Tracking the Draft Prospects: Defensive End

mascho

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Time to look forward.
 
Solicited suggestions in the Draft Thread about having dedicated threads to a few positions that the Patriots might need to address in the draft.  So far we have TE/OL/DL.  Open to more.  
 
Here is a list of the DEs available in the draft.  
 
Obviously they aren't getting Clowney.  But the other guys have potential as well.
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0Oks41pVK0
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mlc7xZetlzY
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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I don't really have an opinion on draftees other than that I think improving our DE depth is a significant need, maybe even on par with DT.  Maybe I'm overreacting to the Seattle game but there is a ton to be said for a DE rotation that keeps fresher legs on the field and keeps giving opposing OL new looks.  Having Nink and Jones play the entire game every game is asking way too much.
 

mascho

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I remember someone, probably Mayock, saying during last draft that the picks (OTs, QBs and pass rushers) indicated that the spot seven yards behind the center was the most important on the field.  Guys who can throw the ball, guys who can pass block, and guys who rush the passer.
 
I think with this wave of athletic QBs who can break contain and make plays, coupled with the read option game, the edge is the next important spot.
 

SMU_Sox

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Will Sutton. Quite the enigma. I'm at work and have no time to post but I think he deserves investigation as a rotational do or de. When he isn't so damn stout he can really rush the passer. I think in the right situation this kid will be a star but he's had off field issues and trying to play at perhaps a too heavy weight to be effective. Apologize for copping out and my poor grammar.
 

SPDougie

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SMU_Sox said:
Will Sutton. Quite the enigma. I'm at work and have no time to post but I think he deserves investigation as a rotational do or de. When he isn't so damn stout he can really rush the passer. I think in the right situation this kid will be a star but he's had off field issues and trying to play at perhaps a too heavy weight to be effective. Apologize for copping out and my poor grammar.
 
Sutton would be better lining up at DT next to Wilfork as a guy who can get pressure rushing up the middle.  If we are looking for a guy on the outside who can get pressure on the QB and set the edge I think you could look to Sutton's college teammate Carl Bradford.  I might be a bit bias as an ASU alum but he is an absolute stud pass rusher and is able to line up at DE or OLB.
 

SPDougie

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SMU_Sox said:
Yeah DT is what I meant. Is this the DLine thread?
 
There is a separate thread for DT's, which is why I thought you meant putting Sutton at DE.  I do agree with you though on the potential upside of Sutton.  He didn't have the type of season he had as a junior but he was double and even triple teamed just about every snap.  Lining up next to Wilfork that wouldn't be the case.  The guy has a very quick and powerful first step that should allow him the pass rushing upside of a Geno Atkins.  As for his off the field issues, he has been an upstanding citizen since Coach Graham took over the program, so I honestly would take anything that happened under Coach Erickson with a grain of salt (Vontaze Burfict as a great example).
 

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Ninkovich turns 30 shortly, I think we've seen his peek, and the pass rush could always get better, so upgrading the DE/OLB position opposite Jones and finding an eventual Ninkovich replacement is perhaps my top priority.
 
I'm quite fond of Trent Murphy from Stanford--he led the NCAA in sacks, he's a smart, tireless player, and at 6'5 he seems like the kind of long DE/OLB types BB seems to like. 
 

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You could play him as a 3-4 DE in pass rushing situations. The things with Sutton is that he might play a lot better at 6-1, 270 than 6-1 300. Atkins is a solid 300 and is explosive at that weight. I don't think Sutton is.
 
Edit: Ok let me rephrase - he is a lot more explosive at 270-280 than 300. But with larger LBs and a DT like Wilfork he could still be very useful.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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SMU_Sox said:
You could play him as a 3-4 DE in pass rushing situations. The things with Sutton is that he might play a lot better at 6-1, 270 than 6-1 300. Atkins is a solid 300 and is explosive at that weight. I don't think Sutton is.
 
Edit: Ok let me rephrase - he is a lot more explosive at 270-280 than 300. But with larger LBs and a DT like Wilfork he could still be very useful.
 
