As the draft approaches, TFDS is making our way through the top at every position. See past posts on the main page for a look at the top 5 prospects at each offensive position. Today we start with the defense and with one of the most important defensive positions – defensive end.
The Raiders lacked a consistent pass rush last year in large part because they did not have great pass rushing talent at defensive end. Many people believe the team may be interested in drafting an elite DE in the draft, especially if they stay in a base 4-3 alignment.
1. Barkevious Mingo 6’5 240 lbs LSU
Prototypical in every way, Mingo has the speed, size and length to play in the NFL and possesses underrated strength. He’s a high-energy guy and his motor runs all the time. He follows the ball until the whistle blows which gets him involved even on downs in which the ball is initially moving away from him.
He doesn’t have a lot of pass rush moves and he needs to learn how to quickly transition from speed to power and vice versa. He sometimes struggles with pad-level issues where he comes out of his stance too high but when he gets low and bends the edge, he can be devastating.
Unlike many pass rushers, Mingo was asked to spy QBs or cover RBs in the flat as opposed to rushing the passer on most downs. I think this harmed his stock as he didn’t accrue the same amount of pass rushing stats but the film shows that when he is assigned to rush the passer he’s consistently able to get pressure.
Mingo is underrated against the run but he does sometimes have a tendency to allow blockers to lock onto him when he comes out of his stance high. He’ll be able to hold up against the run if he adds 10-15 lbs and still be able to play up as a linebacker or as an end with his hand on the ground.
Pro Comparison: Aldon Smith.
2. Bjoern Werner 6’4 270 lbs Florida State
Werner has only played the game of football for 5 years and yet he’s been able to make himself a household name to fans of CFB after putting together two good seasons at Florida State. He has a surprisingly good array of pass rush moves including an above average stutter step, bull rush and rip move.
He can bend the edge with a great first step but he’s not a one trick pony – he can come outside and inside on offensive tackles. Werner gets good arm extension and is able to separate himself from blockers with solid push in run defense.
He can get too high at times which allows offensive tackles to get under his pads and push him off of the ball. He also has a tendency to over pursue and leave a cutback running lane. He lacks a great motor and doesn’t play non-stop like some of the other prospects which has me worried he’ll wear down as games progress or take plays off.
Pro Comparison: Greg Hardy
3.Dion Jordan 6’7 250 lbs Oregon
I firmly believe that people as big as Jordan shouldn’t be able to move as fluidly and as fast as he’s able. Oregon use him in a multitude of ways: in the slot, covering TEs or WRs, in the flat on RBs as well as rushing QBs.
I think he’ll excel at his hand on the ground as an edge rusher in a 4-3. He needs to shore up against the run, especially in setting his feet and redirecting blockers, but he can bend the edge well and when asked to rush the QB, he is able to cause disruption much of the time (as he did, for example, versus ASU).
Jordan is a physical freak and will blow up the combine. I think he also could fit as an outside LB in a 3-4.
Pro Comparison: Michael Johnson
4. Damontre Moore 6’4 250 lbs Texas A&M
Moore has a good but not great first step but he does well using his burst to put offensive linemen on their heels at the snap. He gets low and uses his leverage and hands well. He has a good long frame that’s NFL ready.
Moore really excels in space and he reads plays in the backfield instinctively. This ability to operate in the open areas of the field means he could line up at OLB in 30 fronts. He has a non-stop motor and uses both power and speed moves rushing the passer.
Moore is one of the better technicians in draft which is good because he lacks the elite speed and athleticism of the others on this list. Although Moore played very well in his first year at defensive end, I see him better suited to 3-4 OLB.
Pro Comparison: Lamar Woodley
5. Ezekiel Ansah 6’5 270 lbs BYU
Born in Ghana and just as much an athletic freak as fellow draftee Dion Jordan, Ansah will also blow up at the combine.
Still very raw as a prospect, Ansah shows flashes of a special player with a skill-set, size and athleticism that makes scouts drool. His technique still needs refining but in the right situation and with the right guys around him, he could be a dominant defensive player.
Ansah also stood out in Senior Bowl practices and that may cause his stock to rise with a good Combine performance.
Pro Comparison: Justin Tuck
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