Scouting Defense Ends: Read what NFL Scouts want to see

In this NFL Scouting series, we will cover each position group. In the real report I used, there are pictures of the player in various movements, with comments about each. In order to keep anonymity for the Scout, I’m only using the words, no photos, or the handwritten notes used except the ones typed during a game.

When scouting defensive ends, not only do they put together these analyses, but visit games, watch film, critique them at the combine, any bowls and often host them at their facilities.

The reports are in-depth and beyond what the average fan would consider. Scouting Defensive Ends gives the reader a chance to see inside the minds of what NFL general managers are looking for. Hopefully, this will help you watch the game with more detail and talk with knowledge.

Defensive End

Must have Bend, Motor, Strength, Point of Attack, and Hand technique.

TYPES: (showed photo)

  • 4-3 RDE (pass rusher).         Left & Right side of the ball?
  • 4-3 LDE (anchor).                  Strength to anchor?
  • 3-4 DE (5 tech)                       Disruptive? Versatile?
  • Bend.                                       Ankle flexibility

How do they scheme him? (chip, double with TE, etc?

They make Notes on each of the following:

  • Stack & control blocker w/ hands
  • Plays under pads
  • uncoils
  • pursuit/range/chase speed
  • short area burst to close
  • zone blitz pass drop
  • counter technique?
  • drive bys (pocket)?
  • can he play crossface vs the cut
  • can sift through trash to get to ball carrier
  • has to win early? or work to QB?
  • can get washed at POA
  • segmented as a pass rusher
  • can he anchor/hold edge
  • natural/fluid movements to QB
  • can only win inside?
  • leaves a lot of sacks on the field (more of a rusher than sacker)
  • gives up gap integrity
  • tackle in space/tackle power
  • chase/hustle

Power Rush

  • anticipation
  • take off
  • leverage/explosion
  • push the pocket/press pocket
  • inside stunt/loop/twist

Speed Rush

  • edge
  • anticiation
  • burst
  • speed
  • flexibility
  • quickness to bend corner
  • close off blocks
  • outside stunts

Mental/Physical traits

  • snap count anticipation
  • instinct – feel schemes
  • read & react – awareness
  • on field alertness – screens/draws/etc
  • dip shoulder
  • pad level/plays high?
  • exposes chest in run game

Contact Balance

  • can bend and dip
  • short area quickness
  • clear hips
  • hand strength/speed/activity/tight moves
  • hands to shed
  • initial quickness
  • lateral movement/redirect
  • knee bend
  • close speed
  • range outside tackle box
  • slide/skate
  • ankle tightness
  • first step/feet quick
  • clears feet
  • heavy feet


  • club
  • rip
  • swat
  • spin
  • wins or early or late?
  • play within the scheme vs freelance
  • anchor & hold up vs double team
  • natural bender?
  • can get skinny to split double

The scouting reports also have notes from games watched like these below:

  • 6’4’’ 220 – Fast, long, plays WR in HS.  High motor, and room for upper body growth.  Athletic.  Unsure where to use him, but know hes a player somewhere.  Long striding athlete.
  • 6’6’’ 245 – Finisher.  Plays like hes in a street fight.  Aggressive, plays quick.  Engages and sheds blockers.  High energy.  Athlete first.  Fast twitch player.
  • 6’4’’ 240  – Big head, plays a little high.  Quick off ball.  He’s a bride, not a bridesmaid.  Has a nice bull rush and spike inside.  Needs another move.  High motor, stops run on way to qb.  Questionable competition.  Need more game tape.
  • 6’4’’ 240  – High motor.  Sheds blocker to make solo tackle in space.  Athlete sideline to sideline.  Finisher.  Does not get pushed back at P.O.A.  Needs weight room.
  • (DE/OLB)-Good motor, hes a bride, not a bridesmaid regarding rushing the qb.  Good inside swim/rip.  Cheats inside knowing he can outspeed back to edge.  Has trouble staying low…He would be an OLB in an odd scheme.
  • Love the motor. Long legs, sheds blocks well.  HS has him as a 5 tech in a 50 defense, would love to see him stand up to play OLB.  Good bull rush, and his inside swim overpowers OT. Question his upper body strength. Has frame that could easily put 25 lbs on.
  • Quick off the ball.  Uses his quickness to his advantage as he doesn’t use his hands.  Quick to the ball. Rushes well from a 2 point stance. Not a read/react type player.  Not sure if he likes playing physical.  Needs to add weight to be a serious prospect.

Hope this gives you insight into what the NFL looks for when scouting defensive ends. Any questions, you can comment below.

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