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2018 Pre-NFL Combine Overview/Mock Draft: Outside Linebacker (FINAL)

Air Date:
February 21, 2018

Ground Rules on this NFL Combine preview scouting:

 -- Looking at the initial performance data from their college years in our system.

 -- Watching 10-15+ minutes of tape

 -- Giving an initial knee-jerk reaction to what I am seeing/feeling.

 -- Will rank them as if I am drafting them for the dynasty rookie draft, and I will also break them into tiers

 -- We don’t have the full host of measurables, so my reactions could change when I see the physical times and attributes. Sometimes your scouting eyes deceive you on how fast a player is moving, etc. We will be doing all the full-fledged scouting of these players after the Combine data is in.

 -- This ‘draft’ and analysis will drop in a player at a time at various times throughout the day. Check the clock on the title to see when the latest post was made.

 -- Height/weight is latest estimates we have from their listed info or all-star games, etc. Not official.

 -- Going prospect by prospect in alphabetical order.



The NFL Combine Outside Linebackers…


Current consensus top 5 OLB prospects in the mainstream (does not include those classified DE prospects)…

1) Tremaine Edmunds, Va Tech

2) Rashaan Evans, Alabama

3) Uchenna Nwosu, USC

4) Lorenzo Carter, Georgia

5) Kemoko Turay, Rutgers



*Five Tiers: A, B, C, D, F…like school grades. Players listed in ‘my favorite’ order.



**Tier A**


Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Oklahoma (6’1”/242)

Great football prospect. Very fast, nimble with decent power off the EDGE. Virtually unblockable by one lineman…he was often double teamed – a great sign of respect shown to him by opponents on tape. When he got one-on-one blocking he got to the backfield almost every time. Can rush the passer but also plays smart…will stay home and feel out the run. A chiseled physique with a spring in his step. He could be a smaller 4-3 DE, but 3-4 OLB or 4-3 OLB is likely his calling…with 3-4 ILB not out of the question. Very good/great prospect almost without flaw on tape or output. A

Matthew Thomas, Florida St. (6’3”/227)

Looks like a really nice, quality, NFL-starter OLB. A near perfect-looking OLB. Has great length/reach to get to ballcarriers plus work in coverage. He’s tough enough, big enough to cover TEs but fast enough to chase WRs and RBs in the passing game. I was very much impressed. He’s a great-looking 4-3 OLB prospect. A

Trevon Young, Louisville (6’4”/254)

A really talented pass rusher. So fast for his size. Reminds me of Oklahoma/Dallas DE Charles Tapper a little bit. Young is a nice size for a 4-3 DE, and he seems to fit better there than 3-4 OLB…but he could go 3-4 OLB if needed. I would want Young to be my 4-3 pass rush ace…but a guy I know can play the run as well. Really enjoyed his tape. A-

**Tier B**

Uchenna Nwosu, USC (6’3”/240)

I’m not sure he’s the ideal 4-3 DE…but he’s a really good football player you find a spot for. He played stand-up EDGE rusher mostly for USC and created all kinds of havoc getting to the QB and batting down passes. He was too quick, slithery for blockers to stop him but when they did square up on him he was halted. He’s not a big, physical DE that can shed blockers…he’s all all speed/agility. He fits more as a 4-3 OLB, I think. He has NFL speed/agility, tackling ability, instincts and pass rush/defending skills. Solid across the board…possible ‘A’ if he ‘wins’ at the Combine. B++

Hercules Mata’afa, Washington St. (6’1”/250)

Played 4-3 DT, yes DT, for WSU on the tape I watched. The game announcers/analysts were touting how quick he is…but of course he’s a super-quick DT at 250-pounds. He’s not a real/normal DT. He’s listed with the OLB group for the Combine but looks more like an ILB to me. His 2017 numbers are fantastic (22.5 TFLs/10.5 sacks) and was a 1st-team All-American, but he’s catching a break being such an unorthodox DT. He worked some as an EDGE rusher 4-3 DE too and was OK on the EDGE but that’s not his normal spot either. As a linebacker, I’m not sure if he’s fast or great or not/an optical illusion. He looks like he might be a neat ILB prospect but it’s only speculation at this point. Could be an ‘A’…could be a ‘C’. B+


