NFL Draft Position Rankings: The D-Linemen

For any football team, at any level the most important spot has got to be up front in the trenches. On the defensive front key guys in the NFL today like: Mario Williams, Jared Allen and Justin Tuck are constantly effecting the results of plays and forcing bad passes , plays with negative yardage , and yes even sacks. So what does it take to be a solid defensive lineman in the National Football League ? For starters the player must have size. If you look at the 3 examples I just gave (Mario Williams , Jared Allen and Justin Tuck) average a 6’5 height and 280 lbs in weight. Another big part of any successful defensive lineman or any defensive player for that matter is his speed. Although these players are huge and heavy they can all really move, Justin Tuck for example ran a 4.6 40 yard dash time… Thats faster than most QB’s entering the draft ! Another key part of a great defensive lineman is the system that he plays in. In the NFL there are two different defensive schemes , The 4-3 and the 3-4. Each system has its pros and cons. For the 4-3 you get more power on the inside with powerful tackles and size while lacking some speed. Some teams that use this system are the Giants , Saints , and Cardinals who all have big time guys up front but lack some speed when getting to the QB. On the flip side the 3-4 defense provides a different look with 3 down linemen and 4 linebackers, 2 being “Hybrid ” types who get double-digit sacks, guys like Clay Matthews and DeMarcus Ware show why this system can be so effective.  Here are my top 5 Defensive Linemen and some others to keep your eyes on :

1. DT Marcell Dareus, Alabama 6’3 319 lbs: By far the most dominant player in this years draft. Posses the size, speed (4.9 40-yd dash) and the key awareness to succeed in both a 4-3 or 3-4 system at the next level. Dareus will be gone early in the top 3 picks overall. My perfect fit for Marcell Dareus is with the Panthers at the 1st overall pick. I say this because the Panthers need another defensive monster up front and also Dareus is just too good of a prospect and talent to pass up ; Lets be honest here Cam Newton is not ready to be an NFL Franchise QB, in my mind Newton will be a big BUST while Dareus will be a monster as soon as he steps on the field. Just like in 2006 when DE Mario Williams went 1st overall to the Texans and QB Vince Young went 3rd to the Titans… And just look how that turned out.

Projection: top 3

Marcell Dareus

Comparison: DE Richard Seymour

2.DT Nick Fairley, Auburn 6’3 291 lbs: Not nearly as flexible or durable as Dareus but still extremely explosive. Fairly won the Lombardi Trophy for most outstanding interior lineman for the year. What Fairley brings to the table is strength and an amazing ability to plug up wholes in the running game.  He will be good in a 3-4 but GREAT in a 4-3 role. However I don’t think he will make an immediate impact in the NFL. I see Fairly falling to the Tennessee Titans at 11. For me he’s the best player on the board at that point and won’t be passed up.

Projection:top 15

Comparison: DT Pat Williams

3. DE Robert Quinn, North Carolina 6’4 265 lbs : In one word Robert Quinn can be described as “EXPLOSIVE”. With a 40 yard dash clocking in at 4.6 seconds (The fastest of all d-linemen) and great size Quinn would have been my number 2 lineman had he not been suspended at UNC. Quinn has all the makings of an elite outside rusher in a 3-4 system. But he could also be an effective down lineman similar to a Justin Tuck or Julius Peppers. My pick for Robert Quinn is Dallas Cowboys at number 9 to complement DeMarcus Ware as an outside rusher.

Projection:top 15

Da'Quan Bowers

Comparison:DE/OLB Brian Orakpo 

4. DE Da’Quan Bowers,Clemson 6’4 280 lbs :   Basically just another version of Robert Quinn but a little bit slower (4.7 second 40) and heavier by 15 lbs which categorizes him as more of a down lineman then Quinn. He fits in a 4-3 scheme as an outside guy that will contain the outside and stop most pitch or stretch plays to his side. He will be picked in the 1st round but not until at least the New England Patriots 1st of 8 picks at 17th overall.  And will be a monster under the New England system, even though they run a 3-4.

Projection: mid to late 1st round

Comparison: DE Tyson Jackson

5. DE J.J. Watt, Wisconsin 6’6 290 lbs:   Part of the best defensive line in college football last year, JJ Watt standing at a towering 6’6 , 290 lbs represents the old school, smashmouth football world of the Big 10. Watt has all the intangibles and size to be a star in the NFL and have longevity. The only thing lacking is that breakout and explosive speed that Bowers and Quinn above him have. I see Watt going the Indianapolis Colts at 22nd overall.

