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2006 Rookie Defensive Prospects
Brent Clement
June 14, 2006

Best of the Best

These players are can’t miss prospects and are competing, or already penciled in as starters as rookies. All of these prospects have a legitimate chance of defensive rookie of the year honors.
A.J. Hawk - GB - LB
Hawk is the best defensive prospect to come out of this draft, and will make an immediate impact for the Packers.  Hawk is currently listed as the WLB for Green Bay, but could move inside down the road, which makes him a very attractive dynasty league prospect. Hawk is very strong, athletic,  and an excellent pass rusher from the LB position.

Ernie Simms - DET - LB
Simms is a Derrick Brooks clone, and will play the same WLB position  in the Cover 2 defense that made Brooks a fantasy stud. Simms is already penciled in as a starter, which makes him more valuable in redraft leagues. Simms should easily be the best LB in Detroit the first play from scrimmage in 2006. .

Chad Greenway - MIN - LB
Greenway is a huge, quick and athletically gifted linebacker. Greenway will give the Viking’s a big play threat on defense, they so desperately need and will help change the soft label this team has had at the LB position for the past few years. Greenway is the final cant miss LB prospect in this years draft, and should start from day one. 

Mario Williams - HOU - DE
Mario Williams is probably an over-rated player, considering he was taken as the #1 overall pick, because make no mistake he was not the top rated player drafted. Williams is not even the top rated fantasy defensive player drafted. But Williams will make an impact for the Texans defense, as opposing teams are going to have to scheme around him, and he has the skills to live in opposing teams offensive backfield.

Future Star

These players are elite prospects who either need a break to get on the field, are currently playing a position that doesn’t score as well, or likely won’t get maximum playing time at seasons start. 

Michael Huff - OAK - S
Huff was a playmaking safety at the college level, who is likely to start out at cornerback or free safety early in his career. Huff will be an over-rated defensive scoring player, until he is finally moved to strong safety. Huff has the skills of Ed Reed, with the aggressive playing style of Roy Williams. But as crazy as this sounds, Huff’s speed could be a fantasy liability if the Raiders play him anywhere but strong safety.

DeMeco Ryans - HOU - LB
On draft day Ryans became the Texan’s best linebacker, and will likely begin his career on the weak side. As good as Ryans is,  he isn’t guaranteed a starting spot, yet.  Ryan’s  motor and constant pursuit to the football, is what separates him from any other LB on the Texan‘s roster.

Donte Whitner - BUF - S
Whitner was a surprise top 10 pick in last Aprils draft, as many had him going at the end of the first round. Whitner’s stock rose as much as any prospect the final few days,  leading up to the draft. Buffalo needed to remake their secondary, and 3 of their top 5 picks were all in the defensive backfield.  Whitner is a ball hawk safety, with the skills to contribute in run support.

Rocky McIntosh - WAS - LB
McIntosh was the Redskins first selection, and they traded up to get him, so that bodes well for his value to the team. McIntosh will likely start opposite of SLB Marcus Washington, at the WLB position. The Redskins hope McIntosh can fill the void LaVar Arrington left, when he was released. McIntosh could eventually be the Skins middle linebacker of the future, so his ceiling is unlimited.

Thomas Howard - OAK - LB
Howard is a small school linebacker who is a physical freak.  He is 6’3”, weighs 230, runs the 40 in the 4.5 range, and delivers a huge blow when he makes contact. Howard was a defensive juggernaut for Texas-El Paso, and will have an adjustment to make at the next level, but has the skills and work ethic to be a  top LB for many years to come.

D’Qwell Jackson  - CLE - LB
Jackson looks like a day one starter at the inside LB position next to Andra Davis.  He is small for an ILB, but has great vision, and quickness and will be a huge upgrade over Ben Taylor, who left the team this past off season. Jackson and Andra Davis can both put up great tackle totals in the Browns defensive scheme.

Ahmad Brooks -  LB  
Brooks choose not to participate in last Aprils rookie draft, but has been added to the upcoming supplemental draft in July. Brooks would have most likely been a late first, early second round pick,  had he made himself available for the original draft.  Brooks is an impact LB who could start right away. Look for teams like San Francisco, Dallas, New England and the New York Jets to be most interested in his services.

Future Contributors

These players were successful on the college level, but are not in the most ideal situations to see the field in 2005, and will need a break in order to contribute right away.