He just weighed in at the Senior Bowl at 6'1, 315 and apparently looked kind of fat.  His arms also only measured out at 30" 5/8, which is super short.
 
Ra'Shede Hagemen looks like a stud from a body perspective - 6'6, 320 and 34 inch arms measured today.  I had written him off earlier when I was thinking that we just needed a pure NT but with Siliga's emergence the guy we might need is more of an active big body that could play the 3 tech in a four man front or play the 5 tech in a 3-4 and he definitely fits the profile from a physical standpoint.  We might need to move up to get him though.
 
Edit to add this gif just because its awesome.  This kid looks super boom/bust but we could really use some boom on the DL so I'd be happy to take the risk.
 
 

OilCanMDS

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I would love for the Pats to get Stephon Tuitt, although it appears he isn't a realistic target at the Pats' spot.  After watching our pass rushers fail to get penetration against Denver even though they were mostly getting one-on-one blocking matchups, adding a DE like Tuitt that needs to be doubled most of the time because of his size (6'5, 320 lbs) would be a big boost to our D-line.  I watched most of his games over the past 3 years, and he has looked like a legit NFL DE the past two seasons.
 

Mr. Wednesday

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Tuitt was kinda spotty this season, coming on stronger as the season went on.  He had sports hernia surgery in the offseason, and seemed to be a bit out of shape when he came back.  I'm not sure if that's a legitimate expectation in that situation, or a red flag about losing discipline in sticking to a conditioning/PT schedule.
 

triniSox

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Shelterdog said:
Ninkovich turns 30 shortly, I think we've seen his peek, and the pass rush could always get better, so upgrading the DE/OLB position opposite Jones and finding an eventual Ninkovich replacement is perhaps my top priority.
 
I'm quite fond of Trent Murphy from Stanford--he led the NCAA in sacks, he's a smart, tireless player, and at 6'5 he seems like the kind of long DE/OLB types BB seems to like. 
I really like Trent Murphy as well - he could drop because of not-so-elite measurables. He's a bit straight line but if he can consistently set the edge at the pro-level, he can approximate some of Ninkovich's production. Not sure if BB would rather get a pure sub rusher (a speedier, smaller guy) who can disrupt quick-release QBs like Peyton. But I agree Trent can be a 3 down player which is often valued more by BB.
 

SMU_Sox

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Trent Murphy Review day 1:
 

DE Trent Murphy, Stanford: Zach Martin also handled Murphy on the vast majority of their matchups. Murphy may have just had a bad opening practice, but he looked stiff laterally at times and had difficulty with his footwork in bag drills. He also seemed to noticeably tire at the end of his 2-3 rep bursts. It’s notable that, while Michael Sam and Marcus Smith joined the defensive line group for 1-v-1 pass rush reps, I didn’t notice Murphy join the linebacker group for coverage drills. Given his struggles with footwork in line drills, it may not be a surprise that Murphy is being looked at exclusively at end.
 

mascho

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Mayock very high on Murphy as a 4-3 defensive end, based on what he was just saying about him during practice. "He'll put on about 10 pounds and he'll be just fine."
 

mascho

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Apparently Dee Ford, from Auburn, is making himself some dollars this week.
 
 
 
With the NFL placing a premium on edge players with speed, quickness and explosive rush skills, Ford has certainly made a strong case to be included as one of the top pass rushers in the 2014 class.
 
 
 
 
Ford dominated from start to finish, shining with his quickness and explosion in bag work, using his speed to get penetration in 1-on-1 run drills against the tackles, then dominating the 1-on-1 pass rush drills in a performance that impressed the assembled draft specialists.
 

ElcaballitoMVP

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I've always liked his pass rush skills at Auburn, I just wish he was bigger. At 6'2, 240 he doesn't have much room to add more bulk, so you're probably looking at a guy who needs to convert to OLB in a Bruce Irvin pass rushing specialist role. He can get after the QB though and comes up with some big plays, but his lack of size could be an issue if a team keeps him at DE. 
 

SMU_Sox

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Waldman has a huge piece on DE's. The conclusion:
 

 that’s the diagnosis for all of these defensive end prospects: supporting actor rather than leading man.
 
