Draftnik's Corner - DT Update #3

Jimmy Kennedy (Penn State) has all the physical and athletic talent needed to be a dominant player but he seems to me to still be putting it all together and he lacks the consistency at this stage you'd expect from someone so highly rated.

A lot of rumours have been flying around the internet recently about Rien Long (Washington State) concerning the Outland Trophy winners perceived lack of speed and lateral movement skills and watching him play I could see why. I got my first chance to study him this season against USC and though he bagged a pair of sacks and a TFL, his overall performance wasn't that impressive and he really only generated pressure on a half dozen plays despite the top rated QB prospect Carson Palmer throwing the ball near 50 times!

Known for his pass rushing prowess, he really didn't show himself to be anything more than a straight-line bull rusher with few moves but he was able to use his height and long arms - measured in at the Combine at 6'6", 302lb's – to his advantage at times to push the pocket even against the double-team. Both of his sacks came right at the end of the contest, the first ensured OT, the second virtually won it for them but he didn't create either of them with his charge as others forced Palmer to pull the ball down and step up in the pocket giving Long the opportunity to smash his way through and take him down.

Tall and angular, he doesn't get low enough consistently against the run and was stood up and moved off the ball too often one-on-one and was pan-caked a few times when doubled. When he got lower, he was harder to move out but he wasn't as good at the point of attack as his line-mate at DT (junior Jeremey Williams was much better). He also didn't demonstrate the ability to either chase plays down from behind or the quickness to fire through the gaps into the backfield though whether the knee problem he had all season was affecting his ability to do so I don't know.

In all honesty, I don't think he has the same physical and athletic talent as the top guys at the position but will watch him again in the near future against California to see whether he shows more in that game before making a decision on where he will go but off this I don't think he is worthy of a 1st round pick and I don't consider him a good fit for us.

By contrast, Jimmy Kennedy (Penn State) has all the physical and athletic talent needed to be a dominant player but he seems to me to still be putting it all together and he lacks the consistency at this stage you'd expect from someone so highly rated. I still haven't got around to viewing his marquee match-up with Iowa's Eric Stenbach but I did see him recently in the Capital One Bowl game against Auburn. Once again, he flashed big-time skills, stuffing a couple of short yardage plays at the point of attack despite being double-teamed and forcing the QB out of the pocket a few times with his pass rush but he dominated only in spurts rather than throughout the contest and that seems to be the norm for him.

At the Combine, he didn't work out but was measured at a jaw-dropping 6'4" and 322lb's (just 17.4% body fat) which makes him the biggest of the bunch amongst the top DT prospects and with a good workout, he could solidify his position within the top 10. I still think he'll be drafted higher than his play warrants but it's hard to knock anyone who spends a top 5 pick on him as his potential is so great he could easily become one of the best DT's in the NFL very quickly. For me though, I'd sooner go by what I see now and I rate him slightly lower than both Dwayne Robertson and Kevin Williams. If NFL teams view him as I do, he could last a little longer on draft day than expected and he could become a viable target for the Giants if Ernie Accorsi was to trade-up a long way. Certainly, the Penn State links of our GM mean we will have a lot of information on him and may well like him an awful lot.

Jonathon Sullivan (Georgia) continued to impress me with his play when I got another viewing of him against Auburn recently, plugging up the middle consistently against a very strong running team, taking on and defeating more than his fair share of double teams and showing enough as a pass rusher to be considered solid in that phase of his game. As against Florida, he was at times simply unblockable against the run, appearing to set up camp in the backfield early in the game and forgetting to play on his side of the line of scrimmage (of his 10 total tackles, 3.5 were for a loss!).The more I see of him, the more I like him…

One of the few top DT's to run at the Combine, he reportedly greatly impressed with his size – measured at 6'3", 313lb's – as well as his speed, quickness and movement skills in drills. Again though, there is a discrepancy between the numbers published by ESPN & TFY with both 4.96 and times approaching 5.1 listed. I've still got a few more Bulldawg games to get through but I'm pretty sure I've got a good handle on his abilities having watched him so often last year as well. I think he'll be a top 20 pick – maybe even top 15 – and the 4th DT off the board. I'm also pretty sure that he fits what the Giants scheme and wouldn't be surprised if, the top players at the position considered a little too expensive to trade up for, if the Giants targeted him and moved up the 10 spots or so needed to get him.

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