2018 Yearbook – Outside Linebackers
Draft Insiders’ – 2018 NFL Draft Yearbook
Draft Insiders.com – 27th Season –
Published by NFL scout Frank Coyle and staff
“The NFL Draft Publication Pro Scouts Buy”
Outside Linebackers – Grade B
Positional Overview: This year’s class of outside linebackers is a very good group that should provide many starters for both pro schemes. With half the clubs playing the 3-4 scheme, this position may supply as many as 20+ defenders for that set. The top two, Tremaine Edmunds and Lorenzo Carter are late developing prospects who had outstanding final performances that continued through the postseason. Both checked off all the boxes which probably earns them mid to late 1st round selections. Edmunds impressed at every event and fits both pro schemes. Carter had an equally impressive final season that elevated him to the top of the class. He could also hear his name at the end of the first round. Seniors, Harold Landry and Uchenna Nwosu are highly regarded defenders coming strong final performances. Both carry solid late first early/second day consideration. Malik Jefferson and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo were playmakers and look to be selected on the 2nd day of the NFL Draft process. Rising prospects Shaquem Griffin, Jerome Baker and Fred Warner have drawn strong attention from pro scouts off strong finishes to their careers. They figure as top 100 bubble prospects. Griffin is the best story of any draft class, overcoming a hand deformity and subsequent amputation to excel as D1 defender who earned Conference Player of the Year honors. His NFL Combine performance will be the standard for outside linebackers for years to come. Hercules Mata’afa and Marquis Haynes fit the 3-4 clubs well. They are slipping through the cracks and have starting ability as 3-4 backers. Darius Leonard and Andrew Ankrah are small college defenders who completed excellent careers. Leonard finished with an excellent Senior Bowl. Ankrah has fallen through the cracks, but carries a starting grade for the outside in a 3-4 set. They have the makeup of premier special teams’ performers and figure in the 3rd day. This position will probably provide 8-10 prospects in the top 100 selections. Expect approximately 15 chosen in the top 150 picks with this group providing many defenders rated with starting grades. There should be as many as 20+ players chosen over the 7 rounds. This class also includes many ‘tweener types who specialize in rushing the QB and good fits for the 3-4 set, though a highly risky position. Oren Burks and Leon Jacobs are two fast underrated gems and projects to the pro 4-3 scheme and early special teams’ demons.
NFL Teams in need:
- 1 Steelers 5. Cowboys
- 2 Lions 6. Bills
- 3 Ravens 7. Raiders
- 4 Packers 8. Vikings
NFL Premier Player
Blue Chip – Tremaine Edmunds
Blue Chip – Lorenzo Carter
Red Chip – Harold Landry
Rising – Uchenna Nwosu
Falling – Ogbonnia Okoronkwo
Underrated – Fred Warner
Overrated – Jerome Baker
Sleeper – Darius Leonard
Boom/Bust – Malik Jefferson
Ready to Play – Harold Landry
Long Term Gem – Lorenzo Carter
Hidden Gem – Andrew Ankrah
Over drafted – Harold Landry
Best Athlete – Lorenzo Carter
Best Run – Uchenna Nwosu
Best Pass Cover – Shaquem Griffin
Best Tackler – Tremaine Edmunds
Best Pass Rush – Harold Landry
Best Pursuit – Darius Leonard
Best Intangibles – Shaquem Griffin
Ball Instincts – Tremaine Edmunds
Top Outside Linebackers
1 * Tremaine Edmunds – Virginia Tech
2 Lorenzo Carter – Georgia
3 Harold Landry – Boston College
4 Uchenna Nwosu – USC
5 * Malik Jefferson – Texas
6 Ogbonnia Okoronkwo – Oklahoma
7 Darius Leonard – South Carolina St
8 * Jerome Baker – Ohio St
9 Fred Warner – Brigham Young
10 Oren Burks – Vanderbilt
11 Shaquem Griffin – Central Florida
12 * Hercules Mata’afa – Washington St
13 Marquis Haynes – Mississippi
14 Leon Jacobs – Wisconsin
15 Andrew Ankrah – James Madison
16 Davin Bellamy – Georgia
17 Dorian O’Daniel – Clemson
18 Peter Kalambayi – Stanford
19 Matthew Thomas – Florida St
20 Javon Rolland-Jones – Arkansas St
21 Skai Moore – South Carolina
22 Mike McCray – Michigan
23 Garret Dooley – Wisconsin
24 Antonio Simmons – Georgia Tech
25 Pat Afriyie – Colgate
1 * Tremaine Edmunds #49 Virginia Tech 6-4 255 – Sp. 4.55
Player Comparison: Justin Houston Rating 91
Angular true junior is one of the blue-chip athletes available in this deep draft class. Sinewy, ultra-lean athlete with little body fat and just touching the surface of his elite talent. Young 20-year-old combines outstanding height/weight/speed/athleticism ratio. Possesses natural quick-twitch, body control and flexibility. Displays fine balance, very quick initial burst and fine speed to chase down runners. Explosiveness off the edge to be a game changer with outstanding read-react skills. He is one of three sons of former Miami Dolphins Pro Bowl TE Ferrell Edmunds to carry on the football playing legacy. Tremaine and his brother Terrell were both key cogs on the Hokies’ defense in the past couple of seasons. The youngest, Tremaine, is the best pro prospect among the siblings. Multidimensional talent, capable of lining up all across the defense and impacting the game. From down to down, he may be seen lining up at MLB, or on either side of the line at OLB, or walked out in coverage over the slot receiver. He is solid to exceptional in all facets. When he is lined up inside, he attacks the run between the tackles with a vengeance. Read-reacts very well and fills the hole. Able to either discard or avoid blockers and finishes with decisive wrap up tackling. In man coverage, shows good ability to mirror the receiver with good ball awareness to either bat it away or dislodge it at the catch point. As a pass rusher, he blitzes well from the inside, where is often able to apply pressure to the QB. From the edge, he displays the upfield burst to run the arc and effect the passer from the outside. His speed and ability to close on a ball carrier are elite. Coming from the inside vs outside runs, he is able to shoot through a gap and close before the runner has a chance to turn upfield. Exceptional in backside pursuit and can also be seen tracking down the ball-carrier far down the field or at either sideline. Uses his athleticism and quickness to disengage from blocks and run down plays in a flash. Can stop on a dime and change directions quickly in the open field. Uses height, reach and quickness to extend playing radius. Movement skills are awesome when scraping down the line to follow the direction of the ball. Closes seamlessly off his scrape. Very explosive speed and quickness to beat running backs to the corner. Engages blockers with forceful punch and fine extension to control. Quickly able to diagnose and react. Uses his fluidity and body control to slip past blocks or leap over them. In coverage, runs stride for stride with big fast tight ends and wins in most matches where his great speed and length are unique. Exciting prospect, that can be every down backer in either a 4-3 or 3-4 and become a huge difference maker. Racked up 226 career tackles with 215 of them over his last two seasons. In 2017, he totaled 109 tackles, 14 TFL, 5.5 sacks, 2 PBU, 4 QB hurries and 3 FF. Earned first team ACC honors. In 2016, he totaled 106 tackles, 18.5 TFL, 4.5 sacks, 3 PBU, 1 interception and 1 FF. Earned ACC first team honors At the NFL Combine, he came in over 6’4”, 253 lbs. with 34 1/2” arms and 9 3/8” hands. He ran a 4.54 time and did 19 reps along with a 9’9” BJ. Competitive young defender with the desire and talent to excel and be great. Similar to Von Miller or Julian Peterson in body type, rare scheme and position versatility, pass rushing skills and overall demeanor. Future Pro Bowl performer with impact ability and a defender you build a defense around in a 3-4 scheme. Versatile three down backer with big play explosiveness. Rising off a strong final performance and impressive effort at the NFL Combine. Top 10 selection earmarked for the 49ers, Raiders and Dolphins. Capable of being one of the best players in this class.
