Bill's Combine Research: Defensive Ends

In Part 12 of our in-depth series, we introduce you to the on-the-field talents and some of the off-the-field stories of the 28 players listed as defensive ends. Take our one-week free trial today and get all of our coverage as we report live from the Scouting Combine.

INDIANAPOLIS -- Packer Report's Bill Huber is getting ready for the Scouting Combine, and is sharing some of his research of the 328 players who will be testing for and talking to the Green Bay Packers and the NFL's other 31 teams. In Part 12, we tell you about the 28 players listed at defensive end. This list is from National Football Scouting, with several of these players projecting to outside linebacker in the Green Bay Packers' scheme. All heights and weights are from the schools and, therefore, not official.

-- Frank Alexander, Oklahoma (6-4, 255): A part-time starter his first three seasons, Alexander delivered a knockout senior slate with 8.5 sacks, 19 tackles for losses, three forced fumbles and eight passes defensed. He was named first-team all-conference and one of six finalists for the Ted Hendricks Award, which goes to the nation's top defensive end. His 20.5 career sacks are seventh in school history. Alexander was a standout tight end and defensive end at Southern Lab High School in Baton Rouge, and while he wore No. 84 for the Sooners, he was recruited to play tight end.

-- Jake Bequette, Arkansas (6-5, 271): A starter for three-and-a-half seasons, Bequette is one of the best pass rushers in school history. He had 10 sacks as a senior, giving him 23.5 for his career – the third-best total in program history and tops among active SEC players. A first-team all-conference pick, Bequette added five forced fumbles as a senior. He is the fourth member of the Bequette family to play football at Arkansas. His father played from 1980-82, his uncle Chris from 1984-87 and his grandfather George from 1954-56. It was anything but a given that he'd play at Arkansas, though. Bequette didn't start playing football until his freshman year of high school and he was lightly recruited out of Catholic High School in Little Rock, Ark.

-- Jamie Blatnick, Oklahoma State (6-3, 265) Blatnick was first team all-Big 12 on the field and in the classroom as a senior. In 2011, he tallied eight sacks, 13.5 tackles for losses and seven passes defensed. He took up jiu-jitzu, with the combat training helping him with balance and technique, things that help him during battles with offensive linemen as well as his brothers, both of whom are accomplished in the jiu-jitzu. At Celina (Texas) High School, Blatnick was a two-way terror, allowing one sack as an all-state offensive lineman and recording 20 sacks as an all-state defensive lineman. In August 2010, he was charged with assault and battery after a fight with a former OSU offensive lineman at a bar.

-- Quinton Coples, North Carolina (6-6, 285): Coples was a first-team all-ACC selection after leading the Tar Heels in tackles for loss (15.5) and sacks (7.5). Forced to play inside at defensive tackle as a junior, he responded with 10 sacks. He was named first-team all-ACC and considered entering the NFL draft but was scared off by the lockout. He ranked fourth in the country among active players with 24 career sacks and enters the NFL with five forced fumbles. Coples' take on sacking quarterbacks: "I really kind of feel bad for them after I hit them because that's my specialty. That's what I'm made for." Coples' sporting focus during his first couple of years in high school was on basketball until his godfather explained that there are more spots on an NFL roster than an NBA roster.

Combine Preview

Part 1: 19 Quarterbacks.

Part 2: 30 Running backs.

Part 3: 47 Wide receivers.

Part 4: 14 Tight ends.

Part 5: 20 Interior offensive linemen.

Part 6: 35 Offensive tackles.

Part 7: 22 Safeties .

Part 8: 37 Cornerbacks .

Part 9: 31 Defensive tackles .

Part 10: 14 Inside linebackers .

Part 11: 19 Outside linebackers .

-- Jack Crawford, Penn State (6-5, 273): The senior led the team with 6.5 sacks to earn second-team honors in the Big Ten. For his career, he bagged 14 sacks and 26.5 tackles for losses. Crawford spent much of his life in London and came to the United States in 2005 in hopes of landing a scholarship in basketball. Instead, he became a standout football player at St. Augustine High School in Longport, N.J. Two years after his first-ever football game, Crawford played in every game for Penn State.

-- Tyrone Crawford, Boise State (6-4, 273): As a senior, Crawford had 6.5 sacks and a team-leading 13.5 tackles for losses to be named first-team all-Mountain West. He also led the team with three forced fumbles. Crawford wanted to go to Boise after prepping in Windsor, Ontario, but didn't take the right classes to be eligible. A first-team All-American as a sophomore at Bakersfield (Junior) College, Crawford finally landed at Boise and registered seven sacks and 13.5 tackles for losses as a junior.

-- Vinny Curry, Marshall (6-4, 263): Curry made practically every All-American team as a senior, including second-team honors from The Associated Press. The Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year dominated with 11 sacks, 21.5 tackles for losses and six forced fumbles, ranking second and third, respectively, in the latter two categories. He finished his career tied for second in the nation among active players with 26.5 sacks and 48 tackles for losses, both figures ranking second among active defenders. He added two more sacks in the Senior Bowl. He showed up to at least one press conference this season dressed as wrestler Ric Flair, complete with pink feather boa.

