Continuing our coverage of the 2014 NFL combine I am presenting my list of the top 5 defensive end prospects. I am basing these rankings on the scouting reports and/or film study we did here at YDCFF. We donâ€™t pay much attention to media projections, we compile our own board. Despite the fact we didnâ€™t post scouting reports on some of these guys, we did study the game tape and their combine performances.
Height: 6-5 | Weight: 266
College: South Carolina
40 time: 4.53 | Bench Reps: 21
Grade: 83.5 | Round: 1-2
I know pretty much everyone is projecting Clowney as a top 5 pick in the draft. I agree he is a top 5 defensive end, but he left me with too many questions that drew some red flags. The kid is by all means an athletic freak of nature. He has good height, length and athletic ability. In my opinion, a top ranked pass rusher should have better upper body strength. He wont be able to rely solely on his speed at the next level.
My problems are things like a drop off in production from 12 sacks as a sophomore to 3 as a senior. People will say he got double teamed etc. The fact of the matter is, that is par for the course in the NFL. If he only got 3 in college, how many will he get at the next level against better competition? If anything, a top prospect should have had better production than the other guys. Analysts will say you draft him because of his potential. Bill Parcells has a saying I tend to agree with.
â€œWe are in the player acquisition business, not the potential business.â€
Potential is for later round picks. Refusing to do the football related drills at the combine hurt his grade some more. When I consider the fact his own coach said his work ethic wasnâ€™t the best, it hurt him even more. My biggest question is: how do I know when he gets paid his work ethic doesnâ€™t get even worse? Sorry, but I had to rank him 5th. I cant drop a high pick on a player with so many question marks by his name. You can see his NFL draft tracker report here.
Height: 6-3 | Weight: 273
College: Oregon State
40 time: 4.84 | Bench reps: 24
Grade: 83.5 | Round: 1-2
Scott Crichton is a guy who showed a lot of improvement in 2013 and had a good showing at the combine. He isnâ€™t as athletic as some of the other players, but he is a solid football player. He logged 7.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss in 2013. You can see his NFL draft tracker report here. This is one grade I disagree with. I had him higher. He is definitely a top 5 defensive end prospect.
Height: 6-2 | Weight: 252
40 time: 4.53 |Bench reps: 29
Grade: 85.0 |Round: 1-2
Dee Ford is extremely athletic and despite his small stature, was among the strongest DEâ€™s at the combine putting up 29 reps of 225 on the bench. He logged 10.5 sacks and and 14 TFlâ€™s which led the team. He was a First team All-SEC selection in 2013. For me itâ€™s about production and he more than tripled Clowneyâ€™s sack total. He not only had 2 in the National Championship game, he got 2 in the 2013 Senior Bowl. He is definitely a top 5 defensive end prospect. You can see his NFL draft tracker report here.
Height: 6-3 | Weight: 251
College: Boise state
40 time: 4.80 | Bench Reps: 20
Grade: 87.0 | Round: 1-2
DeMarcus Lawrence is extremely athletic with good length. He boasts 33 3/4 inch arms and 11 inch hands. If there is one thing I know about Boise players, they are very well coached and smart kids. As I said before, itâ€™s about production. Lawrence logged 10.5 sacks and 20.5 tackles for loss in 2013. My biggest knock on him is his strength, but once this kid gets stronger he will be a top ranked pass rusher in the NFL. You can see my scouting report on him here.
Height: 6-4 | Weight: 273
40 time: 4.92 | 3 cone drill: 6.83
Grade: 87.5 | Round: 1-2
Kony Ealy has elite athletic ability and excellent measurables: good height, weight and 34 1/2 inch arms. My biggest knock on him is his strength. He is young and raw, but his production more than doubled each year in college. In 2013 he logged 8 sacks and 14 TFLâ€™s. He has a very high ceiling and should see multiple pro bowls. I look at him and see the next generation pass rusher. You can see his scouting report here. I donâ€™t have a problem ranking him #1 among the top 5 defensive end prospects.
Stephon Tuitt is a better fit as a DT in the NFL in my opinion, but he would also make a good 5 technique in a 3-4 defense. In the event heÂ gets drafted and used as a 3-4 DE, I would have him tied as the 3rd best defensive end in this draft, and the best 5 tech prospect overall. You can see my scouting report on him here.
The bottom line is, all of these kids more than Doubled Clowneyâ€™s sack count. You can rank them all as you see fit, but there is a lot more to playing football than natural athletic ability. That will get a kid through college, but it doesnâ€™t work at the next level. It takes a lot of hard work, dedication and time in the film room. I donâ€™t see Jadeveon Clowney as that type of player.