Another Wes Bunting special from NFP:
The National Football Post | NFP Specialty Rankings: 3-4 Defense
Some interesting tidbits:
- Jarren Gilbert over Tyson Jackson as the top 3-4 DE prospect. Ziggy Hood not listed. Bunting notes: "The top two five-technique defensive ends in this year’s draft are Gilbert and Jackson. Both are tall, long-armed linemen with good base strength and an ability to stack blocks on the outside. Gilbert is a better athlete and offers teams a much higher ceiling. Jackson reminds me a bit of former first-round pick Marcus Spears and will likely come in and start from day one — but he doesn’t offer as much upside."
- Dorrell Scott, Chris Baker and Sammie Lee Hill all considered fairly high among 3-4 DT prospects. Sleeper prospect Vaughn Martin from Western Ontario listed as a top 10 3-4 DT prospect. Specific comments: "Clemson’s Scott has been consistently overlooked throughout the draft process but showcases some intriguing tools and athleticism for his size to develop inside. He’s a surprisingly polished nose tackle and has the base strength and technique to control blockers at the point of attack. He definitely has the athletic ability to two-gap and should be able to add a little more weight and not lose much athleticism. Small-school prospects Baker and Hill both have the size for the position, but what makes them intriguing is their natural athleticism and quickness inside. Baker played the five-technique position at Hampton and could be asked to play anywhere along the defensive line at the next level. However, his short, squatty frame and natural leverage will likely draw some interest among teams in need of a nose. Hill, on the other hand, was an absolute man among boys last season at Stillman, but he still has a way to go from a technique standpoint. However, all the tools are there and he likely will be drafted a bit higher than most think because of his immense upside. Finally, one guy who has really climbed up drafts boards of late is Western Ontario’s Martin. He possesses a big, thickly built frame with good upper body strength and athleticism for his size. He, like any other small-school prospect, is still raw and has a learning curve, but the physical skill set is there. You have to believe a team would be interested in developing a 6-3, 331-pound specimen who can run a sub-5.0 40."
- Everyone's favorite binky as the #2 3-4 OLB prospect (behind Everette Brown, ahead of Clay Matthews, Larry English and Clint Sintim). Brian Orapko evidently not considered a 3-4 OLB prospect. Bunting notes: "Everette Brown is considered the nation’s top rush linebacker as he showcases the first step burst and closing speed to consistently be a force off the edge. He’s a bit undersized to be an any every down DE but has the quickness and fluidity to play in space and rush off the edge. Barwin, Matthews and English all fall into that next tier of pass rushers and should come off the board in the mid/late first or second round range and eventually become starters."
- Bunting specifically notes that he considers Brian Cushing too stiff to play in space as a 3-4 OLB, and projects him at SILB, just behind Rey Maualuga: "USC’s Maualuga and Cushing are the top two middle linebackers on our board, but both bring different skill sets to the position. Maualuga is a physical, downhill linebacker who loves to attack the ball and create collisions at the line of scrimmage. He needs to become a bit more disciplined but also offers the ability to create a pass rush inside. Cushing is a more instinctive linebacker who diagnoses plays quickly and will always be flowing toward the ball. He does offer some versatility to kick outside, but I feel his best spot will be inside a 3-4." James Laurinaitis evidently not considered a 3-4 ILB prospect. Jason Williams not listed. Clint Sintim listed at SILB as well as OLB: "Another versatile prospect is Sintim, a pass rushing OLB in Virginia’s 3-4 defense who is now also being considered as a 3-4 inside linebacker. Sintim really struggled with his fluidity in space at this year’s Senior Bowl and did not show the type of explosive pass rush ability I expected. However, he possesses a strong frame, smooth footwork and, like Cushing, will add some versatility to a defensive scheme."
Some interesting thoughts.