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2009 NFL Draft - The Defensive Ends

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Apr 22, 2009


The 2009 NFL Draft is almost here. From a college football perspective, here's the CFN ranking of the top 25 defensive end prospects led by Brian Orakpo, Tyson Jackson, and Everette Brown, along with the most overrated and underrated prospects and the deepest sleeper.

2009 NFL Draft Position Rankings

The Defensive Ends


2009 NFL Draft Post-Workout Rankings

Quarterbacks
| Running Backs | Fullbacks | Receivers | Tight Ends
Centers | Guards | Off. Tackles | Def. Ends | Def. Tackles
Inside LBs | Outside LBs | Cornerbacks | Safeties


By Pete Fiutak  

- 2009 NFL Prospect Rankings
Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Wide Receivers
Tight Ends | Off. Tackles
| Off. Guards | Centers
Defensive Ends
| Defensive Tackles | Inside LBs
Outside LBs | Safeties
| Cornerbacks

The Class Is ... all about the pass rushers. There's a new wave of hybrid ends who could be pass rushers from an outside linebacker position. Brian Orakpo, Aaron Maybin, and Everette Brown are just a few of the great athletes who should turn into stars for a defense. This is a deep group with several different options, with plenty of room for second guessing.

The Best Value Pick Will Be ... David Veikune, Hawaii

Most Underrated ...
Maurice Evans, Penn State

Most Overrated ... Tyson Jackson, LSU

The Deep, Deep Sleeper Is ...
Chris Baker, Hampton

Rankings of the 2010 Top Prospects
- Possible 1st Rounders
- Possible 2nd Rounders
- Possible 3rd Rounders
- Possible 4th Rounders
- Possible 5th Rounders
- Possible 6th Rounders
- Possible 7th Rounders & Free Agents
- Quarterbacks

- Running Backs
- Wide Receivers
- Tight Ends
- Offensive Tackles 
- Offensive Guards
- Centers
- Defensive Ends
- Defensive Tackles 
- Outside LBs
- Inside LBs
- Safeties
- Cornerbacks
- Punters & Kickers 

THE FRANCHISE

1. Brian Orakpo, Texas  6-3, 260
Either a 4-3 speed rusher or an outside linebacker in a 3-4, wherever he lines up he’ll get into the backfield on a regular basis. Extremely strong, he’s a freak of nature in the weight room and workouts with a jaw-dropping performance at the Combine. He has busted his tail to get bigger, stronger, and better since he first came to Austin. There are some durability concerns, but last year’s injury that limited him late in the season was a fluke. There’s a consistency question and there’s a huge concern about his motor, but when he’s on, he’s unstoppable. The other possible question is where to put him. He’s not really a linebacker and will probably be at his best with a hand on the ground. However, there’s no concern about how he handles himself against big tackles. Line him up, turn him loose, and let him wreak havoc as a devastating game-changer of a pass rusher.
CFN Projection: First Round


2. Aaron Maybin, Penn State  6-3, 250 (3rd year Soph.)
A true-tweener, he’s a defensive end who’ll likely be morphed into a hybrid player and likely an outside linebacker. Lightning fast off the ball, at least during the season, he blows around a corner effortlessly and with a burst that most tackles won’t be able to handle. Extremely tough, he’s able to take on big blockers and come back for more even when he doesn’t win a battle. However, he needs to get stronger and there’s a huge, glaring concern that he might slow down with the added bulk. He put on weight too quickly after the season and was far slower than expected in workouts. If you’re going by how he played at around 230 pounds, he’s stunning. If you’re going by what he might become once he learns to play bigger, there’s a potential problem. He needs time before he becomes the player he should be, but there is a big-time upside. But he’s not a sure-thing, safe pick and there’s told-you-so bust potential.
CFN Projection: First Round


3. Everette Brown, Florida State  6-1, 255 (Jr.)
Is he big enough? He has the athleticism to seamlessly transition into an outside linebacker in any system, but his moved and his pass rushing technique are so strong and so polished that he’s far more intriguing as a lightning-fast end. However, he’s not all that tall and he doesn’t have much room to get too much bigger, so this might be it. While he’s not a big-time run stopper, and the jury is out on whether or not he could become an all-around playmaker at linebacker, he’ll work to make himself better and has the character to try to become the best he can be. If nothing else, he’ll be a fun pass rushing toy for a defensive coordinator to play with.
CFN Projection: First Round

