We are coming down the home stretch on our Dynasty rankings and now we are in our final looks with individual defensive players, starting with the defensive linemen. This year has some interesting defensive ends who could contribute immediately and make an impact. Which ones are they? Let's take a look.
1. Datone Jones - Green Bay Packers (UCLA)
6' 4" and 280 lbs
148 combined tackles, 36.5 tackles for a loss (posted 19 TFLs for a loss in 2012 alone), 12.5 sacks, 5 passes defended and 3 forced fumbles
Draft position: Packers Round 1 pick # 26
The Packers pick of Jones is a perfect combination of need combined with draft value. His versatility is going to work wonders with a Packers defense that hasn't been very good lately, finishing ??? last year. Jones is equally good against the pass and the run, and can play inside or outside. In fact, watching film I couldn't decide which was a better fit as he was so good at both. Finally, he is familiar with the type of defense Green Bay runs and from all reports is already immersed in and familiar with the playbook. It's not hard to imagine Jones playing right away and lighting up the field.
Where I rank him: He is ranked low in some places and he is being drafted below Tank Carradine who likely won't play much this year as well as Margus Hunt and Damontre Moore. I have seen him ranked in the 30s and 40s and that probably about right although I expect a big year out of him. I would place him mid 30s. He would be my pre-season pick for DROY.
2. Dion Jordan - Miami Dolphins (Oregon)
6' 6" and 248 lbs
121 tackles, 29 TFL, 14.5 sacks, 2 passed defended, and 4 forced fumbles
Draft position: Dolphins Round 1 pick #3
Reports indicate the Dolphins are going to be careful with first round pick Dion Jordan who is almost fully recovered from a torn labrum suffered in February. Still, the Dolphins didn't move up to draft the former Oregon superstar and let him sit. If he's healthy, and he should be, look for Jordan to get quality snaps and he will wreak havoc. Probably the most physically gifted of this year's defensive class, Jordan is going to fun to watch.
Where I rank him: His rankings fluctuate wildly which is pretty interesting. I have seen him ranked as high as 13. I would put him on par with Datone Jones so the mid 30s strikes me as about right.
3. Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah - Detroit Lions (Brigham Young)
6' 6" and 270 lbs (10 1/4 hands)
72 tackles, 13 TFL, 4.5 sacks, 10 passes defended, and 1 forced fumble
Draft position: Lions Round 1 pick #5
With the edition of defensive line coach Jim Washburn, it is a lock the Lions are going to rotate at defensive end and Washburn is never shy about using rookie defensive linemen. While the Lions also added Jason Jones and Israel Idonije, you can expect Ansah and fellow rookie Devin Taylor (next on my list) to see significant playing time. While Ansah isn't as polished as Taylor, Washburn has a pretty good track record coaching up young players (see Jevon Kearse) and he loves raw talent he can train his way. Expect to see Ansah play significantly his rookie year.
Where I rank him: His average ranking is in the 20s. I think that might be a tad high. Jason Babins ADP is around 30. He is going to rotate more than people expect in my opinion and Taylor might be just as valuable if not more so the first year. I would rank him around 40.
4. Devin Taylor - Detroit Lions (University of South Carolina)
6' 7" and 266 lbs (10 3/8 inch hands) (wingspan 87 inches)
161 tackles, 35.5 TFL, 18.5 sacks, 2 interceptions for TDs, 18 passes defended, and 2 forced fumbles
Draft position: Lions Round 4 pick #132
As the numbers show, Taylor was very productive in South Caroline but his numbers declined his senior year due to the spectacular season Jadeveon Clowney experienced. Taylor brings a lot of length to the Lions defensive front. He has an incredible 87 inch wingspan and patted down 18 passes at South Carolina. I can just picture Washburn drooling over this guy and you can bet he will make his way into the rotation.
Where I rank him: He is currently not rated and only shows up as a sleeper pick in most lists. Tank Carradine who probably won't play much if at all this year has been ranked as high as 38. I would rank him around 50 as he is easily comparable with other defensive ends ranked there and should be a better pick than Margus Hunt who ranks in area.
5. Damontre Moore - New York Giants (Texas A & M)
6' 4" and 250 lbs
197 tackles, 45 TFL, 26.5 sacks, 1 interception, 5 passes defended, and 8 forced fumbles
Draft position: Giants Round 3 pick #181
Moore is not one of my favorites in this draft and I'm shocked at how high I see him listed on IDP lists. He is very raw but you can expect to see him get some playing time. Moore is a guy who can play either side of the line and it will be interesting to see where he plays. If history is any example, Justin Tuck seems destined to leave and would Moore be the guy to replace him? Something to watch.
Where I rank him: I have seen Moore ranked higher than Datone Jones which blows my mind. I would rank him in the low 30s or high 40s. I have seen other sites rank him as high as 40. I think he easily falls in the range of Jason Babin and others who are ranked in that area.
