Cornellius "tank" Carradine is the best defensive end in the 2013 class.
One of the NFL’s impact positions is defensive end. Defensive ends come in many shapes and sizes and each have different roles depending on the team and defensive scheme.
The defensive ends in the 4-3 defense are expected to be pass-rushers, but one of them is usually a little stouter against the run. The defensive ends in the 3-4 are usually bigger, but some teams ask them to penetrate and others ask them to occupy multiple blocks. There are also players that play outside linebacker, but put their hand in dirt on passing downs as a defensive end.
Thankfully, Matt Miller has ranked the top-26 defensive ends in the 2013 NFL draft. They will be tracked here and updated as they are selected. The best available will always be the first slide, but you may have to click through a couple of slides to get one that fits a certain scheme.
You can view Wes Horton’s complete scouting report from NFL.com by clicking here.
USC gets all the elite talent, but Horton isn’t one of the elite prospects to come out of the school in recent years. Perhaps he’s only known so well because his father was the American Gladiator Gemini. Who wouldn't want Gemini Jr. on their football team?
Jokes aside, Horton has some tools that could be worth developing as a pass-rusher if he can work on his coordination and refine his technique.
His strengths per NFL.com:
"Height and length are NFL-quality. Long strides allow him to eat up grass in a hurry when in pass rush mode. Active in pursuit, hard-worker. Flashes quick hands. Turns the corner and closes on the quarterback if his initial pass rush move works, and will get his long arms into passing lanes whenever possible. When uncovered, has the quickness to make offensive lines pay for leaving him be on inside runs."
There's certainly some developmental upside to Horton, if a team can mask his weaknesses and refine his overall technique.
His weaknesses per NFL.com:
Quickness off the snap is inconsistent, can be the last one moving at times. His tall, somewhat lean build allows him to be moved by tackles and tight ends too easily in the run game. Has some movement skills as a stand-up rusher, but plays high and often off-balance, bends at the waist to make tackles, and his short-area quickness to contain on the edge is only adequate.
Overall, Horton is the 21st-best defensive end prospect in the 2013 NFL Draft class.
You can view Meshak Williams' complete scouting report from Garrett Baker by clicking here.
Meshak Williams is a 6’2”, 247-pound outside linebacker prospect who played defensive end at Kansas State. He didn’t measure particularly well at his pro day, with 14 reps on the bench press, a 5.04-second 40-yard dash and a 9’7” broad jump.
Williams' strengths according to Baker:
+ Athletic, quick first step forwards
+ Relentless attack, plays til the whistle
+ Good height and length
+ Incredibly productive senior season
Athletic, quick, relentless and productive with good size are the certainly the kind of traits that are worthy of a mid-round pick. Williams does have some weaknesses, that may limit his upside.
Williams weaknesses according to Baker:
- Doesn't backpedal or move laterally well
- Gets lost in coverage
- Needs to add on some bulk
- One-dimensional pass-rusher
Overall, Williams is the 22nd-best defensive end prospect in the 2013 NFL Draft class.
You can view Walter Stewart’s complete scouting report from nfl.com by clicking here.
A 6’4”, 246-pound former Cincinnati Bearcat, Stewart is one of those college defensive ends that will try to transition to outside linebacker in the NFL.
Walter's strengths via NFL.com:
"Tall, long edge rusher who comes off the ball smooth, quick and low despite his height. Sits into his three-point stance very well, has flexibility to turn the corner and closing speed to finish the play. Uses length and powerful hits to separate the ball from quarterbacks from the blind side. Also lines up on the strong side. Has quickness to jump inside when tackles lean to stop his edge rush. Has quick hands to get inside the tackle’s jersey and leverage them backwards. Shows good backfield awareness and flashes violence to shed blocks when ballcarriers come his direction, tight ends and fullbacks have little chance to keep him out of plays. Stands up regularly, shows good get-off some decent movement skills in space for his build to handle short-area zones. Willing to hit tight ends to knock them off their route."
Moving a guy to a different position came be rewarding for forward-thinking teams and Stewart is certainly an intriguing prospect if he's drafted to play outside linebacker. It goes without saying he'll need some development, but that's expected with any mid-round prospect.
Walter's weaknesses via NFL.com:
Tall and lean, will need to prove he can maintain leverage to NFL linemen (especially doubles) as a defensive end. Can be backed up off the line and moved via the upper body by stronger linemen. Will leave his feet before making a tackle instead of running through target, though his length is usually good enough to stop ballcarriers. Stiff, high and leggy in his backpedal dropping into coverage, looks much better when using angles.
Overall, Walter is the 23rd-best defensive end prospect in the 2013 NFL Draft class.
You can view Tremayne Scott’s complete scouting report from Brandon Alisoglu by clicking here.
Scott is an odd prospect in that he’s 6’3” and 253 pounds with long 35.5-inch arms and small 9.25-inch hands. He played defensive end for Ohio, but his physical attributes seem to suggest he’ll be an outside linebacker if he makes it to the NFL.
Alisoglu doesn’t list many positives for Scott:
If Scott doesn't get to the quarterback, he doesn't give up on the play. He finds a way to make an impact by getting his hands up, and even coming up with a big pick in the bowl game.
Despite his poor 4.69 20-yard shuttle time, this sack against Kent State shows some recognition and agility.
Recognition and agility can go a long way when you have long arms and a player like Scott needs to work hard to make a roster or a practice squad. There's enough here to merit a draft pick on Day 3 or a camp invite.
