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2016 NFL Draft Preview: Defensive End

The Mold


When evaluating players for a scheme or position it’s important to make sure you understand what a given team is looking for. It’s not as simple as 4-3 versus 3-4 defenses or right side versus left side. Everything is calculated and each spot has its own checklist if you will, for desired traits and abilities.  Let’s take a look at what a Buccaneer defensive end should look like and be able to play like on each end of the defensive line.  On either side, it is common to see the ends line up in the 5 technique, 6 technique (over the tight end) or even 9 technique to the outside shoulder of the tight end.  Both ends are generally responsible for filling the C gap. With Mike Smith hired on as defensive coordinator, the opportunity for more multiple looks up front definitely enters the picture but this does little overall to how the team will view the defensive end position from a trait standpoint. Smith’s ends, in particular John Abraham, have been moved around to find the right matchups so a dedicated left/right end are not as important under Mike Smith.


Who are the prospects and where do they fit?


1. Joey Bosa, Defensive End, Ohio State

Height:

Weight:

Class: Junior

Tackles: 47

Tackles for a Loss: 16

Sacks: 5

Forced Fumbles: 1

Skillset Evaluation:

Joey Bosa displays the natural strength to hold the point and blow up the run to his side of the ball. Consistently in 2015 he was double teamed and at times, triple teamed as anyone who watched Ohio State versus Hawaii saw and despite the triple team, still made an impact.  Teams did their best to avoid Bosa’s side of the line when running the ball as best they could and for good reason, there was nothing to gain there. Bosa regularly is able to slip the double team and push back single blocks into the pocket. Bosa uses his arms and leg drive as well as any end in the draft when it comes to playing the run and when you add in his will to fight, it’s simply not a battle worth fighting for offenses.

Against the pass you will see what makes Bosa special. At Bosa’s size, he still shows incredible athleticism and explosion into the backfield. Bosa routinely wiped out opponents when he didn’t face two or more blockers in route to the quarterback. Bosa does a great job converting speed to power and this is his big ticket to NFL success. Where Bosa does lack a bit is his change of direction speed where he simply isn’t an elite quick twitch athlete. Having a good understanding of hand usage and how to use his length has kept this from being much of an issue and should continue with more work in the NFL.

Background:

Bosa displays grit and heart on every snap which is a direct result to his mental fortitude and desire to win each snap. Bosa displays the toughness wanted and early indications are that he has every desire to continue working hard and striving to reach greatness. Bosa is uniquely qualified for the dog fight it can be as an NFL defensive end given the constant abuse he faced in the form of double teams and the fact that frustration rarely set in shows his focus and discipline.

Team Fit:

The fit here is obvious, one of the biggest needs on this team is a better pass rush and Bosa potentially would step right in and be the biggest impact off the edge day one. With Jack Smith manning the other side and Gerald McCoy forcing double teams up the middle, there simply would not be enough linemen to double everyone. Bosa is the type of 3 down player that this team severely needs off the edge.

 

 

 

2. Noah Spence, Defensive End, Eastern Kentucky (Formerly of Ohio State)

Height: 6’2-1/2″ (Senior Bowl)

Weight: 254 lbs (Senior Bowl)

Class: redshirt Junior

Tackles: 63

Tackles for a Loss: 22.5

Sacks: 11.5

Forced Fumbles: 3

Skillset Evaluation:

Spence displays good use of his hands and lower leverage when setting the edge versus the run. Spence needs to show more urgency to keep the play inside on a consistent basis as he will at times allow the play to get by his outside shoulder. Awareness of the ball must improve and his understanding of his role within the defense must also improve. Against inferior competition Noah showed no desire to hold back, often blowing the tackle off the ball and making the play in the backfield as his 22.5 tackles for a loss show. Spence shows the athletic traits necessary to get off blocks and separate himself from the trenches to chase the play, something he rarely had to do in college thanks to his ability to dominate his competition this past season. At Ohio State, Spence showed early signs of dominance that bode very well for his NFL stock as he continued those very ways against lesser competition.

Against the pass, Spence is in his element. Spence bends and turns the corner with more natural ability than any other end in this draft class. Spence doesn’t have the pure strength and length of an Ogbah or Bosa, but he has superior natural bend and in the world of rushing the passer, that makes all the difference. Spence still can use some work on setting up his secondary pass rush moves but he shows the beginning steps of possibly being dominant. Utilizing good, violent and quick hands with an inside rip or simply blowing off the line and bending low to turn the edge, Spence is going to get to the quarterback. Spence has shown good snap recognition and reactionary skills against the pass. On money downs, Spence gives a team the edge needed, a team like the Bucs would be hard pressed to find a similar 3rd down pass rush threat in this draft.

Background:

Spence was a 5-star recruit for Urban Meyer at Ohio State and was off to a tremendous career before drug addiction (reportedly ecstasy), derailed any chance of him finishing up there. Spence, after two failed drug test and a permanent Big Ten ban, would eventually admit to having an addiction to the drug dating back to high school. Spence, with the help of Urban Meyer, entered in a drug treatment program and would graduate out of that very program, still unable to play in the Big Ten. Spence notes watching his former Ohio State teammates winning the National Championship as a turning point in his life. In an interview with Fox Sports Spence said, “That feeling right there is always in my head whenever I do anything because I know I don’t ever want to go back again, hit rock bottom — and I know I won’t be back there ever again because I will always have that feeling in my mind.” While it was widely expected that Spence would enter the 2015 draft, but instead Spence elected to drop a level down and compete in the FCS with Eastern Kentucky. Spence has spent the past season proving himself both on and off the field which to this point since his permanent ban, he has done as he’s had not a single incident on or off the field. If not for the suspension and off-field issues, there’s a good chance Spence would have shared if not taken some of the spotlight from Bosa and been the clear cut top pass rusher in this draft.

