Editor's note: This is Part 13 of our 14-part position-by-position breakdown heading to the April 25-26 NFL Draft. We continue with the defensive ends. The prospects are listed in order based on analysis by Scout.com draft expert Chris Steuber and Packer Report, with the comments that follow them based on the beliefs of league experts and insiders.
The Packers' perspective:
There's no bigger need on the defense or, arguably, the entire team.
Returning starter Cullen Jenkins (6-2, 305) seems like a good fit for the new 3-4 scheme, though he lacks ideal height. Assuming he's healed from a season-ending chest injury, he'll anchor one side.
But who's the other end? Johnny Jolly (6-3, 320) should be an OK fit, assuming he can beat his legal troubles. Justin Harrell (6-4, 320) would be a terrific fit, assuming he can stay healthy for once. Michael Montgomery (6-5, 273) is about 20 pounds too light. Alfred Malone (6-4, 312) has the size but no experience.
So, finding a defensive end is likely a top priority for general manager Ted Thompson. But this is a paper-thin group, with about half of the players on this list better-suited to be a 4-3 defensive tackle.
Cream of the crop:
— Tyson Jackson, LSU: There's a big gulf between Jackson and the next-best defensive end. He's the one and only ready-made 3-4 defensive end in this draft. Jackson (6-4, 295) offers a great combination of size, athleticism and strength, and he's played the position in a 4-3. Not great sack totals because he doesn't have great closing speed, but has a knack for applying pressure and batting down passes. Had 16.5 sacks over final three seasons, but just eight as a junior and senior. Ability to move inside to boost the pass rush on passing downs. Hard worker who plays hard. Could go No. 9 to Green Bay or even earlier, though it's debatable whether he's actually a top-10 talent.
— Jarron Gilbert, San Jose State: More of a boom-bust proposition than the steady Jackson. At 6-5, 288, he's faster, stronger and more explosive than Jackson. Tallied 9.5 sacks and 22 tackles for losses as a senior defensive end in SJS's 4-3. But that production wasn't there his first three seasons, and he didn't always dominate against offensive tackles who have no chance of playing in the NFL.
Just a notch below:
— Peria Jerry, Mississippi: Jerry (6-2, 299) will be ranked much higher as a 4-3 defensive tackle and should be a first-rounder. Big-time playmaker with athletic ability to penetrate into backfield. Whopping 18 tackles for losses last season and seven sacks even though he missed the opener after undergoing arthroscopic knee injury in August. Loves football, which isn't always true for top prospects. Height just doesn't fit the 3-4 mold, though.
— Evander Hood, Missouri: Like Perry, Hood (6-3, 300) will be ranked much higher as a 4-3 defensive tackle. Likely a late first-rounder. An athletic playmaker (14 sacks, 20 tackles for loss in three years as starter) with amazing speed (4.88 40) for his size, and was one of Combine's top performers with 34 bench-press reps. Charismatic leader. Some believe he doesn't have the mentality it takes to be a 3-4 end. Others think he's talented enough to excel in any scheme.
— Fili Moala, USC: Moala (6-4, 301) played defensive tackle in the Trojans' 4-3 defense. Durable, quick on his feet, strong and has an athletic background (his dad was a professional boxer; cousin is Ravens NT Haloti Ngata). Never had great production (9.5 sacks, 23.5 tackles for loss in three seasons as the starter), though he did have 10.5 tackles for loss a senior. Strong enough to anchor against run and athletic enough to provide some push vs. the pass.
— Alex Magee, Purdue: Magee (6-3, 298) moved from right defensive tackle to left defensive end in the Boilermakers' 4-3 last season. Posted 3.5 sacks and six tackles for losses in 2008. Strong (30 bench-press reps), reasonably athletic, durable and long arms to battle linemen. Good player in either scheme. An intelligent leader. Good character; one of his favorite things to do is go to church.