Abdul Hodge - GB - LB
Hodge is a very emotional player, who plays with great passion and explosion.  Team mates feed off his emotion and he makes those around him better.  Had Hodge went to a team without a quality middle linebacker like Nick Barnett he would be ranked much higher. Hodge shouldn’t remain on the bench long, and could move Barnett to SLB in the future.

Darryl Tapp - SEA - DE
Tapp didn’t land in the best of situations, with the crowded group of lineman already in Seattle, but has the potential to start opposite DE Grant Wistrom,  as soon as this year. .  Tapp is a tenacious player with a great motor,  who makes plays all over the field, and will give the Seahawks two legitimate pass rushers on every play.

Bobby Carpenter - DAL - LB  
Dallas Head Coach Bill Parcell’s coached Carpenters old man while with the Giants and loves high character, well disciplined guys.  Carpenter has great size and the speed to cover the TE in the Cowboys 3-4 scheme.  Carpenter reminds some of  another great OLB from Ohio State, named  Mike Vrabel.  Look for Carpenter to start right away at on the strong side.

Kamerion Wimbley - CLE - DE
Wimbley is the next great prospect of a long line of quality DE’s,  to play at the Florida State.  At 6’3 and 255 pounds Wimbley is more suited to play outside linebacker and rush the passer like Demarcus Ware did last year for the Cowboys. HC Romeo Crennell is building a top notch defense and Wimbley is a key ingredient to that foundation.

Manny Lawson - SF - DE/LB
Lawson was overshadowed in college by Mario Williams, but every time you see Mario Williams making a play, there is Manny Lawson and vice versa. Manny is not as quick as Williams and will likely become a rush LB in the NFL, for San Francisco.  Super Mario and Manny Lawson can thank each other for bumping both players value in the draft, because of the havoc they caused together on opposing offenses.

Future Starters

These players will eventually start in the NFL and have successful careers, but are not the cream of the crop,  and have limitations.

Jimmy Williams - ATL - CB
Williams is a  physical corner who is a clone of former Va. Tech cornerback DeAngelo Hall, now a team mate in Atlanta. Williams brash and cocky behavior led to his slip on draft day, as he is the undisputed top corner prospect in last Aprils draft.  Look for Williams to start early opposite DeAngelo Hall, and form one of the best CB tandems in the NFL for years to come.

Gerris Wilkinson - NYG - LB
Wilkinson was a highly productive college linebacker, who figures to be a tweener in the NFL. He doesn’t have the speed to play every down as an OLB, and is not going to get a look at middle linebacker with Antonio Pierce already on the roster.  He figures to be a pass rushing LB or possibly another inside LB when the Giants put in a 3-4 package. 

Mathias Kiwanuka - NYG - DE
Kiwanuka is too talented not to mention, and will one day be a star player at DE. But with Osi and Strahan listed on the depth chart above him, he will likely only be a situational pass rusher, as a rookie. Kiwanuka’s first step is what separates him from most DE in this draft.  His ability to get into teams offensive backfield will guarantee him some playing time.

Jon Alston - STL - LB
Alston is small for NFL standards at only 6’ and under 225 pounds, but he is cat quick, and is a natural weak side linebacker. Alston will need to add bulk to prevent being pushed around in the NFL, and has the frame to do so.  He isn’t likely to start right away, but could find his way in the starting lineup before seasons end. Alston along with Will Witherspoon give the Rams a nice foundation at the LB position.

Best of the Rest

Defensive Linemen
Tamba Hali - KC
Chris Gocong - PHI
Brodrick Bunkley - PHI
Rodrique Wright - MIA
Dusty Dvoracek - CHI
Elvis Dumervil - DEN
Frostee Rucker - CIN
Jason Hatcher - DAL
Haloti Ngata - BAL
Gabriel Watson - ARI

James Anderson - CAR
Freddie Keiaho - IND
Stephen Tulloch - TEN
Anthony Schlegel - NYJ
Clint Ingram - JAC
Tim Dobbins - SD
Leon Williams - CLE
Jamar Williams - CHI
Brandon Johnson- ARI
Kai Parham - DAL

Defensive Backs
Daniel Bullocks - DET
Bernard Pollard - KC
Eric Smith - NYJ
Jason Allen - MIA
Darnell Bing - OAK
Ko Simpson - BUF
Roman Harper - NO
Cedric Griffin - MIN
Ashton Youboty - BUF
Antonio Cromartie - SD