NFL Draft: Scouting the Outside Linebackers

One of the best positions in the draft, talent will be available early and often at outside linebacker. Five players hold first round grades with an additional seven possessing initial day skill. Here are the scouting reports on the top twelve outside linebackers.

Full Name: A.J. Hawk School: Ohio State Pos: OLB

Ht: 6-1 Wt: 248 40: 4.57 Year: 4Sr

Bio: Three-year starter awarded All-Conference honors every season since his sophomore campaign. Led Ohio State in tackles the past three years posting 121/16.5/9.5 as a senior. Awarded All-American honors last year. Junior numbers included 141/8/1.

Pos: Intense, aggressive linebacker who strives to be the best. Plays with outstanding explosion, and displays tremendous sideline-to-sideline range. Fast in pursuit, flashes on the scene and flies around the ball. Immediately alters his angle of attack or redirects to the action and effectively uses hand technique to protect himself. Gets depth on drops, displaying a good backpedal in coverage.

Neg: Does not always play under great control. Must improve his tackling technique as he tends to go high on ball carriers.

Analysis: A productive defender on the field, Hawk is the consummate three-down player who will quickly find a starting job in the NFL at a number of linebacker spots.


Full Name: Ernie Sims School: Florida State Pos: OLB

Ht: 5-11 Wt: 231 40: 4.56 Year: 3Jr

Bio: Two-year starter awarded All-Conference honors both seasons. Junior totals included 72/10/2.5 when he intercepted two passes and broke up four more. Sophomore numbers included a career-high 86 tackles.

Pos: Explosive linebacker who displays a complete game. Fast, quickly changes direction and flashes on the scene, forcing the action. Explosive collapsing from the outside making plays, fires up the field in run defense and gets depth on drops in coverage. Outstanding lateral movement skills and effective in pursuit. Instinctive and does a good job staying with assignments.

Neg: Takes false steps to the action and is not efficient. Struggles with his back to the

Analysis: A three-down linebacker who plays bigger than his listed size, Sims has starting potential in a one-gap system. Should quickly find a starting spot at the next level once he gets get accustomed to the size/speed..


Full Name: Chad Greenway School: Iowa Pos: OLB

Ht: 6-2.5 Wt: 242 40: 4.80 Year: 5Sr

Bio: Three-year starter awarded All-Conferences honors every season since his sophomore campaign. Senior totals included 156/10/1 with one interception and eight pass defenses. Junior numbers included 113/8/3, when he also intercepted three passes.

Pos: Consistent, playmaking linebacker with outstanding instincts. Quick diagnosing plays, immediately locates the ball and consistently positions himself to make the play. Gets adequate depth on drops, solid in zone coverage and stays with assignments. Can run with tight ends or backs in coverage. Solid special teams player who has blocked kicks in the past.

Neg: Lacks an explosive break to the pass. Does not display great speed to the flanks.

Analysis: A high-character prospect with great work ethic, Greenway is a well-rounded linebacker with a complete game. Not flashy yet a three-down defender who could quickly move into a starting lineup at the next level.


Full Name: DeMeco Ryans School: Alabama Pos: OLB

Ht: 6-1.5 Wt: 236 40: 4.70 Year: 4Sr

Bio: Three-year starter awarded All-Conference honors the past two seasons and honored as an All-American in ‘05. Totals last season included 76/16/5 after 78 tackles as a junior. Posted 126 tackles during his sophomore campaign. All-Academic performer throughout college.

Pos: Productive weak-side linebacker shooting up draft boards. Efficient, immediately reads the action and takes good angles to the ball-handler. Gets depth on drops and displays ball skills in coverage. Resilient, very instinctive and immediately reacts to the action. Solid in pursuit and is rarely off his feet.

Neg: Lacks bulk and playing strength, and sometimes has tackles broken.

Analysis: An intelligent prospect who graduated in seven semesters, Ryans offers plenty of upside for the next level. A potential starter at several linebacker positions, expect him to break in with the first team as a rookie.


Full Name: Thomas Howard School: UTEP Pos: OLB

Ht: 6-3.5 Wt: 239 40: 4.49 Year: 5Sr

Bio: Three-year starter and All-Conference selection the past two years. Totaled 85/7.5/3 as a senior after 62/8/14 the prior year.

Pos: Athletic linebacker with outstanding size/speed numbers. Breaks down well, quick to the sidelines and is effective in space. Plays with good degree of suddenness, flashing on the scene and offers terrific skills in pursuit. Quickly locates the ball and works to make plays. Easily runs downfield with backs or tight ends in coverage.

Neg: Undersized, easily blocked from the action and not a strong tackler. Inefficient and does not consistently take proper angles to the play.

Analysis: An exceptional athlete, Howard offers plenty of upside for the next level. Has starting potential once he improves his playing strength and efficiency on the field.


Full Name: Bobby Carpenter School: Ohio State Pos: OLB

Ht: 6-2.5 Wt: 256 40: 4.67 Year: 4Sr

Bio: Two-year starter awarded All-Conference honors as a senior after posting 49/10.5/8. Totaled a career-best 93 tackles as a junior.

Pos: Hard-working, aggressive linebacker with terrific instincts. Diagnoses the action and quickly locates the ball. Strong at the point, defeats blocks and wraps up tackling. Takes good angles to the play, gets depth on drops and displays skill in zone coverage. Lined up in a three-point stance and effective off the edge.

