6’5” – 276 lbs. – 4.80e
Appeared as a reserve over seven games in 2011, then in thirteen in each of the following two seasons, starting seven games as a junior. Plays five-technique on both sides of the Bulldogs’ 3-4 defense, but could go either way as a pro, gaining weight to play left end in four-man fronts or adding some to play in three-man fronts; has previously played at weights ranging from 263 to 284 pounds. Takes the occasional snap out of a two-point stance or inside at tackle. As a run defender, doesn’t always have the gap discipline he should; occasionally goes all-in to rush the passer, leaving his gap unattended. Anchor is a bit inconsistent, but flashes the ability to hold his ground against double-teams thanks to his thick build and long arms. Not likely to drive defenders into the backfield but can generally prevent himself from being blown off the ball. Has advanced instincts/play recognition given his limited starting experience. Can be turned out of the hole; a bit of a waist-bender at times. Lacks the range to pursue tosses and stretch plays to the boundary, although his motor is generally strong in all phases of the game. Needs to do a better job of protecting his legs from cut blocks; can be targeted on screen passes and might initially struggle to defend against zone concepts on rushing attempts. More of a bull-rusher than someone who can win the edge, but can also generate pressure by knifing through inside gaps; also capable of splitting the double-team. Rip move is effective if deliberate; otherwise, lacks a diverse, creative repertoire of rush moves. Mixes in a spin at times but looks lethargic. Has some athleticism but may lack the speed and closing burst to chase down quarterbacks who escape from the pocket; more likely to generate pressure than to finish with a sack. Has trouble if he doesn’t win off the snap. Gets his hands up to contest passing lanes. A bit of a mystery at this point, as physically he lacks the bulk associated with five-technique ends but has been thrust into that role with the Bulldogs and has the skillset associated with the position as opposed to resembling a 4-3 left end playing out of position. Might make sense as a left end in a four-man front which favors the two-gap jumbo ends that have become popular around the league recently. Could really boost his stock with a productive senior season, his first as a full-time starter.
Games watched: Florida (’13), Missouri (’13), Tennessee (’13)
6’4” – 252 lbs. – 4.75e
Worked in a reserve/special-teams capacity for most of 2011, starting two games at tight end. Added seventeen pounds of bulk and converted to defensive end in 2012, starting six of eleven games played; in 2013, started all thirteen games at the position. Plays on both sides of the line; has taken the occasional snap out of a two-point stance, but has an extremely small sample size in that capacity. Tall with long arms and a lanky build; has the frame to add more weight, which will be necessary if teams opt to employ him as a defensive end in an even front. Lower body appears more developed than upper body at this point; can get ragdolled around a bit, but is not easily blown off the line of scrimmage. Able to use his hands to disengage from blocks and make the tackle; radius is also impressive given his length. Pursues well to the sidelines. Run fits are questionable at this point, but flashes desirable tools. As a rusher, appears stiff when asked to bend back toward the quarterback, allowing passers to easily evade him by climbing the pocket; also gets steered wide of the mark by offensive linemen. More of a speed rusher than anything at this point; lacks both creativity and a go-to move for winning off the snap. Also problematic are his reaction times; typically not among the first defensive linemen to get off the line, which allows opponents to negate his speed by getting depth on their kickslide in advance. Has a strong motor as both a pass rusher and a run defender; plays through the whistle and exhibits active hands and feet. Far from a finished product at this point; has a long way to go in terms of strength, of technique, and of instincts. That said, has made substantial gains in terms of bulk and has acclimated well to the defensive side of the ball, which, combined with his projectable frame and athleticism, should make him a desirable project for pro coaches, whether as a defensive end in an even front or an outside linebacker in an odd front. Build might be better suited to the latter, although teams may be somewhat hesitant about asking him to learn his third position in five years. Won’t be selected as highly as former teammate and fellow offensive convert Marcus Smith but should benefit from the association. Somewhat resembles Patriots 2013 seventh-round pick Michael Buchanan.