Projection: late 1st round

Comparison: DE Jared Allen

 Other Guys to Watch

  • DE  Aldon Smith, Missouri 
  • DT  Corey Liuget, Illinois
  • DE Muhammad Wilkerson, Temple
  • DT Stephen Paea , UCLA
  • DE Cameron Jordan, California


Tommorrow : LB and DB

Hokies entering the NFL


With the NFL Draft just 1 Week away we here at Sports Haven hope to bring you the most and best NFL Draft coverage leading up to my personal favorite date on the NFL Calendar. To kick things off I would like to talk about one of the top things on my mind in the years draft…. Where will this years Hokie draft class end up?? Overall there are 9 different players leaving Blacksburg for a shot in the pros. The class is led by RB Ryan Williams, CB Rashad Carmichael and QB Tyrod Taylor. All three of these players are projected to be selected by the end of the 2nd day (Rounds 1-3). Today I will breakdown and give a little Bio on these 3 Hokie stars and name some of the other players who are NFL bound. We will start from the top..


Ryan Williams
  1.   RB Ryan Williams (5’9 212 lbs):   Going back to his days in Manassas,VA Ryan Williams has always been a playmaker. Whether its carrying the ball or going out for a pass there is no shortage in talent, strength , power and speed. Ryan impressed many at the combine with 19 reps of 225 lbs on the bench press and a 4.6 second 40-Yard Dash time. But where Williams has made his biggest impression is on the field. As a Redshirt Freshman in 2009 he rushed for over 1,600 yards and scored 22 TD’s earning ACC Rookie of the year honors. However 2010 would be a much different year for the speedster Williams. In the 3rd game of the season against the East Carolina Pirates Williams destroyed his Hamstring and missed the next 3 games that followed. In the end Williams rushed for only 477 yards and scored 10 times overall. But even though his 2010 was cut short Williams looked fine after the injury, partially because he was only on the field once every 3 carries (splitting time with Evans and Wilson)

In the end I see Williams going in the early part of the 2nd round to a team like the Giants or Redskins who both are in need for a young, speedy and powerful back to build their teams around.

2. QB Tyrod Taylor (6’0 198 lbs):  Since 2007 Tyrod Taylor has been a fan favorite at Va. Tech. From his electrifying “3rd and 31” conversion against FSU to his game winning toss-up to beat the Nebraska Cornhuskers in 2009 Taylor has always been cool, calm and collective when put in pressure situations.  Over his Hokie career Taylor finished with a 38 – 9 record as a starter, a career milestone for a Hokies QB. What makes Taylor so great is his ability to extend plays that could be losses into big chunks of yardage. This can be seen in his numbers all time:  7,017 yards passing with 44 TD ‘s and 2,187 yards rushing with 23 rushing TD ‘s over his 4 year career at Tech.  The big problem or “complaint ” with Tyrod is his height compared to the other QB’s in this years class. Standing at a small 6’0 feet tall only two other QB’s have had major success in the NFL.  One of those two obviously is Mike Vick, another Hokie grad. The other is Saints QB Drew Brees but I wanna focus on Vick. It is because of Vick that Taylor may get a shot to play behind center in the NFL.

My prediction for “T-Mobile” is that he will get his shot to play as a QB in the pros. Despite criticism form scouts and all the suggestions to move to a slot back or wide-out, Tyrod is a proven winner and has always played the QB position and will go along with it for as long as he possibly can. He will go in the late 3rd to early 4th rounds  to a team looking for an exciting explosion of talent and speed at either QB , WR or even HB.

3.  CB Rashad”Roc” Carmichael (5’11 186 lbs):  Probably the most underrated player coming into the draft out of Virginia Tech, Rashad “Roc” Carmichael quietly put together a solid 4 year career as a Hokie. Racking up 114 tackles and picking off 10 passes over 4 seasons. Where Roc’s presence was felt most was in the locker room. Like Tyrod Taylor, Carmichael was a very vocal leader from day 1 with the Hokies and was a playmaker on some pretty emotional plays that changed the course of some key games for the Hokies. The most recent was in the Thursday Night ESPN broadcast against Georgia Tech in Blacksburg. After David Wilson returned a kick off for a TD the Yellow Jackets were driving down field and had one final chance to win rowdy Blacksburg. This opportunity was crushed when Roc picked off a fade route with under a minute remaining, locking up the win for Va. Tech.  As for his draft prospects Roc at 5’11 will likely move to safety in the pros and become a hard hitter and playmaker on special teams. 