Alisoglu's report includes a wide-range of negatives:
"Any player from the MAC will face a couple questions about consistent competition. There are a few Pro Bowlers who call the midwest conference home, but it's the little brother in the regional family (Big 10).
Additionally, general managers will want to be sure he doesn't deserve the "injury plagued" title after he missed multiple games his senior season. However, he did bounce back nicely from injury, saving his best game for the last against Louisiana-Monroe: five tackles, two sacks and an interception. That was only his fourth game back from injury.
Speed can't be taught, and Scott needs some help here. His 5.10 40-yard dash isn't fast enough for an offensive guard, but he'll get some consideration on that time due to his continued recovery.
Yet, he also lacks professional strength as he only put up 14 bench reps at his pro day, according to nfldraftscout.com. That isn't the result of a foot injury."
Overall, Bass is the 25th-best defensive end prospect in the 2013 NFL Draft class.
You can view Dion Jordan's complete scouting report from Ryan Lownes by clicking here.
Dion Jordan’s value is in his versatility because he could be an outside linebacker in the 3-4, where he can drop into coverage, or in the 4-3, where he'd rotate down to defensive end on passing downs.
Lownes notes the size issue with Jordan playing defensive end:
While perhaps lacking the functional strength to hold up at defensive end in the NFL, Jordan uses his 33 7/8” arms to keep blockers away from his body.
It is worth noting that he played below 230 pounds in college and must still prove he can maintain this new weight. Ideally he will be playing between 245 and 255 pounds at the next level.
Jordan’s raw ability as a pass-rusher is why he’s ranked highly as a defensive end, but he’s unlikely to be a full-time 4-3 defensive end in the NFL unless he can add weight to his 6’6” frame and get stronger. Either way, his athleticism will make him an impact starter immediately, according to Lownes:
Dion Jordan is a heck of pass-rushing prospect with raw ability and untapped potential. Because he was counted on to handle several other roles, Oregon did not exactly maximize his talents as a pass-rusher.
Raw athleticism and speed alone make Jordan a force to be reckoned with off the edge. Additionally, he utilizes long arms to keep blockers at bay as he collapses the pocket.
Jordan has terrific athleticism, fluidity, speed and bend for an athlete with his size and length. The only thing that could concern some teams is Jordan’s string of injuries at Oregon, and he needs to improve his pad level to gain leverage at the point of attack.
The right defense or defensive coordinator will able to scheme around Jordan’s issues with pad level and strength. He’s a natural fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker, but he’ll have to be moved around in a 4-3 defense from linebacker to pass-rushing defensive end.
Overall, Jordan is the second-best defensive-end prospect in the 2013 NFL draft class.
Drafted: Miami Dolphins, Round 1, Pick 3
You can view Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah's complete scouting report from Eric Stoner by clicking here.
Ezekiel Ansah is one of the best athletes in the 2013 draft class. At 6’5” and 271 pounds, Ansah ran the 40-yard dash in 4.63 seconds and the short shuttle in 4.26 seconds. Having just started playing the game a couple of years ago, he’s still very raw, and he played positions at BYU he isn’t likely to play in the NFL.
Stoner notes how BYU used Ansah and how much he progressed:
"For only having played football for three years, Ansah appears to be a quick learner as he was used in a number of different positions and roles for BYU. He was a backup and rotational player for his first two years before flourishing in a larger role as a senior. He played as both a one and two-gap player, lining up as a tight-alignment defensive end, a loose-alignment defensive end/linebacker, and even as a true zero-technique nose tackle. However, most of his snaps went to playing as a 3-4 defensive end."
He came to BYU on an academic scholarship and chose to stay at school and finish his classes instead of training full time for the combine. While that may concern some teams that wonder how much he loves football, it shows that he's an intelligent person and hard worker.
Ansah’s 1.5 sacks in the Senior Bowl demonstrated what he’s capable of as a pass-rusher from an outside alignment, even if he needs to develop his pass-rush moves. Stoner notes this in his scouting report:
As a pass-rusher, he displays heavy hands and the flexibility to work a bend in his rush. Despite rarely being used this way in college, Ansah is clearly most comfortable when aligned wide, where he has a bit more time to react and can use his athleticism and heavy hands to his advantage.
Ansah uses his hands and length to keep blockers from engaging him, which will serve him well as he makes the transition to a 4-3 defensive end in the NFL. He has some boom-or-bust potential if he doesn’t develop, but he could just as easily turn into one of the best players in the NFL in a couple of years.
Overall, Ansah is the third-best defensive-end prospect in the 2013 NFL draft class.
Drafted: Detroit Lions, Round 1, Pick 5
You can view Bjoern Werner's complete scouting report from Eric Stoner by clicking here.
Pass-rushers are valuable in the NFL, and there is no disputing that the German-born Bjoern Werner was one of the best in the college football last year. He may not be the biggest, fastest, strongest or most agile athlete, but Werner has the uncanny ability to anticipate the snap and fire off the line of scrimmage.
Unfortunately, Werner is a bit of a one-trick pony as a speed pass-rusher. Here's what Stoner's report had to say:
Overall, Werner lacks either great length or explosiveness (31" Vertical/111" Broad Jump) for an edge rusher. He dropped nearly 20 pounds entering his junior season, going from 275 to 255. Playing at a lighter weight allowed Werner’s greatest asset to be highlighted—his excellent snap anticipation. He shows flashes of good upper body strength, but he lacks flexibility and has a tendency to play upright (highlighted by a 7.30 Three-Cone/4.40 Short Shuttle) — negating any speed-to-power rush potential he might have.
