Marcus Smith DE Louisville #91
Size/Athleticism: Average height but long arms add to his length and improve his ability to disrupt passing lanes and keep linemen from getting into his chest. Listed at 252 in college and weighed in at 251 in college, but looks a little lighter than that on film. If he’s gained weight, will his impressive mobility remain?
Run Defense: Lacks the strength to consistently hold his ground at the point of attack and can fairly easily be moved off his spot, especially when lined up with his hand on the ground and immediately engaged with a lineman. Does an adequate job shedding blocks and making plays in pursuit. Keeps his eyes on the backfield and reacts appropriate. Takes proper angles and shows an impressive closing burst. Knows when to keep pace on the edge to close off a seam and when to turn on the jets to close on the ball carrier.
Pass Rush: Extremely explosive edge-rusher. Elite first step and blazes past slow-footed offensive linemen. Shows elite balance and easily dips his shoulder to turn the corner. Played in a very favorable scheme (and against modest competition) to pad his stats. Often lined up from the seven-tech spot and even from the wide-nine position. Times the snap extremely well and often the first defensive player to react. Doesn’t show many pass-rush moves and gets shut down fairly easily if a lineman is able to shut down his initial rush off the edge, and especially if they’re able to get into his chest and engage him.
Versatility: Among the most versatile front-seven players in this draft class. Primarily played with his hand off the ground, in both 4-3 and 3-4 base sets. But also lined up with his hand on the ground 4-3 sets. Has plenty of experience dropping into both zone and man coverage, even against slot receivers. Occasionally lines up from the inside linebacker position to blitz and often wins with an explosive first step.
Intangibles: Originally recruited as a quarterback, but shifted to linebacker and defensive end very early in 2010 season.
Durability: Missed time with an ankle injury in 2011. Missed time early in 2013 season with undisclosed injury.
Comments: Smith has limited experience on the defensive side of the ball as a converted quarterback. He burst onto the scene with a breakout year in 2013 and may only be scratching the surface of his potential. He has the tools to be a quality edge-rusher, and that’s despite limited moves. Once he refines his technique, he could be a legitimate pass-rush threat at the next level. He should make an immediate impact at the next level due to his versatility. He has the rare ability to line up all over the field and creative defensive coordinators will love what he brings to the table.
Scott Crichton DE Oregon State #95
Size/Athleticism: Average height but relatively short arms. Athleticism is decent. He’s fairly explosive off the snap, but extended speed is modest. Shows great balance and agility when working through the junk in pursuit.
Run Defense: A hard hitter who forces fumbles. Strong wrap-up tackler. Short arms hurt his ability to make plays when lunging after the ball carrier in pursuit. Does a nice job keeping his eyes on the backfield and reacting appropriately. Quickly sheds blocks and takes off in pursuit when the the play is away from him. Struggles at the point of attack and can get swallowed up and throw off balance by more powerful offensive linemen. Lacks the elite lower body strength to hold his ground at the point of attack, and tends to get too high out of his stance further limiting his ability to hold his ground.
Pass Rush: Quick first step allows him to occasionally win with speed, especially when he can lower his shoulder force taller offensive linemen to lunge at him, throwing them off balance. Quick footwork and impressive agility in tight spaces allow him to evade linemen when he’s on the edge with some space to maneuver around them. Shows a decent bull-rush and can walk the linemen back into the pocket, but struggles to fully disengage once he’s locked up.
Versatility: Probably limited to play as a down lineman. If he does land in a 3-4 scheme, he could potentially play linebacker but dropping into coverage should be limited. He lacks the speed to cover much ground and certainly can’t stay with anyone in man coverage.
Intangibles: Praised by coaches as a team leader.
Durability: No known issues. Three-year starter.
Comments: Crichton is sort of a ‘tweener. He lacks the dominant strength to excel against the run and doesn’t have the elite athleticism to consistent win as an edge rusher. If he refines his technique he can develop into a quality well-rounded three-down lineman, but he definitely has bust potential and may struggle to make an impact early in his career.
Demarcus Lawrence DE Boise State #8
Size/Athleticism: Average height, but relatively long arms (33 3/4″) add to his length. Decent speed and overall quickness for a defensive lineman but modest athleticism for a linebacker.
Run Defense: Gives a great effort in pursuit. Does a nice job keeping offensive linemen from getting into his chest and shedding blocks quickly. Reliable wrap-up tackler.
