BMF's Draft Analysis: The DL

Previous posts:

Intro/Draft Needs.

Defensive Line: What We're Looking For

It can be hard to differentiate guys that fit our 3-4 scheme from guys that don't.  The best way to find the types of guys we're looking for is to look at our current line.  At nose tackle, we're looking for a guy who is a threat to blow up any running play if he's single blocked and who can hold his ground when he's double teamed.  Being short can be an asset here, as Hampton uses his height to gain a leverage advantage.  It's also good if we have at least one DE (like Smith) who is a force in the running game and can hold his own against the double team as well.  Keisel is a very different player, not great in the running game, but is an asset against the pass - both rushing the passer and using his height to bat down balls.  Usually we're looking for college DT's who are fairly tall (6-3 to 6-6) and weighing in around 300 lbs. 

My Value Chart

 

Mid 1st

Late 1st

Early 2nd

Late 2nd

3rd

4th

5th

6th

7th

Priority FA

NT

 

 

 

Brace

Scott

 

Walker, R. Miller

 

 

 

3-4 DE

 

Hood, Jackson

 

Moala, Gilbert

 

Jean-Francois, Magee

 

Abdallah, Irvin, Hill

Pedescleaux,  Potter, Davis, Mitchell

Richard, Bolden

About Some of the Prospects

Evander Hood - I would totally take this guy in the first round. He has very solid production, meaning he's not a project. His combine numbers are outstanding, meaning he still has upside. He can both stand up at the point of attack against the run and get after the passer. He is a physical presence and has almost no injury history. Some notes from NFL Draft Countdown: He's "extremely coachable", a "hard worker" and "team leader". The negative: "Jack of all trades but master of none".  Sounds like a 3-4 DE to me.  More specifically, sounds like Aaron Smith to me.  If we were talking about pick 15, I might be hesitant to take a player who didn't blow me away.  However, at the end of the first I'm content with a well rounded guy who could anchor our DL for a long time and who almost has no downside. 

Tyson Jackson - I've seen mock drafts linking us to Jackson for several years now, but I am uneasy about us drafting him in the first. I'm worried that playing for LSU and lining up next to Glenn Dorsey has inflated his draft stock. I really would have liked to see him do the BP at the combine. The bench press doesn't completely translate to functional strength (see Gholston, Vernon), but it's a good indicator. Still, he's a consensus first round pick, so I feel obligated to include him as a first round option for us.  I'm still pretty sure he could hold up and solidify the future of our DL. 

Jarron Gilbert - Gilbert is an outstanding athlete who could grow into a pass rush threat while holding his own against the run. He's not quite a finished product, though: he played against inferior competition and had good, but not outstanding production. He dominated better competition at the East-West Shrine game, though, which is a very positive sign. His upside looks like a much better version of Brett Keisel.

Fili Moala - Moala is the complete opposite end of the 3-4 DE spectrum from Gilbert. He's not much of a pass rusher, but he has good technique, plays the run well, and has faced top competition on a regular basis. He doesn't strike me as a guy with a lot of upside, but he's a sure bet to contribute. He does have an arrest, basically for getting in the way of cops at a bar fight, but no charges were filed.

Ron Brace - Brace is a traditional run stuffing NT who makes his teammates (i.e. Raji) look better. Unlike a lot of NT's, he carries his weight well and he's not a fatty. Like Hampton, his lower body strength is his most impressive feature. That said I'm not sure he's worth our first pick, and I don't think he'll last until our second. My biggest reservation with him is a back injury that came and went throughout the season; there doesn't seem to be a significant long term problem there, but for 325 pound men, your back is last place you want issues. If he happened to fall to the end of the second round, he'd be a very good value.

Dorell Scott - He's probably more of a 4-3 NT, but he could play either NT or DE for us. At DE, he'd be an asset in the running game, where he has the natural lower body strength to hold up to double teams. At NT, he'd provide us with a better pass rush than Hampton without being a liability against the run. Still, he has some technique work to do before he's a finished product.

Ricky Jean-Francois - He's a solid run stuffer who is also a pretty good athlete. He's good at play recognition and finding the ball, but he has been inconsistent throughout his colligate career.

Alex Magee - Magee has a good skill set for a 3-4 end - he's solid against the run and can push the pocket in the passing game. He also looked good rushing the passer at the Senior Bowl. He will need some time to refine his technique in the running game against NFL competition, though.

Roy Miller - Miller may actually be one of the best NT candidates in the draft. He has good initial quickness to gain an advantage on the OL, and tremendous upper and lower body strength. He's big and short, but carries his weight very well, and also displays good hustle. He was productive for Texas and did very well at the combine. Most draft rankings have him in the 5-7 range, but I'd be okay drafting him earlier.

Vance Walker - He may need to bulk a little more, but he has the natural upper and lower body strength you're looking for in a NT. He doesn't always show the quickest burst off the ball - which means he may not draw double teams - but he's not going to move easily against the run.

Later Rounds - A lot of these guys (Zach Potter, in particular) remind of Keisel-types, and I'd be okay going after some depth, special teamers, and upside guys at DE with our three 6-7 round picks. 

Note about Terrance Taylor and others - There's always a DT who kills the bench press and looks like he could be a great NT if he just got in better shape. However, there's a reason those guys always go late in the draft - if they're not in shape now, they never will be.  Just about all the guys in my chart are in good shape, which bodes well for their work ethic and longevity.  If your wondering why I excluded a specific DT, there's a good chance they're fat. 

Next: BMF takes a break before diving into the OL next week. 

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