Thursday, February 13, 2014

Draft Matchup: Dee Ford vs. Kyle Van Noy

I wanted to begin a new series comparing two potential draft targets for Philadelphia at 22.

To start this off, I wanted to look at the hottest name on Twitter linked to the Eagles, Dee Ford, and an underrated Senior Bowl standout, Kyle Van Noy.


Dee Ford is a little undersized, standing at 6-2 and weighing in at 243 pounds. But he is long, and what he lacks in height, he makes up for with speed and burst. He's a good overall athlete, and has decent strength.

Van Noy, like Ford, isn't going to wow teams with his frame. Standing at 6-3 and 244, he doesn't have great size, but he definitely would not be a small 3-4 OLB. He possesses solid length, and decent athleticism. He doesn't have the burst or explosion that Ford exhibits, but he has a sufficient amount of both.


Ford is currently more of a one-dimensional player. While he was asked to drop back into coverage on occasion, his primary job at Auburn focused on harassing the opposing QB. He's a pure speed-rusher, something that's really lacking in Philly.

Ford has the speed and athleticism to develop some comfort playing in space, but he lacks experience in that department heading into the May draft. His speed rush is very polished, paired with a strong inside move to compliment. He shows good flexibility to bend around the edge.

Opposing teams will try to run at the undersized Ford though, there will most likely be a learning curve as he tries to anchor against NFL run-blocking.

Van Noy is even more versatile than Connor Barwin, and that's a big compliment. In one BYU game, he rushed the QB from ILB, DE, and OLB, jammed receivers at the line, played fluidly in space and was a QB spy for a few plays.

Van Noy made some huge plays in his time at BYU
His pass rush is effective, but it's not as terrorizing as a Dee Ford. He relies on a bull-rush, but has shown the ability to get to the QB with counter moves. He possesses decent burst off the snap, and he plays consistently sound football.

As far as run defense, he's not a big hitter, and he's not going to attack blockers. But Van Noy shows savvy is shedding blocks, and he's a solid wrap-up tackler.

Effect on Philadelphia's Defense:

Dee Ford is what the Eagles lack: explosion in the four-man rush. He could step in from day one and improve the defense. Billy Davis could move Trent Cole inside for passing downs, which would add some different looks for the offense.

Ford makes the quarterback step up in the pocket, and with a young, improving defensive line, that might not be such an effective option for Eli Manning. Making the signal-caller move around is sometimes just as effective as a sack. At selection 22, Ford will likely be the best pure pass-rusher available.

However, if Ford becomes a liability in coverage, then Billy Davis is back to square one. He would become a very undersized defensive end. So if he doesn't find the same success with his "speed rush, then counter" technique, then there's no question that Ford has some bust potential.

Dee Ford is a terror off the edge, with burst and explosion.
I don't know about the rest of Eagles fans, but I cringe and curse Danny Watkins' name every time I hear an analyst label a prospect as a "safe" pick. There is no such thing as a safe pick, about half of the first round selections will turn into solid NFL players. With that being said, Van Noy is NFL-ready. He's savvy, he's smart, he's versatile.

Billy Davis could come up with some extremely exotic looks. With Van Noy and Barwin on each side, Tony Romo would have no idea who's coming and who's dropping, which would result in the occasional unblocked defender. So while Van Noy isn't the pass-rusher that Dee Ford is, his versatility could have a similar affect on the success of the pass-rush.

He is experienced in coverage, Davis could have him at ILB in some packages. A double A-gap blitz with Van Noy and Mychal Kendricks should have Eagles fans salivating. While the BYU OLB may not have a flashy pass-rush repertoire, he effectively gets to his destination. As long as he gets from point A to point B in a short amount of time, Philadelphia fans won't care if it's with a flashy spin move or boring bull-rush.

My Take:

I lean with Van Noy here. It is close, but if I'm Howie Roseman, it's hard to spend a first round draft pick on a one-dimensional player. Sure, Nolan Ryan mastered the fastball, Dee Ford could master the speed rush, but I favor a more complete player who also provides big plays.

With the Eagles defense likely two years away from being loaded with Chip Kelly's players, I think a versatile OLB like Van Noy could give Billy Davis the luxury of some crazy, Dom-Capers-esque looks on third down. This could help pressure the quarterback and mask some talent deficiencies elsewhere.

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