4-3 Defensive Ends
1) Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina Gamecocks
Career Stats: 130 Tackles, 47 Tackles for Loss, 24 Sacks, 9 Forced Fumbles
Height: 6'5 Weight: 266 lbs.
10 Yard Split: 1.56 Seconds
Bench Press: 21 Reps
The best player in the entire draft. By now, everyone has heard of Clowney and has probably seen just how dominant he can be. Clowney is a tremendous athlete who, despite his size, moves with the same agility and speed of a wide receiver. Despite weighing 60 pounds more than the average receiver, his Combine 40 (4.53 seconds) was equivalent to the average receivers' 40 over the last five years. No one his size should be able to move like that. His burst off of the line and ability to fly past a tackle or guard into the backfield is simply out of this world. This makes him an absolute nightmare on passing downs as is evidenced by his sack and forced fumble totals. Clowney is great at the art of the sack-strip and came up clutch in numerous games with a key turnover. His speed makes him great in pursuit of running backs going across field or cutting back. His ability to fire through the line makes him tough on slower developing running plays. Clowney is not a perfect player at this point however. He could stand to improve runs coming directly at him, especially using his hands more to shed the block. While he has a good framework and has shown tremendous ability in pass rushing moves, he needs to continue to develop them and go to them more often. He has a great swim and rip move, but he tends to rely too much on his raw athleticism at this point. Although he is not a perfect player, he is a perfect prospect from an athletic standpoint. Clowney can be used in multiple spots along pretty much any defensive front seven. He will be an absolute beast in the NFL.
2) Scott Crichton, Oregon State Beavers
Career Stats: 165 Tackles, 51 Tackles for Loss, 22.5 Sacks, 10 Forced Fumbles
Height: 6'3 Weight: 273 lbs.
10 Yard Split: 1.62 Seconds
Bench Press: 24 Reps
Crichton isn't as well known as Clowney, but he is still a very good prospect for a 4-3 end. He has great power and is often able to drive back the tackle or guard that is blocking him. This power combined with his quick burst off of the snap can make him very difficult to handle. Crichton has some great physical tools, but he could still use some refinement in his technique. At this point in his career, he really only has a swim move. While he does utilize it with good efficiency, he should add another move or two to his repertoire to really flourish at the next level. Yet what is impressive about Crichton is how well he uses his hands to shed blockers in both the run and pass defense. His hands are very active which keeps his blocker from every really getting a solid grip on him. Blockers have to work really hard to keep their balance when trying to block Crichton due to all of his positive qualities. His height might be knocked by some scouts, but he has shown a lot of promise going against some very good competition. Crichton might fall in the draft, but I think that any team that can coach him into more than a one move player will get a lot of production out of him.
3) Kony Ealy, Missouri Tigers
Career Stats: 95 Tackles, 27 Tackles for Loss, 12.5 Sacks, 4 Forced Fumbles
Height: 6'4 Weight: 273 lbs.
10 Yard Split: 1.66 Seconds
Bench Press: 22 Reps
Ealy was part of a fierce Missouri defense this year that only allowed 23 points per game. Ealy was a big reason for that success as he is a great source of disruption at the line of scrimmage. He has shown the ability to fight off bigger blockers and seal the edge to force running backs inside. However, he did beat up on some weaker competition this year. To really succeed in the NFL, Ealy is going to need to add muscle in order to consistently beat the tackles and not get pushed around in the run game. Like all the other top defensive end prospects, Ealy gets a good jump off of the line. He also has a relentless motor and has never given up on a play. This allowed him to sack Manziel in Mizzou's upset this year and also allowed him to sack Nick Marshall of Auburn three times in the SEC Championship. His relentless attitude is a plus, but it can only take him so far. Ealy could stand to improve his speed to help him close the gap on running backs on quarterbacks. His speed and power should improve once he gets in an NFL locker room however. What also makes him a good prospect is his versatility. Ealy was lined up all over the line and even rushed standing up. I like Ealy most as a 4-3 end, but wouldn't be surprised to see him playing 3-4 outside linebacker.
4) Dominique Easley, Florida Gators
Career Stats: 72 Tackles, 18 Tackles for Loss, 5.5 Sacks, 0 Forced Fumbles
Height: 6'2 Weight: 288 lbs.
10 Yard Split: Did Not Participate
Bench Press: 26 Reps
Easley is hard to classify because he played as much at the defensive tackle spot as he did on the end. But because I am making my DT section about true 4-3 DT and 3-4 nose tackles, I'm sticking Easley here. Easley is a great athlete who is, unfortunately, injury prone. He has had multiple injuries throughout his time at Florida, and it culminated in an ACL injury this past season that could put his NFL future in jeopardy. If he can remain healthy, Easley could be a steal in the late second or third round. As I mentioned, Easley is incredibly experienced at all positions along the line. After Clowney, Easley has the best release off of the line of any defensive lineman. He burst is so sudden that he is often two steps ahead of his blocker. He has a great amount of strength too that makes him a force at the point of attack against running plays. Easley is just constantly disruptive. It seems like he is always in on the play and often gets some kind of hit on a quarterback. He also possesses a solid array of moves to beat his man. Hopefully Easley can stay healthy for the rest of his career.
5) Kareem Martin, North Carolina Tar Heels
Career Stats: 178 Tackles, 45.5 Tackles for Loss, 19.5 Sacks, 4 Forced Fumbles
Height: 6'6 Weight: 272 lbs.
10 Yard Split: 1.53 Seconds
Bench Press: 22 Reps
Martin is one of the more frustrating prospects in this draft because he has so much potential but has never quite lived up to it. He had a great senior year, but his production and development before that were disappointing. And he still hasn't put it all together yet, as his biggest weakness this year was inconsistency. While he may disappear at times, Martin can be dominant when he is totally committed and focused. He has great athleticism and a great natural body to play on the end. His length gives him great power and he usually maintains good leverage against his blocker. He has shown the ability to use his hands well to shed blockers, and is great against the run. He's even better as a pass rusher as he has shown the ability to get to the quarterback using the both his natural strength and power. However, he needs to develop some additional moves and not be so reliant on his raw athleticism. If Martin falls in the hands of a dedicated coach, he could become a huge asset on any line.