Combine Watch: Defensive Ends

February 25th, 2013

#5 overall pick Ezekiel Ansah?

Jeff Risdon, DLD Editor

If defensive end isn’t the Lions top offseason need, it ranks no lower than 1A. The linemen worked out on Monday. Here are some potential Lions and how they fared.

Ezekiel Ansah, BYU: In the last mock draft I did here, Ansah was the pick at #5. Many scoffed, but if Martin Mayhew and Brian Xanders are truly focused on not just 2013 but 2015 and beyond, Ansah absolutely makes sense with the fifth pick. After Monday’s display he might not even last that long. I believe Ansah’s best fit is as a hybrid DE/LB that you gradually spoon feed more and more responsibility. Good coaches will relish the chance to mold him from a special athlete into a special football player, and Ansah has the attitude and intelligence to achieve it. It might not be the most popular choice and it might not be the best choice for building a winner in 2013 for a coaching staff with combustible pants, but it just might be the best choice for the future of the franchise.

Bjoern Werner: Relatively pedestrian times in the 40 (4.81) and 10-yard split (1.67) illustrate my biggest concern I’ve had about Werner: he is heavily reliant on beating his man off the snap. He is not an explosive athlete or a quick-twitch guy, and that limits his ceiling. He looked tight in the hips with stiff ankles in positional drills, something I saw on tape in the Florida and Duke games as well. I still believe he can be a very good base 4-3 (left side) end, but at #5 overall you want a guy that can threaten 15 sacks and another 15 TFLs; Werner’s numbers indicate someone who will top out at 10 and 10, or to put it in Lions terms, Cliff Avril. I want more bang out of the #5 overall pick than Cliff Avril 2.0. I would much rather take his Seminole teammate Tank Carradine at #36…if he makes it that low. Carradine’s performance against Duke was perhaps the most dominant individual defensive game I saw all year.

Corey Lemonier, Auburn: I expected Lemonier to have a good showing, but he exceeded expectations. He has essentially every physical quality teams want in an edge/perimeter rusher, and there were times at Auburn where he translated those physical qualities into being an impact football player. Alas, in the final 8 games of his college career Lemonier was absolutely invisible to the point where one of the worst teams in the country benched him against their archrival. He’s never shown the kind of power that produced 27 reps on the bench. His interview with Coach Schwartz–and I can confirm they did interview Lemonier in Indy–is critical. If Schwartz feels like he and Lemonier clicked and that the coaching staff can bring out Lemonier’s best, he should still be on the board for Detroit’s 3rd round pick.

Margus Hunt, SMU: The Eastern Block certainly impressed with his workouts. I thought Warren Sapp’s eyes were going to bug out of his head when talking about Hunt’s on-field performance. That’s all well and good, but I still don’t know exactly where to play Margus Hunt. I wrote about this after the Senior Bowl week, and I still don’t know where to play him. I strongly suspect he will come off the board in the 60-80 overall range. I’m hoping it’s not to Detroit.

Malliciah Goodman, Clemson: Goodman is playing the wrong sport. At 6’4” and a sculpted 276, with 11” hands, 36.5” hands, and an 87” wingspan, Goodman should shed 15 pounds and take up beach volleyball. He could absolutely dominate that sport if he worked at it, and his lateral movement skills and coordination are already there. Unfortunately he’s just not a very good pass rusher in his chosen sport. Goodman has little concept of how to use his length and hands to his advantage, and he is too complacent in allowing the blocker to dictate the action. Clemson has a long and inglorious history of churning out overrated pass rushers, and Goodman is the latest in that line.

Datone Jones, UCLA: Jones impressed the Lions coaching staff in person in Mobile, the only player who consistently gave Eric Fisher problems in drills. His versatility is a real plus that will augment his value to the Lions, who would like to have more flexibility to move around Suh and Fairley to create mismatches. Jones has explosive power in his arms and some of the fastest hands in the game, and he also has a good nose for the football. He is certainly in play for the Lions at #36, though the odds that Jones is still on the board at that point are probably no better than 35%.

Damontre Moore, Texas A&M: 12 reps in the bench press. Twelve. That’s poor for a running back. If he can only put up 12 reps, Moore really needed to show great speed and explosion in drills. That didn’t happen for Moore either, clocking in at 4.95 at just 250 pounds. His explosion numbers were strong, but the speed and power were both significantly lacking. What can be gleaned from this? Moore is a high-effort player that has already maxed out as an athlete. In plain English, he has already achieved his potential upside. A 4-3 defensive end either has to be able to anchor/bull rush well or have great edge speed. Moore has neither, and never will. That doesn’t mean he isn’t a good football player. On the contrary, I find Moore’s relentless hustle, opportunistic positioning, and closing burst to the ball all exceptional in repeated viewings. The Combine told me that Damontre Moore is a weakside 3-4 OLB like he played in 2011, and tape tells me he provides some versatility to line up in the B gap on occasion and force adjustments. I still see a top 20 prospect, but not a good fit for the Lions at #5. I take no joy in that statement.

Devin Taylor, South Carolina: Looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane 95% of the time. Taylor is my prediction for the most overdrafted player in this class. I doubt he lasts beyond about #80 overall, but I wouldn’t take him before the top of the 6th. I would much rather have Gamecocks teammate Devonte Holloman, who did not have a great Combine, as an outside linebacker in the 4th round. That would require a trade, but there will be sellers.

Trevardo Williams, UConn: Williams is a player I want to like more than I do. He is a serious LB/DE tweener at 6’1”, 241 pounds with great explosive numbers but short arms and very stiff in space. His best fit is as a SAM backer in the 4-3 front for a team that likes to blitz. Unfortunately he is oblivious and straight-linish in coverage and spatial situations and winds up on the ground far too frequently.

Sam Montgomery, LSU: His most notable performances at the Combine were when he admitted he dogged it against lesser opponents and conducted an amusing interview with Keke Mingo. He has good-not-great quickness as an end, and good-not-great strength in both his upper and lower body. Montgomery is very good at crashing inside and attacking the ball, and he does have some pass rush moves on the edge. The problem with Montgomery is that everything about him is based on seizing the initial advantage right off the snap, similar to Jerel Worthy from Michigan State last year. The admission that he took games off and the fact he appeared on the infamous weight room dog list are flags that I believe will keep him from ever being part of the Lions, who have had enough of players of questionable fire and character.

I omitted Montgomery’s teammate Barkevious Mingo, Oregon’s Dion Jordan, and Jarvis Jones from Georgia because I believe they are all NFL linebackers. The Lions need one of those too, but defensive end is a more pressing need. I still would not object at all to Dion Jordan at #5; I wouldn’t touch the other two in the top 20. I’ll cover Jamie Collins more in-depth later this week.

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One Response to “Combine Watch: Defensive Ends”

  1. LionsLover says:

    Not very often are there media outlets with as much sense as is found here, I suppose it helps to be focused on one team, as is my central concern when conducting research. Ansah will be the ONLY DE we take at five. Plain and simple. All the other DE’s would be massive reaches and the organization DOES NOT reach (according to their board). Any sensible organization knows Ansah is the only defensive end talent worthy of the top five. Plus, the Lions have a crazy amount of confidence in being able to develop talent on the d-line. Look at the college production of Avril, Lewis, Young, and Sammie Lee Hill. None of their college production was overly impressive.

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