Outside Linebackers

First Round


D.J. Williams

(6'1" 250 4.55) Miami Senior

Pros: Has good speed and can play sideline to sideline. Is solid in pursuit. Is solid in coverage and does a good job on backs and tight ends.
Cons: Not very strong at the point of attack and doesn't do a good job shedding blockers.
NFL Forecast: He's a solid weakside prospect due to his speed and ability to operate in space. He'll make an excellent weakside linebacker. He's not the most dominating guy you've ever seen, but he plays well. Because of this lack of a "dominating factor," I don't really forsee him being considered an elite outside guy, although he may have the production to warrant it. But he's just not good enough at the point of attack for me to consider him a potentially great outside linebacker. But in the end, he'll be a very good NFL linebacker.
Value: Definitely worth a late first round pick.

Second Round


Dontarrious Thomas

(6'3" 244 4.56) Auburn Senior

Pros: Closes on football quickly and has good sideline-to-sideline speed. Shows adequate ability in coverage and can cover backs out the backfield. He has good strength and power and can punish runners.
Cons: His coverage abilities could use some work. Struggles to get off blockers and gets caught up in traffic too much.
NFL Forecast: Thomas was definitely miscast for the inside linebacker position and is not a good fit for it. He was thinking too much and not reacting enough last year. He needs to be allowed to use his speed to chase the football. If put on the outside, Thomas could be an excellent weakside linebacker on the next level. He has good speed and will make plays in pursuit.
Value: Worth an early second rounder if a team is planning on moving him to the outside.

Karlos Dansby

(6'3" 247 4.63) Auburn Senior

Pros: Shows good ability in man coverage. Has good speed and strength. Good solid tackler in the open field. Has the speed and burst to be a factor off the edge as a pass rusher. Can hit and punish runners.
Cons: Keys on backfield too much in coverage and will bite on play fakes. Doesn't do a good job getting off blocks at the point of attack. Plays a bit too undisciplined. A straight-line pass rusher.
NFL Forecast: He reminds me of Arrington because of his superior athletic talent, but also because of his undisciplined play. My beef with Dansby is like Arrington, he relies too much on his superior athleticism. If Dansby works hard to improve himself in all aspects of the game, he could be among the most dominant in the NFL. His physical ability alone however is going to make him a quality starter on the strongside.
NFL Comparison: LaVar Arrington, Redskins.
Value: His upside would probably merit being a top 15 pick in the first round, but because he plays undisciplined he's worth only an early second round pick.

Teddy Lehman

(6'1" 237 4.55) Oklahoma Senior

Pros: Shows good nose for the football. A strong tackler that will make stops in the open field. Has good strength. A sideline to sideline tackling machine. Has experience and plays well on special teams.
Cons: Tends to struggle at the point of attack. Sometimes slow to react to the ball and can overpursue. Not particularly special in coverage.
NFL Forecast: A heady weakside prospect that could possibly play the middle in some schemes. Those schemes will need guys up front that can keep blockers off him. He has a little bit of Urlacher in him. But I do think he projects outside in most schemes. If he can keep things in front of him and use his athletic ability to make the plays, he'll be an excellent NFL player, and possibly among the most productive in the NFL. Although if put in the wrong scheme, his flaws could be really exposed by an offense.
NFL Comparison:
Value: Has definite first round potential, but potential to struggle in adjusting to the pro game pushes him to the second round.

Third Round


Alex Lewis

(6' 227 4.74) Wisconsin

Pros: Has nice speed and is good in pursuit. Capable of providing pressure off the edge and get upfield and after quarterback. Is a sound tackler that is capable of making stops in the open field. Will lock-on to a ball-carrier and shows good burst to the football. He does a good job attacking the line of scrimmage.
Cons: Will get caught up in the trash too much and is not very good at the point of attack. Doesn't do a good job getting off blocks. Can tend to overpursue at times.
NFL Forecast: Lewis plays end in nickel situations which will be valuable as he adjusts to the next level. If he was about 15-25 pounds heavier, he would be a perfect fit as an outside guy in the 3-4 scheme. But he'll play on the weakside in the NFL, and be able to stick in their in nickel situations because of his abilities in coverage and to rush the quarterback. He's not a flashy player, but is steady.
Value: A team with an aggressive scheme would be good to take late in the third round.

