RAVENS DRAFT ANALYSIS: DEFENSIVE ENDS

NFL Draft RAVENS DRAFT ANALYSIS: DEFENSIVE ENDS

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Gaines Adams, 6’5”, 258, Clemson
           
Adams is a great high energy player, but will surely go in the top ten selections and as such is not worth discussing as a potential defensive end for the Ravens.
 
Adam Carriker, 6’6”, 296, Nebraska
 
Adam Carriker is a special player, and might be good enough for Ozzie Newsome to trade up into the late teens if he manages to fall.  After dominating the competition at the Senior Bowl Carriker really made an impression, not to mention the fact that he has the potential to play both 3-4 and 4-3 defensive end like current Raven Trevor Pryce.  While there isn’t ideal speed in terms of becoming the new in vogue speed rusher off the edge like Dwight Freeney, Carriker just gets the job done with his outstanding size, strength, and hard work.  However, this power rushing as opposed to edge rushing is exactly what a team like the Ravens desire from their ends.  The best comparison available is the style and implementation of Richard Seymour by the Patriots by playing outside on rushing downs and then potentially shifting inside on pass-rushing downs.
 
RAVENS OUTLOOK:  Unless there is some kind of phenomenal luck or the draft staff finds that there is such a drop in talent that they will trade up, Carriker will not be a Raven.  While Carriker is a very nice player, missing on him isn’t a concern since the defensive end and tackle positions are well-equipped for the next few years.  Bannan is coming back from injury and the only major issues are the contractual status of Terrell Suggs and the age or health of newly rejuvenated Trevor Pryce.  This leans away from the Ravens drafting a defensive end in general, much less trading up for a particularly appealing player. 
 
Jarvis Moss, 6’7”, 250, Florida
 
Jarvis Moss is a player that could do many different things.  In his current state at 250 pounds, he is not big enough to play defensive end unless there is a scheme like the Colts where the ends always line up wide and try to get penetration on each play.  However, he might be able to put on some weight and stick with playing the 4-3 end.  Positive aspects of Moss’ game include impressive height and very long arms.  The size combined with 4.7 speed, high energy play, and terrific ability to generate leverage make him a wonderful prospect for a team that might not lock him into one position.  After watching the national championship game, fans all over the country were put on notice of Moss’ ability to get into the backfield and blow up plays.  Impact rushers like this are highly sought after and his ability to play end or potentially outside linebacker could really intrigue a team like the Pittsburgh Steelers who often use a linebacker as a primary rush threat.   The only real negatives on Moss are his status as a ‘tweener’ style player in some systems, a serious health problem two years ago, and potential weakness at the point of attack when matched head on by a blocker. 
 
RAVENS OUTLOOK: Moss is often forecasted to be a Steelers selection but with the way the draft falls, there is a slim chance that Moss may be available at #29.  Most drafts have him falling no further than the Cowboys at number 22 as Wade Phillips apparently needs two impact pass rushers from the linebacker spot to optimize his style of 3-4 attack.  To make a long story short if Moss is around at 29, it will be very hard to say no, but chances of that occurring are slim to none. 
 
Ikaika Alama-Francis, 6’5”, 280, Hawaii
 
Alama-Francis is the most dangerous or promising pick when looking at the growth potential of the drafted defensive ends.  Son of Bart Starr backup Joe Francis, Alama-Francis enrolled at Hawaii to play basketball in 2002.  Shortly thereafter he caught the eye of the football coaches and joined the football program in 2003 playing sparingly.  By the time he reached 2005, Jerry Glanville arrived on campus and brought with him the house of pain defense.  While still very raw and having limited experience, he is an incredible athlete for the position weighing in at 280 pounds running a 4.85 forty.  The warrior is remarkably strong at the point of attack and plays the run very well, having the potential to play all over the defensive line and creates disruption wherever he is located.  Deficiencies include a massive lack of experience compared to other players in the draft and the fact he won’t ever be an elite edge rusher.  There will need to be significant time devoted to improving technique and doesn’t have much in the way of moves outside a phenomenal natural bull rush.  Everything comes down to what team is willing to take a chance on a developmental player that has superstar potential.
 
