Outside Linebackers


2003 Draft Prospects

 


FIRST ROUND


Boss Bailey

6'2" 233 Georgia (4.58) Senior

Pros: Has utterly amazing speed and athleticism, to which there is no comparison. Fairly solid at the point of attack.
Cons: Lacks great size and wil miss tackles. Speed makes him over pursue at times.
NFL Forecast: Bailey could be a great linebacker because of his outstanding speed and athleticism. In the right scheme, he could be the ultimate weakside linebacker. He could even play strongside in certain schemes where speed is optimum, such as that of Tampa Bay. He fits well into most 4-3 systems. But Bailey is more an athlete than a gifted linebacker. He gets by off his speed and athleticism, and his other skills could develop.
Value: I would say Bailey would merit a late first round selection based on his athleticism alone.


SECOND ROUND


Pisa Tinoisamoa

6' 231 Hawaii (4.62) Senior

Pros: Good speed and nose for the football. Hits hard and can feel his way through traffic.
Cons: Lacks size and strength to be effective at the point of attack.
NFL Forecast: He is the nephew of Junior Seau, and I foresee him having a successful career like his uncle. But Seau is headed to the Hall of Fame, and that may be too lofty an expectation for Tinoisamoa. Plays smart like his uncle and plays at 120 mph. But unlike other players who play at a high speed, he doesn't seem lost at times. He bulked up in the off-season, since his playing weight during the season was under 220 and some thought he could play strong safety. Should be a solid weakside guy on all teams because he is a playmaker with great speed that is a force against the run.
NFL Comparison: Junior Seau, Dolphins.
Value: Is a solid second round prospect because of his playmaking abilities.


THIRD ROUND


Mike Nattiel

6' 228 Florida (4.65) Senior

Pros: Good speed and ability in coverage. Plays better at point of attack than his size would indicate.
Cons: Lacks size and not as athletic as you would prefer at the position.
NFL Forecast: I think of Nattiel as a football player rather than the athletic speed-type that has become coveted over the past few years. Although his size will limit him to the weakside, I think he has the abilities to play on the strongside if he was bigger. Should make an excellent weakside guy because of his abilities in coverage and his speed, although he doesn't wow you in either areas. A good all-around player that should make a productive pro player.
NFL Comparison: Mike Peterson, Jaguars.
Value: Doesn't have huge upside, but a guy that should get looks in the third round.

Victor Hobson

6' 252 Michigan (4.70) Senior

Pros: Has good instincts and plays smart. Has good strength.
Cons: Lacking at the point of attack and won't blow you away with his speed.
NFL Forecast: Hobson is a good player. Last year, I rated him as a sixth round prospect, but I saw much more this year in him. Looks like a solid weakside guy, but might have the strength and ability to play the other linebacker spots. But he needs to improve at the point of attack in order to play also. He won't blow you away with his speed, but he is not slow and he makes plays. A good linebacker to have that should become a solid starter in the NFL.
Value: Definitely worth an early third round pick.


FOURTH ROUND


Bryant McNeal

6'4" 248 Clemson (4.60) Senior

Pros: Good range and should be a solid pass rusher on the edge. Good strength.
Cons: Not anything special as a run stopper and lacks ability to play end.
NFL Forecast: McNeal projects very well to the outside linebacker position in the NFL because he played both end and linebacker at Clemson. He was mostly an end, but in certain situations would drop back off the line of scrimmage and play linebacker. He probably could play end in the NFL if he just added 10-15 pounds, although he is not a great edge pass rusher. Good enough however to serve as situational guy on third downs. Should fit well into the 3-4 and possibly the strongside in the 4-3.
Value: Worth a late third round pick for a 3-4 team, otherwise would be a fourth rounder.

Cie Grant

6' 228 Ohio State (4.68) Senior

Pros: Great speed and ability in pursuit. Good nose for football.
Cons: Lacks size and strength. Struggles at point of attack and only good in space. Needs more work in coverage.
NFL Forecast: Grant shoudl be a solid weakside guy as long as blockers are kept off him. He plays better at the point than most his size, but will struggle if forced to continually take on blockers. Not as good in coverage as a player with his speed and size usually are, but should develop better there. Some thought he could make transition to SS, but that would only be in a defense where their safety is always acting as the 8th man in the box.
Value: Worth a fourth round pick. Needs to play in scheme where run-stopping is the key.

