1. Jarvis Jones, Georgia - 6'2, 245:
Multi-faceted defender who plays primarily up on the line at Georgia. Natural pass rusher who flashes an array of secondary moves to beat and/or disengage from his opponent. Elite closing burst in space, and is a great finisher in the backfield. Changes direction well at high speeds, but lacks suddenness to stop-start in space. Will overrrun tackles at times, due mostly to an inability to stop and start back the other way with explosion. Lacks elite get-off and relies heavily on the secondary move to get home.
Disciplined run defender who uses his hands well to disengage at the line, and rarely appears overpowered by significantly bigger offensive tackles. Holds the contain well at the edge and maintains good awareness of backfield motion. Flashes a potentially devastating spin move on rushes, and looks natural when asked to dip his shoulder and flatten at the edge. Good balance on contact, and fights through blocks effectively in pursuit. 2nd gear to chase down carriers from behind, and displays active, physical attack of the ball.
There have been rumors of medical concerns both from a previously-known condition as well as in light of his combine physical. If the rumored concerns are legit, he could fall into round 2 despite having top-10 tape, and big-time sack production at Georgia.
2. Alec Ogletree, Georgia - 6'2, 242:
Explosive athlete who moves with fluidity and effortlessness. Long-limbed and lean, Ogletree is built like a safety, but plays with the physicality and aggression needed at the linebacker spot. Fluid in coverage, with the ability to explode from a stop and stay with inside receivers in and out of breaks. Tracks the runner well through traffic and takes good angles to close. A threat to rush of the edge, and the flexibility to break down in space and burst from a stop. Instinctive 'backer who recognizes plays quickly and puts himself in position to make plays. utilizes quick feet and super agility to avoid blockers and maintain footing through contact. Is susceptible to being bounced out of plays if he stops moving his feet or drops his hands when a blocker engages.
Exhibits finesse characteristics but is extremely physical and willing to take on contact at the line. Reads the hole and plugs it quickly. Good fundamental tackler. Ogletree is an elite talent, but his multiple arrests and lingering maturity concerns could end up costing him a the top-20 selection that his tape may justify.
3. Khaseem Greene, Rutgers - 6'1, 241:
Thick, powerful frame with long arms and good muscular definition. Explosive tackler with a knack for stripping the football. Physical and at times devastating hitter who closes quickly on plays in front of him. Doesn't have the elite first step, but accelerates extremely well. Fluid drop in zone, but tends to react late to passes. Appears to be more effective up on the line of scrimmage vs. the run and on delayed blitzes.
Strong awareness against the run. Good balance and use of leverage as well as hands and arm length to stay clean at the 2nd level. Quick hands to disengage. Closes on target and wraps up well. Drives his target backward, and is emphatic in the way that he tackles. Played a large amount of zone coverage at Rutgers, and exhibited good awareness and ability to locate ball in man coverage situations.
Doesn't appear to be a burner. Susceptible to look-offs, and will at times be out of position on the outside. Looks to be effective as an inside 'backer, considering that's primarily where he played at Rutgers. Good special teams player. Always around the ball. A converted safety with a history of picking the ball off. Need to see better awareness against the pass. 2011 Big East Defensive Player of the year and posted 125 tackles, 10.5 TFLs, 5.5 sacks and a whopping 6 forced fumbles in 2012.
4. Arthur Brown, Kansas State - 6'1, 241:
Smaller, compact linebacker with athletic, muscular frame. Fluid backpedal and good awareness in zone. Closing speed to meet the receiver at the ball and/or runner at the line. Quickness is plus with ability to stop and start fluidly. Takes on bigger blockers with good lower flexibility and hand work to disengage. Flies to the football and times his first step well when stepping up to plug the hole.
Good awareness and vision against the run and takes good angles to the sidelines. Patient to allow the run to develop, sitting in his gap and rarely over-running. Disciplined in zone, picking up coverages and routes early in the play. Turns his back to the QB too early at times and bails out of underneath territory too soon. Brown is an instinctive run defender with the toughness and physicality to play inside, and the athleticism and coverage ability to play in space on the outside. A first-round talent who probably falls to the 2nd round.
