NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken
Well, my plan of having my big board series completed by Friday went up in smoke when my beloved 1997 pickup truck decided to break down and leave me stranded. The good news is, she is back up and running, the bad news, I have fallen behind by a couple of days. Getting back to it, today I focus in on the defensive ends in this draft and there are some intriguing guys at the position. Let’s take a look at who jumped off the tape for me.
Current Roster: Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Zach Moore, Michael Buchanan(edge) Jabaal Sheard (edge)
Position Need: Medium to High
For the Patriots, the position has been anchored by Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich. Those two guys have played a ridiculous amount of snaps over the past few years and it might be in the best interest of the Patriots to bring in another player who can be apart of a rotation and give those guys a breather. Before Sheard was brought in, I felt this was going to be a huge need for the Patriots to address in the draft, now it may not be as big of a priority, but another guy who could play in that rotation would not be a bad thing. Zach Moore played very little as a rookie, but has the desired measureables and if he can continue to develop, he could be a valuable asset. Buchanan is another late round pick that has shown some flashes, but will be coming off an injury. There is talent in this draft, and some of my favorite prospects were from the defensive end position, so if they do decide to grab one, hopefully it is from the list below.
Owamagbe Odighizuwa, UCLA (6’3″, 267 Lbs.) 1st round
One of, if not my favorite prospects in this entire draft. I think he could excel in a similar role to Ninkovich with the upside to be a better pass rusher. He is a little stiff when turning the corner, but he is a high effort guy who is constantly disrupting the play. I think he could bump inside on passing downs if the Patriots want to go with a smaller lineup. He plays with power, active hands, and a non stop motor. It will be sad when I hear his name called and it is not to the Patriots because I am not sure the Patriots will go this high on defensive end after signing Sheard. Here is my original article on him from earlier this season. http://www.nepatriotsdraft.com/2015/02/scouting-report-owamagbe-odighizuwa-de.html
Danielle Hunter, LSU (6’5″, 252 Lbs.) 1st round
Hunter is another guy I am really high on, probably more than others. I think what he was asked to do at LSU did not allow him to showcase his athleticism and take advantage of his speed and length. Hunter reminds me of Chandler Jones coming out of college with a little more flexibility and speed. He is not as developed as Jones was, but I think with time, this kid is going to be special. My hope is the Patriots feel the same way and that he is available at the end of round 2 where I think the Patriots might see him as good value. Here is my original report on him. http://www.nepatriotsdraft.com/2015/01/scouting-report-danielle-hunter-de.html
Preston Smith, Mississippi State (6’5″, 271 Lbs.) 3rd round
I struggled with this next group of guys including Smith. I am much lower on them than most of the draft community and they probably will be drafted higher than I would take them. I do think that these players have qualities that the Patriots look for and maybe one of these guys will fall to a place in the draft where the value meets up with their skill set. Of all these guys, I will say that Smith plays with the most power and he uses it to his advantage. Here is what I wrote on Smith. http://www.nepatriotsdraft.com/2015/02/scouting-report-preston-smith-dl.html
Trey Flowers, Arkansas (6’2″, 266 Lbs. ) 3rd round
Flowers does not fit the typical mold of the Patriots, but he has long arms and good bulk. He looks like he could add additional weight to his frame without sacrificing his athleticism. Flowers has good strength and a great motor for the position. He plays the position with good field awareness and reacts quickly to the play. He is fantastic against the run, but I would not draft him if I am looking for him to be a pass rusher. He struggles to maintain his speed and stop his momentum when changing directions. Flowers played both right and left end in college, so he has some versatility.
Arik Armstead, Oregon (6’7″, 292 Lbs.) 3rd round
To be honest, the only reason he is on here is so I don’t get 100 comments that I forgot Armstead. This is one guy that I just didn’t see it with. I acknowledge his size, speed, strength potential, but nothing about what he did in college tells me he is going to be anymore than he is right now. If you want to know more on my thoughts on Armstead, read this. http://www.nepatriotsdraft.com/2015/02/scouting-report-arik-armstead-de.html
Za’Darius Smith, Kentucky, (6’4″, 274 Lbs.) 3rd/4th round
If you read my post on edge rushers, you will have seen my affinity towards Bud Dupree, but I have to admit, there were times that Smith was the guy that jumped off the tape. Smith has a nice combination of quickness and strength to go along with his size. He has very active hands and plays with a nice balance of speed and power and can win both ways. Smith has the size to play either defensive end positions and can bump inside on occasion as well. He plays the game the right way with good toughness, aggressiveness, and passion. Smith has good, not great speed and he struggles with change of direction. As a fringe top 100 pick though, he could be really good value.
Henry Anderson, Stanford (6’6″, 294 Lbs.) 3rd/4th round
Here is what I wrote about him earlier. http://www.nepatriotsdraft.com/2015/03/scouting-report-henry-anderson-de.html
Lynden Trail, Norfolk State (6’7″, 259 Lbs.) 5th/6th round
Here is what I wrote about Trail earlier this year. http://www.nepatriotsdraft.com/2015/01/scouting-report-lyden-trail-deolb.html
Geneo Grissom, Oklahoma (6’3″, 262 Lbs.) 6th round
Grissom was a guy I wasn’t exactly sure where to put for my rankings, I just know that I liked his game. He is athletic with good bend to be a pass rusher and he has good enough movement skills to drop into coverage on occasion. He has long arms and a solid frame that he can add muscle to. If he can get stronger against the run, he could be a valuable asset. Grissom is more of an athlete right now without a true position, but if he can be coached up, he has a chance to out perform where he gets drafted.
Ryan Russell, Purdue (6’4″, 269 Lbs.) 7th round
Russell looks the part from a size, strength, and speed perspective. He is more of an athlete right now and needs a lot of work from a technique perspective to harness his athletic gifts. If a team has patients and gives him the proper coaching, Russell could develop into an above average NFL player.
Corey Crawford, Clemson (6’5″, 283 Lbs.)
Ray Drew, Georgia (6’4″, 265 Lbs.)
Kristjan Sokoli, Buffalo (6’5″, 289 Lbs.)
Cory Morrissey, Iowa State (6’3″, 255 Lbs.)