There may be some concern that his snap anticipation and first step will be negated in the NFL because he’s not a very explosive athlete. Werner’s ideal fit is probably as a pass-rushing left defensive end in a 4-3, but he might be able to play in a 3-4 as an outside linebacker as well.
A lot will depend on Werner's ability to play the run, and he wasn't very stout at the point of attack at Florida State, which makes him more of a pass-rush specialist at the next level. If Werner's nap anticipation and first step don't translate into immediate success as a pass-rusher, Werner doesn't have much else to lean on.
Stoner notes Werner's below-average play against the run in his scouting report:
While Werner shows flashes of good play against the run, his effort can get somewhat lackadaisical. He will go through spurts where he doesn’t hustle in pursuit or engage in the play whatsoever if the action goes away from him. He also struggles setting the edge when teams run right at him, and he has a tendency to run and dance around blocks at the point of attack.
A team looking for immediate pass-rush help will probably take Werner early, but he may be limited to a specialist role going against slower-footed right tackles initially.
Overall, Werner is the fourth-best defensive-end prospect in the 2013 NFL draft class.
Drafted: Indianapolis Colts, Round 1, Pick 24
You can view Datone Jones' complete scouting report from Sigmund Bloom by clicking here.
One of my favorite prospects in the draft is Datone Jones. During the Senior Bowl practices, Jones was basically the only defensive end prospect to flat-out beat Eric Fisher in one-on-one drills. Jones is a high-effort, high-motor player who loves the game and can play virtually anywhere on the defensive line.
Jones is on the big side for a 4-3 defensive end at 283 pounds, but he ran a 4.8-second 40-yard dash and might be able to play end and slide inside on passing downs. Jones reminds me of a smaller, slightly more agile version of Lamarr Houston if he stays on the outside.
Bloom's assessment of Jones' strengths sounds like a scouting report that would be written about Houston if we didn't know any better:
Jones is a massive, strong defensive end who fires off of the snap into violent collisions with offensive linemen that he usually wins by staying low and hitting hard. He often knifes into the backfield to disrupt running plays and can change direction in the open field much better than his size would suggest he could. Jones' motor runs hot, and he can make plays with perseverance when his initial attack fails. He is a handful for any blocker and often draws holds with the endless fight in his game.
Jones lacks the bend to be an elite pass-rusher in the 4-3, and his best fit is either at left defensive end or in the 3-4 as a penetrating one-gap defensive end like J.J. Watt (although he’s not on Watt's level). For a team that wants to use both four- and three-man fronts, Jones is the ideal player.
Bloom notes that Jones has some athletic limitation to his game, much like Houston:
Jones is not a quick twitch edge-rusher, and he isn't able to bend and turn the corner well enough to be an effective outside rusher in the pros. His high cut build makes it tougher for him to anchor against the run, especially when his pad level gets too high. While he exhibits ideal pad level off of the snap, Jones can then get too high and lose leverage, especially when he is rushing the passer.
It's hard to imagine Jones not being successful because his competitive drive is top-notch and he possesses plenty of talent to become a solid player. He may never be an elite player, but there are not that many of those available in this draft. For a team looking for guy that can have a long, successful NFL career, Jones is a great bet.
Overall, Jones is the fifth-best defensive-end prospect in the 2013 NFL draft class.
Drafted: Green Bay Packers, Round 1, Pick 26
You can view Cornellius "Tank" Carradine's complete scouting report from Sigmund Bloom by clicking here.
Although he’s coming off an ACL injury, Cornellius Carradine is a favorite in the online-scouting community. Matt Miller clearly feels the same way about Carradine, as he is not only his top defensive end, but he’s in his top five overall.
Here's what Bloom had to say about Carradine:
Carradine is the most natural pass-rusher in this draft class. He bends and turns the corner like he was born to do it, and he's strong enough to stagger an offensive tackle with his punch. "Tank" has a killer instinct when he is close to the quarterback and uncoils to seal the deal with sure results when he is in range. His whole game is aggressive, and offensive tackles are always on their heels when they are trying to block Carradine.
He plays low with his knees bent like a linebacker when he is in the open field and he can change direction and close like a linebacker too. His combination of size, speed, strength, explosion and fluid movement is very rare indeed.
Not only is Carradine a good pass-rusher, but he’s a true right defensive end in the 4-3, which is somewhat rare in this draft class. Carradine uses his 34.75-inch reach to keep offensive tackles away from his body.
The other great thing about Carradine is that he plays the run well and has a great motor. He is explosive and aggressive and has the athleticism to quickly react to what he’s seeing from the offense. He’s an elite prospect and would be going early in the draft if not for the concern over his knee injury.
Bloom also notes Carradine's weaknesses:
If you're looking for the 2013 draft prospect with the quickest get-off at the snap, Carradine isn't it. He's sometimes hesitant and almost never the first defensive lineman out of his stance. Carradine can also have trouble anchoring against the run and reading the play.
If there were ever two weaknesses that were coachable, they would be pad level and snap anticipation. Carradine has also flashed an ability to get off the snap quickly on passing downs and anchor; he's just been inconsistent. He doesn’t understand leverage yet, but once he does, he’s going to be a nightmare to block.
If you are looking for a hard worker, Bloom notes that Carradine should also be your guy:
Carradine has won awards for his off-the-field qualities. The fact that he was able to work out for scouts a week before the draft after an ACL tear is an indication that he’s working hard to contribute for a team this season.
