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2010 CFN All-Americans & Top Players - DEs
Robert Quinn, Von Miller & Adrian Clayborn
Robert Quinn, Von Miller & Adrian Clayborn
Posted Aug 18, 2010

UNC's Robert Quinn, Texas A&M's Von Miller, and Iowa's Adrian Clayborn would've all gone in the top 15 in this year's draft, and they'll all be very rich next year at this time. They headline the CFN 2010 All-America Defense, but several other pass rushers could end up having better seasons.

Preview 2010 - Def. Ends

All-Americans & Top 30 Players

2010 CFN All-Americans & Top 30 Players
- Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Receivers | Tight Ends
- Offensive Tackles | Offensive Guards | Centers

- Defensive Ends | Defensive Tackles | Linebackers | Cornerbacks
- Safeties | Kickers | Punters | Kick & Punt Returners

- 2009 CFN All-Americans | 2008 CFN All-Americans

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Note: This isn't a ranking of the top pro prospects. This is based on the seasons we think the players are going to have.


1. Robert Quinn, Jr., North Carolina
Losing two starters on the defensive line might unnerve most programs, but not North Carolina, which has recruited the position exceedingly well. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to have All-America candidates on the outside and inside. Quinn had his coming-out party last fall, making 52 tackles, a league-best 19 tackles for loss, 11 sacks, and six forced fumbles en route to a spot on the All-ACC first team. Unusually quick at 6-5 and 270 pounds, it’ll be a shock if he isn’t on someone’s NFL roster at this time next year.

2. Adrian Clayborn, Sr. Iowa
For some reason, Clayborn is still playing college football. The 6-4, 285-pounder would’ve likely been a first round draft pick this year and is being listed among the top three seniors for the 2011 NFL Draft. With a tremendous combination of size, quickness, and pass rushing ability, he came up with 70 tackles, 11.5 sacks, and 20 tackles for loss highlighted on a national scale by a dominant performance against Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl with nine solo stops and two sacks. The first-team All-Big Ten star had some issues this offseason with an issue involving a cab driver, but everything has been cleared up and he should be one of the league’s dominant figures. He’s a 4-3 end in college but can be a 3-4 at the next level.


3. Von Miller, Sr. Texas A&M
Yeah, Miller led the nation in sacks with 17 and was fifth in tackles for loss with 21.5, to go along with 48 tackles with four forced fumbles and five broken up passes, but the All-America mostly lit up the weak and the sad while being kept under wraps by the teams with a pulse. He was shut out against Oklahoma and didn’t get a sack against Oklahoma State, but he came up with two sacks against Texas Tech and one against Texas. Teams started to scheme against him and then the sack production tailed off with the sack against the Longhorns the lone tally over the final four games of the year. But for the first nine he was a holy terror, and he should flourish even more in the hybrid Joker position which allows the 6-3, 240-pounder to work partly as a pass rushing defensive end and partly as an outside linebacker. He was used in the same sort of role last year, but now he really will be more of a 3-4 linebacker and he should be able to do even more in space. With improved size to go along with his speed and closing ability, he’ll get a long look from the next level types as a possible first rounder.

4. Greg Romeus, Sr. Pitt
The program caught a huge break back in January, when Romeus opted to return for his senior year rather than turn pro. One of the game’s best pass rushers, he’s been All-Big East the last two seasons, making 43 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, and a career-high eight sacks in 2009. An unheralded 220-pounder coming out of high school, he’s now a 6-6, 270-pound force off the edge, with the long arms to obstruct the quarterback’s vision.


5. Cliff Matthews, Sr. South Carolina
Even with some big losses, the line should be solid as long as Matthews is healthy. The 6-4, 260-pound Second-Team All-SEC performer came up with 47 tackles, seven sacks, and ten tackles for loss, and now the former linebacker will need to be even more of a pass rushing star. Extremely quick and one of the team’s hardest working players, he has a great motor and will find his way into the backfield on a regular basis. The non-stop motor gets him to the quarterback on sheer want to.

