2006 NFL Draft: Defensive End Profiles Part I

With numerous deficiencies on both sides of the ball, the Chiefs need to find three potential starters in the 2006 draft. Out of all of their needs the most critical is acquiring a playmaker on the defensive line. Luckily this year's draft is fairly top heavy in pass rushing ends so the Chiefs should be able to find help in the first three rounds.

DE Mario Williams

North Carolina St.

6'7" 290lbs

With his rare combination of height, weight, strength and speed, Williams is without question the top defensive lineman in this year's draft. He is such a complete player that he can outmuscle or out-quick any kind of offensive lineman. Only the NFL's most elite tackles will be able to handle him and there is every expectation that Williams will make the same type of impact that Shawne Merriman did a year ago.

With 4.6 speed, Williams can blow past most opponents with relative ease. Against Maryland and Florida State it almost didn't seem fair at times that he was allowed on the field. A man of his stature isn't supposed to be able to move that fast or turn the corner that well. His 2005 statistics clearly indicate the type of havoc he was able to wreak on the ACC. He finished the 2005 season with 14.5 sacks, 24 tackles for losses and 15 quarterback pressures.

As stated in the introduction, if Williams can't beat a player with speed he always has the option of using his strength instead. On film he effortlessly powers through blockers and tosses them around with little resistance. The way he can overpower his opponents is at times reminiscent of the great Reggie White. When Williams enters the league he'll immediately be one of the NFL's strongest players. He bench pressed 225 pounds 35 times at the NFL Combine. That is an amazing feat for a player with his wingspan.

At 6-foot-7 Williams has learned how to use his massive reach to his advantage. Offensive tackles and tight ends find it difficult to hold him in pass protection because he can simply press them away and create separation. This gives him a decided advantage when playing the run because he can effectively hold offensive linemen before flinging them aside and tackling the ball carrier.

Williams is the fifth-rated player on Warpaint Illustrated's value board.

Comparable Player: New England's Richard Seymour or Carolina's Julius Peppers

DE Manny Lawson

North Carolina St.

6'6" 245lbs

When it comes to pure speed there isn't a defensive end out there who can get up the field as fast as Manny Lawson. In fact, with his 4.3 speed the next-fastest defensive end isn't even close.

Although Lawson has been overshadowed by his teammate Mario Williams, the separation between their talent level is minimal. While watching film on NC State, Lawson stands out every bit as much as Williams does. In fact Lawson is usually facing the better pass protector on the right side and he still manages to meet Williams at the quarterback on most occasions.

The strength of Lawson's game is his ability to fly around the edge of an offensive tackle with blinding speed. Even when double-teamed or facing max protection, Lawson can often outrun and outmaneuver the protection to his side. Lawson also does a good job of setting up offensive lineman to assume he is taking a hard outside rush only to jump back inside with a swim move or spin technique. Usually this results in the offensive line chucking the air while Lawson closes in on his quarterback.

Lawson is this year's top candidate to make the move from 4-3 defensive end to 3-4 outside linebacker. Since the defense he was in at NC State frequently used the zone blitz, Lawson is already accustomed to dropping back in coverage and playing in space. This is usually the most difficult transition to make when switching from defensive end to linebacker, but since it is something that he's already comfortable with he'll be able to step in and contribute right away.

While we are on the subject of defensive schemes, Lawson's weight has led some scouts to question whether or not he can handle playing defensive end in the NFL. John Abraham and Jevon Kearse are perfect examples of lighter defensive ends who have been successful in a 4-3 defense. There is no reason why Lawson couldn't follow in their footsteps. Lawson is probably a better pure athlete than either of the above mentioned players. Once he packs on another 25 pounds of muscle he'll become a holy terror.

Lawson is the 14th rated player on Warpaint Illustrated's value board.

Comparable Player: Demarcus Ware of the Dallas Cowboys with the quickness of the Colt's Dwight Freeney

DE Mathias Kiwanuka

Boston College

6'5" 254lbs

Kiwanuka's number one asset is his initial burst of speed around the edge. He has good explosion and can turn in a tight radius when taking the corner on an offensive tackle.

His favorite method of rushing the passer is to simply drop his inside shoulder and outrun protection to the point of the quarterback. Since he uses this approach so frequently it often sets up the opportunity for an inside spin move. Although he's become an expert at using the spin move off of the speed rush his arsenal appears to be limited beyond that. He doesn't club or rip well and is rarely successful when attempting to swim his opponent. Unfortunately, he also lacks the strength to effectively use a bull rush, which would be a perfect complement to his skill set. If he can add this as a pro he'll become twice as dangerous.

The weakest area of Kiwanuka's game is his ability to stop the run. Although he does a nice job of standing his opponents up and getting into their pads, he tends to struggle when it's time to disengage and make the tackle. He also lacks the power required to hold off blockers for an extended period of time. Even the most average college linemen have shown the ability to overtake him when the offense runs directly at him.

Kiwanuka is the 21st rated player on Warpaint Illustrated's value board.

Comparable Player: Rookie year will be similar to the rookie year of Kansas City's Jared Allen and should develop along those lines. Has the potential to turn into a Simeon Rice-type player.

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