FanPost

2011 Draft & Prospects - A Defensive Look


Hello my fellow Chiefs fanatics. What a day huh? Snowmaggedon 2011 has hit and my work shut down for the first time in...well this is the first time I've ever seen it shut down. Something about road travel being rough.

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Being stuck inside with nothing better to do, I decided to research some of the better players, IMO, on the D side of the ball that may or may not fit, but could be available to us throughout the draft. 

Here we go:

OLB

Aldon Smith  (Missouri)

6'5 260lbs 1st round (top 15 possible pick)

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In only two years on the field, Smith earned enough respect from Big 12 coaches to be named first-team all-conference despite playing only nine games because of a broken fibula. He gained that respect with production (48 tackles, 10 for loss, 5.5 sacks), but also his ability to come back from a slightly fractured right leg in only three weeks.

A consensus freshman All-American and the conference's Defensive Newcomer and Freshman of the Year (along with honorable mention All-Big 12 honors) in 2009, he had 64 tackles -- 19 for loss and 11.5 sacks, both of which ranked in the top 15 nationally. The year before, he proved to scouts he would eventually be a force, dominating the scout team and putting on muscle as a redshirt.

In addition to his exceptional athletic ability, Smith's toughness has impressed scouts. While still obviously less than 100 percent, he returned an interception 58 yards in a big win against Oklahoma and managed six tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks in his final six games. He's still raw, but evaluators look at Smith as a potential John Abraham or Julian Peterson type of pass rusher with very good length to play in a 4-3 or 3-4 base scheme as he matures physically.


Justin Houston  (Georgia) 6'3 258lbs 1st round
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A former defensive end, Houston became a stand-up pass rusher in Georgia's new 3-4 scheme in 2010. Considering the pass-rushing prowess he'd shown as an undersized defensive end in 2009, he proved to be made for the new role.

After redshirting in 2007, Houston showed flashes of ability in his first season on the field, accumulating 19 tackles and 2.5 sacks despite only starting one game. He started 10 games as a sophomore, earning second-team All-SEC accolades as an undersized defensive end. He posted 39 tackles, including a team-leading 15.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks.

Houston emerged as one of the most feared pass rushers in the SEC in 2010. He had 67 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss and finished second in the conference, behind Auburn's Nick Fairley, with 10 sacks. Houston was credited by Georgia with 44 QB hurries -- three times as many as any other Bulldog defender -- and was named All-SEC as a finalist for the Butkus and Nagurski Awards.

 

Jeremy Beal  (Oklahoma)

 

6'2 268lbs 2nd-3rd round

 

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The injury situation of quarterback Sam Bradford and the outstanding play of defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, two of the top three players selected in last April's draft, kept Beal's spectacular season from receiving the attention it deserved. He was a finalist for the Ted Hendricks Defensive End of the Year Award, the Associated Press named him a third-team All-American, and several media outlets placed him on their All-Big 12 first team (though he only made second team by the coaches' vote). His 70 tackles, 19 for loss, 11 sacks, three forced fumbles and three pass breakups hint of the overall game that excites NFL scouts.

2011 SENIOR BOWL FALLER: Jeremy Beal, DE, Oklahoma: Lacking explosiveness off the snap and the strength to push tackles into the pocket, this Sooner superstar may have been exposed as a high-motor player with limited athleticism and upside. - NFLDraftScout.com

 

NT

 

Phil Taylor  (Baylor)

6'4 337lbs late 1st-2nd round

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An interesting write up of Taylor here:

Pass rush: Though his job is usually not to provide primary pass rush, he can push the pocket with strength and flashes quickness off the snap and a swim move to get past lesser centers. Gives good effort to reach the quarterback if he sits in the pocket too long. Tries violent hands to shed blocks. Not very effective on inside twists, though he can take out the left tackle when twisting outside to free up the defensive end. Once stood up by initial contact, it's tough for him to re-start his rush.

Run defense: Shows excellent strength and mobility as a run defender. Plays with leverage against double-teams and keeps his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage. Pushes back his man and spins off single and tandem blocks with balance to make the play. Moves down the line well, stays low despite his height to wrap up shorter backs. Willing and able to reach the sideline, takes deep angles to prevent huge runs. Defeats cut blocks and maintains balance to track down ballcarriers. Gets low in short-yardage and goal-line situations. Does not dominate smaller centers. At his best when used in a rotation.

Explosion: Explodes from four-point stance into blockers, consistently getting push up front. Gets off low and quick near goal line to set the line backwards. Despite his size, flashes the quickness to penetrate the "A" gap. Requires double-teams to keep him out of the backfield.

Strength: Huge frame and upper-body development give him the strength to be a 3-4 nose tackle at the next level. Moves offensive linemen to either side with relative ease when covering two gaps. Forces fumbles with one hand punching at the ball while ballcarrier comes through the hole. Uses leverage to hold the line against double teams.

Tackling: Running backs get swallowed up when crossing his path, and he can separate the ball from a ballcarrier with pure strength. Stays low despite his height and will capture backs from behind if they have not yet hit their stride. Chase and hustle are impressive for his size, will chase backs down the line, help linebackers make stops at the second level, and takes deep angles to chase down running backs 20 yards down the sideline.

