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Pass rushers from 2009 draft class that we could end


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Pass-rushers lead 2009 DL classPlenty of talent and depth at both defensive end and tackle in 2009Comment Email Print Share By Todd McShay

Scouts Inc.

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There will never be enough pass rushers to make all 32 NFL teams happy, but there should be no complaints about those in the 2009 draft class. Here's a brief breakdown of the top eight hybrid defensive ends/outside linebackers, all of whom possess first-day draft potential.

1. Brian Orakpo, Texas: Experienced and explosive but takes some plays off and comes with some durability baggage.

2. Aaron Maybin, Penn State: Least experienced of the bunch but owns the quickest first step. Made up for poor combine showing with excellent pro day workout.

3. Everette Brown, Florida State: Is short and needs experience dropping into coverage, but he's a true speed rusher with great intangibles.

4. Connor Barwin, Cincinnati: Former tight end is unpolished but has versatility to contribute in multiple areas.

5. Larry English, Northern Illinois: Is quicker than he is fast but is a playmaker with toughness and competitive edge.

6. Michael Johnson, Georgia Tech: The "boom-or-bust" prospect of the group; possesses rare tools but plays soft.

7. Paul Kruger, Utah: A tough, high-effort overachiever with good but not great speed and athleticism.

8. David Veikune, Hawaii: Smooth athlete for his size, and his best football should still be ahead of him.

To see which players Scouts Inc. thinks are the best of the defensive tackle and end classes; those who could become midround sleepers; and which defensive linemen are best against the run, as pass rushers and more, become an ESPN Insider.

The only other defensive ends expected to come off the board early on are LSU's Tyson Jackson and Tennessee's Robert Ayers. Jackson is ideally suited to play the five-technique in a "30" front because he's big, quick and powerful but lacks top-end speed to rush the passer off the edge. Ayers can play inside and outside but we think he's best suited as a traditional defensive end in the 4-3 scheme. He's a bit of a one-year wonder, but the potential he displayed in 2008 -- especially versus Alabama OT Andre Smith -- is enough to earn a spot in the top 20 picks.

Lawrence Sidbury of Richmond is arguably the top small-school prospect in the 2009 draft class. In fact, don't be surprised to see him come off the board on the first day. While he weighed just 266 pounds at the combine and has some problems holding his ground against the run on film, he has enough room on his frame to bulk up and improve in this area. In addition, Sidbury lacks ideal flexibility for an outside linebacker, so the best fit for him is at end in a 4-3 scheme on a team that can afford to use him in a situational role until he gets more stout against the run. That said, the reason Sidbury has skyrocketed up draft boards isn't his potential to develop into a serviceable run-stopper; it's his ability to get to the quarterback. He explodes off the ball, and while we liked the closing speed seen on film, he still surprised us by posting the fastest 40-yard-dash time (4.64) of all defensive ends at the combine.

Hampton's Chris Baker and Stillman's Sammie Lee Hill are two other small-school prospects who could prove to be excellent values in the middle rounds, and they will play far different roles than Sidbury. Both can line up at defensive tackle in a four-man front or at defensive end in a three-man front, though we feel their best fit is at defensive end in a 3-4 defense, and here's why: Both have had some problems holding ground when lining up inside but each is more than capable of setting the edge and keeping offensive tackles off rushing linebackers when lined up at defensive end.

At defensive tackle, Boston College's B.J. Raji is the best of this year's class. Raji is as effective defending the run as he is rushing the passer, and he can line up at defensive tackle in a 4-3 scheme or nose tackle in a 3-4 scheme. In addition, as dominant as he was at Boston College and during Senior Bowl week, Raji still hasn't realized his full potential. Keeping all that in mind, he could very well be a top-five pick come April 25.

After Raji, Peria Jerry and Boston College's Ron Brace are expected to come off the board in the late first-/early second-round range. Comparing the two is a study in contrasts. Outside of Raji, Brace is the only projected first-day pick with the potential to develop into a starting nose tackle in a 3-4 scheme. At 330 pounds he is tough to move off the ball, and he has the upper-body strength to stack and shed blockers. Jerry, on the other hand, is a one-gap 3-technique who has some problems holding his ground when teams run at him, but whose explosive first step and nonstop motor make him very disruptive.

While there aren't many nose tackle prospects like Brace in this year's draft class, 4-3 teams looking to bolster depth and infuse youth at defensive tackle will have plenty of options outside of Jerry. Missouri's Evander Hood, USC's Fili Moala and Auburn's Sen'Derrick Marks all project as second-round picks, while LSU's Ricky Jean-Francois, San Jose State's Jarron Gilbert and Purdue's Alex Magee should be available early on Day 2. Consistency is an issue with all six of these prospects, but they have shown flashes of developing into NFL starters in one-gap schemes and could prove to be steals.