Team Fit:

Spence, simply put, would walk in and be the teams best exterior pass rusher. Fans want sacks, fans want pressure and hell, the coaches certainly want it too. Noah Spence brings that. Teaming Spence up with Clinton McDonald and Gerald McCoy inside and potentially Jack Smith on the side would give the Buccaneers their first respectable pass rushing front since Simeon Rice and Sapp roamed One Buc Place. Spence could be Mike Smith’s new version of John Abraham, where in these parts all defensive ends are compared to Simeon Rice.

 

 

 

3. Emmanuel Ogbah, Defensive End, Oklahoma State

Height:

Weight:

Class: redshirt Junior

Tackles: 60

Tackles for a Loss: 16.5

Sacks: 12.5

Forced Fumbles: 3

Skillset Evaluation:

Ogbah shows good use of his length when setting the edge against the run, keeping his arms stiff and inside. Has shown the ability to power his way through a double team and drive the tackle straight back into the runner’s lane. The ability to disrupt the play from multiple angles and positions along the defensive front is a perfect display of his versatility and determination to finish he play.

Against the pass, Ogbah received my third highest pass rush grade in the class along with Shilique Calhoun behind Noah Spence and Joey Bosa. Ogbah does an incredible job in situations where he’s allowed to pin his ears back. On early downs, you will witness flashes of Ogbah drive the tackle straight into the quarterbacks lap, something he must show he is willing to do consistently be a factor on an every down basis. Ogbah is the Oklahoma State defense and it shows with how offenses attack the defense, often shifting help his way and keeping runs to that side at a minimum. Ogbah does a good job for a big body to get skinny and split the gaps. He converts speed to power well and it’s been his go to move when ripping inside. Ogbah can stand to get a little quicker off the ball as he tends to be just a hair late to react. Ogbah’s hand usage isn’t anywhere near elite and some better hand placement and hand work could go a long way towards him having even more success. Arguably the most attractive part of Ogbah as a prospect is his attitude towards the opponent. As Glenn Spencer, OK States Defensive Coordinator said “He’s violent.” (via George Schroeder, USA Today)

Background:

Incredibly hard worker that is always at the facility and sharpening up on his craft. Mean on the field and attacks the work off the field just as hard. Ogbah is a leader on and off the field and is determined to succeed every step of the way. Ogbah has had to work since he stepped on campus as an under recruited high school player, one that came to America at the age of 9 from Nigeria. Work is nothing new to Ogbah, that’s the type of player the Buccaneers could surely use.

Team Fit:

Fans love to watch Michael Bennett and reminisce about the days he played in a Bucs uniform and for those fans; Ogbah is a pretty close replica play and attitude wise. Ogbah can play on either end of the line as well as moving inside when need be, Ogbah utilizes size and athleticism as well as you could ask for and still has plenty of room to grow as he refines his skillset and moves. Ogbah would be a great piece to build the defense around, sticking him next to Clinton McDonald, Gerald McCoy and Jack Smith.

 

4. Shilique Calhoun, Defensive End, Michigan State

Height:

Weight:

Class: redshirt Senior

Tackles: 45

Tackles for a Loss: 14.5

Sacks: 10.5

Forced Fumbles: 1

Skillset Evaluation:

Calhoun possesses the natural athletic ability to play on the edge in a 4-3. Calhoun shows the ability to get outside and pursue the run. Playing to contain the run and redirect inside has been an issue as Calhoun doesn’t quite have the overall strength to control tackles. Calhoun relies on riding the tackle and this usually results in him being taken out of the play. Calhoun must work on getting off the block using his length to keep better distance to allow himself to make a play on the ball carrier.

Calhoun has the speed and agility combo to cause trouble for tackles and has shown very good change of direction when rushing the passer. His unique combination of speed and length is a building stone for years to come but must work on his strength. Calhoun currently is relying on active hands that still need some refinement and violence put in play and his speed to get up field and bend the corner. Power as mentioned is a work in progress and this has a lot to do with him being a right end and struggling against the power of most NFL right tackles. Back to Calhoun’s athleticism for a second, you see the consistent ability to stay low and balanced and turn that corner. Calhoun bends well and has the agility and natural quickness to rush with speed, bend that edge and redirect if need be to get to the quarterback. It’s that bend, speed and balance combination that simply aren’t taught that make him a very good pass rusher.

Background:

Two-time team captain and on-field leader of the defense emits leadership in every essence of the word. Calhoun preaches a team concept to everything, including leadership. Calhoun has a constant smile and is as upbeat a person as you’ll meet. Mike Griffith wrote about Calhoun’s explanation for this very mentality, “You never know how you can affect someone’s life… You don’t know what they’re going through.” Griffith went on to write about Calhoun’s upbringing, one that helps explain a lot about the 5th year Senior. Shilique is one of six children that has overcome plenty of adversity in route to entering this upcoming draft. The Calhoun family has overcome losing everything in a fire, moving 5 times in 5 months before eventually settling down in New Jersey. Calhoun talks about a story of a suicide note about a kid that needed only one person to approach him on the way to a bridge to stop him, nobody approached. Calhoun uses that story as a way to approach every day, “Each and every day, I try to come out and give people a greeting or a hello…, Even if I’m not in that person’s life, it can make a difference.” (Via Mike Griffith, Mlive.com, “Michigan State’s Shilique Calhoun strives to ‘stay positive after overcoming childhood adversity.” Calhoun is well equipped to deal with the stress and adversity that comes with playing in the NFL. He’s clean off the field and more than solid on it.