6. Ryan Kerrigan, Sr. Purdue
The star on the Boilermaker line, and possibly the team, is Kerrigan, a pass rushing terror who earned All-America honors last season after making 66 tackles with 13 sacks, seven forced fumbles and 18.5 tackles for loss. At 6-4 and 263 pounds he’s a big end who came to Purdue as a tight end and is becoming one of the school’s all-time greatest defenders with 21 career sacks, good for fifth all-time, and with the high motor and the quickness to shoot up the charts. If he can get help from the line and if he isn’t double-teamed on a regular basis, he should once again be an all-star and he should be a mortal lock for at least ten sacks.


7. Allen Bailey, Sr., Miami
With just about everyone back from a year ago, Miami is envisioning its best defensive line in years. It all begins on the outside with the 6-4, 288-pound Bailey, the freakishly explosive athlete, with a clear path to the Sundays. With a rare blend of burst and acceleration in the frame of a tackle, he has the strength to with most blockers, en route to making plays behind the line. In his first full season in the lineup, he made 34 tackles and a team-high 11 tackles for loss and seven sacks. After making All-ACC first team, national honors could be next.

8. Aldon Smith, Soph. Missouri
Smith was one of the major finds of the 2009 Big 12 season earning the Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year award along with a slew of all-conference and freshman All-America honors. The 6-2, 255-pounder went from being a dangerous prospect with a world of upside to major league pass rusher finishing with 11.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss along with 64 tackles. Very quick and always working, he forces his way into the backfield with a creative array of moves as well as next-level athleticism. He’s the star up front the rest of the line will work around.

9. Adrian Robinson, Jr. Temple
While Robinson might be built more like an outside linebacker than a true defensive end, he sure rushes the passer like a lineman. The 6-2, 245-pound reigning MAC Defensive Player of the Year was one of the team’s top recruits in the strong 2008 class, and he more than lived up to his immense potential last season making 46 tackles with 13 sacks, 14 tackles for loss, and an interception while also forcing five fumbles. Extremely quick off the edge, it’s over when he gets a step on a tackle. More importantly for the Owl defense, it’s not like the production came in bunches and it’s not like he was stuffed against the big boys making a sack against Penn State and playing well against UCLA.

10. Sam Acho, Sr. Texas
The Texas line needs a new star pass rusher to emerge to pick up the slack left by Sergio Kindle, and now it’s up Acho to be the main man. The 6-3, 260-pound senior isn’t exactly like Kindle in style, he’s tougher against the run and could be used as a smallish defensive tackle in a pinch, but he’s a big play performer making ten sacks and 14 tackles for loss to go along with 63 stops. Stronger than his size, he doesn’t get pushed around and he has a terrific burst into the backfield. Very smart and very productive, the Lott semifinalist and honorable mention All-Big 12 performer will get the spotlight as the next All-America candidate on the UT line.

11. Jack Crawford, Jr. Penn State
12. Cameron Heyward, Sr. Ohio State
13. Jeremy Beal, Sr. Oklahoma
14. Bruce Miller, Sr. UCF
15. Kentrell Lockett, Sr. Ole Miss
16. Kenny Rowe, Sr. Oregon
17. Ryan Winterswyk, Sr. Boise State
18. Jake Laptad, Sr. Kansas
19. Pernell McPhee, Sr. Mississippi State
20. Pierre Allen, Sr. Nebraska
21. Da’Quan Bowers, Jr., Clemson
22. Marquez Herrod, Sr. Colorado
23. Greg Lloyd, Sr. Connecticut
24. Dontay Moch, Sr. Nevada
25. Ricky Elmore, Sr. Arizona
26. Matt Conrath, Jr., Virginia
27. Jonathan Freeny, Sr. Rutgers
28. Cordarro Law, Jr. Southern Miss
29. Ryan Van Bergen, Jr. Michigan
29. Johnathan Rainey, Jr. New Mexico
30. Chris Carter, Sr. Fresno State