Strengths: Size, Strength, Versatility, Explosiveness, Athleticism, Pass Rush Moves
Weaknesses: Consistency, Production against Elite Tackles, Polish, Instincts
The ACC Defensive Player of the Year, Derrick Morgan is a blend of pass rushing skills, run stuffing and potential that could have him going as high as #3 or #4 in the 2010 Draft.
His breakout 55 tackle, 18.5 TFL and 12.5 sack season earned him AP 1st Team All-American, Walter Camp 2nd Team All-American and Coaches 1st Team All-American honours as well as media All-ACC 1st Team. His 12.5 sacks represented half of Georgia Tech’s total of 25. No other Yellow Jacket recorded more than 3 on the year. He wraps up his college career with 29.5 TFL and 19.5 sacks and has recovered 6 fumbles.
Morgan is part of a core of junior Yellow Jackets who are leaving early for the NFL, joining S Morgan Burnett, RB Jonathon Dwyer and WR Demaryius Thomas. Dwyer was the team’s leading rusher, Thomas the team’s leading receiver, Burnett led the team in INT and was second in tackles while Morgan topped the team in TFL and sacks. Ouch. All 4 have the potential to be early first day picks.
At 6’ 4” 270 pounds, Morgan possesses the elite size and quickness to make him a very dangerous pass rusher but it’s his ability to stuff the run and lock down one end of the line that has him in high regards. His upper body strength allows him to release quickly and his burst of the line is explosive. He has the frame to add weight, making him attractive to teams that value versatility. He may not hold up full time at DT but he could make for a tough matchup against slower guards. There’s a belief that he may be able to move to LB but I’m not sure. He has good athleticism but I don’t think he’s that quick-twitch. Strong, violent hands and a variety of pass rush moves with the ability to string them together make him well suited to keeping his hand on the ground. Not every DE prospect that’s sub-280lbs needs to move to LB. Morgan is one of those prospects.
He looks like he will make a very sound, physical strongside end that very well could average 6 to 8 sacks a year and will play the run superbly, and that may just be his floor. He does possess the talent to be much more than that. Hence his high standing on most mock drafts.
He will require some spit and polish to his game. Morgan can be a little inconsistent and I do think that it is telling that he put up half a TFL and no sacks against the two best OT’s he faced this season, Miami’s Jason Fox and Iowa’s Bryan Bulaga. Bulaga and fellow Hawkeye tackle Kyle Calloway held Morgan in check during Iowa’s 24-14 Orange Bowl win. With Morgan neutralized in that game, Iowa rang up 403 yards of offense. Against Miami, with Morgan accounting for 0 TFL and 0 sacks, Georgia Tech gave up 454 yards of offense, 3rd most on the year. Georgia Tech lost both games. He can pick up sacks in bunches and he can go quiet for two or three games as well.
He is certainly the biggest part of that Yellow Jacket defence, with Burnett right behind him. Shut down Morgan and you can run on that defence and that happened over the final three games of the year. He was dominant for a good portion of the year, the key ingredient in their defensive success this season, and he likely would have been the best defensive player in college next year if he had returned. The influx of underclassmen in ensuring that. He may not make an immediate impact but he can develop into something special.