2014 NFL Draft: Defensive Rankings


DEFENSIVE END

1) Jadeveon Clowney-South Carolina

His ceiling is so high it is hard to see with the human eye.  But should you be talking about "ceiling" or "potential" with someone who is penciled in at #1? I would say no.  Clowney is a rare TALENT but is not a guy who u look at and say he will make an impact day 1 in NFL.  He definitely has some eye popping athleticism but has a good number of flaws as well. STRENGTHS: He uses his agility to jump inside of OTs and rush the passer.  He can chase down plays with great speed. He hustles on almost every play.  WEAKNESSES: I don't see that physical play that's going to be needed at next level.  He has not shown he can use his hands nor bend and come flat when pass rushing because he has been so accustomed to using his quickness to beat his man.  Clowney gets too caught up with rushing inside and leaves outside open for run plays.  Tends to struggle when ran straight at.  When rushing he exposes chest completely when doing swim move and leaves his feet at times almost like a basketball player doing a jump stop.  Struggles when forced to change direction ( there were a lot of plays where he was 1st on scene but couldn't adjust body to make tackle). Final Analysis: As he stands now he will not make an impact in NFL.  If he has the mental toughness and is coachable at next level he will be a force in NFL in 2 years.

2) Trent Murphy-Stanford

Murphy is the most pro ready DE in draft right now.  Only reason Clowney is rated ahead is because of his undeniable athleticism.  Murphy is far from 1 dimensional and showed a variety of pass rush moves in college.  He is neither a speed nor power rusher but is effective because he knows when and how to use each technique.  After seeing him have a hard time with Zack Martin, he will definitely need to get stronger at next level.  But that will come with a NFL strength and conditioning program.  Murphy has no problem defending the run.  His play recognition in high.  Agility and coverage is good for a DE but not for OLB.  Has a very high motor.  Final Analysis:  Will be a starting RDE or rush OLB in NFL for many years.  May never reach pro bowl status but will be a solid starter.  Murphy spent a good amount of time with his hand in the dirt so will surely be comfortable doing it at next level.  If he is drafted as an OLB in 4-3 he will struggle and end up a disappointment.  I call him a poor man's JJ Watt.

3) Dee Ford-Auburn

His initial get off at line is amazing.  There were times where he was in backfield so fast that it had to be an offside call but more times than not it was just a great play.  Does not have any pass rush moves but will use strength when he can run past the OT.  He is a small DE put pack power in that frame.  At senior bowl he struggled when on left side matched up against Zach Martin but was almost unstoppable when at RDE.  He needs to learn how to turn corner and flatten out because at times it seems like he is just trying to outrun OT and ends up way behind QB.  Capable of holding edge against the run and is solid playing the run.  Does not look like he can drop back into coverage.  Motor is good.  Final analysis: Will be a LDE until he develops a better pass rush.  Definitely not a pure OLB but can fit as a rush first OLB.

4) DeMarcus Lawrence-Boise State

You have to love the relentlessness and high motor of this kid.  He doesn't have many weapons in the pass rush arsenal.....yet.   He has shown the athleticism to do the finesse moves and the upper body strength for power moves.  He does need to get stronger in the bottom half to drive through these OL.  Ealy looks to be the better bender between the two but I had to go with Lawrence based on pure potential.  I can't see Ealy becoming a dominant pass rusher but I can definitely see Lawrence become a handful with some coaching at the next level.  Thoughts of someone who shares his name come to mind when you watch him, DeMarcus Ware.  Now hold your tongue.  I am not saying out the gate this kid has the same skill set.  He will need a few years of good coaching but with his motor and strength he can get there.  I think he can play as rushing OLB but he is very comfortable with his hand in the dirt.  When he adds some strength in the NFL I can see him as a RDE.

5) Kony Ealy-Missouri

I was really looking for any reason to have Kareem Martin here but in the end had to keep Ealy in the top 5.  In addition there is not really that many good pass rushers in this draft.  I really think Ealy is a product of his environment but he did show some flashes of a future NFL pass rusher.  Ealy's only move is the outside duck under and rip vs OT.  He will have to develop some physicality and variety in his rush because NFL OTs will easily figure this out.  This was already evident in college when OTs figured it out they would just ride him in his duck under right into the ground, i.e 2nd half vs Oklahoma State. Now Ealy does have an above average motor and has shown he can bend and flatten out.  Also, he has faced high level competition in the SEC.  He has the building blocks that a good coach can mold into a decent LDE.

