Let’s finish up where we left-off in Defensive End Tips Part 1, with the rest of the things scouts look for in DE’s.
Then, let’s look at some film to observe some of these skills in action.
Related: Defensive End Workout – Part 1
Again, the list of skills and abilities that we’re going to look at will come from some extremely credible sources; a 3-time Super Bowl Champion head coach, a gentleman with nearly 30 years of scouting experience at the NFL level, and a man with 17 years experience coaching at a major D1 program.
Of course, I’m speaking of the late-great Bill Walsh, Greg Gabriel from the National Football Post, and Bill Conley, from Scouts Inc.
Balance. Along with upper and lower body girth, a defensive end needs solid balance to regroup after offensive tackles push to get him off his route to the quarterback or ball carrier.
Knee bend/leverage. Defensive ends that consistently play with adequate knee bend tend to be able to get leverage, which gives them a good shot at winning the battle against the offensive lineman they’re facing.
Ability to tackle. Every player on defense needs to be able to tackle. Scouts want to see ends that can wrap-up well when they tackle, and tackle low, with power.
Body control. If you’re big and strong enough to be even considered for a roster spot on an NFL roster as a defensive end, exceptional body control is a must.
There’s just no way you can control your weight and body mass fast enough to effectively rush the passer in the NFL without it.
Long arms. Long arms gives you a leverage advantage over the player trying to block you.
In his article, Gabriel pointed-out that long arms are one of the two common-denominators that he’s seen over the years in great pass rushing defensive ends.
Hand use. And this was the other one.
Observing the Skills In-Action
Justin Tuck, of the New York Giants, is one of the league’s best defensive ends.
At 6-5, 268, he has the ideal size for a 4-3 d-end.
He has elite quickness, balance, and speed for a guy his size.
At the beginning of the video, his teammate Osi Umenyiora comments on his balance, and how well he keeps from falling to the ground after contact.
He ran a 4.71 in the 40 at his Pro Day in ’05, which was among the best of all d-ends in his draft class (may have been THE fastest time that year, I’m not sure).
Related: 40 Yard Dash Training
More importantly, though, is that Tuck plays fast too, it’s not just stopwatch speed.
He gets to the ball with aggression and explodes into his tackles… Maybe most importantly, he consistently wraps-up when he tackles, instead of relying on just hitting the ball carrier, which seems to be so common in the NFL nowadays.
Tuck is a very explosive athlete, as his 37 1/2 inch vertical attests to. He has the burst and explosion to consistently break-down the pocket as he comes around the edge.
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He also has the body control to tackle in open space, and the strength to anchor and hold his place versus the run, which are both reasons why he plays on the strongside of the offenses formation.
If you pay close attention to his tackling, he tend to drop his body, as he delivers the blow low, and to the torso, of the quarterback.
Scouts felt he lacked the lower-body girth they normally wanna see in DE’s when he was at Notre Dame, but you can look at him now and tell he’s since filled-out his lower half to match his upper-body girth since he arrived in the NFL.
Who’s your favorite defensive end of all-time? There’s been some greats… Reggie White, etc… Leave a comment. Let’s get a little debate goin’ on!
Click here, if you missed part one.
What qualities are missing in this series, in your opinion? Leave a comment below.
Follow me on Twitter! @alvingrier
Bill Walsh’s How I Evaluate Each Position: Defensive End (via sportsxchange.com)
Gabriel’s Scouting Defensive Linemen (via National Football Post)
Scouts Inc on Defensive Ends (via Espn.com)