Arthur Brown LB Kansas State #4
Size/Athleticism: Slightly undersized but makes up for it with his athleticism. Elite quickness and agility to excel in coverage and has the speed to close quickly on the ball carrier.
Run Defense: Typically plays off the line of scrimmage to avoid engaging in blocks. Stays patient in his space but then closes with an impressive burst when he diagnoses the play. A very patient linebacker who stays in his zone and rarely commits too early or misreads a play. Vision is his best asset as he needs to weave through traffic without engaging with a blocker. Reliable wrap-up tackler but also a hard hitter. Extremely explosive and can build up steam in a short distance to lay out a running back.
Pass Rush: Rarely used as a pass-rusher. He can occasionally catch the offensive line off guard and slip through on a delayed blitz up the middle or sneak by unblocked off the edge, but he won’t provide a consistent pass rush. He’s strictly a coverage linebacker, who can be used on a sneak attack a few times per game.
Coverage: Elite in man coverage. Has the speed and agility to stick with any tight end or linebacker, and even some receivers. However, he lacks the height to match up with some possession tight ends. He can be a liability in coverage in the red zone when matched up with tight ends that have a four or five inch advantage. Diagnostic skills in zone coverage could use some work. He’s often a step late to react, but definitely has the ability to improve in this area with more experience.
Intangibles: Two-time team captain. Older brother of Eagles running back Bryce Brown. Named in the allegations against Miami by booster Nevin Shapiro for receiving impermissible benefits. Transferred to Kansas State after 2009 season.
Durability: Missed Senior Bowl due to shoulder injury.
Comments: Brown is the type of athlete that many teams are going to start to look for to help slow down the read-option offense. He’s a true sideline-to-sideline defender who can play in either the 4-3 or 3-4 scheme. In a 3-4 he’s strictly an inside linebacker. In the 4-3 he can play the middle or weak-side position. He may receive a range of grades depending on the scheme, but any team looking for an elite athlete in coverage and against today’s evolving offenses, Brown should receive a first-round grade.
John Jenkins DT Georgia #6
Size/Athleticism: Elite size and strength. A prototypical nose tackle. Much quicker than your typical 350 pound nose tackle. He’s a threat to get into the backfield and make some plays.
Run Defense: Has the size to be a space-eater and take on multiple blockers. Needs to improve his focus on the field. Doesn’t always see the direction of the play and doesn’t always take the right angles in pursuit.
Pass Rush: Quick off the snap. Very active hands when engaged with offensive linemen. Quicker than you’d expect for a guy his size. He’s more than just a space eater and can collapse the pocket as a pass-rusher. Made a few great plays against Chance Warmack in 2012 SEC Championship Game, walking him back into the backfield before shedding the blocking and making a play. When he gets stopped, it’s generally because he’s playing too upright and gets stood up and loses his leverage.
Versatility: A true nose tackle in either a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme. Potentially has the athleticism to play end in a 3-4 scheme for certain teams who prefer size over athleticism at the position.
Intangibles: JUCO transfer. Suspended by team from bowl game in 2013 due to academic issue.
Durability: Suffered hamstring injury in 2011. Suffered from heat exhaustion during a practice in 2011.
Comments: Jenkins can immediately step into a starting role at nose tackle. He played in the 3-4 scheme at Georgia with experience at end and tackle, so he’s ready to immediately step into that role. He reminds me of B.J. Raji. Jenkins isn’t quite as consistent, but flashes the elite size/athleticism combo in bursts. If he’s used as part of a rotation he could be extremely effective.
Kawann Short DT Purdue #
Size/Athleticism: Average height. Weighed in under 300 at combine but played closer to 315-320 for most of his career at Purdue. Looked even larger during his junior year, which slowed him down considerably. Long arms for his height allows him to play with leverage and also get into passing lanes. Has shown decent quickness at times, but his motor is somewhat inconsistent. Athleticism to definitely dependent on his weight.
