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2018 Pre-NFL Combine Overview/Mock Draft: Defensive Ends (FINAL)

Air Date:
February 19, 2018

 Ground Rules on this NFL Combine preview scouting:

 -- Looking at the initial performance data from their college years in our system.

 -- Watching 10-15+ minutes of tape

 -- Giving an initial knee-jerk reaction to what I am seeing/feeling.

 -- Will rank them as if I am drafting them for the dynasty rookie draft, and I will also break them into tiers

 -- We don’t have the full host of measurables, so my reactions could change when I see the physical times and attributes. Sometimes your scouting eyes deceive you on how fast a player is moving, etc. We will be doing all the full-fledged scouting of these players after the Combine data is in.

 -- This ‘draft’ and analysis will drop in a player at a time at various times throughout the day. Check the clock on the title to see when the latest post was made.

 -- Height/weight is latest estimates we have from their listed info or all-star games, etc. Not official.

 -- Going prospect by prospect in alphabetical order.

 

 

The NFL Combine Defensive Ends…

 

Current consensus top 5 DE prospects in the mainstream…

1) Bradley Chubb, NC State

2) Marcus Davenport, UTEP

3) Sam Hubbard, Ohio State

4) Arden Key, LSU

5) De’Shawn Hand, Alabama

 

 

*Five Tiers: A, B, C, D, F…like school grades. Players listed in ‘my favorite’ order.

 

 

**Tier A**

Bradley Chubb, NC State (6’4”/275)

Has the size, length, speed, agility, awareness, production of a top NFL DE prospect. If there is a better DE prospect in this draft, I’ll be surprised…but I have 20 more DE prospects to scout from the Combine as of this writing.

So nimble. Gives great effort. Has such understanding of the play and seems to know when to rush the backfield and when to play the run or drop off into coverage. A real talent…almost without flaw on my two preview scoutings of him so far this year. A+

 

Chad Thomas, Miami (6’6”/275)

This is the best way I can put this…

If there was a contest to win a million dollars and the game was to pick any one of these 25 classified DE prospects going to the 2018 NFL Combine…and I needed to pick the best DE prospect to rush from the right side against an all-star left tackle on a do-or-die 3rd & 10 stop and get a sack – my money goes on Chad Thomas to get to the QB over everyone listed here. He’s arguably the best pure pass rushing force in this draft. Bradley Chubb is the best overall/all-around DE prospect, and would be the only other guy I’d consider for the million dollar prize…but with one shot, do-or-die, I might lean Chad Thomas because his ability to work a blocker on a pass rush is just freakish/natural.

Thomas had so-so sack/TFL numbers in college, so I just kinda wrote him off as talented but lazy. When I saw him excel at the Senior Bowl, I thought to take a longer look. They don’t easily produce the stat for near-sacks or ‘great pass rushes without a sack’ but Thomas would probably lead the NCAA in the tape I watched. Thomas applies constant pressure on the backfield/QB. Tackles were helpless every other play…the most helpless I’ve seen spending 12+ hours with these DE prospects today.

If an NFL team cannot afford Chubb, you buy Thomas and try to make him Chubb…or just enjoy a high-end NFL pass rusher with Thomas. A-

**Tier B**

Marcus Davenport, UTSA (6’6”/255)

Athletic tools for days…6’6” and a high-end athlete for his size. Looks great in spots on tape, but then you look over his college numbers and expect more. 9.0 of his career 21.5 sacks come against Rice and North Texas. 4.5 of his 8.5 sacks in 2017 came against those two teams as well.

The tools are there. His high points at Senior Bowl week were impressive…but then he seemed to disappear for stretches in Mobile during the week as well

You see signs of an ‘A’ and worrisome signs of a ‘C’, so let’s call him a B+ for now. His upside, because of athleticism and size, could make him an ‘A’…the Combine will light that fuse (or not). B++

Arden Key, LSU (6’5”/275)

Missed games in college due to and/or dealt with shoulder surgery, finger injury, suspension, and a personal leave of absence…not a great resume’.

Key has the size and athleticism of a starting 4-3 DE in the NFL. Has the profile of a DE but looks like and moves like a linebacker – he drops into coverage well and chases the run nicely. If Key had his personal crap together and had a clean medical, you could argue him an upside ‘A’ grade prospect here. NFL talent with medical and off-field knocks. B

 

**Tier C**

 

Dorance Armstrong, Kansas (6’4”/246)

20.0 TFLs/10.0 sacks in 2016, and that feel to 9.5 TFLs and 2.0 sacks in 2017. I saw that he was getting double-teamed a lot more…and Kansas has a terrible football team so taking out Armstrong was about the only job offenses needed to do.

Watching some of his 2016 and 2017 work…great speed/pop off the snap. Very athletic with some length and reach. Legit NFL prospect. The 2016 to 2017 drop-off needs more study and will worry some folks, logically.

