By Charlie Campbell.
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The top 2015 3-4 defensive end prospects available for the 2015 NFL Draft. * - denotes 2016 prospect. ** - denotes 2017 prospect.
This page was last updated April 25, 2015.
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NFL Picks - Jan. 17
Leonard Williams*, 3-4DE, USC
Height: 6-5. Weight: 300.
Projected 40 Time: 4.91.
Projected Round (2015): Top-10 Pick.
4/25/15: In speaking with NFL teams, they like Williams, but don't grade him in the same range as Ndamukong Suh, Gerald McCoy or Jadeveon Clowney when they were coming out. Teams aren't as high on Williams as some in the media have rated him. They feel that Williams wasn't consistent or dominant enough to be the No. 1-rated player on their draft boards.
At the Combine, Williams solidified his standing as the top defensive lineman for the 2015 NFL Draft. He ran well in the 40 and looked good in the field drills.
Williams would fit a 3-4 or 4-3 defense in the NFL. He would be an excellent five-technique for the former since he has the strength and length to set the edge while also being able to rush the passer. Williams could play three-technique defensive tackle in a 4-3 or be a power left end who moves inside to tackle in passing situations. Really, Williams can be lined up anywhere on the defensive line.
With his combination of speed and strength, Williams looks like a first-day NFL starter. He is very strong to shed blocks and is fast off the snap. Williams consistently blows by tackles or guards on the pass rush. He is well suited for left defensive end as he gives right tackles a lot of problems. Williams is generally a tough mismatch against all offensive linemen. He is too strong for most left tackles and too fast for right tackles or interior linemen. Off the snap, Williams has a fast burst to fire his gap and achieve penetration into the backfield.
In the ground game, Williams can burst into the backfield to blow up runs and can hold his ground at the point of attack. However, there are areas that Williams can improve. He gets in trouble when he stands up too high, which allows offensive linemen to get under his pads and push him back when they run downhill at him. Williams also had some quiet games where he seemed to disappear in stretches.
Williams totaled 80 tackles, seven sacks, 8.5 tackles for a loss, one interception, three forced fumbles and three passes batted in 2014. He had an excellent game against Arizona with two sacks, eight tackles and a forced fumble. Williams turned in other impressive games, including performances against Oregon State and Washington State. He seemed to take his foot off the pedal in the regular-season finale against Notre Dame, but played well in his bowl game.
Williams rolled his ankle in practice a few days before the game against Stanford, but he still played versus the Cardinal. Williams showed his toughness and battled hard for four quarters. In the third quarter, he contributed to a huge stop on a fourth-and 1 at USC's own three-yard line. Williams picked a great time for his first sack of the season late in the fourth quarter. He beat the guard to get penetration into the backfield. While Williams wasn't 100 percent, he gutted it out and found a way to make some big plays to help his team pull off the upset.
Williams played well against Fresno State with a number of tackles at the point of attack. He also batted some passes and made an interception for the Trojans.
8/23/14: Williams played well for USC in 2013. He recorded 74 tackles with 13.5 tackles for a loss, a forced fumble and five sacks. The sophomore generated more pass rush than the numbers indicate.
In the long term, Williams may prove to be a defensive tackle, but that depends on the defensive scheme. He is at his best when he's working to get upfield and penetrate the backfield. Williams can get into trouble when he stands up too high while defending runs coming straight at him. As a pass-rusher, Williams could stand to add and refine his moves. It would be good if he could add a rip move.
Williams took the Pac-12 by storm as a freshman in 2012. The Daytona Beach, Florida product excelled for defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. Williams recorded eight sacks, 64 tackles, 13.5 tackles for a loss, four passes batted, an interception and two fumble recoveries that season.
Eddie Goldman, 3-4DE, Florida State
Height: 6-4. Weight: 336.
Projected 40 Time: 5.34.
Projected Round (2015): 1.
4/25/15: Goldman did not participate in the Combine drills because of an injury. During the 2014 season, a source close to the Florida State program told me that the Seminoles felt that Goldman was their best defensive lineman. He is big, strong, quick and disruptive. Goldman has enough speed to get pressure as a pass-rusher while being very stout at the point of attack.
Goldman racked up 35 tackles, eight tackles for a loss, four sacks and a forced fumble in 2014. He came up with a huge forced fumble against Clemson when the Tigers were deep in Florida State territory about to kick a chip-shot field goal for the win.
8/23/14: With Timmy Jernigan leaving for the NFL, the Seminoles are counting on Goldman stepping up in 2014. Goldman broke into the starting lineup in 2013 and picked up 19 tackles with three tackles for a loss and two sacks. The sophomore was also suspended for one game. Goldman does a nice job of maintaing his gap in run defense and holding his ground. He needs to improve his pass rush, but he has a good skill set with upside to elevate his play.
Goldman saw brief time in the defensive line rotation as a true freshman in 2012. He made eight tackles with a tackle for a loss. Goldman was a five-star recruit coming out of high school, and the Seminoles believe he could develop into a special player. Goldman was buried by a veteran group, but should play more as a junior.