Team Fit:

Calhoun is a perfect fit for a defensive front that strives to get up field in a hurry. Calhoun can play either side but idealistically is a perfect fit at right end using his speed against left tackles. The move would reunite him with the man whose place he assumed after leaving MSU, Will Gholston. The Bucs need speed off the edge and Calhoun can surely provide that.

 

 

 

 

5. Shaq Lawson, Defensive End, Clemson

Height:

Weight:

Class: redshirt Junior

Tackles: 54

Tackles for a Loss: 21.5

Sacks: 9.5

Forced Fumbles: 1

Skillset Evaluation:

Power build and skillset to match. Wins with his strength and does a good job staying inside the shoulders on offensive lineman. As the season progressed Lawson showed the ability to set the edge against the run much better than expected and his discipline improved throughout. Decisive with his moves and plays heads up, rarely appearing to lose sight of the ball. Shows the ability to stay on a block and shake loose once the ball carrier is within reach. Rarely free-lanced in the defense which is a major plus for any potential Buccaneer target as gap responsibility is huge.

Against the pass, Lawson showed the ability to close but lacks the reaction time and burst off the line. Will regularly be a step behind the lineman he’s facing and when stonewalled with his initial move, will back off. Lawson is not an edge bender like Calhoun is and doesn’t have the same lateral quickness of some of the other top end prospects. Lawson tends to rely on strength over speed and it translates to his pass rush arsenal and choices which regularly have him shooting for the left tackles right shoulder to split the C gap. Lawson takes on the heavy lifting for his defense and others have reaped the benefits, namely Kevin Dodd who is a solid prospect in his own right after a dominant 2015 season of his own. Lawson doesn’t project out to be a high octane pass rusher for me due to his lack of overall speed and quickness but will be a good player in his own right off the edge.

Background:

Lawson has an interesting story of his own here, as he’s playing for the very school he sold concession stand popcorn at (via Howie Kussoy, nypost.com) as a 12 year old. How Lawson reached this point of his career is a story in its own as he faced adversity in high school. Lawson’s father passed away when Shaq was a junior in high school in a fatal car accident. Prior to the accident, Lawson had wanted to leave his home and play for Tennessee, the accident altered those decisions as he chose to stay close to family. Academically ineligible, Lawson spent his freshman year of college at Hardgrave Military prep school where he then worked his way towards attending and playing for Clemson the following year. Lawson stepped up his academics and after a short wait while star Vic Beasley roamed the trenches, Lawson stepped up into the forefront this past season and put together a dominant stretch of games down the line. Lawson spoke with the people at campus insiders to talk about what it’s been like becoming a leader on the defense. Shaq mentioned how former players Grady and Beasley helped him. Preaching that you don’t always have to talk to be a leader, setting the example with work makes leadership easier. Lawson isn’t the fiery emotional leader that is going to give speeches, but his play on the feel and work ethic off it speaks for itself.

Team Fit:

Lawson can fit at either the LDE or RDE spot but left side a.k.a. the strongside would fit him best. The Buccaneers have Jack Smith there as of now but Smith struggled mightily down the stretch of this past season. Whether he lines up on the left or right side is irrelevant, as he’s here for pass rush and consistency which are two things the Buccaneers defensive ends have lacked as a whole for many years. Lawson is a very smart player that plays within the system and as mentioned before, gap integrity is huge in the Lovie Smith system.

 

 

6. Kevin Dodd, Defensive End, Clemson

Height:

Weight:

Class: redshirt Junior

Tackles: 62

Tackles for a Loss: 24

Sacks: 12.5

Forced Fumbles: 1

Skillset Evaluation:

Against the run, Dodd was allowed to face many one on ones with the right tackle and held his ground just fine. Able to set the edge the majority of the time, Dodd and Lawson as the book ends caused chaos for opposing rushing attacks. Dodd displayed the ability to extend his arms and keep the tackle at bay and force plays into the teeth of the defense. Dodd did a good job staying his gap more often than not and despite a pass rush first mentality, Dodd overall displayed the awareness needed to play the rune effectively. Where Dodd needs improvement is his angles against the run and his ability to jump off the block to make the stop when the play does get outside. Dodd showed a good understanding of how to bait the tackle and jump to the interior and clog a hole but his pursuit outside needs some work.

As a pass rusher, Dodd shined and he can thank a decent portion of that success to his teammate Shaq Lawson who took on the heavy lifting in the form of double teams and extra attention. Dodd regularly got to go heads up with the tackle and a portion of his sacks were thanks to good coverage and Lawson’s ability to flush the quarterback outside. Dodd did a fair share of the work on his own too though, displaying very good burst off the snap and initial quickness that caused fits for many tackles. Dodd showed he understood how to split the gap and get skinny as well as use his hands while working to collapse the pocket. When faced with double teams, chips from the tight end or help from a back, Dodd did show hesitation and slowed down at times. This is something he has to work on and get used to in the NFL. Dodd’s bull rush and power moves all need a great deal of working as he relied heavily on initial quickness and pure speed around the edge.

