With nearly everyone focusing on defensive ends, such the University of Virginia's Chris Long or Ohio State's Vernon Gholston, some may be neglecting that there is a great amount of talent at the position that should last deep in the first round and into the second round. University of Miami (Fla.) defensive end Calais Campbell fits that particular mold, as he showed great capability of both rushing the passer and defending the run at points in his college career.
Redshirted in 2004 as a true freshman, Campbell would play in all 12 games as a backup defensive end in 2005 while making one start. He would finish with 35 tackles, 2 1/2 sacks and eight quarterback pressures in his first year of action with the Hurricanes. However, 2006 would be the year he put himself on the map. Campbell was named to the First-Team All-ACC team after recording 80 tackles, 10 1/2 sacks and 16 quarterback pressures. Unfortunately, he would lose a little in his junior year, finishing with just 50 tackles and six sacks in 2007. While his numbers dropped, they didn't prevent him from forgoing his final season with Miami and declaring for this year's draft. Campbell finished his career at Miami with 158 tackles, 19 1/2 sacks, 39 tackles for loss and 30 quarterback pressures.
While the drop-off in his production might not seem so great, it has caused some concerns amongst teams. Campbell addressed those concerns and said, "My technique wasn't as good as the year before because I was worried about the double teams and not concentrating on the little things. I was a little bit frustrated."
Campbell's size is something to covet, as he is one of the tallest defensive ends in this year's draft. His 6-foot-7 1/2-inch height combined with a 35 1/2-inch wingspan could wreak havoc for opposing offenses game after game. Despite his large frame, he is able to play with leverage often and combined with a solid amount of strength, is able to use all three to either turn the corner against offensive tackles or help stuff the run.
Campbell's run defense is also a major positive, as it helps ensure he will be on the field for the majority of the game instead of becoming a situational defensive end. Campbell is very good at making sure the ball carrier doesn't get by him if he can get his hands on him, as well as extending outside running plays in an effort to keep the ball carrier from turning upfield too early.
While he has great size, his timed drills were not so good. Campbell ran the 40-yard dash in 5.03 seconds at the 2008 NFL Scouting Combine and 5.06 seconds at his Pro Day. He also ran the short shuttle in 4.60 seconds and the three-cone drill in 7.19 seconds. While other defensive ends in this year's draft were running their 40s in the 4.70-4.80 range, Campbell was roughly two-tenths of a second slower than the top talent in this year's defensive end class.
Campbell's down year last year also has to be considered a negative since it seems to have some teams concerned. Campbell acknowledged that facing double teams played a hand in his technique, which led to him recording more than 30 fewer tackles and 4 1/2 fewer sacks. However, playing defensive end in the NFL will mean he can look towards more of the same from opposing offenses. He can hold his own when going against double teams, but he still must improve in order to beat them more consistently.
Expected Draft Placement
Campbell should hear his name called on the first day of this year's NFL Draft. While some teams may be concerned about last year for Campbell, he still performed well enough for consideration in the first or second rounds of the 2008 NFL Draft. He's unlikely to go in the first half of the round, but he could go as high as No. 21 overall.
The Washington Redskins could use another defensive end on their team, and Campbell would be a nice complement to defensive end Andre Carter. The Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 26 overall are also a possibility, as Jaguars defensive ends Reggie Hayward and Paul Spicer are both getting older; plus, the team just lost Bobby McCray to free agency. The New York Giants at No. 32 overall could also consider Campbell in the first round if defensive end Michael Strahan retires. However, the Giants also could shift linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka back to defensive end, so there are other options for them as well.
About Michael Egnak
Michael Egnak is a Hot Off The Wire Analyst at KFFL and has been with the company since 2005. Covering both NFL and MLB, Egnak is also a key contributor to KFFL's fantasy services.
Don't miss these great reports....