Fourth Round


Demorrio Williams

(6'1" 232 4.51) Nebraska Senior

Pros: Has good speed and makes plays in pursuit. Shows good edge speed and effective as a pass rusher. Shows he is effective in zone coverage. Sound tackler that will make stops in the open field.
Cons: Small and undersized and struggles at the point of attack. Will get engulfed by blockers and can't shed. Needs work and overall polish.
NFL Forecast: You like Williams because of his speed and ability as a pass rusher. He's raw, but shows good ability in coverage. Right now he's only proven effective in zone coverage, but has the speed and quickness you like as a potential solid player in man coverage. He's small, but should be a good weakside guy in space. His experience on the defensive line makes him a little better at handling blockers, but it is still a major weakness.
Value: Has good enough upside to merit a late third round selection, but a bit of a project that pushes him into round four.

Fifth Round


Josh Buhl

(5'11" 204 4.69) Kansas State Senior

Pros: Has good speed and plays well in pursuit. Plays bigger than he is and is a hard-nosed player that will hit. Is capable in zone coverage.
Cons: Lacks size and struggles at the point of attack. Needs work in man coverage. Will miss a few open field tackles.
NFL Forecast: People want to move Buhl to strong safety, and because of his size he probably projects there in most peopleís eyes. But I think he can play linebacker on the next level if he plays on a team that allows him to work in space. This would be something like Tony Dungy's defense. If he moves to safety, heíll need to play up near the line of scrimmage most of the time. A work in progress in coverage and would struggle in that role with a safetyís responsibilities. Whether he develops into a starter on the next level depends on what scheme he goes to and if he changes positions. But should make an excellent special teams player, so he will stick on the next level no matter what.
Value: Definitely too much of a project to go before the fifth round. For a team with the right scheme, he might be worth a late fourth round pick.

Larry Stevens

(6'2" 250 4.86) Michigan Senior

Pros: Has great strength for size and plays well in pursuit. Has a quick first step and does a good job getting under blockers pads. He has a good motor.
Cons: Can get engulfed by blockers due to lack of size and struggles to get free. Doesn't have amazing edge speed.
NFL Forecast: If he was 15-20 pounds bigger, he'd make a very good right end, but he really doesn't have a great frame for getting much bigger. Would make a good 3-4 linebacker. He has nice speed to convert to linebacker and plays well in pursuit. He'll need to work on his coverage abilities before he can complete the conversion. Until then, he'll make a fine situational pass rusher.
NFL Comparison:
Value: Fifth round. Could be a quality outside linebacker and situational pass rusher.

Bryan Hickman

(6' 230 4.63) Kansas State Senior

Pros: Has good speed and is capable in pursuit. Does a good job getting upfield and coming off edge as a pass rusher. At his best attacking the line of scrimmage. Is effective in man coverage.
Cons: Needs more work in coverage. Will take some poor angles to the football at times, and can get caught up in the trash. Doesnít do a good job at the point of attack or weaving through traffic.
NFL Forecast: He doesnít have the size you prefer in a SAM linebacker, but I think he can play the position. Heís not a great player in space, and does a better job getting upfield than going sideline-to-sideline. He is decent in coverage, but not that great, but heís good enough that he can cover tight ends and backs out the backfield. Can also play the WILL position, but probably would only be average there. Has enough upside to be an effective starter, the type of player that gets the job done, albeit unspectacularly. If he was a bit bigger, he could make a good 3-4 outside linebacker, but lacks the size you like in that scheme.
Value: Fifth round. Has some upside as a starter, but really isn't a perfect fit at any position.

Sixth Round


Kevin Mitchell

(5'11" 220 4.65) Oregon Senior

Pros: Has good ability in pursuit and a good nose for the football. Has good speed and can make plays sideline to sideline.
Cons: Lacks size and strength. Struggles at the point of attack and needs work in coverage. Will over pursue at times.
NFL Forecast: There is some talk of moving Mitchell to strong safety, but I don't think he'd be a good fit there. Like past Pac-10 linebackers he may make the move, but I don't think he has a lot of upside there. He still needs a lot of work in coverage. He looks like a guy that just needs to bulk up a little bit more and play the weakside at linebacker. He's not a huge impact player that is not going to make his presence known on the field, but is a steady guy that doesn't make a lot of mistakes.
NFL Comparison:
Value: Sixth round. A good player but too limited.