Games watched: Central Florida (’13), Florida International (’13). Kentucky (’13)
6’3” – 250 lbs. – 4.80e
Has added weight since tipping the scales at 238 pounds during his freshman year; combination of height, bulk, and length is adequate for a pro rusher. Looks like his frame has a little bit more room for growth. Plays both left and right defensive end; occasionally lined up at defensive tackle on obvious passing downs in 2013. Capable of using the ball rush effectively on passing downs; power extends to his ability to reset the line of scrimmage against the run. Active hand use allows him to shed blocks effectively. Can make tackles while engaged in run defense. Physical, passionate player with an impressive motor. Intelligent with high character on and off the field. Doesn’t react very quickly to the ball being snapped; average burst. Not a very creative rusher; gets stuck on blocks if his initial move doesn’t work. Will mix the inside rush in at times, but doesn’t really threaten the edge, although he flashes the ability to bend. Often forced to take indirect routes to the quarterback; would benefit from more consistent application of spins and speed rushes. Rather than winning off the snap, much of his production comes as a result of his motor; lots of second-effort coverage sacks. Can get distracted by blockers and fail to recognize ballcarriers running through his gaps; inconsistent awareness in run defense. Occasionally blown off the ball when anchoring. Built more like a 3-4 outside linebacker but may not be fluid enough to play in space; didn’t look great out of a two-point stance. Comes with serious medical flags; has torn his left ACL twice, once in September 2011 and then again in August 2012. Played in just four games over that span, all in 2011. Has the intangibles to develop into a member of a defensive-line rotation, but is still far from a finished product; missing nearly all of the 2011 season and the entirety of his 2012 campaign has prevented him from cultivating a diverse set of rush moves. Will probably be limited to playing defensive end in the pros, where his stiffness will be better masked; doesn’t look like he’ll be able to do work in coverage. Could improve his stock by diversifying his repertoire of moves and staying healthy as a senior, or kill it with another injury; as it stands now, his strength, his frame, and his mental attributes should help him come off the board somewhere on the draft’s third day.
Games watched: California (’13), Stanford (’13), Washington St. (’13)
6’4” – 267 lbs. – 4.75e
Got a lot of run at left end last year because of the presence of Chris Smith, a fifth-round pick in 2014; however, the two also swapped sides regularly throughout the season. Has above-average height and adequate bulk for a pro defensive end. May not have top-end change-of-direction skills and is a bit stiff (plays on skates at times), but has adequate top-end speed. Can generate some push with his bull rush in passing situations. Does a nice job shedding blocks thanks to his active hand use in the run game, with the type of anchor expected given his frame. Stays low and avoids getting stood up on the play. Capable of chipping backs and tight ends on passing plays. Very linear rusher who can get upfield but doesn’t exhibit much bend; can be steered past the quarterback. Lacks creativity and nuance, relying heavily on a bull rush; frequently stays engaged by a blocker throughout the play. Doesn’t win many battles outright with his initial burst; more of a garbage-sack accumulator. Will require considerable development before he is able to threaten pro blockers with either his speed or his power. Hasn’t incorporated any sort of speed rush, dip, rip, swim, or spin as a rusher. As a run defender, gets impatient in backside contain and can be sucked in by counters and misdirection; generally locates the ball well, but jumps the gun and finds himself taken advantage of. Lunges often and is a leaky tackler in general, although he creates pop on initial contact. Has taken some snaps out of a two-point stance, but his effectiveness in that regard remains a mystery at this point, although he could draw consideration from teams in odd fronts, especially those with two-gap systems who may not be as put off by his lack of a repertoire of pass-rush moves. Potential is there for him to offer something in the passing game, as he flashes the ability to toss quality tackles aside in the run game (see Texas A&M ’13), but somehow hasn’t been able to apply his hand-use and strength to anything approximating the same effect on passing downs. Future is most likely as a left end in an even defensive front, with the potential to break into a team’s rotation if he ever develops a few moves as a rusher. Not as good a prospect as either Smith or 2012 third-round pick Jake Bequette.
