First off, a little housekeeping item, a congratulations to SouthTexasTitan for winning the Name this Post contest once again this year. Last week, we looked at the ever controversial quarterback position, which you can find here. This week, we'll be taking a view on the slightly less controversial defensive end position. As previously stated, this post is where I can take questions via the comments section or you can hit me up on the Twitter (@DuckinNoles247). Now with all that out of the way, onto the DE rankings!
**note** The prospects on this list are what I considered as pure defensive ends that have a chance to stick at the position. Yes there are guys that can play outside linebacker as well.
1. Dante Fowler, Jr 6'2 261 Junior Florida
- The second coming of former Gator/Titan Jevon Kearse perhaps? Like Kearse, Fowler has some size questions but 260 isn't that small considering some of the measureables of NFL pass rushers in recent years. Fowler has incredible athleticism and his footwork is off the charts good. It appears that his frame can't add any more weight so he could top out at 270-275. He has a constantly running motor paired with an above average arsenal of pass rush moves. Another positive is his scheme/positional versatility. Fowler played end, tackle, and OLB in his standout Florida career. He also answered questions about having to be the man once a superstar lineman leaves. Character and work ethic are excellent as well. Round Projection: Top 15
2. Randy Gregory 6'6 245 RS Junior Nebraska
- Gregory is a freak athlete with a body that could add weight and not lose a step. He has the length to keep tackles at bay while maintaining an average foundation in his base to avoid being run over. Constantly running motor but his injury history along with his slight frame (as 6'6 245 guys can be) scare me. The knees have flared up a bit too much and caused his effectiveness to diminish over the stretch run of the 2014 season. Also possesses a great arsenal of moves and countermoves to keep blockers constantly guessing. Intelligence and instincts are good as he is frequently in the right position to make a play. Round Projection: Top 10
3. Shane Ray 6'3 245 RS Junior Missouri
- Yet another stud defensive end coming out of Columbia. Seriously, it's like they find at least two guys who are high draft picks every year it seems. Ray, like Gregory is undersized for the position. Possibly a bigger freak athlete than RG. The speed aspect of his game is unparalleled in this year's end class. If you're looking for a close replica of Clowney 2.0 (the college version), Ray is your guy. Ball location and instincts are excellent with him. However, the speed game can be a detriment to him as well. He's like an ice skater with little ability to stop himself once he gets going. Blockers can neutralize him with power. Famously got kicked out of the SEC title game against Alabama for "targeting". NFL bloodlines as father Wendell had a cup of coffee in the league. Round projection: Top 20
4. ZaDarius Smith 6'5 270 Senior / Alvin Dupree 6'4 267 RS Junior Kentucky
- OK, I bent the rules a bit here and placed both UK guys because they really are that close in talent. Smith dominated the Shrine Game to the point where it was comical. Dupree is the finesse to Smith's power and brute strength. Smith is a good enough athlete to get by but Dupree is surprisingly agile for a guy his size. Of course in HC Mark Stoops' system, you have to be smart enough to recite the playbook in your sleep to even see the field so both of these guys are great in that regard. Smith is pretty raw considering he didn't play football until his senior year of high school. Round Projection: Smith 3-4 / Dupree 1-2
6. Mario Edwards, Jr 6'3 294 Junior Florida State
- Edwards came in as the top ranked five star recruit in the 2012 class and will leave with a somewhat disappointing career given all the hype that comes with his lofty billing. Throughout his career, he battled weight issues that marred his stay in Tallahassee. He's scheme/position versatile as he has switched between end and tackle frequently. Edwards is both a Seminole and NFL legacy player as father Mario, Sr was a Nole and enjoyed a stay in the NFL with the Cowboys in the 90s. As for his on field talents, he has long arms and great hips to maintain leverage over blockers. He really needs to work on his counter moves as after his initial move is beaten, he's got nothing. Also the weight needs to be controlled. Projects to be a 3-4 end at the next level. Round Projection: 2 (however I'd take him in the 4th knowing about the issues)