In the three weeks remaining before the draft, I intend to take a look at some of the defensive end prospects who the Titans may be considering. Although this will initially consist of possible first-round picks, I would like to include, time permitting, several possible third-round picks.
First up in the series will be Derrick Morgan, who currently heads my wishlist. As mentioned in a previous article, that list is fluid and will probably change somewhat as I continue to watch film.
Height: 6′ 3″
Arm length: 34½”
40-yard time: 4.64
10-yard split: 1.60
Vertical jump: 34″
Broad jump: 9′ 4″
Short shuttle: 4.43
3-cone drill: 7.12
Two of Morgan’s measurables interest me. His 34½” arm length is a tremendous asset for his position. Morgan’s 1.60 10-yard split is not as good as you’d ideally like to see from a DE but it’s not bad. He seems to play quicker than that.
Overview: Morgan may be the best all-around 4-3 defensive end in this draft. He’s certainly the most versatile and probably the most NFL-ready. Very good combination of size and athleticism. Selected as the ACC Defensive Player of the Year. Made himself eligible for the draft as an underclassman. A smart decision, as he is rated at or near the top of his position rankings. Projected to be a first-round draft pick.
Pass rush: An intense and relentless pass rusher. Fires out with an explosive first step. Great short-area quickness. Has a nice repertoire of moves, with his speed rush and a powerful bull rush being his best. Also has a nice spin move, a good rip and a swim move. Could use a little more consistency on his initial burst. Is still improving the use of his hands.
Run defense: Stout run defender, exhibits the strength to hold his own at the point of attack. Maintains good pad level and plays with leverage. Can control his blocker. Uses his very long arms to his advantage, keeping blockers off him. Does a good job shedding blocks. Can hold containment on his side. Excellent in pursuit, has great range and a non-stop motor. Is a good, reliable, solid tackler.
Size/Strength/Athleticism: Has a very strong and thick base. Very long arms. Strong and powerful, especially in the lower body. Good combination of size, speed and athleticism. Has more than enough athleticism for a 4-3 defensive end. Doesn’t have fluid hips or enough overall athleticism in space to be an effective 3-4 outside linebacker although he showed improvement in this area on his Pro Day.
Miscellaneous: Great instincts and awareness. Intelligent and savvy. Plays with discipline and alertness. High effort, extremely active player. Strong work ethic. No history of injuries. Is versatile enough to play either end. Gets high marks for leadership. No known character issues.
Weaknesses: Has problems at times with balance. First-step explosion (or lack of) is a little inconsistent. Has struggled against top competition (see Iowa game) which could be a red flag. Has a tendency to tire, resulting in poor pad level and loss of leverage.
My take: Morgan seems to have all the tools to be a very good 4-3 defensive end with a long, successful career ahead of him. He does not have the high-risk, boom or bust upside of a Jason Pierre-Paul but is a much safer pick. Physically, Morgan is somewhat similar to Antwan Odom. Morgan’s hustle and effort will doubtlessly be compared to Kyle Vanden Bosch’s though he will probably come up a little short in that category. Could he become another Ray Edwards or Justin Tuck?
Disclaimer: This profile was compiled from watching tape and from various scouting reports. I have not yet seen Morgan in person but I hope to see him in two-tone blue this summer.