I am putting him as a ‘C” for the moment but upside to a ‘B’ and beyond is on the table. C++

 

Harold Landry, Boston College (6’3”/250)

Very quick off the edge, slithery…has an ability to slip away from a block and snatch a quarterback. All I saw was a guy wanting to rush the passer and hang in the backfield. Not huge on chasing plays and a pretty poor tackler in the open field in my intro tape to him. He gets gobbled up/engulfed by blockers in the interior of the line and allows running plays right through his area.

Landry has NFL speed-agility and skills, but I don’t see a 4-3 DE as much as I see more of a 3-4 OLB…using some of his speed to cover. However, if he’s suspect playing the run he’s going to have a hard time as a DE or OLB in the NFL. He could be improved into a more well-rounded DE/OLB, and has athletic skills that cannot be taught but what I saw was more one-dimensional with some red flags. Could be a ‘B’, not a ‘C’ but my first impression was more C+ because of concerns.

Had 22.0 TFLs in 2016, 13.5 of them in three games including 5.0 TFLs in a game against D2 Wagner. He’s blazing fast/too fast for college blockers sometimes but maybe more ‘normal speed’ for the NFL and maybe a bit too blockable in the NFL. If he can change or expand his game, I like his upside. I might be selling him short but I have concerns on the first go-round. C++

 

Sam Hubbard, Ohio State (6’4”/275)

Good effort guy. Nice technique. Body doesn’t jump out as a ‘high-end NFL prospect’ at DE. Easily blocked on most occasions but efforts and stays with plays to make sacks and TFLs. He’s a smart, sound player but not high-end. If he goes higher in the draft than Carl Nassib did…a draft crime has been committed.

He may ‘effort’ his way to NFL success but he’s not a supreme prospect. Watching the OSU tape and seeing the Bosa brother coming from the opposite side – that’s what an NFL 1st-round DE prospect looks like…not Hubbard. C+

 

Ja’Von Rolland-Jones (6’2”/244)

Two-time Sun Belt Player of the Year. Relentless pass rusher with limitations for a DE prospect – a little shorter than you’d like and not a powerful bull rusher…he gets to the QB with his quick feet, stunting/cutting from the outside up the interior, and just sticking with a play. A good, coachable NFL prospect but not likely a superstar prospect. Right on the B/C edge, I’ll wait to see the Combine results before bumping him up. C++

 

Ola Adeniyi, Toledo (6’2”/248)

Very nice burst off the snap. Played 4-3 DE, shifting from right to left side in games. Was just too quick for college blockers. Was a smaller, speed rusher off the edge…not much technique besides ‘faster than you’ (in the MAC). His game seems more like a very nice OLB…or possible convert to inside linebacker. There is definitely raw talent and NFL athleticism to work with here. C+

 

Da’Shawn Hand, Alabama (6’4”/289)

No great nose for the ball – zero solo tackles in a game in four of his final 6 games in college. How is this possible? Has the size and nice movement of an NFL prospect. I guess he works better as a 3-4 DE or a nice 4-3 DT. Don’t like him as a 4-3 EDGE rusher, that’s not his game.

I know he’s getting an ‘Alabama’ hype push but he’s not bad…and might be a better pro player than he was in college. Better NFL hand than fantasy producer. I see NFL movement and size, but not a ton of results or dominance. C

 

John Franklin-Myers, S.F. Austin (6’4”/292)

Looking forward to this guy’s Combine numbers… Hard to fully wrap my around him because he was dominating at the FCS level. However, he was pretty stout in the Collegiate Bowl all-star game as well. Very quick for a 290+ pounder…or so it appears against the FCs backdrop.

Was a DE in college. Played DT at the Collegiate Bowl. More likely a 4-3 DT than a DE, but 3-4 DE isn’t off the table. Intriguing. C

Josh Sweat, Florida State (6’4”/250)

I can see Sweat is pretty quick off the snap and an NFL size/athlete. However, my preview game of his was against Alabama/2017 and both left and right tackles manhandled him. He was a helpless non-factor. These are the types of blockers he’ll see in the NFL…not a good look. He’s probably more of a linebacker than DE. ‘C’

Anthony Winbush, Ball State (6’1”/240)

Very good speed and burst, nice closing speed. Looks much more like an all-around OLB than a pass rushing DE. In college, he got after the passer using speed as his main weapon. I think he can be worked with and converted to an OLB or ILB and have some success. DE in the NFL is unlikely.  C.

 

Andrew Brown, Virginia (6’4”/280)

Big and strong combo as a sometimes 4-3 DE, sometimes 4-3 DT. On the edge, Brown was a solid-but-not-spectacular pass rusher. Was a handful because he was big but not a lot of success/numbers to show for it. Looks more like a 3-4 DE…or a bulk up to 4-3 DT. He’s a legit NFL prospect but not off the charts. C--

 

Rasheem Green, USC (6’5”/280)

Worked more as a DT than DE for USC. Not great on the EDGE for sure. Not bad up the middle, but a little undersized for the pros at DT.