Draft Projection: 1st Round – Top 10 Pick
2 Lorenzo Carter #7 Georgia 6-5 250 – Sp. 4.50
Player Comparison: Leonard Floyd Rating 90
Rangy athletic multi-talented senior is an intriguing prospect in the Leonard Floyd and Jamie Collins mold. Selected to 2nd Team All-SEC in 2017. Highly coveted five-star HS recruit was slow to produce his first two seasons. Ideal blend of overall length, including 34” arms, and natural athleticism. Outstanding movement skills with the speed to go sideline to sideline. Coordinated and smooth in his change of direction, especially considering his high cut leggy build. Shows the burst in pursuit and quick-twitch to come from wide on the backside to get in on the action off tackle front side, if unaccounted for in the blocking scheme. Displays fine agility in the open field to dip around and avoid blockers and cut through trash chasing the play. As an edge rusher, explodes off the line and eats up ground quickly, getting to top speed in just a few steps. Bends really well, especially for his height and length, with the flexibility necessary to dip and come arm under with a rip to the upfield side of the offensive tackle and complete the arc. Displays underrated functional strength. Among the more developed pass rushers in this draft with a good repertoire of moves to reach the QB. Shows a fine inside counter off his initial upfield burst, using his lateral agility and a swim or club move to clear the tackle. Dangerous on stunts to the inside, twists and blitzes underneath. Able to get skinny coming through gaps as a blitzer. The Bulldogs used him all over the field. Inside backer in a 3-4, outside backer standing up on the line and with his hand in the dirt as a DE in passing situations. Underrated power at the point of attack vs the run. Flashes explosive hand use to keep disengaged from blockers attempting to lock on. Played in 56 games and pretty much remained injury free at Georgia. Frame to add muscle and looks lean at 250 lbs. Showed power to strike in 2017 which has enamored defensive coordinators this offseason. His functional strength was questioned for the pro game prior to 2017. Lacks a strong push at the point of attack or convert speed to power. His game is to burst to the ball and finish. At times, he can be controlled when trying to set the edge and can get washed out if he doesn’t properly use his long arms to stay clean. In 2017, he started 15 games and recorded 61 tackles, 7.5 TFL, 4.5 sacks, 17 QB hurries, 3 FR and 3 FF, earning 1st team SEC honors. Great game vs Oklahoma in the national semi-final when he recorded 10 tackles and blocked a kick in overtime to help seal the Bulldog victory. Untapped ability to block kicks is added impact talent. In 2016, he recorded 44 tackles, 6 TFL, 5 sacks, 13 QB hurries, 2 FF and 1 FR. At the NFL Combine, he came in at just under 6’5”, 250 lbs. with 34” arms and 10 3/8” hands. Ran a 4.46 time with a 1.56 ten yard split and did not lift. Added a 36” VL and a 10’10” BJ. Athlete with the skills to be a very good rush backer. Packers, Cardinals, Browns and Colts interested. Similar skills as former Bulldog Leonard Floyd who was a #1 pick of Bears and showed big play ability prior to shoulder injuries. Blue chip late developing talent with huge upside potential. Rising top 40 prospect with the AA to become a playmaker. Fine edge rusher with big play and developing talent. Impact ability and best suited for the 3-4 scheme, though needs to refine his pass rushing moves. Possible surprise late 1st round pick with Patriots, Steelers and Saints.
Draft Projection: 2nd Round
3 Harold Landry #7 Boston College 6-2 250 – Sp. 4.65
Player Comparison: Jerry Hughes Rating 88
Quick-twitch athlete has been an impact edge rusher for the BC defense over his three starting seasons. Earned ACC honors since his sophomore season playing both up and down during his tenure. Solid well-built physique with the burst on the snap to gain a fast advantage over tackles. Needs to add some additional muscle to couple with his explosive initial movement off the snap. Displays a fine closing burst to finish and make big plays. Basically, he is a one-dimensional edge rusher, though in that regard is able to be very impactful. Displays the first step explosiveness like he was shot out of a cannon. Comes upfield and attacks the edge with abandon. He is able to really bend and run the arc, while getting very low and ducking under the offensive tackle’s attempts to block him. Offenses can limit his effectiveness by coming back inside the area he vacates when he attacks hard upfield. His game is not based on power and he must really fight to hold his ground when running plays come right at him. Never quits on a play though and will work to disengage and get involved in the tackle. Shows a very good motor and has the speed to run down ball-carriers in backside pursuit, or far down the field. At times, he will be dropped into short zone coverage, where he shows good awareness and reactions. In run support, he utilizes a good mix of speed and power to surprise ball-carriers, evidenced by 10 career forced fumbles. Offers fine versatility as an edge rusher. Able to be equally effective rushing from either a two-point or with his hand on the turf. Supplies a nice repertoire of pass rush techniques. Uses his speed to beat tackles wide as well as come initially with power, create space with good extension, then use a rip move to penetrate the pocket. Good vision to quickly find the ball and can make himself skinny to get through gaps. Against the run, likes to establish a base, combined with good knee bend, but struggles holding the point of attack and set the edge against outside running plays. Displayed sufficient balance, agility and awareness to read plays with good reaction time. Looked like a fine defensive end for the college game, but at this point, he lacks the necessary mass and power to line up there full-time in the NFL. Lacks a plan to counter when his initial rush is shut down. Usually depends on his fine initial burst and hand pop, often failing to break free if blockers are able to latch on. Best pro position to become a starter will likely be 3-4 outside linebacker where he can use his fine initial burst off the edge to combine with good flexibility and awareness to play in coverage. In 2017, he totaled 38 tackles, 8.5 TFL, 5 sacks, 2 QB hurries and 1 PBU for 2nd team ACC honors. In 2016, he posted 51 tackles, 22 TFL, 16.5 sacks, 4 passes defensed, 7 QB hurries, 7 FF and 1 interception for 1st team ACC honors. At the NFL Combine, he came in at just over 6’2”, 252 lbs. with 32 7/8” arms and 9 3/8” hands. He ran a 4.64 time with a 1.59 ten yard split and did 24 reps. He added a 36” VL, a 9’11” BJ and performed well in the positional or agility drills with impressive times of a 6.88 three cone and a 4.19 in the short shuttle. He looked sharp in the positional drills. Quick athlete with the skills to be a good every down attack backer. Browns, Steelers, Ravens, Colts and 49ers interested in the 2nd round. First round bubble defender with Patriots and Jaguars interested. Similar skills as tweener Jerry Hughes displayed prior to being a #1 pick. Top 40 prospect with upside and the AA to become an edge playmaker.
Draft Projection: 1st-2nd Round
4 Uchenna Nwosu #42 Southern Cal 6-2 250 – Sp. 4.65
Player Comparison: Jamie Collins Rating 86
Relentless, edge tweener has been a vital cog in the Trojans’ fine defense over the past two seasons, culminated with a first team Pac-12 honors. Two-time Pac-12 with a 2nd team honors in 2016. Strong powerful frame to match up with defensive ends as well as tight ends and hold up vs the run. Attack backer with versatile skill set to line up at a few spots in a front and capable of being a three-down defender early. Fine first step explosiveness and speed to run the arc with the flexibility, body control, balance and power to flatten out. His game includes power and is able to stack and disengage consistently vs bigger athletes. Solid on setting the edge and able to close down the outside runs while being able to work off contact and pursue. Big play specialist. Perhaps the best front seven defender in the country and uncanny for batting down passes along the line. He has an incredible knack for reading the passer and timing his jump. Shows the ability to elevate and extend his arms. Besides his speed off the edge, he is also very effective pressuring the passer by stunting up the middle, where is often able to sense the soft spots in the pass protection. Works hard from snap to whistle and makes a lot of plays late in the down due to his unwillingness to stay blocked. Displays fine lateral quickness and change-of-direction. As an edge rusher, possesses a fine understanding of hand placement and leverage and comes low off the ball with natural knee bend to prevent blockers from locking on without losing momentum. Very difficult to block in space and always keeps his feet moving. Able to cross the face of blockers and use lower body quickness to get through trash. Good ability to change directions and complete tough 90-degree turns with fine hip flex to turn and run in pass coverage. Able to drop and cover in short zones with highly developed ball awareness. Strong hands, wrists and forearms. Can track on aggressive angles and arrive with explosiveness to light up runners. Plays sound assignment football with optimal effort. Highly competitive with an outstanding motor that doesn’t stop from opening kickoff to final gun. Versatile with experience in both two and three-point stances, though best lining up on the outside. Raw pass rusher with all his sacks over final two seasons. Work in progress in that key area. Rarely engulfed at the point by power in the run game. Good movement skills along with being a quick-twitch athlete. Displays sound tackling technique with the ability to strike opponents. As a senior, he started 14 games and finished with 75 tackles with 11.5 TFL, 9 QB hurries, 13 PBU, 1 FR, 1 interception and 9.5 sacks. Earned Pac-12 first team honors. As a junior, he made 53 tackles with 7.5 TFL, 5 PBU, 2 QB hurries,1 FF, and 3 sacks, starting 13 games. At the NFL Combine, he came in at over 6’2”, 251 lbs. with 33 5/8” arms. He ran a 4.65 time with a 1.63 ten-yard split. Added a 32” VL and a 9’11” BJ along with 20 reps on the bench. Underrated player will warrant an early selection on overall AA, big play ability and potential. Needs to improve on his initial reads and learn to trust his eyes to react quicker. Clubs like the Jets, Patriots, Colts and Bears hoping he slides to the 2nd day. Top 60-75 prospect with the skills to become a solid starter with fine intangibles and experience. Best in the 3-4 set where he possesses starting impact ability with some development. Power playmaker with nice upside. Draft Projection: 2nd-3rd Round
