One NFL Scout weighs in with Pewter Report on his view of draft prospects headed into this week’s combine. What DEs are risers? Who could be at the Bucs pick? Who isn’t a good fit for Tampa Bay? Find out in this edition of Scout Speak.
This feature on PewterReport.com is known as "Scout Speak." PewterReport.com has partnered with an NFL scout under the condition they remain anonymous. Although we can't disclose who this person is or they currently work for, this NFL Scout has a decade worth of scouting experience at the NFL level.
Headed into the combine there are a lot of front seven defensive players to watch. The top defensive ends are clear with Clemson’s Da’Quan Bowers and North Carolina’s Robert Quinn. Bowers had a recent surgery, but that shouldn’t matter too much with his body of work and what he has put on film. The combine shouldn’t be an issue with pushing them down. Quinn, Missouri’s Aldon Smith, and Texas A&M’s Von Miller are being looked at hard by 3-4 teams as outside backers. They are viewed as Brian Orakpo types that are edge rushers.
One player that could rise is Wisconsin defensive end J.J. Watt. I would say that Watt is going to go higher than many expect. There are a number of 3-4 teams looking for five techniques that he could play for. Watt is going to be similar to Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Tyson Jackson, who rose quickly in 2008. He’s a big strong physical kid but also has some pass rush and motor. I think he’ll jump up in the interview process and rise up boards. Cal defensive end Cameron Jordan is another one that fits that mold.
Purdue defensive end Ryan Kerrigan is in a different conversation than the top defensive ends. He’s in the second tier. I think that he’ll be around in the 20 range. A coach could fall in love with him and take him higher, but I would say that he’ll be there around the Buccaneers first-round pick.
At outside linebacker North Carolina’s Bruce Carter stands out to me as a good fit for Tampa Bay. He is a traditional 4-3 outside linebacker. Carter would be a classic fit for the Will (weakside) backer that is a fast flow and get to the ball type linebacker. His instincts are little off I think, but he is a super athlete that makes plays from sideline-to-sideline and also makes plays in pass coverage.
Carter’s teammate Quan Sturdivant is a little more instinctive but not quite the same athlete. Sturdrivant is a very heady player.
Georgia outside linebacker/defensive end Justin Houston is an interesting prospect. I think he is better suited to play in a 3-4 defense like he did last year at Georgia. The issue with Houston (6-3, 254) in the Bucs 4-3 attacking style of defense is he is undersized to be a left defensive end. I don’t think he’s strong enough for that and his size will catch up with him there. Teams will be able to run at him.
If you move him to right end there are concerns. A lot of people look at the stats and think this guy is a pass rusher, which he is, but he is not a Dwight Freeney type of guy off the edge. He has a decent power move, a decent rip move, and a decent bull rush. He has some speed but is not that rare athlete that you want out of a right defensive end in a 4-3. That’s the kind of trouble with him, and therefore not the ideal fit for a 4-3. For those reasons he is a better fit for the 3-4 because you don’t necessarily need him to be a super special pass rusher. He could be a Sam in a 3-4 and provide a little pass rush as long as you are strong enough at the point to hold your ground a little bit and rush some. He is just better suited for 3-4 teams.
One player that is a prototypical five technique is Miami defensive end Allen Bailey. He is a big, strong guy that is going to be the strongside end that is going to wrestle o-linemen at the point of attack and be a run stopper. In my opinion he doesn’t get into the first round, there is always a possibility, but he doesn’t offer much as a pass rusher. Thus that limits him to 3-4 teams. There are a lot of big-bodied defensive ends that are pretty good playing the run in this draft. There are only a few that have some pass rushing ability.
Everyone knows that Iowa defensive end Adrian Clayborn had a down season. In the scouting community the talk is that he was bothered by something. I don’t know if he was injured or what, but obviously he looked lost and his production was down. He didn’t look like the same guy. He needs a good performance in Indianapolis to help his stock.
LSU linebacker Kelvin Sheppard is not a bad Mike (middle) linebacker candidate. He’s a mid-rounder that could be a solid pick. He would be a good backup middle linebacker and special teams player. ~ By an anonymous NFL scout as told to PewterReport.com editor-in-chief Charlie Campbell.
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