Overall, Carradine is the best defensive-end prospect in the 2013 NFL draft class.
Drafted: San Francisco 49ers, Round 2, Pick 8
You can view Margus Hunt's complete scouting report from Eric Stoner by clicking here.
Ezekiel Ansah is a rare athletic freak, but Margus Hunt is right there with him. There are differences, but both are foreign-born players who have only been playing football for the last couple of years.
Hunt has great straight-line speed and strength, but he lacks flexibility and doesn’t play with great pad level all the time because of his height (6’8”). Hunt is also older than most prospects, as he will be 26 years old by the time the season starts.
Eric Stoner notes some of the key traits that make Hunt an interesting prospect:
Hunt’s background as a physical specimen is well-known to those who follow college football. An Olympic caliber track and field performer in the discus and shotput, Hunt put up the top performance in the bench press (38) as well as the third best 40 time (4.60 seconds) amongst defensive linemen.
His 7.07 second short-shuttle time was good for eighth, but his 7.07 three-cone time did not crack the top 15.
He’s truly one of the craziest athletes in this draft class. If Hunt can figure out how to play with proper pad level consistently, he has the potential to be an impact player in the NFL as a 3-4 defensive end. Obviously, there are questions with Hunt's technique and agility, or he'd be considered a much better prospect.
Stoner breaks down Hunt's limitations:
While he does have speed around the edge, he is a very linear, stiff and upright player who could struggle as a true turn-the-corner defensive end unless given a very wide alignment. There are questions as to whether he can re-direct or bend when he gets run upfield by more athletic tackles.
His height and pad level also prevent him from being a true speed-to-power rusher, as he struggles getting under offensive linemen and rolling his hips through contact to effectively bull rush.
His greatest asset as a rusher will likely come when he can get inside of offensive tackles who over-set against his speed.
The strength and athleticism is there, but Hunt is missing a few key traits which could impact his ability to get the quarterback in the NFL. Hunt still has upside and against the run he's really solid, even though he doesn't always play with proper pad level.
Hunt is likely headed to a 3-4 team as a defensive end because of his potential to be good or great run-defender. If he learns to play lower, he could be a special player at the position.
Overall, Hunt is the eighth-best defensive-end prospect in the 2013 NFL draft class.
Drafted: Cincinnatti Bengals, Round 2, Pick 21
You can view Damonte Moore's complete scouting report from Ryan Lownes by clicking here.
Damontre Moore was a potential top-10 pick in March, but after putting up just 12 reps on the bench press at the combine and looking just average in agility drills, he’s dropped down the board considerably. Matt Miller still has him ranked 35th overall and resisted the urge to drop him lower just because of a poor combine performance.
Moore had excellent production in college, but he lacks the explosiveness to be an elite pass-rusher at the NFL level and struggles to bend around the corner. Part of the reason Moore was productive is because he has 34.75-inch arms and used his hands well to shed blockers and keep them from engaging.
Lownes' scouting report primarily cites Moore's lack of athleticism as the reason he's no longer considered an elite prospect:
While he looks the part at 6’4.5", 250 pounds with very long, 34.75” arms, Moore is a relatively average athlete. He looks faster on tape than his 4.95 40 time would indicate, but he lacks the explosiveness and fluidity of some of his peers.
Despite average athleticism, Moore has impressive instincts and awareness with a good motor, according to Lownes. Despite some positives, Lownes is leery that his pass-rushing prowess will translate to the NFL.
Moore also has trouble anchoring versus the run and his pad level can get too high. Since Moore is an effort player, that sometimes works against him in the run game and offenses try to take advantage of him charging upfield.
Lownes' report is mixed on Moore's ability against the run:
Though I am satisfied with his overall effort level, he too often stands straight up out of his stance and has trouble anchoring at the point of attack. This is particularly detrimental when teams run at him, as he too easily loses contain and winds up turned around. Additionally, he can be found guilty of being too aggressive at times, taking himself out of position to make a play.Moore struggles to anchor at the point of attack. On this play, being blocked by Alabama OT D.J. Fluker, he loses contain.
Having said that, I am generally impressed by Moore’s level of comfort in space. He appears fairly natural and flashes good recognition skills. For his size, he exhibits outstanding range, playing the run less like a defensive end and more like a linebacker.
It appears a switch to 3-4 outside linebacker might help hide some of Moore's flaws, which is something Lownes also concluded in his report. For a team willing to gamble on his motor and instincts, there's more than enough positives for him to turn into a solid starter in the NFL.
Overall, Moore is the seventh-best defensive-end prospect in the 2013 NFL draft class.
Drafted: Oakland Raiders, Round 3, Pick 4
You can view Sam Montgomery’s complete scouting report from Eric Stoner by clicking here.
Sam Montgomery is a solid 4-3 defensive-end prospect with questionable intangibles and character. If looking strictly at the film, Montgomery is a very good prospect capable of making an impact in the NFL. Montgomery is the kind of guy that needs a strong locker room with good leadership to reach his full potential.
Montgomery has made a habit of getting the wrong kind of attention, even if he's never been in serious hot water. Per Stoner's report:
Montgomery has never had any arrest or suspensions from LSU. His work ethic will likely be called into question by NFL teams after his name appeared on this list during the season. He also admitted to taking weeks off against lesser opponents during his interviews at the NFL Combine. The LSU coaches were rumored to have been "slamming him" to NFL teams, so he could very well wait a long time to hear his name called on draft day.