Howard Hodges

(6'1" 250 4.84) Iowa Senior

Pros: Has good edge speed and a quick first step up the field. Can play the run in pursuit and run down the line of scrimmage to make plays.
Cons: As an end, lacks size and strength at the point of attack and will be engulfed by blockers.
NFL Forecast: I think he could make the transition to outside linebacker in the 3-4 system. He doesn't have great speed for a linebacker, but enough and he shows good ability in pursuit. He doesn't have the frame to put on much more weight. For now, he'd make a good situational pass rusher until he develops in coverage at linebacker. I think he can stick on the next level, but he probably never will be a starter, but a quality backup.
NFL Comparison:
Value: Sixth Round. A guy that has a shot to stick as a situational pass rusher and outside linebacker.

Terrell Paul

(6'3" 242 4.97) Southern Mississippi Senior

Pros: Is a disruptive pass rusher that has good quickness upfield. Is a capable guy in pursuit with a good motor and a solid tackler.
Cons: Lacks size and strength to play on the line. Needs to work on his ability in coverage.
NFL Forecast: Paul plays both end and linebacker at Southern Miss, but his future is at outside linebacker in the NFL. He should make a good 3-4 guy on the edge. He doesn't get the opportunity to use his edge speed as much in college. He could develop into a quality starter since he shows good skills both versus the pass and the run.
NFL Comparison:
Value: Sixth round. A good fit for a team looking for a quality 3-4 outside guy.

Brandon Chillar

(6'3" 253 4.74) UCLA Senior

Pros: Has good speed and burst to the football. Plays well when allowed to get upfield. A good pursuit player.
Cons: Needs work in coverage. Takes poor angles to the football. Struggles at the point of attack and has difficulty shedding blockers.
NFL Forecast: Could develop into a decent strong side candidate, but he needs some work. Doesn't wow you with anything, but is steady linebacker. He's mostly a potential guy. Needs a lot more work to become a starter, but at the least could be a solid reserve. He plays best in space, so would work best in a scheme that features that.
Value: A decent prospect, but only good enough to deserve looks late in round six.

Seventh Round


Landon Johnson

(6'2" 223 4.53) Purdue Senior

Pros: He doesn't shy away from contact and plays tougher than his size would merit. He is capable in traffic and is effective at the point of attack. Effective in confined space. Can cover somewhat.
Cons: Doesn't have great size and isn't that adept at shedding blockers. Could do a better job in coverage.
NFL Forecast: He plays bigger than he is. If he bulked up some, he would be a good SAM prospect, but because of his size, right now he looks like a WILL. Could be a good inside linebacker in the 3-4 scheme as well. You like his versatility, and could potentially develop into a good utility backup linebacker. But right now it's doubtful if he'll be a starter in the NFL.
Value: He's worth a seventh round pick, and if a team plays in the 3-4, he could merit a late sixth round pick.

Grant Wiley

(6' 223 4.77) West Virginia Senior

Pros: Hard-nosed attitude with good speed and good in pursuit. Capable on special teams. Does a good job attacking the line of scrimmage.
Cons: Struggles at the point of attack and won't slip blocks. Poor in man coverage.
NFL Forecast: He plays hard and loves to hit people which will endear him to a lot of NFL teams and coaches. He looks like he'll get most of his professional work on special teams, but may get a shot to lock down a backup weakside spot. He could possibly play the middle on the next level, but would really need to be protected up front.
NFL Comparison:
Value: Seventh Round. A depth guy that boosts special teams, but that's mostly it.