 
 
Since Trent Murphy has been mentioned a lot here are his thoughts on him in particular:
 

This 6-foot-6, 261-pound redwood has some burst to penetrate. But, like most trees, he doesn’t bend too far without breaking. Murphy relies heavily on dipping to an angle and using the swim move. There is evidence of Murphy working on a spin move, but his final steps aren’t as fast as his first. It's a problem evident on most of his plays, actually. A lot of Murphy’s production comes on longer-developing plays or situations where he’s cleaning up as secondary or tertiary pressure.
 
 

Super Nomario

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SMU_Sox said:
Waldman has a huge piece on DE's. The conclusion:
 
Since Trent Murphy has been mentioned a lot here are his thoughts on him in particular:
This 6-foot-6, 261-pound redwood has some burst to penetrate. But, like most trees, he doesn’t bend too far without breaking. Murphy relies heavily on dipping to an angle and using the swim move. There is evidence of Murphy working on a spin move, but his final steps aren’t as fast as his first. It's a problem evident on most of his plays, actually. A lot of Murphy’s production comes on longer-developing plays or situations where he’s cleaning up as secondary or tertiary pressure.
Thanks for the link. I don't think we need this skill set at all. Jones and Ninkovich are both pretty good at this. We need explosion that can win off the snap and disrupt plays. He doesn't fit the normal size prototype for the Pats' DL, but where the Pats are picking I think Aaron Donald is the best candidate.
 

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Super Nomario said:
Thanks for the link. I don't think we need this skill set at all. Jones and Ninkovich are both pretty good at this. We need explosion that can win off the snap and disrupt plays. He doesn't fit the normal size prototype for the Pats' DL, but where the Pats are picking I think Aaron Donald is the best candidate.
 
People have been raving about him at the Senior Bowl, with lots of Geno Atkins comps.  By all accounts, he's definitely a smaller, exclusively one gap DT who doesn't have much versatility except as an UT type in a 4-3 front.  But by many accounts he could be a dominant player in that role.  Belichick seemed OK with playing Chris Jones (although arguably just out of necessity) so maybe he's willing to entertain that kind of player.
 

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Super Nomario said:
Thanks for the link. I don't think we need this skill set at all. Jones and Ninkovich are both pretty good at this. We need explosion that can win off the snap and disrupt plays. He doesn't fit the normal size prototype for the Pats' DL, but where the Pats are picking I think Aaron Donald is the best candidate.
 
Other than Donald can you think of a potentially explosive pass rusher who's going to be around at 29? 
 
I'd rather get a better athlete than Murphy at DE but at the end of the first round beggers can't be choosers.
 

Super Nomario

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Saw Trevor Reilly mocked to the Pats. Here's an article on him:
http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap2000000288863/article/trevor-reilly-could-be-next-impact-nfl-olb-from-utah
 
Pros: Productive (8.5 sacks in 2013), ideal size (6'5", 255 lbs), versatile (played DE and OLB)
Minuses: old (already 26), coming off knee surgery last month
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2FdDPsjTkwM
 
Above is a cut-up from 2012 - he plays a lot of off-the-line LB in this. Not sure he's a great fit for a team that already has Ninkovich, Collins, and Hightower.
 

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[media]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLceQLeY2f8[/media]
 
[media]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AxKiX5LEv8U[/media]
 
Dee Ford 6'2' 242 ~4.46/40 was awesome as Senior Bowl MVP, and meets our need for an explosive edge rusher. But Jeremiah Attaochu 6'3" 253 ~4.59/40 might be even better.
He's bigger, with an 81" wingspan vs. 71"--and better against the run and in coverage. Will he be around at pick #61?
 

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A good guy for a late round flyer is Will Clarke from WVU. No real standout doing anything but he's a physical specimen.
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=XCuTA7ardnk 
 

lambeau

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Sam might be a good 4th round pick--could compete with Buchanen to rotate with Nink; he's the same size as Nink.
The Vandy tape at the top of this thread shows him doing good stuff at 2:00, 2:30, and 7:45.
 

mascho

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Forgot I kicked this off with tape on Sam.  I still like him and think he'd be a great selection in the 4th round or so.  
 