If a team feels like they can motivate and get the best out of Montgomery, he has some traits that make him an interesting prospect. However, Montgomery is not the type of talent that teams will take a risk drafting because his upside is relatively limited.
Montgomery was a productive player and remained a starter despite plenty of talent at LSU. Perhaps Montgomery's character concerns are a bit overblown since LSU never benched him for not showing up to workouts or poor play. If you look at the raw skills, Montgomery could become a starter.
Stoner put it succinctly:
"Montgomery’s lack of closing speed and flexibility around the edge will probably limit his pass-rushing impact in the NFL, but his ability to use length and strength should make him serviceable as a base defensive end. His movement off the snap is fairly quick, however he is usually so delayed coming off the ball that he gives offensive tackles a head start in retreating in their pass protection."
There's potential and skill, but Montgomery isn't helping himself by showing up to Barkevious Mingo's press conference at the combine or admitting he didn't always give 100 percent effort. Montgomery is unable or unwilling to even put on a good face when interviewing for the biggest job of his life.
Overall, Montgomery is the ninth-best defensive end prospect in the 2013 NFL Draft class. Just don't be surprised if he falls because teams have removed him from their draft board.
Drafted: Houston Texans, Round 3, Pick 33
You can view Alex Okafor's complete scouting report from Ryan Lownes by clicking here.
Alex Okafor was a versatile player at Texas, but he projects to be much more of a situational pass-rusher in the NFL because he’s not the greatest run-defender. Okafor was extremely productive in college as a pass-rusher, but he lacks the measurable athleticism that most of the elite pass-rushers in the NFL possess.
Lownes had this to say about Okafor's prospects as an NFL pass-rusher:
Utilizing a devastating bull-rush, he gave pass protectors fits at the line of scrimmage. Though lacking speed and flexibility, he displays very good snap anticipation, often beating blockers with a quick first step.
He is rarely knocked off his feet, demonstrating balance. Violent, active hands help him keep blockers away from his body.
A concern, however, is that he might lack the variety and explosiveness to win the edge consistently at the next level.
Although Okafor proved to be a productive college pass-rusher, there is concern that it will not translate and he doesn't provide much help in the run game to merit a selection otherwise. In fact, Okafor may prove to be a total liability against the run in the NFL.
Lownes' scouting report is rather harsh when it comes to Okafor's ability to defend the run:
Despite being a three-year starter on the Longhorns front, Okafor experienced his share of struggles against the run. The ability to shed blocks helps him make plays in the running game, but he is inconsistent keeping containment and does not hold the edge well.
Recognition skills appear to be an issue, as he often is fooled and has trouble locating the ball. He frequently guesses incorrectly one zone-read plays and play-action, struggling to process what is occurring in front of him.
Okafor may have limited upside because he lacks the athleticism to be an elite pass-rusher and is not currently a very good run-defender, but with development, he could turn into a very solid NFL starter and be immediately used as a nickel pass-rusher. Whatever team takes Okafor is going to have to be comfortable with his ability to get the quarterback in the NFL, but everyone needs pass-rushers.
Overall, Okafor is the sixth-best defensive-end prospect in the 2013 NFL draft class.
Drafted: Arizona Cardinals, Round 4, Pick 6
You can view William Gholston's complete scouting report from Wes Stueve by clicking here.
We’ve seen the name Gholston before; William Gholston is indeed the cousin of former draft bust Vernon Gholston. Unlike Vernon though, William is a bigger defensive end prospect at 6’6” and 281 pounds.
Stueve notes Gholston's strength are very different than his cousin:
"At 6'6", 281 pounds, Gholston is a big player with the frame to add more weight. He's a solid athlete, as well, and he's faster than his 4.96 40-yard-dash time suggests. At times, Gholstondemonstrates great power, shoving offensive linemen into the backfield. His ability to shoot the interior gap even when playing outside is also impressive."
Gholston projects to 3-4 defensive end because he’s not very athletic and doesn’t have the agility or flexibility to turn the corner as a pass-rusher.
Gholston's weaknesses according to Steuve:
"Though he is capable of playing with power, Gholston's lack of technique often hinders him. He stands straight up upon the snap, surrendering leverage to the offensive lineman, which is often costly in the run game. Gholston also commits to the pass rush too early, often losing containment.
Gholston isn't a great pass-rusher, either. He lacks the burst, bend and pass-rush repertoire to make much of an impact there. In fact, Gholston's lack of ability against the pass likely limits him to playing the 5-technique position in a 3-4 defense"
At this point, Gholston is player worth developing as a 3-4 defensive end, but he’ll need to add some weight and work on his pad level if he wants to have a more successful year than his cousin Vernon.
Overall, Gholston is the 18th-best defensive end prospect in the 2013 NFL Draft class.
Drafted: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Round 4, Pick 29
You can view Malliciah Goodman’s complete scouting report from Ryan McCrystal by clicking here.
Malliciah Goodman is not considered a great athlete or a good pass-rusher, but he is considered a good run defender thanks to his 36.5-inch arms.
McCrystal’s on Goodman strengths:
"Goodman doesn't stand out in any one area, but he is among the most well-rounded defensive linemen in this year's draft class.
Many of the elite prospects have achieved stardom due to their pass-rushing ability, and while Goodman will never be a perennial double-digit sack master, he is one of the better defensive ends at playing the run.
While his upside is modest, if he wins a starting job he should be a true three-down lineman."