SLEEPER: Kareem Martin DE-UNC. Martin's tape doesn't scream athleticism by any means.   I fell in love with his sheer determination to get to QB no matter who or how many are blocking him.  He uses his legs a lot to generate rush power when he needs to use those 35" arms and 11" hands to maul OTs.  He also needs to put some strength into that lower half, ended up on ground too much.
Biggest Bust: Jadeveon Clowney, Kony Ealy


DEFENSIVE TACKLE

1) Aaron Donald-Pitt

There isn't much to say about him.  I don't see how mock drafts have him going as late as #16.  But if that happens I will hit the roof if my Bears can get him.  This is a top 5 talent no doubt.  On tape and at Senior Bowl he dominated.  Day 1 starter and pro bowl DT.

2) Louis Nix III-ND

I was not a Nix fan until I watched a bunch of tape.  Every tape was essentially the same.  Big guy that can move and has a real good motor.  If he isn't the image 3-4 teams want for a NT then I don't know what is.  He faced a ton of double teams but I was a little disappointed that he didn't try and figure a way out of them sometimes.  Its almost like he accepted the double team.  He needs to get coached on using those hands to complement that big body and strength.

3) Will Sutton-ASU

He flashed at the combine and made me go to the tape.  He is a strong up field DT.  I really like his hand usage to set up his swim and rip.  He will get tired and go half speed but with a good conditioning program he can overcome that.  I put him ahead of Jernigan because of his aggressiveness.  He always wants it but body tells him no.  He had a good match up with Su'a -Filo and for the most part he got the better of it.

4) Timmy Jernigan-FSU

Jernigan has some of the tools to be successful.  The tool that he may be missing, and the most important one, is heart.  I just don't get the feeling that he wants to be great.  In the most important game of his career, National Championship, he was nowhere to be found in the last 7 minutes of the game.  He went out because due to what looked to be fatigue.  Came back in for two plays then was complaining of what looked like a cramp in his calf and was done for the game.  He left his team to give up a possible losing score to Auburn.  If it wasn't for Winston and Benjamin to carry the team to a victory he would not be able to call himself a champion.  The lack of effort showed up time and again in his tape.  But the skills also showed up on tape.  I couldn't overlook them.  I hope he lands in a place where they push him hard and get him in condition.

5) Caraun Reid-Princeton

From a lazy guy to a non stop motor guy.  Reid plays hard every play and is disruptive.  He has the groundwork to be a real good penetrating DT now he just needs the proper coaching to make him great.  He played against lesser competition but he stepped up to the task at the Senior Bowl and had a real nice game.  Somebody will get a steal in the middle rounds. I was real close to putting DaQuan Jones here but in the end Reid was in the backfield more.

Sleeper: Justin Ellis-LaTech; Kerry Hyder-Texas Tech
Biggest Bust: Timmy Jernigan, RaShede Hageman

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS

1) Khalil Mack-Buffalo

This guy is the real deal.  Tape shows that he was just way stronger and determined than everyone else on the field.  It isn't easy to throw OGs around like rag dolls but he did it multiple times.  If there was any criticism its that he needs to get better at his play recognition.  I wouldn't be surprised if Texans end up with him over Clowney.

2) Ryan Shazier-OSU

I took him over Barr because he just has more linebacker instincts right now.  Shazier is athletic as heck but needs to get stronger to take on and shed these OL.  He fits a lot of schemes which is very attractive to teams.

3) Anthony Barr-UCLA

Barr is a blank canvas and ready to be put to use.  I couldn't put him higher because he is running around with no real direction or instincts.  However, once he finds them he is going to be scary.  His athleticism is obvious as is his motor.

4) Kyle Van Noy-BYU

This is probably one of my favorite players.  He can play in either a 3-4 or 4-3 system easily.  He isn't as athletic as the guys above but he is a competitor.  If he can get a little better in coverage he will be a staple in any defense for years.

5) Telvin Smith-FSU

I know Smith is really undersized for the position but I can't help myself.  When you watch a FSU game Smith is everywhere.  When you turned on the Senior Bowl Smith was everywhere.  He is a little shaky in coverage and tends to over pursue at times.  He also needs to get stronger.  He will be a tackling machine at the next level.

Sleeper: Jordan Tripp-Montana, Kevin Pierre Louis-Boston College
Biggest Bust: Jeremiah Attaochu-Georgia Tech


INSIDE LINEBACKERS

1) C.J. Mosely-Bama

Mosely is a run stopping machine.  He sheds blocks well and keeps head up to follow play.  Not super athletic but technically sound and agile.  He doesn't go hard on blitzes and needs to improve in coverage.  Wont be a "sexy" pick but will be a solid starter for teams.  His medical problems are scary but there isn't much else at ILB.