Background:

Dodd has shown no signs of off-field issues and was a workhorse for the defense this past season. Dodd takes on a more vocal role than teammate Shaq Lawson but the two absolutely shared their responsibilities in leading the defense with the mouth piece at corner in Alexander. Dodd puts in the work needed in the weight room and should make a smooth transition to the NFL locker room.

Team Fit:

The Buccaneers need help at defensive end, particularly with pass rush and Dodd can certainly help out there. Dodd is physically built to sustain the beating taken at defensive end and all signs point to him being able to develop into an every down player with proper work and technique refinement in his run stopping abilities. For the time being, Dodd should be able to work in as a rotational piece, not just a pass rushing specialist.

 

 

 

 

7. Jorden Jenkins, Defensive End, Georgia

Height: 6’2″ (Senior Bowl)

Weight: 257 lbs (Senior Bowl)

Class: Senior

Tackles: 58

Tackles for a Loss: 9.5

Sacks: 4

Forced Fumbles: 2

Skillset Evaluation:

Jenkins displays the ability to set the edge against the run and utilizes his hands and eyes well when tracking the play off the edge. Jenkins displays good flexibility as well as uses his length well and relies on both win the point of attack against the run. Jenkins shows the ability to shed the block and shift downfield to get into the backfield. Jenkins has played from multiple techniques and alignments but when asked to get in a 3-point stance and rush off the edge, has particularly shown good things against the run. Jenkins has the athleticism to chase the play outside as well as stop it in the backfield. Jenkins has the power to play the strong side and take on the chip from the tight end while attacking the tackles outside shoulder. Jenkins will get bullied at times by bigger tackles and can stand to use better hand positioning when anchoring. When the run is between the tackles, Jenkins will tend to get lost in the scuffle a bit when coming in from the edge.

Against the pass, Jenkins is still growing but does not lack polish. Jenkins does a good job converting speed to power and has shown solid bend to get the edge. Jenkins moves well laterally and does a good job in particular on stunts. Jenkins is not a tremendous speed rusher nor does he turn the corner with great quickness. Jenkins is a power end and won’t ever be the speed guy or rangy athlete off the edge. Jenkins lacks the top gear to explode into the pocket and projects out to be more of a balanced end. Jenkins keys to success as an edge rusher are and will continue to be a good initial push off the line and his strong hand work.

Background:

Jenkins is a tough, hard worker and team leader. Jenkins was a voted team captain and the senior does not shy away from his leadership role on the both the defense and overall team. Jenkins has stayed clean on and off the field while earning All SEC honors for the 2nd team as well as first team pre-season honors.

Team Fit:

Jenkins is a dependable, hard working defensive end that has not been able to focus on one specific role at any point while at Georgia. Zoning in on one position in defensive end where Jenkins could do what he does best, rush the pocket, could make for some intriguing pass rush potential. While not a speed rusher, Jenkins shows good handwork and can be counted on both against the run and pass, though much more the pass at this point, and develop into a reliable role player and potential starter down the line.

 

 

8. Carl Nassib, Defensive End, Penn State

Height: 6’6-1/2″ (Senior Bowl)

Weight: 273 lbs (Senior Bowl)

Class: redshirt Senior

Tackles: 46

Tackles for a Loss: 19.5

Sacks: 15.5

Forced Fumbles: 6

Skillset Evaluation:

Against the run, Nassib was a bag of mixed results. When the play is run at him, Nassib does a good job using his length and making the play on the ball. When the play is run to either side of him though, Nassib tends to get lost in the shuffle. Nassib tends to be a one track pass rusher and the run game will get by him at times due to this. Nassib evades his gap often and this causes issues for the second level of the defense and beyond. Nassib needs to adjust his game in order to have a shot at starting down the line because of this. On the bright side, Nassib is a workhorse and never gives up on the play, will stay in pursuit and will keep motoring forward until the play is dead.

Pass rusher, that’s what Nassib is and that’s why people are talking about him as a day 2 pick. Nassib set a school record for sacks and lived in the backfield this season. That said, Nassib again has a lot of work to do in refining his technique and approach to each snap. Often winning via length long strides a solid get off and will power, Nassib lacks the change of direction, flexibility and low pad level most teams want in an edge rusher. Point blank, Nassib will not win very often when asked to speed rush up field and turn the corner on a tackle. Nassib will rely on turning his speed to power early on while learning the art of the pass rush. With some help developing a plan to attack and some hand usage, Nassib can develop and there’s nothing on record to think he won’t work at it.

Background:

Walk on at Penn State, oft injured in high school, Nassib defeated the odds and became a starter and dominated. Google Carl Nassib’s rise to stardom and you’ll see stories of his hard work and dedication, both on and off the field. Nassib is as good a student as he is a football player and teams will take joy in knowing they are getting a good, smart and hard working kid.

Team Fit:

If it’s been said once, it’s been said a hundred times that this team needs pass rushers. Nassib isn’t the guy that’s going to turn the corner and blow up plays every third down but he is a developmental guy with great length and work ethic. Nassib’s size and speed will help in his transition while his work ethic will hopefully take care of the rest. Nassib would fit the bill as a 43 left defensive end where he could rotate in as a reserve and spend much of his first season learning the position and it’s techniques.

