No matter where players have been slotted rankings-wise going into the draft, good pass rushers always looks a little sexier on draft day. This year's class will be no exception with lots of NFL calibre talent available.
At the top of our list is Matt Roth. Though some point to his size and look at him as perhaps a 'tweener', we prefer to think that his progress from linebacker to end is merely not quite complete. With 30 sacks in the last 3 seasons, he's not exactly struggling. But he will continue to get better as he improves his technique. With a motor like Grant Wistrom, he has the potential to make an impact right away for the team that drafts him. Teams that pass over him thinking that he is undersized could eventually rue the day.
Dan Cody checks in at number two. He is a physical specimen and had great production at Oklahoma. The only question about Cody is whether his numbers are a result of the system he plays in, or a result of his ability. Some teams may want to look at some 'intangibles' at the combine, as he did leave the Sooners in 2001 for mental reasons. But barring any serious set backs, Cody will be a first round pick.
Erasmus James rounds out our top three. Many boards have James as their top available end, and while we agree that he has exceptional ability, we think that his tendency to disppear in some games is some cause for concern. We also think that he was the benficiary of playing along side Antaj Hawthorne at Wisconsin, who drew many double teams. James has excellent instincts and reads blocks well. He could very well be the first defensive end taken in the draft.
Other defensive ends names' to listen for on day number one include Shawn Merriman, David Pollack, Chris Canty, Marcus Spears, Jason Kaufusi, Adell Duckett and Bill Swancutt. Pollack may be the most rounded end in the draft... desire, leadership skills, run stopping ability and pass rushing ability. Merriman may have come out a year earlier than he should have but he is an excellent prosepct nevertheless.
All of these players will have their name called on April 23rd, the only question is how many will be in the first thirty-two.