6’6, 278 pounds | Defensive end | Northwestern
Pass rush: Is a very good power rusher with a short-area burst to close in a flash. Was used at times on the inside as a three-technique pass rusher. Is good on “X” stunts. A lack of elite speed keeps him from getting around the edge.
Pursuit: Wootton is a strong pursuer but doesn’t have very good speed. He’s more of an effort player in this area. Does a nice job of continuing work through double teams.
Quickness: Had much better explosion in 2008 before tearing his ACL. Didn’t look quite as electric in 2009. Makes a good initial quick-jab move, but will struggle redirecting.
Run defend: Very strong at the point of attack, which helps him shed blocks and get after the ball carrier. Could easily hold his own as a five-technique defensive end. Doesn’t have the best lateral agility to stop shiftier outside runners.
Size: Has size numbers very similar to Mario Williams of the Texans. A high-cut athlete with long limbs. Uses his size to his advantage getting his arms up into passing lanes.
Strength: As a senior, Wootton worked to build up his strength and it showed. He’s very powerful and can collapse the pocket. Is very hard to move around.
Tackling: Wootton is powerful enough to make arm tackles. Can be aggressive getting after the ball carrier.
Technique: Does a nice job extending his arms to get a bull rush. This keeps blockers from getting inside leverage. Will have to do a better job of keeping his pads low. Footwork is very good.
Versatility: Wotton’s versatility is one of his biggest pluses. Northwestern ran a 4-3 where Wotton would line up at end most of the time. On some passing downs he could line up inside to give the defense more pass rushers. Has the size and power to play end in a 3-4.
Final word: Wootton’s struggles as a senior can clearly be attributed to an ACL tear he suffered at the end of the 2008 season. Wootton also had some issues with a high ankle sprain as a senior. He didn’t look as comfortable getting off the line until late in the season. Over Northwestern’s final four games, he had three sacks and four tackles for loss.
As a four-year starter, Wootton has shown he good at both stopping the run and getting after the passer. He has very good instincts to distinguish the two, but does have some athletic deficiencies.
But Wootton is a rare player in this year’s draft. He’s a surefire fit as a 3-4 end, but could hold up in the 4-3.