Goodman is a capable player and has the physical tools to play at least two downs in the NFL. He's an intriguing prospect if he can develop into an effort rusher and stay on the field.
McCrystal notes Goodman's weaknesses:
"In this era of high-flying offense, NFL teams want defensive linemen who can consistently pressure the quarterback. Unfortunately, Goodman lacks the explosive athleticism to make that happen.
His college stats are decent, but he took advantage of favorable matchups and rarely won battles when matched up against top-flight offensive tackles."
Goodman has the size and length to play in the NFL immediately. As a left defensive end in a 4-3, he could develop his pass-rush moves and become a solid starter.
Overall, Goodman is the 14th-best defensive end prospect in the 2013 NFL Draft class.
Drafted: Atlanta Falcons, Round 4, Pick 30
You can view john Simon’s complete scouting report from Garrett Baker by clicking here.
Although he played 4-3 defensive end in college, John Simon might have to switch positions in the NFL because he’s a smaller defensive end prospect and lacks the length to make up for it.
Simon’s strengths according to Baker’s scouting report:
+ Solid, thick upper body
+ Plays with a very high motor
+ Pursues the ball and tackles well
+ Great leader, team captain
Simon is one of those effort players with good intangibles, but lacks the elite athleticism to be an elite NFL prospect. Baker listed his weaknesses:
- Issues with height and length
- Not explosive off the line
- Doesn't have great pass-rush moves
- May need to change to a 3-4 OLB
Simon is built like a linebacker and would probably be best served using his athleticism standing up in a 3-4, but he could translate to any scheme. He's one of those players that you want to love.
Overall, Simon is the 12th-best defensive end prospect in the 2013 NFL Draft class.
Drafted: Baltimore Ravens, Round 4, Pick 32
You can view Cornelius Washington’s complete scouting report from Sigmund Bloom by clicking here.
Melvin Ingram and Jadeveon Clowney overshadowed Devin Taylor during his time at South Carolina, but he’s a solid prospect in his own right. He certainly has the size at 6’7” and 266 pounds with 36-inch arms and a 35-inch vertical jump. With those numbers, Taylor is theoretically capable of swatting a pass an amazing 12.5 feet in the air.
Bloom noted Taylor's strength and there were mostly based on his athleticism:
"Taylor is a tall, long-limbed defensive end who disrupts passing lanes as well as anyone in this class. He moves relatively well for his body type, and can change direction much better than a 6'7" defensive end should be able to.
He is stout at the point of attack against the run, and Taylor usually creates some pressure from the outside on passing downs. Taylor has a good motor and awareness, so he'll get in on plays when he is initially defeated, or when they go away from his side of the field. He's also a rare defensive end who has multiple pick sixes in his collegiate career."
Taylor ran the 40-yard dash in 4.72 seconds and had a 6.89-second three-cone time, which are all excellent for a man of his size. He’s an athlete, but he’s not really explosive and lacks technique as a pass-rusher.
Bloom’s scouting report on Taylor's weaknesses:
"With a limited array of pass-rush moves, and little to no variance of pass rush strategies, Taylor creates most of his pressure with his physical tools. He isn't a quick-twitch player and doesn't play with urgency. Taylor lacks great flexibility, balance and power as a pass-rusher, and might have trouble adjusting to the better pass blockers of the NFL.
In general, Taylor is a player with much better tools than production, and he doesn't play up to the level of his physical abilities."
Overall, Taylor is the 15th-best defensive end prospect in the 2013 NFL Draft class.
Drafted: Detroit Lions, Round 4, Pick 35
You can view Lavar Edward’s complete scouting report from Joshua Cornwall by clicking here.
The third-wheel pass-rusher at LSU was Lavar Edwards, but things could change once he gets to the NFL. Josh Norris, who writes NFL draft content for Rotoworld.com and NFL.com, has Edwards ranked ahead of Sam Montgomery.
Cornwall’s scouting report on the 6’4”, 277-pound defensive end includes the following strengths:
"Aside from his physique, Edwards has a non-stop motor when pursuing the quarterback or ball-carrier in the backfield. He finished with 10.5 sacks in limited snaps during four years in central Louisiana. He also racked up 20 tackles-for-loss during that same time frame, according to sports-reference.com."
Edwards has 35.5-inch arms to go along with his big frame. Edwards' weakness is at the point of attack as he tends to get pushed around by heavier linemen.
Edwards' weaknesses per Cornwall:
"Despite his size, Edwards has a tough time pushing around heavier lineman on a consistent basis. His initial push is good, but the secondary moves are not nearly as strong if the first attempt does not work."
Edwards has an intriguing skill set that is worth developing. Don’t expect to see his name early, but he’s a name to monitor as the draft shifts from potential starters to situational players and developmental prospects.
Overall, Edwards is the 16th-best defensive end prospect in the 2013 NFL Draft class.
Drafted: Tennessee Titans, Round 5, Pick 9
You can view Sam Montgomery’s complete scouting report from Sigmund Bloom by clicking here.
Quanterus Smith is a popular sleeper pick because of his ability as a pass-rusher. Against Alabama last season, Smith recorded three sacks, which is something that gets attention from scouts. Smith tore his ACL in November, but he could provide a great value for a team willing to wait until he’s healed.
Sigmund Bloom heaped praise on Smith in his scouting report:
"Smith is the most advanced pass-rusher in this class. His use of hands and sequencing of pass-rush moves/tactics to set up his opponent over the course of a game is far beyond anything any other pass-rush prospect has exhibited. A quick first step, the lateral agility to change up or adjust mid-rush and the power to finish are all there. He rarely lets a quarterback in his sights escape, and when he finishes, the passer usually gets blown up."
