1... Damontre Moore*, DE/OLB, Texas A&M
Height: 6-4. Weight: 250.
Projected 40 Time: 4.70.
Projected Round (2013): Top-10 Pick.
11/17/12: Moore was moved to defensive end for this season, and he has taken to the position quickly. Moore has shown the ability to be a pass-rushing terror, and his speed around the edge is a big mismatch against offensive tackles.
The 20-year old junior has been one of the most consistent pass-rushers in college football this season and is one of the nation's leaders with 12.5 sacks. Perhaps even more impressive than that, Moore leads his team with 74 tackles - 11 more than the next closest defender. He has 20 tackles for a loss, two passes broken up, a blocked kick and a forced fumble.
Moore had 10 tackles and three sacks against Florida in the Aggies' season opener. Moore had a sack and five tackles against Alabama. He has been banged up, but has played productively through the injuries.
Moore had a great game against LSU. He was tough at the point of attack and made a number of tackles in pursuit. Moore recorded a sack at the end of the first quarter with a rush to the inside. He was too fast and strong for the LSU's third string left tackle. Quarterback Zach Mettenberg stepped up to buy a moment, but Moore quickly changed direction to run down Mettenberg from behind.
Moore later caused an incompletion with another hit on Mettenberger. Moore hurt his ankle in the second quarter, but gutted it out and was hobbling around between plays. He played well despite the injury with 10 tackles, two tackles for a loss, one sack and a pass batted.
Moore just needs to add more weight to be a 4-3 end in the NFL.
8/27/12: Moore was initially beaten out for a starting spot entering the 2011 season. Still, the sophomore worked his way into the lineup and showed his natural pass-rushing skills. He totaled 72 tackles with 17.5 tackles for a loss, 8.5 sacks and four forced fumbles in 2011. That exceeded his excellent production as a freshman - 5.5 sacks, 6.5 tackles for a loss, three forced fumbles, and 40 tackles.
Moore is a speed-rusher off the edge who combined with Sean Porter to produce a tough Aggies pass rush last season. They saw a lot of pass-rushing opportunities in the pass-happy Big XII, but those should be reduced with Texas A&M now in the more balanced SEC.
Moore is very fast and is adding size. He could push his stock into the first round, but he may be best off to stay for his senior season. Moore was arrested for marijuana possession prior to his sophomore season. His best fit in the NFL would probably be as a 3-4 outside linebacker
2...Sam Montgomery*, DE/OLB, LSU
Height: 6-5. Weight: 260.
Projected 40 Time: 4.61.
Projected Round (2013): Top-16 Pick.
11/17/12: Montgomery has had a quality season. He played well against Alabama. He totaled three tackles and a sack, plus recovered a fumble. Montgomery was shut down by Texas A&M left tackle Luke Joeckel earlier in October. The Aggies tackle kept Montgomery from getting any pass rush and moved him out of the way in the ground game. He totaled just two tackles and a pass batted.
Montgomery played a lot better against South Carolina compared to his performance against Florida. Montgomery had two sacks and a forced fumble versus the Gamecocks. He had much better run defense as well.
Montgomery has been more disruptive than his totals indicate. He has 28 tackles, 11 tackles for a loss, and six sacks this year.
The added bulk that the redshirt junior packed on over the offseason looks like it is helping him in shedding blocks. He also looks more explosive another year removed from the knee injury that knocked him out two seasons ago.
8/27/12: Montgomery had a breakout sophomore season and led LSU's talented defense in sacks. The Tigers' defensive line was comprised of future NFL linemen with the potential for multiple first-round picks. He totaled 49 tackles with 13.5 tackles for a loss, nine sacks and one forced fumble in 2011.
Montgomery was a key cog in LSU having the second-ranked scoring defense in the nation and the second total defense. He considered entering the 2012 NFL Draft, but decided to finish his degree.
Montgomery had 18 tackles with six tackles for a loss and two sacks as a freshman. He is a dangerous speed-rusher who needs to add weight for the NFL. Montgomery has a big frame, so he shouldn't have any problem adding more bulk for the next level. Montgomery is another year removed from knee surgery, so he could be even better in 2012.
3... Barkevious Mingo*, DE/OLB, LSU
Height: 6-5. Weight: 240.
Projected 40 Time: 4.60.
Projected Round (2013): Top-16 Pick.
11/17/12: Mingo had a bit of a slow start to the season, but picked it up during conference play. Although, Mingo has proven this year that he should be a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL. He's very undersized and not strong enough to be a 4-3 end.
Mingo played well against South Carolina. He picked up four tackles and a sack, and had other pressure on quarterback Connor Shaw. Mingo started out well against Florida a week earlier. He pressured Jeff Driskel to help force a sack for Bennie Logan. Logan ripped the ball out and Mingo recovered the loose ball inside the Gators' 10-yard line. He was getting pushed around in the ground game during the second half, and Florida had a lot of success running at him.