 

 

 

9. Shawn Oakman, Defensive End, Baylor

Height: 6’7″ (From Senior Bowl)

Weight: 269 lbs (From Senior Bowl)

Class: redshirt Senior

Tackles: 43

Tackles for a Loss: 14.5

Sacks: 4.5

Forced Fumbles: 2

Skillset Evaluation:

Against the run, Oakman shows good use of his length and has proved to be able to hold the edge while maintaining his containment responsibilities. Oakman displays the ability to do a good job slipping off the block to make the stop when the run comes his way and to pursue when the play gets passed him yet he rarely will do it consistently. Oakman shows little in the form of technique, often relying on pure athleticism and length to win his matchups. When the run is countered back towards him, Oakman will struggle to keep his head up and locate the ball, often getting pushed aside out of the play. Too often again Oakman will almost refuse to disengage when the run gets to his outside. Leverage is an enemy for Oakman that won’t be leaving anytime soon thanks to his height, that said he must work to keep his pad level as low as possible to keep lineman from getting up under his chest and controlling his body. Oakman needs to add lower half bulk as well to avoid being pushed off the spot by NFL tackles.

With his athleticism, you’d expect much more consistency and production out of Oakman, but it’s not there yet. Physically gifted, Oakman has a lot to learn about the art of rushing the passer. Hand work must improve, primary and secondary moves must improve in all facets. Oakman lacks a secondary move all together and it begins with a poor approach above everything else. Too often Oakman fails to set up his move and instead repeatedly attacks with length and speed, rarely at the same time. Oakman struggles to generate power from his speed and will slow down big time when stonewalled on his initial threat. His issues start with a poor, seemingly unaware approach to attacking at the LOS. All that said, there are positives. Oakman moves incredibly well for a man his size and it’s not just as simple as staying balanced when he moves. Oakman shows good lateral agility as well as change of direction, Oakman even shows on occasion some powerful rip and swipe moves. It comes down to understanding and being taught how to use his athleticism and natural traits as a pass rusher to his advantage. Oakman is you’re stereotypical “clean slate” prospect and with his physique, coaches and scout a like will see a player they’d hope to mold into something special. The question is, does he have that in him?

Background:

Seemingly a story of the past, Oakman found his way to Baylor after being dismissed from Penn State by coach Bill O’Brien. Academic struggles and poor choices led to the dismissal and Oakman has had to work his way to gain the trust of the Baylor staff and will have to do the same with NFL staffs. While some will note he only “took” a hoagie and drink, the fact he shoved the employee that attempted to hold onto his student i.d. amidst the altercation is something teams will key in on. Poor decision making along with a few noted anger issue instances rarely evaporate with a change of scenery. One thing Oakman did do was show some maturity after the fact, issuing an apology and taking full responsibility for his actions. To his defense, he’s shown no signs of that anger and immaturity following him to Baylor. With a chance to leap to the NFL Draft a year ago after a statistically dominating (film showed inconsistencies) season, Oakman chose to stick it out another year at Baylor. Shawn Oakman added another year of good behavior under his belt, he added another year of experience as well. In several months he and all of us get to see how much it paid off.

Team Fit:

The Buccaneers haven’t been a team that has taken a player along the defensive line that needed the kind of work and teaching that Oakman will require in a very long time. The athletic ability and freakish build of Oakman may be another to make the team take that plunge if the price, and draft position, are right. Oakman as it stands is nothing more than a role player that must learn a lot in relatively little time, the payoff however could be big. Oakman at his full potential could be solid starting end with good pass rush upside. To reach that potential would likely take several years, and most of that rookie contract. Would the Bucs be willing to take that chance?

 

 

 

 

10. Bronson Kaufusi, Defensive End, Brigham Young

Height: 6’6-1/2″ (Senior Bowl)

Weight: 281 (Senior Bowl)

Class: Senior

Tackles: 57

Tackles for a Loss: 18.5

Sacks: 10

Forced Fumbles: 3

Skillset Evaluation:

Kaufusi is a good run defender and does so with a great base, utilizing length and making first contact. When containing the edge, Kaufusi is able to redirect the tackle and shed the block when needed. Kaufusi shows a good understanding of how to force the play back inside as well as when to ride the tackle to the outside. Kaufusi shows very good power off the edge and has repeatedly been able to collapse the tackle into the run lane, blowing up the play in the backfield. Kaufusi doesn’t always take good angles and will struggle to counter cut  backs as he lacks the ideal change of direction speed.

Against the pass, Kaufusi wins with a quick get off and power. Kaufusi regularly extends his arms and rips through inside the tackle to split the gap. Most of Kaufusi’s success comes from a straight bull rush and inside rips. Kaufusi lacks the ideal bend and shoulder dip you’d like in a pure pass rusher and thus, his role won’t be to simply get upfield and beat the tackle around the edge. Kaufusi is a strong side end prospect and has the ability to rush from the interior as well as outside. Kaufusi tends to play very high and that will need to be corrected, if not he will consistently lose leverage and in the NFL, that’s not gonna work without better speed off the edge. Kaufusi will have to rely heavily on being a technician to get pressure on the quarterback despite his college numbers being quite admirable in that department.

