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NFL Draft Positional Rankings: Outside Linebacker (Edge)

NFL Draft Positional Rankings: Outside Linebacker (Edge)

The Packers should be looking to draft an outside linebacker in this draft as Nick Perry and Julius Peppers will both be free agents at the end of this year. There are a few guys who I believe could be good fits in the early to mid-rounds. I’ve only ranked players I feel comfortable enough to form a solid opinion/analysis on. It would be disingenuous to rank players I don’t have a strong opinion on.

Previous positional rankings:

http://cheeseheadtv.com/blog/nfl-draft-positional-rankings-quarterbacks

http://cheeseheadtv.com/blog/nfl-draft-positional-rankings-running-backs

http://cheeseheadtv.com/blog/nfl-draft-positional-rankings-wide-receivers

http://cheeseheadtv.com/blog/nfl-draft-positional-rankings-tight-ends

http://cheeseheadtv.com/blog/nfl-draft-positional-rankings-offensive-tackles

http://cheeseheadtv.com/blog/nfl-draft-positional-rankings-interior-offensive-lineman

http://cheeseheadtv.com/blog/nfl-draft-positional-rankings-nose-tacklesdefensive-ends

3-4 Outside Linebackers

1.       Joey Bosa, Edge, Ohio St. - Bosa isn’t an ideal fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker at 6’5” 269lbs. He doesn’t have the ability to “run the arc” or bend the edge as other premier pass rusher do. He however plays with great power, and is quick enough to win with some inside moves as well as with his hands. Bosa also plays the run incredibly well and can set the edge. He’s better fit as a strong side defensive end in a 4-3 but ultimately any team who drafts him will be getting a player who can get after the quarterback.

2.       Shaq Lawson, Edge, Clemson- At 6’3” 269lbs Lawson is thickly built with a strong upper and lower body. He has great athleticism to turn the corner and can use his hands to get by offensive tackles. Lawson is very good against the run, he can controls lineman well and can shed blocks to make plays off his frame. He plays with good energy and is seemingly always around the ball.

3.       Leonard Floyd, Edge, Georgia- Floyd is a thin built linebacker at 6’6” 244lbs who plays both outside and inside linebacker. Floyd is extremely explosive with a great first step and great run and chase ability. He has a hard time fighting off of blocks and doesn’t have a go-to counter move. If Floyd gets a step on an offensive lineman as a pass rusher it’s usually trouble. The team who drafts him will have to be creative to get the most out of him.

4.       Noah Spence, Edge, Eastern Kentucky- Spence is a bit of a one trick pony, but he’s damn good at it. He is the most consistent edge rusher in the draft at turning the corner and threatening offensive tackles outside shoulder. He’s a little undersized at 6’2” 251lbs and really needs to work on other pass rush moves other than speed but he could come in and immediately be a rotational pass rusher. Spence also has some off the field concerns teams need to dig into.

5.       Emmanuel Ogbah, Edge, Oklahoma St. - Ogbah is a linear athlete who has a strong upper body and broad shoulders but is a bit top heavy. He’s 6’4” 273lbs but doesn’t have the hip or ankle flexation to consistently get round offensive tackles in the NFL. He’s has had incredible success rushing the passer at Oklahoma St. and is said to take well to coaching but Ogbah is a bit of a developmental prospect who has a high ceiling.

6.       Kevin Dodd, Edge, Clemson- Dodd was the other defensive tackle who made life hell for opposing offensive lineman. At 6’5” 277lbs Dodd is a bit big for a 3-4 outside linebacker but he has a lot of the physical tools teams want in a pass rusher. Although he is a bit older Dodd is an improving player who shows a lot of promise.

7.       Kyler Fackrell, Edge, Utah St- Fackrell is an extremely versatile prospect who was asked to do a lot at Utah St. The 6’5” 245lb linebacker has experience dropping into coverage as well as rushing the passer and has done both at a high level. He has great quickness and athleticism to challenge tackles off the edge and the length to keep himself clean to play the run. Fackrell will be a 25 year old rookie which hurts his value a bit.

8.       Kamalei Correa, Edge, Boise St. - Correa is a bit like Fackrell in that he did a lot of different things and lined up in a lot of different spots for Boise St. The 6’3” 243lb prospect plays with high intensity and a motor that allows him to get to plays that other linebackers aren’t able to. As a pass rusher he needs to improve his hands but is athletic enough to beat tackles around the corner.

