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My Defensive End Rankings

The Lions’ defensive front was one of the strongest in the league in 2010, so very few fans are expecting the Lions to address the position early in the draft.  As I’ve been saying, the Lions don’t draft based on need, they draft best player available within reason.  There is so much value placed on the defensive line in the Lions’ defense that there will always be value in a talented lineman.

The defensive line is the deepest position in this draft and it is top heavy as well.  Many experts are predicting at least seven lineman will go in the first round and I have seen some suggesting that as many as nine or ten could be selected. 

The combination of team value on the position and the strength of the draft class makes a defensive lineman a very likely pick early in the draft, especially at 13.  With Turk McBride potentially becoming a free agent in 2011, Cliff Avril potentially being a free agent in 2012 and Kyle Vanden Bosch getting closer to the end of his career the defensive front could be a position of need in the near future.  The Lions don’t plan on drafting this high again for a while so it would make sense to get a premier defensive end if the opportunity presents itself.

These rankings will vary from some other rankings you’ll see because these are team specific and scheme specific.  Some players are left off my rankings because they are not a good fit for the Lions. 

Since I have limited resources to work with, my evaluations don’t extend past 3rd or 4th round prospects.  These rankings are based on a combination of various scouting reports, game footage, Senior Bowl practices, Combine coverage, draft related articles and opinions from sources.  The players’ names link to the scouting reports on

My Rank Player, Pos, Team Height Weight
1 Aldon Smith DE, Missouri 6-5 263
2 Robert Quinn DE, North Carolina 6-5 265
3 Ryan Kerrigan DE, Purdue 6-4 263
4 J.J. Watt DE, Wisconsin 6-6 292
5 DaQuan Bowers DE, Clemson 6-3 280
6 Cameron Jordan DE, California 6-4 282
7 Justin Houston DE, Georgia 6-3 270
8 Pernell McPhee DE, Mississippi State 6-4 285
9 Greg Romeus DE, Pittsburgh 6-6 270
10 Jabaal Sheard DE, Pittsburgh 6-4 260
11 Eddie Jones DE, Texas 6-3 260
12 Ugo Chinasa DE, Oklahoma State 6-5 260
13 Pierre Allen DE, Nebraska 6-5 265
14 Cliff Matthews DE, South Carolina 6-4 268
15 Markus White DE, Florida State 6-4 262

I am a big fan of Aldon Smith and the more I look at how things are expected to shake out in the first round, the more likely it is that he could be the Lions’ pick.  I think the Lions’ top choice at 13 would be Tyron Smith, but if he’s gone as expected I think it comes down to Anthony Costanzo and Aldon Smith.

Robert Quinn is the most talented prospect and if he hadn’t missed a whole season he’d be a lock for the top 5, and he might go there.

Kerrigan, Watt and Jordan are all high motor high effort guys, but they lack the elite physical talent that Smith and Quinn possess.  I don’t think they are in play unless the Lions trade down.

Bowers is 5th only if he clears medically, if his knee is an issue he drops down significantly in my rankings.  I’m not as high on him because he has a lot of tape showing lackluster effort, but he says he got a wake up call before the 2010 season and turned the corner.

Houston and McPhee could be possibilities in the second round with Houston being a more explosive pass rusher and McPhee more of a solid all around end.

Once you get into the 9th through 15th players on my list I was looking for guys with the raw skills to potentially be developed into pass rushing threats.  They are similar to Cliff Avril when he came out, great athleticism and speed, but they need to be developed.  With mentors like Avril, KVB, Suh and Corey Williams the Lions can afford to take a raw prospect and let him learn from

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