NFL Draft 2011: Top 10 Defensive Ends in this Draft Class

Keaton Wolfe@@keatonwolfeContributor IIIFebruary 26, 2011

NFL Draft 2011: Top 10 Defensive Ends in this Draft Class

0 of 10

    TUCSON, AZ - SEPTEMBER 25:  Quarterback Nick Foles #8 of the Arizona Wildcats is pressured as he scrambles by Cameron Jordan #97 of the California Bears during the first quarter of the college football game at Arizona Stadium on September 25, 2010 in Tucs
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Defensive ends are probably the most important position in a defense. Good defensive ends get to the quarterback quickly to help out the secondary, stop the run and contain the outside.

    An NFL 4-3 prototypical defensive end is 6-foot-5 and 280 pounds, while a 3-4 defensive end is usually around 300 pounds. They have long arms, great strength, a good first step, good instincts, show great effort and get off of blocks.

    This year's class of defensive ends is very deep with many that could go in the first two rounds. Here are my top 10 defensive ends in the 2011 NFL Draft.

10. Pernell McPhee, Mississippi State Bulldogs

1 of 10

    JACKSONVILLE, FL - JANUARY 01:  Pernell McPhee #90 of Mississippi State tackles Fitzgerald Toussaint # 28 of the Michigan Wolverines during the Gator Bowl at EverBank Field on January 1, 2011 in Jacksonville, Florida  (Photo by Rick Dole/Getty Images)
    Rick Dole/Getty Images

    Height: 6'3''

    Weight: 275

    McPhee is a solid pass-rusher. He gets in the backfield, displays good skills, is stout against the run and maintains containment. He has good lateral mobility and was an All-American in his two seasons at junior college.

    McPhee was not a very productive player at Mississippi State and will probably not be explosive in the NFL, but he will be a good backup defensive end in the league.

9. Allen Bailey, Miami Hurricanes

2 of 10

    FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - SEPTEMBER 17:  Defensive lineman Allen Bailey #57 and linebacker Colin McCarthy #44 of the Miami Hurricanes celebrate after scoring a safety against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Land Shark Stadium on September 17, 2009 in Fort
    Doug Benc/Getty Images

    Height: 6'3''

    Weight: 280

    Bailey is a great athlete with good speed and power, playing the run and containing well. He will play through injuries and as of now will play 4-3 defensive end.

    However, Bailey had a horrible showing at the Senior Bowl. He is a very inconsistent player that needs to develop better pass-rushing skills.

8. Greg Romeus, Pittsburgh Panthers

3 of 10

    LOUISVILLE, KY - OCTOBER 02:  Adam Froman #9 of the Louisville Cardinals is sacked by Greg Romeus #91  of the Pittsburgh Panthers during the Big East Conference game at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium on October 2, 2009 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by An
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Height: 6'6''

    Weight: 270

    Romeus has excellent size for a defensive end. He was double-teamed a lot at Pittsburgh and has a lot of upside, even though he didn't play football until his senior year of high school. Good NFL coaching could make this smart player with good technique and ability a dominant force in the league.

    Romeus has had injury problems with back surgery and a torn ACL in the 2010 season-opener. High risk in that regard, but if he can stay healthy, he could be a star in the NFL. Romeus needs to play lower, get stronger and play to the whistle.

7. Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue Boilermakers

4 of 10

    COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 23:  Ryan Kerrigan #94 of the Purdue Boilermakers attempts to tackle Brandon Saine #3 of the Ohio State Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium on October 23, 2010 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    Height: 6'4''

    Weight: 255

    Kerrigan will be more suited as a rushing outside linebacker in a 3-4 and would have to add 15-20 pounds to be a 4-3 defensive end. He is a very hard worker with good awareness that forced 14 fumbles in his career, a Big Ten record. By using his arms and hands well against offensive lineman, Kerrigan had 30.5 sacks in his last three years at Purdue.

    However, Kerrigan is not a good athlete and probably won't be able to cover in the NFL. He could be just a great college football player that just doesn't fit anywhere in NFL defensive schemes. Although he played well in the Senior Bowl, he did not have good practices leading up to the game.

6. Aldon Smith, Missouri Tigers

5 of 10

    COLUMBIA, MO - OCTOBER 23: Aldon Smith #85 of the Missouri Tigers in action against the Oklahoma Sooners at Faurot Field/Memorial Stadium on October 23, 2010 in Columbia, Missouri.  The Tigers beat the Sooners 36-27.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Image
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Height: 6'5''

    Weight: 260

    Smith could play as a 4-3 defensive end if he adds the weight, or he could be a 3-4 outside linebacker.

