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PACKERDRAFT 2011 DEFENSIVE END

Jerry Gilbert
With Cullen Jenkins likely to be playing for another team in the next NFL season, the Packers would like to add a quick defensive end to the mix who could help to replace the sacks and big plays that Jenkins has provided. It was very apparent at the end of the season that a healthy Jenkins added a unique element to the defense designed by Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers. However, staying healthy has not always been easy for Jenkins and he will be over 30 when his next season begins. The Packers will not overpay Cullen Jenkins, which makes it probable that the Green Bay defense will proceed without him.

The 2011 draft appears to have more some excellent candidates to play end in the 3-4 system. Some will be taken in the first round, but others will be available later. The Packers have used late round picks to select defensive end in recent years. Jarius Wynn was a sixth round choice in 2009 and C.J Wilson was added in the seventh round in 2010. How the Packers evaluate those two players will be part of the calculation of how high to take another Defensive End. Potentially, if Wynn can add some weight without losing speed and develop some skills, he could step in for Jenkins. Wilson also has some potential as a pass rusher Ifs do not always come true. The Packers will look for a Jenkins clone in this draft.

The logical candidate should be gone in the first 15 picks. Cameron Jordan 6-4 287 California, who ran a 4.74 forty at the Combine. Jordan was the talk of the Senior Bowl and was virtually unblockable for a group of offensive lineman who will all be high draft choices this year. Jordan. He will be gone too high to even think about trading up.

Another highly rated lineman that a few people believe may drop at least into the 20s is Corey Liuget 6-3 300 Illinois. Liuget will probably be drafted to play tackle in the 4-3, but could he be available late in the round, and he would be a consideration.

Not far below them is a player rated by most to be drafted in the 20s in round 1. Trading down is a possibility if General Manager Ted Thompson puts a high value both on the player and on the need to have immediate help at the position. J.J Watt 6-5 290 Wisconsin ran a 4.81 forty at the Combine but he ran the 10 yard split as fast as Jordan. I watched Watt dominate good offensive tackles throughout the Big 10 season His 21 tackles for loss and 3 blocked kicks show his ability to penetrate. His 91 tackles suggest that he can hold up defending the run. This is a player who spent his first year in college as an effective tight end. I am not holding my breath that Watt will be a Packer, but it is an outside possibility.

There are however at least 2 prospects who could be available at the end of round 1. Muhammed Wilkerson 6-4 315 Temple. His level of competition is of some concern, but Wilkerson spent his freshman year playing basketball for a junior college, but by his junior year he was a dominating defensive tackle who produced 70 tackles including 13 for loss with 3 passes broken up and 9.5 sacks. Because he entered the draft as a junior, we do not have much evidence how he has fared against major college offensive linemen. On the other hand his athletic ability may be too hard for some team to pass up in round one.

Scouts do have lots of quality film for Christian Ballard 6-4 283 Iowa. He was considered a second round or lower prospect based on his years at Iowa, but Ballard was close behind Cameron Jordan in abusing blockers at the Senior Bowl. Running a 4.8 forty at the combine will not hurt his cause either. That is not to say that he did not \have an excellent career at Iowa where he garnered 14 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks over his last two seasons. An issue for Ballard as well as some of he others is how well the will hold up as a 3-4 defensive end.

Ted Thomson will likely select a player other than a defensive end for his first pick where ever that may be, but he would still have a chance to find a quality defensive end in later rounds.

A candidate for round 2 or 3 is Jarvis Jenkins 6-4 310 Clemson. Jenkins has the size and strength to start at defensive end in the 3-4. However, he does not impress most scouts with pass rushing skills and he did not stand out at either the Shrine game or Senior Bowl. It does not appear that another Jenkins will be in the Green Bay defensive line.

Lawrence Guy 6-5 300 Arizona could has demonstrated some skill that may Interest Green Bay. He showed a good combination of strength and speed at the combine with 28 reps at the bench press and a 4.96 forty. Only a junior, he may take awhile to contribute, and he was not a candidate for post-season bowl games. Finally, he played on a bad college defense which hurt his statistics. On the other hand, he had some success while being constantly double teamed. A few scouts are very high on his potential.

One lower round prospect stood out at the Shrine game, David Carter 6-5 297 UCLA. Carter was the talk of many reports from the Shrine practices. He was not invited to the Combine but consistently runs the forty around 4.96. Carters Shrine performance will convince some team that he can be developed into a 3-4 defensive end.

Although a bit shorter than is often preferred small school standout Martin Parker 6-2 303 Richmond may have enough tools to interest Green Bay. Like Carter, he was impressive in Shrine practices against big school offensive linemen. In the game, he registered 2 sacks and was the defensive player of the game. As a senior at Richmond, he had 13.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks while showing that he can hold the point of attack by averaging 8.6 tackles per game which led the league. Parker is almost exactly the same size as Cullen Jenkins.

Having drafted three defensive ends in the last couple of years, the Green Bay Packers may stand pat at the position in this years draft. On the other hand, if they find a player who reminds them of Cullen Jenkins, they may pull the trigger.

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