Why isn't Smith getting more media attention? You could make a case that the ACL tear coupled with the fact that he played at Western Kentucky has kept things quiet, but the online draft community knows about him. There's certainly a lot to like in his game from a technical standpoint and he has good size.
Smith does have his negatives that Bloom briefly touched on in his report:
He's not a quick-twitch speed-rusher and will have more trouble going outside against more athletically gifted NFL offensive tackles. Smith often plays too high off the snap and will need work on his pad level.
Smith also usually played against a lower level of competition and may have had inflated stats. Some of these things are hard to ignore. Average athleticism, small school and good production are rarely the recipe for an elite pass-rusher. A team willing to gamble on technique over athleticism may get a steal in Smith once he’s fully healed, but they may have to sit on him for a year.
Overall, Smith is the 10th-best defensive end prospect in the 2013 NFL Draft class.
Drafted: Denver Broncos, Round 5, Pick 13
You can view Stansly Maponga’s complete scouting report from nfl.com by clicking here.
Zimbabwe-born defensive end prospect Stansly Maponga chose to declare for the NFL draft after his junior year at TCU, but he’s a fringe prospect at this point.
Maponga is not overly impressive athletically at 6’2” and 256 pounds, but he did put up 30 reps on the bench press at the combine despite not participating in any other drills.
Maponga’s strengths per NFL.com:
"Compact, powerful build with what appear to be long arms for his height. He has a solid punch with consistent hand placement. He's an aggressive player and can work his hands. Locks out his arms in order to create separation from his blocker. Physical. When he times up the snap well, he has a good first step. Showcases some flexibility."
Powerful and aggression are traits football coaches love and he does have the baseline required athleticism to play in the NFL. There's enough here to make Maponga an interesting prospect.
NFL.com's negatives are things that appear to be mostly coachable:
"Doesn't have ideal height. Very inconsistent off the snap, at times will be the last one moving. Will get upright off the snap. Has a initial burst, but fails to find an extra gear in his pursuit to the backfield. Doesn't look comfortable in space. Struggles to counter when the offensive lineman gets his hands on him or hits him with a cut block."
Overall, Bass is the 20th-best defensive end prospect in the 2013 NFL Draft class.
Drafted: Atlanta Falcons, Round 5, Pick 20
You can view Tourek Williams’ complete scouting report from Dan Tylicki by clicking here.
Tourek Williams is another small-school pass-rushing prospect trying to make a splash in the NFL. At this point, he’s a developmental pass-rusher that needs to learn how to use his athleticism.
Tylicki notes Williams' strengths:
Williams is quite athletic for a defensive end, and his speed and agility should easily translate to the NFL. He is able to pass rush easily, getting around the tackle and going after the quarterback. His motor in these situations is good.
His lateral quickness is just as good as his agility, and can make plays off the side if needed. He's also versatile enough that, if needed, he may be able to move to linebacker in the NFL, though he fits better as a defensive end.
There's a lot to like about Williams as a developmental player and he may also be versatile, but he does come with some drawbacks.
Williams' weaknesses per Tylicki:
"Williams did not exactly face tough competition in the Sun Belt, and the leap to NFL may be overwhelming. He does not have a lot of range, since his hands and arms are not that big.
Perhaps most importantly, while he is a good pass-rusher, he struggles stopping the run or dropping into coverage. Especially if there is a draw play, if he has to change direction and modify how he plays, it is not easy for him to make the adjustment."
Overall, Williams is the 19th-best defensive end prospect in the 2013 NFL Draft class.
Drafted: San Diego Chargers, Round 6, Pick 11
You can view Cornelius Washington’s complete scouting report from Chris Roling by clicking here.
Cornelius Washington is the rare prospect in that he could make the transition from 3-4 outside linebacker to 4-3 defensive end in the NFL. Washington also played some 3-4 defensive end at Georgia, but he doesn’t possess the size to play there at the NFL level. Since not many prospects make the transition from a 3-4 to a 4-3 player from college to the pros, some NFL teams could fear the unknown.
Roling noted the following strengths:
+ Prototypical size with room to grow at 6'4" 265 pounds.
+ Elite workout numbers.
+ Great get-off and use of length to get past linemen.
+ Physical style that creates turnovers.
Washington possesses the size to play defensive end in the 4-3 at the NFL level. Washington was also a top performer in the 40-yard dash, bench press, vertical jump and broad jump at the combine. He has done everything right during the pre-draft process to raise his draft stock.
Washington’s weaknesses per Roling:
- Tendency to rush stiff and upright.
- Takes plays off.
- Average flexibility and change-of-direction.
- Limited production in college.
Roling also notes that Washington was cited for a DUI and suspended for two games. Washington blasted fans on his Facebook page, drawing the ire of the Bulldogs fanbase.
Overall, Washington is the 13th-best defensive end prospect in the 2013 NFL Draft class.
Drafted: Chicago Bears, Round 6, Pick 20
You can view Joe Kruger’s complete scouting report from Wes Stueve by clicking here.
The younger brother of Paul Kruger is getting surprisingly little love from scouts, but Joe Kruger is a solid prospect. At 6’6” and 269 pounds, Kruger is the ideal size to play 4-3 defensive end, but he’s capable of adding or dropping weight off his frame if asked and could probably also play 3-4 defensive end if given time.