5 * Malik Jefferson #46 Texas 6-2 235 – Sp. 4.50
Player Comparison: Alec Ogletree Rating 85
Athletic, speedy true junior has been a versatile defender for Texas lining up at a few positions over his short career. Elite HS recruit has been slightly disappointing after huge expectations entering the Big 12. Fast versatile backer with good agility and surprising power for his size. Flashed impact in his time and led the club in tackles for periods. Long limbed fluid mover either forward or laterally. Freshman All-American and a three time Big 12 honoree including first team and Co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2017. Shows top overall athletic ability, which includes exceptional closing speed and surprisingly strong, violent hands to get off blocks and finish. When he reads the play properly, he can fill the hole quickly and aggressively to finish. His instincts have been inconsistent and he would benefit from extensive film work to pick up his keys sooner to utilize his athleticism. Projects as a starting Will or Mike linebacker in a 4-3 where he can develop into a three-down starter. Displays a strong well-proportioned physique with little growth potential. Feet are light and quick and allow him to turn quickly and open up in coverage and run with receivers. Plays with an aggressive attitude and will strike ball carriers. Plays a physical brand of defense, though at times has broken down with upper body injuries. Finds the ball consistently and take proper angles and maintain leverage across the field. Shows good lateral agility to slip past blockers and close with a burst. Shows sound hand-eye coordination and the technique to separate to run and finish. In pass coverage, he displays fine agility and is able to read and recognize angles and will work to stay between his man and the QB. Limited reps in that role, though has the skill set to match up with backs and tight ends. At times, he attacks too aggressively and allows the runner an open cutback lane or leaves the edge exposed. Reliable form tackler especially in space. In run support, struggles over a tight end at times and can be engulfed by big offensive linemen if he fails to read the play quickly and take the proper angle. Athletic and productive and best suited to play the weak side in a 4-3 defensive scheme. Probably won’t be taken before the middle rounds, though has the potential to develop into a solid early NFL starter with some refinement. As a junior, he started 13 games and finished with 110 tackles with 10 TFL, 5 QB hurries and 4 sacks as Co Defensive PY. As a sophomore, he started 9 of 11 games and made 62 tackles with 8.5 TFL, 3 PBU, 1 FF and 5.5 sacks. Over his career, he posted 233 tackles with 25.5 TFLs ,12 sacks, 14 QB hurries, 2 FF and 1 FR, but no interceptions and just 6 PBUs. At the NFL Combine, he came in over 6’2”, 236 lbs. with 32” arms, 9 5/8” hands and did 27 reps. He ran a 4.52 time with a 1.59 ten-yard split, a 36” VL and a 10’2” BJ. He looked sharp in the positional drills with the ability to flip his hips and retain speed. Natural talent, though must improve his initial reads to react quicker and not hesitate responding to plays. Despite his experience, he must learn to trust his eyes especially on play action and roll outs to his side of the field. Shows the athletic ability to play well in reverse with reliable tackling in space but must read the QB and routes better to be a three-down defender. Athlete with the skills to be a good early Will backer. Needs to show better reads in coverage. Similar skills to new Giant Alec Ogletree in versatility, talent and upside. Displays great range and strong tackling, though must make more plays on the ball to become a three-down starter with impact ability. Top 100 prospect with upside and the AA to become a very good starter. Fine run and chase defender and rising talent with possible impact ability. Most effective when covered up and a raw emerging playmaker. Defender with talent to be core performer and possibly special, though must take his preparation up a few levels.
Draft Projection: 2nd-3rd Round
6 Ogbonnia Okoronkwo #31 Oklahoma 6-2 250 – Sp. 4.65
Physical intense senior tweener has had an impressive late career performance, earning Big 12 first team honors during that period. Athlete with well-developed skills after playing both down and up on the outside of the tough Sooners’ defense. Powerfully built backer with the speed, quickness, instincts and intangibles to be a three-down defender in either pro front. Made incredible progress at Oklahoma and continued his rise with a strong final season. Playmaker with the ability to rush the passer, chase to the opposite sidelines and attack the line of scrimmage. Strong athlete with good muscle and well-proportioned frame combined with keen instincts and the easy movement to make impact plays. Possesses a burst off the edge with body control and flexibility. Displays fine balance, quick initial burst and fine speed to chase down runners. Impressive explosiveness and fast read-react transition in forward motion. Finds the ball quickly and has the burst to close on the ball carrier. As an edge rusher, shows a good get off and follows with his powerful hands and power to punch and disengage. Can change directions quickly to counter and come underneath. Movement skills are good when scraping down the line to flow in the direction of the ball. Closes seamlessly off his scrape with power to strike ball carriers. In run support, he engages blockers with a forceful punch and fine extension to control and separate. Quickly able to diagnose and react. Field speed is good for the Sam spot in the 4-3 or attack backer in the 3-4 scheme. Raw in man coverage with zero career interceptions and only 5 PBUs. Rarely required to handle tough man coverage assignments, his game is in forward motion attacking the line. He shows the physical skills to drop, change directions, open his hips and mirror receivers, though very raw in that role. At the Senior bowl practices, he moved adequately in coverage, though allowed separation from backs or tight ends. After a career where he mainly rushed the passer, he should be an effective NFL blitz defender. Displays the frame and core strength necessary to stack and control at the point of attack when over big blockers. Eventually can be an every down backer in either set. In 2017, he started all 14 games and totaled 76 tackles, 17.5 TFL, 8 sacks, 2 PBU, 6 QB hurries, 3 FF and no interceptions. Earned first team Big 12 honors. In 2016, he started 12 games and totaled 71 tackles, 12 TFL, 9 sacks, 7 QB hurries, 3 PBU and 2 FF. Earned 2nd team Big 12 honors. Racked up 29.5 TFL and 17 sacks over his last two seasons. At the Senior Bowl week, he passed the eyeball test in front of scouts, showing good power at the point with adequate movement skills. He also displayed his fine instincts and his ability to strike an opponent quickly. At the NFL Combine, he came in at just under 6’2”, 253 lbs. with 33 3/4” arms and 9” hands. He ran a 4.77 time and did 27 reps. Added a 38” VL and a 10’1” BJ to complete a good workout. His positional drills were good, showing average change of direction skills to match up in coverage. Similar to Melvin Ingram in body type, scheme versatility, pass rushing skills and overall demeanor. Competitor with the desire and talent to excel. Solid performer with impact ability, though maybe not a three-down backer until he makes critical development in coverage. Falling early round talent. Situational difference maker for either scheme.
Draft Projection: 3rd Round
7 Darius Leonard #10 South Carolina St 6-2 235 – Sp. 4.65
Athletic, active, senior finished his small college career with incredible consistency as an every down defender. Earned MEAC honors annually, completing his career with an impressive Senior Bowl week. Long rangy defender with fine field speed to make plays at the opposite sideline and drop in coverage. Lean frame and probably has maxed out at the 235 lb. level. His athleticism, quickness, toughness and consistent effort vs a high level of competition stand out on film. Good movement skills with good instincts and fluid hips. Top instincts and quick reactions to use his fine speed and athleticism to make plays. Fiery on-field character with explosive closing speed and able to cover a lot of ground quickly in pursuit. Flashes burst to close on the ball especially in close quarters. Powerful tackler and really brings his pads on contact and consistently able to finish. Good initial quickness off the snap to read plays and defeat blocking angles. Able to contort his body to dip around a block and drop ball-carriers. Holds point fairly well with adequate functional strength. Above average change-of-direction allows him to redirect in space and stay with receivers. Developing cover man with improving ball skills to compete for the Will position in the NFL. That is his best position. Very experienced and effective on all special teams’ coverage units where his sure tackling ranks him as one of the premier special teams’ defenders in this class. High level of self-motivation and excellent competitive drive. Outstanding quickness makes it tough for blockers to get a good fit and compensates for marginal size. Moves laterally well and keeps blockers off his body to flow to the ball. Well-developed backfield vision and usually on time recognizing route concepts. In 2017, he had 114 tackles with 12 TFL and 8.5 sacks, 10 QB hurries, 1 FF, 1 PBU and 2 interceptions. Earned 1st team MEAC honors. In 2016, started 11 games and posted 124 tackles with 14.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 4 FF, 3 PBU and 2 interceptions. Earned 1st team MEAC honors. Good early part time defender and special teams’ performer from his true freshman season. Over his career, recorded 394 tackles with 22 sacks, 53 TFLs, 8 FF, 3 FR, 6 interceptions and 7 PBUs. At the NFL Combine, he came in at 6’2”, 234 lbs. with 34 3/8” arms. He ran a 4.70 time with a 1.67 ten-yard split and did 17 reps. He was average in the positional drills. Lack of ideal size causes concern about durability. Best fit as Will backer. Many of the same skills as Thomas Davis with keen instincts, big play talent and good work habits. Rising top 100 prospect with upside and the AA to become a playmaker in a 4-3 set. Fine run and chase defender and rising talent with early starting ability. Needs work in coverage for nickel role, but displays the skills to start there in time. Outstanding special teams’ ability earns him a roster spot. Top three small college prospect to be a fixture in a 4-3 set. Probable Will starter with some coverage work.
