Monday, 22 March 2010

Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech

By Kyle Rota

Name: Derrick Morgan
Position: DE
School: Georgia Tech
Height: 6030
Weight: 266
40: 4.72

Athleticism: Morgan is a very good athlete for an end his size. He does not excel at any one area, but has above-average burst, pursuit, speed and leverage. His change of direction could be better, but it is at worst average for a starter in the NFL. 6.5

Play vs Run: Morgan is generally very good against the run. Morgan is one of the few accomplished pass rushers who is able to get to the quarterback without constantly taking himself out of position against the run. He has good strength and leverage, and is able to provide a jolt with his hands to disengage. Great on outside runs. I’d like to see him improve at the POA, especially when double teamed, but overall he does a very solid job. 6.5

Play vs Pass:
You’re going to get tired of me saying this, but again Morgan is very good against the pass. He has a variety of moves, a good nose for the ball, and flashes the ability to get off the snap quickly. He creates a lot more pressure than his impressive sack total would indicate, really being a disruptive force. Strong bull-rush and speed rush skills. I see a lot of double-digit sack seasons in Morgan’s NFL career. Also pretty good in coverage for a DE, especially for a potential strongside end. 7.0

Quickness off Snap/Explosive First Steps: Morgan is inconsistent here, as he rarely pins his ears back. Even when he is playing the run, Morgan gets a solid jump off the snap and has good foot quicks, but when he pins his ears back he flashes great quickness off the snap. Great snap anticipation either way, rarely gets a bad jump. 6.5

Closing Burst: This is one of the few areas where Morgan is merely average. He is a good athlete, but doesn’t seem to have an extra gear when chasing down the QB – quite possibly because he is going at 100% most of the time anyways. 6.0

Pursuit: Morgan is a natural runner who gives excellent effort, but he doesn’t have elite speed. He still earns an above average grade here, but really it’s an extension of his effort. 6.5

Pass Rush Moves: Morgan has a wide variety of effective pass rush moves that he is comfortable and effective using. One of his better areas. 7.0

Speed Rush: Morgan is fast enough to simply run around some tackles when he gets a good jump. 6.5

Bull Rush: Because of his combination of leverage, motor, and strength, Morgan provides a strong bull rush. 6.5

Hand Play:
Morgan gives a very nice jolt when he gets his long arms into the OLM. However, I’d like to see him use those arms to keep hands off of his body, as too often Morgan has to work to disengage (which he does well). 6.0

Leverage: Morgan has the ability to play with outstanding leverage, but as he tires he is susceptible to playing a little higher and loses some of his power. Still, I think spending less time on the field will help him maintain what can be excellent leverage. This grade could end up being a 7.0 if Morgan is kept fresh. 6.5

Strength: Morgan has great upper-body strength for a DE, no matter where he lines up. His upper body strength (and long arms) are big reasons why Morgan’s pass-rush moves work so well. However, he could use more lower-body strength to anchor. 6.0

Anchor at POA: Morgan is not a problem here, but he could improve. He’d be well above average as a right defensive end, but occasionally Morgan struggles to anchor, especially when double teamed. 6.0

Probably his best attribute, Morgan has a great motor. He’s a high-effort player who’s competitive drive compliments his physical talents. 7.0

Coverage: I normally don’t even grade this, but GT put Morgan is space several times in the games I’ve seen. He has surprisingly good instincts in coverage for a DE, and he’s not a bad athlete. I’m not sure if he could transition well in a 3-4, but he’d be very good for a 4-3 end. 6.5

Tackling/Hit Power:
Solid tackler who is capable of providing a jolt when he hits someone. Pretty solid in space and rarely misses a tackle. 6.5

Morgan does a pretty good job locating the ball and has good snap anticipation. He plays his position smartly. 6.5

Errors: In 6 games, I have Morgan jumping offsides once. Doesn’t appear have issues playing smart football.

Intangibles: Considering how hard he plays and his reputation as a great leader, I think Morgan is likely to be a very hard worker who won’t give his team any headaches. Has never missed a game due to injury or suspension at GT. 7.0

Summary: I was not expecting to like Morgan as much as I did. However, he combines above-average athleticism and technique with good instincts and an excellent motor, and won my respect. Three important things stand out: How often Morgan was on the field (rarely subbed out and GT constantly lost TOP), how many plays Morgan created for others, and how well few flaws Morgan has. While Morgan does not have the incredible physical skills one likes in a top-10 pick, his well-rounded game will make him an impact end in the NFL.

