Draftnik's Corner - DE Update #1

I got to gauge the ability of Dewayne White (Louisville) against top flight competition, Brett Williams, when the Cardinals took on FSU but he was flattered by his 2 sacks and a TFL

I was greatly looking forward to watching Michael Haynes (Penn State) but put in a very quiet performance against Ohio State and didn't impress me much at all. That was a major disappointment considering the hype surrounding his Senior Bowl performance and his production over the course of the season as the Buckeyes OT's though big, don't rated that highly as future pro prospects. On the plus side, he showed the versatility to play both LDE & RDE, switching between the two frequently and he worked down the line of scrimmage to stop the run from the backside and avoided low blocks to stay on his feet most plays. Unfortunately, those were the best things I could find to write about him in this game!

As a pass rusher, though he got around the OT's a few times to the outside, he didn't really pressure the QB too often and I think only got one hit, lacking the speed to beat the OT's off the snap, the moves to get around them consistently or the power to drive them back to the QB at all. To my eyes, the biggest disappointment came when he was chasing the QB from behind and was clearly outran to the corner, appearing one-paced rather than having the sort of burst that causes big plays. To be honest, DT Jimmy Kennedy looked as fast at some 40lb's heavier! I'll see more of him against Iowa and Auburn so he may yet change my mind but he didn't strike me initially as being an upgrade over Kenny Holmes or worthy of a 1st round pick.

I got to gauge the ability of Dewayne White (Louisville) against top flight competition, Brett Williams, when the Cardinals took on FSU but he was flattered by his 2 sacks and a TFL. He showed some versatility, playing both LDE and RDE in the ‘flex' defense lining up in both the 4-3 and 3-4 but looked very sluggish off the ball, always appearing to be last to leave, though some of that was by design on stunts. He doesn't seem to be very strong as he didn't push the pocket when stunting to the inside, couldn't free himself from blocks even when spinning and was stymied consistently by both starting OT's throughout the contest. He also showed a bit of indiscipline getting a stupid PF penalty, head butting a player when he was already down but the entire game was littered with PF's so he wasn't alone!

What he did impress me with was his burst and ability to make a play in the open field, knifing through a block and closing from the inside to haul down an RB trying to bounce it outside. He also ran down the QB twice from behind for sacks after they broke the pocket (now wouldn't that be nice to see from a Giants DL?) though it must be said he wasn't in either play at all until the QB took off into the empty space. I don't think I'll get a third look at him now as the Southern Mississippi game I had hoped to see isn't available through my usual sources and my impression is that he may be there in the 2nd round when we pick for the second time. I think he'll probably need a year in the pro's before he is ready to contribute as a starter and if the Giants are drafting a DE high, they will probably be looking for more immediate payback on their investment. He does have some tools to work with though so I wouldn't rule him out altogether.

Though he has a reputation for underachieving, Kindal Moorehead (Alabama) looked like a pretty good prospect to me against both Hawaii – where he absolutely dominated the RT, routinely beating him around the corner – and Tennessee though he wasn't on the field long enough to really show his skills against the Vols potential OT prospect Will Ofenheusle (lousy officiating and turnovers meaning the Tennessee offense barely had a drive all game). He showed some versatility, playing LDE in both the standard 4 -3 as well as some 3 man front lines but did appear at RDE for a handful of plays in the latter game (though not enough to see whether he could project there)

Productive in both games (had a sack in each), he impressed in each game for different reasons. Against the Rainbow Warriors, it was his consistent pass rush pressure, blowing by the OT's outside shoulder and his burst to the QB. Against Tennessee, though he got a sack (when an RB accidentally blocked the OT allowing him the outside unimpeded!), it was his run defense that shone through, showing the technique to shed blocks, a burst to the ball and the desire to chase plays from the backside and make the tackle. He didn't really show any signs of letting down in either contest though he didn't seem to have a second move to get back to the QB if driven wide on his pass rush. I'm not sure what to make of him and will continue to watch closely against Auburn and Georgia but he is a guy I like from what I've seen so far.

On the other hand, his team-mate Kenny King (Alabama) had the least productive day of the highly rated Crimson Tide DL in both contests. He does look the quickest off the snap but he also seemed to be in the game the least. He played both DT spots in both games and also a little RDE in the 3 man front but was neutralised too easily on his initial charge only really driving his opponent back when stunting inside with a head of steam up and was clearly better hitting gaps than taking on guys head on. He's a hard guy to get a handle on his skills as his lack of size is detrimental to him at DT but to project him to DE in the 4-3 is tough to do when I have no idea whether he has the speed to rush the outside shoulder and agility to turn the corner. I'll let you know what the consensus of opinion is on him nearer draft day but I certainly wouldn't want the Giants to spend a first day pick on a potential ‘project'.

Alonzo Jackson (Florida State) had 5 sacks (!!) in the game against Louisville from his RDE spot but isn't particularly big – listed on the FSU website as 6'4", 250lb's but looks smaller – and appears to be no more than a situational player in the pro ranks for his first few years as he was driven off the ball to the inside too often in the run game. A pure speed rusher, he was simply too fast around the outside for the overmatched OLT on most plays and caused total havoc throughout the game. It may have been a ‘once in a lifetime' performance but it was certainly eye-catching and as he bagged a further 8 sacks on the year has piqued my interest and I will see him at least once more.

Clint Mitchell (Florida) had a much more active day against Georgia than he had against Miami but still doesn't strike me as being a top NFL prospect as he doesn't change direction that well and went past the QB on a few occasions when he couldn't slow down and redirect after beating the tackle to the outside. He did though get in a few very big hits on the QB in the pocket coming around the corner almost untouched off the snap (beating the overrated Jon Stinchcomb like a drum on more than one occasion). He also blew up a few plays knifing down inside on running plays too but he played too high straight ahead and was often turned to the inside as the run went around him. I'll see him in action again against Kentucky before assigning him a round I believe he's likely to be taken in but he isn't a first day pick in my view.

Otis Grigsby (Kentucky) had an excellent game from his LDE spot against LSU and was clearly too much for the ORT to cope with. He looked tall and with room to grow but was only listed at 6'4" and 253lb's on the Wildcats website so may project to OLB in some schemes. He certainly cranked it up around the corner in this one and showed the speed to chase down RB's down the line and scrambling QB's as well as separate from blockers, coming up with a couple of sacks and TFL's as well as blowing plays up in the backfield. He could be a ‘sleeper' but I need to see more and the Florida game should be a decent test though playing most of the time next to super-stud DT prospect Dewayne Robertson may have given him an advantage some better prospects don't have.

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