Background:

Kaufusi is an older prospect and served time doing a mission in New Zealand. Bronson Kaufusi was voted a team defensive leader and that leadership goes beyond what happens on the field. Noted as being one of the most humble players, Kaufusi rarely takes credit for his own success. Kaufusi has shown to be a team player and puts the team first, making position switches from defensive end, to stand up linebacker, back to end and playing all along the interior of the line as well. Former coach Bronco Mendenhall was quoted as calling Kaufusi, the “Perfect BYU player” based on his work ethic and leadership. Kaufusi is the son of a football coach, his own defensive line coach to be exact. He comes from a football family and it shows in his on the field smarts and tactics.

Team Fit:

The Buccaneers need lineman and whether it’s a starter or a role player, help is needed. Kaufusi fits the mold of William Gholston and like Gholston, could be a formidable player to develop have blossom into a rotational player both at end and inside on passing downs. Kaufusi has the talent to help make a difference, he has the ability to line up along the line at multiple spots and he has shown a knack for hitting a quarterback or two. That’s someone the Buccaneers could certainly use.

 

 

 

 

11. Charles Tapper, Defensive End, Oklahoma

Height: 6’2″ (Senior Bowl)

Weight: 276 lbs (Senior Bowl)

Class: Senior

Tackles: 50

Tackles for a Loss: 10

Sacks: 7

Forced Fumbles: 4

Skillset Evaluation:

Effort defender against the run with good functional strength at the point of attack. Tapper shows the ability to hold the point and set the edge, often plays a sit back and read approach at end versus attacking down to down. Tapper shows the ability to shed the block and get outside to make the stop. Tapper shows the ability to get good push and leg drive against the tackle as well. Tapper needs to show improved technique and understanding of how to move across the line when trailing the runner as well as better tackling technique all together.

Against the pass, Tapper has a lot of improving to do when it comes to technique and approach. Often limited to a simple bull rush, there is very little planning involved in Tappers approach to rushing the passer. Tapper appears to have very good straight line speed and closing speed, lateral agility and bend are questionable. Tapper does not appear to have the flexibility to consistently bend the edge and was rarely asked to do so at Oklahoma. Tapper uses his length well when rushing the passer and has shown the ability to stay low throughout his pursuit. Tapper has worked on and shown this past season a knack for having active hands inside the pocket and the results spoke for themselves this season with his 4 strips. Tapper needs lots of coaching and refinement to reach his potential.

Background:

Somewhat of a two-way athlete in high school (Tight end), Tapper developed quickly into a 4-star athlete. Tapper came to Oklahoma having only played 2 years of football and is still learning the nuances of the game as a defensive lineman. Tapper was a voted captain by teammates and helped lead both in the weight room and on the field. Tapper is a noted hard worker and a dependable leader, not shying away from taking ownership. Tapper earned playing time as a true freshman and never looked back.

Team Fit:

Tapper is still an ascending player, having only 6 total years of football in his background. An athletically gifted being for his size, look for Tapper to gain some steam during combine week. For the Bucs, Tapper would bring a bit of speed and power to the strong side of the defensive line. Tapper has the potential to one day start and should, with time, become a reliable rotational player as his floor.

 

 

 

 

12. James Cowser, Defensive End, Southern Utah

Height: 6’3″ (East-West Shrine Game)

Weight: 250 lbs (East-West Shrine Game)

Class: redshirt Senior

Tackles:68

Tackles for a Loss: 19

Sacks: 13

Forced Fumbles: 4

Skillset Evaluation:

High motor athlete against the run and does a good job working through double teams and chips. For Cowser, that’s where the good ends as a run stopper. Cowser struggles when the ball is run at him and tends to let lineman get their hands inside and move him off the spot against the run. Against lower competition, Cowser was effective but nothing great when defending the run, in particular outside runs where he failed to redirect inside. Against tougher competition, Cowser really struggled and often looked frustrated. Still developing, Cowser could use some good coaching and technique work to keep his hands extended and shed off blocks.

Cowser is at home as a pass rusher and his statistics back that up all the way. Cowser possesses a great shoulder dip and solid bend around the edge. Cowser has no issues sticking his foot in the ground and redirecting his pass rush and does so with very good balance. Cowser displays very good hand work and does so with violence and no hesitation. When allowed to pin his ears back, Cowser is a man you want on defense. Pass rush specialist at it’s finest for this small school end.

Background:

Clean slate off the field and a noted hard worker in the weight room and practice facilities. Cowser is a team leader on defense and puts in the work on the field. Not a high recruit out of high school by any means, Cowser has destroyed all expectations while also breaking some of Jared Allen’s career college records for sacks and tackles for a loss. Cowser looks to be the first defender taken in the draft in Southern Utah’s history.

Team Fit:

Cowser may never develop into a starting defensive end and quite honestly, there’s nothing wrong with that. Cowser would come in and compete for a role as a pass rushing specialist and would need to develop his game a good bit against the run. A potential day 3 pick, Cowser would fit that exact role as 3rd down pass rusher where he could spell the likes of Will Gholston outside as Will moves to his interior role as a pass rusher on 3rd downs. Down the road Cowser could very well develop into a reliable rotational player.

