It is time for Part 2 of my 2013 NFL Draft preview, the defensive players. Offense wins game, defense wins championships. That old adage may have changed with the development of the video game offenses in the NFL now but it still stands that you need a semblance of a defense in order to compete. Here is my breakdown on this year’s group of defenders.
Ezekiel Ansah- Ansah is the defensive line version of FSU’s Watson (Offensive Tackle). Ansah is a raw but athletic specimen that has scouts drooling and picturing the next JPP. Nevermind the fact that he registered just 10 tackles in first two seasons.
Dion Jordan- Another supreme athletic freak but this one grew up playing football unlike Ansah and Watson. Jordan is tall and lean but could be an effective end or rush linebacker.
Bjorn Werner- Werner is an every down end. He can rush the passer and defend the run. His technique is sound and a relentless pursuer. He is still a little raw but grew up watching the game and learning from NFL Europe games.
My Thoughts: This class of defensive ends offers some potential but also some high bust potential. I do not like Ansah at all. Yes he is athletic and showed promise last year but that promise still only registered 4.5 sacks. I keep hearing scouts say he is raw and look at his potential. Well correct me if I’m wrong but don’t you hear NFL coaches and players talk all the time about being able to just play the game and not think about plays or schemes. That is when they really shine. Well how much of a learning curve is a player who hasn’t even played the game for four years expected to have. If he is still learning how long before he reaches that comfort level?
Pick of the Bunch: Werner is the total package. He can play the run or pass rush. While he may not have the “explosive” talent as some of the others. Give me a secure pick that will be on the field guaranteed rather than another possible Vernon Gholston.
Sharrif Floyd- Floyd is a talented Florida Gator that is athetic and can rush the passer. Sound familiar? I think his name was Gerard Warren.
Star Lotulelei- A dominant force who was in December regarded as a possible first overall pick. Now a heart issue has come up and that may have scared teams off. His talent should speak for itself, its the same as his first name.
Sheldon Richardson- A freak athlete for such a big man. Richardson had a choice going into college whether to be a tight end or defensive lineman. He chose lineman, which is good because of his height. But that fact should give you an idea how quick and athletic he is.
My Thoughts: The top three players in this draft at this position should be impact players. Behind them are more solid players and I consider this a strong class. Defensive tackles are often the hardest position to scout and take long to develop in the NFL.
Pick of the Bunch: Maybe this is my Mizzou fandom coming through but I am going to pick Richardson. I think his athletic ability at his position is going to make him unique in the NFL. He can work on some of his pass rushing skills but if he gets a good line coach that shouldn’t be a problem. Until he develops those watch him make a name just for his pursuit downfield.
Manti Te’o- Wow where to begin with Te’o. Came into this collegiate season regarded as the next dominant inside linebacker, and stayed that way through most of the year. Then we get introduced to his non-girlfriend and see his tape of the National Championship game against Alabama. I think the 40-time is overblown but what concerns me more is the out of position, diving missed tackles I saw against ‘Bama.
Kevin Minter- LSU seems to put out quality defensive players every year. I think Minter fits right into that line of succession. He is an explosive player and gets results.
Alec Ogletree- Athletic linebacker from Georgia. I consider him to more of an outside linebacker but a 3-4 team may take him to fill the middle. While he has talent I am not sure about his drive and willingness to be physical.
My Thoughts: The middle linebacker position is one that can be filled anywhere from high drafted players (Brian Urlacher) to undrafted (London Fletcher). It is more about the players heart and smarts, which is hard to scout. This class will surely provide a mix of both.
Pick of the Bunch- While Te’o got all the press and has started to get some more love (maybe sympathy love) I am going to pick Minter as my guy. Comes from a strong defense, is hard nosed and athletic. Should thrive in the NFL.
Jarvis Jones- The human turnover machine. Jones wreaks havoc on the field. He has an issue with his spine but his rushing skills are superb and even more impressive is his ability to just make things happen.
Barkevious Mingo- Another talented LSU player but didn’t quite have the year that was expected. He has good size and speed and might move to end in a 4-3 scheme.
Arthur Brown- A bit “under-sized” but racked up the stats the last two years on a team that was coached by a man that teaches fundamentals and hard work. Brown can stay on the field for passes and runs.
My Thoughts: I think this class has some players, and some different types. Whether you are looking for a disruptive player (Jones) and rush end type (Mingo) or every down outside backer (Brown) you have your choice.
Pick of the Bunch: Jones’ play against Mizzou remains etched into my memory. He was a one man wrecking crew. In other games he always jumped off the screen and that is important to me when I think about these prospects. Are you memorable. He certainly was.
Dee Milliner- Everyone’s pick for top CB this year Milliner has size and speed teams like. He also put up numbers and comes from defensive minded team in Alabama. Milliner may not be quite the talent as some of the previous years top CB’s but is still a solid pick.
Xavier Rhodes- Bigger than Milliner and just as fast. Rhodes takes some gambles and is not as physical but really how many CB’s are truly physical?
Desmond Trufant- Yet another Trufant in the secondary going into the NFL. They are the Molina brothers of football. Speed is questionable but if he is anything like either of his brothers he will be a nice player.
My Thoughts: With the development of the passing game in the NFL teams are coveting good CB’s more and more. Just look at the deal that Tampa Bay just did for Revis. There is some talent in this class that should extend down into the 2nd round.
Pick of the Bunch: It is hard to not pick a Alabama defensive standout with the tools that Milliner has. Looks to be a very solid pick.
Kenny Vaccaro- Regarded as the top safety in this year’s class. Vaccaro is physical and can cover slot receivers as well.
Matt Elam- A smaller safety that brings the wood. Elam plays much bigger and loves to hit.
Jonathan Cyprien- Smaller school player that climbed up the boards after impressive post season bowl games and workouts. Good size and likes to hit.
My Thoughts: A very solid group of players. There should be some quality players for NFL teams out of this class.
Pick of the Bunch: While everyone is falling all over Vaccro I will go back to my thinking of needing to be impressed by a player when I watch their games and Vaccaro did not do this. With that in mind Elam was consistently up on the line of scrimmage making plays and breaking up balls down the middle of the field.
That wraps up my thoughts on this year’s defensive players draft class. Later this week we will look at some overall NFL draft thoughts and what I hope my hometown St. Louis Rams do this weekend.