Looks like few sure things and lots of rolls of the dice
2009 NFL Draft: Dan Pompei's top defensive ends
By Dan Pompei | Tribune staff reporter
4:57 PM CDT, April 19, 2009
1. Tyson Jackson, LSU
He is a perfect fit for a 3-4 defense. In a 4-3 front, he could be considered at defensive tackle. Jackson plays the run exceptionally well and is very strong at the point. As a pass rusher he is only average because he does not have edge speed or sudden moves. Jackson is athletic, strong and lean for his 6-foot-4-inch, 295-pound frame. He is considered a safe pick who should be a consistent player.
2. Aaron Maybin, Penn State
His playing weight was in the 220s, but he has bulked up to about 250. Size aside, he is a very physical player who can hold the point. He is naturally strong. Maybin has great length and can play with a low pad level. He hasn't had very impressive workouts, but he showed explosiveness and speed on tape. This junior has a lot of potential, either as a 4-3 defensive end or a 3-4 linebacker.
3. Brian Orakpo, Texas
He has a nice feel as a pass rusher, with inside moves and good hand usage. Orakpo has the athleticism to be a very good pass rusher either as a defensive end or outside linebacker in a three-man front. He doesn't always play hard and has been hurt a lot, so some teams are not very high on him.
4. Robert Ayers, Tennessee
He is a one-year wonder who reached his peak in the Senior Bowl, so there is some concern over why he didn't get on the field earlier. He has excellent size (6-3, 272) and quickness but is not an elite athlete. Ayers uses an array of moves and has a nice combination of speed and power. He can play a little out of control at times.
5. Everette Brown, Florida State
This junior won't be a fit for every team because he's only 6-1, but he has speed. Brown has an explosive first step and plays with persistence. He has some nice moves inside and knows how to use his hands. He is instinctive as a pass rusher. Brown struggles at the point of attack. Some think he can be only a situational pass rusher.
6. Connor Barwin, Cincinnati
He is a fine athlete who played very well as a senior after moving to defensive end. Previously he was a tight end, and some teams are still looking at him there. He could be a goal-line tight end while playing defense. Barwin is raw as a pass rusher but plays with great intensity and has speed off the edge. As a run player, he's just average. Barwin was a combine star. He has a lot to learn, but his potential is excellent.
7. Larry English, Northern Illinois
His toughness and passion stand out. English plays explosively and has some speed and quickness off the edge. He plays with good leverage but is not a top run player. English did not have a great workout, and some question whether he can play linebacker in a 3-4.
8. Michael Johnson, Georgia Tech
He looks like a high first-round pick, but he does not play like one, and his combine workout was disappointing. Johnson wasn't a very good pass rusher or run defender in college, but he could be dominant in spurts. He did not start until his senior year. "Underachiever" is the word most frequently used to describe him. He does not have a feel for the game.
9. David Veikune, Hawaii
A high-motor player with quickness, Veikune gets the most out of his abilities. He is not as athletic, big or strong as some pass rushers, but he seems to have a knack for the game. He is a one-year starter who needs to develop his technique.
10. Will Davis, Illinois
At 6-3, 268, Davis isn't quite as tall or fast as NFL teams would like him to be, but he plays with balance and strength. He is a decent athlete who has some burst. He also has played some defensive tackle and could move inside on passing downs. Inconsistent production in college could affect his draft stock.
11. Paul Kruger, Utah.
A junior-eligible, Kruger's size and toughness make him a prospect. He also uses his hands well and shows instincts. He isn't exceptionally quick or explosive. Some teams have him red-flagged for some internal injuries that could shorten his career.
12. Lawrence Sidbury Jr., Richmond.
Sidbury has speed off the edge and good length, but he doesn't bend well or have great change of direction. He needs to develop countermoves and strength to play the run. He did not dominate against a lower level of competition and does not appear instinctive. He has worked out well and has upside.
13. Brandon Williams, Texas Tech.
He uses his hands well and has quick feet when pass rushing. This junior seems to have a knack for getting to the quarterback, but he doesn't play the run well at all. Williams does not have much speed.
14. Michael Bennett, Texas A&M.
He has some speed, size, athletic ability and strength, but his instincts are off. Bennett does not play with intensity. He is known as a high-maintenance player and an underachiever.
15. Kyle Moore, USC.
He is an athletic prospect with good size who has worked out well. He helped himself at the Senior Bowl. Moore doesn't play real strong and was not a big producer, but he has potential.
16. Stryker Sulak, Missouri.
A hard-charging pass rusher, Sulak is just an average athlete. He makes a lot of effort plays and has some ability to disrupt. He could be best as an outside linebacker in a 3-4.
17. Zach Potter, Nebraska.
Potter is a try-hard end with instincts. At 6-7, 279, he has good size but does not bend particularly well. He lacks great speed off the edge and top athleticism. He is decent against both the run and pass but great against neither.
18. Matt Shaughnessy, Wisconsin.
A hustler with instincts, Shaughnessy could be a fit as a 3-4 end. He doesn't have great edge speed, but he plays faster than he timed. He needs to improve his hand usage.
19. Tim Jamison, Michigan.
Jamison has some burst and suddenness in his pass rush. He uses his hands well and shows some instinct. He has been a hot-and-cold player. He worked out better than he played.
20. Maurice Evans, Penn State.
A junior with a good motor, Evans is powerful and has a good first step. He often makes plays by slanting inside. He doesn't do much off the edge, however, and sometimes struggles to finish the play.
21. Derek Walker, Illinois.
A solid run player, Walker is a big man at 6-4, 268 who can hold the point. He is instinctive and tough, and he plays hard. But he lacks suddenness and pass-rush savvy.
22. David Martin, Virginia Tech.
He is an overachiever with a great motor who plays smart. He does not have much speed or athleticism. A former walk-on, he probably will be a role player in the NFL.
23. Rulon Davis, California.
A big, strong end, this former Marine is tough and tenacious. He can play the run. He is not very quick and needs some technique work. He probably would be best in a three-man front.
24. Pannel Egboh, Stanford.
He has an NFL body at 6-6, 275, but he doesn't always play like it. Egboh lacks burst off the edge and plays high. He does not have a great feel for the game.
25. Kenneth Mainor, Troy.
At 6-4, 237, he lacks ideal size and instinct but runs well. He has not played top competition and is raw. He could make it as a developmental prospect who contributes on special teams initially.
26. Nick Reed, Oregon.
Reed plays hard but lacks elite athleticism. He does have an array of pass-rush moves and a decent first step. He could fit as an outside linebacker in a 3-4.