Intangibles: Sprained his knee in 2007 preseason at Penn State, losing starting job to future first-round pick Jared Odrick. Charged with felony aggravated assault during a fraternity function at a Penn State student union in October 2007; the charge was eventually dropped. Really turned up his game the second half of 2010; scouts could see that as maturity or wonder if he can maintain that level of play.

 

Jerrel Powe  (Ole Miss)

6'2 320lbs 3rd round

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 2010 ALL-SEC FOOTBALL SECOND TEAM (COACHES): DL Jerrell Powe, Ole Miss, has been selected All-SEC Football Second Team for the 2010 college football season as selected by the SEC head football coaches. The senior defensive tackle earned second team honors for the second straight year, after garnering the same distinction in 2009 from the Associated Press. A native of Waynesboro, Miss., Powe was among the candidates for the Rotary Lombardi Award, Outland Trophy and Bronko Nagurski Trophy and was voted a Team Captain by his teammates. Despite often facing double teams, Powe amassed 27 total tackles, 8.5 TFLs and 2.5 sacks this season, including 1.5 sacks at No. 8 Alabama. Powe missed only one game in his three seasons with the Red and Blue and started 22 of 25 games the past two years. The 6-foot-2, 320-pounder concludes his Rebel career with 69 total tackles, 24 TFLs and seven sacks. - Ole Miss football

Powe is an interesting prospect to figure out. He has a ton of talent and was borderline dominant during his junior season at Ole Miss. The defensive tackle made 25 solo tackles and was tied for first on the team with 12 tackles for loss. He was named to the All-SEC Second Team by the Associated Press. Powe has been clocked as fast as 5.02 in the 40-yard dash -- impressive speed given his 6'2'' and 320-pound frame. He weighed even more in seasons past, but has slimmed down considerably.

The weight loss may be part of the reason why Powe has yet to find his game this season. Through seven games he has 15 total tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, and 1.5 sacks. Another reason is that Ole Miss is almost constantly rotating its defensive linemen. Another red flag is academic concerns; Powe sat out a season and then spent one year at Junior College (he is already 23 years old), but those problems seem to be a thing of the past. Powe's stock could go way up or way down depending on his performance the rest of the season and his combine. For now, look for him to go off the board sometime during the second round.

 


Sione Fua  (Stanford)
6'2 307lbs 3rd round Images_medium

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There's a reason Stanford went from 55th in the nation against the run in 2009 to 19th in 2010, and although Fua can't take all the credit, he deserves a nose guard's share. After the team switched from a base "40" front to a true 3-4 his senior season, the onus was on Stanford's new two-gap plugger to occupy the middle and keep opponents from shoving the ball down the Cardinal's throat, and he responded.

The new system was a better fit for Fua. After he managed to earn honorable-mention All-Pac-10 as a junior (24 tackles, three for loss, 1.5 sacks), he showed the anchor strength to hold up against double-teams and fires out low enough to gain initial leverage and clog interior running lanes.

Fua was a second-team All-Pac-10 pick as a senior (22 tackles, six for loss, 4.5 sacks). He won't bring much pass-rushing prowess to his new team, but with many clubs installing at least a few "30" front looks, he has the squatty, thick build and excellent lower-body strength makes him worthy of a mid-round selection.

 

ILB

 

Kelvin Sheppard  (LSU)

6'2 250lbs 3-4rd round

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Kelvin Sheppard is a tackling machine.  He wraps the ball carrier and drives his legs until he goes down or he gets help.  Has fluid hips to make the drop into coverage.  Does a good job of fighting off trash to get to the point of attack.  Although he didn’t have many sacks, he is a good blitzer.  He hit the QB many times last year and had quite a few tackles for loss.  Emotional leader of one of the top defenses in the SEC.  He plays with heart and gets his team ready to play.

Depending on which team drafts him, whether a 3-4 or 4-3, determines if he needs to add more weight to his frame.   He isn’t the most fleet of foot.  He does occasionally get ushered completely out of the play. He has issues with over pursuing the play, especially when a reverse or bootleg is the play call.  Might have too much swagger for some teams liking.

 

Casey Matthews  (Oregon)

6'1 232lbs 3rd round

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There were questions regarding Oregon's defense early in the 2010 season, but the Ducks have remained undefeated in large part due to the overlooked defense. Casey Matthews is the leader of the Ducks defense. The 6'2, 235 pound linebacker does a little bit of most things and a lot of everything else. Matthews started making an impact as a true freshman in 2007. He played in the first 11 games of the season and even earned a start before missing a couple of games with a shoulder injury. He only tallied 18.0 tackles during that season, but 4.0 of those were for a loss.

Matthews stepped up his game as a sophomore, but still started the season coming in off of the bench. By November he was a staple in the starting lineup and he ended the season ranking sixth on the team with 67 tackles and added 13.0 tackles-for-loss. Matthews kept getting better as an upperclassman. In 2009 he totaled 81 tackles and became much more versatile and spent less time getting in the backfield and more time dropping back in coverage. In 2010, Matthews has done everything. Through the regular season Matthews not only leads the team with 73 tackles, but has also added 8.5 tackles-for-loss, 3.0 sacks, three interceptions and five passes defended.