I'll be real interested to see how he performs at the Combine.  Chris Mortensen was all over Twitter last night speculating that the pressure and media scrutiny was too much for Te'o after his fake girlfriend situation surfaced and it hurt his Combine performance.  
 

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lambeau

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Excellent point. Pick your flaw.But for a 6'6" 300 lb project, Brent Urban might be available in the 2nd or 3rd Rd--so better value?
 

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lambeau said:
After Amaro, the most frequent first round pick I see for the Patriots is Tuitt (Rang, McShea). But here is a cautionary dissent I found thoughtful:
 
http://seahawksdraftblog.com/some-thoughts-on-stephon-tuitt-dee-ford
There is some truth to this, but he also had surgery for a sports hernia last offseason then played most of the year with a back injury. Granted the injuries could be their own red flags, but there were definitely reasons he was not the same guy this year. 
 

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NickEsasky said:
There is some truth to this, but he also had surgery for a sports hernia last offseason then played most of the year with a back injury. Granted the injuries could be their own red flags, but there were definitely reasons he was not the same guy this year. 
 
Do you the dates when these injuries occurred? There must be a point in the 2012 season before the hernia.
 

NickEsasky

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He had the surgery for the sports hernia in the offseason. I am not sure when the original injury occurred, but mostly likely pretty late in the year. The back was nagging for a good portion of the season, probably in part because his offseason workouts were limited because of the hernia surgery. 
 

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Ok that makes sense. I think if you only watch his first half of 2012, then consider his age and the combine he's likely to have, then he's a top-15 guy. He could be top 15 anyway. I think he has a huge, huge upside. The question is the injuries.
 

Super Nomario

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Could Kony Ealy (mentioned in the OP) be around at 29?
http://www.kansascity.com/2014/02/24/4847248/mus-ealy-another-tiger-drawing.html
 
 
[H]e absolutely shined in the very important three-cone drill, which displays a lineman's hip flexibility and acceleration in the pass rush. Ealy's blistering time of 6.83 not only ranked first among 36 defensive linemen, it was faster than all but two of the 33 running backs who ran and 13 of the 38 receivers.
 
Ealy played all over the defensive line when Missouri defensive coordinator Dave Steckel mixed in some exotic looks.
He measured 6'4" and weighed in at 273 lbs, which makes his 3-cone insane, and with 9.5 sacks in the SEC, he was productive as well. At that size, I would think he could play some 3-tech on passing downs, letting you put him, Jones, and Ninkovich on the field together.
 

mpx42

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Ealy certainly has prototypical Patriot measurables. I've heard him mentioned as early as the top ten all the way to the late twenties.
 

mascho

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Sam improved on his combine numbers at yesterday's pro day.  4.72 40 (unofficial).  30.5 vertical (+ 4.5 inches from the combine).  
 
Ealy, however, is approaching Clowney-freak numbers.  4.57 40 (unofficial).  120 broad jump (+ 6 inches from the combine).  
 

Super Nomario

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Greg Cosell on Ross Tucker's Football Podcast talked up Tuitt and also Oregon's Taylor Hart, who might be a later-round option as a 3-4 DE type.
 
He mentioned Ealy and UNC's Kareem Martin as 4-3 DEs who can move inside on passing downs, which might be a perfect fit for the Pats's needs.
 

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EL Jeffe

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I mocked Hubbard to NE in the 2nd round, and honestly, it wouldn't surprise me at all. He looks the way you want a DE/OLB hybrid to look, and he works out well. On the field, he flashes plus pass rush skills, and he's versatile enough to move around. The problems are fairly obvious - his play dropped off in 2013 (pretty much the whole defense did, but why Hubbard?), and he doesn't always set the edge defensively. Still, I think he'd be a very interesting developmental prospect to put behind Nink. He doesn't seem to have Chandler Jones' functional strength, so I wouldn't put his ceiling as high as that, but I think in a year or two you'd be looking at a quality edge player if he was willing to put the work in.