5. Zaviar Gooden, Missouri - 6'1, 234:
At 6'1, and 233lbs, Gooden possesses a lean, athletic-looking frame and ideal build to play the weakside at the next level. Extremely explosive in a straight line, exhibiting a strong initial burst and elite vertical speed for the position. Has displayed an improved willingness recently to get physical at the line and persist through contact. Quick to close on his gap against the run and displays adequate flexibility to establish low leverage on contact when engaging blockers. When active with his hands, exhibits quickness and pop to routinely disengage.
Fluid drop in coverage and quick hips to turn and run with the tight end or slot receiver vertically. In coverage, he's still a bit raw, at times flipping his hips in the wrong direction while anticipating routes. First step isn't as explosive coming out of a hip flip/transition. Is late to diagnose the run at times. Will take shallow angles on runs to the outside, and will often find himself forced to chase the play down from behind as a result.
Leads with his shoulder and drops his head at times when engaging bigger blockers, and doesn't get his arms extended consistently. Exhibits only marginal lateral fluidity and does struggle at times to break down and make tackles in space. Is better in man-coverage than zone right now, as he tends to lock onto the backfield and lose track of receivers in the area.Like former Tarheel Zach Brown, Gooden possesses rare speed and explosiveness for his size, but is still learning to utilize it properly on the football field.
Gooden does appear further along in the instincts department however, and is a more consistent tackler than Brown was at North Carolina.Thus, I could see Gooden having similar, if not better first-year success than Brown, after being picked up somewhere between rounds 2 and 4.
6. Brandon Jenkins, Florida - 6'2, 251:
Jenkins possesses a long, lanky frame with ideal proportion throughout. Comes off the ball with an explosive first step, and does a good job of getting into his opponent's chest quickly, and establishing leverage. Exhibits flexibility to drop his shoulder and flatten at the edge, and maintains surge around the edge, with strong closing burst once he disengages. Is relentless in his pursuit and does a good job of shrugging off his blocker once he does round the corner. Flashes strong, quick hands to swat and chop his blocker and create space.
Impressive punch with the ability to knock back considerably bigger opponents. Uses length well to disengage against the run, and exhibits good backfield vision to track the runner through the trees. Flashes a swim move back to the inside, and exhibits suddenness to change direction in doing so. Comes off the line high at times and is easily handled when he fails to establish low leverage. Isn't ideally built to play a traditional end position, considering his shorter, lighter frame, and he's a completely different player (for the worse) when he engages too high.
Hasn't played a lot in space in terms of dropping and reading the quarterback as a coverage 'backer, so may be considered a "tweener" with too little experience to have an immediate impact in a more traditional linebacker role. Injuries have made him tough to grade as of late, and it will be interesting to see if those injuries have effected his greatest assets as a pass-rusher - first-step explosion, ability to gain leverage with flexibility, and speed to close.
7. Trevardo Williams, Connecticut - 6'1, 241:
Explosive athlete with natural edge-rush ability. Extremely quick get-off to go with flexibility that makes him a consistent threat to round the edge on every play. Big-time closing burst in space. Exhibits an impressive lateral quickness when countering back to the inside from the edge. May have the best pure get-off of anyone edge rusher in this year's class. Relentless motor to the whistle. Exhibits acceleration to track down the stretch play from the backside. Consistently creates space with good arm extension and impressive punch to his opponent's chestplate. Makes good use of flexibility to generate low leverage at the edge.
Possesses elite straight-line speed for an 'end, and is "plus" in this area among linebackers. Is under-sized for a traditional 3-point edge rusher, but hasn't shown a lot in terms of lining up as a traditional linebacker either. Lacks power necessary to consistently generate any kind of bull-rush and is a pure speed rusher who has to rely heavily on his get-off to make the edge. Flashes a secondary move from time to time, but needs to continue to develop a repertoire if he's going to consistently contribute pressure at the next level.
