After a very impactful sophomore campaign that helped the Florida Gators win the National Championship, Dunlap was on the national radar of every NFL scout and looked like an eventual top 10 pick.
But, after some spotty performances during the season and a not overly impressive postseason thus far, Dunlap has fallen not only out of consideration for a top 10 spot, but a now is a fringe first-round talent.
Why He Was High On Boards:
While I'm not a huge stat guy when it comes to evaluating a prospect, having five sacks in the last eight games of the 2008 season definitely caught my eye. Dunlap seemed to get off his blocker on almost every play and had a chance to take over a game at any time. And judging by his sophomore showings, the sky seemed to be the limit for this immensely talented defensive end.
And, especially in a few games this season, Dunlap looked as if he was starting to become a consistent, dominating force. He used his physical nature, great size, and well-known athletic ability to show scouts during most games of the year that he has the next level talent.
Why He’s Falling On Boards:
If you noticed in the why he was high on boards section, I mentioned "some games" quite a bit. He looked great against Mississippi State and Vanderbilt, but they were two of the least-talented in the SEC. But, against LSU, South Carolina, and Georgia, he had a combined one sack. However, even after the lackluster season filled with inconsistencies, he was stilled viewed as a solid first rounder.
But, towards the end of the season, the draft stock began to take a hit. Dunlap was charged with a DUI and was suspended for the all-important SEC Championship Game. Then, at the Combine, his workout numbers were average and he wasn't great in the interview process, which definitely raised some red flags. Plus, his legs looked awfully skinny and he didn't move overly well, which means he's not a 3-4 outside linebacker in most schemes and may need a pass rushing 4-3 role only.
My Scouting Report:
Dunlap was a prospect I was very intrigued most of the season. When I'm scouting great athletes in their younger years, I like to compare their current game film to the years past to see how they've adapted their skills to on the field performance. But I never really saw the CONSISTENT growth as a player in Dunlap.
When I compare him to a guy like Jason Pierre-Paul, defensive end from South Florida who's also in this draft, Dunlap should be ahead of him in pass rushing technique by at least a year. But, he's a little more effective against better talent, not much, and doesn't have the complete body size to handle chop blocks, power lineman, and pulling guards all that well. Also, I can't deny that recent busts at defensive end from Florida like Derrick Harvey and Jarvis Moss, both of which were great athletes and had off-the-field issues as well, seem like they could be older versions of Dunlap.
Dunlap is still a first round talent in my opinion, if he goes to the right system. Like I said, I don't think he's a rookie fit for a 3-4 defense, but a pass rushing 3-4 with bigger defensive ends could allow him to develop into that role like a Manny Lawson. He adds some versatility in that respect, but he's also limited in which schemes and even which divisions he can play in because of his abilities.
Watch for him to go to one of these six teams:
17 to San Francisco
24 to Philadelphia
32 to New Orleans
2 to Detroit
5 to Washington
11 to Miami
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