Run Defense: Physical presence on the interior line. Has the strength to eat up space and take on multiple blockers. Shows great awareness. Keeps his eyes in the backfield and adjusts to the direction of the play. Patient defender; knows his speed limitations and stays in his space. Won’t chase anyone down from behind, but he can make the quick bursts to close on the ball carrier when he comes into his area.
Pass Rush: Quick off the snap and can often win one-on-one battles on the interior. Mixes in an occasional spin move to work his way into the backfield. Can use some athleticism in quick bursts, but ultimately he’s a bull rusher. Won’t rack up many sacks, but he consistently collapses the pocket. The type of interior lineman that impacts the pass rush by making the quarterback uncomfortable in the pocket, allowing others to finish the play.
Versatility: Lined up as a three and five technique depending on the set. Lack of athleticism makes him better suited to play inside in a 4-3 or even at nose tackle in a 3-4 if he put some weight back on.
Intangibles: Team captain.
Durability: Suffered an ankle injury during 2012 seasons. Missed team pro day due to a hamstring injury.
Comments: Short doesn’t really stand out in any one area, but he’s an extremely consistent performer who can influence all areas of the game. He has the size to eat up space and take on multiple blockers, but also has just enough athleticism to make a few plays on his own. He can play in any system, but would probably be best suited playing inside in the 4-3. Due to his fluctuating weight, each team may view him in a slightly different role.
Jesse Williams DT Alabama #54
Size/Athleticism: Elite strength. Surprisingly quick for his size. Doesn’t look like the type of athlete who can move well, but he’s much faster than your typical nose tackle.
Run Defense: Prototypical nose tackle. He’s built like a fire hydrant and is incredibly difficult to move off his spot. Wins the one-on-one battle every time. Even in double team situations, it’s very difficult to move him. You simply need to neutralize him and create a hole around him. Quick to react to the play. He disengages from blocks easily and is fast enough to make a few plays in pursuit. Short arms hurt his ability to make plays. He misses some tackles when he isn’t able to fully wrap guys up. Lateral mobility is his best asset. He isn’t fast enough to chase anyone down from behind, but he sees the play developing and is quick to shift into position to plug a hole. Even when he isn’t the one making the play, he impacts a lot of plays by shedding a block to plug a hole, forcing the runner elsewhere.
Pass Rush: Explosive off the snap and surprisingly quick. Due to his build, he’s a pure bull rusher. Lacks the length to really fight with his upper body and generate any meaningful pass rush moves. He gets into the backfield by staying low and simply bulldozing his way through interior offensive linemen. Gets his arms up into passing lanes, but he isn’t exceptionally tall and his arms are short for a typical lineman.
Versatility: Experienced at nose tackle in Alabama’s 3-4. He may have enough athleticism to play end in the 3-4 early in his career, but in the long term, he’s a space-eating nose tackle in any scheme.
Intangibles: Grew up in Australia playing rugby and didn’t start playing football until age 14. Originally committed to Hawaii but was forced to attend JUCO for academic reasons. Has a YOLO tattoo on his face.
Durability: Suffered concussion in 2012.
Comments: Williams would be a perfect fit for a hybrid defense due to his size and athleticism. He can line up at tackle or end in the 3-4 and inside in 4-3 sets. But even in a standard 4-3 he has value as a space-eater at nose tackle. His ability to handle doubles teams without giving up ground will make him a valuable asset in run defense in any system.
Sheldon Richardson DT Missouri #34
Size/Athleticism: Modest overall size, but has the nice blend of strength and athleticism. He has the strength to bull rush his way into the backfield, but also has the speed to use his athleticism to work his way around interior offensive linemen. Plays with an impressive motor.
Run Defense: Lacks the elite strength to excel at the point of attack, but he holds his own. Struggles to shed double teams at the point of attack, but he’s generally able to hold his ground even if he can’t penetrate. Does a great job in pursuit. Fights through traffic and demonstrates an impressive motor. Fast enough to make some plays in pursuit. Does a nice job keeping his eyes in the backfield and reacting to the direction of the play.
