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2012 NFL Draft Analysis - DEs No. 11-25
Tennessee DE Malik Jackson
Tennessee DE Malik Jackson
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Apr 14, 2012


From a college football perspective, here's the analysis of all the top DE prospects.

2012 NFL Draft Position Rankings

DEs - No. 11-25


By Pete Fiutak

- 2012 NFL Defensive End Rankings - Top Ten

11. Chandler Jones, Syracuse (Jr.) 6-5, 266
Athletic, he’s tall, lean, and moves like a basketball player with a smooth ability to move around the edge. This might be just the start with a frame that can easily handle another ten pounds of good weight and be just as effective. Eventually, getting bigger is a must – he has to camp out in an NFL weight room - considering he’s missing the raw speed to fly around the edge. While he brings the effort and he’ll work to get better, he’s not all that physical and he could use a bit more bulk to end up as a 3-4 end. Likely to be overdrafted, he’ll be a good player, but someone is going to be hoping for an elite pass rusher will probably be disappointment.
CFN Projection: Second Round

12. Jack Crawford, Penn State 6-5, 274
Very big, he’s a huge, tough presence with intimidating size and just enough pass rushing ability to be used in a variety of ways. There’s tremendous upside as a possible rock of a 3-4 end, and while he doesn’t quite have the raw skills to be an elite defender, there’s excellent upside. Working at his craft won’t be a problem as he’ll get bigger, stronger, and will always give an honest day’s effort. While he ran a good 40 at the Combine, he’s not athletic and at times he can play like the textbook definition of a stiff end. Worth a flier, there’s nice potential as long as someone is patient and is willing to take a year or so to work on his technique.
CFN Projection: Fourth Round

13. Shea McClellin, Boise State 6-3, 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

14. Malik Jackson, Tennessee 6-4, 284
Just big enough to be a tackle if absolutely needed, and just quick enough to be used as an end, he’s a versatile option who’ll likely be working as a 3-4 end. While he’s not an elite athlete, he does a nice job of holding up against the run and moves well to make plays on the move. He doesn’t have enough athleticism be considered a top pass rusher, and he needs to hit the weight room to get functionally stronger; he’s a tweener both in good and bad ways. With good character and good leadership skills he’s the type of player who stays on a roster because he’ll do whatever is needed in a backup role, While he’ll never be a star, he can carve out a decent career as a swing reserve.
CFN Projection: Fifth Round

15. Olivier Vernon, Miami (Jr.) (OLB) 6-3, 261
While he could’ve used another year to prove himself, he almost had to come out early after a rough 2011. Suspended for violating NCAA rules, he missed most of the season and now he has yet to show he can put it all together. A good tweener, he can either be a big outside linebacker or a defensive and could potentially be a major producer at either spot. A pure pass rusher, if nothing else works he could find a role as a specialist with a good burst into the backfield and with the motor to always keep working. A good college player when he was actually on the field, he was never special and could’ve used another year or two of seasoning. He’ll be taken purely on potential, but there’s enough there to take a mid-round chance and hope to hit a pass rushing jackpot.
CFN Projection: Fifth Round

16. Jacquies Smith, Missouri 6-2, 253
Very smart and self-motivated, he’ll always work and he’ll do what’s needed to make a team and become a factor. While he’s not all that big, he’s a blur off the edge and he’s devastating when he has gets a bead on a ball-carrier or a quarterback with great finishing skills – occasionally. He was a good college player, but not an elite one. Even so, he’ll be a pass rushing specialist. Able to work as an outside linebacker or a poor man’s Von Miller-like playmaker on the outside, he could find a role if he gets a chance. Size is the problem with no room to get any bigger and he’ll be flattened by any NFL tackle.
CFN Projection: Fifth Round

17. Tyrone Crawford, Boise State 6-4, 275
A true end who can play and produce in any system, he’s strong enough and big enough to be a solid 3-4 end and is good at holding up against the run. Athletic for his size, he moves well enough to be a worker who gets into the backfield on a regular basis. Even though he was productive, he needs more time and more polish. While there’s a ton of upside, he’s not a finished product and needs to figure out how to do the little things right. He’s not going to be an elite pass rusher without the needed burst, and he could be the type of player who stuff things up but doesn’t put up a ton of stats. While he’s a good prospect, he only produced at a high level for one year and there’s still a little bit of concern that he can hold up.
CFN Projection: Fourth Round

