One of the strongest positions in the 2013 NFL Draft class are the pass rushers, which is a good thing for the league, because if you want to win in the modern NFL you have to be able to pressure the opposing quarterback. We recently saw the underdog New York Giants win two Super Bowls over the favored New England Patriots, because they did one thing better than anyone else in the NFL, rush the passer. Not only is this class of pass rushers strong at the top of the draft, it is also deep, and gems can be found in the middle to later rounds. This is my current big board for the players in this draft that line up at defensive end in the 4-3 or outside linebacker in the 3-4 defensive scheme, and with a lot of teams running hybrid schemes now, many players do both.
1 ) Bjoern Werner, DE (6’4 250lbs) Florida State - I hear Werner compared to J.J. Watt often, and I am not going to go that far, he does not have the physical size or power that J.J. Watt has and that is not a knock on Werner. Few have the total package like Watt. The reason Werner gets compared to Watt is, not only he is he an excellent pass rusher, but his awareness and relentlessness compare to Watt. Guys with these qualities, that are tough to teach, make it in the NFL. Werner has excellent athleticism, is strong at the point of attack, and never gives up on a play. Prediction: Top 10 Pick.
2 ) Jarvis Jones, DE/OLB (6’3 245lbs) Georgia - The best defensive player in college football during the 2012 season in my opinion, Jones will should instantly become a digit sack player in the pros. He is a terror off the edge in passing situations and should develop into one of the most feared defenders in the NFL. He is also strong against the run, and make a lot of tackles behind the line of scrimmage for the Bulldogs in the SEC, college football’s most competitive conference. A player you need to scheme for. He does have a back issue (spinal stenosis), that could hurt him on Draft Day, but I have heard encouraging reports that this will not be an problem going forward. I think his best fit is clearly OLB in the 3-4 defense, and would not draft him to play anywhere else, it’s what he is good at. Why mess with it? Prediction: Top 15 Pick
3 ) Barkevious Mingo, DE (6’4 245lbs) LSU - Mingo may have a higher ceiling than any player in the draft, the problem is, he has not played a ton of football and has not put all of his talent together yet. A long armed pass rusher with an explosive first step, Mingo has the frame to get stronger, and although it make take him longer than others to develop he has superstar potential. I am hearing rumors that Mingo will rise after the combine, that he is up to 260lbs and that he is faster and stronger than ever before, it this is true he could be selected even higher. Prediction: Top 15 Pick
4 ) Damontre Moore, DE/OLB (6’4 250lbs) Texas A&M - When the draft process started, I was very high on Damontre Moore, and thought he might be the second player drafted, but as I studied him more on film I have cooled on him a bit. The does not jump off of the tape at you, and there are stretches where he disappeared, however the pure talent is there and at times he looks incredible. He lead Texas A&M in tackles, which is his most impressive stat, because it shows that he can read a play and find the ball. Also had an impressive 12.5 sacks. I think he can play either on his feet or with his hand in the dirt on Sundays. He has an explosive first step and long arms, plus the frame to add more muscle, he should be a solid pass rusher who gets consistent pressure at the next level. Prediction: Top 15 Pick.
5 ) Ezekiel Ansah, DE (6’6 274lbs) BYU - Ansah gets compared to Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul a lot, but I am not seeing that comparison, he is not the athletic freak of nature that JPP is and we will not see him doing 20 consecutive back hand springs like JPP. Instead he is a physical football player, that much like when JPP was drafted, lacks experience and is only beginning to scratch the surface of how good he can be. He struggled during Senior Bowl practice, then dominated the game, he is a project that could pay dividends quickly. He is one of those players that has great natural athleticism, I think you can line him up almost anywhere, and he can even drop into coverage in certain situations. There is a chance he is drafted far ahead of where most scouts are currently projecting him based on potential. Prediction Top 15 Pick.
6 ) Dion Jordan, DE/OLB (6’6 240lbs) Oregon - A long, lean and athletic defensive end, Jordan is a speed rusher that excels at beating offensive tackle to the edge. I think that, early in his career, Jordan will be a situational pass rusher. Better as part of a rotation than an every down player that you rely on, but should get pressure right away. Needs to get stronger and add bulk, may slip on draft day, because a torn labrum in his shoulder could stop him from working out. I am not as high on Jordan as some scouts are, however, his athleticism and speed will cause someone to jump quickly on draft day. Prediction: First Round Pick.