LaMarcus McDonald

6'1" 227 Texas Christian (4.89) Senior

Pros: Has good speed to be across the field.
Cons: Average at the point of attack and in traffic.
NFL Forecast: Made mixed reactions in the off-season. At Senior Bowl, was a lowly 209 pounds, so you question if he truly has bulked up since. Plays like your typical college weakside prospect. Has good speed, but is only average at the point of attack and in traffic. Could be better with more muscle, but it's unlikely he will get much bigger. Should make a good pro, but may or may not develop into a top level guy.
NFL Comparison: Dexter Coakley, Cowboys.
Value: Shows enough to be worth an early fourth round pick.

Nick Barnett

6'2" 236 Oregon State (4.64) Senior

Pros: Possesses excellent speed and can play well sideline to sideline. Excellent in coverage.
Cons: He lacks size and strength. He does not play well at the point of attack and struggles to bring down powerful runners.
NFL Forecast: Barnett definitely possesses NFL ability because of his speed and coverage abilities. At one point, he was thought to might get some looks at strong safety, and his abilities in coverage would have promoted a successful transition, but now he's seen as a linebacker. Should do well in a system that puts more emphasis on speed and coverage at the WILL spot than stopping the run. He's only adequate in that regard. At the very least, Barnett will develop into one of the league's best nickel linebacker because he is comfortable if not capable of covering wideouts.
NFL Comparison: Mike Caldwell, Bears.
Value: Barnett will garner middle round attention because he excels in coverage, although at this point he's nothing special in terms of being a full-time linebacker. Would be a reach for most if taken on the first day.

Antwan Peek

6'3" 246 Cincinnati (4.54) Senior

Pros: Has good strength for a player his size. Good speed and athleticism.
Cons: Lacks great upfield burst at end and size. Still a project as a linebacker.
NFL Forecast: Peek plays end at Cincinnati, but is not a prolific enough pass rusher or has the size to play that position in the NFL. He fits best as an outside linebacker in the 3-4 system. I think he has good strength and gets good leverage at the point of attack, but was just a problem because of his lack of size. This should make him pretty decent as a run stopper at linebacker, so he might be able to play the strongside in the 4-3 scheme as well. He's not a great pass rusher, so he probably won't move to end on passing situations like a Peter Boulware or Rosey Colvin does. Overall Peek should be a solid addition to any 3-4 team. I don't see Peek lighting the world on fire like Joey Porter did when he entered the league, but should develop into a competent starting guy.
Value: He's still somewhat of a project despite having the basic skills to succeed. Good pickup early in the fourth round.

Eddie Strong

6'2" 242 Mississippi (4.86) Senior

Pros: Good all-around with nice speed and can come up and make hits.
Cons: A little too patient and will let play develop ahead of him. Weak at the point of attack.
NFL Forecast: Strong fits well as a weakside guy in because I question his instincts to play the middle. Either way, he's going to need beef up front to shield blockers from him. Strong has experience starting at all three positions, but I think he fits best on the weakside. He lacks great speed, so he may find his way to the middle, but he has enough speed to play on the outside. I think he will be a solid player, but probably won't be a great starter, just a guy that is above average.
Value: Should be an above average starter and worth a look in the latter part of round four.


FIFTH ROUND


Byron Hardmon

6'1" 232 Florida (4.77) Senior

Pros: Has good speed in pursuit and solid in coverage. Experienced at all three linebacker spots.
Cons: Lacks size and strength at the point of attack.
NFL Forecast: Hardmon spent most of his career on the strongside, but he doesn't project well there in the pros. He's not big or strong enough at the point of attack to play there full-time. He may have to make to the weakside or stay in the middle. Could be solid in the middle since teams are wanting more athletic types there which Hardmon could be. Solid in coverage so he could be an every-down guy. But mostly projects to the weakside because of his size and ability in coverage. At worst, he should be a solid nickel guy. At best, he could develop into a good starter.
Value: Worth a fifth rounder whether team plans to employ him on weakside or in the middle. But his upside is higher in the middle.