Finally, keep an eye on Terrance Taylor of Michigan, who could come off the board as early as the third round. Taylor might never develop into a three-down player, but he has the toughness and strength to develop into an effective situational run-stuffer and work himself into a defensive tackle rotation for a 4-3 team early on in his career.

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Here are theirs plus others school, weight, height, grade etc:

2009 Draftable Defensive Line ProspectsPlayer Position School Height Weight 40 Grade

Brian Orakpo DE Texas 6-3 263 4.70 96

B.J. Raji DT Boston College 6-1½ 337 5.23 96

Aaron Maybin DE Alabama 6-3¾ 249 4.89 95

Tyson Jackson DE LSU 6-4⅛ 296 5.00 94

Robert Ayers DE Tennessee 6-3⅛ 272 4.90 93

Peria Jerry DT Mississippi 6-1¾ 299 5.00 92

Everette Brown DE Florida State 6-1½ 256 4.73 92

Evander Hood DT Missouri 6-2⅞ 300 4.97 89

Connor Barwin DE Cincinnati 6-3⅝ 256 4.66 89

Ron Brace DT Boston College 6-3 330 5.50 88

Lawrence Sidbury DE Richmond 6-2⅜ 266 4.64 87

Larry English DE Northern Illinois 6-2⅛ 255 4.88 86

Michael Johnson DE Georgia Tech 6-6⅞ 266 4.75 85

Paul Kruger DE Utah 6-4¼ 263 5.00 84

Jarron Gilbert DT San Jose State 6-5¼ 288 4.87 80

David Veikune DE Hawaii 6-2⅜ 257 4.87 79

Sen'Derrick Marks DT Auburn 6-1¾ 306 5.08 77

Fili Moala DT USC 6-4 305 5.16 74

Michael Bennett DE Texas AM 6-3½ 274 5.13 72

Ricky Jean-Francois DT LSU 6-2⅝ 295 5.13 71

Alex Magee DT Purdue 6-2⅝ 298 5.09 70

Corvey Irvin DT Georgia 6-3 301 5.03 68

Brandon Williams DE Texas Tech 6-2½ 261 5.00 66

Terrance Taylor DT Michigan 6-0 306 5.39 65

Kyle Moore DE USC 6-5 272 4.90 63

Sammie Lee Hill DT Stillman 6-3⅞ 329 5.17 62

Myron Pryor DT Florida 6-0¼ 319 5.13 61

Mitch King DE Iowa 6-1½ 280 4.92 60

Vance Walker DT Georgia Tech 6-1⅞ 304 5.44 58

Roy Miller DT Texas 6-1¼ 310 5.09 57

Matt Shaughnessy DE Wisconsin 6-5 266 4.95 54

Dorell Scott DT Clemson 6-3¼ 312 4.97 52

William Davis DE Illinois 6-2⅛ 261 4.94 49

Khalif Mitchell DT East Carolina 6-5 318 5.16 48

Pannel Egboh DE Stanford 6-5¾ 276 4.98 46

Ian Campbell DE Kansas State 6-3⅝ 265 5.09 44

Darryl Richard DT Georgia Tech 6-2½ 303 5.05 43

Tim Jamison DE Michigan 6-2½ 256 5.16 41

Demonte' Bolden DT Tennessee 6-3¼ 285 5.10 40

Chris Baker DE Hampton 6-2 326 5.12 40

Marlon Favorite DT LSU 6-0⅞ 314 4.95 39

Derek Walker DE Illinois 6-3¾ 268 5.12 38

George Hypolite DT Colorado 6-0⅞ 287 5.00 37

Phillip Hunt DE Houston 6-0⅝ 261 4.70 36

Stryker Sulak DE Missouri 6-4½ 251 4.77 35

Terrance Knighton DT Temple 6-3 321 5.33 34

Rulon Davis DE California 6-4¾ 281 5.06 34

Clinton McDonald DT Memphis 6-1¾ 279 4.78 33

Ra'Shon Harris DT Oregon 6-3¾ 298 5.05 32

Maurice Evans DE Penn State 6-1½ 274 5.09 32

Adrian Grady DT Louisville 6-1⅜ 298 5.52 31

Zach Potter DE Nebraska 6-6¾ 279 4.98 31

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He's one of the guys I would like in the 4th/5th round area. They obviously feel he's a little higher than that.

I could see him going in the fourth, he actually played pretty good in the Senior Bowl. I am going to have to go back and watch that game again to key on him, but it is kind of hard because they switched the players so often.

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Finally, keep an eye on Terrance Taylor of Michigan, who could come off the board as early as the third round. Taylor might never develop into a three-down player, but he has the toughness and strength to develop into an effective situational run-stuffer and work himself into a defensive tackle rotation for a 4-3 team early on in his career.

Before the start of the 08 college season, i believe he was a first/second prospect, but he underpreformed his senior year. Don't know if it had to do with new michigan coach rodriguez or injuries, but he's very good in run defense. I think he'll last in the 4th/5th round which would be a good pick up.

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