49ers

2012 NFL Mock Draft: Top 10 Available 4-3 Defensive Tackles, 3-4 Defensive Ends (V2.0)

After all the tape study, the combine measurements/workouts, some pro-days, and re-watching of tape, there has been slight movement in the post combine 4-3 DT, 3-4 DE rankings. Jayson Braddock and Dory LeBlanc used extensive criteria that included (but was not limited to) pass rush, run defense, tackling, explosion, strength, and physical makeup into determining how those attributes translate to the NFL. The ten-best 4-3 DT/ 3-4 DE prospects are:

1. Michael Brockers, (3-4 DE) LSU, 6’6” 322 Lbs. – He’s a relentless, trench fighter. Easily the most active arms. When he gets into the passing lane, he’s like throwing around a tree, with his big body and massive arms. He sheds blocks and shuts down running lanes. He can fight to hold up two defenders but loses battles when he turns his body. Brockers has the biggest upside of any of the defenders. We haven’t seen the tip of his talent. He can play the DT position in the 43 but we feel his value is best at the DE position in the 34. +1

2. Fletcher Cox, (Both) Mississippi State, 6’4” 298 Lbs. – Cox is explosive and powerful. He’s an athletic freak that can actually play football. Basically, he’s actually everything that Dontari Poe has being sold as. He’s a one gap play maker. He will go to a team that is looking for a DT that creates havoc and pressure the quarterback. He falls behind Brockers because Michael factors in against the run and the pass. Cox will have to improve on stopping running backs. +3

3. Melvin Ingram, (4-3 DT) South Carolina, 6’1” 264 Lbs. – This player comes with a buyer beware. There are people that are wanting to play Ingram as an OLB and even a DE. That’s not what he’s suited for. If a team drafts Ingram as a 43 defensive tackle and has him add some weight, he will be the next Warren Sapp. He didn’t show burst off the snap while standing or with a hand down at DE / OLB in college. His shorter arms will get him engulfed by the big body offensive tackles and he doesn’t have great balance coming off the edge. +1

4. Quinton Coples, (Both) North Carolina, 6’6” 284 Lbs. – We wouldn’t label him a boom or bust player but he does have a questionable ceiling. Coples depends on his natural ability far too often. He obviously has good size and power. He gets a strong push at the point. He’s not going to be a speed guy that gets the edge. Coples is probably the most scheme diverse. He could fit as a 43 DT, a 34 DE, or where we think he may be best is as a 43 left defensive end exclusively. -1

5. Jerel Worthy, (4-3 DT) Michigan State, 6’2” 308 Lbs. – This speaks to the depth of this class. Worthy is a talented, big body, space eater, that can move with ease. While he doesn’t have the change of direction as the athletic freaks listed above him, don’t take that to mean that he’s not explosive. In most other draft classes, Worthy would be a top 15 pick. -2

6. Brandon Thompson, (4-3 DT) Clemson, 6’2” 314 Lbs. – Call him Worthy’s twin. Their game is similar but Worthy was more effective and didn’t have the benefit of playing on the same line as Da’Quan Bowers, Andre Branch, and Jarvis Jenkins over the last few years. Both players are explosive for their size and will be great values at where they are drafted. +1

7. Devon Still, (4-3 DT) Penn State, 6’5” 303 Lbs. – Still passes the eye test and at times he’s hard to stop. On a consistency basis, he loses too often and becomes nothing more than a big body that shoots and gets quick penetration. -1

8. Malik Johnson, (3-4 DE) Tennessee, 6’5” 284 Lbs. – Johnson’s skill set is built perfectly for the 5 technique in the NFL. He can come in and play right away. He’s physical in nature, with the power of a defensive tackle and the flexibility of a defensive end. EVEN

9. Billy Winn, (Both) Boise State, 6’4” 294 Lbs. – We don’t know if the kids are changing in college or if this is just a really athletic draft class but here is another near 300 pound kid that moves more like a defensive end than a defensive tackle. The players on Boise State defense don’t get a lot of press but they have a few that will be big time players in the NFL. Winn will be one of those and he displayed it on film routinely. EVEN

10. Chandler Jones, (3-4 DE) Syracuse, 6’5” 266 Lbs. – With Jones, you can throw all technique out of the window. When you watch him, he’s erratic and appears uncoordinated. But, as you’re watching you notice that he causes constant disruption. Jones has the bloodlines of athletic men and they also share with him, extraordinary arm length. He usually runs and slams into the offensive line and fights to maneuver the creases. I don’t see him as a guy that you can rely on as a 43 DE but if you place him in the battle with one or two offensive linemen, he will be disruptive and free up the linebackers behind him, even if he’s not getting to the quarterback. He’ll use his arms to bring down escaping backs as well. +2

Jayson Braddock is an NFL Scout / NFL Writer & On-Air Personality. Jayson is also a football insider for the Dylan Gwinn show on 790 AM in Houston, TX - Listeners NOT in the Houston metropolitan area can hear Jayson on iheart radio or sports790.com. You can also catch Jayson on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio with Scott Engel and the morning crew every Thursday at 10:30am ET. You may email Jayson directly @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @JaysonBraddock

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