 

 

 

 

13. Alex McCalister, Defensive End, Florida

Height:

Weight:

Class: redshirt Junior

Tackles: 24

Tackles for a Loss: 9.5

Sacks: 6.5

Forced Fumbles: 1

Skillset Evaluation:

McCalister has a lot of work to do when it comes to his ability to play the run. Right now McCalister relies heavy on athleticism and length, two incredible traits to have, to stop the run. McCalister fails to set the edge and keep the play in, the reasons are fairly simple to identify right now. 1) McCalister is still developing, and developing fast as someone who has relatively only one season worth of snaps as a starting end. 2) Strength, McCalister has yet to grow into his massive body and that will come with an NFL strength training program geared towards him being a true defensive end, if he’s selected as so. McCalister does a good job shooting gaps when lineman pull away from his side and he can track down a back with ease thanks to his get off and quickness. McCalister has all the length he needs to tangle with a tackle and hold his point while waiting for the run to come his way. With some work, there’s little reason to believe McCalister can’t become a decent run stopper off the edge. Important to note on McCalister as a run stopper, he simply was not asked to do this very much for the Gators. Easy to figure when you’re position is titled “Rush”.

As a pass rusher, you see why McCalister has entered the draft. A pure pass rush specialist with great natural abilities, that’s McCalister. McCalister can explode off the edge and get up field in a hurry. McCalister shows the ability to bend and dip around the outside of the tackle and get low enough to rip back inside to the quarterback. McCalister uses his hands well and does a great job on stunts and inside moves thanks to his balance and smoothness when shifting directions. McCalister has shown the ability to rush from multiple stances including hand in the dirt and standing as an outside linebacker. Due to his athleticism, McCalister could easily float about as a hybrid end/linebacker. McCalister, with some added mass, should have a good chance at being a consistent 7-10 sack player at some point down the road. Athleticism and length are two things that you simply can’t coach and McCalister possesses both. Come time for the combine, there should be some buzz for McCalister the athlete, those who watch Florida already know this though.

Background:

McCalister is not a clean player when it comes to eligibility and being there for the team every step of the way. There’s a lot of speculation and hear say as to why McCalister was suspended for game one of the 2015 season as well as why he was dismissed near the end of the season prior to the bowl game after dealing with several injuries and initially mulling over a jump to the NFL and entering the draft. Teams will undoubtedly spend a good deal of time figuring out what led to the actual dismissal as well as who McCalister is off the field on Saturday’s before taking the young man to contribute on Sunday’s. On the field, you see the hustle and you see the heart that goes into ever snap McCalister takes, it’s up to him to prove that Mon-Sat that same motivation and desire comes through. To be clear, there’s no evidence to say it’s not, everything is simply speculation due to the lack of detail from the program behind the suspension and dismissal.

Team Fit:

The fit here is obvious, the Buccaneers need a pass rush and Alex McCalister not only can rush the passer already, he’s incredibly far from reaching his potential. Still incredibly lean, McCalister’s body can easily add on another 15-20 lbs while keeping his lean long frame similar to that of Jason Pierre-Paul body wise. Prospects with his size, athleticism and ability to get after the quarterback usually means round 1. McCalister is a unique case of off-field uncertainty (for those of us not privy to his immediate background) and relative scarcity of playing team in his three seasons means he could and should be available day 3. That’s money if you’re the Buccaneers and looking to add talent with big upside later.

 

 

 

 

14. Victor Ochi, Defensive End, Stony Brook

Height: 6’1-1/8″ (East-West Shrine Game)

Weight: 244 lbs (East-West Shrine Game)

Class: Senior

Tackles: 47

Tackles for a Loss: 16.5

Sacks: 13

Forced Fumbles: 1

Skillset Evaluation:

Against the run Ochi struggled a bit. You will see Ochi get caught up in blocks and allow linemen to get their hands inside his body. Ochi at his current size can be moved and controlled at the point of attack, in particular when the opposing team is running at him. Ochi appears to need a lot of work when it comes to handling the run and staying patient in his gap versus fighting around the block and opening up holes. Ochi has good length in his arms but doesn’t use it effectively at this point when combating tackles against the run. Ochi struggles to set the edge against the run and it goes hand in hand with his desire to beat his man around the edge versus going heads up into the block to command the gap.

Against the pass, Ochi is a different player. Aggressive, explosive and a bit wild in his own right, you will see Ochi time the snap regularly and explode up field. Ochi has a good foundation for what needs to be done but still could use refinement. Ochi displays above average bend and stability when turning the corner. Ochi shows a solid dip and rip technique to get outside and back in towards the quarterback. Ochi has shown on tape that he can get skinny and split the gap as well as cause confusion with stunts. Ochi doesn’t quite have the power and drive to bull rush effectively on an every down basis but his willingness to switch things up more than made up for at the collegiate level. In the East West Shrine practices Ochi competed against much higher competition than he did week in and week out and he competed well, in particular with 1:1 pass rush drills. Ochi has shown quick feet, active hands and a knack for finding the football.

Background:

Ochi is a noted hard worker and took that work ethic and applied every ounce of it to the field in 2015, earning CAA co-defensive player of the year as well as tying the lead in tackles for a loss and leading all the way with sacks. Ochi earned a Shrine Game invite and did well during the week of workouts. Ochi leaves Stony Brook as it’s all time leader in sacks. Ochi took on a leadership role with the defense and was the driving force behind the success they had. Ochi looks to become the first ever draft selection out of Stony Brook.

Team Fit:

Ochi is a bit of a 1-dimensional player in that he’s just a pass rusher at this point. Good thing is that’s what the Buccaneers really need, guys that can get after the quarterback. Ochi displays the physical tools and natural traits needed to be a solid pass rusher. On a short term outlook, Ochi is a developmental talent that can be a situational pass rusher early on. Long term, Ochi shows the skill set to grow into a rotational end that can be relied on when it’s 3rd down.