POSSIBLE NFL STARTERS


4. Robert Ayers, Tennessee  6-3, 275
The upside is enormous. Big, with the size to get a lot bigger, he could be just scratching the surface on what he can become. At least that’s the hope. He was fine in his one year as a major producer, but it took him a while to mature and he still has a long way to go. He made a name for himself with a strong Senior Bowl when he was great against the top offensive tackles in practices, but he struggled at the Combine with a bad bench and failing to show enough athleticism to become a consistent outside linebacker. A mediocre pass rusher, he needs a lot of work on his technique. Even so, with his size, he could be one of the boom players of the draft.
CFN Projection: First Round


5. Paul Kruger, Utah  6-3, 265 (3rd year Soph.)
One of the more interesting prospects with a wild story, he was beaten up and stabbed in a fight, was lucky to live, spent two years on an LDS Church mission, and blew up into one of the stars on last year’s unbeaten Ute team. A mature, athletic pass rusher who always goes full-tilt, he’s ready to go right now. However, this is it. While he can still get a bit bigger, this is basically it. There’s a ceiling on how good he can become, and he’s not the type of player who’ll blossom in three years. While he’s not elite in any one area, he doesn’t have a major, glaring weakness. There are going to be health issues considering all the crazy things that have happened to his insides from various surgeries, but he could be a poor man’s Chris Long.
CFN Projection: Second Round


6. Michael Johnson, Georgia Tech   6-7, 270
There’s first round, maybe top five overall talent, but he hasn’t always played like it. Extremely quick with freakishly long arms and great strength, he has all the tools to become a superstar if the light goes on. He has a passing interest in stopping the run and disappeared for long stretches. If he’s asked to just rush the passer, he could be the type of player who comes up with one sack a game and does nothing else, becoming overrated because of a gaudy sack number at the end of the year. He could be a major heartbreaker with great production in just enough games to show what he’s capable of … and then he’ll have everyone scratching their heads wondering why he can’t do that all the time.
CFN Projection: Second Round


7. Tyson Jackson, LSU  6-4, 295
More of a tackle playing end, Jackson is a dream of a 3-4 end and he could end up seeing time at tackle in the right situations. He’s not a pass rusher and if he gets to the quarterback it’ll be a fluke. His worth is as a strong run-stopper who won’t let anything get by him on the outside while getting just enough push into the backfield to warrant a second blocker. Despite playing on a great line for the last few years, he didn’t stand out as much as he should’ve despite being the second or third best player on the front four and not getting as much attention. There’s nothing special about him outside of his size, and he doesn’t have a full-tilt motor, but he’ll be around for a long time and be a great cog in the system because of his versatility.
CFN Projection: First Round


8. Lawrence Sidbury, Richmond  6-3, 267
Very long, very productive, and very, very fast, he has the skills to be one of the high-rising prospects in the draft. He was the fastest defensive lineman at the Combine ripping off a 4.54 to go along with his tremendous pass rushing production at the FCS level. He needs to show he can hold up against the better competition and he needs to develop more moves, but the upside is tremendous. Give him the right coach and ask him to blast into the backfield, and he should be able to do it. The athleticism, the strength, and the quickness are too much to be overlooked.
CFN Projection: Second Round

9.
David Veikune, Hawaii  6-4, 255
A way undersized, way productive pass rusher who can be used in a variety of ways, he has a good enough motor to be a third down specialist as a 4-3 end, or he could be developed into an outside linebacker in a 3-4. Ridiculously strong, he needs to do a better job of translating his freakish weight room strength to the field. Still a wee bit of an unknown since he didn’t blow up until his final year at Hawaii, he could be underdrafted because he doesn’t have the biggest buzz. That could be a big mistake. He’ll not only make a roster, but he could be an instant starter.
CFN Projection: Fourth Round

