Late-rising pass-rushing talent

PFW staff
PFW scouting videos on YouTube

This is the sixth in a series of 10 features profiling late-rising prospects from the pro-day circuit or developmental talent that just missed the cut in PFW's 2012 Draft Preview, offering a more condensed scouting report than the 400-plus in this year's Draft Preview. Results from more than 175 pro days are now featured online in PFW's draft database.

Pass rushers are in constant demand, and teams can never have enough depth along the defensive line. Accordingly, defensive ends of all shapes, sizes and development levels are tabbed throughout the draft as teams hope to unearth the next Adewale Ogunleye (undrafted) or even a late-rounder with traction, such as Michael McCrary or, to a lesser extent, Dave Tollefson, both seventh-rounders. The following DE prospects, listed alphabetically, could turn out to be bargain buys:

DRE-ROLB Braylon Broughton, #99
TCU            PFW grade: 5.12
Ht: 6-4 1/8 | Wt: 257 | Sp: 4.56 | Arm: 33 1/4 | Hand: 9 1/8
Notes: The Texas native didn’t play football until his junior season of high school, preferring basketball. Originally committed to Arizona, but his enrollment was not approved by the NCAA Clearinghouse. Did not play football or attend school for the next year as he helped support his family, with his mother dying of cancer. Redshirted in 2007. Appeared in three games in ’08, posting one tackle, one tackle for loss and zero sacks. Recorded 8-½-0 with one batted pass in 11 contests in ’09. Played in all 13 games as a reserve in ’10 and collected 11-2-1 with two batted passes. Registered career highs with 25-6-2 with two passes batted down in 13 games in ’11. Started the first five games of the season before taking on a reserve role the rest of the season.
Bottom line: Looks every bit the part with a rocked-up, athletic build — has an NFL physique. Shows easy lower-body movement and has a 36-inch vertical leap. However, played just one season of high school football and started just five games as a senior at TCU — instincts, football IQ, hand use and pass-rush moves are rudimentary. Has never been able to focus solely on football, which has not come naturally, but is a hardworking, mature, very raw size-speed prospect with moldable talent and untapped potential. Ideally suited for the practice squad, as he will require patience and simple assignments. Turns 25 in December.
NFL projection: Priority free agent.

DRE-OLB Tim Fugger, #42
Vanderbilt            PFW grade: 5.20
Ht: 6-3 1/4 | Wt: 248 | Sp: 4.64 | Arm: 33 | Hand: 9 1/4
Notes: Last name is pronounced "FEW-ger." Spent his first two years of high school in Jacksonville, Fla., before graduating from Montini Catholic in Illinois, where he played defensive end and tight end while also competing in basketball and track and field. Dealt with back spasms in 2007 and redshirted. Missed most of ’08 spring practice because of a sprained foot, then broke his collarbone during fall camp and missed the first three games. On the season, recorded 14 tackles, zero tackles for loss and zero sacks with a forced fumble in nine appearances. Played in all 12 games in ’09, drawing eight starts in place of injured starter Steven Stone, and tallied 21-2-1 with an interception. Started 10-of-12 games in ’10, posting 22-5-3 with a batted pass and four forced fumbles. In ’11, notched 33-13½-8 with four batted passes and three forced fumbles in 13 starts. Graduated.
Bottom line: Second-team All-SEC performer and Combine snub whose impressive pro-day performance led to increased NFL attention, including a handful of personal visits. Shows some hip stiffness and is not a dynamic speed rusher — average get-off and closing burst — but tries to keep himself clean, flashes a spin move (see Arkansas) and keeps working to the quarterback. Gives effort in the run game — works to disengage from single blocks, flattens and chases hard. High-motor defender who plays with urgency, as evidenced early in Alabama contest when he was in on the opening-kickoff tackle and then ripped down Marquis Maze’s jet sweep on the second play from scrimmage. Should contribute readily on special teams and develop into a rotational 4-3 right end, or is capable of rushing and zone-dropping as a stand-up linebacker. Is worthy of a draft selection and has broad appeal.
NFL projection: Sixth- to seventh-round pick.

DLE-5T Ernest Owusu, #95
California             PFW grade: 5.10
Ht: 6-4 3/8 | Wt: 277 | Sp: 4.78 | Arm: 33 | Hand: 10
Notes: Parents are from Ghana. Also played tight end, outside linebacker and running back as a Tennessee prep. Spent the 2006 season at The Hun School of Princeton (N.J.). Redshirted in ’07. Appeared in five games as a reserve in ’08, recording five tackles, one tackle for loss and zero sacks. In ’09, posted 7-3-2 with one batted-down pass in 12 games. Registered 16-2½-1½ with two batted passes in 12 games (started the first nine games at DE) in ’10. Started 9-of-13 contests in ’11, logging 30-7½-4½ with two batted passes and one forced fumble.
Bottom line: Good-sized base end with appealing strength (39 bench-press reps). Plays a simple, straight-ahead game, be it holding his ground vs. the run or trying to plow through blockers and push the pocket. Smart student-athlete, though his on-field eyes and instincts do not run parallel to his GPA. Is just an average athlete, needs to improve his hand use and will not rack up sacks in the pros. Is big and long enough to be considered by 4-3 or 3-4 teams.
NFL projection: Priority free agent.

Other notable pro-day standouts:

RDE-OLB Ryan Davis, Bethune-Cookman
Ht: 6-2 3/8 | Wt: 261 | Sp: 4.84 | Arm: 33 1/4 | Hand: 9 5/8
Active, disruptive, undersized I-AA defensive end with behind-the-line production which cannot be ignored, though he has merely average timed speed and can be eaten up by larger blockers. Plays with intensity, keeps working to the ball and chases hard. 

DE-DT Josue Ortiz, Harvard
Ht: 6-4 1/2 | Wt: 253 | Sp: 4.73 | Arm: 33 5/8 | Hand: 9 5/8
Athletic, intelligent Ivy League standout who produced 10 sacks as an undersized defensive tackle, then put himself on the NFL radar with an impressive pro day, including a rare 38½-inch vertical leap and a 10-foot, 9-inch broad jump that bested all defensive linemen and linebackers at the Combine. Success will be predicated on how well he adjusts to a position change and a drastic jump in competition and whether he can provide a nickel pass rush. Got engaged in November.

RDE-LOLB Brian McNally, New Hampshire
Ht: 6-3 3/8 | Wt: 262 | Sp: 4.96 | Arm: 32 1/4 | Hand: 10 1/4
Thickly built, barrel-chested, disruptive I-AA defensive end who gets off the ball urgently, plays hard and is praised for his outstanding personal and football character. Has tweener traits — lacks ideal size and strength for defensive end (gets crumpled vs. the run) and lacks ideal speed and range for linebacker. Effort, intangibles and special-teams ability will have to carry him.