Sunday, April 19, 2009

NFL Draft Averages - DEs

Previously: QBs, RBs, FBs, WRs, TEs, OTs, OGs, OCs, DTs

Moving from the inside out, I'll now take a look at the defensive ends. DEs have become a hot commodity in the last 10 years as defenses shifted away from big, strong run stuffers to smaller and quicker pass rushers. The league is more pass oriented now than it was decades ago. With more drop back passers you need more guys that can crash the pocket and disrupt the QB. DE is a premium position, one in which front office folk will use an early pick to get one.

Like DTs, DEs have different roles in different defensive schemes. Generally, DEs in a 3-4 are converted DTs that still have the main job responsibility of stopping the run. On the flip side, 4-3 DEs have contain on outside runs but are primarily focused on getting to the QB and stopping plays in the backfield.

As I mentioned already, the DE position is an important one and there is no better time to find a young impact player than the NFL draft. Below are the statistics for the position over the last 10 drafts (1999-2008).

Draft trends for DEs (1999-2008).

This is the 10th position I have examined and it now ranks behind only the WRs as the "most demanded position". On average there will be 23 DEs selected over the course of a modern NFL draft, with four of those 23 players being selected in the 1st round. The position is demand throughout the draft, with many teams always looking for the next big thing at the position. This is one of the few positions actually considered to be drafted first overall. Two players have been selected at #1 in the last 10 seasons, with mixed results. Penn State's Courtney Brown went #1 to the Browns in 2000 while the Texans selected North Carolina State's athletic freak Mario Williams with the top pick in 2006, much to the ire of Houston fans and to the surprise of draft pundits. Though I think it's worked out pretty well. No less than 20 DEs have been selected in any draft in the last 10 years, setting up our "will be picked" category. The average adds three more prospects to the "should be picked" group and the 10-year maximum of 26 in 2003 means an additional three are borderline. Any player ranked below 26 is in trouble, according to statistics. Again, the rankings come from The Football Expert supplemented by NFL Draft Scout. Here's the list for 2009.

Will Be Picked

Brian Orakpo, Texas

Tyson Jackson, LSU

Everette Brown, Florida State

Aaron Maybin, Penn State

Robert Ayers, Tennessee

Connor Barwin, Cincinnati

Larry English, Northern Illinois

Michael Johnson, Georgia Tech

Paul Kruger, Utah

Lawrence Sidbury, Richmond

Dave Veikune, Hawaii

Brandon Williams, Texas Tech

Kyle Moore, USC

Matt Shaughnessy, Wisconsin

Michael Bennett, Texas A&M

Phillip Hunt, Houston

Zach Potter, Nebraska

Ian Campbell, Kansas State

Derek Walker, Illinois

Pannel Egboh, Stanford

Should Be Picked

Will Davis, Illinois

Rulon Davis, California

Orion Martin, Virginia Tech


Stryker Sulak, Missouri

Henry Melton, Texas

Tim Jamison, Michigan


Pierre Walters, Eastern Illinois

Will Johnson, Michigan

Everette Pedescleaux, Northern Iowa

Jeremy Navarre, Maryland

MY PREDICTION: At least four (Orakpo, Brown, Maybin, and Jackson) will go in round one, though there is the possibility of one or two of the following sneaking in from picks 19 through 32: Ayers, Barwin, and Johnson. My favorite of the bunch is Barwin, though he'll become a 3-4 OLB. From a pure 4-3 DE standpoint I like Brown, and Jackson is by far the best candidate for 3-4 DE. I think we'll see 24 of these listed DEs drafted, just one above the normal.

UP NEXT: Later today I'll take a look at the LBs, my favorite football position. Unfortunately the statistics don't let me dictate ILB/OLB so the analysis will be interesting to say the least.

No comments: