ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Top Five 2016 NFL Draft Prospects- Outside Linebacker

Updated on February 6, 2016

These guys will be asked to blitz the quarterback and cover tight ends and running backs out of the backfield. Today I rank the top five outside linebacker prospects for the upcoming NFL Draft.

Myles Jack, OLB, UCLA
Myles Jack, OLB, UCLA

1. Myles Jack, UCLA

Bio: Over the last three seasons, Myles Jack has been one of the most versatile players in the country. As a freshman, he was named both the PAC-12 Offensive and Defensive Freshman of the Year. Over the next two years, he developed into one of the most dominant players in the conference.

Strengths: Crazy athletic and can get to the ball from any position on the field. Former running back with speed to run down crossing routes and head off running backs exploding around the corner. Adequate instincts with above average reaction off the snap. Races downhill after the snap and can weave from gap to gap with blazing lateral quickness. Able to weave through and around traffic with relentless pursuit. Plays with ideal pad level and leverage. Uses hip explosion to strike on the rise with a deafening blow at the point of attack. Can jar offensive linemen off­-balance with his strikes. Comes off of blocks quickly. Stepped in and was "The man" from day one at UCLA. Physical and active with leader qualities on the field. Offers tremendous versatility for creative defensive coordinators. Has the juice to be an edge rusher in sub-­packages and can fit into any 4-­3 linebacker spot at any time. Has played safety and running back at UCLA. Has the strength, speed and athleticism to cover tight ends, running backs, and the occasional slot receiver. Plays with frantic energy and is always looking to get a hit on the ball carrier.

Weaknesses: Doesn't have prototypical linebacker frame. Lower body build is more like a running back and doesn't have ideal length for the position. Will take some challenging routes to the football at times. His excitable brand of play will need more control in the pros. A knee injury limited his junior to just three games.

Projected Round: 1

Possible landing spot: Miami Dolphins

Darron Lee, OLB, Ohio State
Darron Lee, OLB, Ohio State

2. Darron Lee, Ohio State

Bio: A former high school quarterback and cornerback, Darron Lee declared he would be the one to take over for Ryan Shazier after he left for the NFL. In his two seasons playing for the Buckeyes, he amassed 147 tackles, 27.5 tackles for loss, and 12 sacks.

Strengths: Quick to diagnose and flow to the ball. Has unusual ability to find the most efficient routes to the ball carrier. Has athleticism and flexibility to contort his body and succeed through difficult tackle angles. Plays with loose hips, quick feet, and desired agility of an NFL weak side linebacker. Former high school quarterback with the change of direction and speed to be a playmaker all over the field. Does his best work in space. Has plus man coverage skills. Willing to stand in and take on blockers with a leveraged strike if his gap is being threatened. Capable gap blitzer with ability to get small in the holes.

Weaknesses: Small for a linebacker. Play strength doesn't come close to matching his listed weight. Balance issues at point of attack could plague him over his pro career. Has the body type of an oversized safety. Tape shows few authoritative tackles. Involved in too many arm and shoestring tackles. Comes flying in and fails to come to gain balance at times. Charged with 21 missed and five broken tackles over the last two seasons. Always at size disadvantage and will have to learn to slip more blocks. Can get better at finding targets in zone coverage.

Projected Round: 1

Possible landing spot: San Francisco 49ers

Jaylon Smith, OLB, Notre Dame
Jaylon Smith, OLB, Notre Dame

3. Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame

Bio: Since stepping on the field for the Fighting Irish three years ago, Jaylon Smith has been a dominant playmaker on defense. As a junior, He led Notre Dame in tackles and tackles for loss all while being named the Butkus Award winner as the nation's top linebacker.

Strengths: Athletic build with next to no body fat. Checks every size, weight, speed, and athleticism box there is. Can sink hips and change direction with suddenness in space. Has length and quickness for extended playmaking radius. Racked up 225 tackles over his last two seasons as a starter. Lightning quick lateral scrapes from gap to gap following track of the ball. Has a the speed to race running backs to the corner. Tries to meet oncoming blocks with a physical punch and desired arm extension to stay clean. Quick enough to diagnose and respond. Play speed is elite for the position. Very talented in man coverage. Asked to take on challenging man coverage responsibilities and delivered. Has tools to become an excellent blitzer.