Grant Steen

(6'2" 238 4.89) Iowa Senior

Pros: Has decent speed and shows good ability in both man and zone coverages.
Cons: Not much of a factor in the run game. Struggles at the point of attack and can't get off blockers.
NFL Forecast: He looks like he's going to have to be a nickel linebacker in the NFL. He's not a dominant cover guy, but plays it better than most collegiate players. He has experience lining up against wide receivers in the slot, but he won't be able to do that in the NFL. His run stopping abilities are marginal. He'll most likely be a weakside linebacker, but could be put inside. But it really won't matter since his defensive position is only superficial and he'll spend most of his playing time either covering a tight end or back, or playing on special teams.
NFL Comparison:
Value: Seventh Round. Helps depth and would be a good pickup for a team trying to find a quality nickel guy, but that's about it.

Cols Colas

(6' 240 4.56) Virginia Tech Senior

Pros: Has great edge speed and a good first step on the outside.
Cons: Lacks size and strength to be effective versus the run. Struggles at the point of attack and is overwhelmed by blockers. Lacks a variety of moves, rather relying on his first step to beat pass protectors.
NFL Forecast: He's a situational pass rusher that is going to have to play outside linebacker in the NFL. He lacks the size for both end and even the traditional 3-4 outside guy. He has a tough road ahead of him, but could develop as a situational pass rusher. Doubtful if he'll ever be more than a reserve/situational guy since he's very raw as a linebacker.
NFL Comparison: Corey Moore.
Value: Seventh Round. A good pass rusher, but limited and raw as a linebacker.

Pat Durr

(6'1" 225 4.83) Northwestern Senior

Pros: Has good speed and shows good ability in coverage. Is good in pursuit. Is best when allowed to attack the line of scrimmage.
Cons: Lacks size and strength and struggles at the point of attack. Can't shed blockers.
NFL Forecast: Too small to play in the middle on the next level and his skills don't project there anyway. Looks like he could be a good WILL on the next level. Doesn't look like he has a lot of starter potential, but could be an excellent reserve that contributes on special teams and in nickel situations.
Value: Seventh Round. Could develop into a good nickel guy that has some ability to play a minor role on defense.

Billy Strother

(6' 241 4.68) New Mexico Senior

Pros: Has good speed and shows good ability in coverage. Does a good job at getting after runners in pursuit and can cover tight ends and backs out the backfield.
Cons: Lacks strength and size. Struggles at the point of attack and is not a great run stopper. At times he gets caught looking in the backfield at quarterback rather than focusing on his coverage assignment.
NFL Forecast: Strother has a nice future as a nickel linebacker on the next level. Plays on the strongside at New Mexico, but lacks size and strength to do so on the next level. Should be a good weakside guy that can come on in nickel situations. Not a great coverage guy, but has a good foundation to potentially excel there in the NFL.
NFL Comparison: Mike Caldwell.
Value: His potential as a nickel linebacker merits a possible selection in round seven.

Undrafted


Melvin Simmons

(6'1" 234 4.79) Southern California Senior

Pros: Has nice speed and closes on ball quickly. Has enough quickness to be able in coverage.
Cons: Not great at the point of attack and will take poor angles to the football. Keys in on quarterback too much in coverage.
NFL Forecast: He lacks the size you want, and he's not a great pursuit player despite having some nice speed. He looks like he'll have to be a special teams player on the next level, because he has little value on defense. If he polishes his coverage abilities, he might just make it as a nickel linebacker, but he needs to polish pretty hard.
NFL Comparison:
Value: Undrafted. Lacks great upside, and at best will be a special teams guys and nickel linebacker.

Paul Nixon

(6'1" 238 4.78) Minnesota Senior

Pros: Has good speed and shows ability in pursuit. Has good strength for a linebacker.
Cons: Lacks great edge burst and is a straight-line pass rusher that lacks moves. Lacks size and strength to play on the line of scrimmage.
NFL Forecast: He played end at Minnesota, but he doesn't have the size or ability to play there on the next level. Could make a decent outside linebacker in the 3-4 scheme, but he needs some polish as he adjusts to the linebacker position. Shows that he could make it there, but has an uphill battle to make it in the NFL.
NFL Comparison:
Value: He's definitely a project and a tweener to merit a draft pick.

