2013 NFL Draft Position Review: Defensive Ends

Charlie lays out an overview at the top players from each position for the 2013 NFL Draft. For further information, check out our in-depth analysis of 2013 NFL Draft Prospects by Position.

By Charlie Campbell.
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This page was last updated April 20, 2013. Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

Position Review: Defensive Ends

Defensive End Class
Early-round talent: A-
Mid-round: A-
Late-round: B
Overall grade: B+

2012 prospects vs 2013
Quinton Coples < Dion Jordan
Melvin Ingram < Ezekiel Ansah
Shea McClellin > Barkevious Mingo
Chandler Jones > Tank Carradine
Whitney Mercilus > Datone Jones
Nick Perry > Bjoern Werner
Courtney Upshaw > Damontre Moore
Andre Branch > Margus Hunt

Overall, the 2013 NFL Draft’s class of defensive ends is comparable to last year. Six of the 2013 prospects above are potential first-rounders; the same total as the 2012 class. If you excluded the off-the-field issues, Moore would be a first-round based on talent alone, but scouts told WalterFootball.com he’s likely to fall to the second day.

If you were to merge the two classes, Jordan and Ansah would still be the top two defensive ends. Coples and Jones would be about equal to Ansah athletically. I would put Ingram, McClellin and Mercilus behind Ansah but ahead of Mingo.

Other draft analysts would disagree with Mercilus being rated higher than Mingo, Carradine and Jones. I like Mercilus more because he is a more dangerous pass-rusher and was more productive in college. Perry is ahead of Werner. Upshaw and Branch would go behind Hunt.

There are some other quality end prospects like Texas’ Alex Okafor, Auburn’s Corey Lemonier and Clemson’s Malliciah Goodman should go on the second day. Other ends for the mid-rounds include LSU’s Sam Montgomery, Illinois’ Michael Buchanan, Michigan State’s William Gholston, Georgia’s Cornelius Washington and South Carolina’s Devin Taylor. This is a deep class of ends extending into the third day.

Safest Pick: Bjoern Werner, Florida State
The 6-foot-4, 265-pounder has been falling down in the projection of where he will go, but I think Werner will be a solid base end in the NFL. He is an underrated athlete who is also extremely strong at the point of attack. Werner is a tough run-defender and a good pass-rusher. The German improved each season over his final years in Florida State, and he got a late start in football. Werner has upside, and it looks extremely likely that he will turn into a solid starter in the NFL.

Biggest Bust Potential: Barkevious Mingo, LSU
I’ve been a skeptic of Mingo’s for a long time. Others rate him higher, but he never produced as much in college as he was capable of. Mingo totaled 12.5 sacks over the past two seasons with only 4.5 in 2012 and was consistently run over in the ground game. Still, there is no doubt that he is an explosive edge-rusher, but he needs more pass-rushing moves.

Mingo looks like a one-trick pony and one trick typically isn’t good enough to beat NFL offensive tackles. Plus, he admitted to having a lousy work ethic and taking plays, and entire games, off. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Mingo turns into a bust.

Defensive End Rankings by Attributes

Pass Rush:
NFL prototype: Jared Allen, Vikings
  1. Dion Jordan
  2. Damontre Moore
  3. Tank Carradine
  4. Bjoern Werner
  5. Ezekiel Ansah
  6. Barkevious Mingo
  7. Datone Jones
  8. Margus Hunt

Recap: The NFL is a passing-driven league, and coaches will tell you that an elite pass-rusher off the edge is the most important position on the defensive side of the ball. Unless a team has a defensive tackle like the Bengals’ Geno Atkins, it has to have edge-rushers who can consistently pressure the quarterback. This is a quality class of pass-rushers. All eight of the players above have shown the ability to get after the quarterback.

It was a tough call to choose a No. 1 here because Jordan is projected as a good pass-rusher in the NFL. He dropped into coverage a lot in college and that reduced his chances to rush the quarterback. Jordan had five sacks in 2012, but is lightning off the edge with superior athleticism to beat tackles. He could be a dangerous pass-rusher in the NFL.

Moore has some natural pass-rush ability. He is tremendous at hunting down quarterbacks in pursuit. Moore can rush from defensive tackle as well. He could have an early impact in the NFL as a situational pass-rusher while he improves his run defense and getting stronger. Moore had 12.5 sacks in 2012 and 26.5 over the past three seasons. If he gets his head on straight, he could be special.

Carradine and Werner are an interesting pair. Carradine is faster and more explosive, but it was the double-teams that Werner commanded that helped Carradine break out this year with 11 sacks. Carradine (6-4, 276) has a skill set that translates better to the NFL as an edge-rusher because of his speed. Werner led the Seminoles with 13 sacks in 2012 and has the ability to be a quality NFL pass-rusher. He is strong and quick off the snap. Werner could be a 7-10 sacks per season type of end in the NFL.