Lastly, one misconception I wish to clear up: Morgan did not struggle at all in the Orange Bowl against Iowa. He did not have the numbers, but Iowa wanted nothing to do with him and changed their game plan to avoid a Clemson-esque meltdown. Despite that, Morgan still flushed Stanzi out of the pocket several times, though his lack of a closing burst meant that some of those scrambles resulted in positive yardage. He had a very good game against Iowa, and did not really struggle against Bulaga either (had at least two pressures against the Iowa LT despite being matched up as the LDE most of the game).

Weighted Grade: 6.5
Actual Grade: 6.7
(the weighted grades are still flawed as they don’t really stress the 7+ grades like I’d like, so this is the important one)


Kip Earlywine said...

Wow. Great read.

Kyle, did you notice any droppoff in quality as a pass rusher when lining up at RDE? Because in the small sample I looked at, he looked more dominant and natural playing as a LDE (meaning, vs. a RT). Your thoughts?

Dan Alexander said...

what is the high/low on Morgan in the draft? Obviously once there are trades and talent on/off the board, it'll affect his draft range. But where would we be expecting to see him taken? Is he in our pick #6-#14 range?

Most mocks I've seen have him all over the place, going early to slipping a bit.

DSAhawker - long time no see Rota! Glad to see the writeups again!

Mind of no mind said...

Cool, this was the guy I was waiting to read about. I really hope we're able to land him at #14, it sounds like that would be great value in an area of need for us.

ChavaC said...

I think Morgan could probably go as high as #6 to us or potentially fall to the middle of the round. If we wait for to him fall to 14, though, I could see Jacksonville taking him.

Great write up. The thing that always impresses me with Morgan is that motor. Every time I see him he's moving at 110%. Reminds me of a more compact Kerney.

Mind of no mind said...

I could see Jacksonville taking him, if they hadn't invested a first rounder in Derrick Harvey and a second on Quentin Groves 2 years ago, and just signed Kampman to a $26 million dollar contract with $11 million guaranteed. Not that I'd 100% rule it out. I'd be more worried about a team trading up for him. It's just hard to picture the Seahawks taking a guy at #6 when they have a good chance to land him at #14. If we land an elite LT at #6 and Morgan at #14, that would have to win most draft report cards.

Kyle Rota said...

Kip - I feel Morgan played well at RDE when moved there, but I believe he's a more natural LDE as well. He could play RDE, but I think he's more likely to become a great player at LDE.

Dan - Glad to see DSAhawker still exists too! I think there is above a 50% chance we could get Morgan at 14 - NFLDraftScout says most teams don't like him as a 3-4OLB, and the only two 4-3 teams between 6 and 14 are Oakland (and who can see Al Davis taking Morgan over JPP?) and Jacksonville (who signed Kampman and has spent heavily on DE in the draft in the past 3 years). I'd be willing to take Morgan at 6, but I think we could get lucky and take him at 14.

Ghost Mutt said...

If Morgan is projected to be a LDE, I would have thought that would make us less likely to draft him? Carroll has traditionally used a more stout run defender at LDE, and with his familiarity with LoJack we can assume he's a lock to start there. The main pressure comes form RDE, or when playing three down linemen the elephant rushes. As much as I like Morgan, I think we need to draft surefire starters with our 1st two picks, and feel that Morgan would be more situational. Kip and Kyle (sounds like sitcom characters), do you think I'm reading too much into this?

Ghost Mutt said...

And I'm aware that whenever I post here it usually reads at something like 3.30am. Just to clarify, I'm Irish and here in Dublin it's 10.35am, in case anyone thought I was a psychopath that's posting from outside your house in the middle of the night or something...

Kyle Rota said...

Heh, what's wrong with 3:30am? (I'm usually up at that time, though that may just prove the claims of those who think I'm insane)

More specifically - I don't think you're reading too much into this. I would say that pressure can often come from the left side (in fact, I believe the RDE is less important than the LDE, as a LDE who can rush the passer is more likely to make teams keep the TE in to block since the LDE is usually the strongside end). Definitely Lawrence Jackson is a curiosity - Carroll said something along the lines of "I was surprised LoJack was a 1st round pick" (more diplomatically, of course). I think Morgan makes sense only if Carroll isn't comfortable with LoJack as a starting DE, which is justifiable. If the team thinks Jackson is the long-term starter at LDE, then I wouldn't advocate Morgan.