Auburn's Dee Ford is a bit undersized for a defensive end (6-foot-2 1/8 and 252 pounds) and he said he would have no problem playing outside linebacker in a 3-4.
Ford played end in a 4-3 set with the Tigers and also played end in high school in Odenville, Ala. His pass-rush skills -- he had 10.5 sacks in 2013 and 20.5 in his career -- make him an enticing prospect. He had two sacks in the BCS national championship game (both came against Florida State right tackle Bobby Hart), then had a big day in the Reese's Senior Bowl and was named the game's MVP.
NFL teams evidently have asked if he could make the switch to outside linebacker. Ford was on "Pro Football Talk" on NBC Sports Network on Friday and was asked which question he is most tired of answering.
"The question that I am being sick of asked?" Ford said . "Can I fit in a 3-4 defense? Yes, I could fit in a 3-4 defense. I am an athlete that has played defensive end my entire life; that's just the way it is."
Ford is No. 38 on NFL Media draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah's list of the top 50 prospects and the No. 3 defensive end -- behind South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney and Missouri's Kony Ealy -- on analyst Mike Mayock's list of the top players by position.
Ford's work against the run is nothing special at all, so his pass rush is going to be where he makes his money. Each of the six most recent mock drafts on NFL.com have Ford in the first round, with each of the six having him being selected between the 20th and 27th picks.
While Ford did flash in the national title game and has enjoyed strong pre-draft workouts, worth noting is that more than half his sacks came in his senior season and that he had just 27.5 tackles for loss in his career, which spanned 52 games. All that production came at end. How comfortable should a team be if it drafts him to play in a 3-4, considering that dropping into coverage wasn't something he was asked to do all that much at Auburn? There definitely would be a learning curve at linebacker.
Mike Huguenin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.