Defensive sleepers in the 2009 NFL draft.

Yesterday we looked at a few unknown offensive players that have NFL potential. Today, we look at the D side of the ball.


Ty Steinkuhler Nebraska—Stein is an under tackle in a 4-3 that is very disruptive. He is rock solid against the run and can rush the passer. He can penetrate by getting around the G or just pushing him back into the QB. I really like him. None of the experts seem to think he is worth a draft choice but he will make a team and become a regular in the DT rotation.

Stryker Sulak Missouri—What a great name for a D player! Sulak is a 250 pound DE that may well be a conversion project to OB. He can play the run fairly well but his strength is rushing the passer. Some team will take him in the 6th or 7th round and be very happy. At 6-5 he has the frame to put on 30 pounds and be a 3-4 DE, or stay at 250 and learn to play standing up.

Matt Shaughnessy Wisconsin—Matt is not your typical Badger grinder. He has the ability to rush the passer and knock down balls by timing his jump when he fails to get to the passer. He is also in that 250-260 range so he may be switched to OB in a 3-4 or at 6-6 he could also beef up to be a 4-3 or 3-4 DE. Like Sulak, he does tend to get tied up with an OT that gets their hands on him. He should be gone by the end of the 3rd round.

Nick Reed Oregon—Reed is a 6-3 248 pounder that will be converted to OB. He shows well above average pass rush but has to work on taking good angles to runs and getting control of his body when rushing the passer. He tends to hurry the throw but fail to make a sack due to missing the QB. That can be taught. He will be a late 2 early 3 round pick.

Myron Pryor Kentucky—Pryor is a nose tackle type that has gone under the radar. He is 80 percent run stopper 20 percent pass rusher. He does help to collapse the pocket which is a critical quality for a NT. Most experts have him going in the 5th or 6th round but because the lack of true NTs in the draft, he will go higher and be productive.

Lawrence Sidbury Richmond—I wish this guy could keep his emotions under control. He will make 2 great plays in a row then commit a stupid penalty on 3rd down that gives the O a first. He is a relentless pass rusher that hits the run hard but sometimes over runs the play. If he goes to a team that can focus that emotion, they will get a real bargain in 5th or 6th round. At 6-4 265, he can bulk up and not lose much speed.


Scott McKillop Pittsburgh—He is an IB with excellent instincts and is a hard worker. He sometimes misses a tackle trying to rip the ball out, but plays the run sideline to sideline. He should be 4th round pick.

Marcus Freeman Ohio StateFreeman is the unknown of the OSU linebackers. In 08 he played better in some games than the big names. He does everything well. He can cover a receiver, force a sweep inside and blitz the passer. He just isn’t great at any one thing. He will be a surprise 2nd round pick.


By far, the hardest position to evaluate on TV is the DB. However, there are a couple that deserve mention as under the radar high potential players.

Tony Clark S Georgia Tech—Clark is a LB that will play safety or a hybrid LB/S at the next level. He is smart, tough, and is an above average tackler. He is another guy that is not on many draft boards but is a player that deserves to be drafted or signed to a URFA contract.

Morgan Trent Michigan—Trent is a guy that could be outstanding if he kept his focus. He will make a great play then totally blow his responsibility. With coaching, he can be refocused and should be a contributor. He will be a 7th round pick or a URFA.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits He has also published several novels on and edits .

My email is [email protected]

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Defensive sleepers in the 2009 NFL draft. by
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3 thoughts on “Defensive sleepers in the 2009 NFL draft.”

  1. Freeman had a great combine and pro day, better than Laurinaitis.

    Reverse Cell Phones’s last blog post..How to Lookup or Reverse a Cell phone Number

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  2. “Tony Clark Iowa—Clark is a stud. He is a consistent pass rusher and at 6-3 and 285 will be an under tackle.”

    Better double check that name. Tony Clark?

    storminspank’s last blog post..FOOTBALL: Did you know Bobby Bell is the "Greatest Defensive Player of All-Time"?

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  3. Great call on McKillop – he is a tackling machine. Would you be surprised if he ended up in a Patriots uniform?

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