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2012 NFL Draft - Defensive Ends
North Carolina DE Quinton Coples
North Carolina DE Quinton Coples
Posted Apr 14, 2012

There are several huge question marks in this year's hit-or-miss position.

2012 NFL Draft Position Rankings

Defensive Ends

By Pete Fiutak
- 2012 NFL Defensive End Rankings - No. 11 - 25

- Defensive Tackles
- Inside LBs
- Outside LBs
- Cornerbacks
- Safeties


2011 NFL Prospect Rankings & Breakdowns
- QBs | RBs | FBs | WRs
- TEs | OTs | OGs | Cs 
- OLBs | ILBs | DTs | DEs
- CBs | Ss

2011 NFL Post-Combine Draft Rankings
- Top 32 Talents
- 2nd Rounders
- 3rd Rounders
- 4th Rounders
- 5th Rounders
- 6th Rounders
- 7th Rounders & Top Free Agents  


2010 CFN Talent Rankings
- 1st Rounders
- 2nd Rounders
- 3rd Rounders
- 4th Rounders
- 5th Rounders
- 6th Rounders
- 7th Rounders 
- Top Free Agent Talents 

2010 CFN Position Rankings & Analysis

- QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs
- Cs | OTs | OGs | DEs
- DTs | ILBs | OLBs
- Ss | CBs
This Class Is … Okay, but not great. The best prospect is Quinton Coples, but he has to prove he wants it, while others like Chandler Jones, Nick Perry, and Whitney Mercilus are among a slew of short-time producers who had one monster year to go on. There aren't a slew of outside linebacker/defensive end hybrids, but there are a slew of 3-4/4-3 ends who can work in a variety of roles. There aren't any sure things and there will be plenty of wild misses.

The Best Value Pick Will Be … Vinny Curry, Marshall
Most Underrated … Taylor Thompson, SMU
Most Overrated … Chandler Jones, Syracuse
The Deep, Deep Sleeper Is … James Brooks, North Alabama

1. Quinton Coples, North Carolina 6-6 284
Very big, very strong, and versatile enough to be used as an end in a 4-3 or a 3-4, he can handle himself in just about any situation without a problem. With the prototype body and bulk, he can hold up well against the run and is enough of an athlete to get into the backfield. No, he’s not a speed rusher, but he’s great when he gears up and he’s able to put the clamps down when he’s on a quarterback. It’s all there, but how bad does he want it? He’s the type of player who could come up with phenomenal sack numbers by making one big play a game but not doing much else the rest of the time. There’s no questioning his talent and there’s no doubt he’s an elite prospect on pure tools, but he’s going to need a strong head coach who isn’t afraid to do some pant-kicking. If he wants it, he’ll be a perennial Pro Bowl performer who dominates a defensive front. If the intensity isn’t there, he’ll be decent, but maddening.
CFN Projection: First Round

2. Melvin Ingram, South Carolina (OLB) 6-2, 265
The guy makes things happen. He might not have the right body type, and he might be a bit of a tweener without a defined position, but whether he’s at outside linebacker, a 3-4 end, or as a 4-3 speed rusher, he’s going to get behind the line and he’s going to be disruptive. Smooth as silk, he cuts and flows like a much smaller player, but there’s nothing finesse about his game. He’ll take on bigger blockers and he’ll fight to make a play. The main concerns are about appearances. He’s a bit too short, a bit too squatter, and he looks more like a pumped up linebacker than a true end. There’s also the question about the résumé with just one really strong year to go on. There’s a spot for him in just about any defense, but it’s going to take some out-of-the-box thinking to figure out exactly what to do with him.
CFN Projection: First Round

3. Whitney Mercilus, Illinois (Jr.) 6-3, 254
A tremendous pure pass rusher, he was dominant throughout last year even when teams tried to figure him out and key on him. Even when the Illini went into the tank as a team, he kept fighting and kept pushing. A great closer, when he has a ball-carrier or a quarterback locked in, it’s over, and he’s rarely a half step late. There’s no fear about effort; he brings the push every snap and is a good leader. However, he might be a specialist. He’s not going to hold up against the power running teams and he’s only built for the outside in 4-3. The other major problem is his history with just one phenomenal year. There were always hints he could become special, but it didn’t all kick in until 2011. He might not be ready out of the box for anything other than getting into the backfield, but he might Jason Pierre-Paul-like, needing to spend a year or so figuring it out before blowing up.
CFN Projection: Second Round

