All too often the Dallas Cowboys pass rush seems to come down to DWare vs. the world. For my money, I would gladly take Demarcus Ware over any pass rusher in the league right now, but that still leaves the Boys as a one trick pony when it comes to picking up sacks. The 2013 draft will offer up several pass rushers that should make an immediate impact in the league. For this post I am leaving off the guys that I feel will be gone before the Cowboys pick. This means I am not going to discuss guys like Jarvis Jones and the M&M boys down on the bayou.
Alex Okafor, one of the bookend defenders that the University of Texas entered this season with, is 6'4" 265lb. defensive end out of Pflugerville Texas. A 2011 All-Big 12 first team selection Okafor has a tendency to always be in the offensive backfield making plays. He is solid in run support and uses his athletic ability to be successful as a pass rusher for the Longhorns. Although he does need to continue to improve his pass rush technique to be a top player at the next level, Alex has learned to use his long arms to control opposing offensive linemen and prevent them from locking up effectively. He does a good job of shedding blocks and uses decent speed to close on the passer. Okafor maintains good situational awareness of what takes place around him,and reacts quickly to the play that is developing around him. At the college level, he has played both as a DT and DE. His athletic ability will serve him well in a 3-4 OLB slot as well. For 2012, he has been named to both the Nagurski and Lombardi award watch lists, as well as being selected as first team preseason All America by Athlon and other publications.
Bjoern Werner out of Florida State is 6'4" 225 pound junior that will likely come out after this season. The native of Berlin Germany has less experience playing football than most prospects, but by watching him on the field you would never know it. Werner plays with a violent streak and dominates offensive linemen who get in his way. So far for 2012 he has 24 tackles, including 12 for a loss, 8 sacks, 4 passes batted down, and a forced fumble. Last year he totaled 37 tackles, 11 for losses, and 7 sacks. He is clearly a defensive machine on the Seminole line. Many scouts consider him to be the top college DE in the country and a top 10 defender. A high motor guy with excellent work ethic, Bjoern Warner is only going to get better. He has a good snap anticipation, and starts with a quick burst that he also combines with solid technique. He is versitile enough to drop into pass coverage, and makes plays in open space, which bodes well for his ability to become an outside LB in a 3-4 scheme. He also shows solid form when making tackles in the open field. For someone with only 5 seasons of football experience bjoern werner is an amazingly complete football player. This is generally attributed to his solid work ethic and attention to detail. These are two intangible assets that will benefit the NFL team who signs Werner.
Auburn defensive end Corey Lemonier has managed to fly somewhat below the radar, but NFL scouts know all about him. At 6'3" and 242 pounds, he plays on the line for the Tigers but is likely a OLB at the next level. Because of this, the Auburn defensive coaches have started to use him more as a stand up pass rusher, and they have been dropping him into coverage this season. Another high motor player Lemoinier is still somewhat raw, but he counters that with solid work ethic and a desire to learn. He is working hard to improve his run stopping skills and when tackling he tries to strip the ball. In 2011, Corey was named first team All SEC after leading the tigers with 9.5 sacks. He also had 47 tackles including 13 for a loss. For 2010, he was an All SEC freshman after recording 17 tackles and 2 sacks.
Texas A&M DE Demontre Moore is a Dallas area native who is impressing NFL scouts. Under new defensive coordinator Mark Snyder A&M has moved to a 4-3 scheme and Moore has played as a defensive end. Last year he shined as a 3-4 OLB. He is a little small to remain a DE in the NFL. but he will be a high pick for a 3-4 team looking for a good pass rushing linebacker. No matter where he lines up, Demontre uses speed to create mismatches for opposing offensive linemen. The position switch has not effected his performance either. This season he has 52 tackles including 15 for a loss. He has also recorded 8.5 sacks. His numbers for last season were 72 tackles, 17.5 for a loss, and 8.5 sacks. As a freshman and part time player he recorded 40 tackles and 5.5 sacks. No matter where he plays, the young man is consistant. Quality competition seems to bring out the best in Moore. Some of the most highly regarded offensive line prospects play in the SEC and they have struggled to deal with the talented pass rusher. He also turned in one of his best games when the Tigers met LSU. For my money, he outshined the much hyped pass rushers on the other team, Mingo and Montgomery. Off the field, Moore had to deal with being arrested for marijuana possession. By all accounts, the young man has chosen to learn from his mistake, and let it be his motivation. One person who has taken him under his wing is Von Miller, Sr. The senior Miller has gone on record as having said that he has seen Demontre grow from being a 4 year old kid into a 20 year old young man due to the incident. Miller has a reputation for dropping problem cases like a hot rock, yet he continues to mentor Moore.
Pass rushing talent is not limited to the SEC and Big-12 however. Out of the PAC-12 comes Stanford OLB Chase Thomas. In some ways Thomas reminds me of an Anthony Spencer. His sack totals this year are not an indication of the pressure that he applies to the quarterback. He prefers to bring heat as a blitzer, rather than being a primary pass rusher. For the season, he has 36 tackles, including 6.5 for a loss. He has two sacks and an interception on the year. Chase makes plays all over the field and frequently shows up around the ball. Being a Stanford student, he is obviously intellegent and he possesses a high football IQ to go with it. Although he does not have a naturally explosive first step, he does have quick feet that he uses to his advantage. He gains position on his opponent and uses his leverage to win the battle. Chase sheds blockers quickly and closes on his target. Chase Thomas is versitile enough to play either inside or outside though he is more at home as an OLB. Thomas has shown a tendency to generate turnovers through out his collegiate career. This is one area that many teams will certainly be happy to improve in.
Although these five guys are not as high profile as the better known players like Jones, Montgomery, and Mingo; each has the ability to get the job done consistantly. Each has faced big time competition and aquitted himself well in those opportunities. According to most experts, these guys are all likely to go either in the first or early second rounds of the upcoming draft, and in my opinion any one of them would look good in royal blue next season.