-- Justin Francis, Rutgers: Francis posted team-leading totals of 6.5 sacks and 10 quarterback hits while ranking third with 13 tackles for losses. Plus, he blocked three kicks. Francis, a defensive tackle in 2009 and 2010, moved to defensive end for his senior season and finally broke into the starting lineup. In 2008, he was charged with burglary and weapons possession for allegedly stealing a cell phone and threatening a student with an air pistol. Charges were dropped for a lack of evidence but he wound up sitting out the 2008 season.

-- Trevor Guyton, California (6-3, 280): A full-time starter for the first time as a senior, he was named second-team all-Pac-12 after recording seven sacks and 15 tackles for losses. Guyton started playing football in eighth grade because the youth teams in Woodinville, Wash., were based on height rather than age, with his mom fearing Guyton's bones weren't strong enough to battle against more mature boys. Still, because of an impressive performance at a football camp, he was offered a scholarship by Washington State before even playing one snap at Redmond High School.

-- Akiem Hicks, Regina (6-5, 300): Hicks is believed to be the first Canadian Interuniversity Sport player to be selected to the Combine. He's the ultimate sleeper. After playing for two seasons at Sacramento City College, Hicks was slated to join LSU but a recruiting violation self-reported by the school sent Hicks scurrying for options, and he enrolled at the University of Regina. In 2011, he was named first-team All-Canadian with a school-record 6.5 sacks in conference play.

-- Melvin Ingram, South Carolina (6-2, 276): At Richmond County High School in Hamlet, N.C., Ingram played middle linebacker and fullback, so the transition to defensive end was slow. As a senior, the first-time starter earned All-American honors by tying the school's single-season sacks record with 10 while adding 15 tackles for losses, six quarterback hits and two interceptions. Even while starting only one game as a junior, he paced the team with nine sacks. He ranks fourth in school history with 21.5 career sacks and fifth with 30.5 tackles.He scored three touchdowns as a senior, including a 68-yarder on a fake punt against Georgia. Toward the end of the run, he hurdled Georgia All-American Brandon Boykin.

-- Bruce Irvin, West Virginia (6-3, 245): Irvin notched team-leading figures of 8.5 sacks, 15 tackles for losses and three forced fumbles. Irvin is one of the great stories in this draft. He was ruled academically ineligible as a sophomore at Stockbridge (Ga.) High School. He transferred and wound up dropping out by the middle of his junior year. At one point, he spent 2.5 weeks in jail for robbery. In November 2007, a close friend was arrested for cocaine trafficking. He called Irvin and urged him to turn his life around. Irvin's done just that. A month after that phone call, Irvin earned his GED. As a junior at West Virginia, he played only on passing downs and wound up finishing second in the nation with 14 sacks.

-- Jamaar Jarrett, Arizona (6-5, 262): Jarrett was a two-time honorable mention on the all-Pac-12 team, tallying seven sacks and 16 tackles for losses combined as a junior and senior. He said he lost his explosiveness after gaining 20 pounds upon arriving on campus. When he dropped the weight, his play improved.

-- Cam Johnson, Virginia (6-4, 270): Johnson led the Cavaliers with four sacks and 11 tackles for losses a senior – even while taking 17 credits. A 34-game starter, he finished his career with 12.5 sacks and 33.5 tackles for losses. At Gonzaga High School in Washington, D.C., Johnson was a two-way starter at safety and wide receiver, and was recruited to play linebacker in then-coach Al Groh's 3-4 scheme. A coach change shifted the defense to a 4-3 and Johnson to an end.

-- Chandler Jones, Syracuse (6-5, 265): With 147 tackles in three seasons – the seventh-most in school history for a defensive lineman – Jones headed to the draft. He missed five games in 2011 but returned to bury West Virginia with six solo tackles and two sacks to win Big East defensive player of the week. He was named first-team all-conference. Jones' brother, Arthur, played for Syracuse and just completed his second season as a defensive lineman for the Ravens. Another brother, Jon "Bones" Jones, is UFC's light-heavyweight champion.

-- Ronnell Lewis, Oklahoma (6-2, 244): Playing a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker, Jones started nine games as a junior and declared for the draft after tallying 5.5 sacks and 13 tackles for losses. Mostly, he just went upfield and rushed. At Dewar (Okla.) High School, he rushed for 2,219 yards and 33 touchdowns as a senior in traditional 11-man football and piled up 2,000 rushing yards and 40 touchdowns with an incredible 11 interceptions as a junior, the school's final year of eight-man football.

-- Brandon Lindsey, Pittsburgh (6-2, 250): Lindsey, playing a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker in Pitt's 3-4 scheme as a senior, contributed 8.5 sacks, 11 tackles for losses and two forced fumbles. He was even better as a junior, earning second-team honors in the Big East with 10 tackles, 17.5 tackles for losses and three forced fumbles. His father, John, played basketball at Memphis and a brother, Willie, played football at Northwestern. Lindsey starred at Aliquippa (Pa.) High School, which also produced Mike Ditka, Darrelle Revis, Sean Gilbert and Jon Baldwin.