With Oregon heading to the BCS National Championship game, Matthews will get one more shot to show the nation that the Ducks are about more than just their explosive offense. Matthews is arguably one of the top five inside linebackers in this class, but that will not likely be enough to get him drafted in the first three rounds.

Unfortunately from what I've read, Matthews will have a hard time fitting in here as he fits the DJ role more. Exceptional, intelligent athlete with all the right things, just don't know that they're right for us.

Mario Harvey  (Marshall)

5'11 250lbs  5th-7th round

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As an upperclassman Harvey kept putting up impressive numbers. In 2009 he led the team with 117 tackles and added 8.5 tackles-for-loss and 7.0 sacks. Harvey also saved a great game for Marshall's bowl win over Ohio in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl when he tallied 12 tackles and two sacks. Unfortunately that will be Harvey's last bowl appearance as the Thundering Herd will not make a bowl game in 2010. Despite the disappointing season for the team, Harvey has had another stellar season and leads the team with 122 tackles through 11 games. He has even been let loose a little more in the backfield and has 14.5 tackles-for-loss and 6.5 sacks.

Harvey uses his big 6-0, 250 pound frame to lay out some big hits. He has good instincts and more than enough strength. If he can run a decent 40 time leading up to the draft, Harvey could sneak into the third or fourth round. However, his lack of speed will limit him to the inside linebacker position where his pass rushing skills will only come in handy in certain situations.

Colin McCarthy  (Miami, Fl)

6'1 235lbs 3rd-5th round

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McCarthy has played just about everywhere in the linebacker corps and has finished his collegiate career in the middle. He is a good athlete, but not great. He makes up for any physical shortcomings with his incredible instincts.

Those instincts make McCarthy best suited to play in the middle, but he does have the versatility to play anywhere and that is never a bad thing. McCarthy should be one of the more experienced and safe middle linebackers heading into the draft this year, but his ceiling is probably in the third round.

2011 SENIOR BOWL STANDOUT: Colin McCarthy, ILB, Miami: The Hurricane linebacker supplied some of the game's most explosive hits on defense and special teams, but it was his surprising speed that will catch the attention of scouts. On one third-quarter play, McCarthy beat Nebraska running back Roy Helu Jr. to the sideline, demonstrating a second gear that most teams didn't believe he possessed. - NFLDraftScout.com

 

DB

Chris Conte  (Cal)

6'3 210lbs 4th round

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Chris Conte, Sr., California, has been selected All Pac-10 First Team for the 2010 college football season as selected by the Pac-10 head football coaches. Conte had the biggest season of his collegiate career as a senior, ranking third on the team with 72 tackles and currently No. 23 in the Pac-10 through the end of the regular season with an average of 6.0 stops per game. He also added 2.0 tackles for loss, an interception, three pass breakups, a forced fumble and the team's only blocked kick of the season on an Arizona State punt attempt, which he returned six yards for his first career touchdown. Conte played in 50 of 51 possible games at Cal but spent most of his first three seasons as a reserve cornerback as 12 of his 17 career starts came as a safety in 2010. He finished his Cal career with 157 tackles, 4.0 tackles for loss, two interceptions, 11 pass breakups, one fumble recovery, one forced fumble and the blocked kick for a touchdown. - Cal football
Chris Culliver  (South Carolina)
6'1 190lbs 5th-7th round
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Senior who is an honors candidate in the secondary … earned second-team All-SEC accolades as a junior free safety in 2009 … looks to move to cornerback for his final season in the Garnet & Black … expected to be limited during his final spring ball after undergoing left shoulder surgery during the off season … has excellent speed and quickness … is the Gamecocks' all-time leader in kickoff returns (94) and kickoff return yards (2,215) … the 2,215 yards ranks fifth all-time in the SEC … owns three career interceptions … ranks third on the squad with 25 career starts … was a member of the 2009 Fall SEC Academic Honor Roll.
Eric Hagg  (Nebraska)
6'2 205lbs 3rd-5th round
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Just like his sophomore season, Hagg started ten games as a junior. He also reached career highs with 40 tackles, 7.0 tackles-for-loss, 2.0 sacks and three quarterback hurries. Hagg had already proven to be a solid tackler and a good blitzer from the secondary, but it was during his senior season when he really emerged as a good coverage safety as well. Through the regular season, Hagg has picked off five passes and broken up four more.

Hagg's stock is rising now that he has proven to be a well balanced safety. He could even play outside linebacker in some defensive schemes due to his ability to get into the backfield. Yet, that may not be a good thing since Hagg does not really fit in a traditional strong safety role. That will likely drop him down to the sixth or seventh round.

Final Thoughts: Who do take and where?

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Enjoy the weather! GO CHIEFS!!!

 

 



This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Arrowhead Pride's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Arrowhead Pride writers or editors.

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