9.       Shalique Calhoun, Edge, Michigan St- Calhoun is a prospect who is solid at everything but doesn’t really excel at anything. The 6’4” 251lb prospect has a prototypical build for a 3-4 outside linebacker but plays much tighter than he tested. He also doesn’t consistently play as strong as you’d like but he has been very productive. Some team is going to think they can get more out of him because the potential is there.

10.   Jordan Jenkins, Edge, Georgia- Jenkins is more of the unheralded linebacker from Georgia but the 6’3” 259lb Jenkins is a more polished pass rusher than his teammate Leonard Floyd. Jenkins can win with power and with quickness. While he has long arms and big hands he has a tendency to struggle to get off of blocks which limits him some.

11.   Charles Tapper, Edge, Oklahoma- Tapper was miscast in his time at Oklahoma. The 6’3 271lb prospect was often asked to two gap and control offensive lineman to free up linebackers behind him which took away from Tapper’s strengths. He is extremely athletic and has flashed some as a pass rusher. There would be a learning curve but Tapper has the ability to become a very good outside linebacker.

12.   Yannick Ngakoue, Edge, Maryland- The 6’2” 252lb outside linebacker is a natural pass rusher. He does a good job staying low off the edge and has good hip flexibility. Ngakoue isn’t great vs the run at this point as he needs to work on disengaging from blockers better but as a pass rusher he should see the field early.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (43) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

J0hn Denver's Gavel's picture

If Kyle Fackrell missed this list, I think Tarynn would have an aneurysm.

Tarynfor12's picture

If you eliminate those ahead of him who are 4-3 guys you cannot help but accept he is well in the top 5 for 3-4 defenses at outside linebacker and worth a 2nd round selection....imo. His age can be a factor but he will contribute day 1 which equates to having a 22 year old learning fir 2+ years getting near nothing or a tad more if lucky.

J0hn Denver's Gavel's picture

I've checked out some tape on Fackrell after you lobbied for him... he's the real deal. 25?? That kind of sucks tho. Might last longer bc of his age tho (in the draft).

DrealynWilliams's picture

Smart player. Great technique. Great awareness. Not very quick or athletic.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

We were talking about trading up for a LB in an earlier thread; Lawson (not Ragland so much) probably would be worth giving up our 4th if he dropped into the low twenties. Dodd would be fine to take at #27, as would several DL prospects, which makes it harder for me to think trading up is a good idea). That is it for consensus first round OLB. People either love or hate Floyd, and Spence and Ogbah have question marks, so I'd be more comfortable with them in the early to mid 2nd, but they might all go in the first. I haven't watched much or in some cases any film on the guys listed 7 - 10; house opinion is they all have talent and look to go mid to late 2nd or 3rd.

EdsLaces's picture

I think Mayock has Floyd ranked as 2nd best ....is that crazy to anyone other than me? He's too thin he looks like a wr comin off the edge.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Agreed. He is slippery (a good thing) but it leads him to go around blockers too much instead of taking them on. Misses some tackles but is a very willing tackler. Tellingly perhaps, he opted not to do the bench press at the combine and at his pro day. One scouting report specifically states that he looks like a WR. 4.6 forty, 39 vertical, 127 broad are nice numbers, and he acts like a football players. Looks like he can cover man to man, and he played both ILB and OLB. Not sure what to think about this prospect.

croatpackfan's picture

Leonard Floyd looks like guy Ted Thompson would like to pick. He already played on both (OLB/ILB) positions!

holmesmd's picture

Floyd is way too small to play in the NFL at LB IMO. Way too much risk before r3. Hell Clowney is considerably bigger than this guy and he can't even stay on the field due to injury! No thanks, I'll pass. I would much rather have Correa.

holmesmd's picture

This guy has been a hobbling MASH Unit and he's 30 lbs heavier than Floyd:

http://espn.go.com/blog/houston-texans/post/_/id/15875/bill-obrien-jadev...

jeremyjjbrown's picture

I hope Thompson is done with the day 1 and 2 OLB conversion projects. Draft guys who played the position. Day 3 and UDFA conversions sure, whatever. But the Packers record of converting guys from 4-3 DL to 3-4 LB is not very good.

RCPackerFan's picture

The hard part in the 3-4 defense is trying to find actual 3-4 OLB's in college. Not many schools play the 3-4 so you have to do more projecting in trying to find fits. Its a tweener position between the DE and OLB.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Actually this is becoming less true every season.

dobber's picture

People lose sight of the fact that CMIII played more DE than LB in college. Many of these players being considered as conversion projects have as much if not more experience playing in space than CMIII did. The difference, of course, is that CMIII is a freakish athlete.