BEST OF THE REST

10. Mitch King, Iowa (DT)  6-1, 275
“I wish I could put your heart into some of my players’ bodies.” While King might not exactly be Rudy, if he was about two inches taller and about 15 pounds heavier he might warrant top five overall consideration. Ultra-productive, he’ll never stop working and he’ll never stop trying to make plays. He’s not a true defensive tackle at the next level, but he could be a whale of a 3-4 end who’ll always make a team on hustle and practice production. The limitations are too great for him to ever become a star, but he could be a good starter if surrounded by big-time talent.
CFN Projection: Fifth Round


11. Kyle Moore, USC  6-5, 275
If given the time to develop, the upside could be enormous. He didn’t do anything to stand out at USC, playing well for stretches and disappearing at other times, but he has the frame, the size, and the talent to grow into a nice end in any formation. Work needs to be done on his pass rushing technique and he needs to get stronger, but he has been good in post-season workouts and was solid in Senior Bowl practices. He’s not a finished product yet.
CFN Projection: Fourth Round


12. Brandon Williams, Texas Tech  6-5, 260 (Jr.)
Purely a pass rusher. That’s it. He’ll get rag-dolled if an offensive tackle gets his mitts on him and he’s not going to do anything at the next level against the run, but if he’s asked to be a third down specialist and get to the quarterback, he could be a game-changer. The potential is there to get a lot better if he continues to hit the weights and learns to play at a bigger weight, but he could be an ugly bust and an early cut if he’s not getting to the quarterback in camp. If he’s not flashing into the backfield, a coaching staff will have to be very, very patient in the developmental process.
CFN Projection: Fourth Round


13. Will Davis, Illinois  6-2, 260
Very quick for his size, he played out of position at times working at tackle and was fine. Not quite tough enough against the run, he’s far better suited to the outside with a good motor and a nice burst into the backfield. While he had problems last year playing up to his potential, it was partly due to an ankle injury that just never went away. There’s a lot to be interested in considering he might be scratching the surface on what he can become, and he’ll put in the work to be better. He’ll need to be in the right system and he’ll have to play on the end. Some will want to put him at linebacker, but that won’t work.
CFN Projection: Fourth Round


14. Maurice Evans, Penn State  6-2, 275 (Jr.)
With tremendous size and excellent quickness off the ball, he was tremendous as a sophomore as one of the Big Ten’s premier pass rushers. And then came the off-the-field issues getting arrested for marijuana possession and he never got his role back on the end. He still needs to get a lot stronger and he hasn’t looked all that athletic in post-season workouts, but if he kicks it in and finds a niche as a situational pass rusher, he could be a major steal. He’s not going to be an every-down producer, but he could have a “wow” year or two sack-wise if he’s put in the right situation.
CFN Projection: Free Agent

15. Michael Bennett, Texas A&M   6-4, 270
The brother of Dallas Cowboy tight end, Martellus, Michael has all the talent in the world and could become a star if he gets with the right coach and if he wants to become a player. However, he doesn’t play up to his potential. If the light is on, he’s a regular into the backfield and he could grow into a deadly pass rusher with the quickness to work on the outside in a 4-3 and the size to be great in a 3-4. He needs to go full blast all the time and show he wants to put in the work to be a major talent. If he does, he could be a steal. If he doesn’t make a push to improve, he could quietly be out of the league in a big hurry.
CFN Projection: Fifth Round

16. Matt Shaughnessy, Wisconsin  6-5, 260
Very tall and relatively thin with the potential to get bigger and stronger, he could be a nice late flier with little risk and great upside. Talk about fighting through adversity, he suffered a broken leg in spring ball last year and had to deal with the death of his brother. He still had a nice season, but there’s a chance he could be far better now that he’s a year removed from the injury and the tragedy. While he doesn’t do any one thing well, he has the potential to become a solid back up end and spot starter in any formation.
CFN Projection: Fifth Round


17. Pannel Egboh, Stanford  6-6, 275
The hope was that he’d progress into a major prospect as a senior, but it didn’t happen. He has the size and he has enough skills to warrant a long look as a 3-4 end, but he needs work. With unrefined pass rushing moves and not a good enough motor to make things happen by effort alone, he has to find something he can do well early on in camp. If he wasn’t great as a college player, what’s he going to do as a pro?
CFN Projection: Sixth Round