Games watched: Louisiana-Lafayette (’13), Southern Mississippi (’13), Texas A&M (’13)
6’2” – 237 lbs. – 4.70e
Has experience rushing the passer out of both two-and-three-point stances on both sides of the defense; could potentially project to either spot at the pro level, but his lack of bulk makes him more likely to interest teams looking for a stand-up rusher in an odd front. Conveniently, did most of his work out of a two-point stance. Solid height and long limbs may convince teams he can add additional bulk at the risk of losing some of the athletic ability which makes him an interesting prospect. Is able to use his arms to prevent defenders from getting into his pads easily. Gets more push with his bull rush than anticipated given his lack of ideal size; generates impressive pop on contact. Mixes in a few different moves, but is generally a speed rusher who rushes deep and attempts to bend back to the quarterback; flashes a strong underarm rip as well as a violent spin. Very flexible. Generally looks smooth changing directions, although initial rush could be a bit shallower in order to prevent quarterbacks from successfully climbing the pocket. Rangy, high-effort player in pursuit, whether versus the run or the pass. Explodes into tackles with more force than would be expected given frame. Has some limited experience in coverage; is capable of carrying backs and tight ends to the next defender in a pattern-matching scheme, but could give up separation if asked to stick with them downfield in strict man coverage. Above-average athlete overall, but doesn’t have elite closing burst. Can be turned and sealed out of the hole in the run game; focus on rushing the passer can be used against him, as tackles allow him into the backfield, abandoning his run fits. Offers little value to teams looking for a two-gap player who can anchor at the line of scrimmage and bring down ballcarriers while otherwise engaged. Much of his production (of which he has only one quality season thus far) has come against right tackles and in second-effort situations. Durability may be a concern after undergoing ankle surgery which caused him to miss all but Mississippi’s four games in 2013; had been durable prior to that, but could magnify concerns that his frame won’t hold up at the next level. Well-suited to the league’s emphasis on playing the pass, as evidenced by the proliferation of sub packages.
Games watched: Mississippi St. (’12), Alabama (’13), Texas (’13)
6’5” – 275 lbs. – 4.80e
2011: 16 – 3.0 – 1.0
2012: 37 – 10.0 – 3.5, 5 QBH, 1 FF, 7 PD
2013: 42 – 14.0 – 8.0, 7 QBH, 3 FF, 6 PD, 1 INT (1 TD)
Redshirted in 2010, then appeared in twelve games in a reserve capacity in 2011. Again appeared in twelve games as a sophomore, starting twelve and finishing fourth on the team in sacks, then finished second as a junior in 2013.
• Production escalated as a second-year starter after a relatively uneventful 2012 season.
• Possesses an ideal combination of height and bulk; weighed 250 pounds back in 2011.
• Gets off the line of scrimmage quickly, typically one of the first to react to ball snapping.
• Bends pretty well, not exclusively a straight-line power rusher like size would indicate.
• On the speed rush, is capable of dipping his shoulder in order to avoid the initial punch.
• Closing speed in pursuit is impressive, can seal the deal after flushing QBs from pocket.
• Strong and explosive enough to enjoy some success as a bull rusher, two-gap value.
• High-motor player, doesn’t give up on his rushes, is willing to pursue through whistle.
• Mixes in rip and swim moves at times in addition to his usual power and speed rushes.
• Regularly slid inside to defensive tackle on passing downs to work as an interior rusher.
• Some of his most noticeable flaws – leverage, awareness – can be improved over time.
• Was really only productive as a junior, but still got upstaged by teammate Michael Sam.
• Gets upright out of his stance, which, combined with his height, leads to poor leverage.
• Powerful enough to get some push, but nonetheless struggles to use strength to shed.
• Awareness in run defense is below-average, gets sucked inside often, allowing cutbacks.
• Also can be cleared out of holes in the run game fairly easily, surprising given his size.
• Would probably need to lose some weight before he could play linebacker in a 3-4.
A player whose size, bulk, and length are in line with prototypical figures for a defensive end in an even front, Ealy is also an explosive player with some bend and an effective bull rush, making it easy to see why he is being viewed as a potential starter in the NFL. However, at this point, the flaws in his game suggest that he will need some additional development time; those weaknesses most notably include leverage issues, difficulty shedding blocks, and below-average run defense, caused by a combination of poor awareness, and block shedding. Additionally, he doesn’t seem to be a natural fit anywhere in a 3-4, although he has played as low as 250 pounds in the past and could potentially develop into a linebacker. Would represent a risky first-round selection, but has the upside to potentially warrant the selection in time.
6’6” – 265 lbs. – 4.80e
2010: 16 – 1.5 – 0.0, 2 QBH, 1 PD
2011: 40 – 7.0 – 4.0, 5 QBH, 6 PD, 1 FR
2012: 40 – 15.5 – 4.0, 8 QBH, 1 FF, 3 PD
2013: 82 – 21.5 – 11.5, 14 QBH, 3 FF, 3 PD
Started the first three of the eleven games he played in as a true freshman, then all thirteen games of his sophomore season and all twelve of his junior season, a year in which he earned second-team All-ACC honors from conference coaches. Was named to the all-conference first-team as a senior in 2013.
