View Full Version : NFL Draft scouting report: Defensive linemen

Mr. Laz
04-14-2005, 11:11 AM
NFL Draft scouting report: Defensive linemen
By Jarrett Bell, USA TODAY

•Requirements: Strength to hold up in the trench wars, speed and agility to aggressively attack and pursue. In other words, a big man with quick feet. The real heavyweights at defensive tackle are counted on to block out the lanes of daylight and in many schemes, tie up blockers that free linebackers to make plays. Ends have duties that vary depending on scheme, too, but no matter the alignment of the X's and O's, pass-rush skills always carry much clout.

Georgia's David Pollack racked up plenty of defensive awards during his time as a Bulldog, but some question his size as a defensive lineman.
University of Georgia

•Last year's gem: A quiet bright spot amid the woes of the Kansas City Chiefs defense in 2004 was the emergence of Idaho State end Jared Allen, the team's second pick in the fourth round, 126th overall. Allen started the final 10 games and posted an NFL rookie-high nine sacks.

Insider's take

"Defensive end is stronger than defensive tackle. If you're looking for a pure pass rusher, you probably have three or four guys who can be impact pass-rushers. In terms of defensive tackles, Travis Johnson is the main guy. It's not a real deep year for defensive tackles. But if you're a team in a 4-3 and you need a defensive end and you're picking between 15 and 30, you're probably in good shape to get one of those guys. Now if you're in a 3-4, you could take all of those top ends — they're all athletic enough — and project them as outside linebackers."

—Baltimore Ravens personnel director Eric DeCosta

Prospect's view

"A lot of teams are impressed with the type of player I am, that I'm a high-motor type player that always gets to the ball and never has any lulls or takes plays off. The things I can improve: My size — just getting bigger and stronger. And I'm going to have to play with a lower pad level, because the better players you go against you have to figure out what you can do to beat them."

—Oregon State defensive end Bill Swancutt

Stats and stuff

Georgia's David Pollack was the first player to twice win the Ted Hendricks Award as the nation's best defensive end. He also collected the Lombardi Award (top interior lineman), SEC defensive player of the year honors, the school's career sack record (33) and joins Herschel Walker as the Bulldogs' only three-time All-America choice. Even so, some wonder if the explosive Pollack, whose 4.79-second mark in the 40-yard dash was one of the fastest among D-linemen at the combine, might become another Tedy Bruschi and wind up at linebacker. Pollack is just 6-2 and his 30½-inch arms are shortest of any defensive lineman. Then again, Colts all-pro Dwight Freeney was knocked for lack of height, too, coming out of Syracuse. ...

At Maryland, one of just two Division I-A schools with a 3-4 base defense, Shawne Merriman played primarily last season as a stand-up outside linebacker. Yet because of his size (6-4, 272), he is projected as a defensive end in many circles. At times during his college career, he played from a three-point stance. "Whatever they project me at, I'll play," said Merriman, clocked at 4.68 in the 40-yard dash. The versatility has surely solidified his stock. In several mock drafts, Merriman — a workout warrior who trains with Washington Redskins star linebacker LaVar Arrington — was the first defensive player selected. ...

Running back Maurice Clarett bombed at the combine with a 4.82 in the 40-yard dash. Here's the other side of 4.82: That was also 266-pound Wisconsin defensive end Erasmus James' combine mark. Eight players listed as defensive linemen had better 40 times at the combine than Clarett, including Northwestern defensive tackle Louis Castillo (6-3, 303), whose 4.79 time was best among the 73 players at the combine weighing at least 300 pounds. Castillo's mark, though, comes into question amid reports that he tested positive for androstenedione, a performance-enhancing stimulant that is banned by the NFL and could subject Castillo to probable-cause testing throughout his career. ...

Defensive tackle Shaun Cody (Southern California) and end Bill Swancutt (Oregon State) shared the Pacific-10 defensive player of the year award. ...

Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez, who might see all four of his starting defensive linemen drafted next weekend, calls quick and powerful defensive tackle Anttaj Hawthorne "the best defensive lineman I ever coached." That's striking, considering James was named Big 10 defensive player of the year in 2004 after missing the entire 2003 campaign because of a hip injury. ...

Travis Johnson is considered the draft's best run-stuffing lineman, a big reason why Florida State led the nation in rushing defense (69 yards per game) in 2004. ... Justin Tuck leaves Notre Dame with the school's career (24½) and single-season (13½ in 2003) sack records.