-- Jonathan Massaquoi, Troy (6-2, 270): Massaquoi stayed just two years at Troy after a junior-college season. At Troy, he recorded 128 tackles, 31 tackles for losses and 19.5 sacks. He was a first-team all-Sun Belt player both seasons. In one year at Butler Community College, he registered a whopping 20 sacks. Massaquoi, who leaves Troy with a double major in social science and business management, is from Monrovia in the West African nation of Liberia. His cousins Mohamed Massaquoi, Tim Massaquoi and Visanthe Shiancoe have played in the NFL.

-- Shea McClellin, Boise State (6-3, 255): McClellin, a first-team choice in the Mountain West, registered a team-high seven sacks and was second with 12.5 tackles for losses, one behind Tyrone Crawford's team-leading mark. He was first-team all-MWC as a junior, as well, with 9.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for losses. At Marsing High School in Caldwell, Idaho, he rushed for 1,893 yards and 22 touchdowns and added seven touchdowns on defense as a senior. McClellin was raised by his grandparents on a farm.

-- Whitney Mercilus, Illinois (6-4, 265): Talk about a one-hit wonder. As a freshman and sophomore, Mercilus had two sacks and made a combined two starts. Then came his junior season, his last with the Illini: He led the nation and tied Simeon Rice's school record with 16 sacks and had a stunning nine forced fumbles – the second-most in NCAA history. He earned consensus All-American honors and the Ted Hendricks Award as the nation's top defensive end. Not even Mercilus saw it coming, and it was a byproduct of an improved work ethic. "He's usually practicing harder than everybody else," defensive coordinator Vic Koenning, who coached DeMarcus Ware at Troy, said before the bowl game. The work ethic comes from his dad. Wilner and Yvrose Mercilus were Haitian immigrants, with Wilner driving a taxi while taking full-time computer courses upon arriving in the United States in 1985.

-- Donte Paige-Moss, North Carolina (6-4, 260): Paige-Moss declared for the draft early, despite two sacks and four tackles for losses as a junior. He tore the ACL in his left knee in the Independence Bowl. The odds of him running for mayor of Shreveport, La., are between slim and none. On Twitter, he called Shreveport – home to the bowl game – a "horrible city" and called his coaches "horrible," while he was at it. He also called North Carolina's fans "the worst."

-- Nick Perry, USC (6-3, 250): Perry registered 9.5 sacks as a junior and was a finalist for the Hendricks Award before declaring for the draft. He added four sacks as a nine-game starter in 2010 and a team-high eight sacks while playing in pass-rushing situations in 2009. At King High School in Detroit, Perry had 37 sacks … as a senior, setting a state record.

-- Derrick Shelby, Utah (6-3, 271): Shelby started 40 games in his career. He earned first-team all-Pac-12 honors as a senior and was a four-year member of the conference's all-academic team. In 2011, he had five sacks and a team-high 10 tackles for losses. Shelby missed the end of the 2009 season with a knee injury and was slowed by a knee brace throughout 2010. When the Utes beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl in 2008, Shelby was the starting nose tackle at merely 245 pounds.

-- Jacquies Smith, Missouri (6-4, 255): In 11 starts, Smith tallied five sacks, nine tackles for losses and four forced fumbles to be named second-team all-Big 12 for the second consecutive year. He missed just one game with a dislocated knee. As a junior, when he was 49ers phenom Aldon Smith's sidekick, he had 5.5 sacks and 10 tackles for losses.

-- Scott Solomon, Rice (6-3, 270): Solomon, who missed all of 2010 with a foot injury, capped his career with a personal-best 8.5 sacks and second-team honors in Conference USA. His 24 career sacks are tied for the school record and are fourth among active players. His 43.5 career tackles for losses is good for sixth among active players. As a senior, Solomon wore No. 35 in honor of senior Travis Bradshaw, who sustained a career-ending injury at the end of preseason camp. Solomon figures to light it up at the Combine – he's already done 38 reps on the 225-pound bench.

-- DeAngelo Tyson, Georgia (6-2, 306): Tyson started all 11 games in which he played, tallying 20 tackles and 3.5 tackles for losses. For his career, he had just 1.5 sacks. Tyson grew up in a Statesboro, Ga., boys home after his parents walked out of his life when he was 8. If not for Statesboro High School coach Steve Pennington, Tyson might not be in this position. During the summer before his freshman season, Tyson stopped attending practice. Pennington went to the boys home and earned Tyson's trust and talked about how the team could fill some of the family void.

-- Olivier Vernon, Miami (6-4, 265): Vernon's junior season was a washout because of a six-game suspension stemming from the scandal centering on booster Nevin Shapiro. He made three starts in six games, finishing with 1.5 sacks and 3.5 tackles for losses. Still, he entered the draft a year early. As a sophomore, he was second on the team with six sacks and fourth with 10.5 tackles for losses.

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at

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