I have no problem with the conversion projects for exactly the same reason that RC states above. There aren't many true 3-4 rush OLBs in the college ranks as many of them who have actually played in a 3-4 (and have been productive) lack the size (e.g. Ben Schobert) to translate to that role in the pro ranks. You almost have to downsize a DE. I would be very intrigued by Matt Judon if he lasts into the later rounds as a conversion project...but he's clearly better suited to be a 4-3 DE.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Yeah but he did play linebacker, so there was tape on him playing in space. And it was good tape.

Handsback's picture

If you decide you want an edge rusher and can't get Spence, I sure wouldn't want Floyd. Reminds me of Mingo from Cleveland who had better stats in college and can't get it done in the pros because he's too thin. I think Jenkins, Floyd's running mate will make the better pro. Players like Ogbah, Dodd and Lawson seem like DEs in a 4-3 and not really suited to be OLBs in a 3-4.

RCPackerFan's picture

'Players like Ogbah, Dodd and Lawson seem like DEs in a 4-3 and not really suited to be OLBs in a 3-4.'

yeah, in the Packers defense they would likely play that elephant end role.

Dodd really reminds me of Datone Jones.

DrealynWilliams's picture

If we get 1 more damn Elephant........

Ahhh!

EDIT: Let me bite my tongue after watching Dodd's tape. OH...MY...DAMN!

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

So, Drealyn, does you edit mean you liked Dodd? I do. Like others too though, so he is not a draft crush.

DrealynWilliams's picture

Yes. Abso-freakin'-lutely. He can stand up and rush or just play 3-4 DE.He might have to put on just a few (just a tad bit) more pounds, but that shouldn't be a problem. I like his burst, his hand placements, his swim moves, his rip moves he can rush inside, he doesn't get hung on block (patty cakes), and he plays the run well. Awwwww, man I'm sold. I sometimes wish we ran more Hybrid formations to benefit more of our "tweeners". I know we do/did for Clay (4-3 base) and we did for Sean Richardson. I think adding Dodd would give Capers sooooo much flexibility.

As far as draft crushes the only one that I feel would be a certain hit in ANY Defense is Myles Jack.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Drealyn, two of my friends prefer Dodd to Billings, Robinson and Butler. They (and I) like Ragland above all of them. I have previously suggested that I like Dodd as a 5 technique, not as another elephant OLB. Dodd looks like a player to me, and a fantastic complement to Daniels. JMO.

DrealynWilliams's picture

Ahhh, that's tough. I agree with Dodd over Robinson and Butler, but I really, really, really -- I mean really like Billing's tape. He's like another Mike Daniels. Collapsing the pocket would be easy with Daniels and Billings rushing.

As far as Dodd, I don't care where Capers would play him as long as he's on the field. He has the size and skill to play everywhere along the line.

I'm not in tune with where players might go like the rest of you are, so where do you think Billings and Dodd might go? How likely is it for us to grab both?

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

IDK. I don't think anyone really has all that good of a handle. Just saw a mock with Dodd gone in the teens (before Billings!) and another where Dodd went #50! Billings rarely gets mocked out of the 1st round. Grabbing both probably needs a trade back. I just posted some trade scenarios with Tennessee in this thread, since TN has ammunition to move up and down.

DrealynWilliams's picture

I just seen the scenarios. I really like the idea of trading back into the early 2nd (maybe even mid) IF (big IF) a Top 3 pass rusher or Ragland is there at #27.

In that scenario (this would hurt me) even if Billings was there at #27 I'd still like to trade back.

EDIT: After watching more of Billings' film I'd like to retract that statement. Lol. Man, I hate the draft.

Billings lives in the backfield.

Evan's picture

Certainly seems like there will be some quality guys available in R2 and 3.

DrealynWilliams's picture

Say TT doesn't go pass rusher in the 1st or he trades back -- what do you think about Noah Spence in the 2nd? The more I watch of him the more I am impressed. The off the field drug use might scare a lot of teams and I'm sure he's had many talks with coaches about it. I keep seeing/hearing his name in the Top 3 best pass rushers of the draft and I can't get past it.

dobber's picture

The more I look at this draft, I feel almost convinced that the Packers--if they stay at #27--are going to go with an OT or with a pass rusher. I don't think they'll go for an interior DL.

holmesmd's picture

Anything is possible Dobber. The Rams just paid a king's ransom to the Titans for the #1 overall pick. Everyone just slid back a few slots as the 1st 2 picks will probably be QB's. Should be interesting. I personally hope we go DL or Jack/ Lee in r1. Those who agree with your desire for OL just got a boost today with this Rams trade:)

RCPackerFan's picture

That one really caught me off guard. I wasn't expecting the Rams to trade up to the 1st pick. I think its a great move for the Titans. And if the Rams think they have their future star QB, it will be a good move for them as well.

