Prospect profile: Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech

Sporting News’ Pro Football War Room has hundreds of player evaluations in preparation for the 2010 NFL draft. Here is a capsule look at prospect Derrick Morgan.

NFL position: DE

Derrick Morgan is likened to Julius Peppers of the Chicago Bears.
Derrick Morgan is likened to Julius Peppers of the Chicago Bears.

Height: 6-3
Weight: 266
40 time: 4.78
Current projection: First-round pick
NFL comparison: Julius Peppers, Bears

Against the run: Is excellent against the run. Does an excellent job taking on run blocks with good leverage. Gets hands on run blockers quickly; can lock out blocker, hold g round , shed and make tackle on runs at him. Does a good job of tying up and stringing out the play on outside runs to his side. Keeps play inside of him when that is his responsibility and can disengage and make the tackle. Flashes strength and power to jolt run blockers backward. Can defeat blocks, get inside his opponent and burst to finish the tackle in the backfield. Grade: 9.0

Pass rush: Is productive. Has the quickness, explosiveness and anticipation to burst off the snap and beat tackles. Often can outrun tackles around the corner but must improve his dip technique so he can turn the corner sharply when he doesn’t beat the tackle. Has the hand and foot quickness and agility to beat one-on-one pass blocks with a quick move inside or out. Has a good spin move, as well as slap and arm-over moves. Has an explosive closing burst to the QB to finish sacks. Shows the strength and athleticism to drive through double-team blocks and get pressure on the pocket. Has a combination of strength, hand use and aggressiveness to drive his opponent into the quarterback’s lap on bull-rushes. Grade: 8.0

Initial quickness: His burst, instincts and snap anticipation enable him to consistently be the first lineman moving at the snap. Gets his hands on his opponent quickly, which helps him control and defeat him. Grade: 8.5

Instincts: Is a naturally instinctive defender, which helps him sniff out the play and get started toward the ball quickly. Does not get fooled by trick or misdirection plays and does an excellent job of carrying out his assignment. Shows awareness dropping into coverage and does a good job of adjusting based on where he senses the pass is going. Grade: 9.0

Pursuit/tackling: Does a good job of maintaining backside containment responsibility before coming down the line on running plays away. Once he’s sure the play is not coming back to him, he accelerates down the line quickly, moves through traffic easily and has the speed and explosive closing burst to consistently finish plays in pursuit. Flashes the athleticism to hurdle over low blocks and traffic without losing speed and closes quickly on ballcarrier to make hard, physical tackles in pursuit. Has a combination of strength, athleticism and competitiveness to get the ballcarrier to the ground when he gets his hands on him. Grade: 8.5

Bottom line: Though he entered the draft early, Morgan is ready to contribute as a rookie. He is athletic with a rare combination of quickness, explosiveness, speed, size and strength. He could be effective as an end in a 4-3 or 3-4, or as a rush linebacker in a 3-4. Morgan will be a top-15 pick and will become a productive defender and potentially a Pro Bowler.

For more than 600 player scouting reports from Russ Lande and his team of former NFL scouts — plus updated mock draft, Super 99 rankings and more — go to warroom.sportingnews.com.

Sporting News’ Pro Football War Room has hundreds of player evaluations in preparation for the 2010 NFL draft. Here is a capsule look at prospect Derrick Morgan.

NFL position: DE

Derrick Morgan is likened to Julius Peppers of the Chicago Bears.
Derrick Morgan is likened to Julius Peppers of the Chicago Bears.

Height: 6-3
Weight: 266
40 time: 4.78
Current projection: First-round pick
NFL comparison: Julius Peppers, Bears

Against the run: Is excellent against the run. Does an excellent job taking on run blocks with good leverage. Gets hands on run blockers quickly; can lock out blocker, hold g round , shed and make tackle on runs at him. Does a good job of tying up and stringing out the play on outside runs to his side. Keeps play inside of him when that is his responsibility and can disengage and make the tackle. Flashes strength and power to jolt run blockers backward. Can defeat blocks, get inside his opponent and burst to finish the tackle in the backfield. Grade: 9.0

Pass rush: Is productive. Has the quickness, explosiveness and anticipation to burst off the snap and beat tackles. Often can outrun tackles around the corner but must improve his dip technique so he can turn the corner sharply when he doesn’t beat the tackle. Has the hand and foot quickness and agility to beat one-on-one pass blocks with a quick move inside or out. Has a good spin move, as well as slap and arm-over moves. Has an explosive closing burst to the QB to finish sacks. Shows the strength and athleticism to drive through double-team blocks and get pressure on the pocket. Has a combination of strength, hand use and aggressiveness to drive his opponent into the quarterback’s lap on bull-rushes. Grade: 8.0

Initial quickness: His burst, instincts and snap anticipation enable him to consistently be the first lineman moving at the snap. Gets his hands on his opponent quickly, which helps him control and defeat him. Grade: 8.5

Instincts: Is a naturally instinctive defender, which helps him sniff out the play and get started toward the ball quickly. Does not get fooled by trick or misdirection plays and does an excellent job of carrying out his assignment. Shows awareness dropping into coverage and does a good job of adjusting based on where he senses the pass is going. Grade: 9.0

Pursuit/tackling: Does a good job of maintaining backside containment responsibility before coming down the line on running plays away. Once he’s sure the play is not coming back to him, he accelerates down the line quickly, moves through traffic easily and has the speed and explosive closing burst to consistently finish plays in pursuit. Flashes the athleticism to hurdle over low blocks and traffic without losing speed and closes quickly on ballcarrier to make hard, physical tackles in pursuit. Has a combination of strength, athleticism and competitiveness to get the ballcarrier to the ground when he gets his hands on him. Grade: 8.5

Bottom line: Though he entered the draft early, Morgan is ready to contribute as a rookie. He is athletic with a rare combination of quickness, explosiveness, speed, size and strength. He could be effective as an end in a 4-3 or 3-4, or as a rush linebacker in a 3-4. Morgan will be a top-15 pick and will become a productive defender and potentially a Pro Bowler.

For more than 600 player scouting reports from Russ Lande and his team of former NFL scouts — plus updated mock draft, Super 99 rankings and more — go to warroom.sportingnews.com.

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