18. Derek Walker, Illinois  6-4, 270
The skills are there and the athleticism should make some eyes pop, he’s the prototypical new wave of Illinois player with all the raw skills and not enough football talent. He can jump out of the stadium and is strong enough to be a good run stuffer as a 3-4 end, but he doesn’t play up to his skills. It’ll be a must to develop one thing he can do really well and become a specialist, because he’s not going to be the all-around player who’ll warrant a roster spot if he’s not getting to the quarterback.
CFN Projection: Sixth Round


19. Zach Potter, Nebraska 6-7, 280
A very tall, very good tackler who has the room to add another ten pounds without losing a thing, the upside is limitless. And then there’s the quickness; he moves like a linebacker showing off stunning feet and leaping ability at the Combine. However, he doesn’t translate the athleticism to the field and doesn’t do enough to get into the backfield. If he can it the weights hard and develops some better moves, he could be a very cheap version of Tyson Jackson.
CFN Projection: Fifth Round

20. Phillip Hunt, Houston  6-1, 250
A terrific college producer with a blast into the backfield and a great closing step on quarterbacks, he’s way too small to be a regular end and he’s not athletic enough to be a linebacker. He’ll have a hard time finding a home or a job unless he can shine on special teams and make a play or two in camp to show the potential of becoming a situational pass rusher.
CFN Projection: Free Agent


21. Stryker Sulak, Missouri  6-4, 250
A pass rushing terror for the Tigers, Sulak played through an injured knee and was one of the Big 12’s best all-around ends. With good closing ability and a great burst, he could develop into a killer of a specialist if he can hit the weights harder. While he’s built like an outside linebacker, he doesn’t really have the skills to be one. He’s an end who has reached the limit on how big he can get without a little bit of luck; he can’t seem to put on weight. On the plus side, with his motor, he could stick on a roster as a special teamer.
CFN Projection: Seventh Round


22. Nick Reed, Oregon (LB) 6-2, 250
A premier college pass rusher who busted his tail to be a very smart, very tough producer who played at an All-America level. Decent against the run, for his size, he made things happen by outhustling everyone else. Someone will try to make him a linebacker, probably for the inside, but it’s not going to happen. He’ll be a decent flier to take late, but the limitations are too great to overcome.
CFN Projection: Seventh Round


23. Ian Campbell, Kansas State 6-5, 265
Ultra-productive as a sophomore end, he was moved to outside linebacker and struggled in space. He was fine as a senior, but he never quite got his mojo back. Known as a decent athlete during his career, he wasn’t able to show what he could do at the Combine due to ticky-tack injuries. He has good size and he worked his way into becoming a good producer, but he doesn’t have NFL pass rushing skills and doesn’t have enough speed to be considered at linebacker.
CFN Projection: Seventh Round


24. Rulon Davis, California  6-5, 280
Very big and very tough, he could be a nice sleeper as a 3-4 end and could play tackle in a 4-3. However, he needs to get stronger and he needs to show he can stay healthy after suffering a variety of injuries. A Marine who spent three years serving before joining the Bears, he’s old and doesn’t have much in the way of upside, pass rushing moves, or athleticism. He could be just versatile enough to stay on a roster for a stretch, but he’s never going to be a regular starter unless he quickly develops an NFL pass rushing skill.
CFN Projection: Free Agent

25. Tim Jamison, Michigan  6-3, 255
While he’s way undersized for an end, he’s a try-hard type who has fought through his limitations. A good enough tackler to warrant a look at linebacker, he’s just not fast or athletic enough. He doesn’t have enough of a burst to be a speed rusher and he doesn’t have linebacker skills, but he’ll be a hard cut because of his motor.
CFN Projection: Free Agent

ON THE RADAR

26. Henry Melton, Texas
27. Will Johnson, Michigan
28. Orion Martin, Virginia Tech
29. Kirston Pittman, LSU
30. Jeremy Navarre, Maryland
31. Willie VanDeSteeg, Minnesota
32. Antwain Robinson, Arkansas
33. Jamaal Westerman, Rutgers
34. Brandon Long, Michigan State
35. Cyril Obiozor, Texas A&M