2015 NFL Draft Rankings: 4-3 Defensive Ends

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9.) Deion Barnes, Penn St (6’4 | 260 | 4.75)

Scouting report – Good length and overall size, but production has plateaued since an impressive freshman year. In three seasons Barnes has failed to develop much as a pass rusher, relying on his natural quickness and strength to get to the QB. Barnes combination of size and athleticism should lead to more production than it has, which has led to questions about his motor and drive to improve. He helped his stock with a good week of practice at the Senior Bowl, showing quickness off the snap and the ability to beat blockers in 1-1 drills. He’s a mid-round development prospect who has all the tools to become a dangerous pass rusher, but with plenty of question marks about why he hasn’t already.

Draft grade: 3rd-4th round

10.) Jermauria Rasco, LSU (6’4 | 259 | 4.87)

Scouting report – Doesn’t have elite athleticism and his play recognition skills need to improve, but he has a quick first step, slick pass runs moves, and can change direction on a dime without losing much speed.. Rasco hasn’t put up big sack totals, but generates consistent pressure on the QB and is solid in run support. He will need to gain weight / strength to become a 3-down DE in a 4-3, but could contribute immediately as a pass rush specialist and on special teams. Some teams may see him as a better fit as an OLB in a 3-4, Rasco is a classic tweener; He’s a little small for a 4-3 DE, and a little too slow for a 3-4 OLB, but I think he will have value at either.

Draft grade: 5th-6th round 

11.) Ryan Russell, Purdue (6’5 | 267 | 4.89) 

Scouting report – Looked like a top prospect after his sophomore year (2012), but Purdue switching to a 3-4 moved Russell off the edge and his stats suffered. He has an intriguing mix of size, strength and athleticism and would benefit from a move back to a 4-3 scheme. Russell had a good week of practice at the Shrine Game, consistently winning 1-1 battles albeit against fringe NFL prospects. He is already solid against the run, but needs to improve his pass rush technique to make better use of his considerable speed and power. Good day 3 prospect with starter upside.

Draft grade: 6th-7th round

12.) Zach Wagenmann, Montana (6’3 | 250 | 4.87)

Scouting report – Productive pass rusher with 37.5 sacks over the last three seasons including 17.5 and 22.5 TFLs this year. Wagenmann has a quick burst off the ball and plays with a non-stop motor. I’m not sure if he’s athletic enough to play in space as a 3-4 OLB, so he will need to get stronger and gain weight to be a 3-down DE in a 4-3 scheme. Short-term he could be an effective 3rd down pass rusher, but will need to improve his run support to be anything more than that. Wagenmann was very impressive in the NFLPA Bowl and improved his chances to be drafted on day 3.

Draft grade: 6th-7th round

13.) Andrew Hudson, Washington (6’3 | 250 | 4.76)

Scouting report – Overshadowed by higher-profile Huskies like Danny Shelton, Shaq Thompson, and Hau’oli Kikaha, but Hudson had a productive season season with 12.5 sacks. He stood out during the NFLPA Bowl with 1 sack and 2 QB hurries in limited snaps. Hudson showed a good burst off the ball and consistently beat blockers with a combination of speed, power, and polished pass rush moves.  He was the first guy in the backfield on multiple plays and one of the most disruptive players on the either defense. Hudson will need to get stronger and gain some weight to hold up vs the run in the NFL, but he’s an instinctive pass rusher with a good motor and solid technique.

Draft grade: 7th round – UFA

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14.) Brock Hekking, Nevada (6’4 | 255 | 4.64)

Scouting report – Was one of the best players on the field at the Medal of Honor Bowl which earned him a spot in the NFLPA Bowl where he also played well. Hekking has a non-stop motor which stood out on the field in both games. He is relentless in attacking QBs and uses his hands well to shed blockers, but will need to get bigger to play the run at the NFL level. He has a chance to make a roster as a pass rush specialist and special teams player.

Draft grade: 7th – UFA

15.) B.J. Dubose, Louisville (6’4 | 265 | 4.90) 

Scouting report – Disciplined run defender with good length who flashed occasional pass rush skills with 4 sacks and 7.5 TFLs as a senior. Dubose had a good week of practice at the Shrine Bowl, showing good football instincts and a better than expected power/speed combo. He has a chance to make a roster as a rotational DE who can slide inside on passing downs and contribute on special teams. Dubose most likely won’t be drafted, but he could be a day 3 pick if a team thinks he can add weight quickly.

Draft grade: 7th round – UFA