SIXTH ROUND


Mason Unck

6'2" 250 Arizona State (4.89) Senior

Pros: Good nose for ball, speed, and can fight through traffic.
Cons: Will let play develop. Needs to attack line of scrimmage.
NFL Forecast: Unck should be a good fit at the weakside position. He has just enough ability and playmaking skill to possibly be a starter on the next level, but it's doubtful. Likely will be a backup and should excel on special teams. Is a good playmaker, but too deficient overall to really be an impact guy.
Value: A borderline sixth and seventh round guy.

Chris Clemons

6'3" 236 Georgia (4.64) Junior

Pros: Good speed and athleticism. Has good frame for growth and the strength to back it up.
Cons: Raw as a run stopper and limited at the point of attack.
NFL Forecast: Clemons looks like a strongside guy, but when he gets out on the field he lacks the ability there. I believe he could develop in that position, but right now he is really raw. Clemons is purely an upside guy, and right now he's not there yet. He definitely should have stayed another year. I personally don't see Clemons being more than a backup in the NFL. He has the tools to be successful, but I don't see him developing. He is only a one-year starter that played beside three outstanding linebackers for two years which I think helped shield his deficiencies.
Value: Too raw to picked higher than the late fifth, but really a sixth round guy.


SEVENTH ROUND


Dave Moretti

6'1" 237 Oregon (4.73) Senior

Pros: Good speed and has good pop and strength as a tackler.
Cons: Weak at the point of attack. Lacks great size for the middle.
NFL Forecast: Moretti played the middle at Oregon, but I think he projects better as a weakside guy. I think it would be good to see his MIKE mentality brought to the WILL position. He doesn't have great speed, but has more than enough to play the weakside. Overall though Moretti looks like he will excel mostly on special teams in the NFL.
Value: Despite projecting as a backup, enough upside to get picked in the seventh round.


UNDRAFTED


Brian Beinecke

6'1" 228 Pittsburgh (4.65) Senior

Pros: Has good speed and flows to the football. Is a tough, hard-nosed, hard-hitting weakside guy.
Cons: Lacks size and strength at point of attack, and is nothing worth noting in coverage.
NFL Forecast: Beinecke looks like the type of player that will have to make his mark on special teams on the next level. He has adequate skills on defense, but has not much to offer besides his speed and toughness. You need a little more than that to play defense, but need just that to play special teams.
Value: He should go undrafted because he lacks the upside of a lot of other weakside linebackers.

Jeremy Loyd

6'2" 235 Iowa State (4.64) Senior

Pros: Is comfortable playing over TE and decent at point of attack.
Cons: Does not excel anywhere. Speed and strength are average at best.
NFL Forecast: Loyd is basically an average prospect that has the ability to make an impact as a reserve, but won't be a starter. Has decent abilities and enough of which to get a shot in the NFL, but I don't really see him having long-term success unless he shines on special teams. Has good weight room strength, but needs to apply it on the field. Should be a decent backup SAM.
Value: An undrafted prospect that has a chance to stick on special teams.

Matt Word

5'11" 233 Iowa State (4.70) Senior

Pros: Has good speed and a nose for the football.
Cons: Undersized and weak at the point of attack.
NFL Forecast: Word played the middle for the Cyclones but is probably too small to play there in the NFL. He has enough speed to translate well to the outside. Small guys have been successful in the middle in the past, and Word has the potential to stick there, but would probably be just as effectinve on the weakside. Looks like a special teams guy.
Value: Has some upside, but not enough to warrant a draft pick.

Marcus Reese

6' 215 UCLA (4.73) Senior

Pros: Has good speed and nose for the football.
Cons: Questionable in coverage and lacks strength and size.
NFL Forecast: Is worth a shot to bring to camp and can impress, but needs to stick on special teams to have a productive NFL career. Should be a competent backup in a scheme like Tampa Bay which covets speed. But won't be much more than a backup weakside guy and special teams guy in the NFL. Has some upside, but not much.
Value: Speed is intriguing, but not good enough elsewhere to get picked.


Home | Features