2009 Top NFL Draft Prospects: Defensive Linemen

Brian Orakpo, Texas, Senior, 6’3” 263lbs:

Strengths: Orakpo is an absolute physical marvel, and showed off his impressive athleticism at this year’s combine. All of Orakpo’s hard work in the weight room is starting to pay off, and he should land in the top ten. Orakpo is explosive off the edge, and has gotten to the quarterback consistently throughout college.

Weaknesses: He doesn’t really have the prototypical size for an NFL defensive end, and there is talk of him switching to the OLB/DE position in a 3-4.

Everette Brown, Florida State, Senior, 6’2” 256lbs:

Strengths: Brown really started to come on down the stretch, and was a huge catalyst for the Seminole defense that was one of the best in the nation. It was his multi-sack games that also got him the attention of pro scouts. He reminds me of Dwight Freeney, as he is not very tall, but is explosive, and uses an outstanding spin move to beat his man.

Weaknesses: Another ‘tweener,’ who might fit better as an OLB/DE in a 3-4. He also relies too much on his spin move, and must develop more pass rushing moves if he wants to be a factor on the next level.

Tyson Jackson, LSU, Senior, 6’4” 295lbs:

Strengths: Jackson is versatile enough that he could play almost every position, in any scheme. Jackson is big enough to play DE in the 3-4, or rush the passer in the 4-3, as well as even kick inside on passing downs. Jackson is not the most explosive player off the edge, but he consistently puts on pressure, and he will contribute against the run as well.

Weaknesses: Jackson is not a pure pass rusher, and isn’t as explosive as some coaches would like coming off the edge. Also, first step is not as quick as the elite pass rushers in the game.

Michael Johnson, Georgia Tech, Senior, 6’7” 266lbs:

Strengths: Might be the most athletic end in this year’s draft, and has everything you look for in an NFL defensive end. Johnson is also very long, which allows him to get his hands up and deflect passes. Johnson has also shown that he can drop back in coverage if a 3-4 team were to draft him.

Weaknesses: The one knock on Johnson is his inconsistency. He can be absolutely dominating at times, and then seemingly take plays off at other times. There are also questions of how good he is at stopping the run.

B.J. Raji, Boston College, Senior, 6’2” 337lbs:

Strengths: The consensus top defensive tackle in this year’s draft, Raji should be off the board somewhere in the top ten. Raji is a force in the middle of the line, and usually takes up two or even three blockers at a time. Raji is also very explosive, and has shown the ability to pressure the pocket, or break through the line and stop a running play in the backfield.

Raji must keep his weight down if he wants to continue to play at a high level. If his weight gets up to high it may slow him down.

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