Scouting report

Quality grade on position in Draft: B+
Projected first-rounders: Eight

Teams in need

9th pick Washington: A long-term solution is needed at right end, where health is an issue for Phillip Daniels.

23rd pick Seattle: D-coordinator Ray Rhodes could use a killer pass rusher, especially considering the loss of sack leader Chike Okeafor (8 1/2) and a 3 1/2-sack campaign from high-priced '04 free agent-signee Grant Wistrom.

31st pick Philadelphia: A fresh option is needed at tackle, with contract-related grumbling from starters Corey Simon (object of recent trade talks with Baltimore Ravens and Hollis Thomas (seeking a trade).

10th pick Detroit: With a solid tackle combo in Shaun Rogers-Dan Wilkinson, a consistent pass rusher from right end would complement emerging left end James Hall.

27th pick Atlanta: With Travis Hall and Ed Jasper departed, there's virtually no depth surrounding the front-line standouts.

no 1st Rd pick Buffalo: Big, athletic and powerful tackle Pat Williams will be missed in the middle of the Bills' defense.

11th and 20th pick Dallas: As trade talks regarding New Orleans standout Darren Howard indicate, the Cowboys are still searching for quality right end play absent since Charles Haley's days.

16th pick New Orleans: Flush enough at end to consider dealing Howard, the problem is at tackle, where Johnathan Sullivan has been a huge disappointment since he was drafted with the sixth pick overall in 2003.

24th pick Green Bay: In dire need, the Packers could use everything from a dominant force at end to quality depth all across the defensive front.

17th pick Cincinnati: A big run-stuffing tackle, like Marvin Lewis coached in Baltimore with Sam Adams and Tony Siragusa, might be the key to shoring up the 26th-ranked rush defense.

19th pick St. Louis: Left end and sack specialist Leonard Little cleared a legal hurdle, but the Rams still need depth and emerging talent on the opposite post with Bryce Fisher's free agency exit.

12th and 28th pick San Diego: No playoff team in '04 had as few sacks as the Chargers (29), who need speed on the edge and can use a better rush to help improve coverage in the 31st-ranked pass defense.

Cream of the crop

Player _____ Pos. School Ht. Wt. ____ Comment

David Pollack DE Georgia 6-2 265 Explosive, disruptive and relentless.

Shawne Merriman DE-LB Maryland 6-4 272 Star potential in 4-3 or 3-4.

Erasmus James DE Wisconsin 6-4 266 Great burst. But is he durable enough?

Marcus Spears DE LSU 6-4 307 Size, power compare to Richard Seymour.

Travis Johnson DT Florida State 6-4 298 18 of his 50 tackles in '04 were for losses.

Shaun Cody DT Southern Cal 6-4 293 Athletic enough to play end, too.

Rising stock
Anttaj Hawthorne DT Wisconsin 6-3 325 Quick. Might be ideal "under" tackle.

Khari Long DE Baylor 6-4 257 Has 4.74 speed, but raw techniques.

04-14-2005, 11:26 AM
Chiefs expressed no interest in Marcus Spears and Anttaj Hawthorne?

thoughts ?

04-14-2005, 11:28 AM
Chiefs expressed no interest in Marcus Spears and Anttaj Hawthorne?

thoughts ?

If the Chiefs did, it would only mean they have no intention of selecting them.

04-14-2005, 11:45 AM
I watched Wisconsin play several times. Both Hawthorne and James were entirely forgettable.

I saw LSU play 3 times. Spears was the 3rd-best player on their line and completely disappeared at times.

04-14-2005, 01:35 PM
For Hawthorne, Sims has really made me back off of anyone who shares the line with someone else thought to be a top pick. They may be good, but the guy on the other side makes them look better.

the Talking Can
04-14-2005, 01:41 PM
I'll take Rodgers (CB) or Pollack (DE) and be thrilled this year.

04-15-2005, 05:16 AM
I'll take Rodgers (CB) or Pollack (DE) and be thrilled this year.

Just an FYI, Aaron Rodgers is a QB, Carlos Rogers is a CB.

And yes, I'd take Rogers or Pollack.

Heard a guy from PFW on Des Moines radio yesterday afternoon say that KC was going to take Pollack.

04-15-2005, 06:08 AM
Thomas Davis
David Pollack

all 3 would be great Pick-ups