Draft Projection: 3rd Round
8 * Jerome Baker #17 Ohio St 6-1 229 – Sp. 4.55
Athletic, speedy true junior has been a fine Will linebacker for the nationally ranked Buckeyes’ defense, starting the past two seasons. Earned Big Ten honorable mention both years. Fluid mover with safety type speed and an ideal ‘Will’ backer for the pro game. He has fine overall athletic ability including top closing speed and surprisingly strong hands to get off blocks. Sudden in short areas to defeat blockers, run to the ball and finish. Displays a compact, well-proportioned physique with room to add more muscle mass. Feet are very light and quick, which allow him to turn on a dime and accelerate. Plays with an aggressive demeanor and enjoys the physical aspects of the game. Instincts have progressed nicely over his two starting seasons, though not completely natural in his response in certain situations. Once he reads the play properly, is able to take proper angles with good lateral agility to slip past blockers to get home. Will close with a purpose while delivering powerful hits. Shows sound hand-eye coordination and the technique and alertness to rip at the ball when the opportunity arises. In pass coverage, he displays fine agility and is able to read and recognize routes and easily drops in coverage. He can overrun plays and be too aggressive in space. Needs to learn to trust what he sees and respond. Slips blocks fairly well, though can still struggle over a big tight end. Lacks the patience to allow the runner to commit and will instead attack a gap and leave a cutback lane open. Usually he is a reliable form tackler, though will at times try to knock a runner down by throwing a shoulder into him. Ran the 4th best 40 for a linebacker at the NFL Combine. Athletic and productive outside backer, best suited to play the weak side in a 4-3 defensive scheme. Probably needs a little time to develop further, especially his instincts and technique for stacking and dropping in coverage. Potential to develop into a solid NFL starter in a relatively short time. As a junior, he started 13 games and finished with 72 tackles with 8 TFL, 1 FF, 2 QB hurries, 3 PBU and 3.5 sacks. As a sophomore, he made 83 tackles with 9.5 TFL, 1 FR, 2 interceptions and 3.5 sacks, starting 13 games. At the NFL Combine, he came in at 6’1”, 229 lbs. with 31 1/2” arms. He did 22 reps, ran a blazing 4.53 time with a 1.62 ten-yard split, a 36.5” VL and a 10’6” BJ. He looked very sharp in the positional drills with the ability to flip his hips and retain speed. Must improve his initial reads and details to continue to develop his natural talent. He must learn to trust his eyes to react to plays and schemes quicker that would put him in position to make more plays. Well-rounded skill set and the ability to play well in reverse with reliable tackling in space to become a three-down defender. Athlete with the skills to be a good every down Will backer, though definite positional limitations due to size. Bengals, Giants and Lions interested. Many of the same skills as Kwon Alexander with big play talent and good workout habits. Top 100 prospect with upside and the AA to become a playmaker. Fine run and chase defender and rising talent with early starting ability.
Draft Projection: 3rd-4th Round
9 Fred Warner #4 Brigham Young 6-3 235 – Sp. 4.65
Mobile rangy senior completed an excellent career with three highly productive seasons in which he earned All-Independent first team. Highly regarded HS four-star recruit has been a fixture in the Cougars’ defense since early in his career. Very productive since his sophomore season and highly developed in many aspects of play to project as a three down NFL outside backer. Highly intelligent player with good instincts for the game and able to read plays and schemes quickly to put himself in position to make plays. Senior captain and dedicated in his preparation and one of the hardest workers in both the film and weight rooms. Possesses an athletic lanky frame with long arms and excellent agility to move along the line. He has very quick feet, fine balance, lower body explosiveness and strength. Decisive in his reads and can find a gap and close to the ball. Delivers some power when he tackles, though he is more a drag down tackler. Exhibits fine awareness in coverage when dropping into zones. Shows the ability to read the QB and react to the ball. Displays good hands when he has an opportunity to make a play on the ball. Uses his fine length well to matchup with tight ends and displayed the ability to cover into the deeper zones and make plays on the ball. Best position in the pros will be the same as his best position in college, the outside in a 4-3 scheme. Ideal for the ‘Will’ backer role where he can run to the ball and finish. Fine matchup vs the tight end, though must prove better stack at the ‘Sam’ position to be a regular there. Plays sound assignment football and plays within the framework and concepts of the defense. His instincts and read-react ability are considered good. Was invited to the Senior Bowl where he had a good week while showing developed coverage skills and the ability to go sideline to sideline. Possesses well-rounded skills and outstanding character to be a solid choice in the mid rounds with a good chance to make a roster and earn a starting assignment fairly early on. As a senior, he started 13 games and finished with 87 tackles with 9 TFL, 1 pick, 1 FF, 5 PBU and 1 sack. As a junior, he made 86 tackles with 10.5 TFL, 6 PBU, 1.5 sacks, 2 FF and 3 interceptions. Over his career, he totaled 264 tackles with 32 TFL, 7 interceptions, 13 PBU and 6.5 sacks. At the NFL Combine, he came in at over 6’3”, 236 lbs. with 32” arms. He did 21 reps, ran a 4.64 time with a fast 1.55 ten-yard split. He added a 38” VL and a 9’11” BJ. Also posted times of a 6.90 three cone and a 4.28 in the shuttle. Looked sharp in the positional drills that validated his agility drill times. He shows many of the characteristics of DeAndre Levy with the speed, power and aggressiveness to play either outside role in the 4-3 set. Athlete with a good skill set to win a situational role and ultimately start outside. Rising marginal top 100 prospect. Early starter and rookie defender in sub packages and special teams. Talented playmaker with fast improving skills.
Draft Projection: 3rd-4th Round
10 Oren Burks #20 Vanderbilt 6-3 233 – Sp. 4.60
Rangy instinctive technician has posted outstanding production since starting as a redshirt freshman, first at safety before moving to linebacker. Four-year starter with final two seasons at both ‘Star’ outside and inside linebacker. Savvy backer and a tackling machine who is rarely out of position. Understands defensive schemes well after playing three positions at a high level in the SEC. Two-time captain with the ability to be a coach on the field and lineup teammates. High IQ defender for the game with the short area quickness and sound technique to respond to what he sees. His instincts and read-react skills are at the very top in this class. Displays fine agility as linebackers go, with the quickness, balance and flexibility to get around blocks as well as being able to handle his responsibilities in coverage with fine agility in reverse. His safety background is apparent when watching him in coverage. Among the better backers in the class when it comes to man to man pass coverage. He has the change-of-direction, short area quickness, instincts and awareness to cover nearly any RB or TE. He is also aided by his fine lower body explosiveness and is able to get off the ground and elevate with the best of them. Pursues well from sideline to sideline. Uses his lateral quickness to avoid blocks and make plays in the tackle box. Sets the edge hard and slips blockers very well. Strong wiry, well-proportioned frame with good knee bend to take on blockers and hold the edge consistently. Finds the football very quickly and shows good field speed and outstanding effort in pursuit. Very willing and able to attack gaps when he sees the chance to make a play behind the line. Able to scrape and sift through traffic and close nicely. Fluid movement skills, change of direction and acceleration within short zones in pass coverage. Also, shows good awareness and ball-skills. Fine form tackler and wraps up securely. Depends on instincts and quickness to keep blockers at bay. Slides laterally to get into play with sound angles to the ball. Key part of a tough defense that supplies NFL starters annually. Average burst off the edge as a pass rusher with only 4.5 career sacks. Based on performance and production, he is a starting Will backer in the 4-3. As a senior, he started 11 of 12 games, made 82 tackles, 7 TFL, 1 sack, 1 FR, 3 PBU and 1 pick. As a junior, he made 59 tackles with 6.5 TFL, 6 PBU and 3.5 sacks, starting 10 of 13 games. Over his career, he started 40 of 45 games with 236 tackles, 15.5 TFLs, 4.5 sacks and 5 interceptions. At the NFL Combine, he came in at over 6’3”, 233 lbs. with 33 3/8” arms and 9 1/8” hands. He did 18 reps, ran a 4.59 time with a 1.59 ten-yard split. He had a 39.5” VL and a 10’11” BJ. Added a 4.15 shuttle and a 6.82 three-cone. His positional drills were very good. He displays many of the same skills as backer Telvin Smith with big college production, versatility and well-developed talent. Savvy backer with experience at a high level of play at a few positions in a 4-3 set and also inside in a 3-4 front. Well-rounded skills to be a three-down defender. Top 125 prospect with a nice LOD to be a quality starter fairly early in his career. Great value selection with high LOD to compete for early starting role and key sub package starter. Top special teams’ defender from day one.
