Georgia Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan is planning to work out at the Combine in his attempt to secure the title as the top-rated pass rusher of the 2010 draft.
I spoke to Derrick a bit ago in preparation for a future article. The defending ACC Defensive Player of the Year is eager to show off what he can do, especially after a not so-splashy final performance in the 24-14 loss to Iowa in the Orange Bowl. Morgan, who posted 55 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss and a 12.5 sacks on the year, was limited to "only" three tackles and .5 tackles for loss against Iowa's stellar offensive line.
Morgan credited Hawkeye left tackle Bryan Bulaga as having a good game, but also was quick to point out that his lack of big numbers wasn't a big concern to either he or those close to the Tech program.
"My not having a monster game, individually, was not a big deal," Morgan said. "Our focus was to play good team defense, which doesn't always result in one player getting big numbers. I think we defended them well. We just came up short in that game."
South Florida defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul may pose the biggest challenge to Morgan as the top pass rusher of the draft. The 6-6, 265 pound Pierre-Paul has an explosive first step and very long arms, two qualities which scouts feel make him an ideal weak-side pass rusher. He is also expected to work out exceedingly well -- perhaps better than Morgan.
Where Morgan stands out is in his ability to hold up nicely against the run. Morgan locates the ball quickly and hustles to it, whereas Pierre-Paul, at least at this point, lacks the functional strength and instincts teams are looking for in an everydown defensive end.
Pierre-Paul may have more upside, but Morgan is the more polished player at this point -- which is why he ranks as the No. 1 defensive end on my board.