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NFL Position Breakdown: Defensive Ends

todayApril 30, 2015 4

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By Kyle Spencer
KTSW Sports

DRAFT

This draft is full of potential impact players at defensive end, and with many teams early and late in the draft looking to fill this position, things could get interesting. Here’s my top five picks for defensive ends in this year’s NFL draft.

5. Alvin Dupree, Kentucky
Probably the fastest of the ends at the combine, Dupree has a lethal combination of strength, speed and just overall athleticism, but Dupree lacks legit pass rushing moves. He relies too heavily on solely his athleticism which I don’t think will pay well for him in the NFL. He also has trouble stopping the run. But he does have good hands picking up a pick six in the upset win against South Carolina and one pass batted. The biggest thing that Dupree has going for him is his speed and size. He is 6’4” 269 lbs and ran a ridiculous 4.56 in the 40.
His stat line is nice recording 74 tackles with 11.5 tackles for a loss but only 7.5 sacks. He is player that can improve quickly if given to the correct team and I believe that he would be a good pick up if available early in the second round.

4. Randy Gregory, Nebraska.
While Gregory did admit to failing a drug test at combine he did pretty well. He’s a player with an arsenal of moves off the line and doesn’t just rely on his speed in the pass rush. He is a little bit undersized, only weighing in at 235 but he is 6’5”. In 2014, Gregory picked up 56 tackles, 8.5 were tackles for a loss, 1 forced fumble, 7 sacks, 3 pass break ups and one interception. These stats are still with Gregory missing three games during the season nursing an ankle injury and some concussion issues.
I believe that Gregory will slip in the draft because the drug test issues. He also didn’t do well in the interview portion of the combine but I don’t believe that should have too big of an impact. The bottom line is this man is aggressive and quick pass-rusher coming off the line the scrimmage. He’s a smart pass-rusher and takes advantage of both smaller and bigger lineman with his bull rush or array of speed moves. Gregory could be a great mid-to-late first round pick. Although I do believe he will probably drop down into the second round

3. Shane Ray, Missouri
Ray is probably quickest outside pass rusher in this draft. He has the elite ability to just blow by the tackle and get that edge to the quarterback. Ray does well in pursuit of the runner but has trouble covering a runner coming straight at him, so he will probably come out during obvious running situation. Ray stands at 6’3” and weighs in at 245, and with a 4.7 40 time Ray isn’t the top athlete among defensive ends but he is athletic. But don’t let the 40 time fool you, his quickness and outside moves allow him to be an effective pass rusher.
An injury prevented Ray from working out at the combine so coaches and scouts rely on his stats alone, which are pretty stellar. In 2014 Ray recorded, 14.5 sacks, with multiple sack games 4 games. He also put up 65 tackles, 22 for a loss and 3 forced fumbles. He also had a stand out performance against one of the top offensive tackles in Florida’s D.J. Humphries. The only thing holding Ray back is lack of length and inability to clog up the runner. Still could be a valuable player with a pretty big upside and from I’ve heard and seen he’s a young man that is eager to learn and improve.

2. Dante Fowler Jr., Florida
Fowler is probably hardest hitting end in the draft. He’s aggressive fast and not afraid to put his nose in the action. He’s 6’3” 261 lbs and ran a 4.6 40 and on top of that he had one of the fastest times in the first 10 yards of any front-seven defender at 1.59 seconds. This shows his quick feet and athleticism. Also Fowler shows great leadership and character in his interviews.
Fowler could eventually become a player that is known for sacks. He has the ability to blow by tackles and he has the moves to go along with his speed. He is very versatile, while at Florida he played many different positions and at each spot he gave that lineman trouble. In 2014 Fowler recorded 60 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 15 tackles for a loss, one pass brake up and 1 forced fumble. Fowler was a bright spot for a Florida team that hasn’t been in top shape the past 2 years and he is a player that can have immediate impact in any system in the NFL. I predict he will be a top 15 pick in this year’s draft.

1. Leonard Williams, USC
Williams made sure to show the scouts that he was the best defensive lineman available. Williams who weighs in at 300 lbs and stands at 6’5” showed off his wheels with a 40 time of 4.91. Even with his impressive showing at the combine teams are still not rating him very high. I think he is the best available defensive lineman. His ability to fit into any defense into the NFL is a valuable asset. Along with that he has the ability to rush the passer and at the same time clog the running lane with his size. He sheds blockers like no other and has the footwork of a professional already.
I think Leonard Williams is a starter from the beginner. I think no matter where he goes he will be on the field from the first snap. In 2014 Williams put up 80 tackles, 7 sacks, 1 interception, 3 forced fumbles, and 3 passes batted and 8.5 tackles for a loss. His combination of size, speed, hands and feet makes him the most valuable defensive lineman in the draft. He’s been a part of huge plays for the USC defense and he will continue to make big plays in the pros.

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