Monday, February 11, 2013

Learning the Draft, Part 2: DE edition

We are long overdue for another edition of the 2013 NFL Draft Primer, so let's start our week by learning what we need to learn about the defensive ends that might be a candidate for the Cowboys a ways up their board.  This, admittedly, is a very preliminary work and should only be used to gain familiarity as opposed to what many try to do at this time of year and that is act like we really know more than we do this early in the draft game.  

Here is our 1st edition of the primer, when we looked at possible Defensive Tackles that might make sense for the Cowboys in either the 1st or 2nd round.  You may wish to go back and review those videos we posted.  It is worth noting that I don't think you should feel that you "know" a player based on 15 minutes of youtube videos, but it is better than not knowing them at all.  I try to watch complete games and even get the rare chances at college coaches tape, but let's not complicate this.  Nobody is asking you to be a general manager, just get familiar with the names being discussed at both picks #18 and #51.

In the DT edition, we tried to narrow down the names a bit, and here is what I feel I learned from that preliminary study session.

Jonathan Hankins from Ohio State, John Jenkins from Georgia, and Jesse Williams from Alabama all seem to be the giant speed bumps that suited me just fine in the 3-4, but I don't see it being a fit in the 4-3 of Kiffin that should feature inside players who look a lot like Warren Sapp or Tommie Harris back in his prime when he was inside for the Bears.  I need quick with size.  Assuming that it is pretty clear the big man from Utah, Lotulelei is also gone in the top 5, then that leaves 4 players to really zero in on.

Sylvester Williams from North Carolina and Kawann Short from Purdue were my personal favorites as they appeared to be the wonderful combination of stout against the run and penetrating bowling balls that cannot be blocked in a lot of pass rush situations.  

Short, however, just turned 24 years old and I certainly want to be aware of that. 

The other two are actually more exciting to many of my colleagues and perhaps to the Cowboys.

They are, Sheldon Richardson of Missouri and Sharrif Floyd of Florida.  Both are plenty explosive, so much so that they seem to have athleticism to last forever, but Richardson in particular seems small and undersized.  I have seen his weight up and down in various places and look forward to his weigh-in at the combine to answer that question, but his Missouri tape - some of it going back to September, which is 150 days ago, sure looks like he isn't even 300 pounds.  

Floyd is also barely 300 and doesn't seem to be a guy who will be terribly stout at the point of attack.  He sure can run and I can see the attraction by some.  My question might be how a guy can play on a defense that good for 3 years and only get to the QB for 4.5 sacks and 26 tackles for loss in 37 games?   Those numbers are not where I would like to see them for a college player in the SEC.  

Williams from UNC had 6 sacks and 13.5 TFLs just this season, Short from Purdue had 7 sacks and 15.5 TFLs just in 2012, too.  For his career at Purdue, Short had 18.5 sacks and 49.5 TFLs, so with Floyd, I have a bit of a production issue to comprehend.

Admittedly, production in college should only go so far, but I guess it is important to point out that somewhere athleticism has to meet production.  I need to strike a balance and fill in as many blanks as possible.

Anyway, as we sit today, with much to discuss, the DT crop that I am most interested in would include those 4, which I would currently attest to liking Williams and Short more than the consensus opinions of Richardson and Floyd. 

But we still have plenty of time.



This is another spot where the Cowboys may want to spend a top resource to grab a kid who can play 4-3 end for them for years to come as well.  We should really figure this group out as well, but this will require a bit of imagination as there are 3-4 ends and 4-3 ends.  In fact, looking at the top 4 DEs on the board, we can see that we have a 4-3 end in Peppers, a 3-4 end in Justin Smith, a guy who did both in the NFL with Cameron Wake, and a guy who was a 4-3 end in college and now is the best 3-4 end in the sport in JJ Watt.

So, sometimes, we get to carried away with scheme and prototypes so let's fight that urge at this particular point in time.  Most of the time, an ideal player can do what you need regardless of scheme.

2012 All-Pro Team Defensive Ends

C Wake - Penn St6'3258324.65
Peppers - N Carolina6'728733.54.68
Watt - Wisconsin6'5295344.84
J Smith - Missouri6'4285354.64

With that in mind, let's look at the top DE prospects that look like candidates to be in the top 60 on draft day in April at the time we write this.  I have decided to leave out all of the sketchy 40-times that we have listed in the past because they are all purely fictional until they run with NFL clocks on them, either at the combine or at their pro days:

Werner - Florida St6'4255--
Jordan - Oregon6'6239--
Mingo - LSU6'5240--
Moore - Texas AM6'4248--
Ansah - BYU6'6273--
Jones - UCLA6'4275--
Okafor - Texas6'4260--
Montgomery - LSU6'4245--
Gholston - Mich St6'6278--
Hunt - SMU6'8272--

Of this group, let's go ahead and assume that two guys are clearly gone when #18 approaches.  From all indications, Bjoern Werner from Florida State and Damontre Moore from Texas A&M will not get out of the Top 10 and quite possibly the Top 5.

Dion Jordan from Oregon and Barkevious Mingo look likely to be gone, but let's look at them anyway.

The bottom 4 do not appear to be candidates for #18, but they are all squarely in the hunt for the 2nd round spots if they last that long.  Although, It sure seems that a guy like Margus Hunt from SMU is a perfect candidate for a 3-4 end for clear reasons detected with the eyeballs.

Now, here comes the videos without much comment from me.  The exercise here is for those of you who are interested to grab a pen and paper and try to look at each of the players below carefully and decide for yourself who you like and don't like based on the old eyeball test.

Next week, we will break down each player and try to get to know them better, but the first pass should be strictly without a ton of information clouding your judgement.  Just watch him and see what you think:

Barkevious Mingo - LSU - #49 - More Videos

Dion Jordan - Oregon - #96 - More Videos

Ezekial Ansah - BYU - #47 -  More Videos 

Datone Jones - UCLA - #56  More Videos

Alex Okafor - Texas - #80 -  More Videos

Sam Montgomery - LSU - #99 -  More Videos

William Gholston - Michigan State - #2 -  More Videos

Margus Hunt - SMU - #92 -  More Videos

There, that will hold you for a bit.

I tried to post just one video per player in the interest of space, but try to watch multiples if time allows as I have put a link up for further videos for each player at a website that collected them all called

Feel free to leave comments on your observations, and then next week we will compare notes and move to the offensive line.

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