Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Draft Prospect Scouting Reports: Defensive Ends

Here is the fifth installment of my positional draft preview.

The players that I am discussing are those that the Dolphins have worked out, interviewed, or had other such contact with.

Today I'll be looking at defensive linemen. Miami is pretty set with its starters right now with Matt Roth, Jason Ferguson, and Vonnie Holliday penciled in. But they can all be upgraded, and Miami really needs to find some young depth to stash behind them and develop into their replacements.

I will organize the prospects into tiers, as such:

  • First tier: First-round talent
  • Second tier: Second or third-round talent
  • Third tier: Mid-round (4-5) talent
  • Fourth tier: Late round (6-7) or FA talent

1. DE Chris Long, Virginia
  • Pros: nonstop motor, has all the intangibles, strong and powerful, great versus the run, technically sound, durable, lots of experience
  • Cons: not very fast, his senior year was his one big season
  • Compares to: Aaron Kampman
Chris Long is no longer an option since Miami chose to take Jake Long number 1 overall.

2. DE Vernon Gholston, Ohio State
  • Pros: absolute workout warrior, good speed, solid against the run, great intangibles, excellent at bringing pressure around the end
  • Cons: lacks consistency, does not have experience dropping into coverage, questions whether he is more of a workout warrior than an elite football player
  • Compares to: John Abraham longer an option with Jake Long on board.


1. DE Quentin Groves, Auburn
  • Pros: very athletic and agile, fast, solid tackler, very productive in college, good in pursuit, played outside linebacker during his senior season
  • Cons: Like Gholston he may be a workout warrior, very inconsistent, motor runs hot and cold, undersized, sloppy technique, troubling shedding blocks
  • Compares to: DeMarcus Ware
Groves is a great fit as a 3/4 outside linebacker and Miami could certainly use a young player to groom in that spot. Groves may end up going in the first round, which I think is a bit too high for him, but he's an option for Miami at 32.

2. DE Chris Ellis, Virginia Tech
  • Pros: excellent speed and burst, stout against the run, nonstop motor, technically sound
  • Cons: limited pass rush moves, not very powerful, may not be an every down player, character and durability concerns
  • Compares to: Simeon Rice
I'd steer clear of any guy who has both character and injury issues.

3. DE Calais Campbell, Miami (FL)
  • Pros: great size (6'8", 290 lbs.), great against the run, very good motor, solid tackler, durable
  • Cons: not that fast, doesn't have a good closing burst, must get stronger, technique needs work, not a top-notch pass rusher, inconsistent, can't beat double-teams
  • Compares to: Julius Peppers
Campbell is coming out after his junior season which was a significant drop-off from his sophomore season. He has a very high ceiling, but that comes with a floor that is probably just as low. That risk will be worth it if Campbell is available at 32.

4. DE Lawrence Jackson, USC
  • Pros: good size with long arms, very productive in college, good speed, solid against the run, technically sound, lots of experience against top competition
  • Cons: very inconsistent, not real explosive and lacks a burst, limited pass rush moves, has had nagging ankle issues throughout college
  • Compares to: Mark Anderson
Jackson is a streaky player, and he's not a true weapon rushing the passer. He could possibly play inside, but he struggles against double teams. It doesn't seem like there's one good position to stick Jackson where he will bloom into something great, but he'd at least be serviceable. That thing that scares me most is that he's liable to fall into slumps. I don't know if those expected ups and downs are worth it.


1. DE Kendall Langford, Hampton
  • Pros: extremely versatile (can play DT, DE, or OLB), has the ability to add significant bulk, good bull rusher, plays strong against the run, good intangibles
  • Cons: not very athletic, not very fast, does not have much experience against top competition
  • Compares to: Ty Warren
Langford probably won't be much of a pass rusher, but he is stout against the run and he can play multiple positions along the front seven. The Trifecta doesn't necessarily like guys who haven't played against top competition, but Langford would be a good value pick in the fourth round regardless.


1. DE Curtis Johnson, Clark Atlanta
  • Pros: natural athlete, fast, explosive hitter, great pass rusher, has special teams potential
  • Cons: will have to transition to LB in the NFL, did not play against top competition, needs to improve his technique, questions about his intelligence
  • Compares to: Joey Porter
Johnson is a very intriguing sleeper prospect from a DII school. Even if he doesn't pan out as a linebacker he should be a good special teams contributor. Johnson is going to need a patient coach, and Miami certainly has time to develop young players. Miami should definitely look at this guy in the sixth or seventh round.

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