Doesn't exhibit a high level of awareness or instincts as a run defender and may be a one-trick pony. Rarely drops back into coverage, so is tough to grade in space. Williams has put up some intriguing sack numbers at the college level (11.5 in '12) despite lacking the size and strength that scouts want to see in an every-down rusher in the NFL. Interest should be strong from a 3-4 team willing to bank on the chance that Williams can be just as effective rushing from a 2-point stance, as he's been with his hand in the ground. A legitimate double-digit sack threat in the right system, who's upside could be more like Bruce Irvin, year one.
8. Sio Moore, Connecticut - 6'1, 245:
Impressive natural strength and power for his size. Possesses strong closing burst. Ideal length. A threat to rush off the edge, and exhibits some natural pass-rush ability - dips the shoulder and can flatten at the edge. Impressive in man-coverage situations, displaying good route anticipation and ability to mirror tight ends. Only average laterally. Can shed bigger lineman, at times making it look easy, but stays on blocks too long and needs to be more aggressive with his hands.
Tracks the runner well through traffic and takes good angles to the outside. Versatile - can play up on the line over the tight end, can cover down field, and can drop into zone. A bit heavy-footed so he doesn't move laterally or change direction with a lot of suddenness. Long limbed and deceptively fast. Lack of "plus" lateral fluidity in space, but diagnoses early and has the speed to get home.
9. Jamie Collins, Souther Miss - 6'3, 250:
Muscular, athletic-looking frame with powerful hands and long arms. Accelerates well in a straight line, and exhibits good flexibility, both coming off the edge as a rusher, as well as when changing direction in space. Displays a knack for getting to the quarterback off the edge, with impressive natural power on contact, and ability to disengage when he uses his hands effectively. Flashes a strong, sudden closing burst in space. Appears natural and comfortable in his lower half when asked to drop into zone coverage. When he gets his arms extended at the point of attack, can really manhandle his blocker.
Doesn't possess a ton of short-area burst when breaking down to make tackles in space, but uses length nicely to compensate. Motor appears to waffle at times. Explosiveness and fluidity appear to be there for brief moments, but other times he looks heavy-footed and sloppy in space. First step isn't elite. Is much more athletic than instinctive at this point. Isn't a high-intensity, fly-to-the-football defender, despite possessing some dynamic physical tools that indicate he's capable of covering more ground. Tends to tackle with his shoulder too frequently rather than wrapping up, and will take on blockers with his chest or shoulders far too often.
Will reduce speed and exhibits loose legs when flipping his hips from a backpedal in man-coverage. Awareness in zone coverage waivers, as he tends to freeze in space and lose track of what's going on behind him. Collins possesses a unique combination of speed, fluidity and flexibility for his size, to go with some natural pass-rush ability. However, considering his consistency issues, he looks more like a rotational edge-rusher initially, with some upside to do more in the future if he can improve in coverage.
10. Chase Thomas, Stanford - 6'3, 244:
Love the energy and passion that Thomas plays with. Extremely heady and aware of his surroundings. As a pass-rusher, exhibits good flexibility at the edge to make the corner, maintain balance and close. Good use of hands on contact, and consistently gets arms extended to keep blockers at bay. Exhibits adequate quickness to rush outside or in from the edge. First step is not elite, but consistently gets off the ball with good timing.
Extremely versatile - consistently rushes from either edge, and can drop back from middle or outside 'backer spot, and cover. Isn't extremely quick laterally, and struggles to break down and redirect when mirroring the ball carrier. Doesn't explode out of breaks or stops, and possesses only marginal lateral agility. Technically, Thomas is as sound as any linebacker coming out. His size is appealing in any one of the traditional LB spots, but probably translates best as a strong side or middle 'backer in a 4-3, while providing versatility to put his hand in the ground or rush from a stand on passing downs. Looks as though he belongs on the field on any down.
