No doubt Lions general manager Martin Mayhew, his personnel staff and Lions coaches had a close eye on the defensive end prospects at this week's NFL Scouting Combine. When it comes to sorting out all that data from the defensive ends, Mayhew and Co. might have their work cut out for them.
This year’s prospects have a lot of question marks surrounding them.
There are some players like Oregon’s Dion Jordan, Ziggy Ansah from BYU and SMU’s Margus Hunt, who lit up the board with their combine numbers, but are also considered raw prospects, who might take some time to develop.
Jordan (6-6, 248), Hunt (6-8, 277) and Ansah (6-5, 271) all ran in the 4.6’s in the 40-yard dash, which is amazing for their size. They also impressed in drill work. But in the case of Hunt and Ansah, they’ve only been playing football for a couple years. When will they be ready to contribute? The Lions need an impact player for 2013 at No. 5.
“This is an interesting defensive end/outside linebacker class because a lot of them you are betting on the upside, and Ansah is certainly one of them,” said NFL anylst Mike Mayock.
“There are a bunch of guys that are going to have to play (various positions). One of the things about today’s defenders is their versatility. I can show you my defensive end list and there are a bunch of different (players). Margus Hunt – what is he? Is he a 4-3 end or a 3-4 five-technique? Damontre Moore – is he a 3-4 outside linebacker or is he a 4-3 base-end? What is (Barkevious) Mingo going to be?"
The big question for the Lions is how these players fit into their scheme. Are these players better than what they have? How easy is that to project for an undersized player who did different things in college or a guy who hasn't been playing football a long time?
Bjoern Werner is probably the most prototypical 4-3 defensive end of the group. The All-American from Florida State posted 13 sacks last season and 23.5 for his career. He’s considered a safe pick at No. 5, but some doubt whether he’ll ever be a special talent.
"I've got everything a little bit," Werner said. "I'm athletic enough. I'm smart enough. I have the instincts. There's nothing I'm lacking of really bad, but there's nothing that stands out really good.
"My goal is to be the overall defensive end who can be in on every situation and you can throw any situation, I want to be in there and I can handle it."
The group of cornerbacks (i.e. Dee Milliner and Xavier Rhodes) were impressive at the combine, as were the crop of top-tier offensive linemen.
The combine showed that this group of defensive ends is exciting and athletic, but did it help any of them become a sure thing in the Top 10?