Draft Projection: 4th-5th Round
11 Shaquem Griffin #18 Central Florida 6-0 227 – Sp. 4.40
Active, instinctive, safety-linebacker hybrid has been a key playmaker during his three seasons as a Golden Knight. Probably the best story of any draft prospects I have ever scouted during my 27 years publishing Draft Insiders. Twin brother of the Seahawks’ corner Shaquill Griffin who was a 3rd round selection in the NFL Draft 2017. Overcame a birth defect of a deformed hand that had to be amputated as a child. That did not stop him from attempting to play sports and he earned accolades at both the HS and college levels. He is a top athlete and set the pace at the NFL Combine with a blazing 4.38 sprint. Three-time AAC honors including a two-time Defensive Player of the Year award. Nonstop bundle of perpetual energy. His throttle is always wide open. Very fast, extremely quick, and superb change-of-direction. He is as developed at avoiding blocks as any defender in recent memory. Despite his size, he will step up and take on a block to successfully hold his ground at the point of attack. He has a knack for making big plays at critical points in a game. The rest of the UCF defense fed off his energy. Possesses a nice array of pass rushing moves that he developed over the course of his final season. Will use his impeccable lateral quickness when rushing the passer to dip inside and avoid the attempted block by the tackle. Closing speed is as good as it gets. Alert, aware and instinctive and able to chase down ball-carriers from sideline to sideline. Despite the lack of a left hand, he is usually a reliable wrap up tackler. Plays bigger than his size. Best pro position is likely Will backer in a 4-3. Natural football player with all the traits one could want in a 4-3 Will backer. Fine football intelligence, keen instincts, with mental and physical toughness. Very comfortable working around the heavy traffic near the tackle box, as well as in coverage at any depth down the field. Proved able to handle quite well full-time role as a Will. Good ball athlete with fine hand-eye coordination. Displays the skills to control a blocker, stay square to the play, get free, and finish. Loves to attack the run, showing excellent read-react, fine ability to close and take down ball-carriers. Consummate team player and very versatile defender for all the sub packages and special teams. Reads routes well, with fine awareness in zone coverage, skill to stay with tight ends in man and also is an effective blitzer. Instant upgrade to anyone’s special teams’ coverage units. At times, he over commits to a lane and leaves the cutback open for runners with good vision. In 2017, he totaled 74 tackles, 13.5 TFL, 7 sacks, 9 QB hurries, 1 pick, 2 FF, 1 FR and 3 PBU. Earned 1st team honors. In 2016, he posted 92 tackles, 20 TFL, 11.5 sacks, 6 PBU, 1 pick and 2 FF. At the NFL Combine, he came in just over 6’, 227 lbs. with 32 1/8” arms and 9” hands. He ran the best forty time at the event with a 4.38 time including a fast 1.54 ten-yard split. He did 20 reps and added a 9’9” BJ. Looked sharp in the positional drills. Well-developed skill set and the ability to play well in either forward or reverse with sure reliable tackling in space to become a three-down defender. Athlete with the skills to be a good every down Will backer, though definite skills to be a key sub package defender. Top 125 prospect with the AA to become a fine coverage and run and chase defender with playmaker ability when covered up. Premier special teams’ performer and top nickel backer in impact abilities.
Draft Projection: 4th-5th Round
12 * Hercules Mata’afa #50 Washington St 6-2 255 – Sp. 4.65 Rating 75
Quick compact defender has lined up at several positions in a front including playing up and down on the edge along with inside at tackle. Fine burst on the snap and able to convert his quickness to power in the arc and finish with sacks. Earned All-American and 1st team Pac-12 honors in 2017 after 2nd team as a junior. Playing both with his hand on the ground and a stand-up position, he was a disruptive force off the edge with a quick burst to pressure the passer. Stocky build with short 31.5” arms and wide lower body to convert his speed to power. Active strong hands to keep blockers off his frame with smooth movement skills to get to the ball. Good hustler with a fine motor and sound initial reads with quickness off the snap to get through narrow openings. Comes on the snap quickly with a developed spin move to avoid blockers and flatten out to the passer. Able to turn the corner well when pass rushing from a wide alignment. Able to use his agility and lateral quickness to avoid or run around blockers without losing sight of the ball. Good functional strength, though needs to be technically sound to minimize his short reach. Uses a hard upfield charge as a rusher to strike blockers with the technique to counter quickly if his initial move is contained. At the point of attack, will hold his ground with the technique and functional strength to stack. Setting the edge is a strong suit. Good read-react ability despite positional changes. Possesses good lower body explosiveness for his size and just needs to translate it to the field more consistently. Limited understanding of coverage and playing in reverse and shows no career plays on the ball. In 2017, started 13 games and recorded 45 tackles with 22.5 TFL, 10.5 sacks with 5 QB hurries and 2 FF. In 2016, started 13 games and recorded 47 tackles, 13.5 TFL and 5 sacks. At the NFL Combine, he came in at over 6’2”, 254 lbs. with 31.5” arms. He ran a 4.76 time and did 26 reps. Added a 31.5” VL, a 9’ BJ and adequate positional drills. Good times of a 7.24 three cone and a 4.37 in shuttle. Edge rusher with playmaking ability, but currently one dimensional. Situational defender and 3rd day pick who needs to settle into a 3-4 scheme and dedicate to learning positional nuances. Top 150 athlete with talent to start and interesting long-term project. Needs to improve his overall technique and coverage ability. Versatile role defender for sub packages to fill a key position.
Draft Projection: 4th-5th Round
13 Marquis Haynes #38 Mississippi 6-2 235 – Sp. 4.65 Rating 75
Rangy senior has been one of the premier defenders in the SEC since his true freshman season when he earned All-American honors. Lean athlete with narrow frame and good movement skills and the speed and instincts to make plays. Four-year starter has played both down and up and been most effective more in forward motion than the full array of backer responsibilities. Good burst off the edge and has totaled 32 career sacks in that role, but early will be a limited to a situational edge defender. Needs an attack backer role in a 3-4 set to be a regular. From a size/speed perspective, he fits the Will backer role also, though he is underdeveloped in his ball skills with only 1 career interception and just 7 PBUs. Good run and chase skills though his ability to matchup in pass coverage is very raw. As an outside linebacker, he is on the slender side with thin lower body. As a pass rusher, displays an aggressiveness off the edge and the hand technique to counter. Shows impressive speed when pass-rushing with fine initial burst off the snap, bend and the agility to flatten out. Fine quickness to read-react vs the run, flying downhill and regularly causing blockers to whiff. His frame and overall build looks too narrow to hold up as an OLB, though he slips blockers fairly well. Hitter and technically sound tackler who wraps up consistently. Though very durable despite slender frame, he needs to line up in space at the Will spot. In 2017, recorded 45 tackles, 11 TFL, 7.5 sacks, 0 PBU, 3 FF, 5 QB hurries and no picks, earning SEC honorable mention. In 2016, started 12 games and totaled 53 tackles, 11 TFL, 7 sacks, 8 QB hurries, 3 PBU, 3 FF, 1 FR and 1 pick for 2nd team SEC honors. Played in 50 games with 172 tackles, 47.5 TFL, 32 sacks, 7 PBU and just 1 interception. At the NFL Combine, he came in at over 6’2”, 235 lbs. with 33 1/4” arms. He ran a 4.67 time with a 1.66 ten-yard split and did 23 reps. He added a 32” VL and a 10’3” BJ. He looked good in the positional drills and had times of a 7.14 three cone and a 4.45 in the short shuttle. Athlete with production at a high level in the SEC. Premier special teams’ defender. Starting Will and possible attack backer if he shows the power to hold up on the edge in that set. Show the length and speed to match up with the big tight ends in the NFL, but needs extensive coverage development. Top 125 athlete with upside to start at Will backer. Interesting long-term potential, though needs to be cover up in base defense to be effective.