    Before surprising some people by entering the 2011 NFL Draft, Smith had  11.5 sacks his freshman year and six his sophomore year. He is an explosive player with good pass-rushing skills and a great first step, not to mention a lot of potential and ability to cover people in space. He reminds me of a better Kalimba Edwards.

    Smith isn't a complete football player yet, since first starting to play his junior year of high school. He did not play in three games due to injury in 2010 and will have to work on technique wherever he plays. 

5. Adrian Clayborn, Iowa Hawkeyes

6 of 10

    TEMPE, AZ - DECEMBER 28:  Defensive end Adrian Clayborn #94 of the Iowa Hawkeyes during the Insight Bowl against the Missouri Tigers at Sun Devil Stadium on December 28, 2010 in Tempe, Arizona. The Hawkeyes defeated the Tigers 27-24.  (Photo by Christian
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Height: 6'3''

    Weight: 285

    Clayborn is a very high-motor guy who had a great junior season with 11.5 sacks, but slumped his senior year with only 3.5 sacks. He is a good tackler who can be very disruptive, and he's got great strength and versatility.

    With Clayborn going all-out during games though, he tired out at the end of them quite often. He doesn't have a good first step, and it takes him a while to get going. 

4. J.J. Watt, Wisconsin Badgers

7 of 10

    ANN ARBOR, MI - NOVEMBER 20:  J.J. Watt #99 of the Wisconsin Badgers is tackled after intercepting a fourth quarter pass by Denard Robinson #16 of the Michigan Wolverines at Michigan Stadium on November 20, 2010 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Wisconson won the g
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Height: 6'6''

    Weight: 290

    Watt will play at either defensive tackle in a 4-3 scheme or defensive end in a 3-4 scheme. By playing every position along the defensive line at Wisconsin, Watt dominated Big Ten offensive lineman, disrupted plays in the backfield and knocked down a lot of quarterbacks' passes at the line of scrimmage. He has a very high motor and displays outstanding technique.

    However, Watt isn't a great athlete and sometimes over-pursues plays due to his great effort. He needs to learn how to better contain and keep things inside of him. 

3. Cameron Jordan, California Golden Bears

8 of 10

    MOBILE, AL - JANUARY 29:Defensive lineman Cameron Jordan #97 of the North Team during  the Under Armour Senior Bowl on January 29, 2011 at Ladd-Pebbles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images for Under Armour)
    Sean Gardner/Getty Images

    Height: 6'4''

    Weight: 290

    Jordan projects to be a 3-4 defensive end in the NFL. He was very impressive at the Senior Bowl, with good strength and plays the run very well. With a good burst and good hands, Jordan also displays sound pass-rushing capabilities.

    Despite this, Jordan gets high in his pass rush and plays with poor leverage at times. He has been an inconsistent performer in college and hasn't played to his potential, but he looks like he's on the right track after raising his draft stock by dominating at the Senior Bowl. 

2. Robert Quinn, North Carolina Tar Heels

9 of 10

    CHAPEL HILL, NC - NOVEMBER 07:  Thaddeus Lewis #9 of the Duke Blue Devils is sacked by Robert Quinn #42 of the North Carolina Tar Heels during their game at Kenan Stadium on November 7, 2009 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Height: 6'5''

    Weight: 270

    Due to a NCAA rules violation of being involved with agents prior to eligibility for the NFL draft, Quinn didn't play in the 2010 season.

    He could be moved to a 3-4 outside linebacker, but has the frame to gain to dominate as a 4-3 defensive end if he gains a little more weight. With great speed and body control, Quinn uses his long arms and hands well and has a good motor for getting after the quarterback.

    Quinn still needs to get better against the run and gain strength to hold up against bigger offensive lineman. He could fall in the draft because of the NCAA violation, but probably won't due to his immense talent.

1. Da'Quan Bowers, Clemson Tigers

10 of 10

    AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 18:  Da'Quan Bowers #93 of the Clemson Tigers against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on September 18, 2010 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Height: 6'4''

    Weight: 280

    Bowers is a great athlete with good size for a defensive end. Despite a slow start to his college career, he still had an FBS-leading 15 sacks his junior year and could be the first overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. Bowers can beat double-teams and gets in the backfield disrupting plays. He also shows good closing speed and uses good technique.

    Sometimes Bowers gives up on plays and hasn't shown much consistency in his career at Clemson, disappearing at times.