Arik Armstead*, 3-4DE, Oregon
Height: 6-7. Weight: 292.
40 Time: 5.10.
Projected Round (2015): 1-2.
4/25/15: Armstead is full of athletic ability with size, strength and speed. However, that potential never translated into production. He has upside, but needs development. As an athletic specimen, Armstead is similar to former Oregon edge rusher Dion Jordan. Armstead put that potential on display at the Combine with a solid performance.
Sources say that Oregon's scheme limited Armstead from producing more numbers and playing more freely. However, they feel that Armstead is more potential at this point, and some teams have said they graded him in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft.
Armstead started 2014 strongly with a solid September. He had 10 tackles with four for a loss and one sack across the first four games of the season. To open October, Armstead injured his ankle against Arizona, and he was in and out of the lineup for some time. Armstead missed games against California and UCLA while being limited in other contests. Armstead finished 2014 with a total of 37 tackles with 5.5 tackles for a loss and 2.5 sacks. He had a solid performance against Michigan State in Week 2. To end the year, Armstead flashed early against Florida State and Ohio State, before falling quiet in the second half.
8/23/14: Armstead has a lot of potential and could easily rise in these rankings over the months to come. In 2013, he played in all of Oregon's games and had five starts. The sophomore totaled 15 tackles with 2.5 tackles for a loss and a sack for the year. In 2012, he came off the bench to make 26 tackles with two tackles for a loss and .5 sacks.
Armstead is a massive lineman who could be best as a 3-4 defensive end in the NFL.
Personal: Son of Guss and Christa Armstead.
Carl Davis, 3-4DE, Iowa
Height: 6-4. Weight: 321.
40 Time: 5.07.
Projected Round (2015): 2-3.
4/25/15: Davis had an excellent week of practice at the Senior Bowl. His athletic skill set looked like that of a potential first-round pick. He was strong to shed blocks, stuff runs and bull rush his way into the pocket. Davis also showed the speed to fire by blockers and close on the quarterback. He had a good Combine performance, as expected.
However, those on-field performances may not be enough to make Davis a first-rounder as sources said that Davis was awful in team interviews at the Senior Bowl. He came across as lazy and arrogant. Davis said he should only play 20-30 snaps a game and was unabashed about regularly taking himself out of games as a senior. He also gave excuses for poor practice effort because he said he didn't want to risk injury while going against enthusiastic scout-team linemen. Davis had a great Senior Bowl on the field, and an equally awful one in the team interviews.
Davis recorded 34 tackles with nine tackles for a loss, two sacks, and a pass broken up in 2014. He was a strong run-defender at the point off attack and was tough to move at the line of scrimmage. Davis is reliable to fill his gap, but he isn't consistent in getting pressure the quarterback. His motor was inconsistent in college, but he would flash at times.
8/23/14: Davis is a tough run-defender who really stepped up his game in 2013. He notched 42 tackles, four tackles for a loss, one pass batted and 1.5 sacks. Davis had 14 tackles as a sophomore. The senior could improve his stock in 2014 if he is able to improve on his pass-rushing production.
Personal: Son of Ovella Davis.
Henry Anderson, 3-4DE, Stanford
Height: 6-6. Weight: 287.
Projected 40 Time: 5.05.
Projected Round (2015): 3-4.
4/25/15: Anderson notched 62 tackles with 15 tackles for a loss, 8.5 sacks and two passes broken up in 2014. He didn't have a big presence in Stanford's upset loss to USC or against Oregon, but played well in other games. Anderson was excellent with huge late-season performances against Utah and UCLA. He showed some real pass-rushing ability versus the Utes and Bruins. Anderson needs to get more consistent, especially with putting pressure on the quarterback.
Anderson had a decent week of practice at the Senior Bowl and looked more athletic than one would've expected at the Combine. He will likely fit best in the NFL as a 3-4 defensive end. Anderson could be a nice value pick in the mid-rounds of the 2015 NFL Draft.
8/23/13: Anderson is a strong and physical defender at the point of attack. He totaled 51 tackles with 13 tackles for a loss, 5.5 sacks, five passes broken up and a forced fumble in 2012. It was Anderson's first season of playing time. He was banged up in 2013 and missed six games, but he played well while in the lineup. Anderson had 19 tackles with five tackles for a loss and three sacks. With Trent Murphy and Ben Gardner in the NFL, Stanford needs Anderson to step up in 2014.
Personal: Majoring in political science. Won the Tommy Vardell Award epitomizing excellence in both athletics and academics.
Christian Covington*, 3-4DE, Rice
Height: 6-2. Weight: 289.
Projected 40 Time: 5.19.
Projected Round (2015): 3-5.
4/25/15: Covington recorded 20 tackles with 3.5 tackles for a loss, one pass batted and 2.5 sacks through the first six games of 2014. His season ended early because of surgery to repair a dislocated kneecap. The rehab time-table is said to be six months. Covington probably should have returned for his senior year, but he entered the 2015 NFL Draft.