Draft Projection: 4th-5th Round
14 Leon Jacobs #32 Wisconsin 6-1 245 – Sp. 4.50 Rating 70
Athletic, explosive senior came on over his late career in his most extensive action in his career. Quick athlete with raw talent to develop into an NFL linebacker. Strong frame with long arms and the natural athleticism to play the outside spots in the 4-3 front. Added muscle annually to play a few positions in the Badger scheme. Developing his ability to read-react and flow to the ball. Diagnoses plays better with game experience and learning to take proper angles to pursue the ball. Fine range, speed and athleticism. Fine body flex helps him with tight pursuit angles. Unlocks hips with fine acceleration to close. Field speed is premier for the Will or Sam spots. Developing in man coverage with the ability to matchup when he reads the route properly. Later in career, he was required to handle tough man coverage assignments and usually came through well. Shows ideal foot quickness and agility of an NFL Will backer. Good change-of-direction and long speed. At times, shows tight hips to turn and run in coverage. Very effective in space when he is clean and can run to the ball. Quick-twitch athlete, though instinctively very raw with reading routes or blocks which leaves early developmental issues. Able to get skinny and slip through gaps on the line of scrimmage. Can show some force in his hand punch with the ability to lock out and keep blockers off his body, though needs more consistency. Closes quickly and can be a physical tackler. Sets the edge well using his long arms and fine functional strength to grade out high. Consistently productive and should contribute as a rookie on special teams. In 2017, he tallied 60 tackles, 9.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 1 FR, 1 FF and 2 interceptions. In 2016, he made 37 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 sack and a 1 pick. Over his career, he started only 18 of 57 games with his 2015 season interrupted early after 4 games. Totaled 142 tackles with 15.5 TFL, 6.5 sacks, 3 interceptions and 3 PBU. At the NFL Combine, he came in over 6’1”, 246 lbs. with 33 1/2” arms. He ran a fine 4.48 time with a 1.58 ten split and did 26 reps. He added a 34.5” VL, a 10’2” BJ and looked sharp in the drills with impressive 7.14 three cone and 4.44 in the shuttle. Fast rising defender comes off a strong finish that could elevate him to the middle rounds. Ideal Will backer and three down player for all packages. Talent to improve further with his best football in front of him. Playmaker needs time with the skill set to start when he shows he reads more instinctively. Rising defender with starting talent. Good 3rd day addition. Draft Projection: 4th-5th Round
15 Andrew Ankrah #93 James Madison 6-3 250 – Sp. 4.80 Rating 70
Versatile athletic senior has been highly productive over his four starting seasons in the CAA, earning first team honors over his final three seasons. Earned CAA Defensive Player of the Year award in 2017 along with first team FCS All-American honors. Hybrid defensive end/linebacker has been a difference maker in the tough CAA that has provided many NFL players over the past decade. Strong athletic frame with long arms and good footwork to move laterally as well as attack the line. Impressive all-around backer with fine athleticism to fill a number of roles. Strong frame with good footwork and fluid movement skills to be a three-down defender. Shows the ability to stack at the point and pursue across the field. Knows how to maintain low pad level and play with leverage when taking on blockers. Fine instincts with the ability to read-react when defending the run or dropping in coverage. Seldom see him overrun a play and his pursuit angles are usually sound. Reads the play and locates the ball well, flying decisively through gaps, avoiding blockers and closing down the run. Displays sound textbook tackling form with pretty consistent face up and wrap up efforts. Good pursuit speed and effort when on the chase with consistently impressive tackle numbers. Speed and agility to drop in coverage and matchup with tight ends and backs in the short zones. Quick burst to be an effective blitzer. Coverage ability is an area that needs development. Shows route anticipation, but limited experience in man coverage down the field. His frame is best suited for outside at the Sam or attack role in the 3-4 set. In 2017, he started 15 games and made 59 tackles with 15.5 TFLs, 8.5 sacks, 4 QB hurries, 2 FF and 2 FF. Earned All-American honors, finalist for the Buck Buchanan award and his third straight CAA first team honors. In 2016, he started 15 games and made 44 tackles with 6 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 4 QB hurries, 1 FF and 3 PBUs. Over his career, he started 53 games and made 177 tackles, including 36 TFL, 8 FF, 3 FR, 26 sacks and 4 PD. Incredibly, he was not invited to the NFL Combine. Core special teams’ performer with the talent to develop into a solid role player early especially as a situational rusher. Hard working defender with well-rounded skills to continue to improve. Surprise starter in time and quality role defender with upside to develop and possibly become a three-down starter with development. Top 200 prospect and solid late addition. Major sleeper with NFL starting talent along with the intangibles to make the jump.
16 Davin Bellamy #17 Georgia 6-4 255 4.75 – Sp. 4.65 Rating 65
Long rangy tweener defender the past three seasons in the talented Bulldog defense that will provide several high draft selections in April. Earned some SEC honorable mention his final two seasons. Ripped lean athlete with long arms (33 1/4”) and a 4.75 forty time translated into a consistent sack artist. Shows some quick twitch rushing skills using his long reach to keep blockers off his frame. Good overall body definition with long arms and active hands to fight off blockers. Comes hard at the snap, displaying a burst with fluid hips and the awareness to be an effective edge rusher. Shows quickness and athleticism to dominate lesser tackles. Good downhill attacking defender who spends a lot of time in the opponent’s backfield. Displays only marginal instincts and strength whether to convert speed to power as a rusher or to set the edge in run defense. Added weight in college to reach 255 lbs. with little growth potential. Gets wired to blockers too easily despite the effort to separate and finish. Shows a fine burst up field as rusher and fires out of stance with a low pad level. Able to turn and dip his shoulders as he gets around the corner. Fluid and capable of stringing moves together. Ability to change directions in space with the speed to pursue down the line. Equally effective rushing the passer up or down. Lacks bulk for full time duty as a weak side end with his best chance of starting up as an attack backer in a 3-4 set. As a senior, he started 15 games with 34 tackles, 7.5 TFL, 5 sacks, 8 QB hurries and 2 FF. During his junior season, he totaled 51 tackles with 5 sacks and 9 TFL while starting 13 games. At the NFL Combine, he came in at 6’4” and 255 lbs. with 33 1/4” arms and 9 1/2” hands. He did not run. He did 15 reps and no other drills. He improved his numbers at pro day with a 4.73 forty, 30.5”VL and 19 reps. Role defender with positional concerns, though attack backer in a 3-4 set is his best fit. Playmaking ability in the right setting, though marginal strength. He will wait until the 3rd day to be drafted. Defender needs to find a role in the package defenses and on special teams to earn time. Burst off edge to play as situational rusher. Sleeper top 150 prospect with the talent to be a key role defender in package sets and possibly starting backer in 3-4 set, but only after critical strength and technique development.
17 Dorian O’Daniel #6 Clemson 6-1 225 – Sp. 4.80 Rating 65
Quick senior defender was a highly productive starter for the Tigers from his redshirt freshman season and earning ACC honors his final two years. Smallish defender with tweener backer/safety size and the movement skills to fill the Will backer spot in addition to sub package roles. He is a competitive, instinctive defender who leaves it on the field every week. Good first step and shows a quick burst to defeat blocking angles early on the down. He pursues sideline to sideline and takes precise angles to the ball with the hitting power to finish plays consistently. Relentless in pursuit and is a good run and chase defender. Best suited for a Will position that protects him and allows him to flow to the ball. Lacks bulk and can get bounced around at the POT at times, getting easily engulfed by bigger blockers. Struggles to shed blocks on plays directed at him and he needs further strength to hold up in run support. Fluid in his drops in pass coverage with fine change of direction skills with the speed to match up in man situations. Smooth in transition with good flexibility to open his hips and drop into coverage. In zone coverage, he can react to balls with good timing when engaging receivers. Made nice improvement in coverage in 2017 and will compete for nickel backer role early in his career. Despite good playing strength he can struggle to shed blocks after engagement to hold the edge. He is inconsistent when playing over the tight end and struggles with a height disadvantage especially on jump balls. Sound key and diagnose skills, though needs to keep blockers off his legs especially in traffic with only marginal ability to punch and shed blocks. Over his senior season, he started all 14 games and made 88 tackles, 11.5 TFL and 5 sacks that earned him 2nd team ACC honors. Over his junior season, he started 13 games and made 54 tackles with 10 TFL, 2.5 sacks. Over his career, he totaled just 3 interceptions and 7 PD. Earlier in his career, he was a backup linebacker and a special teams ace. At the NFL Combine, he came in at under 6’1”, 223 lbs. with 31 1/8” arms. He ran a 4.61 time with a 1.64 ten yard split and did 21 reps. He added a 32” VL and a 9’11” BJ. He looked very sharp in the positional drills and had impressive times of a 6.64 three cone and a 4.07 in the short shuttle. He looked very sharp in the positional drills. Consistently runs in the sub 4.60 range with fine agility to change directions and retain his speed. Underrated Will backer with the skill set to become a value special teamer and challenge for the nickel ‘backer role and possibly compete for the weakside spot. Quick tackler can surprise and be a top special teams’ defender and nickel backer. Probable late pick and a quality early role defender with some upside to move up to the Will role in time. Late steal.
