The big questionmark Part 1: Scouting Derrck Morgan DE Georgia Tech


[Editor Note: Zoltan and I believe Gene will stock the lines in this years draft, although maybe not with the first round choice.  We like Eric Berry, Joe Haden and Rolando McClain for that choice, but they might be gone.  Zoltan looked at Brian Price and together we are not sold on him being a top ten pick.  Today he looks at Derrick Morgan and again I am not sold on him. Let’s see how Zoltan feels] 

Is Derrick Morgan worthy of a Jaguar first round  #10th-11th selection?

We looked at the possibly best available player candidates at the first round draft selection, Joe Haden or Rolando McClain. Now let’s review the best players at the need positions and the biggest need is for the Jaguars by far is a pass rushing defensive end. The position was a mess in 2009. The Jaguars lost their best DE in the 1stgame when Reggie Hayward (who sacked Peyton Manning in that Week 1 game; which is speak for itself) went down. In the rest of the season the Jaguars defense recorded 13 sacks together over 15 games. Let me repeat that one more time: thirteen sacks in 15 games!!! Jared Allen (Oh I wish the Jags traded for him instead of trading for Harvey) and Elvis Dumervil each alone had more sacks then the entire Jaguars defense! Veteran DT(!) John Henderson had 3 sacks; which was the best among the defenders (Ray Edwards from Minnesota recorded 4 in 2 games in the postseason). Although there were games with some flashes of hope such as the 2ndHouston game when Harvey knocked out Texans QB Matt Schaub long enough to give the Jaguars a decent lead to win the game. We also saw the opposite such as a 4thstring LT activated just 1 day before the Seattle game prevented Derrick Harvey and co from getting to Seahawks QB Matt Hasselback who also played with broken ribs.  This is as pathetic a performance as it can get, so the situation is critical.

The Jaguars however starting to doing things in the right way. They finally fired D-line coach Ted Monachino. If someone knows me, they know that I’m not a big “calling for coaches head after losses” type of guy, just the opposite. But even I wanted to see Monachino out from the Jaguars. Replacing him is Joe Cullen. He had some troubles in his private life but to be sure he showed (in Detroit) he can teach Defensive Ends how to sack the QB. So maybe the right coach is in place. And I have more good news; I think the Jaguars need only one player for resurrecting the pass rush. If there is someone who can chase the QB out into Derrick Harvey’s hand or  opposite, if  Derrick Harvey can chase the signal caller to the new guys hands, well problem is solved. So it’s obvious the Jaguars need to find a new DE either in the draft, returning from IR, or in the free market. But the big question is: Is there a DE good enough to be BAP when the Jaguars pick in the first round at 10th-11th position?

And this brings us to the point of the article. we need to answer the draft question concerning Defensive Ends and today Derrick Morgan; the DE from Georgia Tech is coming to the focus of the Jaguars draft picture. In the mock drafts I see his name popping up next to the Jaguars a lot. Let’s take a look and see if we agree.

Derrick Morgan is a 6’4, 275 junior. [Terry: Being a junior is already a red flag.]  He was first-team all-state selection at Coatesville High and defensive Player of the Year in his league.  He was No. 1 overall prospect in Pennsylvania coming out of high school. He saw action in 12 of the 13 games in his freshman year at Georgia Tech. He had 9 tackles in his first year. In his sophomore year he showed some flashes and started all 13 games for the Yellow Jackets and received an honorable mention All-ACC. [Terry: That is a good sign!] He had 51 tackles and 6 sacks. His breakout year was however his junior (and last) season at Georgia tech. He recorded 12 sacks; 52 tackles (18.5 TFL) and 2 forced fumbles.  He was selected ACC Defensive Player of the Year. Also he earned AP 1st Team All-American with his performance. So he is not a bad player at all.

Derrick Morgan is another “athletic freak” defensive end prospect from Georgia Tech.  While Morgan doesn’t possess the same level of athleticism his former teammate Michael Johnson does, Morgan makes up the difference in effort and attitude. He possesses the elite size and quickness to make him a very dangerous pass rusher but it’s his ability to stuff the run and lock down one endof the line that has him in high regards. His upper body strength allows him to release quickly and his burst of the line is explosive. He has the frame to add weight, making him attractive to teams that value versatility. He may not hold up full time at DT but he could make for a tough match-up against slower guards. There’s a belief that he may be able to move to LB but I’m not sure. He has good athleticism but I don’t think he’s that quick-twitch. Strong, violent hands and a variety of pass rush moves [Terry: A variety of moves? Not just a bull rush? Good sign!] with the ability to string them together make him well suited to keeping his hand on the ground. Not every DE prospect that’s sub-280lbs needs to move to LB. Morgan is one of those prospects.

Let’s see his downside: Morgan isn’t raw, but does have some areas in his technique that need refined.  He might rely on the spin move a little too much at this point and needs to develop more NFL like pass rushing moves.  If he remains at defensive end,  which is why he would go high in the draft, he will need to add some bulk to his frame and core strength.  At times Morgan plays too high and needs to play with a better pad level more consistently. [Terry: Playing too high means he gets pushed over and knocked down]  He has less experience than most of the other DE prospects in this class. [Terry: Oh oh, Derrick Harvey was the same picture]

But the biggest flag on him was the Orange Bowl against Iowa. He disappeared in that game. The only time he was close to Iowa QB Ricky Stanzi was a situation when he chased the signal caller to another 1st down. That is really worrying me. If the Iowa O-line can take him out of the game then I think every NFL team’s O-line can do that as well. Also right now he seems like a player who wants to cash in on 1 very good season. Is that enough to consider himself as the best pass rusher of this draft class? Those who place him as the 1st DE in the mock drafts/prospect rankings suggesting yes and that’s worries me about the whole class not just about Morgan.  If Morgan is the best Defensive End in the draft maybe there is no worthy Defensive End for the Jaguars to select?

To be honest with you right now I do not like this pick very much, maybe the combine and his Pro-day workout can change my mind. Most likely that NOT will happen. I think the disastrous result of the 2008 draft (DE selections –with trade ups- who are underachieving are too fresh of memories…) plus the fact that I do not consider Morgan a top 10th-11th value pick leaves me wondering about drafting a Defensive End in the first round. But some say even a little bit better pass rush is a huge leap for the Jaguars D-line. I’m not happy with that thought. We saw what drafting for need did to this team. But there is a long time until April 22nd 2010. Lot of things can change…

(Part II with USF DE Jason Pierre Paul coming soon to Black and Teal)

Zoltan Paksa

Terry’s take: I couldn’t agree more.  I like to draft Seniors over Juniors, that extra year of maturity means a lot.  Defensive Ends are risky selections in the first round with a high bust potential.  The Orange Bowl spoke volumes to me as well, Derrick Morgan was taken out of the game.  If the Jaguars are going to pay $12 million to a first round draft choice and cut other players to pay for him, let him be a play maker.  Derrick Morgan does not fit that description right now.