4. Nick Perry, USC (Jr.) 6-3, 271
A typical superstar USC recruit, he’s right out of central casting with the rocked up look and strength to match. Throw in his tremendous speed – clocking in under a 4.6 at the Combine – and all the tools are there. At the very least if he doesn’t turn out to be an all-around playmaker, he’ll have a good career as a pass rushing specialist with the ability to turn the corner on a dime. Can he put it all together and be a consistent pro? He was a good college player and turned in a disruptive 2011, but he might be a one-trick pony. That trick, though, could be really, really good if a team isn’t too concerned about stopping the run.
CFN Projection: Second Round

5. Vinny Curry, Marshall 6-3, 266
An outstanding and productive college player who didn’t get enough national attention playing at Marshall. A worker, he never took anything for granted and always seemed to work to improve and sharpen his game. With good pass rushing ability, quickness, and strength, he’s one of the best all-around ends in the draft. Good enough against the run and with an innate ability to never take a play off, there’s little bust potential. However, there also might be a hard ceiling on what he can do. He’s not an elite athlete and he can be shoved a bit – he’s better against the run when he gets to move a bit. When he gets to be a pure pass rusher he’ll be fine, but any team that gets him will be hoping for a true three-down defender.
CFN Projection: Second Round

6. Andre Branch, Clemson (OLB) 6-4, 259
A beefed up outside linebacker, he’ll be fine in almost any scheme on the outside in some way, shape, or form. A hybrid more than a tweener, he’ll probably start out as an outside linebacker before adding a little more weight – he has the frame to get up to 270 without a problem – to become a true end. Quick, he gets around in a hurry and looked the part at the Combine with smooth quickness and cutting ability. The concern will be against the run. Not really a run stopper of an outside linebacker, he’ll have to hit the weight room to become functionally stronger. The biggest issue, though, is a back problem that’s not going to get any better after getting beaten on. There’s going to be a large Buyer Beware sign on his back, but he could flourish out of the box if he’s used only as a speed rusher.
CFN Projection: Second Round

7. Cam Johnson, Virginia (OLB) 6-3, 268
Versatile and tough, he’s able to work as an outside linebacker and could become a pass rusher as either a 4-3 end or a 3-4 linebacker, he has the body and the athleticism to work in a variety of roles. He moves well and is an athletic marvel in space with smooth cutting ability to go along with surprising take-on strength when blocked. But can he jack up the intensity all the time? When he’s on, he’s great, but he seems to go unnoticed for long stretches. Everything is in place to be a terrific pro, but there’s something missing – it seems like he’s simply not able to find the consistent fire and isn’t a killer. He’s a much better prospect than a college football player, but there’s a huge upside.
CFN Projection: Third Round

8. Trevor Guyton, California (DT) 6-3, 285
Able to play as a 4-3 tackle or a 3-4 end, he’s versatile enough to be used in a variety of ways as a decent all-around player. There’s nothing special about his game and he doesn’t do any one thing at a superior level, but there isn’t any major deficiency. Great against the run, he’s strong, tough, and he’s always working. Motivation is never a problem and he’s a leader up front with the type of character that coaches love. Not an athlete, he’s not a speed rushing end and will probably be at his best in a 3-4 scheme. There’s little creativity in his pass rushing skills and there’s nothing splashy about his game. He’ll get the job done and that’s about it.
CFN Projection: Third Round

9. Jake Bequette, Arkansas 6-4, 274
With a constant motor he’s always working, always going full-tilt, and he never takes plays off. A strong pass rusher, he’s not necessarily a speed rusher, but he gets into the backfield and gets to the quarterback on want-to and desire. Even though he’s quick, he’s not the prettiest of pass rushers and he’s not going to fly around the edge. However, it’s over when he gets a line on a quarterback. Just an okay athlete and not a strong enough run defender, he can be shoved around and will be erased if keyed on. He’s a smart layer with an interesting all-around game, but he might not have the raw talent to do much more than just be a functional defender. There’s little upside, but he should be a solid part of a rotation.
CFN Projection: Fourth Round

10. Shea McClellin, Boise State6-3, 260
Versatile with a good skill set to work as an outside linebacker as well as an end, he has the fire and the fight to produce anywhere he plays. After bulking up a bit he’s better built to be a 4-3 end with the ability to stay on the field for all three downs. He doesn’t miss a tackle and he’s great at chasing down ball-carriers. While he’ll battle and he should be stronger at the bigger weight, he has to become functionally stronger and better in the weight room to hold up for a full 16-game season. Not quite athletic enough to be a starting linebacker and with average end skills, he might be a bit overdrafted considering his worth will be as a backup in several spots. Even so, every coach will love his effort and will wish the rest of team could play with the same intensity.
CFN Projection: Fourth Round

- 2012 NFL Defensive End Rankings - No. 11 - 25