to go to a good home, because there’s a disconnect between potential and skills.

Paul Kruger
9. Paul Kruger Utah
6’4″ 263 4.83

Kruger does not have one aspect of his game that he’s dominant in outside of motor, but he has a lot of solid in his style. Athleticism, he’s solid. Balance and body control? Solid. Power? Solid. Hand use? Solid. See, you get my point.

But there are concerns. He doesn’t have great speed and the hip flipability to convert to a 3-4 OLB. He has short arms, which mean a lineman can get him. Also? He does not have great leverage. Also, he is a bit overaged and injury prone with a lack of experience.

There’s something to be said for being solid in many aspects of your game. He has solid physical tools and while his technique is raw? His motor will allow him to hang in at the start of his career while he polishes his game. As a 2nd rounder, he’s a fine pick, but his lack of sexy may drop him to the third. And that would make him great value.

Lawrence Sidbury
10. Lawrence Sidbury Jr. Richmond
6’3″ 266 4.53

With the triangle numbers? You know that Sidbury has superb athleticism. He has a first step and burst for the pass rush. He also has the hands and arms to avoid getting a lineman into his chest. He also has great mobility and range. And as last years 1-AA National Championship showed? He plays big in the big games.

That being said? He doesn’t always play to his timed speed. And he is an inch or two shorter than what you want for the defensive end position. He does not have much to a power game, and if a lineman does get his hands on him? There’s not much chance Sidbury will shed.

However? While he is a little bit of a workout warrior, there’s no reason to be disappointed if your team drafts him. He has a great motor, great athleticism, and his spin move is restaurant quality. His mobility and range mean he could be a solid 3-4 OLB, but he could Elvis Dumervil himself as an official 4-3 DE.

larry english
11. Larry English Northern Illinois
6’2″ 255 4.82

Am I underrating Larry English? It is entirely possible. He has a high-powered motor and a nice array of pass-rushing moves. He blows people up when he hits them. He has good strength, and he’s not a guaranteed loss at the point of attack if he’s facing down a double team.

The problem? He does not look like he can translate to a 3-4 OLB. He has stiff hips and meager instincts in coverage. He does not have good time speed, and in space he does look lost. Also? A torn pec, an ankle injury, a torn ACL, and a broken hand does not bode well on the injury history question.

I just get the sense that he doesn’t have the frame to get himself to 270 pounds and stay with his athleticism. I mean, he does have heart. He does have power. But if you draft him as another Anthony Spencer type, you just don’t see the flaws of Larry English.

Time considerations don’t allow me to post the day 2 dudes I like. But two more positions to come.

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