18 Peter Kalambayi #34 Stanford 6-3 250 – Sp. 4.80 Rating 62
Big rangy defender has been a core performer in the Cardinal front seven the past two starting seasons. He is an inside/outside backer tweener who shows the physical ability to play over a tight end and the power to play inside. Long athletic frame and carries over 250 lbs. well. Hard-nosed athlete who is well schooled in the basics on pro style defenses with the versatility to play inside or outside. Fine combination of power and agility to lineup over a tight end or an attack defender. He can play in either scheme and fits best in the 4-3 scheme, though he could also be an inside defender in a 3-4 set. Strong frame with long arms and sound technique to stack at the point or hold the edge. He uses his hands well to separate from blockers and locates the ball with adequate speed to close. As a pass rusher, he needs further technique development to earn pro starting time, though he made progress late in his career. Needs to come off the ball quicker to utilize his length and power to pressure the edge. Must use his hands better to control more quickly disengage from blockers. Shows the ability to stay on his feet, locate the ball and finish with strong tackling. Good balance and is able to work his way through trash and use his power to make plays at the point. Average straight-line speed and limited flexibility that hinders him both as a rusher and coverage defender. Made progress on keys, reads and responsibilities to develop and become NFL ready. Versatility allows him to fit in the 3-4 scheme, though fits the Sam spot best in the 4-3 set. He must improve his coverage technique to play over a tight end. He is much better moving forward than in reverse and needs development in his drops and turns before being ready to matchup with tight ends. Lacks good route recognition and needs work on his drops and ability to sit in zones or matchup in man. As a senior, he appeared in 14 games with 61 tackles with 7 TFL, 1 PBU and 4 sacks that earned Pac-12 honorable mention. As a junior, he totaled 45 tackles with 6 TFL, 2 FF, 2 PBU and 3.5 sacks in 13 starts. At the NFL Combine, he came in at under 6’3” and 253 lbs. He ran a 4.57 time with a 1.59 ten-yard split. He did 19 reps with 34” VL, 10’1” BJ with 4.36 shuttle and a 7.13 three cone. Two-time captain. Experienced prospect with average AA who could challenge for playing time. Improved as a pass rusher, but lacks the big burst to be a consistent factor with limited creativity. Best suited for 4-3 teams and may be limited to a Sam role as a run defender. Late round pick with AA to fill a few roles. Top 250 prospect with marginal starting grade, but only in the right situations. Needs to impress on special teams.
19 Matthew Thomas #6 Florida State 6-3 230 – Sp. 4.80 Rating 62
Athletic, speedy senior has been a fine Will linebacker for the Seminoles earning ACC honors twice over his three starting seasons. Angular wiry frame with fine speed and instincts with the deceptive suddenness to defeat blockers and close to the ball. Well-rounded athlete with the speed necessary to start on the outside at the Will position. Fine developed overall athletic ability, which includes good closing speed and strong hands to get off blocks and finish. Quick and aggressive with the ability to flow and scrape laterally and use his fine vision to focus on the ball carrier. Relies on his quickness to beat blockers early on the down. Maxed out frame with long arms and little room to add mass. He can struggle if blockers get their hands on him early and needs further hand technique to disengage. Projects as a starting Will linebacker in a 4-3. Feet are very light and quick, which allow him to turn on a dime and accelerate. Run and chase defender needs to stay clean to be effective. His instincts improved with playing time and is able to find the football and take proper angles with good lateral agility to slip past blockers to get home. Will close with a purpose while delivering good hits. Shows sound hand-eye coordination and the technique and alertness to rip at the ball when the opportunity arises. In pass coverage, he displays fine agility and is able to read and recognize routes and will work to stay between his man and the QB. His aggressive nature may take him out of position at times and make the defense vulnerable to surrendering the big play. Lacks the patience to allow the runner to commit sometimes and will instead just attack a gap and leave a cutback lane open for a savvy ball-carrier to take advantage of. Usually he is a reliable form tackler, but will at times try to knock a runner down by throwing a shoulder into him. Struggles if he hesitates and engages big linemen. Needs improved technique and strength to get reps next fall. As a senior, he started 12 games and finished with 85 tackles with 10 TFL and 2 sacks. Earned ACC honorable mention. As a junior, he started 12 games and made 77 tackles with 11 TFL, 1 FF and 1 sack, earning ACC honorable mention. At the NFL Combine, he came in at under 6’3”, 232 lbs. with long 33” arms. He did not lift, but ran a 4.58 time, a 41.5” VL and a 10’11” BJ. He also posted a 4.28 in the short shuttle and 6/85 three cone time. He also looked sharp in the positional drills with the ability to flip his hips and retain speed. Must improve his initial reads and overall strength to play up to his natural talent. Trust his eyes well with little or no hesitation to react to plays. Well-rounded skill set and the ability to play effectively in reverse with reliable tackling in space and potentially a three-down defender. Good showing at the East-West Shrine week. Athletic and productive Will backer for the 4-3 scheme and eventually possibly start. Talented fast rising top 150 prospect with definite upside to become a playmaker. Fine run and chase defender for special teams. Hidden gem in this class with versatility.
20 JaVon Rolland-Jones #11 Arkansas St 6-2 250 – Sp. 4.80 Rating 62
Aggressive rush defender had an impressive career earning Sun Belt first team honors for four seasons and setting a conference career sack record. Tweener athlete played multiple positions in college, both up and down from the outside. Burst off the edge to get after the passer and was a difference maker in the Sun Belt. Tests out only as an average athlete, though his production is off the charts. Strong frame with quickness on the snap to pressure the edge and the ability to dip and get around the blocker. Shows top closing speed to finish at his level, though questions in that area vs high quality blockers. Over his late career, he showed further improvement on his initial reads and overall strength to be a more physical player than he was earlier. In run support, he needs to get stronger to stack and hold the POA, especially if he expects to compete over NFL tight ends or tackles. Shows fine use of his hands to shed and disengage with the ability to read the play well. As a tackler, he has good form, though at times he does not break down well in space and will miss in the open field. In pass coverage, he is very raw in most aspects of play. Marginal speed to run with backs and tight ends, though he can be a little stiff and struggle when asked to open his hips and change directions. Struggles in man coverage due to his lack of flexibility and foot quickness. Experienced defender with adequate instincts, an aggressive temperament and effective mainly in forward motion. Edge rusher with playmaking ability to carve a niche at the pro level. As a senior, he posted 56 tackles with 19 TFLs, 13 sacks, no interceptions, 3 FF and 6 QB hurries, starting 12 games, earning his 2nd Defensive Player of the Year award along with his 4th straight 1st team honors. As a junior, he made 57 tackles, 21 TFL, 1 FF, no interceptions, 7 QB hurries and 13.5 sacks and conference Defensive Play of the Year award. Over his career, he totaled 43.5 sacks with 65.5 TFL, but 1 interception and 3 PBU. At the NFL Combine, he came in at just under 6’2”, 253 lbs., with 32 3/4” arms. He did 23 reps, ran a 4.88 with a 1.71 ten yard. His best chance will most likely be as a situational rusher and special teams’ defender as he learns a base defense. His marginal speed may limit him on coverage units and needs a strong showing in camp to find a niche. Adequate instincts, though he lacks the flexibility and agility to play in space. Situational edge rusher with the makeup of a special teams’ performer. Developmental prospect needs reps, strength program and strong coaching to get up to NFL standards. One dimensional defender and long-term project with make it grade.
21 Skai Moore #10 South Carolina 6-2 225 – Sp. 4.80 Rating 62
Aggressive, undersized fifth year senior has been a fine consistent playmaker for the SC defense over his career. He returned for his senior year in 2017 after sitting out the entire 2016 campaign due to surgery on a herniated disk. Earned SEC honors twice in 2017 and 2015. Reliable, consistent playmaker possesses keen awareness, flexibility and closing burst, allowing him to flow to the ball consistently. Fine sense for reading the snap count and can often beat blockers with his initial burst. Lean frame with little growth potential. Good speed and instincts to get to the ball and beat blocking angles. As a pass rusher, he was effective especially at the delay blitz with the ability to hit an opening to the passer. Reads plays quickly to put himself in position to make plays. Takes proper angles to the ball. Displays sound awareness and fine lateral quickness in coverage and projects to nickel backer role. Fine development in his read-react ability, breaking down well and arriving under control though with power to finish. Shows good field speed whether in coverage, pursuit or as a rusher. High energy backer and a natural for special teams’ coverage defender. Questions concerning his size and durability after missing all of 2016 season. Good snap anticipation and the elusiveness to avoid blockers. Struggles facing blockers at the point and strictly a Will backer. Gets engulfed when a blocker gets their hands on him. Smooth dropping in coverage with the skills to matchup and totaled 14 career interceptions. In 2017, started 13 games and totaled 93 tackles, 2 sacks, 3 interceptions and 8 TFL. In 2015, started 13 games and totaled 111 tackles, 6.5 TFL, 2 sacks, 4 PBU, 4 interceptions and 3 FF. In 2014, started 12 games and totaled 93 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 1 sack and 3 picks. At the NFL Combine, he was 6’2”, 226 lbs. with 32” arms. Ran a 4.73 time with 36” VL and a 9’9” BJ. Good backup backer with the talent to become a core special teams’ defender and compete for the nickel ‘backer role. Possibly challenges for the starting Will spot in the right scheme. Instinctive tackling machine and wins a roster spot on special teams’ value and nickel backer skills. Possible late pick and a role defender if healthy. Best suited for package defenses and special teams. Marginal top 200 prospect and limited role defender.