7 ) Alex Okafor, DE (6’5 265) Texas - A solid prospect, Okafor is not the best pass rusher in the class, but is one of the most well rounded players at the position. I do not think that Okafor has superstar potential in the NFL, but also think that his bust potential is very low, he will be a solid contributor on Sundays quickly. Is experienced and ready to play now, he can beat offensive tackles with both speed or power, had 12.5 sacks during his senior season. Came out of the gates fast at the Senior Bowl, and although he cooled down a bit as the game wore on, scouts came away impressed. Prediction: First-Second Round Pick.
8 ) Sam Montgomery, DE (6’4 260lbs) LSU - There is no doubt that Montgomery look like a star, he has a ton of potential, but he did not live up to his preseason billing where many had him projected as a top five pick. He is a bit of a project as he needs to improve his consistency and bulk up, he had a solid 2012 season at LSU, but never took that next step that everyone was waiting for. I am hearing that he is bigger, stronger and faster than ever before and if he puts on a show at the combine, his draft stock could rise once again. Prediction: First-Second Round Pick.
9 ) Datone Jones, DE (6’4 280lbs) UCLA - A powerful defensive end, Jones brings some versatility to the position, and can hold the edge in either the 3-4 or the 4-3 defensive scheme, in fact UCLA also lined up Jones at defensive tackle. Not really a pure pass rusher, more of a power defensive end who sets the edge, and does not employ a lot of pass rush moves or speed in his technique. Can move around the defensive line, which is something teams look for, versatility is one of his biggest strengths. Prediction: Second Round Pick.
10 ) Corey Lemonier, DE/OLB (6’4 240lbs) Auburn - Does one thing and does it well, rush the quarterback. A speed rusher who will be more of a situational pass rusher in the NFL, he has to get stronger if he is ever going to be an every down player, but does have the frame to add bulk. Was very promising as a prospect entering the 2012 season, but was hampered by an ankle injury, and had a down year since speed was such a big part of his game. I see him sliding a bit on draft day, since he is a one trick pony, and will need a lot of development before he is anything more than that. Prediction: Second-Third Round Pick
11 ) Margus Hunt, DE (6’8 280lbs) SMU - The biggest gamble in the draft, and if you have not heard about him yet, you will be hearing a lot about him soon. Margus Hunt is a native of Estonia who was sent to the United Stated to train discus and shot put, and he won gold medals in both events at the 2006 Junior Olympics. He will be a star at the NFL combine. There are rumors out there that, with his 82-inch wingspan, Hunt can bench press 225lbs 45 times, run a 4.60 40-yard dash, and a 36-inch vertical leap. The problem with Hunt is, he is not a good football player yet, and I am unsure if he ever will become one. He was absolutely destroyed by Texas A&M offensive tackle Luck Jockel, blown off the ball, and almost into the secondary. I am not sure that he sets foot on an NFL field for a year, he needs a ton of coaching, however, he could become a star one day with a lot of development. Prediction: Second-Third Round Pick.
12 ) Tank Carridine DE (6’5 265lbs) Florida State - The first of the injured Florida State duo, Carridine tore his ACL against Florida in late November, and missed the rest of the season. He would have been a surefire first round pick before this injury. There are rumors that Carridine’s rehab has been going extremely well, and that he will work out before the draft, and there were whispers in the draft community that he was going to put up freakish numbers in the bench press and 40-yard dash before the injury. A risk, but was playing extremely well before the injury, he may be worth your gamble. Prediction: Third Round Pick.
13 ) William Gholston, DE (6’7 280lbs) Michigan State - Looks the part, an absolute monster, who never took the next step and became a superstar in 2012. The cousin of former NFL Draft bust Vernon Gholston, which does nothing to help his reputation, which also comes with some character red flags. Did not show up in the Spartan’s biggest games, he always made plays against lesser opponents, but was quiet when it mattered most. Consistency is a major issue with Gholston, however, he has flashed star potential over the course of the 2011 and 2012 seasons. If you made a highlight tape of Gholston, and that is all you saw, he looks like a top five pick. If he gets the right coaching staff and is put in a good situation, he could be a steal. Prediction: Third Round Pick.
