Draft 2002: Looking at the DTs

<P><STRONG>Albert Haynesworth, Tennessee </STRONG>(6-6, 317 lbs., 4.82) Haynesworth is an active interior defensive lineman that finally began to show more than just "flashes" of brilliance during his junior campaign.

He posted 11.5 tackles for loss and broke up seven passes last year, but recorded only five sacks in three seasons with the Volunteers. However, he did emerge quickly after breaking into the starting lineup by leading the team with 20 quarterback pressures.

His increased dedication to the weight room has truly helped him, although many scouts fear that he lacks the work habits/dedication to ever live up to his "full" potential. At times he will lose focus and concentration, play too high and just lean on opposing linemen.

His motor ran at a much higher level during his junior campaign and by all accounts he outplayed teammate John Henderson. He showed very good speed and quickness at his Pro Day workout, but struggled in the weight room by doing just 17 reps of 225 pounds.

The All-SEC defender has more un-realized potential than anyone available at this position. If Haynesworth works hard in the weight room and learns to consistently play with balance and leverage he will become a force for year's to come. Kansas City and Arizona like him a lot, while Oakland and New Orleans may try to deal up for his services.

Ryan Sims, North Carolina (6-4, 313 lbs., 4.98) Sims has excellent size, speed and was ultra-productive during his senior campaign. He is a smart player that keeps his head up, which makes him terrific two-way defender. An All-ACC selection, he does a good job pushing the pocket, but when he cannot get to the quarterback, he makes sure to get his hands up and times his jumps well.

He is a disruptive force against the run and gets a good burst off the line. His overall development over the past two years has been superb, although he could add new moves to help free him from blockers. A very coachable player, he also seems to play under control and holds his temper.

He recorded five sacks as a senior and showed a great combination of power and quickness during the Senior Bowl week practices. At his recent Pro Day, Sims did 27 reps of 225 pounds, while running below 5.00 in the 40.

Sims may lack the "upside" potential of other defensive line prospects, but he will step into someone's starting lineup right away and produce from game one of his rookie season.

John Henderson, Tennessee (6-7, 307 lbs., 4.98) Henderson is a strong interior defender with above-average size and quickness. He is strong at the point of attack and often drew double-team attention in college. His ability to collapse the pocket and get to the quarterback has been most impressive.

The All-SEC defender shows good pursuit skills, but could make better use of his hands to keep blockers away from his legs. He played through an ankle injury last season, but also seemed to play with a down-graded motor -- not effort-wise, but in terms of actual production.

His biggest problems come from the fact that he has a long frame, which keeps him from playing with great leverage and pad level. Teams also wonder about his long-term potential as an interior lineman with some feeling that he will eventually move outside to left defensive end. Despite his height -- he does not have great growth potential -- added weight would slow down his game and he already has had some back problems.

 Henderson recorded 20.5 sacks over the last three seasons, so production has not been a problem for him. Overall, Henderson will be a Top-15 selection that should produce immediate results, but may not be the "show-stopping" defensive star that he was in college.

Wendell Bryant, Wisconsin (6-4, 308 lbs., 4.78) Bryant is a well-conditioned athlete with impressive speed; quickness and natural pass rush skills for an interior defensive line. He does a great job breaking down the pocket and shows very good pursuit skills versus the run. A very smart defender he has quick enough hand/foot movement to defeat double teams. The All-Big Ten defender recorded 24 sacks during his four-year Badgers' career, but does not always show ideal "killer" instincts.

He was very disruptive for most of his career, but double teams or plays run away from his side can easily cause him to lose focus. His upper-body strength needs work -- he recorded only 20 reps of 225 pounds at his Pro Day, which also causes him to lose his leverage advantage at times.

Additionally, adding 10-15 pounds -- most to his lower body would likely make him more of an anchor at the point of attack. Bryant has superior quickness, hands and pass rush skills for this position.

However, he may not be an every-down defensive tackle. In fact, he would work best in a system that rotates him at several positions in order to take advantage of his primary skills. Look for Indianapolis to make a strong push for his services.

Anthony Weaver, Notre Dame (6-3, 296 lbs., 4.95) Weaver is a very talented and versatile two-way defensive lineman. In fact, he recorded 34 tackles for loss, 15 sacks and three interceptions over the past two seasons. He has a little trouble at the point of attack because he lacks ideal bulk, but can release from blockers and has shows impressive closing speed.

A great effort player he has worked hard to further develop his instincts on the field, while adding close to 15 pounds in the weight room. In order for him to control opponents at the line of scrimmage he must learn to fire off the ball low on every play and will also tend to try slipping past blockers rather than bull rushing them. Weaver's ability to play both tackle and end would amply help teams such as Indianapolis, New Orleans and the NY Jets.

His overall skill level and potential fall in-between Bryant Young (49ers) and Renaldo Wynn (Redskins), who are a pair of former standout Irish defensive linemen themselves.

"Sleeper" Eddie Freeman, Alabama-Birmingham (6-5, 310 lbs., 4.91) Once you get past the "Big 4" there will still be a huge necessity for interior defensive linemen. Freeman provides a big body in the middle and equally impressive physical tools. He is a solid run blocker and has the wingspan to bat down passes at the line of scrimmage.

An athletic former tight end he has grown into his 300-pound frame over the last two years, but still needs to enhance his lower-body strength. While not the most powerful defender at the point of attack, he is a relentless pursuit defender that makes plays sideline-to-sideline -- quite impressively for a interior player.

Opposing offensive lines were forced to double team him, since he was so disruptive. He has worked hard to develop more pass rush moves, which is proven by the fact that he recorded nine of 15 career sacks over the last two years. His work ethic has really improved and he showed more intensity on the field as senior. Scouts are also hopeful that toe surgery last year corrected a lingering problem.

Overall, Freeman could be chosen as high as the second round, but needs to improve his lower-body strength, play with more leverage and continue getting more aggressive in order to fulfill his potential.

John Murphy, is the editor of www.draft2002.com and Director of Scouting and Evaluation for NL Sports. Be sure to check out the most in-depth, up-to-the-minute 2002 NFL Draft website and you can also email your draft questions to John from the www.draft2002.com website.

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