• Has three years of starting experience, culminating in an outstanding senior campaign.
• Production escalated sharply during his senior season, more than doubling sack total.
• Tall, long-limbed defensive end who has added some bulk during his time in school.
• Gets good arm extension from opposing blockers, can bat down passes at the line.
• Capable of closing on the quarterback and securing the sack rather than the pressure.
• Patient in the run game, stays at home to defend against cutbacks and misdirection.
• Generally demonstrates fairly active hand use, needs more work but is encouraging.
• Has some two-gap potential due to long arms, can make tackles away from his frame.
• Looks like a 4-3 end but could potentially transition to five-technique with more bulk.
• Still needs to gain more weight, has a relatively thin build, especially in his lower body.
• Not a very powerful player, can be controlled by blockers or washed down the line.
• Doesn’t rely on sudden movements, more of a smooth mover than an explosive one.
• Tends to get high out of his stance, creating leverage problems exacerbated by height.
• Pursuit angles against both the pass and run tend to be a bit narrower than they should.
• Has dropped into coverage and slid inside on occasion, but doesn’t look good at either.
The Tar Heels have done a little bit of everything with Martin, including dropping him into coverage or sliding him inside, but as a pro he has the look for a typical 4-3 defensive end, with his height and length at this point representing his greatest strengths as a player. However, he will need to gain significant bulk, with the frame to seemingly carry up to 285 pounds or so, which could earn him some interest as a five-technique end. Given his size, he’s more coordinated and athletic than anticipated, but doesn’t play with much power and can be controlled by bigger blockers. Leverage problems are also a concern given his height and problematic pad level. Developmental backup despite his productive senior season.
6’4” – 255 lbs. – 4.65e
2010: 13 – 6.5 – 4.0, 1 QBH, 1 FF
2011: 38 – 12.5 – 7.0, 13 QBH
2012: 43 – 11.0 – 5.0, 9 QBH, 1 PD
2013: 44 – 10.5 – 6.0, 21 QBH, 1 FF, 1 PD
Redshirted as a true freshman, then started two of fourteen games played in 2010, contributing in a rotational capacity. Earned second-team all-conference honors in 2011 after starting thirteen games, missing one due to injury. Was again named to the All-ACC Second Team as a junior, starting eleven of thirteen games played. Finished his career with twelve more starts in 2013.
• Experienced player with three years of starting experience, four years of playing time.
• Has an ideal combination of size and length for a pass rusher; played as high as 269.
• Explosive athlete who has reportedly recorded a 39.5” vertical leap at Virginia Tech.
• Gets off the line of scrimmage in a hurry, can win with his ability to get off the line fast.
• High-motor rusher, keeps his feet moving and won’t give up on the play while it’s alive.
• Usually rushes out of a four-point stance but has also worked out of two/three-point.
• Athletic enough to drop into coverage, even did some work against Eric Ebron this year.
• Seems like a good candidate to convert to outside linebacker once he reaches the NFL.
• Doesn’t locate the ball very well in the run game, is susceptible to misdirection plays.
• Tends to crash down against the run rather than setting the edge and redirecting inside.
• Gets high out of stance which, combined with height creates problems with leverage.
• Generally doesn’t win with power, relies on his athleticism to win on his rush attempts.
• Doesn’t do a great job of shedding blocks, can be controlled if he doesn’t win off snap.
• Benefited from lining up at left end, rushing against right tackles rather than left tackles.
• Hand use isn’t particularly good thus far, relies more on dipping his shoulder/bending.
Gayle is an accomplished speed rusher who was able to create plenty of pressure over the past three seasons from the left end position. His combination of height, length, and explosiveness should earn him interest from teams looking for a reserve/rotational edge rusher, especially organizations with wide-nine principles. However, his instincts are raw in the run game, and the team which drafts him will have to do some work to improve his pad level and diversify his repertoire of rush moves before he’s ready to contribute. More of a specialist than an every-down contributor.
