Top Defensive End Prospects for the 2012 NFL Draft

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The biggest controversy with these rankings was how to rank some of the players between the 34 and the 43. What we ultimately decided was to break it into two different segments. 43 DE and 34 DE. This page will host the 43 DE rankings. We’ll have another page for the 34 DE rankings.

I’ve also ranked the 43 guys I consider pass rushing specialists 43/34 tweener guys.

For scouting reports on most of these guys go to our scouting report page

1. Quinton Coples, North Carolina
2. Whitney Mercilus, Illinois
3. Andre Branch, Clemson
4. Melvin Ingram, South Carolina
5. Jake Bequette, Arkansas
6. Devin Taylor, South Carolina
7. Cam Johnson, Virginia
8. Craig Roh, Michigan
9. Jacquies Smith, Missouri
10. Brandon Lindsey, Pittsburgh
11. Chandler Jones, Syracuse (Feel like he should be higher, might have to readjust that if he declares

12. Julian Miller, West Virgina
13. Brad Madison, Missouri
14. Vince Brown, Northwestern
15. Datone Jones, UCLA
16. Broderick Binns, Iowa
17. Jack Crawford, Penn State

43 DE Pass rush specialists

1. Courtney Upshaw, Alabama
2. Brandon Jenkins, Florida
3. Vinny Curry, Marshall
4. Nick Perry, USC
5. Ronnell Lewis, Oklahoma
6. Bruce Irvin, West Virginia
7. Donte Pagie Moss, UNC
8. Frank Alexander, Oklahoma
9. Shea McLelin, Boise State
10. Jonathan Massaqoui, Troy

1. Quinton Coples, North Carolina, 6’6″ 282 (Senior)

Probably the top defensive end prospect in the entire draft. After a sophomore season where he had five sacks, he replaced suspended Robert Quinn and passed all tests with flying colors. Coples had 59 total tackles, 10 sacks, and 15.5 tackles for loss, proving he is more than capable of handling the full time load. Now, he will be receiving constant attention, even though the Heels return a pretty star-studded defensive line. Coples has the requisite size to be a dominant defensive end in a 4-3 scheme, but he needs to improve against the run. He will be on all pre-season award watch lists for defensive linemen, and is our top defensive end heading into the 2011 season. Tall defender who knows how to use his superior athleticism. Had one forced fumble in 2010, and with his size and strength, could show more of that killer instinct. This is a guy that has a lot of pressure on him this year to really perform at a high level, and I think he will answer the call.

2. Brandon Jenkins, Florida State, 6’3″ 254 (Junior)

First team All ACC as a sophomore with 55 tackles and 13.5 sacks along with 16 tackles for loss and a forced fumble. Really emerged as one of the best pass rushers in the country, and one of the top defensive ends overall. Slightly undersized with upside potentially as a rush linebacker in the NFL. Jenkins has great burst off the line, and doesn’t let anything get past him. Uses his great arm length and upper body strength to beat offensive tackles, and also has good speed off the edge. Very, very good form tackler, and made Denver Broncos second round pick Orlando Franklin look like he was standing still as he bent around the edge and sacked the Miami QB. Absolutely relentless with advanced technique for his age, and played RE almost exclusively for the Seminoles. Never gives up on a play. Also saw action on special teams, and his like a ton of bricks. One of my favorite defensive end prospects for next year or 2013, whenever he opts to go to the NFL. Absolutely a top of the line pass rushing prospect, and could be a top five talent.

3. Bruce Irvin, West Virginia, 6’3″ 240 (Senior)

**No scouting report yet available**

4. Donte Paige-Moss, North Carolina, 6’4″ 258 (Junior)

At least against Tennessee in the Music City Bowl, Paige-Moss doesn’t seem like a quick twitch, typical weak-side end that you would see in college football. He seems more like a powerful end who can collapse the pocket and drive his man backward. In fact, he lined up at times at defensive tackle in that game, and used his lower body strength to simply drive the offensive lineman into the pocket. Had solid numbers as a sophomore and finished the season 49 tackles, seven sacks, and 10 tackles for a loss. He is not a flashy defender, but he makes plays and has a ton of upside. If he can improve his pass rush repertoire, he could be a high pick in next year’s draft, almost certainly a high choice in the 2013 draft. Graded as one of the top prep-school players in the entire country and the top overall defensive end in the nation by Still has a lot of room for growth, and should be on everyone’s radar in 2011.

5. Devin Taylor, South Carolina, 6’7″ 248 (Junior)

Big, lanky defensive end prospect who is nothing short of a playmaker. He burst on to the scene as a sophomore last year when he had 12 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks, and an astounding 8 passes broken up. Taylor also had 11 quarterback hurries, and proved to be one of the most valuable pieces of the South Carolina defense. First team All-SEC selection who could add weight and become a dominant force at the defensive end position. Taylor is also on Phil Steele’s first team All-American list for the 2011 season, an indication of how much progress he made last year. Taylor also had an interception for a touchdown this past season against Tennessee. Only 19 career starts, but right now, he has the makings of a special player. He could really emerge in 2011 with the overall talent of the South Carolina defensive line.

6. Vince Browne, Northwestern, 6’5″ 265 (Senior)

Browne had a great 2010 campaign, recording 58 tackles to go along with 7 sacks.  With his 6’5″ frame, he would come into the NFL with great measurables and good stats while at Northwestern to back it up.  He is one of the better ends coming back this season in the Big Ten and it should show on the field this season.

7. Vinny Curry, Marshall, 6’4″ 252 (Senior)

**No scouting report yet available**

8. Andre Branch, Clemson, 6’4″ 258 (Senior)

**No scouting report yet available**

9. Jake Bequette, Arkansas, 6’5″ 270 (Senior)

**No scouting report yet available**

10. Jacqueis Smith, Missouri, 6’4″ 250 (Senior)

Slightly undersized defensive end who could be a candidate to switch to outside linebacker in the NFL, not unlike former teammate and top ten pick Aldon Smith (49ers). Smith had a very solid junior campaign with 35 tackles, 10 for a loss, 5.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries, one for a touchdown. Given the team’s outstanding leadership award for an underclassman, and was named to the 2010 2nd Team All Big 12. This is a guy who could really make waves in 201o. If he really steps up his game, he could vault himself into the top 96 picks, maybe even better.

11. Broderick Binns, Iowa, 6’2″ 261 (Senior)

Binns has been a very valuable reserve for the Iowa defensive line over the last few years, and now he’s ready to break out as a starter. Binns is a pass rusher through and through. He knows how to get to the quarterback, and made one of the biggest plays of the year for Iowa last year against Arizona–an interception returned for a touchdown that tied the game, only to be ruined by a missed extra point that would have given Iowa the lead. Binns is a little undersized for defensive end, but he could really make an impact this year after spending the last three years behind one of the most talented lines in team history and waiting patiently for his time to shine.

12. Brandon Lindsey, Pittsburgh, 6’2″ 250 (Senior)

**No scouting report yet available**