 My prediction for Roc is that he will be selected in the middle of the 3rd round by a team that will be looking to add depth to its defensive backfield. If given the chance Carmichael will prove to his team and coaches that he can and will compete for the job and for a spot in the top two spots on the depth chart. But I think the picking of Roc Carmichael will be more for his intangibles and leadership on the field than his production on the field.

Carmichaels pick against GT


 Other Prospects


  • RB Darren Evans(6’0 227 lbs) : 4-5 rounds
  • DE Steven Friday(6’4 250 lbs) : 4-5 rounds
  • DT John Graves (6’3 286 lbs) : 5-6 rounds
  • WR/TE Andre Smith(6’5 269 lbs): 5-6 rounds
  • S/CB  Davon Morgan (6’0 195 lbs): 6-7 rounds


AFC East Draft Preview


Gang Green

With only one week left until the NFL’s annual draft we here at Sport’s Haven are trying something new.We will do a draft preview and offseason in review for all of the division’s with Mike doing the NFC and myself doing the AFC. Don’t worry we will still have our 2 round Mock Draft page. Now let’s get to it today I will talk about the AFC East which includes the Buffalo Bills, New York Jets, New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins. I will go from worst to first from the 09-10 season which means the Buffalo Bills are on the clock!!!    


Buffalo Bills – Last season Buffalo had some major problems one being another failed experiment of Terrell Owens and some major injuries headlined another disappointment as the Bills finished with a 6-10 record. One thing that the Bills have had major problems with over the years is the QB Position which is one of their positions needed and with the 9th pick overall in the draft a QB will likely be taken. Another need is definitely the offensive line. With these things in mind the likely targets are Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen, Texas QB Colt McCoy or use their early 2nd round pick to select Tim Tebow after picking the best Lineman available in the 1st. My final Pick: OT Bryan Bulaga then Tebow in 2nd round.    






  Miami Dolphins – The Miami Dolphins had a tough year in 09 starting out 0-3 then ending the year on the same low note. Bill Parcells made a splash for his fish by bringing in star wideout Brandon Marshall and All-Pro Linebacker Karlos Dansby who will both have major impacts on the Dolphins. The Dolphins last draft selected a speed cover corner in Vontae Davis who had 49 tackles in 9 games last season and a wildcat QB in Pat White. With their 12th overall pick look for the Tuna to pick between local South Florida pass rusher Jason Pierre-Paul and Texas stud Sergio Kindle who both will be used as hybrid pass rushers. Or the Fish may go another route and take an exciting speedster like C.J. Spiller of Clemson or WR Golden Tate. My final pick: Jason Pierre-Paul will replace Jason Taylor as rush end    

New England Patriots- The Patriots who have been the dominant football franchise over the last decade got a sickining reality check when the New York Jets came out of nowhere to win the AFC East divisonal title. What the Pats lacked last season was a dominant OLB to dominate and control to edge. Also the once great reciever core took some hits from last year with some major injuries to Wes Welker and a less effective Randy Moss. In last year’s draft the Pats took Saftey Patrick Jung who played alot last season and selcted Julian Edelman in the 7th round which helped them cope with the injuries to Welker. For this year when the Patriots go on the clock with the 22nd pick in this years draft look for them to maybe take a Sergio Kindle or Clemson’s Ricky Sapp to fill that OLB void. My Final Pick: Ricky Sapp; strong, athletic and explosive plus Kindle will be off of Board    



New York Jets-  The once phrased “Same Old Jets” looked like nothing that could even be compared to that phase. With the additions of the hardcore Rex Ryan “Kill E’m All” style and Bart Scott the Jets had a truly suprising year to say the least with a winning season, Division title and to cap it off an AFC Championship game appearance. The Jets had a very busy offseason… Parting ways with Thomas Jones, Lito Sheppard and Kerry Rhodes while adding stars Ladanian Tomlinson, Santonio Holmes and Antonio Cromartie . Now to the draft board… when picking for a Rex Ryan style team you need a criteria of a hard-working, hard-hitting and aggressive individual on either side of the ball some names come to my mind very quickly. Names like Michigan’s Brandon Graham and Everson Griffen of USC come to mind if they want to improve the linebacking core or DT’s Ben Price of UCLA and DT Jared Odrick can be options if Kris Jenkins’ health isn’t where it needs to be. My Final Pick: Everson Green; fits Rex Ryan’s style on Defense. My next post will be on the AFC North and hopefully we will have some NFC stuff up ASAP. Adios