RAVENS OUTLOOK:  While the allure of such an athlete as Alama-Francis is great, at the end of the day, the Ravens will probably shy away from developing another talent who may play well during the last year of his contract and flee the city for riches elsewhere. 
 
LaMarr Woodley, 6’2”, 266, Michigan
 
LaMarr Woodley is another player who doesn’t seem to fit into any well-defined professional role coming out of college.  After dominating the collegiate game with 12 sacks in 2006, Woodley still seems to lack ideal height and speed.  While other defensive ends such as Jarvis Moss and Anthony Spencer might be able to make a quick transition to the 3-4 outside linebacker, Woodley is more questionable as he runs about one tenth of a second slower in the forty yard dash.  Even so, natural pass rushers will be drafted and a coordinator will find a way to unleash them and let them do their thing.  The question is how, and it will take a team with a truly creative coordinator to figure out how to handle this talent.  Then again all of this 40 talk is completely overrated.  Who else ran a 4.8 in the months before the draft and saw their stock fall?  Terrell Suggs.  The same year Anquan Boldin ran a 4.7 as a receiver and fell into the second round, being the 6th wide receiver taken.  Simply put, if a coach doesn’t lock into a scheme, Woodley is a great player who will be around towards the end of the second round.  His size limitations are an issue when fighting double teams, but in a scheme like the Cowboys, Chargers, Steelers, or Ravens the idea is that one person will fall under the bus and eat up a double team while another roams free or takes on a one on one match up.  This is the strength of Woodley unless the blocker is really massive in which case he may get overwhelmed in the same manner as Adalius Thomas might be when fighting an offensive lineman and not a tight end or running back.
 
RAVENS OUTLOOK:  Woodley could provide great depth at the linebacker position for the Ravens.  Jarrett Johnson will hopefully be solid, but will Dan Cody ever be able to perform in the NFL?  Terrell Suggs has his contract end after the season and if average to good players are getting star-type money imagine the tens or hundreds of millions that will be thrown at Suggs.  If there is a worry about this depth or loss of players, Woodley might be the type of player that can come in and fit right into the dynamic front seven in Baltimore.  The odds of Woodley being available are fairly good with many mocks having Woodley going to get Jets at the 59th selection or even the Ravens at 61.  Woodley has that potential to be the most gifted player on the board when the Ravens determine who their second round pick will be and it would not be surprising to see the Wolverine in purple.
 
Jamaal Anderson, 6’6”, 288, Arkansas
 
Widely regarded as the second best defensive end in the draft after Gaines Adams, Jamaal Anderson is a great speed rusher coming off the edge or when running a stunt.  Anderson is almost a surefire top 20 selection, though some seem to think that he may last until Denver who certainly can use more consistent pass rush without having to blitz.  The team that selects Anderson may run the risk of choosing a one year wonder.  Last season Anderson racked up 13 sacks for the Razorbacks but he has a tendency to rely on his speed over his hands and other technique.  Even with this cautionary note, it would be incredibly shocking if Anderson slipped all the way to 29.
 
 
This article contains information from nfldraftcountdown.com, nfl.com, and various internet video. For other Ravens’ positional discussion, click on the archive icon above.
 
Ravens currently hold the following picks in the 2007 NFL Draft: Nos. 29, 61 (Round 2), 134 & 137 (Round 4 Compensatory Picks), 166 (Round 5), 174 (Round 5 Compensatory Pick), 203  (Round 6) & 207 (Round 6 Compensatory Pick).

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Matt Ennis

About Matt Ennis

Matt is another of a growing list of NFL draft junkies.  He comes to 24x7 by way of Chicago as a respected member of our message board who charts draft eligible player projections.  You can follow this year's projections here. More from Matt Ennis

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