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Pass Rushing Prospects to Watch in 2011

1/3 of the College Football season has concluded, and I think it is time for an early look at who we should look into. There will be a lot of talent in this coming draft, especially at the position of DE/OLBer. A quality pass rusher is exactly what we need to send our defense to another level. I can see us possibly taking 2 in 2012.

Brandon Jenkins, DE/OLB, Florida State 
Height: 6-3. Weight: 250. 
Projected 40 Time: 4.67. Junior

Jenkins had an amazing year in 2010. He notched 13.5 sacks, and 21.5 TFL. The guy is a beast. In 4 games this year, he has 2 sacks, 4 TFL, and 1 PBU. If he puts together another big year, and comes out, he should be the 1st DE/OLBer taken in the 2012 Draft.

Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama 
Height: 6-2. Weight: 263. 
Projected 40 Time: 4.70. 

Out of all the big school pass rushers, Upshaw has the most aggression and upside as a pass rusher. He doesn't give up no matter what. In 2010 Upshaw racked up 7 sacks, 14.5 TFL, and 4 FF. This year, he has only acquired 1 sack, but also has 5 QB hurries. He is causing havoc for QBs, but not bringing them down. He should be the 2nd or 3rd DE/OLBer taken in the 2012 Draft.

Brandon Lindsay, DE/OLB, Pittsburgh 
Height: 6-2. Weight: 250. 
Projected 40 Time: 4.65. 

When I watch Brandon Lindsay play, I don't see a guy that jumps out as a guy that will cause problems for QBs play in and play out, but he produces. In 2010, he pulled in a respectable 10 sacks 18 TFL, and 3 FF. He is picking up, in 2011, right where he left off last year. He has 4 sacks already, and 2 QB hurries. His numbers are something that can't be ignored, but I don't think he has the energy to make much of an impact in the NFL.

Vinny Curry, DE/OLB, Marshall 
Height: 6-5. Weight: 252. 
Projected 40 Time: 4.66. 

Marshall isn't the biggest football school in college football, but they pump out some great NFL players. Curry might be the next Marshall guy to make a name for himself in the NFL. Vinny has the strength and hand use to go inside on NFL tackles. He is also agile enough to out run slower tackles to the outside. In 2010 he accumulated 12 sacks, 18 TFL, and 16 QB hurries. His 2012 numbers aren't that bad so far either... 3 sacks, 6 TFL, 3 QB hurries.

Chase Thomas, OLB, Stanford 
Height: 6-4. Weight: 239. 
Projected 40 Time: 4.61. 

Chase reminds me of a smaller Brooks Reed. He is very quick, and spunky. If he gains a little weight, he will be the perfect size for a DE/OLB hybrid. In 2010 Chase nailed the QB 7 times, pulled in the ball for 1 INT, and had 11 TFL. His production hasn't faltered this year... 3.5 sacks, 5 TFL, and 2 FF. He could be a decent 3rd or 4th round option.

Some other names to watch:

Devin Taylor, DE, South Carolina 
Height: 6-7. Weight: 250. Junior

2010 stats 7.5 Sacks, 13 TFL, 11 QB hurries, 1 INT

2011 stats 1 Sack, 2 TFL, 2 QB Hurries, 1 PBU

Bruce Irvin, DE/OLB, West Virginia 
Height: 6-2. Weight: 235. 

2010 stats 14 Sacks, 14 TFL, 2 QB hurries, 2 FF, 1 PBU

2011 stats 1 Sack, 4.5 TFL

Darius Fleming, OLB, Notre Dame 
Height: 6-2. Weight: 255.

2010 stats 6 Sacks, 10.5 TFL, 5 QB hurries, 4 PBU, 1 INT

2011 stats 2.5 Sacks, 3.5 TFL, 1 PBU 1 QB hurry

Michael Buchanan, OLB/DE, Illinois Height: 6-6. Weight 240. Junior

2010 stats 2 Sacks, 5.5 TFL, 2 QB Hurries, 2 PBU

2011 stats 4.5 Sacks, 8 TFL, 6 QB Hurries, 1 FF

Whitney Mercilus, OLB/DE, Illinois Height: 6-4. Weight 264. Junior

2010 stats 1 Sack, 3 TFL, 2 QB Hurries, 2 FF, 1 PBU

2011 stats 6 Sacks, 7 TFL, 5 QB Hurries, 2 FF, 1 PBU

Adrian Robinson, OLB/DE, Temple Height: 6-2. Weight 248.

2009 stats 12 Sacks, 14 TFL, 5 FF, 3 QB Hurries, 3 PBU

2011 stats 3 Sacks, 3 TFL

Cordarro Law, OLB/DE, S. Mississippi Height 6-2 Weight 254

2010 stats 6 Sacks, 11.5 TFL, 4 QB Hurries, 4 FF

2011 stats 3 Sacks, 6.5 TFL, 1 QB Hurry, 1 FF