Ansah (4.5) and Mingo (4.5) are better pass-rushers than their totals indicate. Ansah was misfit as he played a lot of defensive tackle. That definitely cut down on his sack opportunities. Mingo saw a lot of double-teams and should’ve been an outside linebacker; standing up rather than putting his hand in the ground as a vastly undersized end. Both players are capable of much bigger totals as professionals.

Hunt has a lot of upside as a pass-rusher, but he needs more refinement with his moves. Hunt also need to get better about using his hands and feet at the same time.

Like Ansah, Jones was misfit playing a lot of defensive tackle, but at the Senior Bowl, Jones showed some impressive edge-rush ability. He had 5.5 sacks in 2012, but put a lot more pressure on the quarterback than the total indicates. Jones isn’t a speed-rusher, but he beats linemen with power and physicality.

Run Defense:
NFL prototype: Justin Smith, 49ers
  1. Datone Jones
  2. Ezekiel Ansah
  3. Margus Hunt
  4. Bjoern Werner
  5. Damontre Moore
  6. Dion Jordan
  7. Tank Carradine
  8. Barkevious Mingo

Recap: Defending the run isn’t as in demand as it used to be with NFL coaches, but they still watch it closely when evaluating prospects. Jones is a powerful beast at the point of attack. He can hold his ground and stuff runs that come straight at him.

Even though Ansah only played one full season, he is a very good run-defender. The 274-pounder is strong at the point of attack and had 62 tackles as a senior. He held his ground against guards as well as tackles. Ansah’s run defense should become an asset in the NFL.

Hunt only had 31 tackles this year, but he is very strong at the point of attack. Offensive linemen struggle to move him, and he could get even bigger in the NFL. Hunt went against both guards and tackles. Werner is very physical at the point of attack. He does a good job of holding his ground and also can burst into the backfield to make plays behind the line of scrimmage.

Moore struggles with runs coming downhill straight at him, but is a phenomenal run-defender in pursuit. He shockingly led Texas A&M in tackles last season with 85. The junior also added 21 tackles for a loss. Moore pursues all over the field. If he gets stronger to hold his ground at the point of attack, he could be a superb run-defender.

Jordan is better in pursuit, but would likely struggle in run defense with his hand in the ground in the NFL until he adds more weight to his frame. Carradine had some problems in run defense at times in 2012. He has to get better at holding his ground at the next level.

Mingo was terrible at defending the run in 2012. He got pushed around on a weekly basis during SEC action. Mingo can make some tackles in pursuit, but had only 38 tackles in 2012. His run defense needs a lot of work for the NFL no matter what position he plays.

NFL prototype: Jared Allen, Vikings
  1. Damontre Moore
  2. Bjoern Werner
  3. Ezekiel Ansah
  4. Dion Jordan
  5. Datone Jones
  6. Tank Carradine
  7. Margus Hunt
  8. Barkevious Mingo

Recap: Prospects who show a lack of effort can get knocked quickly by coaches when they start evaluating players. Coaches have zero patience for players who dog it. Conversely, a great motor will help players who may be short on athletic ability. This draft class has a lot of good motors amongst the early-round prospects.

Moore is utterly relentless. He never quits on plays, even if it is a run or pass play that doesn’t go his direction. Werner and Ansah also give great effort. Jordan, Jones, Carradine and Hunt all are high-effort players.

The only player with a bad motor is Mingo. There were times where he eased up and let teammates make the play rather than continuing to hustle. Mingo needs to give more effort as a pass-rusher and run-defender. He admitted to taking plays – and entire games – off.

NFL prototype: Jason Pierre-Paul, Giants
  1. Barkevious Mingo
  2. Dion Jordan
  3. Ezekiel Ansah
  4. Damontre Moore
  5. Tank Carradine
  6. Bjoern Werner
  7. Margus Hunt
  8. Datone Jones

Recap: Sometimes in the NFL, players who are extremely fast can be difference-makers solely because of their speed. Whichever team drafts Mingo will have to hope that will be the case with him. There is no doubt that he is extremely fast. Mingo’s one of the fastest front-seven prospects over the last decade with his speed and explosiveness being similar to Von Miller. However, Miller had an all-around great game while Mingo needs to significantly improve everywhere else.

Ansah and Jordan are the next-fastest defenders behind Mingo. They are very explosive and can beat offensive tackles with speed rushes around the corner. Jordan is a very fast and fluid athlete. He has plus speed for the next level as an edge-rusher.

Moore and Carradine both have good speed. They are fast once they get going, but may not be as explosive off the snap as the top three. Both still should be able to get sacks in the NFL via speed rushes. Hunt has some speed and explosiveness for such a big lineman.

Jones is not a speed player. He has some quickness and moves well for 6-foot-4, 280-pounder, but he isn’t going to provide a speed mismatch against tackles in the NFL. When Jones moves inside to tackle to pass rush against guards, he is faster in that matchup.