Others to remember:
— Kyle Moore, USC: Moore (6-5, 272) is an interesting mid-round prospect. He's got ideal height for a 3-4 defensive end, but he needs to add 20 pounds of bulk to match the ideals for the position. Two-year starter at end for the Trojans. Vertical of 30.5 inches shows his explosion. Had five sacks and 9.5 TFLs last year. Needs to play stronger at the point, but that would come with weight.
— Nader Abdallah, Ohio State: Abdallah (6-4, 292) went from just a guy to a terror in his final half season with the Buckeyes. In the final seven games, he had 10 solo tackles, 15 assists, one sack and a whopping five tackles for loss. Wasn't invited to Combine but ran 5.09 40 with 24 bench-press reps at pro day. Will be a steal if that was the real Abdallah to end the season.
— Everette Pedescleaux, Northern Iowa: Pedescleaux (6-6, 305) also wasn't invited to the Combine. Like Abdallah, he's got a perfect body type for the position. Former big-time high school basketball star, so he's got athletic ability. Had 6.5 sacks and 11 tackles for losses last season. A Packers scout ran his position drills at his pro day, where he broke 5.0 seconds in his 40 with 26 reps on the bench.
— Zach Potter, Nebraska: Potter (6-7, 279) produced five sacks and 16 tackles for losses last season. Used height to block five kicks and knock down seven passes last year. Has experience in a zone-blitz scheme, so the Packers will take notice of that. Ran a 4.98 40 with a strong shuttle run but only 21 reps on the bench. Needs to gain weight and strength, which he should be able to do.
— Pannel Egboh, Stanford: Egboh (6-6, 276) was recruited to be a 3-4 defensive end but a coaching change put the Cardinal in a 4-3. Big junior year with six sacks and 13.5 tackles for losses but slumped to 1.5 sacks, 3.5 TFLs last season. Must add another 20 pounds. Strong at Combine with 26 bench-press reps, 4.98 40. His shuttle run was fastest among the pure defensive linemen.
— Ricky Jean-Francois, LSU: Jean-Francois (6-3, 295) is best-known for winning MVP honors in the Tigers' BCS Championship Game victory over Ohio State. Played just 25 games with eight starts, and entered the draft following his junior season. Quick off the ball and is strong against single blocking but gives inconsistent effort. Was suspended for 12 months for what the school called "academic dishonesty," regaining his eligibility in time for the Ohio State game. Just two sacks and three tackles for losses last season. Doesn't seem like a Ted Thompson pick.
— Will Johnson, Michigan: This is purely a potential pick. Johnson (6-4, 281) put up what many believe to be a predraft NFL record with 47 reps on the bench press at Michigan's pro day. Academic all-Big Ten. Just a one-year starter with two sacks and three tackles for losses.
— Corvey Irvin, Georgia: Irvin (6-3, 301) moved into the starting lineup because of an injury and took advantage of the opportunity. High-effort player but not particularly explosive. Three sacks and 8.5 tackles for losses as a senior. Like Jean-Francois, is more of a 4-3 tackle.
— Matt Schaughnessy, Wisconsin: Schaughnessy (6-5, 266) will need to add weight to play end because he's not athletic enough to move to outside linebacker. Productive as a junior with five sacks and 18.5 tackles for losses but fell to four and eight, respectively, as a senior as he recovered from a broken leg sustained in spring practice. Tore an ACL during his sophomore season.
— Darryl Richard, Georgia Tech: Richard (6-3, 303) was second-team all-SEC with four sacks and 10 tackles for losses last season. A three-year starter who missed 2005 with a torn ACL. Only 17 bench-press reps but played strong in the middle for the Yellow Jackets.
Chris Steuber's sleeper:
— Khalif Mitchell, East Carolina: Mitchell (6-5, 316) has got ideal size to play end. Needs refinement on his technique so his size isn't used against him. Tumbling on draft boards because of ankle and foot injuries that limited him to seven games and just three tackles for losses as a senior. Ran 5.16 40 with 30 bench-press reps.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Bill also is giving Facebook and Twitter a try. Find him on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook.