Wednesday, April 22, 2009

NFL Draft: Defense

Here are my quick thoughts on the defensive talent in the draft.

I think this is a pretty good draft in the early rounds if you need a defensive lineman. There could be as many as 15 taken in the first three rounds, including 5-8 in the first round. Defensive end is particularly deep this year. Brian Orakpo, Everette Brown and Tyson Jackson all should be immediate impact players. Brown is considered a 'tweener' by some but has an excellent burst when getting at the quarterback and should succeed at the next level. B.J. Raji headlines a solid defensive tackle class and will be a dominate force in the middle. Jarron Gilbert is one of my favorite players in this draft class. I think he will be a force wherever he ends up on the line.

The linebacker class is solid overall but not as talented and deep as the defensive lineman. Aaron Curry is the most complete player in the entire draft. There is nothing he can't do from the linebacker spot and he will be a top-5 pick on Saturday. Clint Sintim and Clay Matthews are two great pass rushers that always get to the quarterback. I think they are both rated higher than the more well known Brian Cushing. Cushing is a nice player but I don't think he will be a impact player like Sintim and Matthews. Inside linebackers aren't nearly as deep as their outside counterparts. Only James Laurinaitis and Rey Maualuga are top 50 talents. Maualuga is a guy that scares me, I think he has been a bit over hyped. I think he fits best as an inside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme but would struggle if he was a middle linebacker in a 4-3 system.

I think the defensive backs are particularly strong in this class, highlighted by a deep corner back group. Though its a deep position, there probably isn't a single shut down corner in this class. The best pure corner is Darius Butler, he has the speed and athleticism to cover anyone. Two of the other top corners, Sean Smith and Malcolm Jenkins may be better fits at safety. Whatever position they are at Smith and Jenkins should be very good NFL starters. There aren't too many top pure safeties in this class but there should be some solid contributors. Rashard Johnson is a safety to watch in this draft. He's likely a late second to early third round prospect but could end up being the best safety in this draft. He's a smart player who always seems to be in a position to make a play.

I think this is a pretty good defensive draft. There are a number of starters that will come out of this class, particularly at defensive end and corner back. There are a number of talented pass rushers on the line and at linebacker in this class. Also I think Aaron Curry may be the best linebacker to come out in the last five years.

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