8/23/14: Covington was a First-Team All-C-USA pick in 2013. The sophomore had 51 tackles with 9.5 tackles for a loss and four sacks. It was the second-straight good season for him as he had 43 tackles, eight tackles for a loss, five sacks, one forced fumble and a pass batted in 2012. It will be interesting to see if Covington can elevate his game as an upperclassman.
Personal: Son of Grover and Natasha Covington. Grover Covington is a member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.
Corey Crawford, 3-4DE, Clemson
Height: 6-5. Weight: 283.
Projected 40 Time: 5.01.
Projected Round (2015): 5-7.
4/25/15: Crawford had 22 tackles with seven tackles for a loss and two sacks in 2014. He played well against Florida State, but was very quiet late in the year and didn't produce as expected. Crawford would be best as a 3-4 defensive end.
8/23/14: In 2013, Crawford was a solid base end for Clemson on the other side from Vic Beasley. Crawford was an honorable-mention All-ACC selection with 52 tackles, 10.5 tackles for a loss, three sacks, one interception, four passes broken up and two forced fumbles. That showed improvement from his sophomore season when he had 47 tackles and only one sack in 12 starts. Crawford has potential and should see plenty of one-on-ones with Beasley drawing extra attention.
Travis Raciti, 3-4DE, San Jose State
Height: 6-5. Weight: 285.
Projected 40 Time: 5.13.
Projected Round (2015): 6-FA.
4/25/15: Raciti recorded 72 tackles with 6.5 tackles for a loss, three sacks and one forced fumble in 2014. He had a decent week at the East-West Shrine. Raciti didn't participate in the Combine.
8/23/14: After a big sophomore year in 2012, Raciti had a disappointing junior campaign with a big drop in production. He totaled 37 tackles with four tackles for a loss and two sacks for 2013. Compare that to Raciti's 2012 tallies of 52 tackles with 13 tackles for a loss and 8.5 sacks. He named a First-Team All-WAC selection off of that.
In 2011, Raciti started nine games as a redshirt freshman and made 26 tackles, 3.5 tackles for a loss and a sack. In order for the senior to improve his draft stock, he needs to return to his 2012 form.
Ray Drew, 3-4DE, Georgia
Height: 6-5. Weight: 284.
Projected 40 Time: 4.89.
Projected Round (2015): 6-FA.
4/25/15: Drew had 39 tackles in 2014 with 1.5 tackles for a loss. He didn't have much of a presence and fell into backup duty. Drew didn't participate in the Combine.
8/23/14: In 2013, Drew recorded 43 tackles, six sacks and eight tackles for a loss. He was very good for Georgia. Drew could play as a 3-4 defensive end who rushes from the inside in the sub package. In a 4-3 defense, he could play end on run downs and rush from the inside in passing situations.
Drew picked up 23 tackles with one tackle for a loss in 2012 as a sophomore backup. He worked his way onto the field as a freshman in 2011; no easy accomplishment as Georgia had a lot of experienced defensive linemen ahead of him. Plus, the Bulldogs utilize a 3-4 defense, so it is harder for linemen to get snaps. Drew totaled eight tackles and 2.5 tackles for a loss in 2011.
Personal: Mass-media arts major.
Leon Orr*, 3-4DE, Florida
Height: 6-5. Weight: 323.
40 Time: 5.16.
Projected Round (2015): 7-FA.
4/25/15: Orr recorded 16 tackles and two tackles for a loss with a forced fumble in 2014. He made a big move to send himself to the undrafted ranks when he quit the Florida football team. After being told he wouldn't be starting against Vanderbilt for the fifth-straight game, Orr decided to leave the team and take a bus from Nashville to Gainesville. The coaches explained to Orr that him leaving would be the end of his playing at Florida, but he still left.
8/23/14: Orr had 21 tackles with 2.5 sacks in 2013. He played better than the numbers indicate, but made the right decision to return for his senior year. Orr played well in reserve duty in 2012, totaling 15 tackles, 5.5 tackles for a loss and one sack. He has an intriguing combination of size and quickness.
Brandon Ivory, 3-4DE, Alabama
Height: 6-4. Weight: 308.
Projected 40 Time: 4.99.
Projected Round (2015): 7-FA.
4/25/15: Ivory had 13 tackles in 2014. He's adequate at filling his gap, but he doesn't make many tackles or generate pass rush. Ivory didn't participate in the Combine.
8/23/14: Like a lot of Alabama defensive linemen, Ivory rotates into the game, but he has been unable to establish himself as an every-down player. The junior totaled 24 tackles with 1.5 tackles for a loss and zero sacks in 2013. He had 21 tackles with a fumble recovery the year before. Ivory should see the field more as a senior with Ed Stinson and Jeoffrey Pagan in the NFL. Ivory needs to show some pass-rush potential as a senior.
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