Saints Scouting Report: Vernon Gholston

Each day leading up to the NFL Draft, Saintsinsider.com will break down a player that the New Orleans Saints may be interested in on draft day. Today it's Ohio State DE Vernon Gholston. Find out his vitals, his college statistics, what our Scout.com personnel guru Tom Marino thinks of him and Matthew Postins' thoughts on how Gholston could fit in with the Saints.

Vernon Gholston

POSITION: Defensive end.

MEASUREABLES: 6-foot-3, 266, 4.65 in the 40.

COLLEGE CAREER: All-Big Ten Conference first-team choice by the league's coaches and media. Started twelve games at the "Leo" (rush end) position, coming off the bench vs. Purdue. Gholston ranked tied for third in the nation, as he set ther school season-record with fourteen sacks for minus 111 yards. His 15.5 stops for losses of 113 yards led the team and ranked eighth in the conference

PROJECTED AS: A first round pick. Scout.com's Tom Marino considers Gholston the strongest defensive end in the draft.

ARE THE SAINTS INTERESTED: The Saints met with Gholston last week.

DRAFT VALUE: Most mock drafts have Gholston selected by No. 10 overall, where the Saints pick.

SCOUT.COM'S TOM MARINO'S ANALYSIS: Great physical presence. Has blacksmith arms, broad shoulders and thick muscular torso, but even with 14 sacks, I don't consider him a natural pass rusher (paper production). Not an edge rusher (not nifty and lacks hand moves). A power rusher with a motor that doesn't always run on high. Disappointing in space. More of an inside type, but is never going to have the mass to project. Nice player, but I can't draft him with my first selection.

WHAT OTHER SERVICES ARE SAYING:

"(He) relies on a perfect blend of strength and suddenness off the snap to wreak havoc in the backfield. Gholston has a relentless motor in pursuit. If he had more on-field experience, he could be an outstanding linebacker at the next level. However, with teams looking for hybrid Cover-2 pass rushers, he is perfectly capable of impacting the backfield coming off the edge or dropping back into the zone to cover vs. the pass. He is still a raw talent that gets by on his athletic ability, but in a few years, with patient coaching and more experience, he has the potential to change the game, much like Abraham, Dwight Freeney (Indianapolis) and Jason Taylor (Miami) have done playing in that role." — NFLDraftscout.com

"Gholston could fit in a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme and has the size and speed to be productive at defensive end, defensive tackle or rush linebacker. A dynamic athlete, Gholston can dominate some games and disappear totally in others. Many NFL teams will be wary of his inconsistent effort and focus. He is sure to wow GMs and coaches in pre-draft workouts, so some team surely will draft him much higher than his on-field production warrants. Gholston should be used only as a pass-rush specialist for a year or two as he develops." — Sportingnews.com War Room.

MATTHEW POSTINS' BOTTOM LINE: It's no surprise that Gholston's athleticism and college pedigree are inflating his draft value a bit. Marino made the point that teams don't allow players with Gholston's blend of athleticism and speed fall very far in the draft, especially when that blend is at defensive end. The 40 time is awfully intriguing, as is his overall production his senior year. But scouts' criticism of his focus and back-side pursuit are a bit troubling. He should be a speed rusher in the NFL and speed rushers that reach elite status make plays on the backside. And if a team is going to spend a Top 10 pick on a defensive end, he'd better be elite eventually. The fact is that Top 10 defensive ends in the past 16 drafts average about six sacks their first season. So, if the Saints are fortunate enough to take Gholston in the first round, they should do so with realistic expectations of what Gholston can do. As for how he fits into New Orleans' scheme, he would immediately become their fastest end and could become a third-down specialist who would see 20 plays per game, then grow into a full-time starter. His progress could likely run parallel to Tampa Bay's Gaines Adams, who needed eight games to earn a starting job as a rookie and, when he did, had a nearly-immediate impact and finished with six sacks. He was selected No. 4 overall.


You can read more of Matthew Postins' coverage of the New Orleans Saints at saintsinsider.com.


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