The 2007 draft is absolutely loaded with what is becoming not only a premier position in the NFL, but an absolute necessity if you're going to be a legitimate title contender. That position is of course, the defensive end, specifically pass rushers. All you have to do is take a look at how many explosive offenses there are around the league, the Peyton Manning's, the Tom Brady's, and the Drew Brees's just to name a few, and you can see just how important pass rushers are. Today we are going to take a look at some of the top ends that will be drafted at the end of April, their possible rounds, and how I would grade them.
Gaines Adams, DE, Clemson - Rating: 5/5
Gaines Adams is the perfect mix of size, speed, and athleticism. Adams has all of the physical tools that anyone would want at the defensive end position, (6'5", 258 lbs./ 4.67/40). Adams can take over games and was a very productive collegiate player. If last years' number one overall pick, Mario Williams, and Gaines Adams were both in the same draft class, Adams would be considered the better prospect by many, and had a more productive career. He's very close to a can't miss prospect, and some mock drafts have him going as high as second overall to the Detroit Lions.
Jamaal Anderson, DE, Arkansas - Rating: 4.5/5
Jamaal Anderson has great size for a DE(6'6", 288lbs.), and is a very explosive and powerful rusher. His timed speed is not great (4.75), but he has great closing speed and is a phenomenal athlete for his size. At times he plays high and does not utilize leverage, but he is still very raw and that can be coached out of him. Although he has played just 36 games in his college career, Anderson netted 13.5 sacks his junior year with the Razorbacks. Anderson is very likely to go in the top 15, probably the top 10.
Adam Carriker, DE/DT, Nebraska - Rating 4.5/5
Adam Carriker is one of my favorite players in this draft. He is not going to wow anyone with his speed, but he is a player that could be an immediate 10 year starter at the defensive end position. Although he's not really considered a "pass rusher", as those labels are generally reserved for edge rushers, he is your prototypical power rusher. He will simply out-muscle a tackle our guard, and disrupt the backfield. He only had 20.5 sacks his career at Nebraska, but in the last 2 seasons he averaged 16.5 tackles for loss. He plays the run like an extra defensive tackle, and is an adequate pass rusher overall. Ideally, he is best suited as a 3-4 DE, but he can be successful in any scheme. He has great size for a defensive end at 6'6" 295lbs, to go along with solid technique and great hands. Carriker is very coachable and gives 100% on every down. Carriker is likely to be a San Francisco 49er, as they are switching to a 3-4 defense. Carriker would also fit well on a team like the Jaguars next to their big defensive tackles and on the opposite side of either Hayward/McCray. Carriker is likely to go anywhere between pick 10 and 20.
Jarvis Moss, DE/OLB, Florida - Rating: 3.5/5
Jarvis Moss burst onto the scene this past season at Florida, notching 11 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks. He is nearly a Bobby McCray clone weighing in at 6'6" about 250-260lbs, and is more of a tweener/edge rusher than a standard defensive end. Like McCray, his strength is simply running past the tackle and closing on the quarterback. Moss is a liability against the run because he will simply get overpowered by most NFL caliber tackles, so it's possible he could be better suited for a 3-4 OLB role. If Moss is going to play DE at the pro level, he is going to need to bulk up to play at around 265 to avoid getting "pancaked" by offensive lineman. Moss should be available through the middle to late first round, and perhaps beyond.
Charles Johnson, DE, Georgia - Rating: 4/5
Charles Johnson was once the unheralded DE from Georgia who was always in the shadow of his teammate Quentin Moses, who is mentioned later, and was often overlooked. Johnson was much more productive than Moses in '06, netting 19 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks. Johnson is a little on the short side at 6'2" 270lbs, but he has an impressive pass rush repertoire. He is not overly fast, but with his technique and power he gets in the backfield. He will play against the run and is an every down DE in most schemes, due to his athleticism and ability to shed blocks. Johnson is expected to go between picks 30-45.
Anthony Spencer, DE/OLB, Purdue - Rating 3.5/5
Anthony Spencer is another defensive end in this draft who can play either with his hand on the ground in a 4-3, or standing up in a 3-4. He is a tad short for a DE at 6'2" 260lbs, but he is very athletic and quick (4.73 /40), and has a knack for getting to the QB. He was ultra productive at Purdue, getting 44 tackles for loss and 21 sacks in just 44 games with the Boilermakers. Spencer has experience dropping into coverage, and that will attract attention from 3-4 schemed teams. There are questions regarding his ability to shed blocks and to get away from massive tackles. Spencer is likely to be drafted between picks 35-50.