‘Tweener’…not fast/effective enough for NFL DE (3-4 or 4-3) and is a small DT. Has usefulness, a role, but I didn’t see any ‘star’ power from his tape. He’s decent, had good size in general but not an impact starter for me. C--

 

Jojo Wicker, Arizona State (6’3”/268)

I didn’t see anything special here on tape. Hard to evaluate…was a 3-4 DE rusher and kept getting absorbed easily by blockers. Looks like he has NFL size and movement but his college numbers were so-so and his tape was a yawn. He may be better than this if moved into a 4-3 DE. C-

**Tier D**

 

Ade Aruna, Tulane (6’5”/270)

He has the instant look/visual of a true NFL DE. He moves with nice speed for his size…he catches your eye right away. And then you look and see his numbers were disappointing in college…25 tackles, 3.0 TFLs/2.0 sacks in 2017 (10 games). When you see the tape, you see why…aimlessly wandering, poor instincts, poor tackling ability. Watching his tape felt like I was watching a player not really into football…he should be better with his physical gifts.

Upside if someone can mold this raw piece of clay. D

 

Duke Ejiofor, Wake Forest (6’4”/270)

High energy player but looks like he may lack NFL speed to be a legit NFL DE. Good first-step/pop off the line but feels like he spends 99% of his energy trying to get off the snap and into the backfield…and wanders after his big surge effort if it wasn’t an immediate success. He was a quick player with size for college but doesn’t look like he’d be the same in the pros. I just wasn’t feeling anything about this tape at all.

Maybe he drops 10-20 pounds and becomes a 3-4 OLB or even a 4-3 OLB. He can play but I don’t see any ‘wow’ factor for him in the NFL. Perhaps, I’ll be surprised by the Combine numbers. D

 

Kylie Fitts, Utah (6’4”/258)

I really like Fitts’s ability to beat blockers off the snap. Great burst and evasive ability to get to the backfield. He has NFL promise as a straight pass rusher. The issue with him is that he’s struggled with injuries and he is more ‘all pass rush’ and not much awareness to play the run, etc. He might be a nice situational DE for pass rush downs. D 

 

Matt Dickerson, UCLA (6’4”/290)

I’m not sure why he is listed as a DE for the Combine, played 4-3 DT on the brief tape I watched. 4-3 DT makes sense at his size, but when I look at his college career…I’m wondering why he got a Combine invite at all – 29 career games over four seasons and 0.5 sacks total (and that came in 2014/his first game). For three years, he hasn’t registered a sack.

Has mobility. Looks like an NFL athlete but his numbers tell of a guy ‘not interested’, apparently. The tape I watched he was blocked away all the time. D—

 

Tyquan Lewis, Ohio State (6’4”/265)

Weird…has a DT body, kinda, but the size/weight profile of a DE…but was a pretty ineffective college DE. Got a steady amount of sacks, but was a quick DT/DE on a stacked Ohio State D-Line. He should have been a star if he were a legit NFL prospect. I’m not a fan of either time I’ve quick scouted him (pre-college all-star bowl and here). D-

 

James Looney, Cal (6’3”/280)

Quick feet, poor upper body…entirely too blockable when used as a 3-4/4-3 DT., which he was mostly on the tape I watched. Was nothing special in production or on tape. Has some NFL tools but more of a back of the roster warm body for DL depth. D—

 

Jalyn Holmes, Ohio State (6’5”/270)

Good speed, decent power/bull rush but weaker agility/quick feet to get past edge blockers. His size and athleticism allowed him to start for a big-time school but he didn’t do much with it. 5.0 sacks in 36 career games…a high of 2.0 sacks in a season.

Looks a little too lean to be a high-end NFL pass rusher. Not a great DE prospect and no real body change move to DT either. I don’t see his NFL ‘fit’ or impact. D--

Olubunmi Rotimi, Old Dominion (6’4”/275)

Decent Conference USA DT/DE but was kind of a no-show against better competition. Was not impressed with the intro to him…not the tape nor the output. D--

Kentavius Street, NC State (6’2”/282)

Miscast as a DE for NC State. Has the body of a small DT. Was pretty slow (top prospect-wise) rushing the edge. College solid/good but would be a waste as a 4-3 or 3-4 DE. I’d try to bulk him up to smaller, quicker DT than a slow, lumbering, squatty DE. D--

**Tier F**

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About R.C. Fischer

R.C. Fischer is an NFL Draft analyst for College Football Metrics, and a football projections analyst and writer for Fantasy Football Metrics. 

Learn more about RC and the College Football Metrics system >>