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Green Zone League Articles

2016 GZL Draft Player Spotlight | The DE Edition
By Corey Smith
Special to gzl-football.com

The DE Edition
Corey Smith, GreenZone Media Committee
July 29th, 2013

**NOTE: Player ratings are subject to change over the course of the NCAA season! Nothing is final until the entire draft class is released.

Amos Houston | Clemson | 6’1” 252lbs
Breakdown: 85SPD, 80STR, 63AWR, 85AGI, 88ACC, 65TAK

Having arrived at Clemson as a physically gifted OLB, the coaching staff gave him every opportunity to fill one of the OLB roles. But after struggling mightily as a Freshman with coverage and tackling in the open field, he was moved down to DE and given the sole responsibility of getting after the QB. And after a double-digit sack season as a Sophomore (15), Houston has moved near the top of most draft rankings.

While he is a little light in the pants for a traditional DE, Amos makes up for it with outstanding athletic ability and strength for his size. He’d be well served as either a 4-3 DE or a 3-4 OLB, as he can clearly get after the QB. He’s a very unique talent, and should go very high.

Potential Comparison: Dwight Freeney (young version) | Colts
Initial Grade: Top 5 Pick

Vincent Hardy | Tennessee | 6’3” 275lbs
Breakdown: 75SPD, 88STR, 71AWR, 74AGI, 79ACC, 76TAK
Looking for a little more traditional DE? This class has that, too! Vincent Hardy is an excellent blend of size, athletic ability, power, and skill. And he likely will be considered by many as the top DE in the class. Hardy has thrived in the SEC, against top-tier OL talent, and has done so from both the DE and DT positions.

Vincent does an excellent job of pushing around weaker OT’s, but can also use finesse moves to get by bigger, stronger OTs. There really is not much weakness in his game, and he can step in and contribute immediately.

Potential Comparison: Christian Ballard | Buccaneers
Initial Grade: Top 15 Pick

Clay Linton | Auburn | 6’4” 268lbs
Breakdown: 81SPD, 80STR, 60AWR, 83AGI, 84ACC, 70TAK
The third featured DE, in what is shaping up to be a great DE class, is Clay Linton of Auburn. Falling somewhere in-between the lighter, pass-rushing Houston and the bigger, all-around-DE Hardy is Linton. Linton has some gaudy sack numbers of his own, having racked up 17 for the Tiger in 2014, and he has 5 through two games this season already. Linton is used pretty creatively by the Tigers coaching staff, as they often float between 4-3 and 3-4 sets with Linton playing OLB and DE, respectively.

Clay Linton would be the top DE in many DE classes, but due to the presence of Houston and Hardy, he will fall down the first round … but probably just slightly. Like Houston, he possesses as special blend of speed, strength, and agility, and will be able to contribute from day one.

Potential Comparison: Jonathan Massaquoi | Texans
Initial Grade: Mid-Late 1st

Jon Mack | Michigan State | 6’2” 263lbs
Breakdown: 84SPD, 68STR, 59AWR, 80AGI, 85ACC, 64TAK

Jon Mack is yet another DE in this class that can get after the QB. The difference for Mack is that he doesn’t bring much to the table when it comes to run support and setting the edge. Mack is another converted OLB, but unlike Houston, he has struggled in the B1G with bigger, stronger OL.

Once he spends some time in the weight room (and lunch room), and gets tutored on the nuances of the DL in the GZL, he can be effective.

Potential Comparison: Aldon Smith | Titans
Initial Grade: Late 1st

Frank Cotton | TCU | 6’5” 301lbs
Breakdown: 65SPD, 90STR, 55AWR, 67AGI, 79ACC, 74TAK
Stepping away from the plethora of pass-rushers in the class, Frank Cotton provides an option for teams looking for a 3-4 DE, or 4-3 DT. Cotton has played in a 3-4 DE spot the majority of time for the Horned Frogs, but typically will slide inside on clear passing situations.

Cotton displays great size and power along the DL, and is surprisingly nimble for his size. He could stand to use some time in the film room, though. But should have no problem carving out playing time for himself along some GZL team’s front line.

Potential Comparison: Igor Olshansky (young version) | Cowboys
Initial Grade: 2nd Round

Check back next week for the next position group!

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