The Detroit Lions May Look To Add Depth At Defensive End This Draft.
So far this season the Detroit Lions defensive ends, and defense in general, have struggled getting to the opposing quarterbacks. The Lions are currently tied for 27th in the NFL in sacks.
The main reason for the lack of sacks is that the Lions star defensive end Ziggy Ansah has yet to record a sack in the 2016 season. He suffered a high-ankle sprain week two and has been hindered by that ever since.
Devin Taylor, the Lions starting defensive end opposite of Ansah, hasn’t been able to consistently be a difference maker this season. He hasn’t played awful and replacing him won’t necessarily be the top priority for the Lions this offseason.
Luckily for the Lions they found some production from defensive end Kerry Hyder. Hyder spent last season on the practice squad. This season he leads the team with seven sacks despite coming off of the bench.
There are bigger holes on the Lions roster than defensive end. However the lack of production from the position combined with the fact that the 2017 draft class is rich in talented pass-rushers may lead to the Lions selecting a defensive end in the early rounds of the 2017 draft.
2017 Draft Class- Defensive End Options Part Two
The players mentioned in the original defensive end prospect article will almost certainly be off the board before the Lions get to make their first draft pick, with the exception of Harris who may still be available. Luckily for Detroit the upcoming draft class has plenty of good defensive end prospects.
The players that will be talked about in this article are UCLA’s Takkarist McKinley, Michigan’s Taco Charlton, and Auburn’s Carl Lawson.
McKinley has seen his stock rise consistenly throughout this season. He had a very productive senior season recording 10 sacks and 18 tackles for loss. At 6’2”and 258 pounds he doesn’t posses the prototypical size of an NFL defensive end however he makes up for it in other areas.
NFL teams love guys who can rush the passer and that that is what McKinley does best. He has great speed for his size and possesses good burst off the ball. The senior has a non-stop motor and chases ball-carriers all over the field. He has a decent bull-rush to pair with his speed around the edge.
As a run defender McKinley does a good job of fighting for position and holdng the point of attack. But his ability as a run defender is limited by the fact that he doesn’t have great strength.
In addition to the fact that he needs to get stronger, McKinley would benefit from keeping his pad-level low on a more consistent basis. This would make it harder for offensive linemen to push him around.
UCLA didn’t make it to a bowl game so McKinley’s college career is over. However he is participating in the Senior Bowl on January 28th so that will be a great opportunity to see how he stacks up against other NFL prospects.
Taco Charlton- Michigan
Charlton is high on the list of best names in the 2017 draft class, his toughest competition is probably his teammate Jake Butt. However Charlton brings more to the table than his name. At 6’5” and 272 pounds he already looks the part of an NFL defensive end. Also the senior has recorded 18 sacks in his career, with nine of those sacks coming this season.
This season is Charlton’s first full season as Michigan’s starting defensive end. The defensive end has made the most of the opportunity.
One thing that Charlton does well is use his long arms to engage offensive linemen and then disengage when he’s ready to make a move. Charlton has a pretty decent burst of the ball and gives full effort on a consistent basis. He also does a good job of pushing the pocket which makes it easier for his teammates to make plays.
Against the run Charlton uses his size and strength to his advantage. He’s very good at shedding blocks and getting to the ball-carrier.
The biggest knock on Charlton is that he isn’t an elite athlete. Another thing that scout’s will be somewhat concerned about is the fact that Charlton didn’t take over a starting defensive end spot until the end of his junior year.
Michigan will take on Florida State in the Capital One Orange Bowl on December 30th.
Carl Lawson- Auburn
Lawson came to Auburn as one of the best recruits in the country and looked to have a promising future after a strong freshman season. Unfortunately he then missed the entire 2014 season with an ACL injury and missed a chunk of the 2015 season with a hip injury.
So far this season Lawson has bounced back and played well. He has racked up nine and a half sacks and 13 tackles for loss.
At 6’2” and 253 pounds Lawson’s frame is very similar to McKinley’s.
The redshirt junior has very good quickness to the ball and is an overall great athlete. He has a variety of pass rush moves in his arsenal and can beats opposing linemen with his burst or with power. He also can push the pocket to help open things up for his teammates to make plays.
The All-SEC defender is also very good playing the run. He holds the point of attack well and uses his athleticism to close on ball-carriers in a hurry.
The obvious red flag about Lawson as a prospect is his injury history. He has shown to be one of the most talented defensive players in the country when he’s healthy but anytime a player has missed as many games as Lawson has, there will be some concerns.
Auburn is set to take on Oklahoma in the Allstate Sugar Bowl on January 2nd.