By KFFL Staff on April 30, 2011
Howie Long on First-round Defensive Linemen
The first round in the 2011 NFL Draft was dominated by the defensive line position, which saw 12 defensive lineman selected, as it should be. That's a remarkable number when you take into account the fact that the guy many felt could go as high as No. 1, Da'Quan Bowers, wasn't even selected. Here's an evaluation of all 12 picks and how they fit with their new teams:
The only thing surprising about this pick is how Dareus will translate to the Bills three-man front. I believe that his talents are best utilized at the three-tech in a four-man front. But I will say this, Dareus is a heck of a football player who is versatile enough to play on the nose, in a one-tech, a three-tech, a five-tech in a three-man front and if need be the 7 tech outside on the strong side at end. He's tough, powerful and pro ready having played under Nick Saban at Alabama. Many felt he was the best player in the draft, I say if he's not he's pretty close to it. Great pick.
Explosive, versatile athlete, whose best years are ahead of him. He's very young and will get nothing but better. I was surprised that he went this early due to the questions San Francisco has at quarterback, but he makes a very good defensive front even better right away. He can play with his hand on the ground at end, move inside over the guard on third down or stand up as a linebacker.
Houston is making the switch to a 3-4 defense and needed a guy to fit that scheme and Watt is the perfect fit for the strong side base end opposite Mario Williams. With great size and strength, he has the ability to two-gap on run downs but also has the ability to generate pass rush from that position. Great motor, great character and even better work ethic. He was originally a TE and transferred to Wisconsin as a walk on and made the move to defense and the rest, as they say, is history.
I'm not sure if this is even legal! The thought of Fairley lining up next to Ndamukong Suh has to send shock waves through the NFC North. Under Jim Schwartz and Gunther Cunningham this defense is a perfect fit for Fairley. There's a reason why Albert Haynesworth wanted to get back to Tennessee to play in this front: you have one job, attack! This guy can be as good as he wants to be and there lies the million dollar question. Playing next to Suh will challenge him to raise the level of his game.
Explosive player who has the ability to make plays all over the field. Some had questions about his strength at the point of attack; you have to remember this, due to his suspension by the NCAA for that whole mess down in Carolina involving interaction with an agent, the last time we saw him on the field at Carolina he was 19 years old. He's now 265 pounds and is only 20 years old. I felt that he was the most natural pass rusher in the draft at the defensive end position. He was also a three time state wrestling champion. I love wrestlers.
Washington needed a bookend to Brian Orakpo to play the strong side OLB position and they fill that need with Kerrigan. Some questioned his athleticism, but after running a 4.6 at 265 at the combine I believe he answered all of those questions. There will be a learning curve making the move from DE to OLB. Going from playing with your hand on the ground to playing out of a two-point stance, and having to drop into coverage, is not an easy thing to do. With Kerrigan they will get 100 percent on every snap and his size will allow him to set the edge on the strong side on first down and crank it up on third down as a pass rusher. But Redskins fans will have to be patient with him making that transition.
Really good football player, great motor. Many, including myself, felt that he was a better fit at the three-tech in a four-man front. How he transitions to a 3-4 defense as a base two-gap end and how they utilize his talents will be interesting. Because he's so athletic and explosive I wouldn't be surprised to see him over the guard in an over wide or an under front, where the Chargers slide him inside over the guard in their 3-4 front.
The Bucs struggled to get to the quarterback last season. They needed to get a guy that they could plug in to play on day one, that could help get that done. Clayborn is pro ready, comes from a great program and is a great pick for the Bucs. There were some concerns about the nerve damage he has in the one arm and how it might impact his ability. My response to that is to put the film on - he's a heck of a football player.
Phil Taylor is a massive man, weighing in at around 330 pounds. He has rare athleticism for a man his size. Started his college career at Penn St but was suspended and transferred to Baylor. If there is a concern with Taylor it's that he's struggled with his weight, ballooning up to the 380 range. If he dedicates himself and keeps his weight in check he has a shot to be a dominant player. Most people felt that his best position would be the nose, in a 3 man front. It will be interesting to see how the Browns use him in their new four-man front.
Love this pick. The Saints had to find a bookend to go along with Will Smith to play the strong side defensive end position and Jordan will be that guy on day one. Jordan is a complete player on first down versus the run and he has the ability to get to the passer on third down. I was surprised that he dropped to this spot but in the long run this is a great spot for Jordan. He'll be playing on a team that has an explosive offense, that plays indoors on artificial turf, and in a stadium that has great crowd noise.
The Jets had to get younger up front and find a player who has the potential to be a dominant pass rusher. Wilkerson has a great combination of size and speed and the versatility to play the base end in their two-gap scheme and the athleticism to slide inside over the guard on third down. A lot of people felt that if he had opted to stay in school he might very well be a top-15 pick next year. He has a big upside.
Great pick for the Steelers. They are getting old at the defensive end position and Cam fits the Steelers 3-4 defense perfectly. When healthy, he was a dominant player for the Buckeyes. He has the size and strength to play in their two-gap scheme and the athleticism to generate pass rush from the head up alignment. With J.J. Watt, Muhammad Wilkerson and Cameron Jordan off the board he was the right choice.
Cris Collinsworth, Boomer Esiason, Howie Long, and Phil Simms appeared at an NFL Draft preview event sponsored by Men's Wearhouse in New York City this week as part of the newly formed The Experts Network (TXN) www.TXNSPORTS.com.
KFFL, The Big Lead and Big Lead Sports have exclusive access to Collinsworth, Esiason, Long and Simms to get their thoughts on the NFL Draft. We will be publishing those insights, as well as additional custom video content from the event. Don't miss it!