Defensive End Rankings
Defensive Ends: Note these are linemen who will primarily play Defensive end in a 4-3 or 3-4. Some might end up being moved to rush linebacker or even defensive tackle, but end is their primary position. Other guys who are rush linebackers or DT’s primarily weren’t included in these rankings.
1. Derrick Morgan- Morgan is a prototypical 4-3 defensive right end. A pure pass rusher who can penetrate the backfield and disrupt the play. He is also being looked at as a rush linebacker, given his immense talent and pass rush ability. I think he will struggle some if he needs to stand up, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go to the Browns or Dolphins.
2. Brandon Graham- Graham may be targeted as a rush linebacker, but he deserves a mention here. He is considered too short to play defensive end, but once the game clock starts going no size limitation is going to stop Graham. He has one of the best motors in this draft, and constantly disrupts plays in the backfield. Whether he is used as a end or linebacker, Graham will make an impact in the NFL. I think his size concerns will make him fall into the 19-25 range, but he is a vastly better player then that.
3. Jason Pierre-Paul- Pierre-Paul is possibly the biggest boom-or-bust prospect in this draft. He had a fantastic year last season at South Florida, but really hadn’t done much before then. I think he may be better suited as a 3-4 OLB, since he will have more freedom in rushing the passer and won’t get as much attention against opposing tackles. Overall whoever drafts him, should use him as a situational pass rusher in year one, but he does have the potential to be an elite end/rush linebacker.
4. Everson Griffin- Griffin is the perfect size and speed combo teams are looking for in a 4-3 DE. Physically and in workouts, Griffin looks like a top 15 prospect, but he didn’t always translate that ability to the game. I think his inconsistent play will hold him back in the draft some. He could get picked by either Seattle or Tennessee in the mid-part of round 1, but if he makes it past them he could slide to the end of the round or top of round two.
5. Carlos Dunlap- Dunlap and Griffin in many ways are the exact same player. Dunlap is best in the workout room and in drills, but on the game film he looks more average and doesn’t pursue every play. Dunlap also has some off the field issues which put him below Griffin. If Dunlap ever realizes his natural talents he could become the best DE in this draft and potentially even the best all-around player. While his upside is that high, the question of him reaching it is pretty large as well. I think he will slide into the 2nd round, possibly even to the middle of the round.
6. Corey Wootton- Wootton is another 4-3 DE with good size. He doesn’t have the incredible athleticism of some of the other DE’s, but he has a strong work ethic and never gives up on a play. He also plays smart, and always seems to exploit the weaknesses of his opponents. Wootton is probably a late 2nd round prospect, who could even fall to round 3, since he doesn’t have the versatility to play the 3-4.
7. Alex Carrington- Carrington is a small school prospect, who has been moving up draft boards this off-season. He is an interesting prospect because of his size. Carrington has the bulk to play either left defensive end in a 4-3 or end in a 3-4. He is still pretty raw, and was a man amongst boys at Arkansas State, so it is hard to fully judge him, but the potential is there. He will never be an elite pass rusher, but if he can work on his technique some, he could become solid. Carrington won’t likely hear his name drafted until the 3rd round, but the upside is there.
8. Ricky Sapp- Will probably end up being a rush linebacker and would rank higher there. Though he might not play with his hand down, Sapp could be a good right defensive end particularly if he plays next to a top tackle. Sapp has had some injury concerns so that could knock him down some, but the talent is there.
9. Greg Hardy- Hardy at one point would have been 1st or 2nd on this list, but major injuries have hampered his career. Hardy was once one of the best pass rushers in the nation, but still hasn’t recovered fully from a bad car accident and has lost some of his speed. At one time was considered a rush linebacker/defensive end, but should considered more of an every down left end/ 3-4 end now. Unfortunately Hardy hasn’t seemed to adjust well to not having his elite pass rushing speed, making him a work in progress. If he is developed right, Hardy could be a steal since that natural talent is there, and some of the speed could come back. If he doesn’t change his game, Hardy could end up being a major bust.
10. Clifton Geathers- While most might consider Geathers more of a late round project, I think he has solid 4th-5th round talent. He can play anywhere on the line in a 4-3 and should make a strong 3-4 defensive end. He is great at the point of attack, and really seemed to be a key part of the South Carolina defense. While not an elite or even great pass rusher, Geathers gets into the backfield and forces throws. I really think his future is in the 3-4 and he could end up being a pretty good starter in a couple of years.