11. DeVonte Holloman, South Carolina - 6'1, 243:
Athletic-looking frame with a sturdy, thick base and long arms. Exhibits strong play-recognition and anticipation against the pass. Diagnoses the run early, and takes good angles to the football. Anticipates and approaches the gap with good timing on runs between the tackles. Possesses ample lower body strength that helps to compensate for lack of flexibility when asked to hold ground/stack at the 2nd level. Exhibits good backfield vision through traffic. Displays good instincts and timing when asked to make a play on the ball in the air. High-motor, aggressive player who doesn't shy away from making big-time contact.
Lack of flexibility and first-step explosion from a stop hampers his ability to recover when he has over-shot his gap, or on cutback run plays that require him to redirect. Lacks fluidity to turn and run with tight ends or receivers down the field, without losing a step. Only marginal top-end speed for the position. Doesn't get his arms extended enough when taking on blocks, and is too easily driven out of the play as a result. Pretty stiff laterally. Compares to: Mike Morgan, OLB, Seattle Seahawks - While Morgan and Holloman are very different athletes, they have a few common limitations that have kept them from becoming high-impact linebackers throughout their careers.
A lack of flexibility and agility has been a huge impedement to Morgan's growth despite possessing elite speed, wheras with Holloman, it's his "plus" instincts that have been neutralized by the same limitations. He seems to know what's going on, but struggles to consistently get there and make the play. His initial value will probably be best captured as a special teams contributor, but perhaps a move to the inside could help to mask some of his limitations in space, and give him a chance to contribute as a rotational piece down the road.
12. Jelani Jenkins, Florida - 6'1, 243:
Strong combo of speed/quickness and flexibility. Agile to dodge blockers and meander his way to his target. Avoids blocks more with quickness than hands, but needs to learn to shed better when engaged as he has a tendency to get swallowed up. Early play recognition. Biggest weakness is that he takes shallow angles to the outside, and often ends up behind the play as a result. Doesn't explode to the football like he should consistently. Good closing burst, but only average first step.
Fluid drop, but will get his hips around too quickly in zone and leave the underneath empty. Good wrap-up tackler who establishes low position, both on blocks and on tackles. Good instincts/awareness/athleticism. Bad angles, and isn't physical enough. Aggression waynes, but when he turns it on, can be explosive.
13. Gerald Hodges, Penn State - 6'1, 243:
Lean, proportioned athlete, with good size. Isn't incredibly explosive, but finds a way to get to the ball. Can get tied up by blockers relatively easy against the run as he doesn't fight consistently to get off blocks. Inconsistent at taking the right angles against the run. Good gap discipline. Doesn't aggressively chase 'backs down from behind. Good open field tackler who can stop and start with the ball carrier. Strong initial burst when firing on blitzes. Is more often the 2nd or 3rd guy to the target, than the first.
Strong click-and-close in coverage with decent short area quickness. Better at making plays on the outside, than at the line or through interior gaps. Needs to be more physical and establish lower leverage consistently in order to be effective at the line of scrimmage. A coverage 'backer who, if he can become more physical at the line, could be a starter at the next level.
14. Sean Porter, Texas A&M - 6'1, 229:
Prototypical length - long arms, thick, muscular frame. Uses length well to extend and make tough tackles in space. Tends to be more of a hitter than a wrap tackler though, and will miss the easy one from time to time. Approaches his target too high at times, rather than wrapping up the legs, and as a result will slip off his target. Will over-run gaps and allow for RB cutbacks, but has displayed an ability to be an effective run stopper when he does contain and exhibit patience. Fluid in coverage - both in zone and in man - in that he exibits patience in zone, but can also backpedal and flip his hips to run with tight ends.
Explosive first step, and gets up to speed quickly on blitzes, but when redirecting, only looks marginally quick. Quick 'backs who break down in space can fake and shake him as his short-area quickness isn't "plus". Effort looks good. Instinctively he struggles a bit against the run, but flashes moments of brilliance. Length and athleticism are appealing. As a pass-rusher, doesn't display an array of moves, but relies more on athleticism and reverts to a bull-rush which won't work as well at the next level.
