2012 NFL Draft Preview, Position-By-Position: Defensive Ends

Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Courtney Upshaw who is projected to be a top ten draft pick speaks at a press conference during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

As we roll through our position-by-position 2012 NFL Draft previews, we have arrived at one of the premier positions -- defensive end. The position is always high on the radar screen of the New York Giants, and this season it is a primary focus for the New York Jets.

With Chandler Jones of Syracuse being one of the most highly-regarded ends in the class, and Justin Francis of Rutgers also likely to hear his name called at some point during the three-day draft the position is also of high interest to regional college football fans.

Let's take a closer look.

Nfldraft2012_logo_medium

Top 5 Defensive Ends [Rated by SI.com]

1. Quinton Coples, North Carolina
Mocking The Draft Scouting Report | SB Nation Video | SI.com Profile
NOTES: Is Coples' stock sliding a bit as the draft approaches?

2. Courtney Upshaw, Alabama
Mocking The Draft Scouting Report | SB Nation Video | SI.com Profile
NOTES: Interesting that SI lists him as a defensive end. He is generally considered a 3-4 outside linebacker. Upshaw has often been mocked to the Jets at No. 16.

3. Chandler Jones, Syracuse
Mocking The Draft Scouting Report | SI.com Profile
NOTES: Jones is rising quickly, and could be the first defensive end selected Thursday night.

4. Vinny Curry, Marshall
Mocking The Draft Scouting Report | SI.com Profile

5. Tyrone Crawford, Boise State
SI.com Profile

Local Prospects (In addition to Chandler Jones)

Justin Francis, Rutgers -- Francis is considered by SI to be a likely third-day selection.

Other Players To Watch

Jared Crick, Nebraska; Frank Alexander, Oklahoma; Josue Ortiz, Harvard; Armond Armstead, USC; Cameron Johnson, Virginia

New York Giants

The New York Giants are ALWAYS interested in pass-rushing defensive ends. By now you should know never to be surprised when the Giants draft one early, no matter how well stocked they seem. The Giants could lose both Osi Umenyiora and Mathias Kiwanuka to free agency after this season, so the position might be more of a need than you think.

I have to believe they will think hard about Jones if he is still there at No. 32. Curry provides pass-rush ability and posititonal flexibility as a possible second-round choice. If the guy can rush the passer the Giants want him, so plucking a defensive end during the draft could happen.

New York Jets

The Jets are widely thought to be looking for a dynamic player on the edge of their 3-4 defense. They have been connected to Upshaw, Melvin Ingram of South Carolina (an outside linebacker) and several other players. Upshaw, Ingram and Jones have all visited with the Jets

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