Tuesday, March 1, 2011

NFL Combine Stock Watch: Defensive Players

Time for the breakdown of Defensive Players. Again, I'll have a Stock Up, Stock Down, and Neutral Player from the past two days.

Defensive Line - Includes 4-3 and 3-4 DE's, DT's, and NT's

Stock Up: Marcel Dareus, Alabama. I hate to pick a player that's at the top of the draft board already, but Dareus cemented his status as the top interior defensive lineman of the draft. He weighed in at 6'3" 319lbs - big enough to play 3-4 DE, or 4-3 DT. He ripped off a 4.93 40 and looked very fluid in all of the drills. He's played in one of college football's most complex defensive schemes at Alabama, which is one of a very few defenses that run a base 3-4 package. He's had more success and has a lot more experience than Auburn's Nick Fairley, a JUCO transfer, who only had one great season. I've got to give a mention to Wisconsin's J.J. Watt, who was also outstanding, but Dareus is just that impressive. Outlook: Top 5 Prospect

Stock Down: Jeremy Beal, Oklahoma. Beal is a 4-3 DE/3-4 OLB prospect. He's been one of those prospects that's never really lived up to the hype he received in Norman and benefited from a lot of better players around him (Gerald McCoy). Beal ran a 5.16 40 and only had 21 reps on the bench despite checking in at 6'2" 262lbs. He's built top heavy, plays with a narrow base, and did nothing in my opinion to dispel that at the combine, which could really dip his stock as many teams were eying him to move to OLB. Outlook: Mid Round Prospect

Neutral: Phil Taylor, Baylor. Big Phil had an outstanding week at the Senior Bowl and should be the first pure 3-4 NT selected in the 2011 draft. While he's not as explosive as Vince Wilfork, Paul Soliai, or Casey Hampton are for such large human beings, Taylor is still a solid prospect in his own right. He checked in at 6'3" 334lbs with long arms, 34 inches, big hands (which he uses very effectively), and ran a 5.20 40. The former Penn State transfer might even sneak into the beginning of the 2nd round, depending on the needs of 3-4 teams. He could also play a 1 or 3 technique in a 4-3 defense. Outlook: 2nd or 3rd Round Prospect


Stock Up: Von Miller, Texas A&M. Again, as with the Defensive Line, Miller was already one of the top Linebacker prospects in the draft, and is now the top LB prospect in the draft. Miller checked in 9lbs heavier than he weighed in at the Senior Bowl, weighing in at 6'2" 246lbs. A lot of his numbers compare to the Cowboys DeMarcus Ware from the 2005 Combine. While he looked a little stiff in some of the drills, Miller profiles as a weakside OLB, like Ware, and won't be asked to move into coverage much, which will maximize his pass-rush skills (27.5 sacks the past two years). Again, a runner-up would be Martez Wilson of Illinois. Outlook: Top 10 Prospect

Stock Down: Casey Matthews, Oregon. Another over-hyped prospect (let's be clear, he's not going to have an NFL career even remotely close to what his brother Clay has done for the Packers, end of story) Matthews aggravated a shoulder injury during the bench press. He weighed in at only 231lbs and had pretty short arms, 31.5 inches. The injury dates back to his freshman year and that's going to raise a red flag as one of the knocks on Matthews is that he has trouble stacking and shedding. Outlook: Late Round Prospect

Neutral: Justin Houston, Georgia. Houston's stock has been rising as of late. He did nothing to hurt himself at the combine checking in at 6'2" 270lbs and running a 4.68 40. He also 34.5 in arms (very impressive) and big hands at 10.25 inches and had the 2nd most bench reps at 30 (Ohio State's Ross Homan had 32). The question I have around Houston is how he'll translate. Can he handle the strongside a 3-4 like LaMarr Woodley? Or is he an oversized weakised OLB like Shawne Merriman? The track record of former Bulldog defensive players in the front 7 isn't all that great in recent years. Outlook: 1st or 2nd Round Prospect


Stock Up: Jimmy Smith, Colorado. Yes, Patrick Peterson of LSU dominated, but that was to be highly expected. Smith was a prospect with a lot of hype and he backed it up. He checked in at 6'2" 211lbs (think Nnamdi Asomugha & Sean Smith size) while posting a 4.46 with an impressive 24 reps on the bench. He looked pretty fluid in most of the drills. Smith is a willing run defender, unlike Sean Smith, but he did flip his hips and showed good transition skills and in my opinion, did a lot better than I was expecting him to look. Outlook: 1st or 2nd Round Prospect

Stock Down: Prince Amukamara, Nebraska. Very surprised to have him as my pick. He measured in well at 6'0" 206lbs with an impressive 4.43 40. However, in watching him in the backpedal and tracking drills, he moves very high, and looked very stiff in transitioning. He played with some more than talented personnel in the Nebraska defense in Eric Hagg and DeJon Gomes, who are also in this year's draft. Amukamara should still be the second CB off the board, but probably won't go as highly as anticipated. Outlook: 1st Round Prospect

Neutral: Kendrick Burney, North Carolina. Burney measured in at 5'9" 186lbs and turned in a pedestrian 4.72 40, but don't let that fool you. Burney is pretty good in press coverage and looked pretty fluid in most drills. While he won't play fast, his footwork is solid and will give teams something to work with. While he won't be able to keep with burners at the receiver position, he will be a very solid Cover 2 CB in the NFL. Outlook: Mid Round Prospect


Stock Up: Joe Lefeged, Rutgers. Lefeged followed up a decent Senior Bowl week with a solid showing at the Combine. While he's not in the same echelon as Rahim Moore, Deunta Williams, or DeAndre McDaniel, Lefeged might sneak into the upper part of that second tier of safeties. Lefeged came in at 5'11" 210lbs and ran a 4.43 40, which was a lot faster than I was expecting. A very experienced player having played in 50 games for the Scarlet Knights, Lefeged improved his stock as much as any other safety which should earn him some coin. Outlook: 3rd or 4th Round Prospect

Stock Down: Shiloh Keo, Idaho. Keo had been labeled as a small-school prospect who could sneak into the late 2nd or early 3rd portion of the draft. However, he certainly didn't pass the eyeball test, coming in at 5'11" 219lbs, but the 219lbs wasn't a good 219lbs. Let's just say he looked rather soft. Turning in a 4.72 40 certainly didn't help his efforts either, nor did his 30" arms. That said, Keo put up outstanding career numbers with the Vandals where he played in 55 games, and was, surprisingly, a very good punt returner. However, Keo probably lost the hype he was riding in on. Outlook: Mid-Round Prospect

Neutral: Tyler Sash, Iowa. Sash is one of the more underrated prospects for the safety crop. Sash had a very solid career at Iowa, and projects as a decent strong safety prospect at the next level. At 6'0" 211lbs and coming from Kirk Ferentz's defense he should be pretty scheme diverse. While he won't confuse anyone for former Hawkeye Bob Sanders, he's a solid prospect. Turning in a faster 40 than I expected at 4.63, that should alleviate some concerns over his speed as Sash's smarts and ability to understand angles help him out tremendously having racked up 13 INTs for 392 reutrn yards in 38 games for the Hawkeyes. Outlook: Mid-Round Prospect

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