Pass Rush: Explosive off the snap. A full-speed-ahead pass rusher who really pins his ears back and explodes off the snap. Impressive strength, especially considering his relatively modest size for an interior lineman. Does a great job collapsing the pocket even when he fails to disgusting from a block and fight his way into the backfield. Stays low and plays with good leverage to bull rush his way into the backfield. Does a nice job getting his arms up into passing lanes.
Versatility: Experience lining up as a three-tech in 4-3 sets, and as an end and nose tackle in 3-4 sets. At his best as a three-tech, but could play end in a 3-4.
Intangibles: JUCO transfer with only one year of experience as a full-time starter.
Durability: No significant injuries of note.
Comments: Richardson is an explosive pass-rush who can get into the backfield with ease using a variety of moves. What really sets him apart from other prospects, however, is his consistency. Many other interior pass-rushers struggle against the run but Richardson holds his ground. He can definitely be pushed around at the point of attack at times, but he makes up for with an elite motor in pursuit. He’s a true three-down lineman and should excel immediately in a 4-3 scheme.
Sharrif Floyd DT Florida #73
Size/Athleticism: On the smaller side for a defensive tackle. Only average height and overall size. But makes up for modest size and strength with impressive athleticism. Few interior offensive linemen can match his quickness.
Run Defense: Lacks the dominant strength to really anchor at the point of attack against the run. He can get pushed around, especially in double-team situations. Has the speed to make some plays in pursuit. Gives a strong effort in pursuit, always gets back up quickly and when he’s knocked down by a cut block. Needs to do a much better job keeping his eyes in the back field. He’s often slow to react to the direction of the play and offensive linemen can manipulate his direction as a result.
Pass Rush: Shows a nice array of pass rush moves from the interior. Strong upper body and active hands allows him to fight his way through the interior offensive line. Bull rush works occasionally in one-on-one matchups, but typically needs to disengage from a block and work his way around the lineman to slip into the backfield. Not the type of pass rusher that plows through the middle of the line immediately off the snaps; he simply lacks that type of power and explosion. Inconsistent off the snap; often the last one to move.
Versatility: Has experience lining up at end in 3-4 sets and tackle in the 4-3. However, he’s a much better fit as a three-technique tackle in a 4-3 defense. He lacks the strength to handle the duties of
Intangibles: Not significant positives or negatives.
Durability: No significant injuries of note.
Comments: Floyd is a prototypical three-technique tackle who can be an asset as a pass rusher from the interior line. However, he isn’t a complete player due to his struggles against the run. His grades will vary based on the team. Certain teams want to have a guy like Floyd who can pin his ears back and go after the quarterback (the Lions use Ndamukong Suh in this way, for example). But other teams want a more well-rounded player who can be an asset on all three downs. Floyd may draw interest from 3-4 teams because he has the basic tools necessary to play the 3-4 end position, but he lacks the strength to really excel at the position. Overall, I give him a late 1st-round grade. But as a 3-4 end, he’s more of a late-2nd-round prospect.
1. Wide Receiver
The Minnesota Vikings need to upgrade the talent around Christian Ponder. Michael Jenkins has already been cut, and to make matters worse, it sounds as though Percy Harvin could be traded at some point this offseason. This is a position that must be address with a high-profile free agent, or in the first round of the draft.
The Vikings could use an upgrade at both middle and weak-side linebacker, especially if Erin Henderson isn’t re-signed. Arthur Brown and Alec Ogletree could be options in the first round.
3. Defensive Tackle
The Williams wall crumbled a few years ago and the Vikings interior defensive line hasn’t been the same since. They could use a nose tackle to plug in next to Kevin Williams.
1. Weak-side linebacker
The Cincinnati Bengals have relatively few glaring holes to fill. As a result, their primary needs are fairly specific. Vontaze Burfict is expected to shift to inside linebacker to replace Rey Maualuga, leaving a gaping hole on the weak side. This could be addressed in the second round with Arthur Brown.