D.J. Fluker, Alabama's right tackle, has struggled all year in pass protection, yet Mingo was a non-factor against him aside from two plays. Mingot drew a holding penalty and batted down a third-down pass attempt, but overall Fluker kept him from making an impact against the Crimson Tide.
Mingo recorded his first sack of the year versus Towson. He came close to a number of sacks against Auburn and Washington, but put regular pressure on the quarterback. Mingo has seen numerous double-teams his direction in 2012. He has 29 tackles, 5.5 tackles for a loss and four sacks this season.
8/27/12: Mingo is a fabulous athlete and a pure speed-rusher. The sophomore was constantly making plays in the backfield last season. Mingo recorded 46 tackles with 15 tackles for a loss, eight sacks and a forced fumble in 2011. The lower weight gave him some problems in run defense, so he'll need to add strength for the next level. Mingo had 35 tackles with 2.5 sacks, 5.5 tackles for a loss, two forced fumbles and six passes batted as a freshman.
Mingo was more disruptive and had more pass pressure than his 2011 sack total indicates. He helped create sacks for fellow end Sam Montgomery by flushing quarterbacks towards Montgomery. With a great supporting cast around him, Mingo looks poised for a huge 2012 season.
Like Montgomery, Mingo should be able to add weight as he has a tall frame. Mingo and Montgomery are capable of producing huge seasons that vault them to the top of their draft classes.
4... Bjoern Werner*, DE, Florida State
Height: 6-4. Weight: 255.
Projected 40 Time: 4.74.
Projected Round (2013): Top-20 Pick.
11/17/12: Werner has cooled down some after a hot start to ths 2012. When Florida State needed a pass rush badly late in the game against North Carolina State, he was a non-factor.
Werner saw extra blocking attention against Clemson. The junior was active and had some pressures on quarterback Tajh Boyd. Werner totaled four tackles and one pass breakup.
The junior has received extra blocking attention this year since Brandon Jenkins went out of the lineup, and that has helped teammate Tank Carradine have a breakout season. Werner started the year with four sacks in a dominating performance against Murray State.
Werner currently has 29 tackles, eight sacks, 12.5 tackles for a loss, six passes batted and a forced fumble.
8/27/12: Werner is strong, physical beast at the line of scrimmage. He pushes offensive line around and plays with violence. The Berlin, Germany product combines a good motor with a mean streak. Werner is a tough run defender at the point of attack.
The sophomore occasionally outplayed teammate Brandon Jenkins last season. Werner (6-4, 273) broke out with some dominating games and seven sacks in 2011. He also had 37 tackles, 11 tackles for a loss, one interception, one forced fumble and eight pass breakups.
Werner had 3.5 sacks as a true freshman in 2010. Don't be surprised if Werner has a massive 2012 season.
5... Alex Okafor, DE, Texas
Height: 6-4. Weight: 265.
Projected 40 Time: 4.73.
Projected Round (2013): 1-2.
11/17/12: Okafor has had a good senior season and has been a consistent pass-rusher. His job got harder after Jackson Jeffcoat went out for the season with a torn pectoral, but Okafor has remained productive. The senior has totaled 46 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 12 tackles for a loss, three forced fumbles, a blocked kick and a pass batted.
Oklahoma held Okafor in check, and it was his worst game of the season. However, he has been Texas' best defensive lineman and a more consistent producer of splash plays than teammate Jackson Jeffcoat was. Okafor has been beating offensive tackles with speed, strength and a repertoire of pass-rushing moves.
Okafor made two massive plays to help his team almost pull out a win against West Virginia. He beat the right tackle with a speed rush just before halftime, dropped his shoulder to get leverage and planted Geno Smith on his back. The hit forced the ball out and Jackson Jeffcoat recovered it just over the goal line for a Longhorns' touchdown.
In the fourth quarter with Texas down by three, Okafor made a game-changing play. He bull-rushed the right tackle straight into Smith. Okafor reached out while falling to the ground and slapped the ball out of Smith's hand. The Longhorns recovered the ball at West Virginia's 12-yard line, but they missed their field goal attempt. Okafor also registered a blocked kick in the game and a number of other pressures on Smith.
8/27/12: Okafor was one of the top defensive ends in the Big XII in 2011. He was a First-Team All-Big XII selection. Okafor totaled 58 tackles with 14 tackles for a loss, seven sacks, three passes batted and two forced fumbles. He had 2.5 sacks as a sophomore in 2010.
Like Jeffcoat, Okafor has a nice skill set with speed and physicality. Plus, he is adept at getting upfield and is a disruptive rusher. Okafor is very solid as a run defender. He holds his ground at the point of attack and does not get pushed around.
The Longhorns have lined Okafor up in a variety of places. He has done a lot of stand-up edge rushing over the tackle as well as blitzing over interior linemen as a linebacker. Okafor definitely has the length and athleticism to be an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense.
Okafor should be primed for a big season and could be an early-round pick. He will get plenty of opportunities to rush the passer given the passing-driven nature of the Big XII. With teammate Jackson Jeffcoat on the other side of the line, Okafor should still see plenty of one-on-one pass-rushing opportunities