CN: Let's move from 3-techniques to guys who can put their hands down and play 4-3 end. If you put those two groups together, where would the top 4-3 rush ends line up in relation to the top interior rushers from the 3 spot?
TD: There are a lot of talented guys in that group who will also come into play really early. Start with Bjoern Werner. One, he's seen as a safe pick; two, he works really hard and three, he's got a lot of upside. Demontre Moore from Texas A&M also comes into play really early. Both of those guys likely go top 10.
These 6'4" 250 lb. guys can play standing up, but they're also 4-3 ends as well. Barkevious Mingo played with his hand down at LSU, even though he's a bit light. Datone Jones from UCLA had a really strong Senior Bowl week. He's 6'4", 280. I think he's a 1st rounder. He could certainly play on that left side against right tackles and really anchor.
Then you have Ezekiel Ansah. I think he's going to wind up somewhere in the 1st round. Sam Montgomery is in play, though he may last a little longer. Alex Okafor from Texas didn't have a great Senior Bowl week. Then Dion Jordan from Oregon will get some attention. He's 6'6", 250. He's a bit thin, but I think he can play in a 4-3. I see him right now as more of a 2nd round prospect.
CN: You just named six guys, before you get to a guy like Alex Okafor, who sounds a lot like this year's Nick Perry, a talented guy who got lost in a numbers shuffle and landed on a very good team at the bottom of the 1st round.
Combine these guys with the defensive tackles and there are about 14-15 defensive linemen with a shot at going in the 1st round.
Let's talk more about Ziggy Ansah. He's a bit of a wild card here. Everybody talks about his talent but I see some waffling on where he'll end up. What have you heard now that the Senior Bowl has finished?
TD: I was talking to a scout this week about Ansah and Margus Hunt, the really big (6'8", 280 lbs.) defensive end from SMU. Hunt is from Estonia and Ansah is from Ghana. He told me that with these players, it's hard to find a comparison. He said, "we've seen a player a little like Ansah, in [Jason Pierre-Paul. It worked out in Pierre-Paul's case, but that doesn't mean it always will. We don't have any other guys to compare Ansah to. With Hunt, they've never seen anybody like him."
He's so big and he runs really well. The scout said, "these guys are 'luxury picks' for teams. Until you get them into camp, you're not going to understand where they fit your scheme best and how they're going to help you." They do so many things well, but they're so raw at other things, you have to get them on the field with your players to get a real good idea of where and how you can use them.
You see big guys with speed who have some pass rush ability, especially in Hunt's case, but is he best inside? Outside? Do you rush him standing up? With his hand down? The scout said, "when can teams afford to spend that luxury pick on these guys?" He thought Ansah was a 1st rounder, and Hunt is more of a 2nd, but he would not be surprised to see Hunt at the 1st/2nd round turn, especially to a 3-4 team that wants a big rusher.
CN: Any other names sneaking under the radar? Is there a guy who's just a good football player who is hard to categorize? He doesn't have to be raw like a Margus Hunt or a Ziggy Ansah, but maybe he's not your central casting 5-technique, but he can get the job done.
TD: We have not talked about him much but Datone Jones from UCLA may be one of those guys. He's 6'4". He's a legit 280. Teams don't want that from an edge rusher anymore but he was the best pure Senior Bowl defensive end last week. Can you kick him inside and get him up the field? Yes. Can he play the end and get up the field? Yes, he can do that too.
CN: He sounds like an old Ron Wolf defensive end. He drafted Vonnie Holliday from North Carolina for the Packers. He was a 295-300 lb. defensive tackle in college and Wolf got him to play defensive end opposite Reggie White, who was also in that 295-300 lb. range. Wolf liked taking four big guys and putting them across the line of scrimmage.
TD: He's a good football player, Datone Jones. I think he can be a good pro.
CN: Is he a solid 1st rounder, in your opinion?
TD: That's what I'm hearing. That's what everyone was saying. Jones was another one of those buzz players this past week.
Next: We return to the quarterback position and TD will run down the more athletic, Colin Kaepernick types.