4-3 Defensive Ends
1. Ezekiel Ansah, BYU
Ansah lacks experience, but he brings more raw potential to the table than any other prospect available in the 2013 draft. His combination of size and speed is outstanding, and he ran an excellent 10-yard split (1.56) at the combine. He’s explosive off the ball and has a nice spin move. He may need to develop a better pass rushing repertoire, and he did lack production. Nevertheless, he’s an elite prospect that you draft on potential alone. He may need a year to learn the game, but once he does, he could be a household name.
Possible Destinations: Bills, Jaguars, Jets, Lions, & Titans
2. Tank Carradine, Florida State
After emerging as a potential top 10 pick, Carradine tore his ACL late in the season versus Florida. Prior to the injury, he was having a productive season with 11 sacks. When healthy, he’s one of the biggest disruptors in the draft, ripping through blockers and making an impact as a pass rusher and run defender.
Possible Destinations: Broncos, Dolphins, Falcons, Jaguars, & Ravens
3. Bjoern Werner, Florida State
Werner is a solid football player. He doesn’t do anything particularly great, but there aren’t many significant red flags that make you dislike him as a player. He doesn’t play well in space, so perhaps lacking versatility is his shortcoming. Regardless, he rushes the passer well and is very good at defending the run. He’ll set the edge and get off blocks. He’s comparable with former Green Bay defensive end Aaron Kampman.
Possible Destinations: Broncos, Buccaneers, Falcons, Giants, & Vikings
4. Alex Okafor, Texas
A powerful edge rusher, Okafor is coming off back-to-back productive seasons. He was especially effective in his senior season with 12.5 sacks. He gets off the ball well and does a good job of using his hands to get off blocks. He does struggle in space and isn’t a candidate to drop in coverage. Nevertheless, he’s a starting defensive end in the NFL.
Possible Destinations: Broncos, Dolphins, Falcons, Lions, & Vikings
5. Sam Montgomery, LSU
Montgomery is a good run defender, while providing adequate pass rushing ability. He may not be overly athletic, but he’ll make tackles downfield because of his excellent pursuit (plays to the whistle). He’s not a dominating presence on the d-line, but he’s a steady three-down player.
Possible Destinations: Bills, Buccaneers, Dolphins, Titans, & Vikings
6. Damontre Moore, Texas A&M
A terrible combine raised several red flags regarding Moore. He only benched 225 pounds 12 times, which is a pathetic amount from a defensive end or outside linebacker. He did improve this number to 19 at his pro day, but the combine number holds more merit. His 40-yard dash of 4.95 seconds is also underwhelming given he weighs 250 pounds. He was a very productive pass rusher against high-level competition, but he struggles against the run and the 12 reps suggest he doesn’t have the strength to holdup in the NFL. He may be a situational rusher.
Possible Destinations: Broncos, Falcons, Jaguars, Lions, & Vikings
7. Michael Buchanan, Illinois
A high upside tweener, some teams will view Buchanan as a pass rushing outside linebackers, while others view him as a defensive end. He’s a good athlete, but he also has the size and length to bulk up. He has an early round look to him, but just mid-round production.
Possible Destinations: Dolphins, Falcons, Jaguars, Patriots, & Raiders
8. Malliciah Goodman, Clemson
Goodman figures to play defensive end in the 4-3 or possibly bulk up and play in the 3-4. He has freakish arm length (36-plus inches) and good strength. He’s more of a high upside pick, as his skills remain raw and need developing.
Possible Destinations: 49ers, Falcons, Chiefs, Patriots, & Steelers
3-4 Defensive Ends
1. Jesse Williams, Alabama
Williams won’t offer much pass rush, but he’s about as good as it gets against the run. He’ll demand double teams at the next level, so he’ll take up enough blockers to allow linebackers to roam freely. He’s also a decent athlete for a 300-plus pound defensive lineman. Alabama used him as a fullback during goal line situations, so the big man is good on his feet. Overall, he’s a starting two-down player that’ll come off the field in sub packages.
Possible Destinations: 49ers, Colts, Packers, Patriots, & Vikings
2. Margus Hunt, SMU
Hunt comes from a track background. He was successful in the shot and discus. At 6-8 and 277 pounds, he has outstanding size to play defensive end in a 3-4. Teams will want him to bulk up, given he has the frame to add weight. He’s 25-years-old, so he’ll start his rookie season much older than fellow draftees will.
