Analyst: Defensive ends in draft overrated
FEB 21, 2013 12:48p ET
If so, it's an obvious direction for the Lions to seriously consider because they didn't get much production from that position last season.
One starter, Kyle Vanden Bosch, already has been released, and the other, Cliff Avril, is an unrestricted free agent who wants more money than a club with salary-cap concerns is willing to pay.
As of today, the only defensive end who is under contract for next season is Ronnell Lewis, a fourth-round pick in 2012 who had a disappointing rookie year and was inactive for the final seven games.
The logical solution would be to take one of the perceived high-end edge rushers, Texas A&M's 6-foot-4, 250-pound Damontre Moore or Florida State's 6-4, 256-pound Bjoern Werner.
Problem solved, right?
Entering this week's NFL Draft Combine in Indianapolis, ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. ranks Moore as the third-best player overall in the draft and Werner as the fifth-best.
NFLDraftScout.com ranks Werner No. 2 overall and Moore No. 4.
But Mike Mayock of the NFL Network doesn't think so. He has a completely different view on both players.
"I don't think Bjoern Werner or Damontre Moore are top-10 players," said Mayock, who played nine games over two seasons (1982-83) in the NFL as a defensive back with the New York Giants. "They might go in the top 10, but I don't see it that way."
Asked why he doesn't grade Werner and Moore higher, Mayock explained:
"I'm not seeing a quick-twitch ability to get to the quarterback. Werner is a tough kid. He's got a good motor, but he doesn't have that clean get-off-and-go. Coming from a top-5 defensive end, that is kind of what you want to see.
"With Damontre Moore, he's long, he does everything pretty well in the pass game, but I don't see that elite quick-twitch burst. And I also don't see a great run defender. I think he's average against the run at best."
Mayock also has a less favorable opinion than other analysts of another top-rated defensive end, LSU's 6-4, 240-pound Barkevious Mingo.
Mingo is projected by some as an outside linebacker in the NFL because of his size.
"I'm not a Mingo guy," Mayock said. "I have him at the end of the first round. He's got a little stiffness to him. He obviously runs very fast. When the ball goes away from him, he's fantastic. He's a run-and-chase linebacker. He's got upside as a pass-rusher.
"I'd feel much more comfortable with him as a developmental 3-4 outside linebacker, somebody that would go somewhere between 25 and 40. I know everybody's got him in the top 10, but I just don't see it right now."
Like Mingo, Oregon's 6-6, 243-pound Dion Jordan is also viewed by many as more of an outside linebacker than a defensive end.
Todd McShay, ESPN's other draft analyst, is currently projecting Jordan as the Lions' first-round pick.
Mayock believes that Jordan is a short-term project with potential high reward in a couple years.
"He's got frightening athletic skills," Mayock said. "He would be a situational pass-rusher in year one, and if he puts 20 pounds on, I think he's going to be a perennial All-Pro. You're betting on this kid two years from now."
Lions general manager Martin Mayhew and coach Jim Schwartz probably can't afford to make that bet. Their jobs are on the line coming off a 4-12 season. They need this first-round pick to start and produce right away.
The only other defensive-end prospect who might warrant consideration with the fifth pick is BYU's 6-5, 274-pound Ziggy Ansah, who is from Ghana, Africa, and didn't start playing football until 2010.
Ansah, whose freakish athleticism for his size should make him extremely versatile in the pros, played poorly during Senior Bowl practices but then was the top defensive player in the Senior Bowl game.
"He's got as much upside as anybody in the draft," Mayock said. "He's so raw. I don't think there is anybody in the NFL that doesn't think he's going to be a good player. But the question is, when? Is it this year, next year or three years from now?"
So there you go -- according to Mayock, Moore and Werner really aren't elite players coming out of college; Mingo, Jordan and Ansah aren't necessarily the immediate answer, either.
It's only one man's opinion, but if Mayock is right or if the Lions have the same evaluations, that standout defensive end won't be there on draft day.
The Lions reportedly have reached an agreement with receiver Nate Burleson to restructure his contract, which will help the club create more room under the salary cap.
... Terry Heffernan, the offensive line coach at Wayne State, was named Thursday as the Lions' new assistant O-line coach under Jeremiah Washburn.
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