Monday, 8 February 2010

POTD: Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech

By Kip Earlywine

How about a 2-fer today?

Height: 6'4"
Weight: 270
Unofficial 40: 4.74


-Good size
-Great athleticism, acceleration, foot-speed and agility
-Explosive... very explosive by LDE standards
-High Motor, relentless
-Good leverage
-Powerful, can sometimes dominate blockers
-Full pass rush repertoire: edge rush, spin move, slips by with quickness
-Handles double teams well
-Can play both DE spots in a 4-3
-Terrific 2009 stats (18.5 TFL, 12 sacks)
-Edge rush for a LDE is downright scary, which forces a lot of holding penalties from RTs
-Very good awareness, great vs. run
-Good tackler
-No Character concerns, plays hard and seems to be a leader
-No notable injuries
-Well rounded; very few weaknesses


-Mediocre hand use, sometimes can get locked up or struggle to disengage
-Streaky. Gets sacks in bunches
-Not as dominant at RDE
-Pretty much a pure 4-3 player
-Might have issues in coverage
-At his best with a hand on the ground

Sound Bites:

"[Morgan] represents great value because he can rush the passer, is productive against the run and can even drop back -- a versatile talent.
-Mel Kiper jr.
"I bring this up because after one game of the tape review of Georgia Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan [against Clemson]... I had thoughts of grading him above the phenom Ndamukong Suh."
-KC Joyner, ESPN Insider
"Morgan can anchor at the point of attack, make plays in pursuit, get to the quarterback coming off the edge and drop into coverage on zone blitzes. In other words, he can do it all as far as defensive end prospects are concerned. He is a BIG TIME pass rusher."
-Todd McShay

My Thoughts:

I came into this POTD a little biased in Morgan's favor. Despite that, my expectations were exceeded. He's built like a prototypical LDE, but his quickness and moves are like that of a lightweight RDE. Morgan is big, strong AND explosive, which you just don't see everyday. Morgan's quickness is his biggest asset. This probably explains why he's more successful on the left side since RTs are often less equipped to handle a potent edge rush.

Morgan did look pretty ordinary at RDE though. His hand use is just ok and good left tackles can sometimes lock him up. There seems to be some controversy about Morgan's coverage ability. Some like it (Kiper, McShay), some don't (Walterfootball). Morgan is also pretty streaky and likes to pad his stats with big games, but so did Kerney and Tapp in '07.

Morgan played both RDE and LDE in 2009, and has the talent to play both positions in the NFL. However, I think it would be wisest to use him mostly at LDE. Finding very good edge rushers with the size and strength to stop the run is not easy to do. Morgan will make for a special LDE, whereas I think he'd just be ordinary at RDE. Watching those highlights, Morgan reminded me a LOT of a taller, bigger Robert Mathis. That works out well, because I'd rather upgrade over Jackson than Tapp.

Darryl Tapp is an under-appreciated player who impressed Carroll, so I think he'll be back. Tapp is kind of like a poor man's Dwight Freeney. If the Seahawks add a potent DT to pair with Mebane, QB's won't be able to avoid Tapp so much. For as few sacks as Tapp had last year (2.5), he nearly led the league in QB hits (16?). I wouldn't mind at all if the Seahawks complimented a poor man's Freeney with a rich man's Mathis. That duo has been one of the most dominant in the league now for many years in the same style of defense Seattle currently runs.

I think Morgan makes a lot of sense for the Seahawks, and I now feel comfortable taking him at #6. Interestingly enough, when I googled Derrick Morgan Mel Kiper looking for an opinion, the Seahawks were mentioned 5 times on the first page (including this blog). Even if you take out the entries that were due to Kiper giving Seattle Morgan in his 1st mock, there were still about 3 Seahawks sites left. No other NFL team made the 1st page. Morgan is already strongly linked to Seattle and I don't expect that to change any time soon.

I don't know if I'd call Morgan "likely" to be a Seahawk, but I do think he makes a lot of sense. If neither McCoy or Suh falls to #6, and the Seahawks opt to pass on a QB with the first pick, Morgan would probably be my first preference of the remaining options. Matt McGuire compared Morgan to a young Patrick Kerney, and we saw what Kerney did in '07 when he moved to LDE. If the Seahawks draft Morgan and use him correctly, he could become a cornerstone player for Seattle's next playoff bound team.


Ben said...

Nice work, Kip. I've got a couple of questions:
(1) One criticism of Morgan I've read is that he was shut down vs Iowa (and not just vs Bulaga). Is this an example of streaky play or him struggling versus tougher competition? Are there examples where he did well against comparable competition?

(2) Depending on the source, I've heard the defensive end lined up versus the LT called either the RDE or LDE. Could you quickly explain your understanding of each role and the current Hawks players who man each?


Kip Earlywine said...

