April 14, 2016 - Greg Gabriel
The Top 5 Outside Linebackers in the 2016 NFL Draft
When we say outside linebackers, I am talking about mostly Sam’s and Will’s. I have already covered the top guys that I see as edge pass rushers who would play outside in a 3-4 though there may be a one or two here that could fill that role here. Myles Jack – UCLA – Jack has great versatility in that he can play multiple positions. I see him best suited at Will but he can play strong safety, Sam or even outside in a 3-4. He is so athletic that he will never come off the field and will be an asset in coverage. While he isn’t a real physical point of attack player, he does everything else almost effortlessly. He is a rare athlete with to body control, speed and agility. With today’s game having such an emphasis on passing a linebacker like Jack is what everyone will be looking for. Darron Lee – Ohio State – Lee is a third year sophomore and a two year starter who entered the draft as an underclassman. Like Jack, he is an excellent athlete and is very good when playing in space. AT Ohio State he was often walked off and played man wide receivers. Also like Jack, he isn’t a real physical point of attack player, but once he gets a little bigger and stronger he will easily be able to adapt to that role. I see his best fit at Will in a 4-3 but he has the athleticism and versatility to play in any scheme. Being as young as he is, he hasn’t begun to scratch the surface of how good he can be. Leonard Floyd – Georgia – I keep seeing people list Floyd as a pass rusher and in my opinion he isn’t. In his three years at Georgia he had a total of 17 sacks with only 4.5 coming this year. Floyd is tall and long with a bit of a narrow frame. On tape he looks like a 235 pound guy but showed up at the Combine at 246 and moved extremely well. While he is very athletic, he lacks to strength and power. He is the type of player who would rather go around or elude a block than take one on. While he can get away with that in college, he won’t in the NFL. He will have to get stronger and learn to stack and shed. Overall, I think he has to be in the right scheme. Right now he reminds me of Barkevious Mingo and we all know how he has turned out. I see him as a Sam in a 4-3 not a 3-4 edge guy. Su’a Cravens – USC – Coming out of the Combine, I had Cravens listed number two behind Myles Jack. I dropped him down after his very average Pro Day and then his agent saying he wouldn’t be doing any private workouts. After seeing the Pro Day numbers, not doing a private workout is ludicrous. On tape, Cravens looks and plays like a poor man’s Myles Jack. He didn’t test that way. While he plays like a guy with about 4.58 speed, he actually ran 4.7 and his vertical was only 30.5”. he will be drafted to play as a hybrid linebacker and will be used in coverage a lot. He has played some safety at USC and has very good coverage skills. He still needs to get stronger and become more physical at the point, but the tolls are there to eventually be very good. Remember, he doesn’t turn 21 until just before training camp opens. Terrance Smith – Florida State – Another guy whose best fit seems to be at Will in a 4-3. He is a very good athlete with play speed and the frame to get to 240 – 245. Smith has good instincts and reacts quickly. He plays well at the point and is also very good in pursuit. Smith shows he can play in coverage and is able to match up versus tight ends and running backs. On the downside, Smith has missed some time with injuries the last two seasons, so durability is a concern. While his best fit is in a 4-3, if he can get to 245 and add some strength he should also be able to play inside in a 3-4. Another young guy with upside.