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NFL Draft 2013: Ranking the LEO prospects

The Jacksonville Jaguars new defensive scheme will utilize the LEO position.


The Jacksonville Jaguars will be utilizing the LEO position going forward in Gus Bradley's defensive scheme, which is similar to that of the Seattle Seahawks. The position looks for some specific things that aren't typical of your average 4-3 defensive end. The LEO is going to get in the backfield and disrupt both the pass and the run by lining up wide and exploding off the snap. The LEO is still responsible for some run defense, but ideally you still want a smaller/quicker player, who's more like a 3-4 outside linebacker.

Related: Bradley, the 4-3, and the LEO | Todd Wash says Babin a LEO

Here are my personal rankings for the LEO prospects in the 2013 NFL Draft:

1. Barkevious Mingo, LSU - Mingo is an explosive athlete who's also long, which is another thing that was stressed by Carroll and Bradley in the Seahawks defense. He reminds me a bit of Bruce Irvin, so it's the easy connection to make. Mingo had a disappointing junior season, but as he told Bucky Brooks on the NFL Draft Tracker podcast, the LSU defensive scheme his final year had the defensive line playing a lot of contain and didn't allow them to rush the passer as they wanted. (Draft Profile for Mingo)

2. Dion Jordan, Oregon - Jordan, like Mingo, is probably one of the defensive prospects with high upside. Jordan is the classic tweener type of defender who can be used all over the field and not just at down end. He was used in coverage quite a bit at Oregon and rushed the passer standing up and with his hand on the ground. With the Jaguars wanting to go more hybrid looks, Jordan could be a nice fit. (Draft Profile for Jordan)

3. Cornelius "Tank" Carradine, FSU - The only reason I have Carradine ranked third here is because he's more a traditional 4-3 end, but I think if you let him shed about 10 pounds, he would be a perfect fit if he's completely healthy. Carradine, to me, is the best pass rusher in the draft and would likely be a Top 5 pick if he hadn't tore his ACL late in the season. He needs to work on his pad level, but that's something good coaching can fix.

4. Quanterus Smith, Western Kentucky - Like Carradine, Smith would probably be a lot more highly regarded had he not tore his ACL late in the season. He's along the mold of Mingo and Jordan, as far as a smaller and quick pass rusher. He gave Alabama's offensive tackles fits, racking up three sacks against them. He also has long arms and can take over games coming off the edge. (Draft Profile for Smith)

5. Corey Lemonier, Auburn - Lemonier has a great first step off the snap and can get in the backfield. He played on a horrible Auburn defense, but was one of their few bright spots. He's likely going to get drafted a lot higher than most people expect. He does struggle against the run however and can let offensive lineman get into his pads, which renders him ineffective.

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6. Bjoern Werner, FSU - While Werner is more in the mold of a LEO thank his former teammate Carradine, he's not as good a pass rusher overall. Werner at times has a great first step and can get into the backfield, but he also tends to take plays off that aren't to his side. He has great closing speed and can turn the corner however, so if he's just asked to get in the backfield from the 7- or 9-technique, he should probably do well. He may not be athletic enough to stand up and drop into coverage however, which at times a LEO will do.

7. Demontre Moore, TAMU - Moore has been in the conversation for the Jaguars at No. 2 overall, but I feel he's more of a traditional 4-3 weakside defensive end and doesn't really fit as a LEO, at least not ideally. While Moore has played both stand up 3-4 linebacker and down end, his best fit is at down end. He has just an average first step and gets a lot of his sacks from just being relentless and working rather than just getting past the offensive lineman. Doesn't seem to bend well and bull rushes more often than not.

8. Michael Buchanan, Illinois - Buchanan to me was more impressive than his teammate Whitney Mercilus last season, who was a first round pick. Buchanan, as well as the rest of the Illinois defense, had a disappointing 2012 season, but he has the pass rushing skills that will likely get him drafted in the mid-rounds come April. He's a long pass rusher with good burst and has shown the ability to rush both standing up and with his hand on the ground. (Draft Profile for Buchanan)