2) Chris Borland-Wisc

This guy is a non-stop energizer bunny.  Good at everything but not great at anything.  He isn't optimal size and his arms are real short.  That being said I don't see this guy being denied success in the NFL.

Note: Other ILBs are a big drop off in talent so not going to list them.


CORNERBACKS

1)  Jason Verrett-TCU

Despite his size he was the most dominant overall CB on tape.  He is aggressive, instinctual, confident, and a leader.  No doubt his size will be a hindrance but there are multiple smaller CBs in league that are at the top of the league.  He does it all and never hesitates.  Verrett trusts his instincts and almost always is one step ahead.  If you put on the TCU vs LSU game the battle between him and Beckham Jr is a thing of beauty.  I think he came out the victor in that battle.

2) Philip Gaines-Rice

This is another guy that I never heard until I watched the combine.  He did all the drills better than Gilbert and Dennard.  I watched a few game tapes of Rice and I was stunned to see him shut down his side of the field.  He is the definition of a shut down corner but needs better ball skills.  With his size you would expect him to be stronger.  He will come up and play the run but isn't real physical.  He also is a little lazy with his jam at the line.  Both of these can be fixed in pros.  You cannot teach his technique and footwork.  Nobody in this draft can flip hips like him.  My jaw drop moment was when he covered slot WR on a cross route and recognized QB throwing the vertical behind him to outside.  He fast turned and ran to the spot, he got there before the WR and his teammate got there for the INT.  Great player.

3) Kyle Fuller-VTU

Fuller is the most physical corner in this draft.  He loves to hit and mix it up.  So much it is to a fault.  He is always getting up slow from a play or comes out for a few.  He needs to harness this if his career is to be a long one.  He can run with any WR on a slant, out, in, cross, or post.  The one thing that keeps popping up is that he gets beat on verticals time after time.  He has good speed so this must be a technique issue that hopefully can be fixed.  This kid hits like a SS but has footwork, ball skills, and awareness of a CB.

4) Justin Gilbert-OkStU

Gilbert is a physical specimen at corner.  His back pedal is a thing of beauty.  Very physical at line of scrimmage.  He has very sloppy footwork but overcomes that cause of his speed and agility.  That might not be the case in NFL.  He tends to stare into backfield at QB and gets lost in coverage because of it.  He gets beat a lot on plays going to middle of field and comebacks but can turn and run on verticals with no problem.  He needs to be more physical on run defense.

5) Darqueze Dennard-MSU

Despite the awards Dennard has I was not impressed by his play.  He has sloppy footwork and there is a ton of contact with WR downfield.  He has a huge problem turning back to ball while running with WR.  He does use his body well to shield the WR from the ball.  He can plant and drive very nicely.  His play recognition is very good.

Sleepers: EJ Gaines-Mizzou, Chris Davis-Auburn, Bennett Jackson-ND
Biggest Busts:  Bradley Roby-OSU


SAFETY

1)  Jimmie Ward-NIU

This kid does it all.  He comes down and covers slot in man.  He comes down and bangs in run coverage.  He runs with the big TEs.  His height will be a problem in NFL but that didn't stop Earl Thomas.

2A) Calvin Pryor-Louisville

If you want somebody to intimidate the other side this is your man.  Pryor is a scary man coming down from the secondary to hit somebody.  Sometimes his aggressiveness makes him overrun plays.  He needs to get some more range in coverage.

2B) Hasean Clinton Dix-Bama

This is the polar opposite of Pryor.  He is better in coverage but not that big hitter.  He can cover more ground and is better in coverage.  He is not the guy that will come down and blow up a RB.  He is more the guy to hold the RB up and wait for help.  Just a matter of flavor.

4) Daniel Sorensen-BYU

This guy has the best ball skills of any safety in draft.  This was completely obvious at combine when he was catching passes with ease.  This guy covers a lot of ground.  He needs to get better at his awareness because he can lose guys behind him.  He isn't a thumper but is a solid tackler.  He needs to keep his head up on open field tackles because he loses his target.  He was a gunner on special teams and has solid 4.5 speed.

5)  Deone Bucannon-WSU

He is a poor man's Pryor really.  He has more range but doesn't tackle as well as Pryor at all.  He missed a ton of tackles because he can't control his breakdown and takes bad angles.

Sleeper: Craig Loston-LSU
Biggest Bust:  Lamarcus Joyner-FSU

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