14 ) Brandon Jenkins, DE/OLB (6’3 260lbs) Florida State - Following the 2012 season, Jenkins looked like he was going to be a star, and a possible top five NFL Draft pick. He was voted the team MVP as a Sophomore, notching 13.5 sacks and 21.5 tackles for a loss, he was going to be the next big thing. As a junior in 2011 Jenkins was supposed to take the nation by storm, but he started slow and although he eventually rebounded, his stock took a hit. Instead of declaring for the 2012 Draft as expected, Jenkins returned to Florida State to prove to everyone he was still a stud, but he broke his foot in the opener and missed the rest of the season. The talent is there, but can he revitalize what was once a promising career? Prediction: Third Round Pick.
15 ) Devin Taylor, DE (6’8 267lbs) South Carolina - The guy who played opposite Jadeveon Clowney in an excellent South Carolina defense, Taylor never took advantage of the constant attention being paid t0 Clowney, which should have allowed him to have a monster season. Was better in 2010 than he was 2011 than he was in 2012, which is a worry, he looks to be digressing. This should not be happening with an absolute monster on the other side of the field, who is drawing the attention of the entire offense. He looks the part, and even has a good set of skills, which makes his inconsistency extremely frustrating. Prediction: Fourth Round Pick.
Best of the Rest:
16 ) Chase Thomas, DE/OLB (6’3 245lbs) Stanford - Very talented, but can really only line up at outside linebacker in the 3-4 front. Combine will be big for him, if he can run, it will boost his stock. He’s a Stanford kid. He’s smart. He knows that. Prediction: 4th Round Pick.
18 ) Joe Kruger, DE (6’7 280lbs) Utah - Brother of Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Paul Kruger. Had a great junior season. Could rise as we near Draft day. Prediction: 4th Round Pick.
19 ) Trevardo Williams, DE/OLB (6’1 240lbs) UConn - Underrated, under the radar player who could rise on draft day. Can line up in the 4-3, but excellent pass rushing skills (11.5 sacks in 2012) have me thinking 3-4 outside linebacker. Prediction: 4th Round Pick.
20 ) John Simon, DE (6’1 260lbs) Ohio State - Extremely productive player, workout warrior, one of the strongest guys on the team. Where does he line up in the pros? Prediction: 4th Round Pick.
20 ) Michael Buchanon, DE/OLB (6’5 252lbs) Illinois - Long and lean, must add bulk, up and down senior bowl week much like his 2012 season. Flashes potential. Prediction: 5th Round Pick.
21 ) Stansley Maponga, DE/OLB (6’2 264lbs) TCU - Disappointing in 2012 after a monster 2011 season, all of his totals dropped significantly. Where does he line up? Prediction: 5th Round Pick.
22 ) Greg Horton, DE/OLB (6’5 260lbs) USC - Started 2012 slow but played better as the year went along. Never became the star he was supposed to be coming out of high school. Prediction: 5th Round Pick.
23 ) Malliciah Goodman, DE (6’3 270lbs) Clemson - Had a strong senior season rushing the passer, but did not do anything else. 20 tackles, 7.0 sacks. Prediction: 5th-6th Round Pick.
24 ) Quanterus Smith, DE (6’5 250lbs) Western Kentucky - Was a hot prospect until a late season ACL tear forced his stock to plummet. 13.5 sacks in 2012. Doubt he plays his entire rookie year. Prediction: 6th Round Pick.
25) Travis Long, DE/OLB (6’3 256lbs) Washington State - Perfect fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker, is he fast and strong enough to do what he did in college (9.5 sacks) on Sundays? Prediction: 6th Round Pick.
SportSmasher 2013 NFL Draft Content:
2013 NFL Mock Draft: Version 4.0 (02.14.2013)
2013 NFL Draft Big Board (Version 1.0) (02.08.2013)
2013 NFL Mock Draft (Version 3.0) (01.24.2013)
Geno Smith: Dispelling The NFL Draft Myths (01.17.2013)
2013 NFL Mock Draft (Version 2.0) (11.30.2012)
2013 NFL Mock Draft (Version 1.0) (10.19.2012)
Other NFL Draft Links:
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