I want to preface this by saying that I completely agree that this doesn't look to be a strong class for 3-4 DEs. I've always put a lot of stock into height-weight-speed because I'm not a professional talent evaluator and I don't have tape to watch players, so combine numbers and measurables have always been something I go by because it's one of the few sources of reliable information available (...ok, reliable may not be the BEST term but I think you get the point). I know Baalke is influenced by Parcells and I know Parcells places more weight than your average talent evaluator on measurable and H-W-S. So I think in terms of the "ideal" or prototypical 3-4 DE only a few players meet the characteristics in terms of measurables. Sharrif Floyd and Sheldon Richardson will be gone and out of trade reach, but both those players seem to fit the bill, even if they may be even better fits as 3-techs. Datone is probably the next best in terms of a pure 3-4 DE, but he's not going to be a Justin Smith level player, which is fine. He seems to project to a Ray McDonald or Darnell Docket caliber DE in my eyes. Good to great but not elite. At 31 or maybe a few slots up he would be a strong selection. After Jones though I don't see many players with the right body type for the 3-4 end as we currently play it (both Ray Mac and Cowboy are sub-300 lbs.) Obviously Hankins, Star and Jesse are all solid prospects, but I see all of them as projecting to better fits as NT because I doubt their ability to provide consistent interior pass rush on passing downs like we see from Justin and Ray. I think Jones fits better as an interior rusher from the nickel than even an "elite" prospect like Star. I see very little pass rush in Williams game, and very little finishing in Hankins - he's disruptive, but can't finish like Ray or Justin. Though all the aforementioned players I'd be happy to have, especially Hankins because I think he has tremendous upside and versatility.
Either way though, I got sidetracked like usual, measurables only have so much to do with it. A couple years ago Corey Liuget was pegged as "only" an interior lineman because of his lack of arm length and he has become a great 3-4 DE for the Chargers. They also nailed it with Reyes (too bad for them AJ Smith only seemed to have an eye for DE talent...) Sometimes, you just have to throw the prototype out the window and take the best available football player regardless of scheme. For us that may mean taking a guy like Kawann Short or Sylvester Williams regardless of their perceived limitations in our system.
Let me finish by saying that I absolutely love William Gholston. He is one of the few players in this draft that projects perfectly into the prototype for a 3-4 DE from a H-W-S perspective (He adds 10 lbs to that massive frame and he's ready). He is already a strong player against the run, so in my mind he is at least a 2 down contributor early in his career with the chance to develop a stronger pass rush under Tomsula. Worse comes to worse we get a solid rotational guy in the mid-rounds. Ideally though he develops into a starter a la Ray Mac. I would love to see Datone in the first and Gholston with our late, or possible compensatory third. That'd put the End position in a good place for at least a few more seasons.
[ Edited by 2Legit2Quit on Mar 4, 2013 at 11:19 PM ]