He's flexible and fast enough though to make the corner. Still see him as a drop-back 'backer who spends more time in coverage and in space. Needs to become a better tackler in space though. To me he's in between a WSLB in a 43, and a rush 'backer in a 3-4. Let's blocker into his frame too easily and doesn't fight off blocks like he should.
15. Brandon Sharpe, Syracuse - 6'1, 253:
Sharpe has the pass-rush acumen of a traditional 3-point defensive end, but possesses the size of a linebacker, so he'll most certainly be tabbed as a classic "tweener". He doesn't possess the pure speed or coverage experience to be an every-down 3-4 OLB, but he could be a great fit for a team whose defensive scheme features some type of hybrid rush end. Sharpe gets a good jump off the snap and maintains low pads on contact, allowing him to generate power from quickness. He's surprisingly effective as a bull-rusher considering his lighter frame, and he's extremely active with his hands at the edge, often able to rip free from his blocker's clutches, and close rapidly on the pocket.
Doesn't have extremely flexible hips, but compensates with good knee bend and violent hands that enable him to carve the corner tightly and toss his blocker aside. He's also an above-average run defender, where again, he's able to set the edge with impressive low leverage and drive, and then disengage to close gaps. Probably a day-3 pick who could have a significant role relatively quickly in a scheme that can feature his natural edge-rush ability.
16. Etienne Sabino, Ohio State - 6'2, 247:
Athletic, muscular frame with "plus" arm length. Exhibits good run diagnostics and anticipates runner direction well when taking angles to the outside. Flies to the football decisively and finishes with big-time pop as a hitter. Doesn't always wrap his target up and will rely to heavily on the hit, but knows how to get to the football, and does so with aggression. Impressive closing speed downhill, and does a good job of staying low when approaching and closing running lanes. Flashes a physical nature at the 2nd level when taking on blockers and does a good job of disengaging to close on his target.
Seems to always be moving forward and is rarely content backpedaling down field when engaged with a blocker. Times blitzes well and accelerates once he locates the QB. Is not incredibly flexible in his lower half and relies more on his upper body to fight off blocks. Doesn't change direction with a lot of fluidity, appearing a bit stiff when moving laterally out of drops in coverage. Is better as a man-cover 'backer over the tight end where he can get his hands up and disrupt routes, than he is playing in space and reading the QB.
Is late to react versus the pass, and is susceptible to bite on play-action as he tends to lock onto the backfield and lose track of receivers. Sabino plays with the physicality and explosiveness that scouts crave in a run-stopping linebacker, and looks to be the type who could upgrade a special teams unit immediately at the next level. Considering coverage limitations, he's probably a late day 2, early day 3 selection with the potential to contribute vs. the run and as a blitzer, year one.
17. Keith Pough, Howard - 6'2, 239:
Lean, muscular, athletic-looking frame with long limbs. Exhibits strong awareness versus the run, with good backfield vision, and routinely takes good angles to the sideline. Strong closing burst in space, and has a knack for scraping from the far side and closing on ball carrier behind the line. Displays good extension and use of length to finish with the ankle-tackle. Is not very fluid in space, and doesn't look comfortable when asked to drop into zone coverage. Late to react on passes to either side, and is not very explosive from a stop.
When asked to change direction in space, struggles to break down and lower his center of gravity, often over-pursuing or getting juked by agile ball-carriers. Is not a guy who plays well through blocks, as he tends to get pushed around quite a bit at the 2nd level, and isn't nearly as effective when he's denied space to get up to speed in pursuit. Doesn't take on blocks with a high level of physicality, and rarely disengages cleanly from bigger blockers. Howard is a solid run defender who tackles well and closes quickly in space, but he'll need to play with a higher level of physicality and improve in coverage if he's ever to become a regular at the next level.
18. Larentee McCray, Florida - 6'2, 250:
Athletic looking frame with thick lower half, and long, muscular arms. Exhibits good top end speed and acceleration in space. Displays strong punch and ability to generate a bull rush when he establishes low position/leverage. Will spread out and cover the slot from time to time, and possesses fluid backpedal in space. Possesses active hands on contact and flashes good use of long arms to swim back inside as a rusher. Plays with some physicality and is tough to push back at the line. Persistent worker on the field who plays with energy and aggression.