6. Quanterus Smith - Denver Broncos (WKU)
6' 5" and 250 lbs
135 tackles, 41 TFL, 24 sacks, 3 passes defended, and 5 forced fumbles (1 TD)
Draft position: Broncos Round 5 pick #146
It appears Smith is on track to be ready for training camp which is incredible considering he tore his ACL in November. If you follow college football at all, you will probably never forget the big game he had against SEC powerhouse and National Champion Alabama. A natural pass rusher, Smith is expected to hit the rotation at right defensive end immediately where he is likely to push former Vol Robert Ayers for playing time.
Where I rank him: Smith's health is something you have to watch but if he is healthy and it appears he will be the rookie is expected to utilize his pass rushing abilities in the Broncos defense. I have seen him ranked as high as 50 and most fantasy people agree he is a better pick than Ayers.
7. Malliciah Goodman - Atlanta Falcons (Clemson)
6' 4" and 276 lbs (11 inch hands!!)
127 tackles, 23 TFL, 12 sacks, 3 passes defended, and 8 forced fumbles
Draft position: Falcons Round 4 pick #127
Goodman makes this list in large part because the Falcons don't appear to have a plan at DE outside of Umenyiora. Goodman is easily as good as anyone else on that roster and despite being down on the depth chart right now it's very likely he could slide up. Could he end up starting at left defensive end? It's certainly not out of the question.
Where I rank him: He is completely overlooked as a possible IDP candidate this year. Either ranked low or unranked Goodman could be a real sleeper pick as the Falcons essentially only have one proven player in Umenyiora. The rankings on Bierman reflect this uncertainty to a large degree as he varies from 30 to 50. You could replace him with Goodman who has a higher ceiling in my opinion.
8. Lavar Edwards - Tennessee Titans (LSU)
6' 4" and 277 lbs
96 tackles, 20 TFL, 10.5 sacks, 2 interceptions (1 TD), 7 passes defended, 2 forced fumbles and 1 recovery for a TD
Draft position: Titans Round 5 pick #142
I must admit I was surprised the Titans waited as long as they did to draft a defensive lineman, and I wasn't sure about the pick at first. Having researched and studied Edwards, I am coming around on this pick. Edwards had to compete for snaps behind the likes of KeKe Mingo and Sam Montgomery. His stats are pretty impressive when you consider he was playing in situational spots. A versatile lineman, Edwards can play inside and outside in the Titans 4-3 base front. Added bonus in that he can play both sides of the line. The Titans have indicated they are going to experiment with Karl Klug at DE, but Edwards seems to be the best fit right now to work his way into the rotation with ease. I expect him at the minimum to play 30% of the snaps and its possible that number could go higher after we see what he can do in training camp.
Where i rank him: I think fantasy geeks are sleeping on Edwards as a contributor this year. For all the reasons I stated above, he is going to much bigger impact than his ranking shows. Perhaps its the fact that he was drafted so low and overshadowed at LSU, but Edwards seems a perfect fit for what the Titans intend to do on their defensive front. He is ranked in the 90s but I think he belongs in the 60s as he seems comparable to guys like Quanterus Smith as I project them.
9. Margus Hunt - Cincinnati Bengals (SMU)
6' 8" and 277 lbs
112 tackles, 28 TFL, 16.5 sacks, 1 interception, 7 passes defended, and 2 forced fumbles
I really don't expect him to play very much as he is incredibly raw, having only started playing football 4 years ago. A bit older than most at 26, Hunt possesses incredible measurables. A native of Estonia, Hunt was a standout in the 2006 World Junior Track and Field Championships, winning gold medals in both shot put and discus. The Bengals already have a good rotation on their defensive line so they have the luxury of developing him. A long term deal for Michael Johnson isn't looking good right now and Hunt would be far more likely to be an impact player in 2014 if Johnson leaves in free agency.
Where I rank him: He is unlikely to play very much barring unforeseen circumstances or injuries. While his rankings vary, he seems to me to fit more as an unranked candidate as he is unlikely to be a contributor until 2014.
10. Cornellius "Tank" Carradine - San Francisco Forty Niners (FSU)
6' 5" and 265 lbs
118 tackles, 21 TFL, 16.5 sacks, and 1 forced fumble
Draft position: Niners Round 2 pick # 40
Carradine tore his ACL November of 2012 and yet showed enough impressiveness with his stats and film in only 2 years to rise up draft boards and for the Niner to select him in Round 2. Carradine isn't expected to practice in training camp and his appearance on the Niners defensive rotation seems unlikely. A plethora of draft picks allowed the Niners to snag this talented player and their depth allows them to let him heal and to work him in slowly. While not expected to be a big contributor in 2013, at last early on, he should be high on draft boards in 2014 barring an unexpected setback in his recovery from his ACL injury.
Where I rank him: I really love the guy but its hard to give him a ranking higher than the bottom this year because he probably isn't going to be much of a factor. Look out in 2014 however.