Victor Abiamiri, DE/OLB, Notre Dame - Rating: 3/5
Victor Abiamiri made a name for himself when his Fighting Irish played USC in 2005, when he absolutely dominated the highly regarded offensive tackle, Winston Justice. Abiamiri, like many others in this draft, is another DE/OLB tweener. He would be an edge rusher in a 4-3 scheme, but his timed speed is not impressive for his size. He measured in at 6'4" 270lbs, but he ran in the 4.8's. Although he has the frame to add more weight , he needs to keep his same quickness and to be an ideal left end. Abiamiri is strong on the point of attack, but is still raw and needs work on his technique. He has a good punch, but is still regarded as somewhat of an underachiever because most of his production was against lesser competition (like many of the Notre Dame prospects). He is compared a lot to his former teammate from 2005, Justin Tuck, now with the Giants. Abiamiri is a possible pick in the mid to late second round.
Tim Crowder, DE, Texas - Rating: 3/5
The best way to describe Tim Crowder is as a "jack of all trades, master of none". He is a decent pass rusher and good against the run but not great against either. He has good timed speed for his size,(6'3",278 lbs., 4.63/40), and is very athletic. So much so, that he was a two-sport athlete as a standout center fielder for his high school baseball team. He is very smart player, with very good technique and great fundamentals. Like mentioned before, he is not a sack artist, but a solid athlete overall. One of his biggest knocks is that he is too aggressive, and gets out of position. . Tim Crowder is a 2nd round prospect who may slip to the early third round.
Quentin Moses, DE/OLB, Georgia - Rating: 2.5/5
Quentin Moses likely would have been a top 15 pick had he come out in the 2005 draft, but a disappointing season in 2006 has possibly dropped his stock all the way to the late second, possibly early 3rd round. He timed very poor at the combine, running a 4.85/40, at 6'5" 260lbs. He was a prototypical speed rusher at Georgia, but his production severely dropped from his 2005 season. There are a lot of rumors that question his desire to play. He will need to bulk up a bit to play defensive end at the next level, and some teams are even looking at him as a 3-4 OLB. He is an excellent athlete and has an outstanding ability to get to the quarterback with a list of pass rush moves, but for some reason, he just tailed off in his 2006 season. Many scouts came away from the Senior Bowl and combine unimpressed with Moses, and with many citing Charles Johnson as a better prospect, Moses is almost in a free fall. Moses may be a risky pick.
Lamarr Woodley, DE/OLB, Michigan - Rating: 3/5
Lamaar Woodley, in my opinion, is best suited to be 3-4 ROLB in the NFL. He is very short for a DE standing just 6'1",(265lbs), and the fear is that he will get swallowed up by most tackles in the NFL, especially in the running game. He is a natural pass rusher with good technique, but lacks explosive speed. Woodley has experience as both a defensive end and a linebacker, which raises his value a bit, as well as his reputation for being a team leader, as well as a very nasty player with a mean streak. Woodley can go anywhere from the early to mid second round, to the third round.
Ikaika Alama-Francis, DE, Hawaii - Rating: 3/5
Ikaika Alama-Francis is a phenomenal athlete for his enormous frame (6'5" 280lbs), as he timed at 4.75 in the 40 at the combine. He is very raw player, as he did not play any football until college. With coaching and the right situation, Alama-Francis could be a steal being that he is still very moldable. He plays with his pad level too high and outside of a bull rush, Alama-Francis has nearly no pass rush moves. He is a guy who has made it this far on talent and athletic ability alone. His upside is that he's very coachable and dedicated, and he is very strong guy who can play the run well. Alama-Francis is disruptive, and has great leaping ability to bat down passes at the line. He is a lot like Adam Carriker, as he will not be a speed edge rusher, but he is very raw with almost limitless potential. Alama-Francis is a 3rd round prospect who could sneak up into late Round 2.
Dan Bazuin, DE, Central Michigan - Rating: 4/5, sleeper
Dan Buzuin is one of my official "sleeper" picks. Buzuin is a guy who if he was just two inches taller and played for a BCS school, would easily be a 1st round pick. He measures in at 6'3" 266lbs., and timed well, running 4.77 in the 40 yard dash. He is very aggressive with a quick first step and a great motor. His production fell off a bit from his junior season, but he had some off the field issues with the death of his brother. For his career, in 47 games he netted 63.5 tackles for loss and 35.5 sacks, totaling 26.5 sacks his junior and senior seasons. He will run himself out of some plays due to his aggressiveness and didn't always play well against top-level competition, but he did have a very good game against Michigan in 2006. He has the burst to close and finish a sack, and also possesses great anticipation. Buzuin has a knack for disrupting the backfield, and he's likely to be a late first day pick.
End of the Line - DE's of the Draft
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