Neg: Not an explosive or quick defender. Marginal skill in pursuit. Suffered an ankle injury during the final game of his senior season.

Analysis: A prospect who's done everything asked of him at Ohio State, Carpenter is a passionate football player with a good degree of upside potential at the next level. Needs to fine-tune his game yet could quickly find his way into a starting lineup.


Full Name: Clint Ingram School: Oklahoma Pos: OLB

Ht: 6-1.5 Wt: 244 40: 4.68 Year: 5Sr

Bio: Two-year starter and All-Conference selection as a senior after totaling 61/12/5, while also intercepting five passes. Junior numbers included 50/4/2.

Pos: Athletic linebacker who forces the action. Strong at the point, adjusts off blocks and immediately gets back to playing form. Aggressive, likes to mix it up and is a punishing hitter. Wraps up tackling and is improving his skills in coverage.

Neg: Does bite on the play-action pass, occasionally getting caught upfield and out of position.

Analysis: Lacking classic size, Ingram plays big and has been a productive player the past two seasons. Offers starting potential at either outside linebacker spot.


Full Name: Roger McIntosh School: Miami-Fl Pos: OLB

Ht: 6-2 Wt: 237 40: 4.66 Year: 5Sr

Bio: Full-time starter the past two seasons after spending half his freshman campaign with the first team. Led Miami in tackles as a senior posting 80/10/5.5 after career-best numbers of 111/13/4 as a junior.

Pos: Physically gifted linebacker with the skills to be a three-down defender. Forceful up the field, collapses from the outside defending the run and gets depth on drops. Displays skill in pursuit and plays with a good degree of explosion. Holds his ground against blocks, chases hard to get involved in the action.

Neg: Does not consistently play under control, over-pursues the action and gets caught out of position. Suffered with both back and shoulder injuries the past two years.

Analysis: A motivated linebacker who leads by example, McIntosh is a solid athlete with the skills to play at the next level. Needs to fine-tune his game and, most importantly, stay healthy to have any chance of breaking into a starting lineup.


Full Name: Jon Alston School: Stanford Pos: OLB

Ht: 6-1 Wt: 223 40: 4.52 Year: 5Sr

Bio: Two-year starter who totaled 52/9.5/6.5 as a senior. Junior numbers included 62/14/10 when he was an All-Conference selection.

Pos: Explosive linebacker outstanding in pursuit. Fast in every direction, quickly closes on the play and flashes on the scene. Holds his ground against blocks, can pedal in reverse and gets depth on drops.

Neg: Not an instinctive or decisive defender. Takes a lot of missteps or incorrect angles to the action. Does not always play under control.

Analysis: A hard-working defender constantly flying around the action, Alston is a one-gap linebacker who should be an asset on special-teams.


Full Name: Spencer Havner School: UCLA Pos: OLB

Ht: 6-3.5 Wt: 242 40: 4.74 Year: 5Sr

Bio: Four-year starter awarded All-Conference honors on several occasions. Led the team in tackles as a senior posting 92/15/2. Also intercepted two passes and broke up seven more. Posted career-best tackling numbers as a junior with 125/8.5/1. Never totaled less than 80 tackles any season in college.

Pos: Instinctive defender with the ability to be used at outside or middle linebacker. Reads the action, fires up the field and attacks ball handlers. Works to keep the action in front of him, displays skill in zone coverage and makes proper decisions.

Neg: Lacks a quick change of direction and speed to the flanks. Over-pursues the action and not efficient. Marginal skills in man coverage.

Analysis: A consistent player and leader on the college level, Havner could be used at one of several linebacker spots. Has starting potential at the next level if he consistently plays with a physical style.


Full Name: Brian Iwuh School: Colorado Pos: OLB

Ht: 6-0 Wt: 234 40: 4.66 Year: 4Sr

Bio: Full-time starter the past two seasons and named All-Conference performer after each campaign. Posted 65/3/2 as a senior after 98/1.5/12 during his junior campaign. Played outside linebacker the past two seasons.

Pos: Explosive defender effective in pursuit. Has a burst of closing speed, quickly changes direction and is fluid moving laterally. Fast on the blitz and displays footwork in reverse. Forceful, explosive and flashes on the scene.

Neg: Wastes motion getting to the action. At times is too quick up the field and gets caught out of position.

Analysis: A hard-working and sudden defender who leads by example, Iwuh has the physical skills to be tried at strong safety or as a one-gap linebacker. Should be very productive on special teams.


Full Name: William Kershaw School: Maryland Pos: OLB

Ht: 6-2.5 Wt: 240 40: 4.71 Year: 4Sr

Bio: Two-year starter who posted 76/5.5/1 as a senior after 74/6/2 the prior year.

Pos: Explosive linebacker with solid size/speed numbers. Forceful collapsing from the outside in run defense, makes plays in pursuit and wraps up tackling. Flashes on the scene and plays with a good degree of suddenness. Fluid pedaling in reverse and has good hands in coverage.

Neg: Hesitant, not overly instinctive and removes himself from the action. Takes a lot of missteps and is not efficient.

Analysis: Playing stronger than his listed size, Kershaw is a solid athlete with upside for the next level. Needs to polish his game yet offers potential on the weak side.


Complete Outside Linebackers Rankings - Complete NFL Draft Rankings


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