Weaknesses: Tackles for loss production doesn't match up with his traits. Too passive in his approach preferring to wait on plays to come to him rather than racing downhill to own it. Not strong enough at point of attack to maintain balance and positioning when blockers get into his frame. Understands angles to the ball, but still learning shortcuts through the gaps. Flies after the ball with reckless abandon failing to gain balance as a tackler. Has habit of lunging into arm tackles rather than using feet to work into better tackling position. Missed 11 tackles in 2015. Tore ACL and MCL in Notre Dame's Fiesta Bowl loss to Ohio State and his rookie season could be in jeopardy because of it.

Projected Round: 1

Possible landing spot: New York Giants

Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia
Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia

4. Leonard Floyd, Georgia

Bio: After spending his first year at a military academy, Leonard Floyd joined the Bulldogs in 2013. In his three years at Georgia, he led the team in sacks each year.

Strengths: Interesting combination of length and athleticism. Large range with great chase speed from sideline to sideline. Good change of direction for taller linebacker. Long limbs and twitch to spring into a tackle from far away. If unblocked, will chase down line of scrimmage from backside and make the play. Elusive in open space dodging blockers and sifting through traffic in pursuit of the ball. Has the traits to be highly effective in man coverage. As an edge rusher, able to shoot out of the starting blocks and cover substantial ground with long strides. Not a great bender, but has ankle flexion necessary to buzz inside the rush arc. Substantial pass rush potential with a variety of options to the quarterback. Go to move is upfield burst followed by jump­-cut inside tied with inside punch. Able to dip and rip around the corner. Dangerous on blitzes underneath. Able to worm his way through gaps as standup blitzer.

Weaknesses: Thin throughout. Skinny frame produces average play strength. Built like a wide receiver and needs to live in a team cafeteria and weight room for a year. Won't set the edge. Gets long arms into defender effectively, but struggles to get extension. Loses fight for neutral zone at point of attack. Issues shedding blocks forces him into downfield tackler rather than backfield playmaker. Drag ­down tackler with little pop behind pads as a hitter. Must work to keep pad level lower on inside rush moves.

Projected Round: 1

Possible landing spot: Buffalo Bills

Noah Spence, OLB, Eastern Kentucky
Noah Spence, OLB, Eastern Kentucky

5. Noah Spence, Eastern Kentucky

Bio: After being banned from the Big Ten, Noah Spence transferred to Eastern Kentucky to prove he could mature. In his one season, he racked up 22.5 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks for the Colonels to become a FCS All-American.

Strengths: Plays with a big motor and tremendous endurance. Had an eight sack season as a sophomore at Ohio State. Plays at same speed throughout the game. Good up field burst. Has played with hand in the ground and standing. Won't give away leverage by engaging too early in pass rush. Has solid speed to the edge with a strong rip move at the top of his rush to turn the corner. Takes good angles around the edge. Quick lateral slide down the line to restrict running lanes. Plays with a sense of desperation when the ball is in his area. Eludes lead blockers and cut ­blocks. Pursues around the field looking to scoop up tackles. Scouts see him as an intelligent person and player. Has had success fighting through adversity and has renewed sense of urgency on and off the field as well as a sense of accountability. Former head coach Urban Meyer helped get Spence a second chance because he believes Spence is high character but made mistakes.

Weaknesses: Not as long or tall as teams like at defensive end. Needs to develop more strength at point of attack. Can be bumped of his stance and widened out against run. Average handwork against the run. Doesn't play with violent punch and control at point of attack. Didn't vary pass rush approach much and just average at converting sped to power. Ability to win on high side won't work against NFL tackles. Will have to develop a counter underneath. Good athlete, but not great at changing of direction. At times is too easy to find for blockers. Treated for drug addiction to Ecstasy and banned for life from Big Ten after failed drug tests in 2013 and 2014. Arrested in May of 2015 for alcohol intoxication and second­-degree disorderly conduct, but incident was removed from record after community service.

Projected Round: 1-2

Possible landing spot: Cincinnati Bengals

People's Poll

Which outside linebacker will have the most success in the NFL?

See results

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      2 years ago from Oklahoma

      Great read!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)