Wednesday Practice Report: Defensive Ends

One of the most well known cogs of the Oregon State defensive wheel was Scott Crichton.  With his departure to the NFL draft, there is a lot of worries that his ability to get 10+ sacks are also gone.  And maybe they are right.  There is no single dynamic every down pass rusher like Scott on the team that we know of.  A guy that was big enough to stuff the run but fast enough to close on the QB and seal the deal.

After Wednesday, I feel like there are about four guys that can handle those duties and that the key piece to the defense will be Dylan Wynn.  WAYYYY back in the fall of 2010, as OSU was recruiting Dylan during his senior year, and prior to him signing on 2011, I thought he was a good pick up, but the guy was so stacked as an 18 year old, I was concerned that he was not going to get much bigger or stronger.

Man, was I an idiot.

There were probably not be any meaningful lifting records that don’t have Dylan’s name next to them when he takes his last snap as a Beaver, but what will be left is a is a season of bruised linemen wondering what the heck happened.  Dylan gets little fan fare because he doesn’t get the big sacks numbers, yet no one since maybe Bill Swancutt have his football instincts.  As the game moves to more misdirection and read option plays, Dylan has the discipline to stay home and make the play.  While he has added bulk to his already stocky frame, he is poised to become a player more like Ben Gardner from Stanford.  He may get two or three sacks this year, but he is going to get a lot of tackles for loss and, more importantly, be the guy that turns a 20 yard gain into a two yard gain by getting that shoestring tackle. Twice he did that in practice and his ability to drive linemen into the back field, hold them at arms length and then discard them separates him from a lot of defensive ends.

Practice also showed that while Dylan can be an anchor at the end of the line, players like Jaswah James and Obum Gwatcham can provide speed on the end.  James is built more like an every down end, with a bit more size to go with his quick frame.  He is going to have to rely on keeping tackles on their heels and forcing them out of position to get around the edge and make plays.  He also has the speed to recover from a block and still track down the runner. At 250, he is big enough to take on tackles and hold his ground, but he might be the fastest true, every down end we have had in a while.

Obum is probably the most intriguing.  I am not sure how fast he is, but he is fast.  Seeing him close on runners from behind in practice showed what an athlete he is.  He also has a fantastic first step and shoulder dip that can get him around a lot of tackles in obvious pass rushing downs.  He is still too light to take on blockers and will probably not be an every down end, but when he gets in, many will wonder why he took so long to make the switch.  The thing is, athletically, if he had hands of glue and ran perfect routes he would be a first round draft pick at receiver.  As it is, he still might have a pro future on defense if he can add weight and product this year.  Athletically he is off the charts.

It may be by committee, but I think between the improved tackle play and with timely rotations, OSU could find that they have the pieces to replace Scott’s presence and the discipline to do more this year than last.

I left Wednesday very impressed with the defensive personnel.

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