In the golden age of passing, there is no position more coveted besides quarterback than defensive end. Teams need to pressure the quarterback and that usually relies on great defensive ends. Similar to defensive tackles, there are many different ways that teams can go in scouting defensive ends depending on their scheme.
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Teams will focus more and more on speed, so don’t completely rule out 40 times, especially for a player to rocket up draft boards. Obviously agility and quickness will come into play too as will vertical leaping if you want a player in the JJ Watt mold to knock down passes at the line of scrimmage.
- Damontre Moore, Texas A&M
- Barkevious Mingo, LSU
- Bjoeren Werner, Florida State
- Ezekiel Ansah, BYU
- Dion Jordan, Oregon
Of the 253 players drafted in 2012, 21 were defensive ends, including five in the first round. The lines get blurry as team will draft ends and move them to linebacker and will draft linebacker prospects and play them at DE (see Shea McClellin). Among the top prospects, BYU’s Ezekiel Ansah is the project with the most upside potential; a raw talent who doesn’t have a ton of experience but will likely shine in the Combine setting and draw comparisons to Jason Pierre-Paul.
The Bears have a boatload already invested in the defensive end position. It’s a testament to the value that Lovie Smith put on the position. The Cover-2 didn’t work very well if the front-four couldn’t get pressure on the quarterback without blitzing. Between Julius Peppers and the $16 million that he’ll count against the 2013 salary cap or the first round pick they invested in Shea McClellin last season, the Bears have an interesting mix of players at the DE position.
Corey Wooton had a coming out party in 2013 and started to emerge as more than just “the guy who ended Brett Favre’s career.” Izzy Idonije was solid as always, though he’s a free agent.
I’d be a little surprised if the Bears spend any significant picks on a DE. With only five selections and many other needs to fill, it’s unlikely to spend resources on the position. It’s possible they draft a project late to develop.