You are correct. Anything can happen.

dobber's picture

I find myself wondering if Tennessee can become a trade partner for the Packers to move down from #27, now that they have three picks in round 2 and extras later on, too.

RCPackerFan's picture

I was wondering that as well.

DrealynWilliams's picture

If we trade back I hope TT goes heavy on DTs/DEs this draft.

Right your Wrongs, TT!!! =)

dobber's picture

Don't get me wrong, I don't necessarily WANT an OL at #27, but if a decent OT slides (a guy who is a legit LT), I think TT will look long and hard at that. If you're talking Myles Jack, he won't make it out of the top 10...that would be a huge trade-up.

holmesmd's picture

I'm not exactly sure about Jack & Lee now. This trade shook up the whole first round quite a bit, especially at 5-20. GB got some more options after today because of the trade. Who knows what else may happen in the next 2 weeks?!

dobber's picture

A trade solely of high picks (no players) at this point is unheard-of because it can tip your hand and allow other teams to maneuver to cut you off between now and draft time. Going to #1 overall is about the only way a trade of high pick this far in advance makes sense.

There'll be some scramblin' going on, now, but some teams clearly benefitted from this because they're going to get a crack at players they didn't see being on the board at their picks. It could encourage teams to want to trade to #27, either up or down.

DrealynWilliams's picture

Who would y'all want @ 27 if TT goes pass rusher?

ALLLLLSO...

Will he start?

dobber's picture

I like Spence. Some have pointed toward Nkemdiche at that point. Others like Correa, but I think it's high for him (but I don't think he makes it to #57, either). I doubt a draftee would start with the current roster makeup, but he would definitely be in the rotation.

DrealynWilliams's picture

Interesting.

I'm going to look up some film on Spence.

I've seen Correa going to the Pack in a few Mock Drafts and a lot of sidenotes mention the same thing -- it being a bit of a reach. I've seen his tape and I think he's a good pass rusher. Not sure about 1st talent though.

I asked about starting because yesterday there was discussions about drafting someone in the 1st and having them on the bench in their 1st season.

EDIT: Haven't even started the film study yet and I'm anxious. Top 10 - 15 talent, but he has/has those "off the field issues". What's that about?

Maaaaaan, I wonder what's his combine/Pro Day #'s look like compared to CLay's. He's getting off the ball EXTREMELY quick!

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

This trade could have implications for GB. Here are 4 scenarios:

1) Move from 27 to Tenn's #33. Give up #27 and #88 and get #33 and #64. Means instead of #27, 57, #88 and 125, we'd have #33, #57, #64 and #125. I like this one - might not do it if Ragland or Lawson is there at #27.

2) Move from 27 to 43 and net Tenn´s #76. GB would have 43, 57, 76, 88 instead of 27, 57, 88. I like scenario 1 better, but interesting.

3) Keep #27. Move up from #57 to #43 (or #45). Under the trade chart, we'd have #27, #43, #125 instead of 27, 57, #88 and #125. I don't like this: the guy at #43 would have to be a draft crush who fell.

4) Give up #57 and #88, receive from Tenn #64 and #76. We'd have #27, 64, 76, and 125 instead of 27, 57, 88, 125. I like this, depending on how the draft falls.

Tennessee has the ammunition to move around. Don't have any idea whether TN is interested in moving around.

AgrippaLII's picture

So the Packers defensive choices in the first round appear to be DT's who anchor well against the run but offer no pass rush...or OLB/DE who can pressure the QB but are weak defending the run. Guess there is an upside to BPA after all !

DrealynWilliams's picture

Mock after Mock I come away hoping the Pack trade back...

I think I now have Draft fever. Damn you, CHTV. I was doing just fine until a few days ago. SMH.

al bundy's picture

TT will draft an OL with his first pick. Way too many good ones in the first and lots of linebackers available throught the 4th. I could see him take two OL with his first two picks. I can tell you they will be 6'4 and have short arms. Guys MM loves for run blocking. Thus, you can kind of already zero in on who Ted will pick.

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