2012 NFL Draft: Final Defensive End Rankings

Posted by Brad On April – 21 – 2012
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"2012 NFL Draft prospect, Courtney Upshaw"The 2012 NFL Draft is quickly coming upon us.  With less than ten days until  Andrew Luck’s name is called by Roger Goodell, we will be offering our position-by-position rankings with final grades on most of the draftable prospects.

Today we look at the defensive ends and five-techniques  in the 2012 NFL Draft:

**We will not include guys that aren’t fits as 4-3 DE’s in the least (i.e. Melvin Ingram, Andre Branch, Shea McClellin.  While all three could play the position, it’s my belief they will be drafted elsewhere so I’ll feature them at their respective positions)

1. Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina

Height: 6053  Weight: 284

Quinton Coples did very little to help himself with his poor effort/performance in the 2011 season.  Coples has the talent to be a top pick in this draft but likely slides into the middle of the first round due to his lackluster play this season.  If a team can keep Coples motivated, he has the skill set to be a dominate pass rusher.

2012 NFL Draft Projection:  1

Final Grade: 6.5

2. Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois

Height: 6035  Weight: 261

Mercilus is a base end in the 4-3 and shouldn’t be considered for a move to rush linebacker.  He’s a pure pass rusher that offers little stoutness at the point of attack.  He may take on an Aldon Smith type role as a situational pass rusher until he can add the strength/bulk to hold up against the run.

2012 NFL Draft Projection:  1

Final Grade: 6.3

3. Courtney Upshaw, DE, Alabama

Height: 6  Weight: 254

I will list Upshaw with the ends because of my belief that he is best suited with his hand in the dirt in the 4-3.  Upshaw brings a toughness and high motor that should find him success despite not having ideal measurements to play the position.

2012 NFL Draft Projection:  1

Final Grade: 6.2

4. Nick Perry, DE, USC

Height: 6036  Weight: 271

Nick Perry is a freakish athlete that will need time to develop into a complete three down player in the NFL.  He does offer immediate help off the edge to most teams and is best suited to play base end.  He doesn’t play the run well enough at this point in his career to warrant a first round selection but probably goes there due to the amount of upside as a pass rusher.

2012 NFL Draft Projection:  1-2

Final Grade: 6.1

5. Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall

Height: 6031  Weight: 266

Vinny Curry was a highly productive three-year starter for Marshall.  He racked up 26.5 sacks in his three seasons as a starter which speaks volumes to the tenacity he plays with.  Curry isn’t an elite athlete with outstanding burst, edge speed but wins with an unstoppable motor.  He’s a guy that teams will want on the field and in the locker room.

2012 NFL Draft Projection:  2

Final Grade: 6.0

6. Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse

Height: 6053  Weight: 266

Chandler Jones is one of the hottest names in the draft with his outstanding bloodlines and physical gifts.  He’s a long, linear athlete that lacks elite edge burst.  I’m not as high on him as most but there is certainly some upside with Jones.  Jones has the frame to bulk up and play 5T or stay in the 265 range to play OLB in the 3-4.  As of right now, I think Jones’ best fit is with his hand in the dirt in the 4-3.

2012 NFL Draft Projection:  1

Final Grade: 6.0

7. Malik Jackson, DE, Tennessee

Height: 6046  Weight: 284

It’s all about versatility when you talk about Malik Jackson.  He could be moved all along the front in a base “30” or “40”.  Jackson lined up inside and out in Tennessee’s defense and was equally effective at both positions.  His versatility could intrigue a lot of teams earlier than expected.

2012 NFL Draft Projection:  3-4

Final Grade: 5.8

8. Tyrone Crawford, DE, Boise State

Height: 6041  Weight: 275

Crawford lacks the playing experience after playing his first two years at Bakersfield College.  Crawford comes with a ton of upside as he can play base end in a “40” front and has the strength to play 5T in odd fronts.  Crawford will need a little seasoning in the NFL but could be a late bloomer with potential to be a force in the run game and apply enough pressure to be a starter.

