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Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Quick-hit evaluations on DEs

By Field Yates

Continuing our scouting reports of the Patriots 53-man roster, we turn our attention to the defensive side of the ball at defensive end:

Chandler Jones (6-5, 260)

Strengths: Unique length and athleticism. Good initial burst, speed and strength through lower half. Effective edge rusher with arsenal of pass moves that is more advanced than his billing as a draft prospect with development needed. Looks to be solid against the run. Has hip flexibility and body control to generate depth in drops when needed. Has a very high ceiling.

Limitations: Experience. Will get better with more reps. Can get locked up versus power players. Will fine-tune his pass-rushing technique and grow into his frame, on both upper and lower halves.

Rob Ninkovich (6-2, 260)

Strengths: An edge-setter with very good toughness, accountability and versatility. Can stand up and play from a two-point stance and can drop into coverage and handle zone duties. Tough against the run, with good functional strength. Dependable tackler, has special teams value as well.

Limitations: Not overly athletic. Has a number of good pass-rush techniques, but not a dominant one. Longer tackles can latch on to him. Overall, very sturdy and reliable as an end-of-the-line player.

Jermaine Cunningham (6-3, 255)

Strengths: Very quick off the ball. Can turn the corner with a vengeance. Explosive in short areas. Although he was not seen there much this preseason, has special teams ability.

Limitations: Consistency. Flashes one day, but is less of a factor on others. Has to improve against power players and in his ability to anchor and take on blocks. Must show that he is more the player of 2010, when he was very good, than 2011, when he struggled to see the field much. Developing against the run.

Justin Francis (6-2, 268)

Strengths: Has a nonstop motor. Practices hard on every rep and plays to the whistle on the field. Can flash very good burst off the ball, both as an edge and interior rusher. Will drive his hands inside of a tackle and jolt him back. Good/borderline very good athlete for the position overall. Aligned on the kickoff coverage unit in preseason and may end up as a core special teams player.

Limitations: Has room to fill out in his upper half. Can continue to improve as a three-down defensive end who can be reliable to both rush the passer and defend the run. High motor is a good trait, but must continue to play under control.

Trevor Scott (6-5, 250)

Strengths: Brings good experience and some quickness off the line of scrimmage. Likes to use his spin move on one-on-one chances and has good ability to torque his body in tight spaces. Brings special teams value because of movement skills and dependable tackling.

Limitations: Plays light in the trunk. Disappeared for a stretch of training camp. Looked totally indecisive rushing the passer but bounced back strong. Will struggle versus bigger tackles in the power running game, with inability to consistently anchor and lock out. Has had durability concerns in recent seasons.

Jake Bequette (6-5, 274)

Strengths: Although he had a largely quiet training camp, Bequette flashed some quickness off the edge as a rusher and showed the versatility to reduce down to a tackle alignment. Has good bulk for the position.

Limitations: Just a sufficient athlete. Can be indecisive as a rusher. Has not shown an ability to be a power player at the point of attack. Has a ways to go in most areas of development and could end up as a game-day inactive.