18. Donte Paige-Moss, North Carolina (Jr.) 6-4, 268
Everything depends on how quickly he can return from a torn ACL late in the season. Anyone who takes him will have to wait at least a year before the payoff comes, but there’s reason to stow him away. Tall and with a great frame, he’s a lean end with the potential to add a bit more good weight, and he could do that with the time off. Before he got hurt he was able to zip into the backfield with terrific athletic ability. Even though he might not look like it, he’s not bad against the run and holds up well. But as he tries to get back to 100%, will he work to make himself into a top player? There are mega-character concerns about his want-to and he never seemed to improve, but it he wants it, he should become a great prospect in a few years.
CFN Projection: Sixth Round

19. Taylor Thompson, SMU 6-6, 266
With excellent size and a terrific frame, he lost weight and got quicker but can easily get back up to 280 and become a 3-4 end. Strong, he holds up well against the run but has decent interior quickness moving like a much smaller player. A solid all-around defender, he has a high ceiling with the chance to become a nice mid-round pick who could stick as a productive backup. Can he keep the foot on the gas all the time? He doesn’t bring the lumber on every play and it shows as an inconsistent pass rusher, and he’s still trying to figure out all the little things to do to become great. It’s all there, but he needs the right coach to be creative and unlock all the potential.
CFN Projection: Fourth Round

20. Scott Solomon, Rice 6-3, 262
A hard-working pass rusher who’s consistently good at getting into the backfield, he showed off insane strength at the Combine with 34 reps. The strength translates to the field with the fire to push his way around to make a play. With decent size, he holds up well and has an explosive blast off the ball to go along with great quickness to zip past the lumbering linemen. However, he’s not fast and he came up with most of his production against the weak and the sad. The problem is that he doesn’t really fit a type. He’s not really an outside linebacker and he’s not quite big enough to become a top end. He’ll have to be a good backup in a variety of roles to make a roster.
CFN Projection: Sixth Round

21. Jamie Blatnick, Oklahoma State 6-3, 263
Extremely strong for his size, he’s going to be seen as an outside linebacker who can also see time on the end, and vice versa. Smart, outside of an awful mistake in a bar fight that got him into a heap of legal problems, he doesn’t make any on-field errors and always seems to be in the right plays at the right time. Not fast enough, he doesn’t have any special physical tools to be a standout in the pros. However, he’s a football player who has the right attitude and temperament to be a factor. He’s the type of prospect that some defensive coordinator falls in love with because of the motor and intangibles, takes him in the middle rounds, and then becomes a quick camp cut.
CFN Projection: Fourth Round

22. Frank Alexander, Oklahoma 6-3, 270
Very long with a big frame and great size, he’s got the body to go along with the pass rushing ability. When he gets around the edge and he’s able to get to the quarterback it’s over. He’s a terrific closer and has a great final step with the ability to work in several alignments and produce. However, he’s not a great athlete and doesn’t stand out physically in any one way. While he was productive and was a top-level Big 12 sacker, he doesn’t quite have enough to be a specialist at the next level and has a very, very short ceiling. If he makes it, it’ll be as a backup.
CFN Projection: Sixth Round

23. Akiem Hicks, Regina (Sask.) 6-4, 318
A rare specimen, the former LSU Tiger is huge but can move. A true 4-3 end who can sit inside as a 4-3 tackle if needed, he swallows up everything against the run and moves shockingly well. Able to play almost anywhere up front he could be a top reserve if he can’t find a starting job. The straight-line speed isn’t there, but he’s athletic and surprisingly quick off the ball. However, he needs a ton of work and seasoning, and he’ll have to show he’s ready to play up to his size with the big boys and is willing to work. He has a body and abilities that can’t be coached, but everything else will need to be molded.
CFN Projection: Fifth Round

24. Justin Francis, Rutgers 6-2, 268
An undersized defensive tackle who’ll ideally fit as a tough 4-3 end, he moves well and its with a ton of bricks. One of the quicker ends around the short drills at the Combine, he can get around the corner without a problem and is creative enough to zip inside and make things happen. However, he’s just too small and isn’t going to be a three-down defender. Not strong enough to be a tackle and not quite athletic enough to be a pure speed rusher, he’s going to need to prove right away that he can be a productive backup end or he’ll be an easy cut.
CFN Projection: Sixth Round

25. Julian Miller, West Virginia 6-3, 256
A nice pass rusher with good ceiling, he’s a strong tackler for his size and he doesn’t miss when he gets his hands on a ball carrier. A fighter, he’s always working with a high motor and he’s great in space. Tough, he holds up well against the run even at his lighter weight. A far better football player than an athlete, he’s not fast enough, not creative enough, and he can’t work as an outside linebacker. He’ll have to be a star on special teams to make a team and he’ll have to show something early on in a camp to stick.
CFN Projection: Seventh Round

- 2012 NFL Defensive End Rankings - Top Ten