I always consider a defensive position from a defensive POV. So I consider a DE on the defensive right side to be a RDE, even though he matches up against a left tackle.

I haven't watched much of the Iowa game. Rob might be a better person to ask.

Anonymous said...

I'll second ben's #2. Is the difference between LDE/RDE a question of talent like tackle?

And above anything I love Morgan's motor, the guy just doesn't give up.

Jayce said...

Kip is right, its from the Defensive POV. LT will match-up against the RDE and RT against LDE. I think differences in talent is RDE needs to be more explosive. Explosive enough to rush the QB from the blindside.


Anonymous said...

So would you say when he doesn't get any sacks (when he is on a down streak), that he still pressures the quarterback? Or does he disappear completely?

ivotuk said...

KC Joyner also had this to say:

First among the drawbacks: Whenever Morgan failed to win a block directed at his point of attack, the ball carrier often gained a lot of yards. There were 15 runs that gained at least five yards; six of those went for 14 or more yards.

He was on the field for only 17 of the 27 passing plays and only 25 of the 36 rushing plays in that contest. Those numbers are a bit troubling and the negative feeling was amplified when the camera did a sideline pan of Morgan that showed he was having trouble catching his breath on numerous occasions.

I'd love to have him at #14 but I don't think he is on the field enough to justify picking him at #6.

ivotuk said...

To clarify, the Miami game is where he was having trouble staying on the field.

Vince Mulcahy said...

In regards to the Iowa game, Morgan did not accumulate any sacks but it was not for lack of effort. You can argue that he would of had two sacks (one playing RDE and one as the LDE) if it had not been for foul play. But he was also able to pressure the qb out of the pocket a couple of times besides that. And lets not forget sack stats are highly disregarded by NFL scouts because of their lack of explanation of what really took place. They barely begin to scratch the surface of a d linemens play.

Now I am definitely in favor of drafting Morgan at six, but the stats stating that if Morgan did not an his POA they ran for more yards makes me think of what little help he had and that he carried his nationally ranked defense. Besides if we could have gotten our d linemen to play 42 snaps in a game maybe our sack leader would of had more than 5.5 sacks!

c-hawker said...

Morgan goes to Tampa Bay at #3.
If the Rams take a QB, that will push McCoy down the board. The Buc's need a DE worse than they need a DT.
OT or QB to the Skins.
KC takes McLain,Berry, or Haden. I'm guessing McLain, the more dominant of the three. KC already has a lot invested at DT. As Seattle has a lot invested at DE.
I would rather see us take McCOY or Berry. I think Berry can play some corner if need be. We'll see how well he flip's his hips at the combine.
There are a lot of good DT's in this draft this draft that can be had down the board.

Rob Staton said...

If McCoy makes it past the top three picks, I'd be surprised. BPA and a big need for either Detroit or TB.

c-hawker said...

If KC is sitting there looking at McCoy, watch how fast they trade out of that spot.
Should be interesting.

Anonymous said...

Random thoughts...why draft and pay LDE top 10 or even top 15 money if he is below average against the run and he struggles against top tier tackles?

He gives all his effort, I totally agree. But his struggles versus top tackles in college suggest that he'll have to play the left in the NFL. He better get ready to face studs ever week in the pros.

He was blown up against Miami, and that was against a guy making his second career start. The Iowa game, his last showcase game for NFL teams & draft positioning, he (played hard but) was held in check by a freshman right tackle and Buluga. Stat padder? It's easy to take candy from babies...

Anonymous said...

I disagree with the assessment that he struggles against talented left tackles. Joyner said he had the best pass rush moves he's seen scouting DE since Kerney and (Mathis or Allen, I can't remember). In any case, if either McCoy, Suh or Morgan fall to 6, I'd sprint to the podium. My fear is that they all go top 5 and we're left choosing between Berry, Haden, Clausen and Bradford. Positional value is the issue with the first 2, and I'm not sold on Clausen or Bradford being anything more than average NFL QB's. Don't get me wrong, BPA is what I prefer, so that could be any one of those 4 and therefore would not be a "mistake", but I'd prefer one of the elite D-line prospects. I agree with Rob that pairing McCoy or Suh with Mebane would help Tapp and Kerney/Jackson be more effective, so they'd be my first choice. Morgan would be great, but unless we spend another pick on one of the other DT's to replace Cole (Price, Houston, Alualu, Odrick, Williams), well, we're still stuck with Cole.

CLanterman said...

I like Derrick Morgan a lot, but here's my problem with him: in a free market situation, would you pay Morgan $45 million dollars over 5 years, or would you pay Brandon Graham $15 million dollars over 5 years? I'd rather opt for the latter, and that would require trading down and netting an extra 2nd round pick. That's the weird thing about drafts, in what scenario would you offer to pay Aaron Curry, $50 million dollars when you can draft James Laurinaitis or Rey Maualuga $15 million dollars, and get an extra pick or two? In this draft in particular, there is a lot of depth at DE and DT, and I think we should take advantage of it.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, you had me at "Joyner said".

