Luke Easterling's 2016 NFL Draft OBLB Rankings

My full off-ball linebacker rankings for the 2016 NFL Draft.

*OBLB (off-ball linebackers) refers to 3-4/4-3 ILBs and 4-3 OLBs.


1. Myles Jack | UCLA | 6'1" | 245 | Junior | 1st Round

It's easy to throw around terms like "rare talent" this time of year, but those words truly apply to Jack. Arguably the most versatile prospect in the entire draft, Jack starred on both sides of the ball for the Bruins before a knee injury ended his 2015 season prematurely. As long as he makes a full recovery, Jack is well worth a top-five pick in this draft with the athleticism and range to be a dynamic defender in the NFL for years to come.

*2. Jaylon Smith | Notre Dame | 6'2" | 223 | Junior | 1st Round

Smith is probably the most difficult player to forecast in the entire draft. Much like Jack, he's a rare athlete with great instincts and playmaking ability, but a knee injury has raised serious questions about his prospects at the next level. Smith's injury occurred much later in the season and is considered more severe than Jack's, which is why many fear Smith might not even see the field as a rookie, and could free-fall on draft day as a result. Until we know for sure how long he'll be out, I'm keeping him where I initially graded him, as one of the top overall players in the draft.

3. Darron Lee | Ohio State | 6'1" | 232 | RS Sophomore | 1st Round

If you like explosive athletes at the linebacker spot, this is your lucky year. Lee lit up the combine with a 40-yard dash in the 4.4-second range, backing up the athleticism he showed on film for the Buckeyes. Even on a defense full of Sunday talent, Lee stood out as one of the key playmakers. With still two years of eligibility left, Lee is still just scratching the surface of his potential, and has the physical tools to warrant a high pick this year.

4. Su'a Cravens | USC | 6'1" | 226 | Junior | 1st Round

Is he a linebacker or a safety? Frankly, I don't really care where you put him, Cravens is going to make plays. He might look like a 'tweener to many, but I see a versatile player who could excel in a hybrid role, much like Deone Bucannon has in Arizona. He's not quite on Bucannon's level of athleticism or physicality, but he's not far off and could be a big-time playmaker if the right coach gets a hold of him.

5. Reggie Ragland | Alabama | 6'1" | 247 | Senior | 2nd Round

Many might be surprised to see Ragland this low, as he's a popular top-20 player in many rankings and mock drafts. But while he's extremely effective at what he does well (being an old-school thumper who excels as a run defender), Ragland lacks the speed, quickness and athleticism to be a three-down player at the next level. He should enjoy a long, successful career in the NFL, but I don't think he'll have the kind of impact you'd expect from a high first-rounder.

6. Joshua Perry | Ohio State | 6'4" | 254 | Senior | 2nd Round

Amid a truckload of flashy playmakers on the Buckeyes defense, Perry was the quiet anchor who simply got the job done week in and week out without much fanfare. He's got the ideal NFL frame for the position, and his work ethic, nonstop motor and leadership skills will be extremely valuable to NFL coaches.

7. Travis Feeney | Washington | 6'4" | 230 | RS Senior | 3rd Round

This one may surprise some folks, but Feeney is one of the most promising sleepers in this entire group. He showed off his athleticism with a fantastic performance at the combine, and he has the frame and skill set to make an impact in any scheme and in every facet of the game (pass rush, run defense, coverage, special teams). Feeney has responded with success with every increased opportunity and responsibility, and there's no reason to believe he won't do the same in the pros.

8. Deion Jones | LSU | 6'1" | 222 | Senior | 3rd Round

Like his former teammate Kwon Alexander, Jones is hoping his combination of speed and athleticism will overshadow his lack of ideal size when NFL teams are looking for a playmaking linebacker on draft weekend. He may have trouble matching up with offensive lineman at the second level in the run game, but he's quick and instinctive, and could excel as a weak-side linebacker in a 4-3.

9. Kentrell Brothers | Missouri | 6'0" | 245 | RS Senior | 4th Round

Brothers was highly productive for the Tigers, but lacks the athleticism NFL scouts get excited about when it comes to this position. He's a physical player who could play inside in either 3-4 or 4-3 scheme or even the strong side in a 4-3, but he doesn't offer much in terms of hanging with athletic backs and tight ends in coverage. Still, he'll have value for a team looking for a two-down run-stuffer at the next level.

10. Dominique Alexander | Oklahoma | 6'0" | 232 | Junior | 4th Round

An athletic defender who played inside for the Sooners, Alexander's lack of ideal size will probably necessitate a move to the outside in the NFL, particularly in a 4-3 scheme. His timed speed during pre-draft workouts doesn't match up with the film, where he looks explosive enough to make plays both in coverage and in run support.

11. Tyler Matakevich | Temple | 6'0" | 238 | Senior | 4th Round

12. Elandon Roberts | Houston | 5'11" | 234 | Senior | 4th Round

13. Jatavis Brown | Akron | 5'11" | 227 | Senior | 5th Round

14. Blake Martinez | Stanford | 6'2" | 237 | Senior | 5th Round

15. De'Vondre Campbell | Minnesota | 6'4" | 232 | RS Senior | 5th Round

16. Nick Vigil | Utah State | 6'2" | 239 | RS Junior | 5th Round

17. Antonio Morrison | Florida | 6'1" | 233 | Senior | 5th Round

18. Joe Schobert | Wisconsin | 6'1" | 244 | Senior | 5th Round

19. Scooby Wright | Arizona | 6'0" | 239 | Junior | 5th Round

20. Jared Norris | Utah | 6'1" | 241 | RS Senior | 6th Round

21. Antwione Williams | Georgia Southern | 6'3" | 247 | Senior | 6th Round

22. Josh Forrest | Kentucky | 6'3" | 249 | RS Senior | 6th Round

23. Nick Kwiatkoski | West Virginia | 6'2" | 243 | RS Senior | 6th Round

24. Luke Rhodes | William & Mary | 6'2" | 239 | RS Senior | 7th Round

25. Terrance Smith | Florida State | 6'3" | 235 | RS Senior | 7th Round

26. Kris Frost | Auburn | 6'2" | 240 | RS Senior | 7th Round

27. T.T. Barber | Middle Tennessee State | 6'1" | 230 | Senior | 7th Round


Tampa Bay is set at two linebacker spots for the foreseeable future with athletic playmakers in Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander, and bringing in veteran free agent Daryl Smith on a one-year deal gives them a stop-gap solution on the strong side. They could use some more experienced depth pieces and a potential replacement for Smith, but since most defenses spend over half their time in nickel personnel, it's usually just David and Alexander on the field. Still, finding a promising player who can contribute immediately on special teams and eventually take over for Smith should be on Tampa Bay's wish list on Day 3.

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