22 Mike McCray #9 Michigan 6-1 240 – Sp. 4.80 Rating 60
Physical senior defender had a productive Big Ten career settling into the linebacker position with fine two-year production. Above average athlete and a competitive, instinctive defender who shows the versatility to fill a few roles in a pro defense. Strong frame and good feet with the first step to move to the ball and take proper angles. Shows a burst to defeat blocking angles early on the down. Plays downhill and hits a ton to finish. Pursues sideline to sideline and takes sound angles to the ball with enough speed to finish. Nice effort in pursuit but is not a run and chase defender. Best suited for a Mike or Sam position near the line of scrimmage. Plays with leverage and has fine functional strength to hold up at the POA. Relies on his early reads to gain an advantage and put himself in position to make plays. Gets easily engulfed by bigger blockers when he fails to read the play properly. Usually good to shed blocks on plays directed at him, relying on his fine playing strength to hold up in run support. Tight hipped playing in reverse and needs work on his drops in coverage where his average change of direction skills and speed can be exploited in matchups. Struggles in transition with tight flexibility to open his hips. In zone coverage, he can react to the pass with good timing when engaging receivers. Marginal ability in coverage vs tight ends in package defenses. Fine playing strength to shed blocks after engagement and can set the edge well. Consistent playing over the tight end in run support. Sound key and diagnose skills, though needs to keep blockers off his legs especially in traffic and must improve his ability to shed. Over the 2017 season, he started 13 games and made 84 tackles, 17 TFL, 1 FF, 1 PBU and 5 sacks. Over his junior season, he started 13 games and made 76 tackles with 13 TFL, 1 FF, 2 picks, 6 PBU and 4.5 sacks. Over his career, he played in 37 games with 160 tackles 31 TFL, 9.5 sacks and 7 PBUs. At the NFL Combine, he came in 6’1”, 243 lbs. with 32 5/8” arms. Ran a 4.76 time and did 16 reps. Added a 31.5” VL, a 9’11” BJ, a 4.25 shuttle and 7.09 three cone. Consistently runs in the 4.75 range with only adequate agility to change directions and retain speed. Underrated backer with the skill set to become a good special teamer and challenge for the Sam or Mike role. Sure tackler and a good special teams’ ace. Probable late pick and a quality role defender. Versatility helps him make a squad.
23 Garret Dooley #5 Wisconsin 6-2 248 – Sp. 4.80 Rating 60
Physical tweener has been a versatile playmaker on the very tough Badgers’ defense over his career, winning three Big Ten West titles. Strong frame with average arm length (32 1/2”) and leverage to pressure the pocket. Earned Big Ten honors as a senior off a fine effort. Plays both up and down with marginal size to line up with his hand on the ground regularly. Possesses only average overall athleticism with a smaller than ideal body type for a 4-3 end spot. Relies on strong, active hands to fight off blockers to gain an advantage. Comes hard at the snap, displaying a fairly quick first step to pressure the outside. Relies on his adequate flexibility to bend the edge and get a shoulder past tackles. Shows good power to strike an opponent and continue his rush. Shows the physicality to be consistently effective against bigger blockers. Good attacking defender who spends a lot of time in the opponent’s backfield. Wins a lot of plays late on the down through a relentless effort. Displays good strength to set the edge with the tenacity to get off blocks and finish. Shows a decent burst up field as pass rusher with a low pad level, but needs to time his charge properly to consistently to be effective. More effective playing down than up and his speed is better in a three-point stance. Physically may be never more than a situational pass rusher in the 4-3 set, though limited moves. Stacks well to hold the point vs tackles over the course of the game. Gets by on his fine effort and non-stop motor, then natural talent. Capable of stringing moves together, though his ability to change directions is only average. As a senior, he started all 14 games with 41 tackles, 12 TFL and 7.5 sacks and earned 2nd team Big Ten honors. During his junior season, he started just 2 of 14 games with 40 tackles, 3.5 sacks and 6 TFLs. At the NFL Combine, he came in at 6’2”, 248 lbs. and did 21 reps. He ran a 4.80 time with a 33” VL, 10’01” BJ and did a 4.28 shuttle. Situational defender with margin size and positional fit concerns. Conversion to a 3-4 scheme is a possibility. Lack of speed and coverage experience will limit his playing time. Some playmaking ability as an edge rusher. Needs to find a role in the sub packages and special teams to earn time. Marginal top 250 prospect with make it grade.
24 Antonio Simmons Georgia Tech 6-3 245 – Sp. 4.50 Rating 60
25 Pat Afriyie Colgate 6-1 235 – Sp. 4.85 Rating 60
26 Jacob Pugh Florida St 6-4 246 – Sp. 4.75 Rating 60
27 Keishawn Bierria Washington 6-0 230 – Sp. 4.80 Rating 60
28 Joel Lanning Iowa St 6-1 232 – Sp. 4.75 Rating 60
29 Darius Jackson Jacksonville St 6-2 242 – Sp. 4.85 Rating 60
30 Tre Williams Auburn 6-2 238 – Sp. 4.80 Rating 58
31 Chris Covington Indiana 6-2 245 – Sp. 4.75 Rating 58
32 Travin Howard Texas Christian 6-0 215 – Sp. 4.60 Rating 58
33 Corey Thompson LSU 6-1 228 – Sp. 4.60 Rating 58
34 Deshawn Downey Massachusetts 6-3 230 – Sp. 4.75 Rating 58
35 Chris Frey Michigan St 6-1 238 – Sp. 4.75 Rating 58
36 Anthony Winbush Ball State 6-1 249 – Sp. 4.75 Rating 58
37 Richard Jarvis Brown 6-2 236 – Sp. 4.75 Rating 58
38 James Hearns Louisville 6-2 239 – Sp. 4.80 Rating 58
39 C.J. Johnson East Texas Baptist 6-2 240 – Sp. 4.75 Rating 56
40 Parris Bennett Syracuse 6-0 222 – Sp. 4.65 Rating 56
41 Ben Niemann Iowa 6-2 230 – Sp. 4.75 Rating 56
42 Emmanuel Beal Oklahoma 6-0 218 – Sp. 4.65 Rating 56
43 Matthew Oplinger Yale 6-2 242 – Sp. 4.80 Rating 56
44 Jayd Kirby Kansas St 6-1 222 – Sp. 4.75 Rating 56
45 Demarquis Gates Mississippi 6-2 212 – Sp. 4.65 Rating 56
46 Bo Bower Iowa 6-1 235 – Sp. 4.80 Rating 56
47 Greer Martini Notre Dame 6-2 236 – Sp. 4.85 Rating 56
48 Ty Schwab Boston College 6-0 229 – Sp. 4.75 Rating 56
49 Emmanuel Ellerbee Rice 6-0 235 – Sp. 4.80 Rating 56
50 Mike Tyler Stanford 6-4 236 – Sp. 4.75 Rating 56
51 D.J. Palmore Navy 6-2 240 – Sp. 4.80 Rating 56
52 Jonathan Petersen San Diego 6-0 226 – Sp. 4.85 Rating 56
53 KeShun Freeman Georgia Tech 6-2 250 – Sp. 4.75 Rating 56
54 Donnie Alexander LSU 6-1 230 – Sp. 4.65 Rating 56
55 Cayson Collins North Carolina 6-1 230 – Sp. 4.75 Rating 56
56 Anthony Ellis Charleston Southern 6-0 245 – Sp. 4.85 Rating 56
57 Mike Needham Southern Utah 6-3 210 – Sp. 4.60 Rating 56
58 James Crawford Illinois 6-1 238 – Sp. 4.80 Rating 56
59 Airius Moore North Carolina St 6-0 235 – Sp. 4.75 Rating 56
60 Danny Ezechukwu Purdue 6-1 250 – Sp. 4.85 Rating 56
61 Alani Latu Arizona St 6-2 248 – Sp. 4.85 Rating 56
62 Jonathan Celestin Minnesota 6-1 232 – Sp. 4.75 Rating 56
63 Bobby Jones IV Northern Illinois 5-11 225 – Sp. 4.85 Rating 56
64 Darrian Bass Missouri Western 6-2 222 – Sp. 4.75 Rating 56
65 Tae Davis Chattanooga 6-1 220 – Sp. 4.75 Rating 56
66 Connor O’Brien Washington 6-2 224 – Sp. 4.80 Rating 56
67 Tobenna Okeke Fresno St 6-2 245 – Sp. 4.85 Rating 56
68 Raymond Davison III California 6-1 235 – Sp. 4.75 Rating 56
69 Anthony Shegog Virginia Tech 6-1 230 – Sp. 4.70 Rating 56
Frank Coyle & Pro Scouting Staff of Draft Insiders.com – 27th Season /