With various scouting sites posting different opinions on players, I tend to trust my own eyes first.

Kip Earlywine said...

Obviously I didn't really scout Morgan, I just watched some videos, so my information is limited and flawed, but it seemed like most of Morgan's lowlights came from his playing RDE. He looks downright dominating at LDE, but at RDE, he would be forced into a lot of stalemates.

As far as Morgan not playing 100% of the snaps- not really an issue since we rotate ends anyway. In Seattle, Morgan would probably play 60-80% of the snaps most games (that's about what Kerney's workload was).

Clanterman, I tend to agree with that type of $ logic, but in this case I disagree with the specific scenario of Morgan vs. Graham. I'm a fan of Graham, but he's basically Tapp 2.0 and Tapp is just entering his prime. Graham would be a backup and have little impact for us. Morgan has the potential to be a monster pass rushing upgrade over Jackson, especially in a couple years once he gets acclimated to the NFL.

If Graham and Morgan were the same player, I'd agree that we should address DE after the 1st round. But truthfully, there are precious few DEs in this draft that would be immediate upgrades, most DEs would be depth behind Tapp or Jackson, at least for 3 years or so. If the Seahawks don't draft Morgan, honestly, I'd prefer for them to wait til the mid rounds to take a DE since almost anyone they take after the 1st would be for depth purposes.

Michael said...

Morgan is highly overrated. He tends to get sacks in bunches against QB's that hold the ball.

Please, someone go watch the Miami tape! And watch the Iowa tape.

Seattle already has Derrick Morgan. His name is Lawrence Jackson. Why would you draft yet another LDE?

Morgan is a top 20 pick, but I doubt he will go higher than 14 is Seattle passes at #6. My gut, and my hope, is that they will.

Seattle needs talent the don't have. Morgan is a duplicate of what already is.

Overhyped. Do not let Wake Forest, NC State, Duke, Florida State, etc. fool you. Although, it seems they already have.

Kip Earlywine said...

I personally don't get the Morgan-Jackson comparisons some fans make (I hear this a lot). They are very different prospects.

Jackson was a pure bullrusher with no pass rush repertoire or hand use who racked up sacks on a loaded supporting cast which included Sedrick Ellis right next to him. In other words, Jackson was the product of his environment.

Morgan was the superstar of an otherwise very ordinary line at GT and showcased a ton of a pass rushing versatility. Rather than benefiting from his surroundings, Morgan succeeded despite them and often carried the defense.

To me, the only thing Jackson/Morgan have in common is that they will both be 1st rounders and both are best at LDE. Jackson is not a true difference maker. He was a safe pick. Morgan is a difference maker type.

ivotuk said...

After reading different scouts opinions and watching the Iowa game I just don't see the value there at #6. For him to be taken at that position he should have been able to push Bulaga backwards, but he couldn't. At one time he was stood up by a tight end. Then when he switched to LDE he kept taking it to the outside getting upfield and completely out of the play.

I disagree when it comes to comparing Graham to Tapp, Graham is a much better talent. At the Senior Bowl none of the offensive linemen there could keep him in check. It didn't matter what side he rushed from or who was in front of him, he abused them all. I see him being closer to Elvis Dumervil or Dwight Freeney than Darryl Tapp. Brandon Graham will be a force in the NFL.

If you go back and look at Michigan's games, he excelled on a horrible team. The talent Derrick Morgan had around him was head and shoulders above any help Graham had.

Kip Earlywine said...

When Tapp was drafted he was also compared to Freeney. His measurables were pretty much exactly the same as Graham's. He was a projected 1st rounder who fell deep into the 2nd. His last two seasons, he had 18.5 sacks and 31 TFL. Graham had 20.5 sacks and 46 TFL. Graham was better against the run, but in terms of pass rush, they were very close, as you would expect given their remarkable similarities.

Tapp is just entering his prime years, whereas Graham would be brand new and DEs tend to take a year or two to acclimate to the NFL. I agree that Graham is a little better than Tapp, but as pure pass rushers, they are pretty close and I don't think Graham would exceed Tapp in the NFL for a couple years because of the learning curve.

Graham's production has been incredibly good, his totals the last two years exceed even Morgan's. So why is he talked about as a late 1st/early 2nd pick? Its for the same reason that Tapp ended up the 63th overall and Dumerville the 146th overall. His size kind of limits what he can do and people aren't really sure if he's a 4-3 RDE or a 3-4 elephant at this point.

I'm not opposed to taking Graham, but I just want people to know that he's Tapp+. If you love Tapp and want another one, Graham is your man. I think Graham will impress Carroll and given Carroll's statements about finding an elephant LB and making the defense faster, Graham could be a possibility- although I think Tapp and Curry are probably already being cast in those roles.