NFL prototype: Justin Smith, 49ers
  1. Margus Hunt
  2. Datone Jones
  3. Ezekiel Ansah
  4. Bjoern Werner
  5. Tank Carradine
  6. Damontre Moore
  7. Dion Jordan
  8. Barkevious Mingo

Recap: Coaches have told me that the NFL is a big man’s game and is trending that way with each passing year. Hunt already has NFL strength at 277 pounds, but he could approach 300 in the NFL. There is huge upside with Hunt to be a powerful defender who beats linemen with bull rushes and the strength to toss blockers aside. He already has a nasty bull rush.

Jones is just a tad behind Hunt. The difference is that Hunt could get bigger while Jones is maxed out. He used the Senior Bowl to show that he has worked hard in the weight room. Jones is a very strong defender at the point of attack. He can push linemen around and use his power to shed blocks.

Ansah is extremely strong and can use his power to defeat linemen. He could be even more forceful in the NFL after he learns to refine his technique from his coaches. Werner is very strong. He actually trimmed down from his junior year when he weighed in the 270s. Werner could find a happy medium in the NFL in the 260s to mix power and speed. Carradine (6-4, 276) flashes real strength at times, but he needs to get more consistent.

Moore is a little light at 250 pounds. He can shed blocks and can struggle with runs coming straight at him. The early-entry should become stronger over the years to come.

Jordan and Mingo both have to add weight/strength in the NFL. Jordan isn’t as far off as Mingo since the LSU product is seriously weak at taking on blockers. His lack of strength is a real liability. Mingo hid his lack of strength by never bench pressing before the draft at the Combine or his pro day.

NFL prototype: Cameron Wake, Dolphins
  1. Ezekiel Ansah
  2. Dion Jordan
  3. Margus Hunt
  4. Datone Jones
  5. Damontre Moore
  6. Tank Carradine
  7. Bjoern Werner
  8. Barkevious Mingo

Recap: Defensive coordinators love versatility. Edge-defenders who drop int coverage and play in space are in demand. Coaches also like ends who can move inside to tackle on passing downs. This class of edge-rushers features a lot of versatility.

Ansah is the most versatile defender available. He can play traditional 4-3 end, 3-4 outside linebacker and move inside to 4-3 tackle in passing situations. Ansah could even execute some assignments as a 3-4 end or 4-3 outside linebacker. His tremendous combination of size, speed and strength allow him to do all of that.

Jordan is a close second. He can play outside linebacker or defensive end in a 4-3 defense. Jordan is a perfect outside linebacker for a 3-4 set with the ability to drop into pass coverage or rush off the edge.

Hunt and Jones are versatile as well. Each can play 4-3 end and move inside to tackle on passing downs. Either player’s best position in the NFL could be as 3-4 defensive ends.

Moore, Werner and Carradine are all very versatile and could play either 4-3 end or 3-4 outside linebacker. Moore looks the most fluid, while Carradine has the most explosion. Werner didn’t look bad dropping into coverage during his pro day and the Combine.

The best fit for Mingo will be as 3-4 outside linebacker. If he’s drafted into a 4-3, he could play outside linebacker in the base defense and move to end in passing situations.

NFL prototype: Jason Pierre-Paul, Giants
  1. Dion Jordan
  2. Ezekiel Ansah
  3. Bjoern Werner
  4. Damontre Moore
  5. Barkevious Mingo
  6. Margus Hunt
  7. Tank Carradine
  8. Datone Jones

Recap: This class of ends has good upside to grow in the NFL. Jordan and Ansah’s tremendous skill sets put their best football ahead of them. There is no doubt that both should be better pro players than college performers.

Werner, Moore and Mingo all have upside to develop in the NFL. They have skill sets that can get better as they age and work with NFL coaches. Hunt presents upside and really showed massive improvement from his junior year to the end of his senior season. Both Hunt and Werner had a late start in football, so they should improve as they gain experience.

Carradine has some upside, but not as much as the others in this class. Jones could be better in the NFL if he is put in a better role that highlights his strengths.

Forcing Fumbles:
NFL prototype: Charles Johnson, Panthers
  1. Damontre Moore
  2. Barkevious Mingo
  3. Dion Jordan
  4. Bjoern Werner
  5. Datone Jones
  6. Margus Hunt
  7. Ezekiel Ansah
  8. Tank Carradine

Recap: The art of a strip sack is a great equalizer in the NFL. Strip sacks can change games and produce points. Moore is the best at taking the ball away from an offense. He has shown a knack for that over the past three years. Moore’s totaled eight forced fumbles over that time, and he wasn’t even an every-down player early on. Moore has good instincts to slap the ball out while taking down the quarterback.

Mingo had four forced fumbles during the past two seasons and came close to a few others. Jordan, Werner and Jones all recorded three forced fumbles in their respective collegiate careers. Jordan and Werner should force more as professionals.

Hunt recorded two forced fumbles at SMU, but only picked up that second one in his final collegiate game. Ansah and Carradine only had one career forced fumble each, but both will be better at that as pros once they have more time to develop.

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