Possible Destinations: 49ers, Colts, Jets, Packers, & Patriots
3. Datone Jones, UCLA
Scheme versatility makes Jones an appealing player. He could bulk up and play defensive end in the 3-4 or serve as a sub-package interior pass rusher. He’s explosive off the ball and uses his hands well to disengage from blockers. He might be vulnerable in the running game, as stronger offensive lineman could push him around, but it is a minor nitpick in a good body of work.
Possible Destinations: 49ers, Colts, Falcons, Patriots & Vikings
4. William Gholston, Michigan State
Despite underwhelming production in 2012, Gholston remains on the NFL radar because of his physical build. He has great size (6-6 & 281 pounds) and 34-inch arms. He had a solid 2011 campaign, which saw him earn second-team All-Big Ten honors. He must learn to use his hands better, but assuming he bulks up, he has the makings of a starting 3-4 defensive end.
Possible Destinations: 49ers, Colts, Eagles, Packers, & Patriots
5. Joe Kruger, Utah
An ideal 3-4 defensive end, Kruger’s older brother is Paul Kruger. He might not be as athletic as his older brother is, but he has a better frame (6-6 & 269 pounds). He’ll need to bulk up for the pros and work on playing with better pad level, but he’s a two-down starter at the next level.
Possible Destinations: 49ers, Colts, Eagles, Patriots, & Ravens
1. Sharrif Floyd, Florida
Coming out of high school, Floyd was a five-start prospect and the No. 1 defensive tackle in the country. He went on to have a solid career for the Gators and is now on the NFL radar as a top 5 pick. He’s explosive off the ball and gets penetration into the backfield. He had an excellent combine, and it’s noteworthy that he ran a sub five 40-yard dash at about 300 pounds. Overall, he’s an ideal three-technique and could be a special player with excellent size, athleticism, and hustle.
Possible Destinations: Eagles, Jaguars, & Raiders
2. Star Lotulelei, Utah
Lotulelei’s a violent run defender and versatile enough to play any position along the defensive line. He’s only an average pass rusher, but he has good instincts in recognizing a play and displays quickness off the ball. At the combine, NFL doctors discovered a heart condition, so teams will have to adjust their board accordingly. But there aren’t 10 better players in the draft, which he reminded us with a strong pro day.
Possible Destinations: Chargers, Eagles, Jaguars, Jets, & Raiders
3. Sheldon Richardson, Missouri
A quick-footed defensive tackle, Richardson may come off the board within the first 20 picks. He has an incredibly high ceiling with outstanding athleticism and size. Because of his explosive first step, he should wreak havoc in the backfield, and develop into a pass rushing interior force. He does have some shoulder concerns, but his 30 bench reps seem to have simmered concerns.
Possible Destinations: 49ers, Cowboys, Panthers, Titans, & Vikings
4. John Jenkins, Georgia
Jenkins is a brick wall versus the run, and has the natural size (346 pounds) to play for a 3-4 defense. His conditioning is a bit of a red flag and the effort isn’t always there. Teams will monitor his rep count, but with flashes of dominance, Jenkins might be the best true nose guard in the draft.
Possible Destinations: 49ers, Chargers, Colts, Eagles, & Jets
5. Kawann Short, Purdue
Short has the versatility to play in a 4-3 or 3-4. He has long arms (34-plus inches) and disrupts a backfield. With great size, he’s a physical player and he’ll bring an attitude or mean streak to any defensive line. If he doesn’t go in round one, he’ll come off the board early on day two.
Possible Destinations: 49ers, Colts, Eagles, Patriots, & Vikings
6. Johnathan Hankins, Ohio State
Coming off a first-team All-Big Ten season, Hankins is a bid-bodied run stuffer. He offers minimal pass rush, so he’ll never have many sacks. Nonetheless, he demands double teams with his size, and is versatile enough to play in either a 4-3 or 3-4 alignment.
Possible Destinations: 49ers, Colts, Jets, Patriots, & Vikings
7. Montori Hughes, Tennessee-Martin
Natural size and good quickness has many projecting Hughes as a solid second-round pick. He did play against low-level competition, so he remains somewhat untested. However, he’s a powerful player that can disrupt the backfield. He could push for a starting job in a year or two.
Possible Destinations: Cowboys, Patriots, Raiders, Seahawks, & Vikings
8. Akeem Spence, Illinois
Spence did 37 reps of 225 pounds at the combine. His strength serves him well at the point of attack. He won’t offer much of a pass rush, but he has the ability to push for playing time in a 4-3 defensive line rotation.
Possible Destinations: Cowboys, Patriots, Raiders, Seahawks, & Vikings