Please, please, please don't draft a 3-4 end with our top pick. I'm not anti drafting d-line with that pick, but anti DE. If we could get a good NT, I would be all in favor of that pick. Fairley would be nice, but he will likely be gone. I would like having Dareus to play NT, but I'm not sure if he will be there at 9. 3-4 nose tackles are one of the most important pieces to the 3-4 defense, and they definitely are OK to draft in round one (Ngata and Wilfolk were both first rounders, and they are great players in their 3-4 schemes).
But, name a 3-4 end taken in the first round that his been worth the pick? I honestly wouldn't take a 3-4 end until round 3 or later, and there is plenty of talent to be found there. What kind of player do you need to play end in the 3-4? You need a big (at least 300 pounds) guy with an active motor. The DEs job in the 3-4 is simple. Be a big body that occupies the blockers and doesn't let the o-linemen get to the next level. Basically do the dirty work so the LBs can make plays.
Let me ask you guys a question: Why is it that we are so ready to get rid of Marcus Spears? Look, I agree he has been a bit disappointing (former first round pick), but he is a solid player. He is exactly the kind of player that you need as a 3-4 end. Big guy, good against the run. Not an elite, great player, but a good, dependable player. If we need an end, why don't we just resign him? Do you really think a DE we draft at number 9 will be any better than Spears? I would argue that if we draft a DE at 9, the best case scenario is he as about as productive as Marcus Spears. I agree we need to get some more talent and depth at Dline, but we can address that later in the draft. Brent is a nice looking player, and we got him for a 7th round pick. Ratliff was drafted in the 7th round; was Stephen Bowen even drafted? Canty was a solid 3-4 end, and we got him in round 4. Olskansky isn't that great, and he was an early second rounder. One of the best 3-4 DEs out there is Aaron Smith of the Steelers who was a fourth round pick.
We have plenty of holes to fill on this team. When you are picking in the top ten you need to get a playmaker. I don't care what position...just get somebody who makes plays. I don't want to waste a top ten pick on a big, scrappy guy that we could get in the later rounds.