Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech
Weight: 266 pounds
40 time: 4.77
Derrick Morgan provides as consistent of a pass rush off the edge as any defensive end that I’ve seen in my four years of officially scouting the draft.
A two-year starter at Georgia Tech, Morgan recorded 115 tackles, 29.5 tackles for loss, and 19.5 sacks in his three years with the Yellow Jackets. Derrick had a breakout season at the national level in 2009 when he produced 55 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, and 12.5sacks.
One thing that I love about Derrick Morgan’s game is that, even though he may not always make the tackle, the penetration and constant pressure that he provides off the edge allows for him to blow up the play and forces the running back to alter or quarterback alter where they were going to run or throw the ball. Relentless is a perfect word to explain his game, as his motor is among the best in the draft and he never takes a play off. Morgan explodes off the line as the ball is being snapped with outstanding anticipation of the snap count. He has great quickness off the ball along with excellent closing speed to get to the quarterback or ball carrier in the backfield.
Derrick has quick feet for a defensive end and he also bends well off the edge with great athleticism. He has terrific use of his hands and has shown an impressive pass rush repertoire to swim and rip throw the line. I love the fact that Morgan puts as much effort and intensity into playing the run as he does rushing the passer, which is something that you don’t always see from a defensive end. He has a low center of gravity in the run, as he consistently stays low at the point of attack and plays with great leverage on the line of scrimmage. He keeps his legs driving and rarely is knocked off balance or driven off the ball. Derrick is a very instinctive player with a high football IQ who is a disciplined player on the edge and is rarely out of position. He does a solid job of extending his arms out in the run game to create separation from the offensive lineman so he can shed the blocker to get to the running back as he’s nearing the hole. He’s also shown a consistent ability to play small when needed to split a double team and cut through the line. I’d like to see Derrick continue to get stronger at the next level, which will help him adjust to going up against bigger and stronger offensive linemen at the next level.
Some scouts question whether or not Derrick’s lack of great experience in college will hurt him as well as having just one season of great production, however these aren’t things that I’m too worried about. I project that Morgan will be drafted in the first round, specifically among the Top 20 picks with a chance of going as high as the Top 10.
Derrick Morgan is a complete prospect at the defensive end position who should be able to contribute as a 4-3 defensive end quickly, which is his best fit in the NFL. He has some experience dropping into coverage playing in open space, and could change positions to outside rush linebacker in the 3-4, however I think that he’s a great fit as a 4-3 end. Morgan has the potential to develop into a very good Pro Bowl-caliber defensive end in the NFL who will be a consistent and reliable player that his team can count on to provide constant pressure off the edge.
Notes: Derrick was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2009 in addition to being named first-team All-American and first-team All-ACC; he was named honorable mention All-ACC in 2008. A former top recruit coming out of high school, Derrick was rated as the No. 1 player in the state of Pennsylvania as well as the No. 6 strong-side defensive end and No. 76 overall player in the country by Rivals.com. As a senior in high school, Morgan rushed for 523 yards and eight touchdowns on 112 carries while also recording 47 tackles, six tackles for loss, seven sacks, and two fumble recoveries.
Morgan is an elite pass rusher, there’s no denying that. He has limited pass-coverage skills, so he will most likely be drafted by a team running the 4-3 defense. This means good things for him fantasy-wise, as he’ll eventually start racking up sacks.
We’ve seen comparisons to Patrick Kerney, and it’s a valid comparison. Morgan has a high intensity level and will get to the opposing QB and could disrupt the run game with his ability to close in on the ball carrier.