The NFL season is finally (and sadly) complete, so now it's officially time to discuss the offseason. Over the next few weeks, Giants 101 will provide draft rankings and scouting reports on all positions — not just the ones the New York Giants are looking to draft. The rankings are a combination of production, skill set, and potential at the NFL level. The first defensive position we will take a look at is defensive end. With uncertainty surrounding free agent Justin Tuck and the health of Jason Pierre-Paul, it is possible the New York Giants could look to draft a defensive end this May.
Jadeveon Clowney, JR, South Carolina
- Good height and weight; elite speed for the position.
- Excellent at turning speed to power; can finesse or bull rush offensive lineman.
- Production dipped in 2013 due to teams running plays away from him.
- Appears on tape to have natural football instincts.
- Quick to recognize running plays; Makes plays down the line and outside the tackle box.
- If there is one weakness it is that he needs to add some strength to his base and anchor better.
- Gave questionable effort beginning of the year, but improved toward the end of the year; Shouldn’t be an issue at the next level
- Exceptionally quick at shedding blockers.
Kony Ealy, JR, Missouri
- Good height and weight; good speed for the position.
- Very good athlete; shows good body control when changing directions.
- Quick first step; uses hands well to shed blocks; knows how to use his strength to his advantage.
- Gets caught inside too often on outside runs; stops in the inside run well.
- One of the better pass rushers in the draft class; explosive first step; technique might be a little raw.
- Can play inside on passing downs at the NFL level if he gets stronger.
- Can bull rush as well as use his speed/shoulder deep to speed rush the quarterback.
- Could possible play OLB in a 3-4 scheme.
Jackson Jeffcoat, SR, Texas
- Good height and weight, could afford to add bulk to his frame; average speed for the position.
- Pro ready pass rush skills; pass rushing is his best attribute.
- Excellent burst off of the line of scrimmage; gives him an advantage on offensive lineman.
- Uses his hands well; gets excellent leverage on offensive lineman.
- Has a good inside swim move; can improve on shoulder dip off of the edge.
- Can get swallowed up by bigger lineman one on one versus the run; needs improve combat skills.
- Best suited for RDE; can drop into coverage as a 3-4 OLB.
- Durability is a big question; can get lazy with technique at times.
- Excellent motor; played through a rough patch of Longhorn football.
- Tough and shows great aggressiveness.
Stephon Tuitt, JR, Notre Dame
- Excellent height, weight could be high for a defensive end but carries it well, good speed for his size.
- Most likely a 5 technique in a 3-4 defensive scheme; doesn’t have the explosiveness to play outside in a 4-3.
- Converts speed to power well, but may be inconsistent at that skill.
- Strength is his friend when rushing the passer; bull rush can be trouble for most offensive lineman.
- Inconsistent pad level versus the run; can play too straight up at times.
- Strong enough to throw lineman off of blocks.
- Average change of direction skills.
- Excellent motor; keeps playing hard even in blowouts.
Scott Crichton, JR, Oregon State
- Average height and weight; above average speed for the position.
- Power rusher; below average finesse skills on tape.
- Powerful upper body; transitions speed to power very effectively.
- Above average, pass rushing instincts.
- Stout versus the run; shows great leverage; could take better angles versus the run.
- Powerful hands; uses hands well to shed blockers.
- 4-3 LDE is likely his best position; could add size and play in a 3-4 base.
- Adequate agility; strong tackler that sets the tone with his physical play.
- Have a great motor; seems to enjoy playing football.
Aaron Lynch, SO, South Florida
- Good height but lean frame; played bigger his Freshman year at Notre Dame.
- Was labeled as selfish at Notre Dame, where he had a very good first season.
- Didn’t show the effort at South Florida that he did at Notre Dame; rarely chases.
- Has the skill set to play in the NFL, but can he dedicate himself to the sport?
- Versatile; can play inside and outside in a 4-3; can also play outside linebacker in a 3-4.
- Showed a good bull rush at Notre Dame; average speed to power.
- Effective at batting balls down at line of scrimmage.
- Good at shedding blockers versus the run; good hand fighter.
- Playing the run is his better attribute.
- Tremendous ceiling; can challenge of playing against better talent keep him focused and improved effort?
Demarcus Lawrence, JR, Boise State
- Average height, with a lean build but plays stronger than his frame suggests.
- Impressive burst off the line of scrimmage; plays low and gets solid leverage.
- Elite athleticism; if he gets stronger can be a very productive defensive end in the NFL.
- Excellent speed to power conversion.
- Lack of size hurts him in his block shedding; needs to rely on his speed.
- Lack of strength hurts him in stopping the run, but he shows solid effort penetrating the backfield.
- Probably a strict 4-3 end.
- Excellent inside swim move; can rush the passer up the field.
- Can be an all-around defensive end if he gets stronger.
Marcus Smith, SR, Louisville
- Good height and weight; excellent speed for the position.
- Still new to defensive end; played linebacker in 2010.
- Active with hands when shedding blocks; shows a variety of pass rushing moves.
- Can play end in a 4-3 or pass rushing OLB in a 3-4.
- Relies on speed and spin move as a pass rusher; not going to bull rush an offensive lineman.
- Not strong enough yet to be stout versus the run; takes too wide of an angle on running plays.
- Rushes too high at times; needs to play with better leverage.
- Slow off the line of scrimmage; likely due to inexperience.
Chris Smith, SR, Arkansas
- Average height for the position, but well built; appears to have good straight line speed on tape.
- Appears to get disinterested at times, could be due to rough situation at Arkansas; needs to play for the right motivator.
- Quick feet for his size; changes directions smoothly and with great balance.
- 4-3 defensive end ideally; athletic enough to stand up in a 3-4 scheme.
- Power rusher; quick burst allows him to knock lineman off balance then uses his strength to push the lineman back.
- Doesn’t possess many speed or finesse moves yet.
- Inconsistent versus the run; gets caught in the wash too often on running plays.
- When interested and motivated can be one of the better ends in the country.
- High ceiling if he falls into the right system/motivator.
Michael Sam, SR, Missouri
- Below average size for the position; elite speed for the position.
- Built like a linebacker; but excellent out of his stance.
- Excellent first step off the line; will need to get stronger to take on the run at the NFL level.
- Could move to linebacker in both a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme; Probably stays at end because of his explosiveness.
- Has trouble shedding blocks when opponent squares him up.
- Relies on spin move too often.
- Speed and explosiveness allows him to hit C gap before lineman can get out of their stance.
- Similar player to Robert Mathis.
- Missouri at times used him at 3-4 defensive end.
- High ceiling if he can get stronger.
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Just because the Super Bowl left NY/NJ it doesn't mean the NFL action is over. Come see the Gridiron Glory: The Best of the Pro Football Hall of Fame at Liberty Science Center see jerseys worn by legends, make the tough call under the hood, try on equipment and get immersed into football like never before.Aaron Lynch, Chris Smith, Demarcus Lawrence, Football, Jackson Jeffcoat, Jadeveon Clowney, Kony Ealy, Marcus Smith, Michael Sam, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Scott Crichton, Stephon Tuitt
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