NFL Scouting Combine: Top 5 Outside Linebackers

The Giants Beat grades the top 5 outside linebacker prospects working out at the NFL's Scouting Combine.

1. Myles Jack, OLB, UCLA  

Scouting Profile: Jack has been labeled as a versatile defender and a valuable person to the offensive end.  In 2013, he was honored with being named both the Offensive and Defensive Pac-12 Rookie of the Year. He was also a finalist for the Paul Hornung award for being so versatile. His first two years he was named to the second all conference defensive team. During his sophomore year, Jack made 88 tackles, intercepted one pass, and broke up seven other throws. On the offensive side, he ran the football for a total of 113 yards and scored three touchdowns. In the early parts of his junior season, a knee injury occurred, causing him to miss the rest of the season. After the injury thought, he would declare for the 2016 draft.

 

Strengths: Myles is a very athletic individual who can get to ball and any position on the field. He has intense speed because of being a former running back. His speed enables him to cut and knife through traffic. Jack is also strong enough to knock back offensive lineman. His versatility can be a great asset for defensive coordinators and can also be out into a 4-3 linebacker position at any moment. Can cover tight ends, running backs, and still be able to hold some slot receivers.

 Weaknesses: Does not have the body you would expect from a typical linebacker. Jack has to control his frantic energy in the pro game. He is also coming off a recent high level knee injury.

 

Fitting in: Jack would fit one of the needs as a linebacker for the Giants, as that is one of the positions they need talent in.

 

2. Jaylon Smith, OLB, Notre Dame

Scouting Profile: Smith during his time at Notre Dame, was considered to be one of the fiercest defenders in the country. During the Fiesta Bowl though, he tore both his ACL and MCL in his left knee during the loss. Before his injury he had established himself as the top linebacker in the nation. He joined Manti Te’o by becoming the second player to win The Butkus Award in high school and college. He had two straight seasons of over 110 tackles

 

Strengths: Smith has a build that is strong, lean, and has a very low fat body count. Quick and explosive, responds well to man coverage. Smith is able to go from scrape to spring pretty easily.

 

Weakness: Becomes very hesitant to go after the the play instead taking the charge. Knows the different angles to the ball, but still needs to learn shortcuts to the gap. Has a reckless abandon as a tackler because of his nature to be off balance. He is also injured with an upcoming season in the air

Fitting In: Seeing as how this knee injury was pretty recent, unless Smith has a pretty recovery it will be hard for him to see the field by the start of the season.

 

 3. Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia

Scouting Profile: A former finalist for the Butkus Award, Floyd was also the Defensive MVP for the Bulldogs in 2014. For three years in a row, he led the team in sacks and he tied the team lead in tackles for loss. For his efforts, the SEC rewarded him with second team all SEC honors.

 

Strengths: His combination of length and athleticism is unparalleled. For his size, he has a great ability to be able to change direction. Also able to cover long distances with his strides from the starting blocks. Can also ruin running plans and can get through the A gap as a standup Blitzer.

 

Weakness: Very limber and not substantial strength. Must continue to build muscle and weight. Has the body of a wide receiver and his long arms don't help him gain positive extension after getting into defender

Fitting In: Floyd may not fit in the rugged lineup of the Giant, will really need to gain strength quickly.

 

4. Reggie Ragland, Alabama

Scouting Profile: By the end of his senior season, no could question his status as a 3-4 inside linebacker coming into the NFL. During his play in 2015, he led his team with 97 tackles, and broke up six passes leading to him to receive the Sec Defensive player of the year. His efforts also got him to be the third player in Alabama history to be a unanimous All-American notice.

Strengths: Ragland has a great ability to read angles and coverages better than expected. Will take more chances downhill and plays with a hand in the ground as an edge rusher in some sub packages.

Weaknesses: The speed that he plays with and interprets may be a learning curve for him to adjust too. May tend to get tied up with the linemen by taking all the blocks instead of just shedding.  Ragland’s ability to handle zone coverage is pretty good but his man to man coverage is very limited.

Fitting in: Ragland will definitely fit in with the Giants. In due time he will become one of the premier linebackers in the entire league with the preset skills he already has. His ability to get rushing yards is also very key.

5. Su’A Cravens, USC

Scouting Profile: Has multiple family members in the NFL. Cravens was a former National High School Defensive Player of the Year back in 2012. As a freshman at USC, he would become a honorable All-Pac 12 notice and have his name over multiple freshman All American teams. Cravens did all that while being a strong safety, but he would move to linebacker during his sophomore year. His senior year he would earn third team AP All American and first team All PAC -12 accolades by having 85 tackles, 15 for loss, and intercepting two passes.

Strengths: Combines different attributes of brains, attitude, and toughness. Has great catching ability and is able to get in the middle with the crowd. His main production comes from choosing the play making option instead of the passive route. Can make a quick impact on special teams and have nine receptions in three years at college.

Weaknesses: Can be very small for his position and is still also learning the different aspects of the position. With him not being as fast as he should be, Craven will sometimes not be able to feel his opponent in his trail technique. Has a tendency to dive and miss tackles instead of just working for the simple takedown.

Fitting in: I think the fact Craven can play multiple positions can mean he could fit in with any team, not just the Giants. He should be able to find his niche within the team upon joining.  


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