NIKE Camp Review - Defensive Ends

I've attended the last four NIKE Camps held at the University of Miami and never have I seen one position as strong as the defensive ends were at this year's camp. They were that good, and that's despite the fact that the best defensive end prospect at the camp worked out with the fullbacks (Joe Cohen).

The best prospect that I saw among the defensive ends at the camp was St. Thomas Aquinas standout Tavares Gooden. Although he will play linebacker at the next level, he worked out with the linemen, and proved why he's a Top 5 player in the state.

He checked in at 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, although Gooden told me during weigh-ins that he had just recovered from the flu and that he had lost between 10-12 pounds over the last week or so prior to the camp. But as you saw in the picture I posted of him, he's an incredible physical specimen -- even when he's lost 12 pounds due to an illness. He showed off excellent quickness when he ran a 4.50 shuttle time, despite slipping on both ends. Without slippage, he could have pulled in a 4.35-ish type time. Either way you slice it, he was exceptionally quick -- and he moves laterally better than any of the major linebackers at the camp. Therefore, the transition to LB at the next level will be no problem for him.

During 1 on 1 drills, he was awesome. Every time an offensive lineman lined up to block him, Gooden ran circles around him, primarily due to superior quickness, athletic ability, and superb instincts when on the run. As a linebacker prospect, he has the absolute total package in my opinion, a Top 5 overall prospect in Florida.

He wasn't the only possible big time prospect I watched among the defensive ends, however. Fort Lauderdale Dillard's Stanley McClover, Miami Central's Bryan Pata, and Sebastian River's Kevin Williams showed up to the camp without much recruiting hype, but proved why they're both among the elite prospects in Florida.

At 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, McClover is very solid. He combines exceptional strength with tremendous quickness. His shuttle time of 4.43 is a perfect example of it. He has tremendous explosion upfield and does a tremendous job of using his hands when rushing the passer. Nobody was quicker among the defensive ends, nobody was more powerful, and nobody was more productive. He'll probably play this season around 230, and begin college close to 240. I think his game will translate exceptionally well because of his obvious talents and his passion for the game. His intensity level was as high as any player I've ever seen at a NIKE Camp.

Williams was also a pleasant surprise. Right from the minute he arrived at UM that morning, he was hard to miss. The Bryant McKinnie look-alike in the face checked in at 6-foot-7 and 262 pounds. He has extremely long arms, huge hands, and a very athletic frame that will allow him to add another 30-40 pounds to it.

Williams displayed excellent quickness when he turned in a 4.68 shuttle time, which is exceptionally fast for a kid so tall (players must touch the lines at both ends of the shuttle area on each run). Rarely do you see a 6-7 teenager moving that quickly, exploding the way he was.

His dominating performance carried over to 1 on 1 drills when he embarrassed the first two offensive linemen he faced. His enormous wingspan allows him to get depth, then his natural athletic ability and quickness take over from there. Interestingly, he has some nice spin moves as well. Although you'd love to see a kid like that at defensive end, I think his game will translate better inside and a one-gap penetrator, in the mold of someone like John Henderson from Tennessee or William Joseph at UM. Williams creates good pad level and that leverage will allow him to win most of the battles he'll face on the interior of the line of scrimmage. Williams is definitely an exciting prospect that is coached by former UM tight end Randy Bethel.

At 6-foot-4 and 255 pounds, Miami Central standout Brian Pata may not have the same type of athletic body frame as the kids mentioned above, but he put on a very good performance at this year's camp that proved why he's among the state's best. Pata turned in a 4.46 shuttle time, in which it seemed effortless and showed off blazing quickness and an outstanding first step. He's the type of player that plays faster than he looks. I remember when I first saw him at the Dade County jamboree last May when he was at North Miami and I thought he looked like an exciting a sophomore at the time. During 1 on 1 drills, he showed a lot of pass rushing moves that allowed him to win most of his battles. He has the physical tools you look for in a defensive line prospect. I look forward to watching him on the field in his jamboree next month.

Bartow's Alex Boston made the 4-hour drive from Polk County to prove that his name belongs when talking about the state's top defensive end prospects. And he certainly proved it.

At 6-foot-2 1/2 and 220 pounds, Boston is built very well, and has a lot of muscular development at this age. There's an outside chance he could make the transition to be a college linebacker -- especially after watching him run the 40-yard dash and the shuttle run, which he landed a 4.40 on. During 1 on 1 drills, you see ideal speed, athleticism, and especially change-of-direction skills you look for in a defensive end prospect. He wins most of his battles with a very good first step, and it's the little things he needs to focus on, such as finishing his pass rush and using his hands a little more effectively. Physically, it's what you want and I'm very excited to watch him during spring football next month. I think Boston's another mid to upper Division 1 prospect right now.

Moving back to Dade County, Hialeah American's Brandon Jones figured to replace John Wood as the pass-rush specialist this season. At 6-foot-4 and 226 pounds, Jones was recovering from shoulder surgery, but that didn't seem to slow him down a bit. Although he's not quite as quick or explosive as Pata, he's certainly quicker than most his size, as he turned in a 4.62 shuttle time, and showed pretty good burst upfield during 1 on 1 drills. Although he got pushed around a little, it may have had something to do with his injury. When healthy, he's a playmaker. I think he can become real comparable to John Wood as a prospect by season's end. Right now, I think Jones is a mid to upper Division 1 prospect.

Palm Beach Gardens defensive end Mike Brown also turned a lot of heads with his strong performance. At 6-foot-3 and 202 pounds, Brown displayed a tremendous amount of athletic ability. He has the body to add another 30-40 pounds and he's still young for his grade. He ripped off a 4.34 shuttle time, and then displayed a tremendously quick first step upfield during 1 on 1 drills. He has a lot of pass rushing moves and he's a very instinctive player on the run. He actually tried to bull-rush an opposing linemen that weighed about 290 pounds and Brown put him on his back. He has a lot to learn, but the passion level is there and he has freakish athletic ability. I think Brown might be a mid to upper Division 1 prospect right now, and I have a feeling that he's going to explode and have a super senior season.

Tampa Jefferson's Jermaine Lemons is coming off an otustanding junior season in which he had 17 quarterback sacks. He showed why he can put up those type of numbers at the camp.

Lemons checked in at 6-foot-2 1/2 and 217 pounds, and was very well built physically. He displayed excellent quickness and his pad level on his pass rushes was as good as any defensive end at the entire camp. Athletically, he's what you want, but he ran into some trouble when facing taller offensive tackles, primarily due to his lack of a large wingspan and also his lack of hand use. Technique-wise, he's still a ways away, but athletically, he's what you like. I think Lemons is a mid level Division 1 prospect right now.

Next up - Defensive Ends (Part 2)

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