Shaquem Griffin, Central Florida (6’1’/213)

Notorious because he has only one hand but plays like it doesn’t matter. He moves with speed and purpose, and desire that most prospects do not. At times, it feels like the media is fawning too much over the great human interest story…and that takes away from the fact that he’s a really good football player/prospect. Great tackler, excellent closing speed. Can cover receivers. He could be a 4-3 OLB in the NFL or more or a safety at his size. He’s a player. He’s going to make it beyond special teams. He will start someday soon in the NFL, I think…but not sure what position. B+

Kemoko Turay, Rutgers (6’5”/252)

Physically looks like a perfect prospect. All muscle. Pretty quick/fast. Good effort. He checks a lot of boxes…he’s a legit NFL prospect. However, every time I watch him play I don’t really see him making a lot of plays. He gets to things because he’s fast, but I was never watching him and going ‘wow’. I wanted to. I thought it had to be there because he looked so physically superior…but he was just ‘good’/athletic not dominant or ‘heady’. He moves like and seems to prefer a 4-3 OLB role, but his body says 4-3 DE or 3-4 OLB EDGE is possible. He’s got tools to work with that others don’t. B

Lorenzo Carter, Georgia (6’6’/242)

Played a lot of 4-3 OLB and came up off the EDGE to rush on occasion as well. Solid athlete, an NFL athlete. Great size, reach, wingspan. Pretty tough, physical tackler but so-so technique at a glance. I liked what I saw. Like the tools/possibilities. Wasn’t totally wow’d in a short preview, but I can see the potential. So-so production in college. B

Chris Covington, Indiana (6’2”/230)

Neat-looking OLB prospect. Good instincts and reactions. Chiseled body/frame. Could be a nice, solid OLB or a killer strong safety. A very solid prospect here. B-

Darius Leonard, SC State (6’2”/213)

Was a star at the Senior Bowl game and had a good practice week in Mobile. He’s just not grabbed me yet. I think he’s solid enough as a player but is pretty thin for linebacker, and worked more as an ILB playing the run when I watch him. He’s always in a spot to make/get credited with tackles but I didn’t see him sniffing out plays as much as slightly late reacting and good effort to get to the oncoming ballcarrier. Some say he’s like Telvin Smith, and I totally get that…so, I want to see him run as fast as Smith at the Combine before I sign on. B--


**Tier C**

Jacob Pugh, Florida State (6’4”/232)

Great burst, great spring in his step. Looks like NFL starter-level speed and agility. However, plays a little lost at times. Not in on as many plays as I would hope. There’s a raw talent to work with here but a risk he just isn’t a great football player/mind. C++


Nick DeLuca, North Dakota State (6’3”/248)

Listed as an OLB prospect, but he looks like a for sure ILB prospect. Nice instincts, fluid movement to the ball. Looks a little slower than you’d like to see. Like a slower Nick Vigil at linebacker. NFL size, speed but not a high-end athlete…just solid. He’ll make a roster and maybe start someday. Not sure he’s an impact player, but not out of the question he’s a starting ILB of the future. C

Darius Jackson, Jacksonville St. (6’3”/242)

Faster than most FCS blockers…it’s hard to determine how good of an NFL prospect he is. Seems to be pretty quick and instinctual. Projects as a 3-4 OLB who can play the run, cover in the passing game, and be a sneaky pass rusher off the EDGE. He looks legit but not special. C

Marquis Haynes, Ole Miss (6’3”/225)

Worked a 4-3 DE on the tape I watched…not a great position for him in the NFL. Looks more like a 4-3 OLB. Moves pretty well. Has a good reach, length. Gives effort on most every play. Got bottled up/blocked out a lot as a too slender DE but could be a nice solid 4-3 OLB for the pros. C

Fred Warner, BYU (6’2”/227)

Definitely an NFL athlete, a probable 4-3 OLB or maybe a LB/SAF. Has the moves and look of an NFL player but the tape I watched, I didn’t really see him having an impact. He gets to plays/ballcarriers, but he didn’t stand out or look like he scared the opponents. A lot of wandering around not in the action. C

Malik Jefferson, Texas (6’3”/240)