2012 NFL Draft Projection:  4

Final Grade: 5.7

9. Cam Johnson, DE, Virginia

Height: 6034  Weight:  268

Johnson disappears too often for me to grade as much more than an early fourth round player.  He has a ton of physical tools that would intrigue many on the surface but I don’t see the motor to be an effective starter in the NFL.  He has started 16 games as a 34 OLB but I see him as a better fit as a base end in a “40” front.

2012 NFL Draft projection:  3-4

Final Grade: 5.7

Best of the rest:

10. Frank Alexander, DE, Oklahoma Final Grade: 5.6

11. Olivier Vernon, DE, Miami Final Grade: 5.4

12. Jack Crawford, DE, Penn State Final Grade: 5.3

13. Jake Bequette, DE, Arkansas Final Grade: 5.2

14. Jamie Blatnick, DE, Oklahoma St. Final Grade 5.1

15. Jacquies Smith, DE, Missouri Final Grade: 5.1

16. Donte Paige-Moss, DE Final Grade: 5.0

Click on Page Two down below to check out the top five-techniques in the draft

  • Bex_R1986

    No problems with most of these rankings, and good analysis.

    The exception being Malik Jackson. I just don’t see it. A decent pass rusher as a DE but that’s all I can see. You mention versatility and being equally good inside and out. But I watch him inside and I’m not impressed. Generally seems ineffective there to me, and gets pushed back and beaten easily. I don’t see him having much impact inside in the NFL, leaving a solid if unspectacular DE who has little starting potential. 5th Round grade from me.

    But you watch more tape than me, and I will watch on and see how he gets on with interest!

    • bradc11

      I fell in love with Jackson off the ’10 tape. He was more effective that season than last. I actually had a preseason 3rd rd grade on him because I expected bigger things to come in 2011. He played well in 2011 but failed to do anything special which is the only reason I have him that low. I love guys that have a role with all 32 teams and he’s one of them. If you haven’t watched any 2010 film there’s plenty of it on youtube or I’d be willing to mail some your way if time permits.

      • Bex_R1986

        Yeah, it’s only the 2011 tape I’ve seen. Last season was the first that I’ve been able to follow with dedication (I’m from the UK and it was the first year I could afford the ESPN America channel). So I only have minimal viewing from pre-2011 to base evaluation of players on. A few years from now I’ll be able to judge players on their entire college career!! I’d be interested in seeing more from 2010, I’ll see what I can find via the likes of youtube.

  • Jsteppling

    Of the 5 t guys….Crick is my favorite. Cox will be good, but Im not as in love with him as Brad. Brockers might be really astoundingly good playing the 5. He has a lot of potential…..but is still a risk. Guyton is a guy I love. He figures to get bigger, and has large hands….hes a mauler and high effort guy who fits the five perfectly. Tyrone Crawford I also love…and I think can play DE in a 4-3 or the 5. He’s a naturally strong guy….not explosive but very effective in his way. I think Reyes is intriguing. The knock is he played at UConn…and is soft. maybe. But boy he had a good combine. Malik Jackson…i dont know. He was no good at USC…moved to UT, and played better…improving. He’s long….but I dont know. I wouldnt draft him. Wolfe seems a bit overrated at this point. I think he’s solid, but nothing special. He’s not explosive…..and seems off balance a lot.He doesnt move laterally very well from what I see. Let me add, Ive come to really like Nick Perry. I saw him of course at USC….so I have a better feel for him….but he’s the very definition of explosion. He might end up a monster off the edge. The mystery man for me is Jones. I like a lot of what I saw on film of him at Syracuse…..but I worry how he will translate in the NFL and I dont know where he plays. If he can play OLB…that might be his best spot…but brad knows more than i do…and seems him at end.

  • Jsteppling

    i like seeing Frank Alexander so high. He’s a better late round pick than a lot rated higher. I like Julian Miller, too, even if sort of has no position.

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