Continuing our unit-by-unit look at the top players in the land, here are my top 10 defensive ends for 2010:
1. Robert Quinn, Jr., North Carolina–More of a fantastic athlete than a fantastic football player right now, but he’s improving rapidly in the latter department. Well-built with long arms, he carries his 270 pounds well on this 6-5 frame. Has great change of direction and burst coming off the edge, but could maybe stand to get a little stronger at the point of attack. Still, that’s nitpicking. Had 52 tackles, 11 sacks and an amazing six forced fumbles last season! He’ll be a top 10 pick in the next draft.
2. Sam Acho, Sr., Texas–A great playmaker and disruptive force. He’s one of those guys that always seems to be around the ball. Has the quicks to rush the passer and the leverage to stop the run. Relentless competitor and outstanding student (both on and off the field). Had 63 tackles, 10 sacks and recovered four fumbles last season.
3. Adrian Clayborn, Sr., Iowa–Powerful, thickly-built player who had 70 tackles and 11.5 sacks for the Hawkeyes last year. Turned down the NFL for the chance to terrorize the Big Ten for another season. Moves amazing well at 6-4, 290, and will likely be a 3-4 end in the pros. Incredibly strong with a non-stop motor. Active player who also forced four fumbles and blocked a punt which he returned for a score.
4. Allen Bailey, Sr., Miami–Big-bodied end at 6-4, 290, but displays surprising versatility as Miami uses him with both his hand on the ground and standing up, on both the strong and weak sides, and also inside on occasion. A punishing tackler with good ball recognition, who also might end up being a 3-4 end in the pros. Last year had 34 tackles and seven sacks.
5. Jeremy Beal, Sr., Oklahoma–Tough, consistent player who led Oklahoma with 11 sacks in 2009, to go with 70 tackles and an interception. He recorded three sacks in two different games last year, the first Sooner to do so in a season. First started as a sophomore so he’s as experienced as they come, but may not be as productive in 2010 with the loss of Gerald McCoy on the inside. (sorry, the only highlights I could find were from HS)
Read the rest after the jump…
6. Von Miller, Sr., Texas A&M–A sack machine who could also be considered an outside linebacker at 6-3, 240, but I think he rates better in college as an end. Led the nation with 17 sacks among his 48 tackles. Sort of a one-dimensional player from an end standpoint as he will not hold the point of attack against the run, but very effective in the passing game and must be accounted for at all times.
7. Da’Quan Bowers, Jr., Clemson–Great athlete with size (6-4, 280) who has huge potential but hasn’t put it all together yet in his college career. Incredibly light on his feet with quick change of direction, but doesn’t always play with the highest intensity. Had 58 tackles with just three sacks last year. However, I look for him to have a big season as a junior.
8. Cameron Heyward, Sr., Ohio State–Typically physical Ohio State end, with the size and skill to be a dominant player. Plays a bit upright at 6-5, 290, but balances that with nice instincts. Had 46 tackles and 6.5 sacks last year, but only played an estimated 60 percent of the snaps due to the Buckeyes’ line rotation.
9. Datone Jones, Jr., UCLA–Fast emerging player for the Bruins who contributed 30 tackles and 11 tackles for loss last season. At 6-4, 270, he’s not the biggest guy on this list, but he’s a good, rangey all-around player who can rush the passer and stop the run. I look for him to make All-Pac-10 this season.
10. Kenny Rowe, Sr., Oregon–Undersized at 6-3, 235, and will play linebacker in the pros, but he’s got a real knack as a rush end. Last year, he had 43 tackles and 11.5 sacks and forced three fumbles. A disruptive force who plays fast, he’ll be the face of the Duck defense in 2010.
Just missed the cut: Greg Romeus, Pittsburgh; Marcell Dareus, Alabama; Thomas Keiser, Stanford; Nick Perry, USC; Cameron Jordan, California; Bruce Miller, UCF