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Falcons Draft Needs: Defensive End

From here until the draft, I'll occasionally be taking a look at each position and giving a quick rundown on how badly we need to upgrade at that position and give a handful of prospects that we might be able to obtain that could help us at that position. This time, we're taking a look in the trenches on the defensive side, or more specifically, defensive end.

We're so deep at DT, I'm not going to cover them this year, but suffice to say I'll be taking a look at a few potential defensive ends we might snag in this year's draft.

Defensive end is arguably one of the most important positions on the defense. Without a good pass rush, the secondary will be eaten alive. Most quarterbacks in the NFL can ball when given ample opportunity to dissect a defense, and it's the job of the defensive ends to make sure that doesn't happen.

At DE, Abraham isn't getting any younger and, while I think Biermann will be just fine, it wouldn't hurt to have a top flight end that can play on run downs in Abe's place so he can stay fresh late in the season. Plus, you can never have too many good defensive ends.

Join me after the jump and we'll talk defensive end prospects!

In free agency, the only defensive end that has been thrown around is Ray Edwards. Charles Johnson has been mentioned as well, but the Panthers will probably retain him as best they can. We're not in danger of losing any important DE pieces, which is great - one less thing we have to worry about.

As far as prospects go, there are a lot of prospects that could fall to us at 27, but I'll highlight a few names (with some highlights) I've seen around here and other draft sites.

Adrian Clayborn, Iowa: Good grief, this guy is massive looking. He looks like a tackle that can run like an end. He's listed at 6'4" 285, which is pretty big for an end, but he doesn't appear to let that stop him on film. I worry that mobile quarterbacks might be able to elude him because let's face it - at that size, you can only move so fast laterally - but he definitely uses his size to his advantage. Personally, I'd have to default to the scouting of the Falcons on this one. If they feel he's worth going for, I'd be all for it. I couldn't find a really good highlight video for Clayborn that spanned multiple games, but here is what I found.

Justin Houston, Georgia: Houston looks more like a linebacker than an end to me, but he possesses a great first step and in his highlights, he was flat out running around offensive tackles in some spots. He didn't show much of a bull rush, which worries me a little, but he possesses good athleticism. In his highlights, I was impressed with the interception he had against Georgia Tech. Since he played both DE/OLB in Georgia's funky 3-4 scheme, he was asked to do both rushing the QB and dropping into coverage, something that DC BVG loves to do with the Falcons. Houston would be a great fit if that's what they're looking for. He was undoubtedly the leader and best player on Georgia's defense last year. The best on an SEC team's defense sure sounds good. Highlight vid here.

Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue: From watching this guy's film, I can say that he plays with a high motor at all times. In one particular video I watched, I noticed that, while he wasn't always getting a sack, he always seemed to be in the QB's face or at least causing some discomfort to the QB's day. That should sound pretty familiar to anyone who watched the Falcons last year. Kerrigan seems to have pretty good arm strength. I watched him hold several offensive linemen out away from his body so he could get easier separation. I also noticed he overpowered some linemen to get around them as well. His strength is obvious. He looks a bit slow at times, but I think that could be worked on at the next level. Highlight vid here.

J.J. Watt, Wisconsin: I highly doubt Watt will fall to us, but his athleticism was apparent to me from the very beginning of his highlight video. I also found it amusing that Ohio State was the victim of several of these highlight videos spanning different players from different teams. This guy has the first step of a juggernaut in his videos. He's extremely quick and appears to play very intelligently, as well. He showed several instances of playing to the whistle despite not being the fastest man on the field. He does look a bit slow speed-wise, but since I've done all these speedy receivers and running backs lately, it's a wonder everyone doesn't look slow. Watt seems to find a way to get offensive linemen on their heels with his elusiveness, and I don't think that's something you can teach. The thing that worries me about Watt is that he's very tall 6'6"+ and weighs about 292 pounds. That's almost JA98 size. I'll default to the scouting on this one as well. If they like him and he happens to be there at 27, I say 'why not?' Highlight vid here.

I couldn't cover all the DEs because that would take forever and it would make for a massive post, but I encourage you all to discuss other DEs (Aldon Smith, Brooks Reed, Allen Bailey) that we might consider drafting in the first round or two. Just think, the draft is only two days away!!