6’3” – 252 lbs. – 4.70e
2010: 3 – 1.0 – 0.0 (LB)
2011: 12 – 6.5 – 5.5, 2 FF, 1 PD (DE)
2012: 29 – 7.0 – 4.0, 2 QBH, 2 FF, 2 PD, 1 INT
2013: 42 – 18.5 – 14.5, 12 QBH, 4 FF, 3 PD, 1 BK
High school quarterback who converted to defense in college. Played in nine games as a freshman, starting the season-opener at linebacker but primarily contributing on special-teams. Prior to the 2011 season, converted to defensive end, starting five of ten games played, then all thirteen as a junior and as a senior. Was named to the All-ACC First Team in 2013.
• Overall combination of height and bulk is solid; added nearly twenty pounds of bulk.
• Production escalated significantly from junior to senior season, encouraging progress.
• Active hand use allows him to avoid getting stuck on blocks, fairly creative rusher.
• High-motor player who gives good effort on a consistent basis, especially vs. pass.
• Has experience rushing out of both two-and-three-point stances, played LB in 2010.
• Can bend the edge but doesn’t always rely on outside rush, can win inside as well.
• Uses an impressive spin which is surprisingly advanced given his limited time at end.
• Inexperience may suggest the presence of some untapped potential at the position.
• Occasionally runs himself out of the play by taking too wide an angle on outside rushes.
• Has some problems with leverage, tends to get too upright immediately out of stance.
• Relies on his speed, isn’t someone who routinely drives blockers back with bull rushes.
• Combination of average strength, wide rush angles limit effectiveness in run defense.
• Dropped into coverage on occasion but footwork/weight distribution are inconsistent.
• Can be a bit slow to react to the ball being snapped, which neutralizes his suddenness.
• Relatively inexperienced, having only recently converted to defense and defensive end.
That Smith only recently converted to defense (linebacker in 2010, end in 2011), but is already such a productive pass rusher will make him an intriguing developmental pass rusher, whether as an end in a four-man front or a linebacker in a 3-4. His physical attributes should meet the minimum requirements of almost every team, with his hand use, movement skills, and motor providing a solid foundation on which to build. At the pro level, improving his functional strength, keeping his pad level down, and refining his drops in coverage would make him a candidate to expand his role defensively, perhaps even working into a starting lineup.
6’6” – 244 lbs. – 4.75e
2011: 33 – 7.0 – 5.5, 14 QBH, 1 FF, 2 PD
2012: Redshirt (Transfer)
Played for Notre Dame as a freshman, appearing in twelve games and starting six at defensive end. Quit the team and transferred to South Florida afterwards, reportedly due to his aggressive, violent temperament both on and off the field, as well as a desire to play in Florida.
• Would be entering the draft with two seasons of quality starting experience.
• Tall with long limbs, previously played at 265 pounds during his time with the Irish.
• Has experience rushing out of two-point, three-point, and four-point stances.
• Athletic player who has dropped into coverage on some occasions, looks decent.
• Can win inside with his burst off the snap, but also uses a swim move well outside.
• Generally one of the first players to react to the ball being snapped, if not the first.
• Has a pretty high motor as a pass rusher, will use his hands to shed when engaged.
• Pretty creative rusher, doesn’t have too many moves but mixes them up regularly.
• Tall enough and active enough to bat down some passes at the line of scrimmage.
• Seems to have made some strides in terms of keeping his emotions under control.
• Major character concerns, aggressiveness/ego alienated teammates at Notre Dame.
• Production is somewhat inconsistent, had some big games and some forgettable ones.
• Weighed 265 pounds at Notre Dame but is now very thin after losing over twenty.
• Not a very strong player, can be knocked off-balance by chip blocks from backs.
• Ends up on the ground too much, usually while trying to bend the edge as a rusher.
• Doesn’t do a great job with leverage, height gives him trouble in terms of getting low.
• Not someone who can be relied on to anchor against the run, one-gap disruptor.
• Can be sucked inside as a run defender, surrendering backside contain at times.
Lynch is a tall, long-limbed pass rusher who gets off the line of scrimmage quickly and can win either outside or, more commonly, inside with his excellent reaction times and overall athleticism. He should draw interest from teams running both even and odd defensive fronts, although any interested team will have a considerable background/character investigation on their hands before drafting him, as he was reportedly not popular among his teammates at Notre Dame because of his ego and unpredictable demeanor, eventually leaving the school after a fight with a teammate. Given some of the negative attention players such as Richie Incognito have brought their teams recently, organizations may be hesitant to bring him into their locker room despite his natural talents. Not unlike Devin Taylor.