2009 Draft Countdown: Defensive ends

With the 2009 NFL draft only days away, we offer our extensive position-by-position breakdown. Each report includes an analysis of the Dolphins' status at the position, the likelihood of a draft pick being spent at the position, a look at which prospects the Dolphins have worked out or visited with, a list of the top prospects, and the sleepers. We continue with the defensive ends.

Where the Dolphins stand: The Dolphins focused on this area in last year's draft by picking Phillip Merling, Kendall Langford and Lionel Dotson, but the team this offseason decided to release veteran Vonnie Holliday. His starting spot figures to be taken either by Merling or by 2008 free agent acquisition Randy Starks, who did good work as a backup last season. The other two defensive ends on the roster are former draft picks Rodrique Wright and Paul Soliai, who was a backup at nose tackle last year but now is listed as a defensive end.

Likelihood of the Dolphins using a pick at the position: Even with Holliday gone, the Dolphins have decent depth at the position thanks to their draft picks from last year. The Dolphins wouldn't pass on a great value at the position should one become available, but defensive end isn't a high priority heading into the draft.

The top prospects: 1. Brian Orakpo, Texas; 2. Everette Brown, Florida State; 3. Aaron Maybin, Penn State; 4. Tyson Jackson, LSU; 5. Robert Ayers, Tennessee; 6. Jarron Gilbert, San Jose State; 7. Paul Kruger, Utah; 8. Michael Johnson, Georgia Tech; 11. David Veikune, Hawaii; 10. Lawrence Sidbury, Richmond

Summary: This group is loaded with speedy undersized pass rushers who could line up at outside linebacker in a 3-4 in the NFL. Some of those players include Orakpo, Brown, Maybin, Kruger, Johnson, Veikune and Sidbury. All of them could be attractive to the Dolphins, who are looking for a pass-rushing complement to Joey Porter. In terms of defensive end prospects who look like good fits for a 3-4, the two on the above list who really stand out are Jackson and Gilbert. For those not aware, Gilbert became a YouTube sensation with a video of him jumping clear out of a pool from the shallow end.

Sleepers: Pierre Walters, Eastern Illinois; Everette Pedescleaux, Northern Iowa

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