Pass Rush: Quick first step and capable of winning with speed off the edge. Capable of lowering his shoulder and slipping past the line on the outside. Limited strength as a bull-rusher. Will occasionally get stonewalled by bigger offensive linemen and struggles to disengaged once they get into his pads.
Versatility: Primarily lines up on the line in the five-tech position, occasionally lining up wide in the seven-tech. Some experience playing with his hand off the ground. Limited experience dropping into coverage but shows enough athleticism to develop in that area. Participated in linebacker drills at the combine and looked relatively fluid.
Intangibles: JUCO transfer who was suspended three times in his two years at Boise State. Suspended on two separate occasions in 2012 for violation of team rules. Suspended again in 2013 for more undisclosed disciplinary issues.
Durability: No known issues.
Comments: Lawrence was fairly productive at Boise State but he’s not a finished product and he’s hurt by the red flags raised due to a series of suspensions. While the exact transgressions are unknown, three suspensions during just two years at Boise State is certainly not a positive sign. As of right now, he’s more polished against the run and does a nice job shedding blocks and gives a great effort in pursuit. But he does have upside as a pass-rusher and may be viewed as a 3-4 outside linebacker.
Trent Murphy DE Stanford #93
Size/Athleticism: Ideal size. Only 19 bench press reps at the combine, but his strength shows up on the field. Functional strength is greater than his weight room strength. Threw discus for the Stanford track team in 2011.
Run Defense: Shows great awareness on the field. Very disciplined and doesn’t overreact to play fakes. Quick to react and takes efficient angles. A strong wrap-up tackler. Range is average at best, but he gives a solid effort and takes efficient angles. Does a nice job fighting through the junk and will make an occasional play downfield simply with effort and putting himself in the right spot.
Pass Rush: Gives a relentless effort but lacks the strength or athleticism to consistently be productive. Strong, violent hands to disengage from blocks, but lacks the explosion to come back with a strong second effort. Pass-rush ability to much stronger from the linebacker position when he has an extra step to gain momentum. Does a nice job converting that momentum into power. Quick first step off the snap, but doesn’t have the agility to turn that into a combination of moves. Still needs to rely on power more than speed to fight past offensive linemen.
Versatility: Lined up all over the field for Stanford. Primarily played with his hand on the ground, both in 3-4 and 4-3 sets. But also lined up at linebacker in both sets, and occasionally dropped into zone coverage.
Intangibles: Team captain in 2013.
Durability: Missed majority of 2010 season with a leg injury but made 41 consecutive starts once he returned.
Comments: Murphy gets the most out of his physical tools and may already be near his ceiling. He doesn’t really stand out in any one area, but has the ability to be a three-down lineman due to the well-rounded nature of his game. He may have the most upside as a 3-4 linebacker because his pass-rush is slightly more effective when he has the room to build some momentum, but he can play in any scheme.
Dee Ford DE Auburn #30
Size/Athleticism: Lacks ideal strength to be a well-rounded defender. Athleticism tests well but it doesn’t show up on the field. He’s more fast than quick.
Run Defense: Lacks the power to hold up at the point of attack. Easily swallowed up by bigger offensive linemen. Above average speed allows him to cover a lot of ground. Fast enough to make some plays in pursuit. Lacks awareness at times. Doesn’t do a great job keeping his eyes in the backfield and is often late to react. Takes inconsistent angles in pursuit.
Pass Rush: A pure speed rusher. Relies on winning off his first step, but his snap anticipation is inconsistent at best. Often the last lineman to react. A pure speed rusher and struggles to convert that speed to power. Once he’s locked up with an offensive lineman, he struggles to disengage. Shows a decent spin move at times.
Versatility: Occasionally used in coverage, both man and zone. Will sometimes rush the quarterback, but then slide off in man coverage with a running back swinging out into the flat. Has experience lining up with his hand on the ground and standing up.
Intangibles: Hard worker. Added over 40 pounds during his college career.
Durability: Did not participate at combined due to a spine injury. Missed time in 2012 due to an abdominal injury. Suffered a herniated disk in 2011 which ended his season. Missed a game with an undisclosed injury in 2010.
Comments: What you see is what you get with Ford. He’s a pure speed rusher and certainly capable of making an impact at the next level but he probably isn’t going to be a three-down lineman. His stock may also be affected by his significant injury history. Even if the injuries are unrelated and don’t pose a risk of reoccurring, it’s tough to ignore the fact that he’s been injured nearly every year of his career. He should ultimately land in the top 50, even if it’s only to be used as a situational pass-rusher.