2. Right Tackle
Re-signing Andre Smith would solve this issue, but he’s expected to command a fairly hefty price tag, and considering his inconsistency and weight issues, he may not be worth it. The Bengals may consider addressing this in the first round with Alabama’s D.J. Fluker.
3. Running Back
BenJarvus Green-Ellis is servicable, and the Bengals could certainly survive another year with him as the feature back. But they should at least entertain the idea of adding a younger option such as Eddie Lacy in the first or second round.
Barkevious Mingo DE LSU #49
Size/Athleticism: Incredible athleticism. Height is only average which hurts him slightly. His strength is very average, which is a key reason why he’s a liability against the run. If he’s going to be a three-down lineman, he needs to add about 10 pounds of muscle.
Run Defense: A liability against the run. Weak at the point of attack. Susceptible to draws because he almost exclusively blitzes off the edge and offensive linemen can dictate the direction he takes. Used almost exclusively as a pass-rusher at LSU, so his experience against the run is limited. He lacks the upper body strength to consistently shed blocks. Effort is never an issue, it’s just a matter of not having the strength to get the job done. When he recognizes the run he does tend to take proper angles in pursuit, and does a nice job fighting through traffic.
Pass Rush: Elite explosion off the snap. Can fly past slow-footed offensive tackles and get into the backfield before the quarterback has time to react. But can also be overaggressive at times. Offenses can manipulate him on draws and screens because he flies into the backfield and full speed on every play. Needs to become a more well-rounded player, rather than a guy whose sole focus is the quarterback. Can be stonewalled by more physical offensive linemen once they engage him. Below average strength and has almost no leverage as a bull rusher. Consistently gets his arms up into passing lanes.
Versatility: Primarily lined up at defensive end, but may be better suited for linebacker in a 3-4. Very little experience dropping into coverage.
Intangibles: Limited experience and production. Shows tons of potential, but was only part of the rotation at LSU and his production was modest at best. A player with legitimate top-10 skills should have been more dominant than he was in college.
Durability: No known issues.
Comments: Mingo will immediately be a force as a pass-rusher, but he won’t be a three-down player early in his career. And it’s fair to wonder if he’ll ever become that type of player. However, in today’s NFL teams need pass-rushers more than ever and even if he’s only going to play 60-70 percent of his teams’ snaps. Bruce Irvin played just under 50 percent of the Seahawks defensive snaps as a rookie, and that’s about what we should expect from Mingo early in his career. If he develops into a more well-rounded player, that’s great, but I wouldn’t rely on him for anything more than an elite pass-rush specialist.
Ezekiel Ansah DE BYU #47
Size/Athleticism: Tall and well built. Really long arms gives him exception length and allows him to play with leverage. Bench press at the combine was below average, but considering his long arms it shouldn’t be a concern. He clearly plays with upper body strength and that’s what matters.
Run Defense: Surprisingly patient and does a nice job anticipating. Impressive speed in short bursts, closes quickly on the ball carrier. Strong upper body allows him to shed blocks fairly consistently. Stout at the point of attack. Uses his length to get good leverage and holds his ground.
Pass Rush: Can bull rush his way into the backfield when he’s in a one-on-one situation but lacks the pass-rush moves to maneuver his way around strong offensive linemen who hold off his initial push. Unbelievable initial pop; he can knock lineman to the ground with one blow. But needs to rely on more than just his strength.
Versatility: Lined up all over the field and end, three-technique, nose tackle and linebacker. Best suited for playing a 4-3 end position, but could definitely play linebacker in a 3-4. May lack some of the lateral movement required to really excel at linebacker, however.
Intangibles: Intelligent off the football field. Relatively new to the sport. Enrolled at BYU to participate in track and field. Joined football team in 2010.
Durability: No known issues.
Comments: In terms of raw talent, Ansah is the premier defensive end in this year’s draft class. He may not make a significant impact as a rookie due to the fact that he’s still learning the nuance of being a well-rounded pass-rusher, but there is no denying his raw skill set. He’s an intelligent guy on and off the field and there’s no reason to believe he won’t dedicate himself to learning the sport and developing into an elite player.