Hasn't seemed to drop off in quickness or speed throughout a college career whereby he has gained substantial weight and muscle. Inconsistent first step off the line, and lacks elite explosiveness off the snap as a rush end. Average change-of-direction ability and agility. Lacks hip flexibility at the edge to make up for inconsistent get-off. Undecided on where he fits at the next level, as he doesn't have a lot of experience in space as a traditional linebacker, but doesn't display a great deal of natural pass-rush ability either.
McCray exhibits natural athleticism that make you want to find a spot for him. Considering the growing need for speed and the number of teams utilizing 3-4 alignments on defense, McCray could be a mid-to-late-round pickup for a team willing to take on a project with some considerable upside.
19. Maalik Bomar, Cincinnati - 6'2, 228:
Strong run defender who diagnoses plays early and exhibits sound gap discipline. A high-motor competitor who flies to the football and accelerates well in the open field. Breaks down in space well, maintaining a wide base and low center when asked to stop and adjust or redirect. Does a good job of keeping himself clean at the 2nd level. Takes good angles sideline-to-sideline and moves with adequate short-area quickness to stop and start with running back.
Doesn't generate a ton of power on contact and can be driven back when inactive with his hands. Appears stiff hipped and bogs down laterally when venturing outside of a one or two-step radius. Could be a nice late-round surprise for a team looking for OLB depth value, with upside of competing for a starting job in the future considering his run-instincts and good fundamental approach.
20. Travis Johnson, San Jose State - 6'2, 244:
Muscular frame with good lower-half flexibility and surprising strength on contact. Does a good job of establishing leverage as a rusher and flashes both edge-turn and bull-rush capabilities. Is not an elite athlete by any means but changes direction with smooth shift, and breaks down in space with a low center. Is not as fluid in reverse when asked to drop into coverage, and gets a bit heavy-footed when asked to move laterally from, or drive downhill out of a back-pedal.
As a rusher, will bend at the waist from time to time when attempting to flatten at the edge, causing him to lose leverage and ultimately, his footing. Relentless competitor who doesn't let up through the play and will chase down runners from behind despite lacking ideal straight-line speed. Only marginal first-step off the snap, and does not display a lot in terms of a counter move when rushing off the edge. Takes good angles to the outside as a run defender. Diagnoses and commits early vs. the run.
Need to see more of:
Herman Lathers - OLB - Tennessee
John Lotulelei - OLB - UNLV
Ty Powell - OLB/DE - Harding
Michael Clay - OLB - Oregon
Nate Williams - OLB - Ohio State
Travis Long - OLB/DE - WSU
DK Note: There is a bit of ambiguity between outside linebackers and defensive ends, and Derek has separated out the two groups, with unique rankings for each group. Check out his 'defensive end' rankings HERE - he's ranked Seahawks' LEO candidates in that group, as well as 5-technique prospects, and he's ranked LEO candidates in the 'linebackers' group below as well.
Pass-Rushers (Seattle’s "LEO" position)
|2||Brandon Jenkins||OLB||Florida State||Sr||6'2'||251|
|4||Jamie Collins||OLB||Southern Mississippi||Sr||6'3'||250|
|8||Travis Johnson||OLB||San Jose State||Sr||6'2'||244|
|3||Arthur Brown||OLB||Kansas State||rSr||6'1'2000||241|
|6||DeVonte Holloman||OLB||South Carolina||Sr||6'1'||243|
|8||Gerald Hodges||OLB||Penn State||Sr||6'1'||243|
|9||Sean Porter||OLB||Texas A&M||Sr||6'1'||229|
|10||Etienne Sabino||OLB||Ohio State||rSr||6'2'||247|
You can find more of Derek's analysis at his Seahawks-centric draft, free agency, & pro player personnel site called "ScoutTheSeahawks." Head over and bookmark it - he maintains a really great free agent tracker in addition to his Draft focus that is much more in-depth than most places because of his background doing deep scouting of NFL Draft prospects.