Rod Day

(5'1" 220 4.62) Louisville Senior

Pros: Has nice speed and plays well in pursuit. Has good burst to the football and the nose to find it. Has the speed and quickness to be decent in coverage.
Cons: Lacks size and struggles at the point of attack. Doesn't do a great job at shedding blockers and has trouble fighting through traffic. Needs improvement in coverage.
NFL Forecast: He's limited due to his size but plays hard and fast which could impress some coaches. Likely will have to show something on special teams to stick in the NFL. Lacks great upside, but could develop as a decent backup on the weakside
NFL Comparison:
Value: Has potential to excel on special teams which merits a camp invite, but not a draft selection.

Raymond Mann

(6'1" 233 4.55) Virginia Senior

Pros: Has nice speed and is a good pass rusher off the edge. Is good in pursuit. Can play over the tight end and is able to get it done in zone coverage. Gets a good jam on the tight end as well.
Cons: Struggles at the point of attack and cannot shed blockers. Lacks the hard-nosed mentality you would like in your linebackers.
NFL Forecast: Doesn't have great size, but should play the SAM spot in the NFL. He's not great at the point of attack, so he could struggle at that position since he gets caught up in traffic too much. He needs to improve his instincts versus the run. His best shot will come as a special teams guy. He has talent, but he's a marginal prospect. I think he could potentially be a decent nickel linebacker. Plays in 3-4 at college, but lacks the size and speed you want for that in the NFL. I see him projecting better in the 4-3.
Value: Undrafted. Has potential to be a solid special teams guy and a decent backup, but not much more.

Greg Harper

(6' 230 4.57) Memphis Senior

Pros: Shows good pop and power in the run game since he will come up and hit players. Shows ability as a pass rusher off the edge. Plays pretty well at the point of attack and can shed blockers.
Cons: Lacks great speed and is not a sideline to sideline player. Will take some poor angles and has trouble when he has to read since recognition skills are marginal. Uncomfortable when playing in space. Also needs to improve in coverage.
NFL Forecast: Looks like he can be a solid backup utility linebacker on the next level. Won't blow you away with his skills, but is a solid prospect. Likely will need to stick via special teams play. Could fit at inside linebacker in the 3-4 system, which could be better suited for his skills since it's confined space and is more about gap control than flowing to the football. But at best, he'll be a backup player.
Value: Undrafted. A potential sleeper, but lacks the upside to be more than a special teams ace.

Coot Terry

(5'11" 220 4.85) Memphis Senior

Pros: Has good speed. Plays well in space as he can flow to the football in pursuit.
Cons: Lacks size and strength. Weak at the point of attack because he has difficulty shedding blockers. Doesnít show a whole lot in coverage
NFL Forecast: He will have to impress on special teams since he lacks the upside to be a true defensive player. His best chances are to go to a team that prefers speed and will allow him plenty of space to operate in on the outside. There's potential he could get looks as a strong safety, but he's very much a project at that position.
Value: An undrafted free agent that could get some looks in training camp but has limited NFL potential.

Taylor Casey

(6'2" 220 4.71) North Texas Senior

Pros: Has good speed and can make plays in pursuit. Looks good in space and cover sideline to sideline. Has a good nose for the football.
Cons: Looks a little lost at times and is not a playmaker. Lacks size and strength. Is not great in coverage and will need to work on that. Takes some poor angles. Weak at the point of attack and struggles to shed blockers.
NFL Forecast: He's undersized linebacker, and I think there's a possibility that he will need to move to safety on the next level. But he really doesn't have the speed or coverage abilities you like there. Because of that, he's a marginal tweener. If anything, he'll be a special teams guy on the next level.
Value: Undrafted. Has some potential to play well on special teams, but a limited tweener.

Chris Hurd

(6' 218 4.64) North Texas Senior

Pros: Has nice speed and flows to the football. Does a better job at taking on and shedding blockers than most players his size. Looks decent in zone coverage.
Cons: Very undersized and doesn't have the speed to match his diminutive stature. Will take some poor angles and struggles at the point of attack. Needs to improve in man coverage.
NFL Forecast: In certain defensive schemes where the safety plays up near the line of scrimmage a lot, Hurd could stick there. He could also stick on the outside at linebacker in a scheme that features speed-first. Best attributes are his above average speed and toughness. Looks like he could be a good special teams player on the next level and a decent reserve on the weakside.
Value: Undrafted. A tweener that projects to special teams.

 

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