Played mostly as a 4-3 ILB but did some work as a 4-3 OLB. Decent movement and smart player. Plays the run primarily and tried to guess/blitz up the middle a bunch…and he was ‘college fast’ getting to the backfield but I didn’t see ‘NFL fast’. Useful, solid, LB depth and special teamer. C

Roquan Smith, Georgia (6’1”/225)

Played a lot in the middle on the tape I watched but didn’t make a lot of plays. Drops into coverage a bunch. Moves around the field solidly…but not often where the action is. He looks like an NFL LB/SAF hybrid more than a straight OLB. Looks like he’s low-end NFL-worthy but more of a nice backup. If he’s tests better then maybe safety is a possibility. C--

Jerome Baker, Ohio State (6’1”/225)

More 4-3 OLB or LB/SAF hybrid than a pure OLB. Plays the run and drops into coverage fairly well, but nothing spectacular. A good college player. A useful NFL hand for defense and special teams. Could be more interesting as a strong safety. Combine numbers will tell if he’s an OLB or SAF. C-


Jeff Holland, Auburn (6’2”/249)

Played stand up 4-3 EDGE on the tape I watched. Just put his head down and tried to speed past the right tackle about every time. No real moves or creativity…just using his good college speed to get into the backfield. Wasn’t all that impressed with what I saw. Looks like a 3-4 OLB in the NFL, possible move to ILB. C-



**Tier D**


Garret Dooley, Wisconsin (6’2”/246)

He’s was a 4-3 OLB in college but played the EDGE some…too much. He’s not built for the EDGE. He’s not all that big, fast, quick to rush the edge or float around as an OLB. Hard worker, fringe NFL athleticism, didn’t see an impact player for the NFL at all. Perhaps a move to ILB. D+

Oren Burks, Vandy (6’3”/230)

Quality kid/character. Played a lot of 4-3 DE/OLB…not a great fit there for the pros (or in college). Not a natural rusher of the backfield. Not great speed-agility on the field. Smart, good effort…not a great NFL prospect. D

James Hearns, Louisville (6’3”/249)

Worked as a 4-3 DE and 3-4 DE for Louisville. Not a fan. Body doesn’t look right. Plays a little lazy. Nice production in college, but I didn’t see anything exciting on tape. His decent college output surprises me after looking at the tape. Not sure how he did it. D

Peter Kalambayi, Stanford (6’3”/243)

Worked as a 4-3 EDGE rusher in college but looks more like a so-so EDGE for the NFL. Not sure 3-4 OLB makes a ton of sense with his body/athleticism, but 4-3 DE doesn’t look smashing either. Kind of a ‘tweener’ to me. Didn’t see anything special. D

Leon Jacobs, Wisconsin (6’3”/230)

Built more as a 3-4 OLB, but played 4-3 EDGE in my tape…and not that well. Was quick enough to beat some blockers and make some plays but mostly I saw Jacobs trying to bum rush the backfield (and getting halted a lot) and then kinda wandering around. D

Skai Moore, South Carolina (6’0”/215)

Listed as 6’2”, but he can’t be 6’0” tall from what I see. Too diminutive for an NFL OLB. College fast OLB, but probably too slow to convert to an NFL safety. He’s going to have to become a safety to have any shot in the league. Decent player. Willing, good effort. It’s just the body is not right for the NFL and his speed/agility do not seem NFL for sure either. D-


**Tier F**

Davin Bellamy, Georgia (6’5”/242)

Long, lanky prospect who played as a DE in what I saw on tape…and not a good one. He has poor speed-agility, thinking on the pro-level. Thin frame, so easily blocked out of plays. Below-average tackler. I didn’t like anything I saw from tape to stats. F+

Dorian O’Daniel, Clemson (6’0”/215)

Listed as an OLB and played an OLB/SAF hybrid type role for Clemson…but there’s no way he’s an NFL OLB. Too small – he’s a safety. I didn’t see any great instincts or tackle skills from my short time with O’Daniel. A lot of guessing on plays and chasing things…not a lot of ‘impress’ plays. Watching him as an OLB trying to rush against Alabama in the playoffs…he was squashed. Not a fan. F (as an OLB for the pros).



About R.C. Fischer

R.C. Fischer is an NFL Draft analyst for College Football Metrics, and a football projections analyst and writer for Fantasy Football Metrics. 

Learn more about RC and the College Football Metrics system >>