Stueve’s scouting report is a positive one for a player ranked this low:
"Kruger has great size and length—his arms measure in at 34.38" long. He has the frame to add weight and could probably even drop a few pounds if he was asked. As an athlete, Kruger is underrated. For his size, he can move reasonably well, and his Scouting Combine performance was impressive. Kruger plays with excellent natural strength, showing a strong punch and the ability to overpower offensive linemen. On run plays, Kruger does a great job of flowing to the ball, and he rarely surrenders ground. As either a run-defender or pass-rusher, Kruger can blow up linemen, pushing them into the backfield."
Most of Kruger's skills would translate well to the 3-4 defense as long as he isn't expected to provide much pass-rushing ability. A one-dimensional run defender is not as highly valuable as they used to be.
Kruger's weaknesses per Stueve:
"As a pass-rusher, Kruger remains unrefined. He relies on his power too much and doesn't properly utilize pass-rush moves or his hands. Kruger also comes out of his stance too high, and only his sheer strength keeps him from being overpowered at the point of attack. He needs to better utilize leverage. Kruger's burst and quickness are merely okay for a defensive end, and he will probably never be a great threat off the edge."
Overall, Kruger is the 26th-best defensive end prospect in the 2013 NFL Draft class.
Drafted: Philadelphia Eagles, Round 7, Pick 6
You can view Michael Buchanan’s complete scouting report from nepatriotsdraft.com by clicking here.
Michael Buchanan is another player that has the potential to be a great Day 2 pick for team looking for a pass-rusher. Buchanan brings versatility to the table because he has the frame to add weight and stay at defensive end or move to outside linebacker.
Per nepatriotsdraft.com, Buchanan's strengths and weaknesses as a pass-rusher:
+Shows off an impressive repertoire of rush moves and counters.
+Able to vary his club, swim, spin, push/pull and rip/dip moves to keep linemen off balance.
+Relentless in pursuit of the quarterback, closes very well.
+Has a good first step, gets off the snap quickly.
-Occasionally loses balance with his violent movements.
-Gets a little high in his bend and will allow the tackle to recover at times.
-Could add some more inside moves to his bag of tricks.
Although noting he needs to add bulk to compete at the next level, Buchanan is also good run defender. There's enough skill here that Buchanan can turn into an every down player.
Here are his strength and weaknesses against the run via nepatriotsdraft.com:
+Excellent open field tackler, looks comfortable in space.
+Uses strength and hands to disengage from linemen, sheds and locates the ball well.
+Delivers a powerful initial punch.
+Pursues sideline-to-sideline, good motor.
+Explodes through contact, powerful tackler.
+Anchors well for an undersized lineman.
+Spills plays to the outside when appropriate, can also force RB back inside by keeping outside arm clean.
=Sets a hard edge in college, but will need to add bulk to compete at the next level.
-Gets engulfed at times by bigger linemen.
There’s a lot to like about Buchanan if you can get past his average college production playing for a bad Illini defense.
Overall, Buchanan is the 11th-best defensive end prospect in the 2013 NFL Draft class.
Drafted: New England Patriots, Round 7, Pick 20
You can view David Bass’ complete scouting report from Brandon Alisoglu by clicking here.
Every year, there is a small-school prospect with amazing college production whom people will peg as a late-round sleeper. This year, that player is probably David Bass, who played defensive end for Division II Missouri Western State.
His strengths per Alisoglu:
"Bass is a solid athlete with impressive speed (4.82 at the combine, 4.69 at his pro day) and great lateral quickness. His 4.33 seconds in the 20-yard shuttle was the fourth-best time at the combine for defensive ends, which was quicker than super freaks Dion Jordan and Barkevious Mingo.
On the field, he's a natural pass-rusher. Bass used his speed and agility to record the most sacks in Missouri Western State history (39.5) and was incredibly durable (50 consecutive starts).
Bass also reportedly held his own at the East-West Shrine game, so he didn't just dominate lower competition. He’s obviously going to be raw, but he’s a very intriguing developmental defensive end or outside linebacker prospect."
Bass' weaknesses are obvious per Alisoglu:
"Any Division II player is going to face questions regarding the competition, but he did hold his own in the East-West Shrine game. Bass lacks of technical moves. He was able to get by using his natural abilities.
He could also benefit from some time in the weight room. His 20 bench reps was almost doubled by the top performers at defensive end."
Small-school prospects are always interesting and Bass is no exception because he has the physical tools to match the production and is more refined than most plays that play at a lower level.
Overall, Bass is the 17th-best defensive end prospect in the 2013 NFL Draft class.
Drafted: Oakland Raiders, Roung 7, Pick 27
David King hasn’t received much attention from scouts, though he was expected to make some noise this past season for the Oklahoma Sooners. At 6’5” and 286 pounds, King looks like a 3-4 defensive end with upside potential.
NFL.com’s scouting report noted that King has always been talented, but that hasn’t been updated since last year.
The best analysis of King came via OptimumScouting.com:
David King makes his money as a stack and shed, 5-technique type of defensive end. Oklahoma incorporated more four-man fronts in 2012 than in years past, but nevertheless, King used his heavy hands to direct the point of attack and work to the football. He’ll never be an exceptional player at the next level, but I firmly believe King will be a valued rotational lineman early and possibly a starter later in his career.
Overall, King is the 24th-best defensive end prospect in the 2013 NFL Draft class.
Drafted: Philadelphia Eagles, Round 7, Pick 33