The Minnesota Vikings have seven defensive ends on their roster, but that should not necessarily prevent them from selecting one in the upcoming draft. It should not be a priority, but should also not be overlooked.
Everson Griffen, Brian Robison and Danielle Hunter form one of the most talent trios in the on one team in the league. Griffen has emerged as a star. Robison is a solid, versatile veteran. Hunter is an up-and-coming talent.
The rest of the depth is a question mark.
Justin Trattou and Scott Crichton are the keys. Trattou had a good start to last season as the primary backup on the left side behind Robison. Then he got hurt and missed 11 games before returning for the final three. Crichton, a third-year former third round draft pick, needs to become a bigger part of the rotation. His playing time increased last season over his rookie year.
The other two players fighting for a roster spot are B.J. Dubose and Zach Moore. Dubose, a first year late round draft pick, has size and versatility to move inside. Moore, a third-year former third round draft pick out of Concordia (St. Paul), has similar attributes to Dubose. He is big and versatile.
How the coaches view the future of those four players will determine their strategy come draft day.
Need level: Low medium
Here are the top five defensive ends as well as an underrated, overrated and sleeper prospect. (Positions based on NFL.com’s list)
No. 1 – Joey Bosa, Ohio State. He entered the season as the top defensive end and did nothing to relinquish the spot. He has good size, athleticism and explosion off the line of scrimmage. He has the tools to play defensive end in a 4-3 formation or as a stand up end in a 4-3 system.
No. 2 – DeForest Buckner, Oregon. He controls the line of scrimmage and makes plays in the backfield. He is a massive and strong defender. He is not going to be an elite pass rusher, but will do a lot of things to dominate games.
No. 3 – Kevin Dodd, Clemson. He has NFL size and strength. He does not have the pass rushing speed and athleticism to be a dominant player on the right side, but will be a force on the left side.
No. 4 – Noah Spence, Eastern Kentucky. He is immensely talented. He is also fighting against off-field issues at Ohio State, which caused him to transfer. He has done a good job of fixing his reputation and should be a very good rush end in a 3-4 system.
No. 5 – Kamalei Correa, Boise State. He is a pass rusher. His size (6-feet-3, 243-pounds measured at the combine) and speed (4.69 in the 40-yard dash at the combine) will allow him to be a disruptive player in a 3-4 system.
Overrated – Shaq Lawson, Clemson. The question is: what exactly is he? He has the size, speed and athleticism to be a 3-4 rush end, but lacks the pass rush skills and consistency to start in the NFL. He is very good against the run, but lacks the playing strength to play with his hand in the dirt.
Underrated – Carl Nassib, Penn State. He has all the tools NFL teams look for; size, strength, speed and production. The biggest question mark surrounding him is whether the he was a one-year wonder in college or if he has the staying power. As a former walk-on, bet on the latter.
Sleeper – Theiren Cockran, Minnesota. He is a long and athletic. He may be a tweener in the NFL, lacking the athleticism to play the rush end spot in a 3-4 system and the strength to play with his hand in the dirt in a 4-3 system, but has the work ethic and skill set to be a quality NFL player.