 

 

 

 

15. Anthony Zettel, Defensive End, Penn State

Height:

Weight:

Class: redshirt Senior

Tackles: 46

Tackles for a Loss: 11

Sacks: 4

Forced Fumbles: 1

Skillset Evaluation:

Zettel displays a good motor and heavy hands against the run. Zettel holds the point of attack well and displays good speed to power off the snap. In outside pursuit, Zettel struggles to get off the block despite having good length and natural athleticism. Zettel tends to get reckless with his play and will over run the pursuit, opening holes.

Against the pass, Zettel does his best work by getting off the snap with very good anticipation and burst out of his stance. Zettel shows a good motor and hand usage and appears to understand how to set up his pass rush moves. Zettel will get too caught up in rushing the pocket and will at times give up contain as well as struggle to change direction in space. Zettel played on the interior of the defensive line the past two seasons for Penn State after beginning his career on the edge.

Background:

Incredibly hard worker and selfless teammate, Zettel will do what the teams asks him to do. At Penn State, this meant putting on some mass and moving inside. It also meant less production after a tremendous 2014 where he had 17 tackles for a loss. Zettel is clean on and off the field and is a good leader, displaying great work ethic in the locker room and weight room.

Team Fit:

Zettel played interior defensive line most recently but his fit with the Buccaneers would be as an odd front end as well as situational strong side end. Mike Smith is known to mix up his fronts and a player like Zettel will help with the defensive changes down the line. Zettel has more growing to do and given his relative draft status, would come at a good price.

 

 

 

16. Matt Judon, Defensive End, Grand Valley State

Height: 6’1-1/8″ (East-West Shrine Game)

Weight: 244 lbs (East-West Shrine Game)

Class: redshirt Senior

Tackles: 81

Tackles for a Loss: 23.5

Sacks: 20

Forced Fumbles: 3

Skillset Evaluation:

Against the run, Judon is most likely going to struggle in the NFL as he tends to stay wide and open at the point of attack. Judon doesn’t display great technique or approach when playing the run and showed some habits of leaving his gap responsibility quite often. Judon tends to grab a bit when fighting off blocks versus ripping and shedding as well. When the run gets outside, Judon has the natural athleticism to run down backs but is relying heavily on natural ability and little on technique and refinement here. When out in space, Judon does a very good job breaking down on the ball and shows good balance.

Against the pass, Judon was a beast against his rival competition. Playing in division II, there will obviously be many questions about how well he can fair against better competition and that question still looms today after being unable to compete against said talent in the Shrine Game. As far as his traits go, Judon shows the ability to repeatedly bend the edge and beat tackles with his speed and agility. Judon has very good burst and closing speed. Judon has the natural flexibility that defensive line coaches covet and is surprisingly well built. Judon will need to work on his overall arsenal of moves and his approach to setting up his pass rush attack. As far as he stands now, this division II player has some of the best raw tools to get after the quarterback that you’ll find in the ladder half of the draft.

Background:

Judon will enter the draft with questions about his competition, but more importantly will be the questions about his injury history. Judon missed all of 2013 and parts of 2012 due to an ACL injury and an undisclosed injury prior to that. Judon on the field led the entire nation in sacks and leaves Grand Valley State as the schools all time leader in sacks. Judon is a hard worker that has come into his own thanks to that very work ethic on and off the field.

Team Fit:

Regardless of the draft spot, the Buccaneers will assuredly be looking to bolster the pass rush. If the team wants to double up or simply misses out on the top prospects, a player like Judon could be a great pick up to develop into an NFL pass rushing threat. Judon looks to be a situational pass rusher at best to start his career but has the athleticism and work ethic to become a potential starter and quite assuredly, a third down pass rusher in the NFL.


Grades:

  1. Joey Bosa – 8.5
  2. Noah Spence – 8.3
  3. Emmanuel Ogbah – 7.9
  4. Shilique Calhoun – 7.8
  5. Shaq Lawson – 7.8
  6. Kevin Dodd – 7.7
  7. Jordan Jenkins – 7.4
  8. Carl Nassib – 7.4
  9. Shawn Oakman – 7.3
  10. Bronson Kaufusi – 7.0
  11. Charles Tapper – 7.0
  12. James Cowser – 6.8
  13. Alex McCalister – 6.7
  14. Victor Ochi – 6.5
  15. Anthony Zettel – 6.3
  16. Matt Judon – 6.2

Grade Scale:

9.0 – 10 (Top 5)

8.4 – 8.9 (Top 15)

8.1 – 8.3 (Top 15)

7.8 – 8.0 (1st Round)

7.5 – 7.7 (2nd Round)

7.2 – 7.6 (3rd Round)

6.8 – 7.1 (4th Round)

6.4 – 6.7 (5th Round)

6.0 – 6.3 (6th Round)

5.7 – 5.9 (7th Round)

0.0 – 5.6 (Undrafted)

Permanent link to this article: http://www.thebaycave.com/2016-nfl-draft-preview-defensive-end/

1 Comment on 2016 NFL Draft Preview: Defensive End

Bucsfan8251 said : Guest Report 5 months ago

BucsDraftBuff GilArciaTBC some may be surprised if he's the pick at 9...not me lol

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