NFL Draft 2011: Comparing the 3-4 Defensive Ends

We've compared the tackles and the outside linebackers, now let's take a look at the 3-4 defensive ends. Again, this is all my opinion from watching the tape. Feel free to post your own opinions/disagreements. I'll post my analysis after the jump!

 

Dareus Jordan Watt Heyward Wilkerson Taylor Liuget Clayborn Bailey Ballard
Speed Rush 7 2 1 5 8 9 6 3 4 10
Bull Rush 2 6 4 5 5 1 3 9 10 7
POA 1 3 7 5 4 2 6 9 10 8
Run Def 1 5 7 6 3 2 4 9 10 8
2 Gap 1 4 7 5 3 2 6 9 10 8
Block Shed 6 4 1 5 7 9 8 2 3 10
Gap Control 1 2 7 4 3 6 5 9 10 8
Lateral 6 2 1 5 7 8 9 3 4 10
Athleticism 6 2 1 4 9 8 7 5 3 10
Size 2 5 4 3 1 6 7 10 8 9
Upside 3 2 1 5 9 6 8 7 4 10
Floor 1 4 5 3 2 6 8 7 10 9
Average 3.08 3.42 3.83 4.58 5.08 5.42 6.42 6.83 7.17 8.92
Draft Spot
Top 10 Top 20 Top 20 Top 32
Top 40
Top 40
Top 50
Top 50
Top 64
Top 75

Let's see the analysis after the jump!

Marcell Dareus wins this comparison with a combination of solid fundamentals and strength. His ability to hold the point of attack, with great size and strength, makes him an ideal 3-4 defensive end. Unfortunately, he won't be around for the Patriots to even consider trading up to take him.

In the next category is Cameron Jordan and J.J. Watt. Jordan is an all around defensive end who does everything well and nothing poorly. Watt is the premier pass rusher out of the defensive ends, but he has some holes in his game. Watt's athleticism makes him an attractive pick, while Jordan's consistency and ability makes him a reliable pick.

Next up is Cameron Heyward who closes out the end of the first round prospects. Like Jordan, Heyward is consistent, but Jordan is more impressive when you watch the tape. Still, he's a solid prospect at the end of the first round.

Muhammad Wilkerson and Phil Taylor from Baylor are players who can be drafted at the end of the first round or the start of the second round and provide solid value. Wilkerson is a less explosive and strong version of Dareus and might just be a Ty Warren in the NFL. Taylor is a wild card player with his game based on strength, as opposed to the speed and agility of the other players. He has a chance of being a Haloti Ngata type player, or he could end up as Wilfork's back-up.

Next are Corey Liuget and Adrian Clayborn, two players who aren't really meant for the Patriots' 3-4 defense. Liuget is better off playing DT for a 4-3 defense and Clayborn is better off coming off the edge as a 4-3 DE, or playing DE in a one-gap defense. Both should be off the board before they should be drafted by the Patriots, so this shouldn't be a concern.

Closing up the second round is Allen Bailey, the project player from Miami. His athleticism should get him drafted, but he's far from being polished or sound from a technical standpoint. He shouldn't be drafted as the answer at defensive end, but he brings intriguing size and speed to either bulk up as a defensive end, or shrink to play elephant OLB.

Starting the third round is Christian Ballard. He is solid size, but he's better off playing in a 4-3 defense. He's not the best prospect and if the Patriots are trying to find the solution at defensive end, they should take a player well before Ballard.

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If the Patriots are looking to fix the defensive end position, they should draft either Jordan, Watt, or Heyward. I see Wilkerson being another Ty Warren or Ron Brace and Taylor has too many question marks. Jordan, Watt, and Heyward are great players with great character and great upside. I'd be happy with any of those three players.

What do you think?

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